Radical Cleric Of Islamabad’s Red Mosque In TV Interview Justifies Keeping Weapons, Teaching Jihad To Girls, Naming Library After Osama Bin Laden

The following report is a complimentary offering from MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

Maulana Abdul Aziz of Islamabads radical Red MosqueMaulana Abdul Aziz of Islamabad’s radical Red Mosque

Radical Pakistani cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz controls Islamabad’s Red Mosque, which was the site of the 2007 military operation ordered by Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf against armed students and Taliban militants. The mosque is adjacent to the Jamia Hafsa, a female students’ madrassa known for radicalism and support for jihadi forces in Pakistan. The jihadi institution is not even a kilometer away from the headquarters of the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Along with Jamia Hafsa and the Red Mosque, Maulana Aziz also controls Jamia Faridia, a madrassa for male students, also in Islamabad. During the 2007 military operation in the Red Mosque, Maulana Abdul Aziz tried to escape wearing a veil, and therefore became subject of ridicule in Pakistan. His brother, radical cleric Maulana Abdur Rasheed Ghazi, was killed in the operation. The mosque and the madrassa were damaged in the operation, but have been rebuilt recently on the same land, which officially belongs to the government.

Recently, Maulana Abdul Aziz was interviewed by GEO News, an independent Pakistani television channel. The interview reveals that female students are still being taught jihad, while a library at the madrassa is named after slain Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. In the interview, Maulana Abdul Aziz acknowledged that there were weapons on campus, and justified this by saying that it was legal under Islamic sharia law to take over government land and build mosques there without permission.

Following is the text of the interview:

“Training [For Jihad] Is One Thing, [Inculcating] Craving, Ideology And Preparing The Mind Is Another”; “We Inculcate In Them The Ideology, Thought And Passion For Jihad”

Interviewer’s introduction: “To meet the Khateeb [one who leads and delivers sermons on Fridays in a mosque] of the Red Mosque, Maulana Abdul Aziz, I traveled to the new Jamia Hafsa in Islamabad. He came out to welcome me.”

Interviewer: “The Khateeb of the Red Mosque, Maulana Abdul Aziz, is the son of Maulana Abdullah. How much education did you receive?”

Maulana Abdul Aziz: “After studying up to Standard Two [I left]; I always [received] complaints that I would not wear trousers and I would not wear a tie. Afterwards I did Hifz [Koran memorization] in Rawalpindi and then I went to Karachi to study; I studied for eight years there; there are many good madaris [seminaries] and I got education in Dars-e-Nizami [Sunni-Hanafi school of thought].

Interviewer: “[You] must have become the Khateeb of the Red Mosque in inheritance. This mosque is formally under the administration of Auqaf [a government department of religious endowment]. Are you a government servant then?”

Maulana: “Earlier also I was at the Mujadiya Mosque at F-8 in Islamabad where I was a Khateeb officially [as a government servant]. But when my father suddenly got martyred in 1998 then I was transferred here. I had Grade-9 there and here also I am in Grade-9 [government job rank].”

Interviewer: “Grade 9? What salary were you being paid at that time?”

Maulana: “Yes, Grade 9. I used to get about seven-eight thousand [Pakistani rupees] at that time. This was continuing when the Red Mosque incident [military operation] took place. And I was dismissed. Technically, I should have been reinstated but the government did not do that and it did not suit my sense of honor to write an application to the government [requesting to be reinstated in the job]. Why should I make a request to them to reinstate me? So, at present I’m not a government khateeb.”

Interviewer: “Is the government giving you any salary formally?”

Maulana: “No, no salary.”

Interviewer: “The government did not give you permission; the mosque belongs to the Department of Auqaf; then, do you lead the prayer by force there [at the Red Mosque]?

Maulana: “We think that the affairs of mosques are in the hands of Allah. Auqafs are external things.”

Interviewer: “Beside the Red Mosque, how many mosques and madaris are under your supervision?”

Maulana: “There are some 27-28 madaris in which over 5,000 boys and girls receive religious education from us. And there are about 550 staff, which includes teachers and others.”

Interviewer: “How much salary do you pay to the staff in total?”

