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Pakistani leaders sign historic anti-sectarianism declaration

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Muslim scholars from Pakistan have signed a historic agreement condemning sectarianism and vowing to remove it as a cause of conflict in the violence-stricken country.

Meeting in the Turkish seaside resort of Bodrum, the scholars, who represent all of Pakistan's major Islamic sects and tendencies, agreed to come together to tackle religious intolerance in the interests of Muslim unity.

Brought together by the UJN, the signatories included Sahibzada Muhammad Hamid Raza of the Sunni Ittehad Council, Sahibzada Muhammad Hamid Raza of Jamiat Ahle Hadith, and Allama Syed Niaz Hussain Shah of Hoza Ilmia Jamia Al Muntazar.

The 11-point UJN Pakistan Unity Declaration commits the signatories and the UJN to sign statements in the upcoming Islamic month of Muharram denouncing the killing of fellow human beings on the basis of color, creed, ethnicity or religion as haram (sinful). The statements will also declare excommunication or takfir against fellow Muslims and abusing the Prophet Muhammad's family and companions to be against the Shariah.
Also party to the accord were Allama Mohammad Sadiq Qureshi (Minhaj ul Quran International), Maulana Syed Ali Murtaza Zaidi (Jamay Imamia), Liaqat Baloch, MP (Jamaat-e-Islami) and Muhammad Sarwat Ejaz Qadri (Pakistan Sunni Tahreek).

The accord is based on Charter 3:103, initiated by the Islamic Human Rights Commission in 1997 and since adopted by scores of Muslim organizations, which calls for Muslims to be united in accordance with the 103rd verse of the third chapter of the Holy Quran.  

It also addresses the challenging problem of madrasas in Pakistan, believed to be a breeding ground of intolerance, recommending that syllabuses and curriculums address the need for respect, harmony and peace between all members of Pakistani society.

Chair of IHRC and UJN coordinator Massoud Shadjareh said, "The signing of the declaration is a determined step out of the quagmire of murder and fear that has come to characterize the landscape in Pakistan. The situation of sectarian killings and intimidation that has worsened year on year has been dealt a blow by the unity shown today."

Director of Citizens International and UJN coordinator Mohideen Abdul Kader said, "The dream for many that the inception of Pakistan once was had become a nightmare. Today's events bring back hope that one day Pakistan can put the internecine strife of the current era behind it."

Read the original article published in Indus Business Journal on 1 November 2013

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