Islamic Scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamidi in Silicon Valley
By Riaz Haq

Pakistan's pre-eminent Islamic scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamidi recently visited San Francisco Bay Area as part of his tour of the United States in October, 2017. Viewpoint From Overseas host Ali Hasan Cemendtaur had a conversation with him at his hotel to ask some questions. Here are some of the key points that emerged from this interview:
1. Islamic state
How can a state be an Islamic state? The states we have today are nation-states that are defined by territorial boundaries, not by religion or color or ethnicity. All of the inhabitants of a nation-state are its citizens with equal rights. Pakistan is a nation-state. Nation-states are governed by the majority of its citizens with their will expressed through a political and electoral process.

2. Ahmadiyya
The state has no business deciding who is a Muslim and who is not.
3. Blasphemy
There is nothing Islamic about blasphemy laws. You cannot force people to respect your religion or your prophet at gun-point.
4. Weapons of Mass Destruction
Weapons of mass destruction are immoral. Islam prohibits the use of weapons to attack non-combatants in war. Use of weapons that destroy civilians, schools and hospitals is a war crime.
5. Sectarianism
Sectarianism is rooted in ignorance. Dividing people along sectarian lines is wrong.
6. Interfaith Marriages
There are no restrictions on interfaith marriages as long as both the man and the woman reject "shirk" (polytheism).
7. Istikhara
Istikhara is merely a prayer to ask Allah for guidance in making important life decisions.
8. Hadith
After the formal recorded interview concluded, I asked Ghamidi sahib about the authenticity of the Hadiths. He said Hadiths are a historical record, and like any history it is subject to constant investigation to establish its authenticity.
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi sabib is among the progressive scholars of Islam in the world today.
If religious reform ever comes to Pakistan, it’ll be because of people like Ghamidi sahib, not from “secular liberals” who attack Islam and Pakistan on a daily basis.
I know from personal knowledge that Ghamidi sahib's message resonates with a lot of ordinary people in Pakistan who are tired of the violence committed by a small minority in the name of Islam.
Ghamidi sahib has a lot of following in Pakistan and it’s growing by the day through both mainstream and social media. His being away from Pakistan for most of the year to do his job does not seem to have hurt his efforts at bringing about reform.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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