Is Hafiz Saeed a Terrorist? – An Interview by Hamza Ali Abbasi

Hamza Ali Abbasi in candid conversation with Prof Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Hamza Ali Abbasi

It is a pleasure to meet you, sir. I have these tweets of yours. I see, you have tweeted about protection of Hindus in Pakistan. Your organization has actively helped them. You have shunned sectarianism. Why are you called a ‘terrorist’ then, sir? I am genuinely curious to find out, why are you labelled so?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

All praises be to Allah SWT, Peace and Blessings be upon the final messenger, Muhammad PBUH

First of all, I thank you for coming here to discuss an important matter here, with me. There is an intense propaganda campaign against us in India. They try to cover their own shortcomings and track record by blaming me for that. They need a person in Pakistan, who they want to portray as a terrorist, to escape accountability. By allying with other nations, they frequently launch huge propaganda campaigns against me and my organization, to conceal their own state-terrorism against Kashmiris and Sikhs.

India is subject to 101 different separatist movements, no minority feels protected in their country. Facing numerous internal issues, propaganda against Hafiz Saeed and JuD, helps them hide their own wrong doings.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

But Sir, may I ask, why only you? If it is about beliefs and views alone, then we may have some common beliefs and positions on Kashmir. I support Kashmiri freedom struggle too. I consider Burhan, a martyr and a hero too. All those people who resist against Indian forces and die, I consider them ‘martyrs’. I support them all. So, what is the fundamental difference between your beliefs and mine that makes you a terrorist and not me?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Hamza! If you think Burhan is a martyr, and if you consider Kashmiris’ freedom struggle as legitimate, then you should wait for you too shall eventually be called a terrorist.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

But sir, this is something that all political heads and figures in Pakistan agree with. It is a different matter what they think from the inside but at least when they are out in front of the public, they say the same thing, with regards to Kashmir. In fact, the PPP, which, in my opinion, are Pakistan’s most secular political party, who do not rely on religion in their politics, still considers the Kashmiri struggle as legitimate. They too call Burhan a martyr, and say basically what you and I are saying here.

So, there is major confusion over what makes you a terrorist and not anyone else. Is it perhaps because I am wearing a pant and a shirt, and I don’t have a beard while you are dressed in shalwar kameez and have a thick beard? Could it be this reason, that this suits a stereotypical caricature of an Islamic terrorist to show, ‘LOOK! A terrorist!’?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Well, this is one aspect of what you have mentioned. Since globally, negative propaganda is aimed towards Islam and Muslims. Especially post 9/11, there is an intense campaign in the media globally to taint Muslims as terrorists.

If you have read Trump’s recent statements and followed what has been generally going on in the West, this makes that assertion seemingly correct. But in this case, I think I am specifically the target of a vilification campaign. As for the initial part of your question, I agree that everyone does talk about Kashmir, including politicians. But, most of them use it to garner political support, as naturally the people of Pakistan have their emotions and sentiments tied to Kashmir. The conditions of the people in the occupied valley are visible to anyone. So, politicians often exploit these sentiments. But, what makes my work different is I, by the Grace and Help of Allah SWT, make special arrangements for facilitation, settlement, aid, education, monthly provisions and monetary aid for thousands of Kashmiri refugees who are in Pakistan, which brings me in the spot light for Indian propaganda.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

Understood, so this covers your charitable work. I have noticed, that your organization is not only restricted to Kashmir but it is also engaged at other places, such as earthquake-hit areas. You have also worked in Hindu villages in Tharparkar and made water wells for them. Frankly speaking, I spoke to a few acquaintances that this person and his organization is undertaking these projects, seeking explanation as to why would such a terrorist go and help Hindus living in a desert? Especially an Islamic terrorist?

In response, they said, that these people probably help them so they can force them to change their religion and become Muslims. So sir, let me ask you in a straightforward manner. Do you believe that a person can be forcibly converted or blackmailed into changing his religion?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

No, absolutely not. The Shariah of Allah SWT disapproves of such a way. The Quran clearly forbids the believers from taking advantage of someone’s situation and forcing him to change his faith. Allah SWT says, “There is no compulsion in religion”.  (2:256) So, there is no room in Islam for such an act.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

So would you call it, wrong?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Absolutely, we call it wrong. That will be evident when you observe the work we have done in Tharparkar, where our organization constructed more than 1000 water projects, most of them inside Hindu areas. We built a well between four villages where people had to travel 9-10 km to fetch water. I personally inaugurated a water well there. Most of the people there were Hindus who were all benefiting from that well.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