Maulana: “About 27 to 28 lakhs [one lakh = 100,000] goes into monthly payroll.”

Interviewer: “Are the boys and girl students here prepared for the passion and training of jihad?”

Maulana: “Training [for jihad] is one thing and [inculcating] craving, ideology and preparing the mind is another. Our work is that we inculcate in them the ideology, thought and passion for jihad. And the Koran tells us that.”

Maulana On Escaping Wearing A Veil And Cowardice In Islam: “The Sharia Tells Us To Stand Up For Religion, Give Sacrifice, And That There Should Be Passion For Jihad And Craving For Martyrdom; And If It Is Required, Then Also To Step Back”

Interviewer: “Your mother, only son, and your younger brother Abdur Rasheed Ghazi, all got separated from you in the incident at the Red Mosque [all three died]. This incident must have had a great effect on you.”

Maulana: “The incident at the Red Mosque, I believe that it has increased our faith.”

Interviewer: “Do you feel the pangs of their separation?”

Maulana: “It is natural. There was my son, my brother. And he was the only son and he left me; I had the only brother and he left me.”

Interviewer: “Many people mock you for taking flight in a burka from the Red Mosque. Was that not cowardice?”

Maulana: “The Sharia tells us to stand up for religion, give sacrifice, and that there should be passion for jihad and craving for martyrdom; and if it is required, then also to step back.”

Interviewer: “Isn’t there also an element of cowardice? Do people taunt you?”

Maulana: “Certainly, it is their right. But Allah knows it.”

Interviewer: “Then you came on TV along with that veil.”

Maulana: “Yes. See, this was arbitrary on the part of government. I did come out [of the mosque] in a burka. But when I was arrested my burka was taken off. [Then] I was told to wear it again. I did not know where I was being taken to. And suddenly I was put before the media and they asked me if they can ask some questions. I said sure. And I was presented [wearing] a burka.”

Interviewer: “You understand that it was a personal humiliation done to you?”

Maulana: “I know it was a humiliation, but I don’t care.”

Interviewer: “It is said that the Jamia Hafsa [which was damaged in the military operation] and present [newly-constructed] madrasa both are built on government land and no legal permission has been granted for them. Do you think it is appropriate [for you] to do so?”

Maulana: “Constructing a madrassa and mosque on government land is permissible because the real land belongs to that Great Government [of Allah] who is the Creator and Lord of the whole universe.”

Interviewer: “But in general terms, isn’t it illegal occupation?”

Maulana: “What is this general term, we talk about the Koran and Sunnah.”

Library named after Osama bin Laden at Jamia Hafsa madrassaLibrary named after Osama bin Laden at Jamia Hafsa madrassa

“There Is No Sanctity Of The [Pakistani] Constitution For Us; For Us The Koran And Sunnah Have The Sanctity”; “[On Naming Of Library After Osama Bin Laden:] When There Is Freedom Of Speech Then If Someone Calls Him A Terrorist Then It Is Their View, It Is Not Our View. We Call Osama Bin Laden A Hero Of Islam, A Martyr”

Interviewer: “You consider the constitution of Pakistan un-Islamic but you accept it; why, then, don’t you accept the law [i.e. not to occupy government land to build a mosque]?”

Maulana: “There is no sanctity of the [Pakistani] Constitution for us. For us the Koran and Sunnah have the sanctity. If there is a conflict between the Constitution and the Koran and Sunnah, then we will give preference to the Koran and Sunnah; we would push the constitution to the back seat.”

Interviewer: “You have set up this library in the name of Osama bin Laden. Do you want to fight the whole world?”

Maulana: “When there is freedom of speech then if someone calls him a terrorist then it is their view, it is not our view. We call Osama bin Laden a hero of Islam, a martyr.”

Interviewer: “Did you ever meet Osama bin Laden?”

Maulana: “No, never.”

Interviewer: “Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi [chief of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, a Taliban-allied group] came to meet him [during the day of this interview].

“There are 1,300 girl students in this Jamiaat [Jamia Hafsa].”

Maulana: “Just as there is Darul Ifta [house for issuing Islamic sharia edicts] for men where we give answers to their queries, we likewise have one for women.”

