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Monday, July 26, 2021

Sermons promoting extremism

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Friday prayers hold a special place in the culture and tradition of every Muslim country, including Pakistan. While many Muslims try to pray five times a day, it is indeed Friday when mosques are filled up. This is the weekly occasion when communities come together in a prayer exercise that almost carries a ritualistic fervor to it. This is partially due to the reason that Friday prayers hold a unique significance in Islam.

Most of the Imams, during Friday sermons especially, condemn terrorism and declare Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance. This carries immense importance especially in the present era. There is a very high turnover of attendants in the Friday prayers. Daily prayers can not gather large number of people.

Therefore, it is vital to understand that sermons before prayers can play key role in promoting the true picture of Islam. Imam is the captain of a ship once the sermon has begun. The content that comes out of his mouth and into the microphone can make or break social fabric. With the initiation of war against terrorism, many Imams have been trained and also advised to refrain from political issues. However, many still continue to make provocative speeches on current affairs.

Prior to the government crackdown on madrasas (sanctuaries) in war against terrorism, controversial sermons delivered by Imams raised many eyebrows. Many people protested against the government’s crackdown on these madrasas as well. These sermons were less religious and more tilted towards political issues.

Even nowadays, a tight security is ensured for several reasons outside the mosques where Friday prayers are being offered. Police and other security agencies are deployed outside some sensitive mosques in major cities. Apart from this, international media has also been noticed monitoring mosques. Even though, the ban on loudspeakers during Friday prayers was ordered, it has not been completely complied. Religious literature including newspapers like Zarb-e-Islam, Daily Islam, booklets on jihad is also available outside some mosques.

All mosques cannot be categorized under the umbrella of promoting hatred but it can be concluded that numerous mosques are promoting such elements that are not beneficial for Pakistan for denoting it as peaceful State.

It is crucial to understand the aim of congregation in Friday prayers. The rationale behind Jumma(Friday) prayers is to promote the elements of tolerance and love amongst each other. People can come to the mosque and bond with each other while discussing their problems and seeking help from community. The Imam is incumbent to lead because of his stature as role model.

The Imam of every mosque should understand that Pakistan is facing a very sensitive situation at the moment. The wikileaks has unfolded many secrets thus it is our collective responsibility to protect Pakistan’s image at global level. Pakistan must refrain from all activities that promote violence in Pakistan. Sermons should be scripted in accordance with the teachings of Islam rather than of the Taliban ideology.

There are numerous mosques in the country that are spreading the true message of Islam. Some examples can be replicated. Masjid-e-Shuhda Imam Qazi Younas attempts to preach Toheed (oneness of God) during his sermon. He condemns the forces that portray Islam as a religion of hatred and terror. Jamia Masjid-ul-Qadsia Imam Hafiz Saeed of Jamatul Dawa preaches that terrorists and suicide bombers are totally unaware of Islam and its teachings. True Islam preaches tolerance and affection. The speaker at the Main Mosque of Punjab University New Campus mostly speaks about uncontroversial issues. This has been reported by students who get a chance to learn about tolerance and Islam through his sermons.

If we examine closely we can conclude that there is probably one mosque after every thirty kilometers in Pakistan. This might be a moderate estimate. If all mosques start preaching against extremism and portray true image of Islam, a sizeable change will be witnessed in the country. Majority of the youth regularly attends Jumma prayers in mosques and thus conveying them the message of tolerance will bring constructive change.

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Ethsam Waheed
Ethsam Waheed is a development practitioner. He writes on Extremism, Governance, International assistance and other social subjects.
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