So, you did not force them to change their faith?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

There is not a single incident where we have tried to do that. It is not allowed in Islam to force someone to change his religion. In fact, it would be a sin and a crime to do so. To accept any faith is a personal choice and matter of the individual. Allah’s religion gives freedom to everyone to choose his or her faith. We believe, a Hindu has the right to live just as any other non-believer has the right to live in peace and safety. If, any Muslim kills a non-Muslim, he is to be punished in a similar way by the state. Similarly, stealing wealth and property of a non-Muslim is clear-cut forbidden.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

Sir, you are clearly saying that whether it be a Muslim or a non-Muslim, you would never endorse any injustice done against him?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

It is out of question.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

Even if it is an Indian Muslim, or a Pakistani non-Muslim?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Absolutely!

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

And when it comes to Indian Muslims, I recall that there was a natural catastrophe where you approached the Indian government to offer aid to them?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Yes, that is correct.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

Was it offered to Indian Muslims only?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

We contacted their government and said we had sufficient expertise and proper systems and equipment for rescue and disaster management and we are experienced in undertaking such work and have institutes for that. Most of those areas were populated with Hindus that we had offered to rescue. We did not just issue statements, we applied for valid visas, so that we could dispatch our teams of doctors. But we were denied the visa. We wanted to help, due to our capability of dealing with emergency and disaster management.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

Am I right in understanding that Hafiz Saeed, his organization, and all those who follow him do not have any animosity towards the common Indian, and they do not hate an ordinary Indian citizen? And it is just the aggression of their military and government that you oppose?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

My brother! We are all humans. The dignity of a human being is a major principal, even if one is a non-Muslim. In my opinion, a common Hindu citizen of India deserves fair treatment. Those people who live in India, I have no conflict or animosity with them. My primary demand is that India leaves Jammu & Kashmir, it is an illegal occupation where they are involved in subjugating, oppressing, killing and mass blinding people. You have occupied them with force against their will and this is unacceptable. But that is the only thing I say to India. You leave Jammu & Kashmir, and we shall have no issues with you.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

So, even with the Kashmir issue around, any Indian-Hindu civilian dies in a terrorist incident, will that distress you?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

I will help him. I will help heal his injuries like I would heal a Muslim. I help humans, I believe in serving humans.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

Will I be correct in understanding that Hafiz Saeed does not say hate Indians, but he only says that the atrocities on Kashmiris committed by Indian forces is wrong and must stop?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Absolutely, I am against all forms of oppression.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

You don’t advocate hatred for India?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

No. That is not my position.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

You don’t say that Pakistan’s flag shall be hoisted on Delhi?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

My only demand to cease oppression and end the occupation of Jammu & Kashmir that is what I have stood for. This is the stance of our organization.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

So, you don’t want to conquer India?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

What is the need of conquering, it is hearts that are won. We have a way for that. It is what we say and propagate. What our religion says is that you do not raise weapons against any non-believer. But however, if a disbeliever does raise a weapon against you, then you should grasp his hand. If he does not initiate hostility, you have no right to do so. Everyone should be able to live in peace and safety.

India and Pakistan can live in peace. Jammu & Kashmir must get peace. Freedom is a fundamental right. Islam is a religion of Da’wah, beautiful preaching, and preach is done with evidences, arguments and uprightness of character.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

Indeed, every faith has the right to preach.

Sir, there are things that you say, that might be called ‘conspiracy theories’, the allegations that India puts on you. They say, whatever is happening in Kashmir, It is because of intruders from Pakistan. Do you send these militants? By training and arming them? Do you indeed send them?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

My brother, intruders alone cannot run movements around the world. Few acts may create a small difference, but it is nations themselves that resist and lead freedom movements.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

Those women, those children in Kashmir, their videos are publically available on the internet. These are not CIA leaked videos, of women, children and youth coming out for their rights. I wonder, are they too sent by Hafiz Saeed?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Brother, Kashmiris are running their own indigenous movement. They are picking up stones against guns. They themselves are out there demanding freedom. A 5-year-old stands carrying a sling shot, in front of an armed soldier. This is what Kashmiris are doing on a public level, but India portrays me a terrorist and aims to sabotage the entire popular public movement by labelling all of it as terrorism.