Interviewer: “That is to say, women also issue fatwas?”

Maulana: “Certainly. This is Darul Ifta. Female muftis sit here and these are books of fatwas for them. They guide those who come for fatwas.”

Interviewer: “Many clerics think that covering the face of women is not mandatory. Here I find all women wearing burkas and covering their faces also.”

Maulana: There may be other views but the clerics of our school of thought in India and Pakistan say that covering the face is also necessary because the face of a woman becomes a test for men.”

“Many Problems Come Up Because Of The Lack Of Veils; Fitna [Corruption In Behavior And Society] Is Created, And Trials And Troubles Arise”; “In My Opinion When A Girl Comes To The Age Of Nine Or Ten There Should Be A Veil For Them”

Interviewer: “What is your opinion about those women who do not wear a veil?”

Maulana: “Many problems come up because of the lack of veils; fitna [corruption in behavior and society] is created, and trials and troubles arise.”

Interviewer:  “In your opinion at which age should a woman start wearing a veil?”

Maulana: “In my opinion, when a girl comes to the age of nine or 10, there should be a veil for her. Here we have school education at the level of middle and other education also; their food, their water, their expenses; their books worth hundreds thousand [of Pakistani rupees] and all their expenses [are paid by the institution].”

Interviewer: “You must be taking some fee also?”

Maulana: “No, not at all.”

Interviewer: “This is first grade. What is your name, daughter?”

Girl: “Hafiza.”

Interviewer: “Where do you come from?”

Girl: “Dir. [The girl reads] A, A for apple means seb; B for bottle, bottle means bottle…”

Girl 2: “Fauzia.”

Interviewer:  “Which area do you come from?”

Fauzia: “Kallam.”

Girl 3: “Noorunnisa.”

Interviewer:  “You are Noorunnisa. Where do you come from?”

Noorunnisa: “District Khushal.”

Girl 4: “My name is Nabeela and I come from Parachinar.”

Interviewer: “Why have you come here?”

Nabeela: “To please Allah, the Almighty and to get an education.”

Interviewer: “Are the girls also taught conversation in Arabic?”

[Two girls demonstrate their skills speaking Arabic:]

One girl to another:Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh.”

Second girl:Wa-alaikumusssalam Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Brakatuh.”

First girl: “How do you do, my sister?”

Second girl: “I am fine by the Grace of Allah, and how are you, oh my sister?”

First girl: “I am also fine. by the Grace of Allah.”

Female students at the Jamia Hafsa madrassaFemale students at the Jamia Hafsa madrassa

Asked If Makeup Is Allowed, Female Student Responds: “It Is Commanded That It Should Be Worn Only For Mahram, That Is, The Husband

Interviewer: “There is a dispensary within the Jamia that is run by Dr. Ayesha. Where did you get your education from?”

Dr. Ayesha: “From the Fatima Jinnah [institute] in Lahore. I did only my initial MBBS from there and after finishing that, eight years ago, I went to Australia and I did specialization there…”

Interviewer: “Where is your family?”

Dr. Ayesha: “My brother is abroad; sister is abroad; but my parents are in Pakistan.”

Interviewer: “Did you wear a veil earlier?”

Dr. Ayesha: “I didn’t wear a veil at all earlier.”

Interviewer: “What were the feeling and impression of the men in the world before this veil and what is their impression now?”

Dr. Ayesha: “Allah the Great has created women with chastity like a diamond and it is better if the diamond is kept safe and hidden. I have got extreme respect both from disbelievers and Muslim men.”

Interviewer: “There is a modern computer room also in the madrassa. Are the girl students allowed to visit YouTube [which is blocked in Pakistan] and Google also?”

Maulana: “Students are taught most of the time but the teachers who have worked hard here for many years visit them and take out things after visiting [those sites]… These are students of specialized courses and they are becoming muftiya [female muftis] by the Grace of Allah. Teachers teach them from outside. There is an arrangement with speakers and teachers from outside; Glory is to Allah and no man comes inside.”

Interviewer:  “What do you want to do by becoming a mufti?

A girl: “Allah willing, we will go back to our areas and shed the light of religion on them who are still deprived of it. Allah willing, our endeavor is to set up Jamiat [female madrassa] there.”

