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Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology terms forced conversion ‘un-Islamic’

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The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) during its two-day session took up the matter of forced conversions and decided to include minority leaders in the consultation process

Amidst increasing reports of forcible conversion of minorities in Pakistan, including that of Hindus and Sikhs, a constitutional body tasked with giving legal advice on Islamic issues to the lawmakers has said that such a practice was “un-Islamic and unconstitutional.”

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) during its two-day session took up the matter of forced conversions and decided to include minority leaders in the consultation process, The News reported on Thursday, citing sources.

“They (CII) were of the view that Islam does not allow forced conversions. It was also proposed to the Ministry of Religious Affairs to prepare a performa for those who want to change their religion or accept Islam,” the paper said.

Addressing a press conference here after the two-day meeting, CII Chairman Dr. Qibla Ayaz said the forced conversion of religion is violation of the Islamic teachings and also breach of the Constitution.

India has repeatedly condemned the abduction, forced conversion, and marriage of minority girls in Pakistan.

In July last, Prime Minister Imran Khan had termed the practice of forced conversions as “un-Islamic” and said there was no precedent in Islamic history for forcefully converting others, according to media reports.

“How can we take it into our own hands to forcefully convert someone to Islam - either by marrying (non-Muslim) women (...) or on gunpoint or to (by threatening to) kill someone because of their religion?” he asked.

“All these things are un-Islamic. If God hadn’t given his messengers the power to impose their beliefs on someone, who are we (to do so)?” he asked, explaining that the messengers’ duty was only to spread the word of God.

In the same month, the Sindh Assembly unanimously passed a resolution demanding that the practice of forced conversions and abductions of Hindu girls must be stopped and action be taken against those involved in such activities.

The resolution came months after the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in its annual report in April raised concerns about incidents of forced conversions and marriages of Hindu and Christian girls, saying around 1,000 such cases were reported in the southern Sindh province alone last year.

In March last year, two Hindu teenage sisters - Raveena, 13, and Reena, 15, were allegedly kidnapped by a group of “influential” men from their home in Ghotki district in Sindh on the eve of Holi. Soon after the kidnapping, a video went viral in which a cleric was purportedly shown soleminising the marriage of the two girls, triggering a nationwide outrage.

Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan.

According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. However, according to the community, over 90 lakh Hindus are living in the country.

Majority of Pakistan’s Hindu population is settled in Sindh province where they share culture, traditions and language with their Muslim fellows.

Talking to reporters, Mr. Ayaz also said that the council has declared some of the clauses of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ordinance as un-Islamic and against the Islamic Sharia.

Soon after Mr. Ayaz’s press conference, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry expressed “serious concerns” about the council’s performance.

“Till today the religious segments [of the country] have not received any guidance from the ideological council,” he said, adding that he could not understand the logic behind spending millions of rupees on such an institution.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 1:32:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/pakistans-council-of-islamic-ideology-terms-forced-conversion-un-islamic/article30524615.ece

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