It is a strategy on their part to choose an individual, make allegations of terrorism, launch a propaganda campaign vilifying him and try hide a real genuine movement behind a curtain. Kashmiri women, children, young and old, all are unanimously standing for freedom. A 5-year-old minor to 90-year-old senior citizen, all are collectively standing up today.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

If anyone thinks that I or what Hafiz Saeed sahib is saying is mere propaganda, then he himself can search on Google, find millions coming out chanting slogans in Srinagar.

Sir, last but not the least. Sectarianism is a big issue in Pakistan. When I asked a few people about you being a terrorist, they say that he is involved in stirring up sectarian differences. What is your stance on sectarianism?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

I consider sectarianism as the most enormous ‘cancer’ plaguing us Muslims. For all the problems Muslims have faced in the past or the present, and all the spaces and fault lines that have allowed foreign powers to exploit and thus intervene are because of strong internal sectarian rivalries amongst Muslims. Being part of a sect is one thing. Shia and Sunni are two prominent sects that have remained so since centuries. But, when violence is infused in those sects that is where the problem comes in.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

Agreed, we have certain sects, with differences of opinions and interpretation, etc. and that’s natural. But, am I right that Hafiz Saeed does not consider someone a ‘kaafir’ based on what sect he belongs to? Or consider someone better or a lesser Muslim, based on his sect? And that he does not consider him liable for death?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

I consider killing any kalimah bearing Muslim as ‘haram’ (forbidden).

We have published extensive literature in this regard, explaining to people how one cannot label any individual who shares the same qibla and recites the Kalima, or the shahadah (testimony of faith), as a Kaafir. Whatever sect anyone belongs to, does not make him a Kaafir. This is part of our belief. We have worked very hard in this area.

Let me tell you, these sects are quite old and have existed for centuries, but taking this to the levels of violence as is seen today is a global conspiracy, where covert secret agencies and intelligence organizations are involved. It has grown into something enormous, and there definitely is a foreign element involved in the Shia-Sunni conflict we see today. They are involved in targeted killings, to promote confusions, rivalries and misunderstandings in the name of sects. There is lot, going on in the background.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

I have not seen any mainstream cleric give fatwa of advocating murder of another person.

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

No learned scholar would say that.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

Wouldn’t media or public pressure serve as a hurdle for someone who wishes to do that?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

My brother, I say you cannot even kill a non-believer this way, let alone a Muslim.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

Please tell me, am I right in understanding, that Hafiz Saeed supports Kashmir’s freedom just as any other Pakistani does and that we are on equal foundation when it comes to our views and positions on Kashmir? Because if you are a terrorist based on these positions or views then everyone else might be a terrorist as well.

Secondly, Hafiz Saeed does not hate a common Indian. In fact you have pledged support to Indians in disasters. Plus, you openly defend the rights of Hindus. Anyone can enter ‘Hindus and Hafiz Saeed’ [on search engines], you would find lot of content in this regard, on how he helped the Hindus in Thar, and in other areas.

One statement in particular was very interesting for me. You said, “If anyone takes advantage of Pakistan-India conflict to try to harm Hindus here, then JuD and Hafiz Saeed will stand with the Hindus”.

And you also think that based on your view that you cannot kill anyone, even if he maybe a disbeliever?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Absolutely!

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

So you don’t justify suicide bombings in whatever manner?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

No. Suicide bombings are forbidden, ‘haram’. I was among the first to give fatwa against this.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

Whoever does it, whether it is TTP or Al-Qaeda? Osama bin Laden or anyone?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Whoever does it, it is forbidden. I consider these bombings in non-Muslim countries wrong as well.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

So, all such attacks that take place in markets, etc.?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

I even condemned the attacks in France.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

France or Pakistan, Muslims or Non-Muslims, you are against suicide attacks?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Absolutely, I am against them. This tarnishes the image of Islam. This is no service to the religion. Those who do this, bring a bad name to Islam. We do not believe in this and wherever I have witnessed such a thing, I have spoken against it. I condemned the blasts in France, and explained that this is not Islam. It is forbidden and totally wrong.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

America?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

If it happens in US, it is wrong as well.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

Sir, last question. There was a challenge given to me, that you won’t say anything against Daesh (ISIS), is that so?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

I completely consider them to be Kharijites and ‘terrorists’.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

You consider ISIS as a terrorist organization?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Yes, absolutely. I not only believe so, I preach that they are indeed ‘terrorists’. I proclaim that this is a huge conspiracy against Muslims. Jihad is a pure and noble obligation, but these groups and people have destroyed and tarnished its image. Daesh, is the main tool to disrupt the spread of Islam, Jihad or legitimate movements, thereby creating misconceptions.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

I was given a challenge that you would not call Daesh as terrorist.

