A meeting of our unimpeachable Council for Islamic Ideology (CII) turned violent when a scuffle broke out between member Maulana Tahir Ashrafi and Chairman Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani. The participants were discussing the status of Ahmadis under the Constitution.

Ashrafi claimed that Sherani grabbed him by the collar and tore it, but according to an eyewitness, Ashrafi may have initiated the brawl.

It is unfortunate that religious leaders of the highest order are publicly humiliating themselves. Their coming to blows over religious debate is a reflection of a religiously close minded nation. These men are not role models. Sadly, we treat them with the utmost reverence, calling them Maulana or Allama and giving them massive leeway to influence the political decisions in parliament.

Lets take a look at what contributions these men have made to Pakistani law. Their rulings include that the marriageable age for girls should be as low as 13 and that DNA evidence is not admissible as evidence in rape cases. Maulana Sheerani, now wants to decide whether Ahmadis are non-Muslims or apostates- a decision that will drive the last nails in the coffin that conservative Islamists have prepared for Ahmadis. At a time when Pakistan is fighting a final war against terror, extremism and radicalization, when our forces and civilians are sacrificing their lives, the Chairman did not have to debate such provocative issues. The scuffle will have just one real victim: innocent Ahmadis. Though the position of Council is just a ceremonial one and has nothing to do with the law, even passing such remarks can provoke the religious zealots to kill people. Maybe it is time to think of disbanding the CII.

Maulana Sherani is also member of the National Assembly on a JUI-F ticket, had earlier this year said he intended to take up three “most controversial religious issues.” Why? Because it would be a feather in his cap (or beard).

Decisions about apostasy do not have to be made at all. There is no practical purpose for the CII to even discuss it, unless the question of the status of a minority was disturbing the normal functioning of the state (it never has). The state does not make laws for individuals, and should be blind to cast, creed and colour. Are Ahamdis non-muslims or apostates? It is irrelevant and the debate should end here. They are Pakistani citizens. If someone calls themselves Muslim no one should be allowed to call them by any other name to legally change their status in a country. Judgement lies with the The Almighty alone.