Jamia Hafsa (جامعة حفصة) is a madrassa adjacent to the Lal Masjid complex in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Known for its anti-government stance and fringe conservatism, it has been criticized for ignoring the main challenges faced by Muslims, and getting involved in publicity stunts like burning CDs and kidnapping Chinese nationals accusing them of running an undercover brothel.
Leaders of the mosque were said to be on very good terms with the ruling party chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and the minister for religious affairs Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq. Shujaat Hussain also had good terms with General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the longest serving military dictator in the history of Pakistan (and the father of Ijaz-ul-Haq). The seminary, and the adjoining Lal Mosque, was owned by two brothers and clerics, Maulana Abdul Aziz and Abdul Rashid Ghazi, until the Lal Masjid operation started and in the ensuing struggle, older brother Abdul Aziz was arrested and younger one Rashid Ghazi was killed.
Darul Uloom Deoband, India
Jamia Hafsa was built in Islamabad in 1992. It was constructed on land said to be owned by the madrassa's administration, and was affiliated with the adjoining central mosque of Islamabad, Lal Masjid (translated as Red Mosque). The foundation stone of Jamia Hafsa was laid down by Maulana Muhammad Abdullah, the father of Ghazi brothers. Jamia Hafsa houses approximately 6500 students.
Jamia Hafsa is the largest school in the Islamic world educating female students. Although they are taught subjects like mathematics and geography, they are not tested on them. Their exams are only on matters relating to Islam.
On February 21, 2007, the Hafsa students occupied an Islamabad children's public library. The occupation was said to be due to the demolition of mosques in the capital by the CDA (capital development authority) due to their illegal construction and alleged security risk.
On March 28, 2007, a brothel house in the locality was raided by female students from the madrassa, the owner of the house, her daughter and her daughter-in-law were abducted by the students and held hostage at the madrassa. Two policemen were also abducted after two female madrassa teachers were arrested in connection with the raid; the policemen were later released in return for the teachers.
Distancing of all the notable religious scholars from this controversy
None of the notable Muslim scholars or pro-Taliban/Al-Qaeda lobbies associated themselves with the Jamia Hafsa administration, many raised questions about the motives of the administration behind certain acts, for example, ignoring controversy about the Knighthood of author Salman Rushdie, instead kidnapping Chinese nationals claiming they were running an undercover brothel.
In April 2007, Maulana Abdul Aziz (Hifzulllah) announced that a Qazi court composed of ten Lal Masjid Muftis (judges) would henceforth enforce sharia law over the area under its control, and threatened suicide attacks by his followers in the country in the event of a government intervention against the madrassa.
Wafaq ul Madaris (Governing Body of Seminaries) suspended Jamia Hafsa's membership after pressure from the Government, according to Islamic scholars. Wafaq ul Madaris was later forced by the government to cancel their registration. The majority ulema of Pakistan viewed cleric Qari Hanif Jalandhri as an agent of the government due to his support of Ijaz-ul-Haq.
Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa students raided a Chinese massage center in Sector F-8/3 and took hostage five Chinese nationals, including three women and two men, Two vehicles full of armed seminary students raided the massage center, abducted staff and brought them to the mosque. The Jamia Hafsa administration alleged that a brothel was being run under the garb of a massage center. The Lal Masjid clerics could not be contacted as they had switched off their mobile phones. Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) officials reached the seminary and were trying to secure the release of the abducted Chinese through dialogue. Earlier, the students had abducted the alleged brothel owner and released her after a couple of days. They had also abducted and later released two police personnel.
In May 2007, baton-wielding students from a mosque associated with the movement took four Pakistan police as hostages, demanding the release of ten associates who had been arrested by intelligence officers. This kind of controversy finally led to the siege of the Jamia Hafsa and Lal Masjid started on July 3, 2007.
- Pakistan's Islamic girl schools BBC News, September 19, 2005
- 'Government warned of suicide attacks in case of resistance' Daily Times, 7 April 2007
- "Radical students seize four Pakistan policemen". Gulf Times. May 19, 2007.
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- Darul Uloom New York
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- Jamia Hafsa
- Lal Masjid
- My Government's Partial Truth - www.Paki.in/WTF
- The Guardian - Musharraf confronts militants in standoff over religious school
- BBC News - Students raid Islamabad 'brothel'
- Rediff - Islamabad's Lal Mosque grooming jihadis: Research scholar
- Newsline - The Battered Half