Lal Masjid, Islamabad

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Lal Masjid
Lal Masjid
Rear view of the Red Mosque, 2018
AffiliationSunni Islam
LeadershipImam(s):Abdul Aziz
LocationIslamabad, Pakistan
StyleMix Of Ottoman And Mughal Style
CompletedConstructed – 1966
Renovated – 2010

The Lal Masjid (Urdu: لال مسجد‎; translated: Red Mosque) is a mosque located in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.


The Red Mosque located on Masjid (mosque) Road is one of the oldest mosques within the capital. Before the construction of Faisal Mosque, the largest in the capital as well as the country, it was in the Red Mosque that presidents and other high public dignitaries came to offer ceremonial prayers. Located at a very centralized position, it lies in close proximity to the two busiest commercial centres of the city, Aabparah market in the east and Melody market in the north. It was built in 1965 and is named for its red walls and interiors. According to Capital Development Authority (CDA) records, the Lal Masjid is one of the oldest Mosques in Islamabad. Maulana Muhammad Abdullah was appointed its first imam. Abdullah was critical of all governments except Zia's with whom he was very close. General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq had very close relationship with Maulana Muhammad Abdullah, the former head of the mosque. During the Soviet–Afghan War (1979–1989), the Red Mosque played a major role in recruiting and training mujahideen to fight with Alongside Afghan mujahideen. Throughout its existence, it has enjoyed patronage from influential members of the government, prime ministers, army chiefs, and presidents. Several thousand male and female students live in adjacent seminaries.[1]

After Maulana Muhammad Abdullah was assassinated in 1998, his sons Abdul Aziz and Abdul Rashid took over the mosque, Abdul Aziz remains the official khateeb (sermon giver) of the Mosque.


Location of Lal Masjid in Islamabad (marked with a red spot)

On July 3, 2007, the stand-off between the students barricaded inside the mosque and the government resulted in bloody gun battles in which over twenty people, including students of the mosque, members of the media, paramilitary personnel, and a businessman reportedly were killed and over one hundred others were injured. An FIR was later registered against Aziz and Rashid with charges ranging from kidnapping and murder to treason, as well as terrorism. People who supported the activities of Lal Masjid said they were only attacking "Chinese girls who were prostitutes and they [were] destroying CD shops which sold pornography." Lal Masjid held on to what many people call "pure and true Muslim ethic" and what the opposing parties called "fundamental and dogmatic".

Aziz and Rashid were negotiating the conflict with then Senior Minister for Religious Affairs, Ijaz-ul-Haq in consultation with Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, President Pakistan Muslim League (Q). Till last minute reports, the negotiations were deemed successful. Reportedly, after the minister left the Mosque, he changed his stance and could not defend the commitments he made at the mosque.

Government and Security officials had repeatedly asked Maulana Abdul Rashid to surrender but he refused. He proposed that if government would give him and his students safe passage to allow him to live a silent life in his home village, he would hand over Lal Masjid to government, Jamia Hafsa and Jamia Faridia to Wafaqul Madaris (a federation of Madaris). This agreement was made between Ulmai Karam and Government including Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain but at the final moment President Pervez Musharaf canceled the agreement[citation needed] and ordered to attack the mosque where hundreds of female students were present

Mosque stormed[edit]

On July 8, 2007, most of the private media outlets (such as Geo and Aaj, among others) became convinced from the movements of the security forces on the ground that they were preparing to storm the building. At dawn on Tuesday, July 10, after attempts at negotiation failed, government troops stormed the mosque, taking control of most of the complex.

Many conflicting reports swirled around the incident and it is difficult to determine the truth of these given the very sensitive political nature of the event; the actual number of casualties still cannot be verified independently. Many Believe The Causality Was Between 300 To 400

When Asked About The Alleged foreigners the government was unable to prove the presence of any foreigners in the mosque and Many Believe that some locals as Were Dubbed As Foreigners.[2]


Following the week-long siege, the country entered a three-day mourning period. The bodies of those killed were buried in temporary graves, awaiting collection from family members. Hundreds of Abdul Rashid's supporters attended his funeral in his Punjabi village, amid calls for Holy War.[3] This gave rise to fears of a violent backlash from fundamentalist quarters; the police and military were placed on high alert. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda's second in command, released a message which included the sentence: "Your salvation is only through jihad", heightening tensions in the region.[4]

July 2008 bombing near Lal Masjid[edit]

On July 6, 2008, at 7:50 PM local time, a bomb exploded near Lal Masjid killing 18 policemen and 1 civilian. A Pakistani official claims the bombing occurred on the first anniversary of the siege and was a revenge attack. The attack occurred even amidst tight security in Islamabad, where thousands of Islamic students in Pakistan came to mark the day when Pakistani troops stormed Lal Masjid.[5] The blast was the work of a suicide bomber around 30 years of age.[6] Advisor to the Prime Minister on Interior Rehman Malik, who visited the blast site, said about 12,000 students attended the rally and the attack was directed at the police.[7]


The mosque was rebuilt in 2009, and after being released from prison Abdul Aziz resumed to lead prayers at the mosque, the government has attempted to remove him multiple times most notably in December 2014 and May 2018 but the government has always faced backlash and forced removal of any other appointee. After taking over the mosque he has built a small library inside it and has named it after his late brother Abdul Rasheed Ghazi


  1. ^ "Profile: Islamabad's Red Mosque". BBC News. July 3, 2007. Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  2. ^ "MMA president says locals were 'dubbed' foreigners in Lal Masjid". Zee News. Zee Media Corporation Ltd. July 15, 2007. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  3. ^ "Pakistan buries Red Mosque dead". BBC. July 12, 2007. Event occurs at 09:25 UTC. Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  4. ^ "Al-Qaeda issues Pakistan threat". BBC. July 11, 2007. Event occurs at 21:05 UTC. Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  5. ^ Jacinto, Leela (July 6, 2008). "Blast near Islamabad's Red Mosque kills dozens". Archived from the original on August 4, 2008. Retrieved July 6, 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ Press Trust Of India (July 7, 2008). "Pak terror reminder: 18 dead in Lal Masjid blast". Retrieved July 6, 2008.
  7. ^ "Suicide blast targeting police kills 16 at Pakistan rally". July 6, 2008. Retrieved July 6, 2008.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°42′46.12″N 73°05′13.33″E / 33.7128111°N 73.0870361°E / 33.7128111; 73.0870361