Courtesy: Express Tribune
Original Piece can be found at: http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/7391/why-i-ceased-contact-with-the-hizb-ut-tahrir/
Have you ever wondered how organizations such as Hizb ut-Tahrir operate?
Their activities are shrouded in secrecy and our all-powerful agencies say that they have had little success in dismantling the network. While agencies might be doing their best, it looks like they have not penetrated the actual methods of communications between the leaders, activists and low ranking associates of the group.
The history of Hizb ut-Tahrir’s activities in Pakistan is relatively new. The UK based group surfaced in different varsities of Pakistan right after Musharraf agreed to join the war against terrorism. They targeted educated young Pakistanis in different colleges and universities and their method of attack was new and quite successful.
First encounter with Hizb ut-Tahrir
During the summer of 2001, I received a call from a friend of mine on my cell phone. These were the days when calls on cell phones were not cheap so it was pretty obvious that the matter was urgent. He said he wanted me to go to a function. I was told that ‘they’ had arranged for 200 people but only a few people turned up and now they desperately needed an audience.
My friend asked me to bring as many people as I could. He promised me that he would pay for their cab fares as well. I was hesitant about recommending something I had not experienced, so I went alone.
To my utter surprise, the gathering was a protest arranged by Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamabad Chapter to protest the American attack on Afghanistan. Being just 16-years-old and fed with what I had seen around me, I was eager to get the ‘real facts’ that the western media was keeping from us.
Before the commencement of the actual event, we were asked to detour to G-9 Markaz (commonly known as Karachi Company) to persuade people to come to the protest. As I was new to all this, I clung to my friend who along with other activists went to the main wagon stop and asked people to join them and listen to the real facts behind the attack on Afghanistan and plans of kafirs about Pakistan in particular, and Muslim ummah in general.
While most of the elders we approached looked unimpressed by the empty rhetoric, teenagers like me were greatly amused. Some people seemed to shy away until they were told that there was a lavish meal with qorma and biryani after the event. The lucrative offer attracted many people and we managed to convince at least 80 people to come to the protest with us.
During the protest, I interacted with students who were from different colleges and universities of Islamabad. Surprisingly, most of them were brought by their friends under the pretext of some function where attendees didn’t show up or where food was going to be served. The most astonishing fact was that a few kids had been told that there was a fight between two rival gangs and their friends were in dire need of help. I didn’t understand why the group needed to lie to people to bring in an audience!
Don’t you want to know the ‘real’ facts?
The protest started with recitation from the Holy Quran. The verse quoted was a famous one from Surah Ahzaab that deals with the friendship with Jews and Christians. The speaker explained that Jews and Christians (he explicitly said ‘West and Western sponsored NGOs’ after that) were afraid of the ‘rise of Islam in Afghanistan and wanted to wipeout the caliphate from there and it has been mentioned in a Hadith as well.’
He went on to recite a Hadith about the rise of an Islamic Army from Khurasan and told us that Khurasaan is the old name of Afghanistan. He said that the youth need to stand up and there is a need for Hazrat Mauz (RA) and Maaz (RA) to cater to the problem of Western imperialism.
There were three speeches with loads of what I now understand was liberal bashing; a speaker asked those present to take an oath that they will stand up to defend Islam. We were told that American agents are like the munafiqeen of Medina and they pronounced the decrees on the basis of hypocrisy. My mind was confused but I was excited. I really wanted to know about the ‘real history’ of events and verses that speakers were quoting (or misquoting) and interpreting (or misinterpreting).
The speakers said that Islam and Pakistan were in danger and that USA will destroy our nuclear bomb because they are afraid of the power of the caliphate. According to the men Islamic territories in Spain, Armenia, Russia and in other countries of Eastern Europe could be reclaimed if we just united on a one-point agenda of caliphate and supported the caliphate in Afghanistan.
Questioning the teacher
The next day I was in my college library going through several books of Islamic History and translations of the Holy Quran. I wrote a list of questions on a piece of paper and called my friend who told me that there was a dars at the residence of the mentor of Hizb ut-Tahrir in I-10/2.
We went there later in the evening. The dars included the usual stuff: mostly anti-America rhetoric, although notably the speaker didn’t mention the word Taliban or Taliban ideology. At the end of the dars, I raised my hand to ask the speaker about the questions that were in my mind.
Honestly, I had a blast.
After answering a few of my queries however, the speaker stopped me from asking further questions and quoted a hadith that said that there is a thin line between Islam and Kufar. I immediately knew that he was about to declare me Kafir. I didn’t lose hope, I attended many other sessions and tried to expunge my doubts, but to no avail.
My last experience with the Hizb ut-Tahrir was in the aftermath of the earthquake in 2005. During the usual dars and Caliphate rhetoric (that I was not satisfied with) the speaker said that the earthquake was occurred because we are not doing enough to bring shariah in Pakistan. I wanted to ask which Shariah? There are so many versions and everyone knows that.
It didn’t continue for long, I was already detached and unconvinced from the misinterpretation of Quran and Hadith and misuse of different verses of Quran in the pamphlets that HuT distributed after every Friday prayers outside mosques. This usually happened in Sector I-10, the whole operation of distribution of pamphlets and arrangements of lectures was done by a man who was working at a government department.
Cutting ties with Hizb ut-Tahrir
I still remember the day when I ceased all contact with everyone who was associated with HuT. It was the day they termed suicide bombings as a justifiable response to the situation by saying an eye for an eye.
The statement was just between people close to the patron of HuT I-10 and it was not said openly.
I had always suppressed my thoughts about my first encounter with Hizb ut-Tahrir.
I was unable to understand why they lied to people and told them about the lavish dinner after the meeting?
Why didn’t they offer some realistic plans about issues like electricity, gas and so many others?
Their answer to every question is Muslims should bring Caliphate and everything will be fine!
Now an outsider
The HuT was banned but it never actually disappeared. Banners and posters along with wall chalking are always there. I see them every day in Sector I-10, I-9, G-10, G-9, G-11, Main 9th Avenue, Main Jinnah Avenue, