On June 12, 2009, Mufti Dr Sarfraz Naeemi , a prominent scholar and principal of the madressa, Jamia Naeemia in Lahore, fell victim to a suicide attack. A teenaged suicide bomber blew himself up in front of Mufti Naeemi, who had returned to his chamber after leading the Friday prayers at Jamia Naeemia.
Dr Sarfraz Naeemi’s brutal killing was widely mourned as a national loss of a moderate Islamic voice. Shocking as his death was, reasons for eliminating Mufti Naeemi were not at all difficult to seek. He had been writing his own death warrant with his outspoken criticism of Taliban. It was no surprise then, that Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan was quick to claim responsibility for his killing.
Of late, Dr Naeemi was frequently seen on talk shows on various television channels airing his bold stance against suicide attacks. He was an all-out strong supporter of the military operation against the Taliban in the Malakand Agency and Swat. He was among the first religious scholars who issued a fatwa (edict) against suicide attacks in 2005. He declared the suicide attacks haram (forbidden) . As recently as on May 8,2009, Mufti Naeemi declared in an interview to the Sunday magazine of The News International: “Those who commit suicide attacks for getting jannah (paradise) will go to hell because they kill innocent people. Islam stands for peace. One cannot take one’s own life or that of another individual. And one cannot start Jihad against one’s own State”. A month later a suicide bomber silenced him forever, as he was sitting in his office after the Friday prayers.
He opposed the Taliban because they were trying to impose the thinking of a particular sect and eliminate all other sects, according to a colleague of Dr Naeemi. To quote from the same interview, Dr Naeemi said, ” People supported the Taliban thinking they wanted to implement Shar’iah. It took them some time to realise it is a misinterpreted version of Islam, instead of true Shar’iah. Those who refused to accept it were met with fierce opposition through throat cutting. People are now aware of their intentions to destroy Pakistan.”
Born in 1948 in Lahore, Dr Sarfraz Naeemi was the son of Jamia Naeemia’s founder, Mufti Mohammad Hussain Naeemi. He had his early education at the Jamia and had learnt the Qur’an by heart (hiz)before completing his schooling. He did his Masters, LL.B and then Ph.D in Islamic Studies from the Punjab University, besides doing a short course from Al-Azhar Univesity in Cairo. Dr Naeemi was well versed in Urdu, Arabic and Persian languages and was awarded a gold medal for his degree in Arabic language.He also wrote articles and columns on religious issues and was also the editor of a monthly Arafat of Lahore.
A simple, soft-spoken person, Mufti Naeemi was loved by all, especially by the huge number of his students. He only took Rs 6000/ a month salary as a Mualim(teacher) and it is said that more than 1000 people eat in his madressah every day.He always used a motorcycle as a means of transport and at the time of the bomb blast, his office had a table, a few chairs and books.
Behind his mild and kindly demeanor lay the fiery and dynamic personality, known for a bold stance on global Muslim issues like victimisation and suppression of Muslim movements and invasions on Muslim countries.He strongly opposed Pakistan’s logistic support to US-led coalition in the war on terror for which he was first removed as Khateeb in Auqaf Department and arrested briefly.He did another spell in prison for protesting against the blasphemous caricatures by European press.
Dr Naeemi succeeded his father as principal of Jamia Naeemia in 1998 after the death of his father. Now his son, Raghib Naeemi has succeeded him in the same position.