Mufti Naeem Comes Out Against JUI-F’s Azadi March
While a number of ulema had announced their support for Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman’s planned Azadi March, Mufti Muhammad Naeem, principal of Jamia Binoria International, has now taken the lead among those opposing it.
This is particularly significant, given that he is on the executive committee of the Wafaqul Madaris Al-Arabia (WMA), the largest organization of religious seminaries in the country.
In his Saturday meeting with Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Noorul Qadri and Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi, the influential religious scholar assured the government that he would throw his weight behind an effort to persuade madrassah students across the country to steer clear of the Azadi March.
Mufti Naeem’s stance puts him at odds not only with Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman’s JUI-F, but also the array of opposition parties who announced varying degrees of support for the Azadi March planned for the 31st of October, 2019. In a recorded video message, Mufti Naeem expressed his view that madrassah students must be kept away from involvement in political matters. In his view, such involvement would send the wrong message to the 53 countries from where students come to Pakistan for a religious education – especially at Jamia Binoria International. He went on to appeal to other madrassahs to dissuade their students from being used for political ends.
The official Twitter account for Radio Pakistan quoted him as saying:
If such practice is not stopped, countries across the world will not allow their students to travel to Pakistan for religious education: Principal Jamia Binoria Al-Alamiya Mufti Muhammad Naeem https://t.co/bTLxKVwoB1
— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) October 19, 2019
Nevertheless, other commentators have emphasized the view that the majority of Deobandi madrassahs will support the stance of Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman and the JUI-F, rather than share the position of Mufti Naeem and Jamia Binoria:
Govt asks its minister to visit the Deobandi madrassas to stop students from attending the JUI-F’s anti-govt march. A few, like Mufti Naeem's Jamia Binoria, would support govt, but the majority of Deobandi madrassas have tied with JUI-F. pic.twitter.com/dmRD1HUfPk
— Zia Ur Rehman (@zalmayzia) October 19, 2019