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

I not only say this but preach this, we have prepared extensive literature on this.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

I was looking at these books (10-12 books on the topic of takfeer and khurooj, placed on the table in front of Hamza Ali Abbasi). We were talking about labelling Muslims as apostates earlier. I see so many books you have written on this. Khutbat-e-Qadsia Fitna-e-Takfeer (name of a book). For those who do not understand what takfeer is, it is excommunication of Muslims from Islam. The fitna of pronouncing Muslims as Kaafir. Are these your publications?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Yes, we have published all these books.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

‘Fitna-e-Khawarij’, ‘Fitna-e-Daesh’ (2 books in the hands of Hamza Ali Abbasi). So, books are being written to refute Daesh?

‘Reality of Khawarij’, ‘Daesh and Shariah’.

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

In ‘Daesh and Shariah’ we have written extensively on how Daesh’s views and actions are against Shariah and Islam.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

And everyone around here reads them? Talbeesat-e-Daesh. What does it mean?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Ways how Daesh exploits Islam and lures Muslims into their traps.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

And sir, these are more books on takfeer (searches through more books), there is a lot of work you have done on takfeer.

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Yes, by the Grace of Allah SWT, we have published thousands of copies of these books, and thousands of youth in Pakistan have corrected and reformed their beliefs, and they have been saved and protected by this fitna of Daesh.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

So, basically ‘killing or labelling a Muslim as a kaafir or murtadd’, you are not only against it but are also actively working against it, right?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Yes, we consider this an obligation because I consider this to be of utmost importance, as it is an enormous fitna in the Muslim world.

Hamza Ali Abbasi

In the end sir, I would like you to address those in Pakistan or elsewhere who consider you a terrorist. What is your message for them?

 

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

I want to say that the matter of Kashmir’s freedom is of the utmost importance, it has grown into a massive public movement, which demands our complete help and unconditional support. We asked the government and socio-political organizations to mark 2017 as the year of Kashmir. To help Kashmiris in ways and measures that give them confidence. This is our struggle here; this is what we stand for. For this objective, we have launched a grand movement. To begin, we dedicated 10 days for the Kashmir Solidarity Day, held yearly on 5th February.

So we begin again, in the name of Allah SWT. We said, we won’t carry our flag, name or banners. If Kashmiris are being buried in Pakistani flags, instead of our own organization’s flag, we will raise the Pakistani flag alone. Instead of using our organization’s name, we would align ourselves with the Tehreek-e-Azaadi Jammu & Kashmir, movement. We will consider this year, as a year of Kashmir. We want these announcements, not to remain with us only but for all Pakistanis to become part of this. This is a collective cause for everyone that demands a collective effort and awakening. We Invite, everyone to become a collective voice for the freedom of Kashmir as it is in now inside Jammu & Kashmir.

 

Hamza Ali Abbasi

Thank you Hafiz Saeed sahab! I must say, regarding your stance on Kashmir, I fully agree to it. If this is what makes you a terrorist, then I too am a terrorist. For me, you are definitely not a terrorist at all. I downrightly support your stance.

People should realize, that if you want to consider Hafiz sahab a terrorist, you are free to do so but at least for once, I strongly advise you to check your facts before doing that. If you consider someone to be a terrorist, then on what grounds? Do your research. Just because, you have seen someone in the outside world say this, you blindly agree to that? Please, it is important to do your own research. I am still open, please find me anything where he has said something about sectarianism, hatred or killing. If you would come and tell me, I’ll go back to him and say that, look this is what you have said and this is why you are a terrorist.

I would request our educated people to please reflect, if you do consider someone a terrorist, you must have a strong basis for it. If we blindly listen to the world, then everyone here is wrong, even Palestinians are wrong, Kashmiris are wrong, and if anyone is right, it is America.

 

Do think about it. Thank you so much!

M. Waqas Abdullah

Husband | A proud father to a princess | Technoholic | Computers | Programming | Pak Activist | PsyOps | Founder NazariaPakistan.com


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