Leading Pakistani cleric praises Kingdom’s Hajj services

Leading Pakistani cleric praises Kingdom’s Hajj services
Maulana Tahir Ashrafi with Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, chief of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques. (File photo)
Updated 07 September 2018

Leading Pakistani cleric praises Kingdom’s Hajj services

Leading Pakistani cleric praises Kingdom’s Hajj services
  • Pakistan Ulema Council President Tahir Ashrafi also reiterated the organization’s support for the Saudi-led mission against Houthis in Yemen
  • Ashrafi met government officials during Hajj season and discussed a number of issues, including the experiences of Pakistani students in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, the president of the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC), is one of the most prominent figures involved in the expanding fields of cooperation between Pakistani and Saudi religious scholars.
After visiting the Kingdom last month on pilgrimage as part of the Guests of King Salman for Hajj and Umrah program, he told Arab News how impressed he had been with the Hajj preparations and facilities provided by the Kingdom that allowed pilgrims from all over the world to perform their rituals easily and comfortably. He also reiterated his organization’s support for the Saudi-led coalition’s mission against the Houthi militia in Yemen.
“The PUC is honored to be the first religious organization in Pakistan that supported the Kingdom’s anti-terror campaign, Operation Decisive Storm, by issuing a fatwa against the Houthi militia and Daesh terrorists in the region,” he explained.
Ashrafi contributed to the formation of the PUC, which aims to strengthen the ties between Pakistan and Arab countries, and has met the Saudi leadership and the imams of the Two Holy Mosques several times over the years. In 2017, his team organized the third Paigham-e-Islam conference, during which it acknowledged King Salman as the most prominent regional figure in solving issues faced by the Muslim world. He also met leading government figures during his pilgrimage this year.
“During this Hajj season, my meetings with the Saudi interior and Hajj ministers were quite fruitful,” he said. “We discussed a number of issues, including the Hajj services to Pakistani pilgrims, and the status of Pakistani prisoners in Saudi jails.” He added that problems reported by Pakistani students in Saudi Universities “are being sorted out.”
Ashrafi believes that the relationship between Saudi and Pakistani ulama is stronger than ever, and assured the Saudi leadership of Pakistan’s support against all misconceptions about the Kingdom, saying that it is the responsibility of every Muslim to defend the Two Holy Mosques and aim for peace and stability in the region.
“The Saudi leadership and its security institutions are a source of pride for us, as they are protecting this holy land,” he said.
Ashrafi said he learned the Holy Qur’an by heart at the age of seven from Madrassa Kashiful Uloom, a famous seminary in Masjid Bilal Park, Lahore. His grandfather taught at the Madrassa of Deoband after graduating from there. His paternal grandfather, an estate owner, also had strong connections with the local religious circle.
Ashrafi studied at Lahore’s Jamia Qasmia and Jamia Zia Ul Uloom, before completing the Dars-e-Nizami from Jamia Ashrafia. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Punjab University, and went on to earn a master’s degree in Arabic and Islamic studies from the same institution.
“My political journey as a youth started from being the chief organizer of Jamiat Talaba-e-Islam, the student wing of Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam,” he said. “I founded the PUC in the 1990s to promote religious harmony among the ranks of the Sunni scholars in the country.”
To avoid discord, Ashrafi and his organization continuously seek to tackle emerging differences between the many religious schools in the country. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, Pakistan faced another wave of terrorism.
“We launched a major campaign to tackle the growing extremism and terrorism in the country,” he said. “We launched training sessions for ulema, khutaba and students to help them keep away from radical beliefs, as well as teaching them contemporary religious issues in the true light of Islam.”
Ashrafi said he is thankful to God for his role in securing the release of 3,200 Pakistani and foreigner prisoners who had been languishing in jails in Afghanistan. Later, he helped to provide them with support and guidance.
In May this year, Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh gave Ashrafi a special award for his service to Muslim unity. During a personal visit to the Kingdom in July, Ashrafi was treated at King Abdul Aziz Medical City in Riyadh for “medical complications.” He thanked the Saudi leadership for providing him with the best possible treatment.