Wednesday, 4 January 2017

QK Archives: Nizamuddin Shamezai

Nizamuddin Shamezai: Swati boy who became Mufti
Rahimullah Yusufzai
Originally published may-June 2004

PESHAWAR: Nizamuddin was a young boy when he left his native Swat to study religion in Karachi. Over the years he became a respected religious scholar and came to be known as Mufti Nizamuddin Shamezai.
Shamezai was the native place of the 52-year old Mufti Nizamuddin in Swat. In due course of time it became an integral part of his name.

Though he had been living in Karachi for the last 40 years or so, the deceased Mufti maintained strong links with his village and relatives. His old mother and brother still live in the family village, Sakhra near Matta in upper Swat valley. He would often find time to visit Swat and be with his people to share their joys and sorrows.
Last week, he was in Peshawar to offer support and advice to the MMA government. As a member of the JUI-F central council, he was held in high esteem by the party leader Maulana Fazlur Rahman and the NWFP chief minister Akram Durrani. The two were among the first to call JUI-F leaders in Karachi on Sunday to convey their condolences on Mufti Shamezai’s tragic death.

“He was Pakistan’s top scholar of Islam. Though Mufti Rafiuddin Usmani is the Mufti-i-Pakistan, we can easily bracket Mufti Nizamuddin Shamezai in the same category,” commented Qari Mohammad Usman, head of the Jamia Usmania in Karachi’s Sher Shah neighbourhood and information secretary of JUI-F and MMA, Sindh.
Madrassas in the NWFP, like those in rest of the country, closed down as news of Mufti Shamezai’s murder filtered out of Karachi. At some places in the Frontier, protest meetings were held and demonstrations staged to condemn his killing. However, the mourning was dignified at most places with the Ulema and their pupils reciting the holy Quran to bless his departed soul.

“It is a great tragedy. Mufti Nizamuddin Shamezai is a martyr as he sacrificed his life while struggling for Islamic causes,” remarked former PML-N MNA from Kohat, Javed Ibrahim Paracha.
Mufti Shamezai was one of the biggest supporters of the Taliban. He travelled to Afghanistan a number of times during Taliban rule and met their supreme leader Mulla Mohammad Omar. The latter often sought Mufti Shamezai’s advice and gave him lot of respect. However, the late Mufti didn’t entirely approve Taliban policies and in several interviews he criticized the use of force by Mulla Omar’s men to enforce some of their decrees. At the same time, he would often point out that the Taliban hadn’t invented a new Islam and were in reality implementing Shariah in their own way.
Mufti Shamezai was one of those Pakistani religious scholars who signed an edict declaring “jehad” against the Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan in 1979-80. Along with other Muftis and Ulema, he was a consistent supporter of the Afghan mujahideen. Later, he backed the Taliban and continued to support them even after the fall of their regime as a result of the US invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001. He also endorsed the call for “jehad” against the US-led forces in Afghanistan.

After his early schooling in Swat, it was in the 1960s that the young Nizamuddin reached Karachi to study at the Darul Khair madrassa. Later, he enrolled in the Jamia Farooqia to begin a long association first as a Talib and then as teacher. For 14 years, he headed the section at the Jamia Farooqia that was required to issue edicts on a host of subjects ranging from family life to religion. In 1988, he joined the Jamiatul Uloom Islamia in Binori Town, Karachi to serve there until his death as a Mufti and teacher. Following the death of Maulana Habibullah Mukhtiar, Mufti Shamezai was made head of the Darul Fatada, which was authorized to give Fatwas (edicts). In the early 1990s, he did his Phd from Jamshoro University on Imam Bokhari’s teachers (Shayookh). By then he was also teaching bukhari Sharif at his Binori Town seminary.

Mufti Shamezai had scores of pupils all over the world. Many of them phoned the Binori Town madrassa from places as far as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and some of the Arab countries to record their condolences on his death. The deceased spoke several languages, including Arabic, Persian, Pashto and Urdu, and was an acclaimed man of letters. Every week on Friday, he would answer questions in the Urdu daily, Jang, on a variety of subjects in light of Islamic teachings. He had inherited this task following the murder of his mentor Maulana Mohammad Yousaf Ludhianvi in Karachi sometime back. Even in death the two would be together as Mufti Shamezai was to be buried in the same Sohrab Goth cemetery where Maulana Ludhianvi has his last resting place.
Mufti Shamezai’s eight children, including his three sons and five daughters, have received proper religious education and are scholars in their own right. All of them are also Hafiz-i-Quran.
One of his students, Maulana Imdadullah, said he hasn’t come across a more accomplished teacher. “The way in which he made us understand even complex topics at the Binori Town madrassa was both simple and unique. Add to it his perfect manners and here was a man who was everyone’s favourite teacher,” opined the grieving Imdadullah.
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