The Capital Development Authority of Islamabad has reportedly stopped the construction of Islamabad’s Hindu temple, the groundbreaking ceremony of which was conducted with much media publicity on 23rd of June. Aiming to show that his country treats minorities well, PM Imran Khan had recently granted Rs. 10 crores for the first Hindu temple in Islamabad.
Background and opposition
Pakistan’s capital Islamabad was built in 1960s and replaced its earlier capital Karachi in 1966. The name means “City of Islam” and the site was selected as it was close to army headquarters at Rawalpindi. It is to be noted that population of Islamabad has about 97% Muslims and only .02% Hindus. Christians make up the second-largest religion. Although the situation of Christians is not much better than Hindus in Pakistan, Islamabad has dozens of Churches.
The news of the construction of Islamabad’s first Hindu temple was greeted with loud protests by many quarters. There was a petition filed in Islamabad High Court against it. It is to be noted that the Constitution of Pakistan gives primacy to shariah. Shariah was declared the Supreme Law of Pakistan in the 1991 Enforcement of Shariat Act. The law stipulates that courts select an interpretation of law consistent with Islamic jurisprudence and principles. Construction of a Hindu temple is apparently deemed inconsistent with shariah.
Powerful politician of PML Q, Parvaiz Elahi also opposed the construction of the temple. It is to be noted that he is not only the current speaker of Punjab Provincial Assembly, he has also served as Deputy Prime Minister of Pakistan as well as Chief Minister of Punjab in the past.
The Muslim religious leaders were not far behind. Jamia Ashrafia, a seminary based in Lahore, had released a fatwa saying that construction of a Hindu temple was ‘not permissible in Islam’
Reasons for opposition to Islamabad’s Hindu Temple
It is important to discuss the arguments of Islamists opposing the construction of Islamabad’s Hindu Temple. These arguments tell us a lot about the thought process of the Islamists and will help us to draw conclusions about them
- The first argument rests on the claim that Islam is the only true religion. This concept leads to religious segregation and naming of non-Muslims as Kafirs. According to this view, Kafirs are fit to be killed and if they pay Jizya tax, fit to live as second class citizens with very few rights. In any case, Kafir religion is demonic and Kafirs will burn for ever in the fires of hell. Maulana Muhammad Ali Johar, the Khilafat leader who used to kiss the feet of Mahatma Gandhi illustrated this by saying: “According to my religion and creed, I do hold an adulterous and a fallen Mussalman to be better than Mr. Gandhi.”
- The other reason adduced is that it would be against the “spirit of Medina”. It must be remembered that Muhammad, the founder of Islam, found refuge in Medina. When he and his followers captured Mecca, they made certain changes to the holy city. The holy city, which was open to all Arabs and contained a temple with 360 idols at Kabba. By the order of Muhammad, Ali broke all the idols except the stone of Kabba, which they ironically revere to this day. They then banned entry of non Muslims into the city. The tradition continues even today. The founders of Pakistan envisaged it as second Medina (Medina-e-Sani) and it is natural that they will break all temples there and not let any non-Muslim practice their religion freely.
- The third reason given by Jamia Ashrafia say that “Islam allows protection and management of religious places belonging to other faiths but prohibits construction of a new place of worship for the followers of other religion than Islam.” This is coming from a religious institution which has some authority so we have to accept this. Readers of history will remember such fatwas during the times of Sultans and Mughal rulers, who prohibited new temples and periodically initiated campaigns to destroy newly erected temples. This included temples like Somnath, Kashi Vishvanath, Mathura etc.
Being a declared Islamic state, it was inevitable that the construction of a Hindu temple will be opposed in Pakistan. The reasons given for opposition also show that Islam in Pakistan is ossified in medieval times. It is also seen in the name of their missiles, which are named after invaders such as Ghori, Ghaznavi and Abdali. Clearly, the oppressors of Hindus are the most admired heroes of Islamists.
For Hindus of Bharat, this is a wakeup call. When reports are coming that certain areas in Kerala, Western UP and Haryana are becoming safe zones for Islamists, how much longer can this situation be avoided in Bharat?
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