I have been reading a lot about Mufti Shamzai ever since his assassination. My initial post was harshly critical of him and the jihadi program of his seminary. I wrongfully accused him of being sectarian. I apologize for that. Still, my initial assessment stands true: his teachings led, directly and indirectly, to sectarian and jihadi violence.
Today’s Jang Daily has an op-ed written by Jawaid Chaudhry that really captures the political importance of this man of God and shows that even in his death, he is being utilized for the very cause that claimed his life. Jihad. My translation follows….
update:A heart-wrenching post on the riots that followed Mufti Shamzai’s death can be found at Danial’s blog [english translation is linked as well].
Saturday, June 5, 2004
This happened in 2001; the world Trade Center had been destroyed, America was preparing to launch attacks on Afghanistan, Pakistan had become a no-cost defensive ally of America; at this delicate juncture, a revolt started in the Northern areas. The Shari’ah-enforcers came down from the mountains and took control of the Silk Highway from Chalas to Gilgit. They encamped in the middle of the highway. They had heavy weaponry and were ready to die. The situation was very delicate. The entire country was enveloped in American hatred. People had love of the Taliban in their hearts. In this conditions, if the Government mishandled the Shar’ah-enforcers, events could take a turn for the worse. The mini-revolt could flame out all over the country. There was lengthy discussion and brainstorming and everyone’s eyes rose to the same one person. It was decided unanimously, if he agrees, then these people would go back to the mountains. The Government send some senior military officers to Karachi. They appeared before the gentleman and pleaded their case, “If those people do not release the Silk Highway, the very foundation of Pakistan will be endangered”. Hazrat (His Honor) listened to this plea with utter calm, and thought for a little while, and asked for half-an-hour to decide. He came out after half-an-hour with a small briefcase in his hand and said, “I am ready. Tell me where to go.” Hazrat arrived at the Silk Highway and pandemonium broke out, people started congregating around him. He started to explain things to them. He lived among them for one week. In those seven days, the tents started to come up and people started to leave for their homes. When he returned, the traffic was normal once again on the Silk Highway.
This was Hazrat Nizamuddin Shamzai. He was born in a small village in Sawat. From one small madrasa to another, he reached Banuri Town and revolutions started to happen from his teaching and preaching. The Taliban were his students. On that side of Khyber Pass, he was an icon. From Jalalabad to the Amu Darya River, he was the father of the Taliban. Whether the Taliban were in power or seeking it, they respected him above all. Mullah Omar was also a student. Before the American assault on Afghanistan, the Pakistani Government decided to reason with the Taliban. They were contacted but Mullah Omar was not prepared to meet with any Pakistani dignitaries. Once again, Hazrat Shamzai’s help was sought. Mr. Shamzai went to Kandhar with Gen. Mahmood. Just as he showed up, Mullah Omar agreed to talk and sat and listened to the General with great concentration.
Hazrat Shamzai had three or four qualities that made him unique among other ‘ulama. For example, he did not believe in the differences between Shi’a, Sunni, Ahl-Hadith, or Barelwi. He proclaimed, “Such differences will destroy the entire world of Islam.” He wanted Muslims to unite. He had close ties with many Shi’a scholars. Whenever there was a terrorist attack in the country, whenever a Shi’a mosque or a congregation was attacked, he was the first religious scholar to publicly condemn it. He used to say, “No Muslim can fire upon another Muslim”. He was a proponent of modernity. He thought that Media was the battleground of this new age, and the Enemy has been defeating the Muslim in this field for too long and we are stuck in ‘Are pictoral representations legal or not?!’. For the last two months, he had been trying to get the scholars to debate about Television. There had been several gatherings on the subject of Television. Mufti Shamzai thought, if the scholars can all agree, we will start a public t.v. channel for Islamic teachings. He was a man who carefully weighed everything. He was not agreeable to calling Muslims non-believers. One of our friend asked him, “Should prayer be read with hands folded or by the side?” He quietly replied, “Man should concentrate on prayer alone, not on hands and feet.” And his greatest characteristic was Jihad. Though this became his tragic flaw which led to his death. He was in favor of Jihads all around the world. Whether it was in Palestine, Chechenya, Kashmir, or Afghanistan, he supported Jihad with his speech, his writings and his pockets. He used to say, “Jihad is the salvation for Muslims. If they left this, they will become slaves of the other nations”. This thinking of his proved to be his greatest crime and he became an obstacle in the eyes of those organizations who want to stop Jihad in this world.
I remember quiet vividly the seminar on Jihad held two years ago at the Carnegie Institute in America. The experts there declared: “As long as the factories producing Mujhadeen are not closed, Jihad will not stop.” Mufti Shamzai was one such factory. Everyone who reached his social circle, found in himself the desire for Jihad, the desire for self-annihilation. Thus, the “crime” of Mufti Shamzai was an unforgivable one and he was sentenced to death just like Ahmad Yasin. He was also martyred.
The martyrdom of Mufti Shamzai is a tragedy for the entire Muslim world. Even more than a tragedy, it is a cause for alarm. It tells us that like Mufti Shamzai, all the erstwhile figures of the Islamic world are in danger. America and its pets are targeting the factories of Mujhadeen. Hence, we have to protect our religion and our reliogiou leaders like Mufti Shamzai.
When will this end?