No Shariah constraints on temple construction in Pak, Islamic group says


Pakistan’s highest religious body has said there are no constitutional or Sharia restrictions on building a Hindu temple in Islamabad or any other part of the country.

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) made its decision at a meeting on Wednesday based on the Constitution and the Liaquat-Nehru Agreement of 1950, which led to the establishment of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) in Pakistan, the Dawn News reported.

The CII also enabled the government to hand over a former Hindu temple and adjacent Dharamshala (community center) in the village of Saidpur to the Hindu community in Islamabad.

Considering the current population of Islamabad, the ancient temple and Dharamshala adjoining the village of Saidpur should be open to Hindus and they should be able to go there to perform religious services according to their beliefs, ICN said.

The decision, signed by 14 members of the CII, adds that Hindus, like all other religious groups in the country, have the constitutional right to a place for the last rites according to their faith.

Under this right, the Hindu community in Islamabad can have a suitable place for the cremation of their dead and perform the final rites of the deceased in accordance with religious instructions, the council said.

A request was referred to the CII by the Ministry of Religious Affairs on July 6, seeking its opinion on the allocation of land to the Hindu community for a crematorium, community center and temple.

The ministry had also sought the opinion of the CII on the allocation of Rs 100 million by the Prime Minister for the construction of the crematorium and the temple.

Some clerics, mainly those affiliated with Lal Masjid, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadis, opposed it and claimed that a government grant for a temple was not Islamic. A petition was also filed with the High Court in Islamabad by an individual against the construction of the temple and crematorium.

The court adjourned the case and tied it to the CII decision.

After the meeting, CII chairman Qibla Ayaz said a conclusion was reached after the council heard the perspectives of various nominations, mainly from clerics, and from the Hindu community.

The decision was made in light of various sharia provisions, he told reporters. Dr Ayaz said the construction of the temple was authorized and a constitutional right, adding that there were no restrictions in Sharia law on the construction of community centers by non-Muslims for collective activities such as weddings and the celebration of religious holidays.

However, the council said it did not support the granting of government funds for the construction of the temple, as there was generally no tradition of the government providing funds for places of worship owned by private parties. .

But the CII also suggested alternatives to address the funding issue, including amending the ETPB law to meet financial needs for carrying out religious activities or creating a fund for non-Muslim communities.

In Pakistan, the ETPB is responsible for looking after Hindu temples and Gurudwara and providing facilities for visitors and pilgrims to these places of worship.

ICN noted that ETPB’s source of income comes from the rental of abandoned properties owned by Hindu and Sikh communities before the partition.

The council’s other solution was to create a global fund for non-Muslims, as they are citizens of Pakistan and the state is responsible for ensuring their well-being and prosperity.

The government can allocate funds separately and hand them over to non-Muslim communities, as there is no sharia requirement on the use of these funds by the affected community.

The ruling Pakistani legislator of Tehreek-e-Insaf, Lal Chand Malhi, hailed the council’s decision, saying it proved that the state guaranteed the rights of religious minorities.

After the CII decision, the Capital Development Authority is expected to issue a certificate of no objection to Hindu Panchayat Islamabad to erect a perimeter wall around the H-9 plot, Malhi said.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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