Taseer murder case: Qadri sentenced to death
Supporters of convicted killer Mumtaz Qadri chant slogans alongside hundreds of others who had gathered to protest against his sentence outside the jail he is being held in, October 1, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS
RAWALPINDI: Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the self-confessed murderer of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, has been sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court today (Saturday).
Qadri, one of Taseer’s elite force guards, shot and killed the governorfor his views on the blasphemy law outside a restaurant in Islamabad.
During the incamera hearing of the murder case, the anti-terrorism court (ATC) said that it was a heinous crime and there is no justification to it; however, no date has been given for the execution of the sentence. The court also fined Qadri of Rs200,000 along with the death sentence.
Justice Syed Pervez Ali Shah, an ATC judge, while taking up the case at the Adiala Jail, noted down the statement of Qadri. In this statement, Qadri admitted before the judge that nobody intimidated him to murder the former governor.
Raja Shujahur Rehman, Qadri’s lawyer, told the media outside Adiala Jail that his client had also submitted a written statement of 40 pages, referring to 11 Quranic verses, 28 quotes from Sunnah and several other eminent Muslim jurists with reference to Islamic jurisprudence.
The defence lawyer stated that the prosecution raised no objection over the statement of Qadri, therefore the court validly admitted this statement and made it a part of the court record.
Experts say that Qadri has to appeal within seven days against the verdict.
Tears of anger
Qadri’s supporters took to the streets to denounce the sentence soon after it was handed down.
“By punishing one Mumtaz Qadri, you will produce a thousand Mumtaz Qadris!” one man shouted through a megaphone outside the jail.
Several hundred supporters of Qadri blocked a road outside the jail and chanted slogans. Some recited verses from the Quran while members of the Sunni Tehreek group waved their party’s green and yellow flags.
A Qadri supporter, wiping tears from his face, said: “We don’t accept this. We don’t accept this.”
Police were deployed at the jail gate to prevent any break-in. After Qadri was sentenced, the judge left through the back door.
In Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh area, where former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007, about 1,000 angry Qadri supporters blocked a main road with burning tyres.
Shouting slogans against the government and the judge who sentenced Qadri, they forced shops to shut down.
Stick-wielding protesters attacked passing vehicles.
“This decision was made to please the Jewish lobby,” said Sahibzada Ata-ur-Rehman, a leader of the Sunni Tehreek.
Qadri, a constable in the Punjab Police and a member of its Elite Force, tried to justify his murder of the governor by stating that he had killed him for supporting Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman whom Taseer had believed had been wrongly convicted of committing blasphemy.
According to Qadri’s statement, he had approached the governor on the evening of January 4 and tried to talk to him about Taseer’s very public support for Aasia Bibi and his advocacy of reform – not repeal – of the blasphemy laws.
Deobandis and Barelvis are the two major groups of Muslims in the Subcontinent apart from the Shia. Barelvi Hanafis deem Deobandis to be kaafir. Those hostile to the Barelvis deprecated them as the shrine-worshipping, the grave-worshiping, ignorant Barelvis. Much smaller sects in Pakistan include the Ahl-e-Hadees and Ahl-e-Tashee. The non-Pakhtun population of Pakistan is predominantly Barelvi. The stronghold of Barelvism remains Punjab, the largest province of Pakistan. By one estimate, in Pakistan, the Shias are 18%, ismailis 2%, Ahmediyas 2%, Barelvis 50%, Deobandis 20%, Ahle Hadith 4%, and other minorities 4%. The Ahle-e-Hadith is a small group of Sunni Muslims in India who do not consider themselves bound by any particular school of law and rely directly on the Prophet’s Sunnah. By another estimate some 15 per cent of Pakistan’s Sunni Muslims would consider themselves Deobandi, and some 60 per cent, are in the Barelvi tradition based mostly in the province of Punjab. But some 64 per cent of the total seminaries are run by Deobandis, 25 per cent by the Barelvis, six percent by the Ahle Hadith and three percent by various Shiite organisations.
