Javed Ahmed Ghamidi
|Founder and Patron Al-Mawrid (A Foundation for Islamic Research and Education) (Principal Research Fellow of Ghamidi Center of Islamic Learning)|
J?v?d Ahmed Gh?mid? (Urdu: ? ) (born April 7, 1952) is a Pakistan Muslim theologian, Quran scholar, Islamic modernist, exegete and educationist. He is also the founding President of Al-Mawrid Institute of Islamic Sciences and its sister organisation Danish Sara. He became a member of the Council of Islamic Ideology (responsible for giving legal advice on Islamic issues to the Pakistani Government and the country's Parliament) on 28 January 2006, where he remained for a couple of years. He also taught Islamic studies at the Civil Services Academy for more than a decade from 1979 to 1991. He was also a student of Islamic scholar and exegete, Amin Ahsan Islahi. He is running an intellectual movement similar to Wasatiyyah, on the popular electronic media of Pakistan. Currently he is Principal Research Fellow and Chief Patron of Ghamidi Center of Islamic Learning in United States. Javed Ahmad Ghamidi was named in The Muslim 500 (The World's Most Influential Muslims) in the 2019, 2020 and 2021 editions.
Javed Ahmed Ghamidi was born as Muhammad Shafique (Later he renamed himself as Javed Ghamdi)on 7 April 1952 to a Kakazai family in a village called Jivan Shah (near Pakpattan) in District Sahiwal, Punjab, Pakistan. His family village settlement was Dawud in Sialkot. His father, Muhammad Tufayl Junaydi, was a landowner, involved in medicine and a committed follower of tasawwuf until his death in 1986.
Ghamidi and his two elder sisters grew up in a Sufi household. His early education included a modern path (matriculating from Islamia High School, Pakpattan), as well as a traditional path (Arabic and Persian languages, and the Qur'an with Nur Ahmad of Nang Pal). His father wanted him to have both traditional and modern education, splitting his time between school and learning Arabic and Persian.
His first exposure to traditional Islamic studies was in the Sufi tradition. After matriculating, he came to Lahore in 1967 where he is settled ever since. Initially, he was more interested in Literature and Philosophy. He later graduated from Government College, Lahore, with a BA Honours in English Literature & Philosophy in 1972.
During his excursions to the library he stumbled on the works of Hamiduddin Farahi, a scholar of Quran. In this work he found a mention of Amin Ahsan Islahi, the torchbearer of Farahi's thought. Knowing that Amin Ahsan Islahi was resident in Lahore during those days, he set out to meet him the very day he had first read his mention. The meeting changed Ghamidi from a man of philosophy and literature to a man of religion. In 1973, he came under the tutelage of Amin Ahsan Islahi (d. 1997), who was destined to who have a deep impact on him. He was also associated with scholar and revivalist Abu al-A'la Mawdudi (d. 1979) for several years. He started working with them on various Islamic disciplines particularly exegesis and Islamic law.
In his book, Maqamat (), Ghamidi starts with an essay "My Name" (? ) to describe the story behind his surname, which sounds somewhat alien in the context of the Indian Subcontinent. He describes a desire during his childhood years to establish a name linkage to his late grandfather Noor Elahi, after learning of his status as the one people of the area turned to, to resolve disputes. This reputation also led to his (grandfather's) reputation as a peacemaker (?). Subsequently, one of the visiting Sufi friends of his father narrated a story of the patriarch of the Arab tribe Banu Ghamid who earned the reputation of being a great peacemaker. He writes, that the temporal closeness of these two events clicked in his mind and he decided to add the name Ghamidi to his given name, Javed Ahmed. Taxila.
Ghamidi's conclusions and understanding of Islam, including the Sharia, has been presented concisely in his book Mizan with the intention of presenting the religion in its pure shape, cleansed from tasawwuf, qalam, fiqh, all philosophies and any other contaminants.
Ghamidi's non-traditionalist approach to the religion has parted him from the conservative understanding on a large number of issues. However, Ghamidi argues that his dissenting conclusions are at times based on traditional foundations set by classical scholars. In his arguments, there is no reference to the Western sources, human rights or current philosophies of crime and punishment. Nonetheless, employing the traditional Islamic framework, he reaches conclusions which are similar to those of Islamic modernists and progressives on the subject.
