By Khalid Hussain
LAHORE, Dec 2: Ulema of different schools of thought have unanimously agreed on a nine-point code of conduct (COC) to maintain sectarian harmony.
They signed the code after a detailed deliberation at a meeting presided over by Punjab Auqaf and Religious Affairs Minister Atta Maneka here on Monday. The meeting lasted about five hours. “The three sects — Barelvi, Ahl-i-Hadith and Ahl-i-Tasheeh — were represented by Mufti Intikhab Noori, Dr Abdul Ghafoor Rashid and Haidar Ali Mirza, respectively. And I represented the Deoband sect,” Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Asharfi told Dawn.
He said he had presented a 15-point code in the Islamic Ideology Council some time ago and placed the same in the meeting arranged by the Auqaf department. The participants accepted nine of the 15 points, he added.
He said that under the agreed and signed COC, the clerics, scholars and Zakirs would refrain from saying anything derogatory about Khulfa-i-Rashideen (Caliphs). The clerics/scholars from any sect will neither declare anyone Kafir nor term anyone liable to be killed.
There will be a complete ban on use of loudspeakers, except for Azaan and religious sermons in Arabic language. None of the sects shall make hate speeches or remarks, raise slogans or publish hate material in the form of handbills, books, pamphlets, etc, or press releases. They will also desist from wall-chalking directly or indirectly against each other.
All sects will hold joint public gatherings to promote inter-sect harmony, cooperation, unity and love. The clerics/scholars of all sects will give due respect to each other and present their problems at an appropriate forum, instead of reacting emotionally, directly or indirectly. Display of arms will not be allowed.
All sects will be duty bound to protect the rights of non-Muslim minorities and safeguard their places of worship. They will follow and implement the COC in its letter and spirit.
Allama Asharfi said the meeting had agreed to devise a monitoring mechanism to fully enforce the COC. The forum will take action against violation of the code.
He said the participants had also agreed to convert the COC into a proper legislation after involving all stakeholders in the process. A bill in this regard will be tabled in parliament. All sects would be legally bound to follow it.
In reply to a question about taking all religious parties into confidence on the COC, he said the country’s seasoned clerics had already signed a similar code a few years ago and the Pakistan Ulema Council, in collaboration with the Auqaf department, finalised arrangements to hold a national conference of clerics of all sects and leaders of religious parties on Dec 11 in Lahore. “Besides, we will also hold a press conference on the issue at the Lahore Press Club on Dec 4 .”