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Inside Jamia Hafsa

Jamia Hafsa June 25(The Nation) - Jamia Hafsa, run by wife of Maulana Abdul Aziz (Imam of Lal Masjid), has been existing right in the centre of the capital since 1999 but was never that controversial until the veiled female students, while challenging writ of the government, usurped the adjoining children's library on January 21, 2007; as a protest against demolition of few of the mosques by the government.
Jamia Hafsa is affiliated with Lal Masjid, whose Imam, Maulana Abdul Aziz was appointed by the government when his father Maulana Abdullah was assassinated on October 17, 1998.

The students of Jamia Hafsa; who are largely from NWFP, Kashmir and Murree follow their Ameer, Maulana Abdul Aziz and revere his every statement.

"It's our duty to follow our Ameer if it's according to Shariah," said one of the students.

These female students, while following their Ameer are keen to enforce Shariah in the country. While taking the law in their hands and through mosque's parallel justice system, there have been kidnappings of not only women allegedly running a brothel house but also of policemen.

Whenever a minor action of detaining any of the students was taken by the government, it has been retaliated by kidnapping of more police officials.

Followers of Maulana Abdul Aziz, including 4500 female students of Jamia Hafsa, feel obligated to obliterate the 'unislamic acts detrimental to society.'

Out of 4500 students, 3500 reside in the madrassa, and all of them, considering it jihad, are ready to fight against the allegedly unIslamic system run by the military regime.

"Customarily jihad is declared against non-believers but we proclaim it against the flawed system of the government," said one of the students while airing her concept of jihad.

The minimum age required for admission in Jamia Hafsa is 3 to 4 years. These students are charged a very minimal amount of only Rs 150 each as registration fee by the administration. Even the boarding students are given comfortable living within available means free of charge. All the monetary expenses are met by the madrassa, depending on the donations given by people as claimed by head of the madrassa (wife of Abdul Aziz).

"They (students) are my daughters, so we try to make them comfortable by giving them all possible facilities," said the headmistress.

At Jamia Hafsa meal is served three times a day. But these days due to lack of funds, breakfast is not being offered.

"We have lost our major donors due to continuing dissension with the government and rising conflict," the principal revealed.
According to her, people have stopped supporting them monetarily due to fear of being targeted by the government for financing a madrassa whose followers have vociferously been against the policies of General Musharraf.

The headmistress told The Nation that the monthly electricity bill is around Rs150,000 and the gas bill also equals that amount. The madrassa which is constructed on the illegal land has an easy access to all facilities, such as gas, electricity and telephone. Each room is equipped with the facility of electricity and water taps are also in excess. There are also number of toilets on each floor.

Several gas stoves are also placed on different floors, thus the students don't necessarily have to rely on food offered by the madrassa since they are facilitated to cook anytime they want to. There is also a small cafeteria offering junk food where students spend leisure time. Few women from outside the madrassa also bring cooked food to sell. Thus the students have different options. There is also a grocery store.

The illegally constructed Jamia Hafsa was extended speedily in 2002 on the land owned by the Ministry of Education. It's a four storey building, including a basement, consisting of 75 spacious rooms and two vast verandas with a range of taps in one of the verandas for ablution purposes. Loud speakers are also erected in these verandas so that the Juma sermon delivered by Maulana Abdul Aziz in Lal Masjid is audible to students as well. The verandas and corridors are crowded with students during his Juma speeches and heard with great deference.

Amazingly the map of this tall, expansive building was never sent to Capital Development Authority for approval as required by the rules and procedures. According to CDA rules, heavy fine is imposed if anyone violates the approved construction plan.

According to Malik Murtaza, Deputy Director Building Control Cell, CDA, "Under CDA laws, this building should be demolished since the land was never allotted to them."

He further said that fine is imposed on the legal owners of the land, if there is deviation from approved construction plan.

He said CDA can get this building vacated only if government supports them. Calling the two brothers (Abdul Aziz and Abdul Rashid Ghazi) a "mafia," he said that CDA had tried to do its job, but failed.

Acting Chairman CDA Kamran Qureshi told The Nation that over 120 notices have been sent to the two brothers "and also to Islamabad administration, but no action was taken by the Deputy Commissioner."

Due to the rising conflict, the government has de-registered Jamia Hafsa, depriving the students from the officially recognized degree, earlier issued by Wafaqul Madaris. But the Jamia Hafsa administration, run by the Ghazi family has elevated the madrassa to the university level and issues its own degree now.

Other than the religious books, mathematics and English is also part of the syllabus. Only basic lessons of mathematics and English are imparted, restricted only to alphabet and recognitions of few words. Whereas mathematics books can only help students learn basic calculations.

The boarding students are constrained to the activities within madrassa. They are not allowed to go out of the madrassa unnecessarily. Other than a family member, a teacher can accompany them to rare outside excursions. They spend most of their time studying and are not even exposed to any electronic or print media, except for Urdu and English newspapers.

"We should not indulge in worldly activities unnecessarily. We are sent in this world to lead a life as prescribed in the Quran," the student said.

Earlier the students of Jamia Hafsa alongwith their male counterparts from Jamia Faridia (another madrassa administered by Lal Masjid) were targeting Pakistanis indulged in allegedly unIslamic acts "detrimental to society" but now they feel obligated to punish the non-Muslims as well.

The recent abduction of 5 Chinese women and a man (running a massage and acupuncture clinic) has also been condemned by the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly and MMA Secretary General, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, at the floor of the house on the last day of NA session. While criticizing the government for not taking any action against the Lal Masjid brigade, he said, that China was the only country left in the region that Pakistan shared friendly rela.
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