Ghamidi believes that there are certain directives of the Qur'an pertaining to war which were specific only to Prophet Muhammad and certain specified peoples of his times (particularly the progeny of Abraham: the Ishmaelites, the Israelites, and the Nazarites). Thus, Muhammad and his designated followers waged a war against divinely specified peoples of their time (the polytheists and the Israelites and Nazarites of Arabia and some other Jews, Christians, et al.) as a form of divine punishment and asked the polytheists of Arabia for submission to Islam as a condition for exoneration and the others for jizya and submission to the political authority of the Muslims for exemption from death punishment and for military protection as the dhimmis of the Muslims. Therefore, after Muhammad and his companions, there is no concept in Islam obliging Muslims to wage war for propagation or implementation of Islam.
The only valid basis for jihad through arms is to end oppression when all other measures have failed. According to him Jihad can only be waged by an organised Islamic state, that too only where a leader has been nominated by the previous leader or by the consensus of the ulema if the state is newly established. No person, party or group can take arms into their hands (for the purpose of waging Jihad) under any circumstances. Another corollary, in his opinion, is that death punishment for apostasy was also specifically for the recipients of the same Divine punishment during Muhammad's times--for they had persistently denied the truth of Muhammad's mission even after it had been made conclusively evident to them by God through Muhammad.
According to Ghamidi, the formation of an Islamic state is not a religious obligation upon the Muslims per se. However, if and when Muslims do happen to form a state of their own, Islam does impose certain religious obligations on its rulers as establishment of the institutions of salat (obligatory prayer), zakah (mandatory charity), and 'amr bi'l-ma'ruf wa nahi 'ani'l-munkar (preservation and promotion of society's good conventions and customs and eradication of social vices); this, in Ghamidi's opinion, should be done in modern times through courts, police, etc. in accordance with the law of the land which, as the government itself, must be based on the opinion of the majority.
Ghamidi argues that the Qur'an states norms for male-female interaction in Surah An-Nur, while in Surah Al-Ahzab, there are special directives for Muhammad's wives and directives given to Muslim women to distinguish themselves when they were being harassed in Medina. He further claims that the Qur'an has created a distinction between men and women only to maintain family relationships.
According to Ghamidi:
According to Ghamidi, all that is Islam is constituted by the Qur'an and Sunnah. Nothing besides these two is Islam or can be regarded as part of it. Just like Quran, Sunnah (the way of the prophet) is only what the Muslim nation received through ijma (consensus of companions of the prophet) and tawatur (perpetual adherence of the Muslim nation). Unlike Quran and Sunnah, ahadith only explain and elucidate what is contained in these two sources and also describe the exemplary way in which Muhammad followed Islam. The Sharia is distinguished from fiqh, the latter being collections of interpretations and applications of the Sharia by Muslim jurists. Fiqh is characterised as a human exercise, and therefore subject to human weakness and differences of opinion. A Muslim is not obliged to adhere to a school of fiqh.
The Taliban say that democracy is a concept alien to Islam. The ideal way to set up an Islamic government in our times is the one that they adopted for Mullah Omar's government in Afghanistan. The constitution, the parliament, and elections are nothing but modern day shams. ... I can say with full confidence on the basis of my study of Islam that this viewpoint and this strategy are not acceptable to the Qur'?n. It prescribes democracy as the way to run the affairs of the state. The Qur'?n (42:38) says: amruhum sh?r? baynahum (the affairs of the Muslims are run on the basis of their consultation). 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "Whosoever pledges allegiance to anyone without the collective consent of the Muslims presents himself for the death sentence." It is true that, in Muslim history, monarchy and dictatorship have often been accepted forms of government. Some people also believe that the head of government should be a nominee of God Himself. However, the principle the Qur'?n spells out is very clear.-- Javed A. Ghamidi, Islam and the Taliban
Ghamidi writes on moral and ethical issues in Islam. He states:
After faith, the second important requirement of religion is purification of morals. This means that a person should cleanse his attitude both towards his Creator and towards his fellow human beings. This is what is termed as a righteous deed. All the shar?'ah is its corollary. With the change and evolution in societies and civilizations, the shar?'ah has indeed changed; however faith and righteous deeds, which are the foundations of religion, have not undergone any change. The Qur'an is absolutely clear that any person who brings forth these two things before the Almighty on the Day of Judgement will be blessed with Paradise which shall be his eternal abode.
