by Zia Ur Rehman
July 21, 2015
Karachi’s law enforcement agencies have been looking into the terrorist ties of Panjpiri madrassas that are affiliated with the prominent Darul Quran seminary in the Panjpir town of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swabi district, The News has learnt.
During the month of Ramazan, the law enforcement agencies twice raided the madrassa Darul Quran in Muslimabad, Quaidabad and interrogated the seminary’s administrator and teachers.
“They [the law enforcement agencies] were looking for a former student of the seminary who is allegedly involved in subversive activities,” a teacher at the seminary told The News.
The Darul Quran seminary in Panjpir, Swabi was established in 1939 by Maulana Muhammad Tahir, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Ishaat-e-Tauheed wa Sunnat (JITS). Tahir died in 1987, and the seminary is now headed by his son Maulana Muhammad Tayyab. The adherents of Tahir, which are known as Panjpiris, follow a local version of Wahabi Islam, and have grown in influence in different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal areas.
The main objective of the JITS is to preach the oneness of Allah and the traditions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) as a code of life and also to make Muslims abandon polytheism (shirk), fabrication in Islam (bida’a) and un-Islamic rites and rituals, it has stated on its website.
Panjpiri clerics strongly discourage Muslims from visiting Sufi shrines and describe the practice as un-Islamic.
Tahir Ali, an Islamabad-based security analyst, said this belief is the reason why Taliban groups keep attacking Sufi shrines in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Key Taliban commanders, including Maulana Fazlullah, the chief of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan; Maulana Sufi Muhammad, the head of banned Tehreek-e-Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi; Mangal Bagh, who leads the Khyber Agency-based banned group Lashkar-e-Islam and Bajaur Agency-based Taliban commander Maulana Faqir Muhamamd are staunch followers of the Panjpiri school of thought.
In Karachi, there are around 20 Panjpiri madrassas in different Pashtun neighbourhoods, including Landhi, Keamari and Orangi Town.
“These madrassas’ administrators ran private FM radio stations in Keamari, but they have stopped after the government imposed restrictions,” said a religious leader in the city.
Three children were killed and several injured in an explosion at the Panjpiri-affiliated Tahiria madrassa near Mominabad in April last year.
The suicide bomber allegedly involved in the attack on slain police officer Chaudary Aslam was the son of Maulana Rafiullah, the prayer leader of a Panjpiri madrassa in Orangi Town.