The Muslim League was founded by the Aga Khan, leader of the Ismaili Sevener Shiites. And Jinnah was an Ismaili. The barelvis and shias and ismailis and Ahmediyas joined the Pakistan movement, while the deobandis opposed the formation of Pakistan, since they wanted to islamise all of India. But the Deobandis in Pakistan owed their allegiance to Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, who organized the Deobandi ulema who were in favour of Pakistan into the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam. The so-called “nationalist Muslims” who opposed Partition, such as Maulana Azad and Maulana Maudoodi, were Sunnis.
The differences between these sects can be difficult to understand. For the Barelvis, (who are mostly from the Pakistan province of Punjab) the holy Prophet is a superhuman figure whose presence is all around us at all times; he is hazir, present; he is not bashar, material or flesh, but nur, light. The Deobandis, who also revere the Prophet, argue he was the insan-i-kamil, the perfect person, but still only a man, a mortal. Barelvis emphasise a love of Muhammad, a semi-divine figure with unique foreknowledge. The Deobandis reject this idea of Muhammad, emphasising Islam as a personal rather than a social religion.
The Barelvis follow many Sufi practices, including use of music (Qawwali) and intercession by their teacher. A key difference between Barelvi and Deobandi that Barelvi’s believe in intercession between humans and Divine Grace. This consists of the intervention of an ascending, linked and unbroken chain of holy personages, pirs, reaching ultimately to Prophet Mohammad, who intercede on their behalf with Allah. It is a more superstitious – but also a more tolerant – tradition of Indian Islam. Their critics claim that Barelvis are guilty of committing innovation (Bid’at) and therefore, they are deviated from the true path – the path of Sunnah.
The Pakistan Movement got support from the Barelvis (Low Church). It had faced opposition from the National Indian Congress which was supported by the Deobandi seminaries (High Church). However, after the establishment of Pakistan as an Islamic state in 1949, Barelvi Low Church was too mixed up with mysticism to be a source of Islamic law. Ironically, Pakistan moved away from the ‘spiritual pluralism’ of the Barelvis, who had supported Pakistan, and relied on the more puritanical Deobandis who had opposed it.
Unlike the Deobandis, the Barelvis see the Prophet Mohammad as more than a man, a part of the divine light of Allah. This doctrine gives rise to a form of Islam that provides a space for holy men and esoteric practices and graves appear to be often more ornate than those found within Deobandi communities. The Wahhabi (Arabia), Deobandi (Pakistan and India) and Jamaat-I-Islami all are anti-sufi, and against the over devotion to Muhammad, whereas the Barelvis emphasize Muhammad’s uniqueness. Indeed, nearly 85% of South Asia’s Sunni Muslims are said to follow the Barelvi school, closer to Sufism. The remaining 15% of Sunnis follow the Deobandi school, more closely related to the conservative practice of Islam. Most Shiites in the subcontinent also tend to be influenced by the Sufis. Pakistan’s Muslims, like other Muslims in the region, tend to follow a school of Islam which is less conservative, and hence the support for strongly and overtly religious parties has been minimal.
The Barelvis believe the Prophet is a human being made from flesh and blood [bashar] and a noor [light] at the same time. This is like the example of when Gabriel, who is also noor [light], used to appear to the Prophet in the form of a man, flesh and blood. He is infallible and perfect and free from all imperfections and sinless (as are all Prophets). He is human but not like other humans. Allah has given him the ability to see the whole of Creation in detail while he is in his blessed grave as if he was looking at it in the palm of his hand. This is called being “nazir” (“witnessing”). Allah has given him the ability to go physically and spiritually to anywhere in the Created Universes he pleases whenever he pleases (peace be upon him) and to be in more than one place at the same time. This is what is meant by “hazir” (present). This is not the same as believing that he (peace be upon him) is present everywhere all the time!
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