LAHORE - Efforts are being made to unite all Ahle Hadith groups across the country to make it a political force following the merger of Jamiat Alhe Hadith Pakistan into Markzi Jamiat Ahle Hadith, say insiders.

The JAP led by Hafiz Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer and MJA led by Professor Sajid Mir announced their unity on last Thursday. The leaders of the both parties, on occasion of their merger, vowed to unite Ahle Hadith vote bank in the country.

Sources say the alliance of two groups will hardly put any impact in uniting wahabi/salafi vote bank in coming general election at a time when some seven parties of the same school of thought are already in the field of politics.

Although concrete data is not available to identify exact number of the followers of Ahle Hadith school of thought, the Salafis and Deobandis together make some 20 per cent of the country’s population, according to a website. The Brelvi makes 57 per cent, Shia 20 per cent and rest three per cent is the non-Muslim population, the website notes.

More than dozen groups represents Brelvi school, Allama Sajid Naqvi’s Islami Tehreek and Majlise Wahdatul Muslimeen are claimant of Shia votes, Maulana Fazalur Rehman led JUI-F and Maulana Samiul Haq led JUI-S are main parties representing Deobandis while there are some seven groups of the Ahle Hadith.

Besides the MJA and JAP, the other Ahle Hadith groups are led by Abdul Qadeer Khamosh, Abdulghafar Ropri, Maulana Lakhvi, and Allama Zubair Zaheer. Hafiz Saeed’s led Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Milli Muslim League are also enjoying main support of Salafis. 

Interestingly, by and large all Ahle Hadith parties backed the politics of Nawaz Sharif in the past but now Professor Mir was the only religious leader who is close ally of the former prime minister. His party backed Hafiz Abdul Karim from D G Khan was recently elected Senator from Punjab with the support of the PML-N. On the other hand, Hafiz Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer is a strong critic of the PML-N and Sharif family.

The leaders of both parties said that since Professor Mir’s party was the part of Muthida Majlise Amal, the recently revived alliance of five religio-political parties (JUI-F, Jamaat-e-Islami, JUP, Islami Tehreek and MJA), so it was not alone Professor Mir but the MMA leadership which will decide its future course of politics.

The MJA and JAP announced their unity after 13 years and this is on fourth occasion that Hafiz Ibtisam, son of late Allama Ehsan Elahi Zaheer, posing confidence on Professor Mir agreed to work under him unconditionally. Prof Mir made his own faction of Jamiat after the murder of Allama Ehsan in 1987. Both the parties announced their split last time in 2004.

“We have no issue to work under leadership Professor Sahib [Sajid Mir], our objective is to unite Ahlehadiths of the country and make effort to impose Quran and Sunnah law in Pakistan,” said a leader of JAP.

When pointed out Hafiz Ibtisam’s open criticism on Sharifs in the past and Professor Mir’s friendship with the former PM, he termed it a non-issue.

A central leader of MJA, said the efforts will be made to unite all Ahle Hadith groups in coming days. He said the followers of the Ahle Hadith school will be able to play an effective role in country’s politics after the merger of MJA and JAP. He told this scribe that family friends of Professor Mir and Hafiz Ibtisam played role in uniting both the groups. The other reason, according to him, was Professor Mir’s Pigham TV from where Hafiz Ibtisam and Hafiz Hisham, sons of late Allama Ehsan, wanted to spread their message to the followers of Ahle Hadith school across the country. Pigham TV spreads Islamic teachings influenced by the Salafi school in the country and said to be sponsored by a powerful Islamic country.