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The Lal Masjid I knew

10 July, 2007

By Adnan Gill


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Many moons ago, I remember looking at the Lal Masjid through the holes in the wall of my junior school, right across the Masjid.  Sometimes I would stair at the Masjid for minutes at a time while hanging upside down on the monkey-bars. Sometimes, during the dog days of summer, I used to take refuge in the Masjid from the scorching heat, which was always delightfully cool as the sun would shine through its greenly tinted windows.  For some reason, I always found it to be a very peaceful place.  I can't remember if it was always painted red, but when I close my eyes, I see it white.  In good old-days we used to call it ‘Jamma Masjid’.

In those days, during the regular prayers, barely a row or two used to fill with the devoted worshipers.  Even the regular shoppers from -- then known ‘Jumma Bazaar’ -- ‘Itwar Bazaar’ used to barely make a dent in the attendance.  However, Jumma prayers always attracted large crowds.  So did the Eid prayers.  In those golden days, I never remember the Imam issuing calls for Jihad or physical violence.  The sermons always focused on the peaceful teachings of the Koran and life of Mohammed (PBUH).  When and who transformed the Masjid into a symbol of extremism is not known to me.  Luckily, I left Islamabad before the Masjid took a turn for the extremism.  At least, I can still revert back to the nostalgic days of Jamma Masjid when the worshipers were more concerned about each other's well-being than the length of their beards.

Fast forward to late 80s.  I remember meeting a young and joyful man in the Northern-Areas, which some say depicts the heavens.  I still remember exchanging pleasantries with that young man on the lush green lawns of an Army mess as the ‘Megrib’ time fell upon us and as the flying-squirrels started their air-ballet gliding from a tree to tree.  I will never forget the time I spent with that young and brave man under the clear blue skies of the Northern-Areas.  That young man's name was Captain Haroon Islam.  Yes, I am eulogizing Shaheed Colonel Haroon Islam who gave the ultimate sacrifice while breaching the walls of Lal Masjid in an effort to secure the innocent lives of our children stuck inside the Masjid whose Imam time and again refused to order his impressionable students to leave the Masjid; unless, the government agreed to issue him and his mother a full-amnesty. In other words, he was willing to exchange blood of innocent children with a free get-out-of-jail card.

Who is to be blamed for radicalizing, the once, peaceful Masjid to the point where so many innocent lives have been lost is a matter for another debate, but we need to make it loud and clear; that no more we will allow another Imam to brainwash our impressionable children so they can consolidate their power through an army of children.  No more we will allow Mosques that are supposed to be places for warship and sources to cleanse one’s souls to become the hubs of extremism.  No more we will allow the extremists to hijack our religion whose meaning, and message is peace and welfare for whole creation of Allah. 

Let's not forget what the Qur'an has clearly declared: Whoever killed even a single soul - except being a punishment of murder or that of spreading unrest in the land - is as if he killed the whole of mankind. (Al-Maaidah 5: 32) Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to resist these radicals (who are spreading unrest in the land) with every fiber of our being so they can no longer corrupt and poison the pristine minds of our children.

Till we take such a strong stand against the extremists, these thieves of peaceful souls will continue hijacking the impressionable minds of our blossoming children, and more and more brave fathers will have to save these children with the gifts of their lives.

I hope, the next time I see the Lal Masjid I will not have to close my eyes to see the peaceful Masjid, I once knew.  I also hope, the Masjid to be renamed to ‘Masjid-ul-Islam’ in the memory of the Shaheed Haroon Islam, so we will always remember the price we had to pay to rescue our beloved children.  Finally, I hope, the government will no longer get in the business of granting general-amnesties to the murderers of our children.

Rest well, rest well my friend Haroon Islam.  May Allah bless you with every reward he has promised to a Shaheed.

Reader Comments:

You all knew

what the mosque was used. It was moderate when it suited the administration and it is terrorist as they have become an inconvenience

patrick, Pakistan - 11 July, 2007

excellent article

Mr. Gill i really appreciate the article that you have written and to tell you the truth i had tears in my eyes by the time i finished reading your article...
"I also hope, the Masjid to be renamed to ‘Masjid-ul-Islam’ in the memory of the Shaheed Haroon Islam, so we will always remember the price we had to pay to rescue our beloved children." i could not agree more with this phrase of yours. I truly support your views and in fact i pretty much read every article that you post. Your articles really do coincide with my thinking as well.

Keep up the good work Mr. Gill.

Dr. Zia

syed zia hussain, Pakistan - 11 July, 2007

good article

may ur wish come true.

vinod, Hungary - 11 July, 2007

lal masjid vs mullah

i appreciate prez, mushraff speech heard on tv with the hope both all country should unite together 2 crush terrorism and stop calling terrorist as freedom fighterin kashmir which is indivisible part of india and solve all despute and concentrate to crush terrorism.
aksaxena

aksaxena, Hungary - 13 July, 2007

People who protect

In every society we have these splendid people, who seem to have born with an instinct to protect.

I always find them quite amazing, these soldier heroes who will put their own lives in peril in order to stand in front of those who are threatened.

In spite of being fallible human beings, I think this is the true nature of almost every soldier.

May you rest in peace, Col. Haroon Islam...

ayasha, United Kingdom - 14 July, 2007

Who are the victims

I will put the responisbility of this grave situation on the shoulders of army. They are the one responsible for all this. ISI, MI and the other agencies were in first position responsible for bringing and nurturing all these extremist elements in the beginnig. So making people exremist and then killing them does not make this army hero. All these people suffering today are in fact victims of others games played in the hands of army.

Aryan khan, Pakistan - 15 July, 2007

peace and religion

the editorial is very interesting. as an ex-journalist i was four times in pakistan between 2001 and 2003. the last times i could realize that there was a crescendo of "violence" which probably was already there in the before and after days of 9/11. it is usualy argumented that poverty and lack of education are the best ingredients for extremism, no matter if it is religious or political. i do not mind to make again an usual or common statement but the fact is that pakistan is very much undevelopded: too many poor people, big lack of food, medicare, shelter, etc, etc, etc, ... and the most amazing, or not, was the fact to see that usually the militar nomenklatura had access to a better life and better conditions. this has nothing to do to the brave mentioned coronel. my comments are just related to the reality i watched and which really shocked so much. coming from europe, and even from not such a rich european rich country like portugal, made me wonder how could the pakistan people resist so much too the dialy violence they had to deal with: poverty and lack of the rule of law! and it is not just the fault of pak governement. sure not! the international comunity gets as usually a lot of benefits of keeping it that way. i just hope that the pakistan people don't suffer even more... just look at irak!

silva, Poland - 16 July, 2007

Don't blam muslim leader

It is the criminal who doesn’t want Islam, especially the player of 911, including Musharraf. Musharraf is try to please his gods, with such actions (Lal Masjid, killing Muslim) . Now Jahad; Jahad is used for defense. If the Muslim leader or scolor don’t talk about jahid now, then when are they going to talk about? Muslim are being attack from left and right Jahid is the only way out. Even in quran sura tuba Allah (swt) mention that why does Muslim give up (sit down) when little load is place on them.

Muhammad Ali, United Kingdom - 29 July, 2007

My Friend your description brought back lot of memories. You are right that Majid was known as Jamah Masjid rather then "LAL MASJID". May be the Qabza Group culture created this theme like we have LAL Haweli in pindi which is not known to the old folks.
The Shaheed connection in your article is more of scenario of ‘us or them’. That really doesn’t justice the position of other side of shaheed(s) in the Lal masjid debacle.


Benya, United Kingdom - 06 February, 2008

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