Interviewer: “Are the women allowed to apply nail polish or use makeup?”

Second girl: “Since it is mandatory to wet the parts that must be wet during ablution, if a part does not get wet, then ablution will not be complete [i.e. nail polish is forbidden]. Regarding makeup, it is commanded that it should be worn only for mahram, that is, the husband.”

Interviewer: “Will you marry by your own choice?”

Second girl: “Since our aim is to spread religion then if we do it with our own choice then there is no harm in it.”

Asked Why Jihad Posters And Weapons Are Present At The Madrassa, Maulana Responds: “Since There Is The Principle Of Jihad In Our Islam; So We Think That There Should Be Real Weapons In Homes”; “Sahabia [The Female Companions Of Prophet Muhammad] Knew How To Use Weapons”

Interviewer: “There are jihad posters, Kalashnikovs and that real pistol there [on the wall] in the room of a female teacher?”

Maulana: “This is not real. This is artificial. This is not real. Since there is the principle of jihad in our Islam; so we think that there should be real weapons in homes and…”

Interviewer: “Should women also know how to use firearms?”

Maulana: “Sahabia [the female companions of Prophet Muhammad] knew how to use weapons.”

Interviewer: “Do the students and teachers of Jamia Hafsa know how to use the weapons?”

Maulana: “Students don’t know but a group of our special teachers is trained occasionally.”

Interviewer: “Do you have legal weapons?”

Maulana: “Yes a few. [We have] one pistol and a few weapons which are legal.”

Interviewer: “Are there Kalashnikovs also?”

Maulana: “Yes, a few.”

Interviewer:  “Do you think it legal to ask permission from the first wife for a second marriage?”

Maulana: “In the sharia there is no command to ask the first wife. But there are other conditions on the other hand. Is he fulfilling the rights of the first wife? And it should also be kept in mind whether he can afford the second wife.”

Interviewer: “Who will check it?”

Maulana: “This will be checked by the Islamic state and it is the responsibility of the Qazi [judge].”

Interviewer: “As long as there is no Islamic state do the men keep marrying second, third and fourth [wives] unabated?”

Maulana: “See, when the Koran has not put the condition of [not marrying another] wife we cannot put conditions [on our own].”

Interviewer: “Do you have any intention of a second marriage?”

Maulana: “Allah willing, I have the intention. But before that we want to establish Khilafat [caliphate] and struggle for that.”

Interviewer: “Do you think the marriage of a 60 years old man with 18 or 20 years old girl is natural?”

Maulana: “I believe that it is a great repression which is continuing in our society. The men of 60 or 70 years of age are marrying 20-, 25-year old girls. It is cruelty, I think. There should be balance in age.”

Interviewer: “A group of clerics has had second and third marriages.”

Maulana: “I think they are not doing right thing. If a common man gets 10 lashes for this then a cleric should get 15 lashes for that, I say.”

Interviewer: “Will you do a second marriage with a widow/divorcee or a virgin?”

Maulana: “I would say that she should be a divorcee/widow who has no heir. I say one should become the support to those who have no support.”

Male students at Jamia Faridia madrassaMale students at Jamia Faridia madrassa

Asked How Many Bank Accounts He Has, Maulana Says: “I Have Only One Bank Account In Dubai In Which There May Be Some Five To Six Thousand And That Too Belongs To The Madrassa; I Have No Personal Bank Account”

Interviewer: “We reached Jamia Faridia and visited the grave of [Maulana Abdul Aziz’s] father. It is alleged that you own a very big bungalow in Baharia Town and you have many more properties. Do you have all these in reality?”

Maulana: “I don’t have even a single marla [a measurement approximately 272 square feet] house. Not even a single or double room… and if someone says that I have one then I gift him that and they may take it. It is not that there were no offers; friends made offers.”

Interviewer: “How many bank accounts do you have in the country and abroad and how much money is there?”

Maulana: “I have only one bank account in Dubai in which there may be some five to six thousand and that too belongs to the madrassa; I have no personal bank account.”

[Maulana recites Surah Ikhlas (Verse 112) from the Koran]: “Say, ‘He is Allah, [who is] One; Allah, the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born, nor is there to Him any equivalent.”

