Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a former Pakistan National Assembly member, is an international phenomenon among progressive Muslim scholars.
Qadri heads up the Minhaj-ul-Quran, a peace-and-tolerance-promoting Islamic education and charity organization with outposts in over 90 countries and millions of young Muslim followers. Seeking a safe and pluralist home base for his activism, Qadri moved to the GTA five years ago (he won’t disclose his location to protect his wife and five kids) and has spent the ensuing time working on his magnum opus, a 600-page doorstop of an injunction against radical Islam. Last March, before a phalanx of international media, he released his fatwa on terrorism—the most unequivocal, comprehensive condemnation of the tactics used by al Qaeda and the Taliban ever written. And Qadri did it using the very religious conventions that extremist imams have exploited so successfully to violent ends.
Qadri has studied Islamic law for more than 35 years and perfected the art of the fatwa, parsing the Koran and the hadiths to show that suicide bombing is an explicit rejection of the Islamic faith. He’s a man waging what he calls “intellectual jihad” against fundamentalists who would use his religion as a cudgel.
“Peaceful people are always silent,” he complained recently. If Toronto has a role to play in offering safe haven to voices of peace, that’s something to shout about.