Like Wahiduddin Khan, Maulana Naeem Siddiqui, Israr Ahmed and Dr. Khazir Yasin, Ghamidi also worked closely with Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maududi (alternative spelling Syed Maudoodi; often referred to as Maulana Maududi) (1903-1979) and Amin Ahsan Islahi. His work with Maududi continued for about nine years before he voiced his first differences of opinion, which led to his subsequent expulsion from Mawdudi's political party, Jamaat-e-Islami in 1977. Later, he developed his own view of religion based on hermeneutics and ijtihad under the influence of his mentor, Amin Ahsan Islahi (1904-1997), a well-known exegete of the Indian sub-continent who is author of Tadabbur-i-Qur'an, a Tafsir (exegeses of Qur'an). Ghamidi's critique of Mawdudi's thought is an extension of Wahid al-Din Khan's criticism of Mawdudi. Khan (1925- ) was amongst the first scholars from within the ranks of Jamaat-e-Islami to present a full-fledged critique of Mawdudi's understanding of religion. Khan's contention is that Mawdudi has completely inverted the Qur'anic worldview. Ghamidi, for his part, agreed with Khan that the basic obligation in Islam is not the establishment of an Islamic world order but servitude to God, and that it is to help and guide humans in their effort to fulfill that obligation for which religion is revealed. Therefore, Islam never imposed the obligation on its individual adherents or on the Islamic state to be constantly in a state of war against the non-Islamic world. In fact, according to Ghamidi, even the formation of an Islamic state is not a basic religious obligation for Muslims. Despite such extraordinary differences and considering Maududi's interpretation of "political Islam" as incorrect, Ghamidi in one of his 2015 interviews said that he still respects his former teacher like a father.
Ghamidi's thought and discourse community has received some academic attention in the recent past by Pakistani scholar Dr. Husnul Amin whose critical analysis of Ghamidi's thought movement has received academic attention. Amin traces the history of secessionist tendencies within the mainstream Islamism, and its ruptures, and then critically examines Ghamidi's emergence and proliferation in society as an unprecedented phenomenon. Ghamidi's views and discourse on Islam and democracy have also been examined in another cited research paper.
Ghamidi resigned in September 2006 from the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), a constitutional body responsible for providing legal advice on Islamic issues to the Pakistani government. His resignation was 'accepted' by the President of Pakistan. Ghamidi's resignation was prompted by the Pakistani government's formation of a separate committee of ulema to review a Bill involving women's rights; the committee was formed after extensive political pressure was applied by the MMA. Ghamidi argued that this was a breach of the CII's jurisdiction, since the very purpose of the council is to ensure that Pakistan's laws do not conflict with the teachings of Islam. He also said that the amendments in the bill proposed by the Ulema committee were against the injunctions of Islam. This event occurred when the MMA threatened to resign from the provincial and national assemblies if the government amended the Hudood Ordinance, which came into being under Zia-ul-Haq's Islamization. The Hudood Ordinances have been criticised for, among other things, a reportedly difficult procedure to prove allegations of rape.
Ghamidi has appeared regularly on dedicated television programs. His television audience consists of educated, urban-based middle-class men and women between the ages of 20-35, as well as lay Islamic intellectuals and professionals. Ghamidi's religiously oriented audience tends to be dissatisfied with the positions of traditional ulema and Western-educated secular-liberal elite, and find his interventions and ideas more sensible, moderate, and relevant.
Ghamidi has earned criticism from all traditional Islamic scholars in Pakistan and abroad for his interpretation of certain Islamic values. Some books highly critical of Ghamidi are, Fitna-e-Ghamdiyat ( ) by Hafiz Salahuddin Yusuf and Fitna-e-Ghamdiyat ka Ilmi Muhasbah ( ? ) by Maulana Muhammad Rafiq.
In one interview, when asked his opinion about being branded as a liberal, Ghamidi replied that he does not care about such things and his objectives are not affected by such terms.
Ghamidi left Pakistan in 2010 as a result of opposition to his work and threat to his life and his closed ones. In a 2015 interview with Voice of America, Ghamidi explained his reason for departure was to safeguard the lives of people near him including his neighbours who had begun to fear for their safety. Some of his close associates had already been killed like Muhammad Farooq Khan and Dr. Habib-ur-Rehman. Ghamidi maintained that his work of education was not affected by his departure because of modern communication. Ghamidi, also regularly appears on Ilm-o-Hikmat, a Pakistani Dunya News show. He has stated his desire to return in the future when circumstances change.
Ghamidi moved to Dallas, Texas, USA as of July 2019, to support establishment of Ghamidi Center of Islamic Learning, an initiative of Al-Mawrid US and an educational institute named after himself.
Ghamidi's books include:
English Translation of his works by Dr. Shehzad Saleem:
It is obvious...that jihad becomes obligatory only in the presence of a ruler...whose political authority has been established either through nomination by the previous ruler similar to how Abu Bakr transferred the reins [of his Khilafah to Umar] or through the pledging of allegiance by the ulema