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Religious scholars ask Taliban to quit terrorism
Eid ul Fitr and Jumat ul Wida sermons call for tolerance
By Ashfaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR – Religious scholars, until now regarded as Taliban sympathisers, have become sick of the militancy and used Jumat ul Wida and Eid ul Fitr sermons to appeals to the insurgents to abandon violence.
“It is highly condemnable that you kill people in the holy month of Ramadan. It’s the greatest opportunity for the militants to say farewell to terrorism and seek forgiveness for their barbarism from Allah on this holy day,” Maulana Ikramullah, a prayer leader, said at the packed Abu Bakar Mosque on Jumat ul Wida, the last Friday of Ramadan, August 17.
Terrorists must throw away their guns and work for the progress of Pakistan by helping the deserving and poor, according to his message.
The cleric found thousands of receptive ears. The faithful nodded in agreement and raised their hands in unison when Ikramullah asked to pray for peace.
“If the Taliban sought forgiveness of Allah and commit to live peacefully in the future, I am sure the relatives of the Taliban’s victims would also forgive them forever,” Qari Abdul Munir told a Jumat ul Wida congregation in Sufaid Dheri, outside Peshawar.
It’s most unfortunate that security forces need to guard worshippers at mosques, he said.
“Rivals (in the past) abstained from inflicting physical harm on their (long-time) enemies while in mosques, but the Taliban’s violent acts have converted them into unsafe places,” Munir said.
Speakers focused on the losses suffered because of terrorism and called for an end to the violence.
Mufti Javid Ahmed in the Daudzai area called for the militants to help the government promote peace and spread the true message of Islam to create tolerance in society. Pakistan will become stronger only when its citizens are at peace, which is possible only through strict pursuance of Islamic teachings ordained by Allah, he added.
“The people cannot walk free,” he said. “Nobody is certain if he or she would remain safe for next hour or so. Even mosques which are homes of God are unsafe, where to go? On this sacred day, we request the militants to stop attacking the army, people and their properties and give up violent acts.”
Prayer leaders throughout Khyber Pakhtunkhwa delivered similar messages on Eid ul Fitr, August 19, the festival marking the end of Ramadan.
The Taliban must bear in mind that Islam advocates sacrifice, tolerance and and religious harmony and forbids all sorts of violence, Qari Mohammad Sana, a leader at a mosque in Old City, told Central Asia Online after leading prayers.
“We believe in peaceful coexistence with equality and to (avoid) from indulging in sinful acts in Ramadan,” he said. “We try our level best to personify ourselves with patience, forgiveness, kindness, generosity and tolerance.”
The Taliban militants should use the holy month to pray to God to prevent them from going astray, he said.
“The problem of violence has held hostage the whole nation,” Maulana Juma Gul, a prayer leader in Kas Koroona, Mardan District, said on Eid. “It has stalled social and economic progress and development besides hampering peace efforts. On this blessful day, all devotees should pledge to lay the foundation of a society based on Islamic lines of brotherhood, justice and fraternity.”
The militants hold the key to peace as their support is crucial to burying extremism and violence, Gul said.
Maulvi Sharifullah, from Rashakai village in the adjacent Nowshera District, agreed with Gul and claimed that the people were now turning against the Taliban because of the on-going violence.
“I appeal to them to decide on this holy Eid ul Fitr that they wouldn’t commit acts of terrorism anymore,” Sharifullah said during the Eid prayer at Umar Farooq Mosque.
The end of Ramadan “is the most appropriate time for the Taliban to seek divine forgiveness and pledge that they would stay peaceful and would discourage terrorism in all its manifestations,” he told attendees.