A non-traditionalist scholar

Ghamidi’s discourse is primarily with the traditionalists on the one end and Jamaat-e-Islami and its seceding groups on the other. Ghamidi worked closely with Abul Ala Maududi for about nine years before voicing his first differences of opinion, which led to his subsequent expulsion from Maududi’s political party

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi was born in 1951 in a village of Sahiwal, a district of the Punjab province. After matriculating from a local school, he came to Lahore in 1967 where he is settled ever since. He did his BA honours (part I) in English Literature and Philosophy from the Government College, Lahore in 1972 and studied Islamic disciplines in the traditional manner from various teachers and scholars throughout his early years. In 1973, he came under the tutelage of Amin Ahsan Islahi (d. 1997) (www.amin-ahsan-islahi.com), who was destined to who have a deep impact on him. He was also associated with the famous scholar and revivalist Abu al-A’ la Mawdudi (d. 1979) for several years. He taught Islamic studies at the Civil Services Academy for more than a decade from 1979 to 1991.

Ghamidi has written and lectured widely on the Quran, Islamic law and various other aspects of Islam. He is the founder-president of Al-Mawrid Institute of Islamic Sciences (www.al-mawrid.org) and is the chief editor of the Urdu Monthly ‘Ishraq’ (www.ghamidi.org) and the English Monthly ‘Renaissance’ (www.monthly-renaissance.com). He is also the founder of the Musab School System (www.musab.edu.pk). He appears regularly on various tv channels to discuss Islam and contemporary issues as a part of his campaign to educate people about Islam. His lectures and talks can be accessed at www.tv-almawrid.org and www.dunyanews.tv/deenodanish.

Ghamidi has drawn heavily from the Quranic thought of his two illustrious predecessors, Hamid al-Din Farahi and Amin Ahsan Islahi presenting many of their views in a more precise manner. However, many of his contributions to the Islamic thought are original.

Both these features can be witnessed in his ongoing annotated translation of the Quran, al-Bayan. It takes the reader close to the classical Arabic of the Quran in which ideas are conveyed with brevity and terseness. Words and concepts which are understood are suppressed and left to the perspicacity of the reader. To achieve this brevity, various devices are employed in classical Arabic which are not found in most other languages. Ghamidi has tried to unfold the meaning of the divine message by taking into consideration these devices within the text of the translation.
An original contribution of Ghamidi is his categorization of the contents of religion, which can be seen in his book Mizan which is a comprehensive introduction to Islam. According to him, the Quran itself divides the contents of Islam in two categories: al-Hikmah and al-Shariah. Whilst the former refers to topics related to the philosophy of religion, the latter to those that relate to law. Ghamidi further classifies these two categories into sub-categories. The former comprises two sub-categories: Faith and Ethics and the latter comprise ten sub-categories: The Shariah of Worship Rituals, The Social Shariah, The Political Shariah, The Economic Shariah, The Shariah of Preaching, The Shariah of Jihad, The Penal Shariah, The Dietary Shariah, Islamic Customs and Etiquette, Oaths and their Atonement. In each of these categories, Ghamidi has made unique contributions in interpreting the directives of the Quran. Examples include his views on the specific nature of the preaching mission of Abrahams progeny, the punishment of apostasy, the testimony and diyat of women, the etiquette of gender interaction, slavery in Islam, the requisites of citizenship, inheritance laws and the general and specific directives of jihad.
 Another original contribution of Ghamidi is his concept and definition of the word Sunnah. Whilst categorizing it to be distinct from Hadith, he has laid down certain principles to precisely determine its corpus. By applying these principles, he has actually come up with a list of contents of the Sunnah.
His contribution to the science of hermeneutics can be seen in his essay Usul-u Mabadi (Principles and Fundamentals) in which he has enunciated foundational principles of understanding Islam in his. These principles take into account the specific nature of the texts of the Quran and Hadith. One distinctive feature of the approach that pervades these principles is what can be summed up in the form of a dictum: the Hadith should be interpreted in the light shed by the Quran and not vice versa.Ghamidi has also presented an integrated framework of the concepts and terms of Islam in his essay Haqiqat-i Din (The Essence of Religion). This framework in itself is a representative of a complete interpretation of Islam in contrast with the two other prevailing interpretations of Islam in the Muslim ummah: the tassawuf-based interpretation and the jihad-based interpretation.
Burhan and Maqamat are two of Ghamidi’s other books on religious issues. The former is a treatise in which contemporary religious thoughts have been critically analyzed, while the latter is a collection of his poems and literary essays. Khayal-o Khamah is a collection of his poems.
Morals & Ethics
Ghamidi is known for his stress on morals and ethics in Islam. He has raised concerns on moral and ethical issues in Muslims.
A translated snippet from his book “Ikhlaqiyat”: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 shariah is its corollary. With the change and evolution in societies and civilizations, the shariah has indeed changed; however faith and righteous deeds, which are the foundations of religion, have not undergone any change. The Quran 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.

Resignation from Council of Islamic Ideology

Javed Ahmed 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 rejected 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, insisting upon an exceptionally difficult and dangerous procedure to prove allegations of rape.

By: Javed Ahmad Ghamidi

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