Interviewer: “How many times did you go to jail in your life?”

Maulana: “Only once I went to jail. About two years I had to be there after the incident at the Red Mosque.”

Interviewer: “Different and opposite facts are being presented regarding the Red Mosque incident. How many boys and girls died [during the 2007 military operation]?”

Maulana: “I don’t have any sources to tell you about the numbers.”

Interviewer: “All the government agencies say that beside Umme Hassan Sahiba [Maulana’s wife], there were no girls, no women there.”

Maulana: “Umme Hassan came on out the last day [of the military operation]. Before that my daughters got out and many other girls…”

Interviewer:  “All the girls had gone out?”

Umme Hassan: “The majority had left.”

Interviewer: “How many would have been left?

Umme Hassan: “About some 1,500. And there were about 4,000 girls at that time…”

Interviewer: “It is alleged that there were some people hiding here and they were not allowing any compromise?”

Umme Hassan: “This is absolutely wrong. I was personally inside. We were saying to give Jamia to the Wafaq [i.e. as a compromise, hand over the control of the Jamia Hafsa to Wafaqul Madaris Al-Arabia, which controls a network of madrassas across Pakistan]. What else could we have said? We asked to allow us to go to Afghanistan. That was also not accepted [as a compromise by the Pakistani military].”

Maulana: “[We] remember all the things but I think it is not better to dig up the past.”

Umme Hassan: “He [Maulana] has very many qualities and there is no weakness in my view. The quality is that he seldom gets angry”

Son-in-law Haroon Rasheed Ghazi: “There is a kind of passion and craving to work for religion in him [Maulana].  I have seen a sincere effort in him. In our marriage our choice was also there and it was arranged also. First I liked her and then I told my mother; then she went to talk to them. Our age is similar. She is two months older than me.”

Haris Rasheed, Maulana’s nephew: “The best thing I have noted in him is that he is very tolerant. My father used to be a little bit hard but he is very soft.”

Interviewer:  “I ate dinner with the girls. Due to lack of funds girls have to starve at times.”

Maulana’s Wife Umme Hassan: “There Is No Concept Of Anniversaries In Islam; The Life Has Always Been Blissful”; “[Asked If Women Should Drive] I Have Done It; If It Was Not Permissible Then How Could Have I Done This?”; “[Asked If She Will Permit Her Husband To Marry A Second Wife] I Give Him Permission”

Interviewer: “How many years have you been married ”

Umme Hassan (Maulana’s wife): “We got married in 1985, 16th August.”

Interviewer: “Do you remember the marriage anniversary?”

Umme Hassan: “There is no concept of anniversaries in Islam. Life has always been blissful.”

Interviewer: “What is your family’s monthly expenditure?”

Umme Hassan: “It comes about seven to eight thousand [rupees] monthly. We purchase things on a monthly basis.”

Interviewer: “Should the woman have the permission to drive?”

Umme Hassan: “I have done it. If it was not permissible then how could have I done this?”

Interviewer: “Would there be permission for becoming a stewardess?”

Maulana: “There should be stewardesses but they should serve the women [only]. Serving the namahram [those who are not to be mingled with] and cleaning their vomit, cleaning their bathrooms – it is beyond one’s wisdom and cognizance and sharia also does not want this.”

Interviewer: “Many people make the objection that you are raising the voice [on several issues] at a wrong time and you are presenting only the agenda of the Taliban in a mannered way.”

Maulana: “The system is wrong. I have been saying it since 1998. I had said that day that my fight with this system would continue. From that day till today I have, by the Grace of Allah, have always raised my voice…”

Interviewer: “If Maulana [Aziz] asks permission for second marriage what would be your reaction?

Umme Hassan: “I give him permission on my behalf. Let him do so.”

Interviewer: “Would you feel hurt?”

Umme Hassan: “Feeling hurt is another thing. It is but natural. But whether sharia permits us to declare a permissible thing unlawful just for the feeling hurt?”

Source: GEO News, April 4, 2014; the video of the program in Urdu can be viewed at Facebook.com/photo.php?v=765760043456498.