The year 2020 has marked the start of a new decade which has been so far proved unfortunate for humanity. Starting from the Coronavirus pandemic to natural disasters and the emerging political crisis throughout the world. Pakistan has also lost many prominent personalities but most of them are from religious circles.
In June 2020, a news came from Deoband school of thought about the demise of Mufti Muhammad Naeem who was the head of famous and one of the largest seminaries in Pakistan – Jamia Binoria. However he was not affiliated with any political organization but played an active role in politics. When Karachi faced surge in sectarian violence he was taken into confidence by then powerful Muthaida Quami Movement (MQM) to pacify the waves of sectarianism in the city. In 2014 he himself became a victim of terrorism after his son-in-law Maulana Masood was killed in a targeted attack.
Mufti Naeem also played a very important role in issuing a major fatwa against terrorist activities in the name of Islam under the banner of “Paigham-e-Pakistan”. He was also known for his support for welfare activities like polio vaccination campaigns and inter-sectarian harmony. He also condemned the brutal Killing of Mashal Khan when he was lynched inside Khan Abdul Wali Khan University over blasphemy accusations in Mardan. Back in 2007, he also spoke out against suicide bombings.
Interestingly in 2019 a delegation of the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) met with Mufti Naeem and demanded his moral support after Jamiat-e-Ulama e Islam chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman announced a massive mass movement against the government. Mufti Naeem supported the government’s stance and advised seminaries or madarsas not to take part in politics.
He died on 20 June at the age of 62 after suffering from prolonged illness. He was laid to rest alongside his father in Jamia Binoria cemetery. After his death, his son Sheikh Noman Naeem was appointed as the chancellor of the seminary.
Few days after the death of the Deoband scholar, a bright face of Shia community Allama Talib Jauhri also passed away in Karachi at midnight between June 21 and 22. He was also hailed as an ambassador of Shia-Sunni unity and one of the most respected scholars in Indo-Pak subcontinent.
He opened his eyes in undivided British India in the city of Patna but later his family migrated to Pakistan after its independence. He was the son of Maulana Muhammad Mustafa Jauhar who was a noted scholar and poet. He studied theology in Iraq under the mentorship of influential Shia leaders like Sayyid Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei and Muhammad Baqir al-Sadar while Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani and Zeeshan Hiader Jawwadi remained his class fellows.
He was regarded as a great public speaker during Muharram with people from different sects and religions were also seen listening to his Majalis. He had a good command in Islamic philosophy, logic and Quran and he had written books on these subjects. He was also interested in Urdu poetry.
Allama Talib Jauhri also remained associated with electronic media especially Pakistan Television (PTV) for his commentary which was aired on the night of 10th Muharram every year. Which finally became the reason for his popularity and respected personality among both Shias and Sunnis. He was also the recipient of Sitara-e-Imtiaz awarded by the government of Pakistan for his contributions to religion.
Like Mufti Naeem, the son in law of Allama Talib Jauhri was also killed in the year of 2014 meanwhile both share condolences with each other. During the early hours of Monday 22 June he took his last breath. He was 81 year old. He was buried in the famous Wadi-e-Hussain graveyard.
Another one in the list of deceased religious personalities is Allama Zameer Akhtar Naqvi. Who was also a prominent Shia scholar and orator – also known as Zakir in the community. He also contributed to Urdu language and poetry overall his main focus of research remained Marsiyah (elegiac poems on the martyrs of Karbala).
One of the lesser known facts about Allama Zameer Akhtar Naqvi was that he was born in Lucknow in 1944 and spent more than twenty years there completing his formal studies before permanently shifting to Karachi in 1967. He did PhD from the University of Karachi after which he started his literary career as the editor of Al-Kalam magazine and soon himself headed Anees Academy. He also authored hundreds of books on various subjects.
Besides having a deep knowledge about religion and philosophy he was also exceptionally well as a public speaker due to which he occupied space in media. Apart from that he had also become a social media sensation because some of his rhetorical phrases which went viral through his short video clips although he did not like those developments which often made him a subject of controversy and condemnation. He was popularly regarded because of his self-styled Lucknow-based Urdu commentary
The news of his death was a shock for his admirers. He died on 13 September 2020 at the age of 76 and received farewell from all over the country.
The most shocking news about the most controversial personality came from Punjab on 19 November 2020. The hardliner Barelvi cleric and the founding member of Tehreek e Labaik Pakistan (TLP) Khadim Hussain Rizvi was also no more alive. He died at the age of 54 his family confirmed that he had been ill for a few days
He reshaped the politics of rightwing in Pakistan as he drew a massive support from largely depoliticized Barelvi youth and devotees. In 2018 general elections PTI won majority of the seats but comparing the popular votes, TLP had secured remarkable success mainly by breaking the vote bank of MQM in Karachi and PMLN in Punjab.
Born in 1966 in the district of Attock, he gained religious education from Jamia Nizamia Lahore and became a main part of clergy in Lahore’s Pir Makki Masjid. Meanwhile he lost his ability to walk in an accident. He came into the spotlight after emerging as a charismatic leader during Faizabad Sit-in against the PMLN law minister in 2017 and in 2018 as he organized the protest against the release of Asia Bibi. He led the movements passionately with his hate-mongering speeches finally leading to his arrest in 2018 with some other TLP members. He was released back in May 2019.
His arrival in politics has changed the dynamics of Pakistani rightwing. Many including the Faizabad verdict, have also suggested the hands of some “non-state actors” behind the success of Khadim Rizvi and TLP. Now with his death, can we assume that his legacy will not be continued by his successors?