In a Friday sermon, former Pakistani lawmaker and prominent Islamic cleric Maulana Abdul Haleem justified honor killings of women who opt for secular education, and has threatened to forcibly marry off female staff of secular non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who visit the district of Kohistan to work with women's education, health, and other welfare projects.
Maulana Abdul Haleem, who was born in 1922 in the town of Pattan in Kohistan district, is a member of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) party and is known to have nurtured a generation of Islamic clerics in Pakistan. In 2002 he was elected a Member of the National Assembly, the lower house of the parliament, from the platform of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an alliance of religious-political parties cobbled together at the behest of then-Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf. According to a Pakistani daily, during his stint as an MP, Maulana Abdul Haleem also declared poppy cultivation in Kohistan to be "in accordance with Islam."
According to a Pakistani website, Maulana Abdul Haleem is a father of eight sons and seven daughters, and his hobbies include delivering religious education in the form of dars, lessons in the Koran and Hadith.
The warning against female staff of NGOs was issued in a Friday sermon at the central mosque in the town of Kamila in Kohistan district in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and was confirmed in comments to journalists afterwards. Following the sermon, a journalist asked him if Islamic nations like Saudi Arabia and Iran are violating shari'ah by spending billions on women's education, Maulana Haleem termed their steps as "un-Islamic."
Following are excerpts from Maulana Abdul Haleem's sermon, as quoted in various Pakistani newspapers:
On the Modesty Code for Women and Secular Education: "It's Beghairti (Immodesty) to Equip Girls With A Secular Education"; "If A Woman Gets Education, She Would Also Seek A Job, Which Islam Doesn't Allow
"It's beghairti (immodesty) to equip girls with a secular education…. The Kohistani parents who are sending their girls to schools are acting against 'Islamic Shariah' and the local customs…. The Kohistani culture does not allow parents to send their pardadar (modest) girls to schools."
"The 'secular' education of women is against Islamic injunctions… If a woman gets education, she would also seek a job, which Islam doesn't allow in any way…."
"Getting education for degrees by women is repugnant to Islamic injunctions, because if a woman gets a degree, she may use it for job, an act which Islam doesn't allow in absence of mehram (close relatives)…."
"Several Hadith books [i.e. those containing reports of deeds and sayings of Prophet Muhammad] prohibit girls from receiving degrees and certificates in 'secular education'…. Formal education paves the way for girls to enter the job market."
On Men's Role Vis-à-vis Women: "The Only Responsibility Men Owe to Women is Sustenance, Not Education…. In Return, the Women should Stay at Home and Look After Their Children"
"When they [i.e. male members of a family] permit their women to work, they give them a free hand to mix with na-mehrum (men to whom they are not related blood) – by doing so, the girl's father, brother or husband become dayoos [someone who accepts the wrongdoings of female family members] in the eye of the shari'a…."
"Such people will never enter Paradise….
"The only responsibility men owe to women is sustenance, not education…. In return, the women should stay at home and look after their children and relatives…."
"Killing of women in the name of honor is a 'local custom and religious practice' in Kohistan…. If someone witnesses female relatives roaming with ghair mehram (other than close relatives), he can kill her without producing four witnesses [as required under Islamic law for such a punishment]."
The Threat Against NGOs: "If Women Working in NGOs Enter Kohistan, We Won't Spare Them; We'll Solemnize Their Nikkah (Marriage) with Local Men"
"Some women from these NGOs visit our houses frequently, mobilizing naive Kohistani women to follow their agenda in the name of health and hygiene education…. This is 'unacceptable to Kohistani culture' …. [They will face] 'dire consequences' …. [and] married female NGO workers will be sent back to their husbands, and the unmarried ones will be wedded to Kohistani men."
"If the NGOs wanted to work for womenfolk in the district [Kohistan] they should come through proper channel and utilize the government departments. People of Kohistan cannot be influenced by women, and NGOs should immediately stop the practice of sending women to Kohistan, or prepare for the consequences…."
"If the government is serious about bringing development to Kohistan, it should utilize NGOs' funding itself with the help of local men. Men working for these NGOs can continue their work though… that is not against the Shariah and local culture."
"These [girls'] schools have become cattle pens while the teachers received salaries without carrying out their duties."
"If women working in NGOs enter Kohistan, we won't spare them; we will solemnize their nikkah (marriage) with local men."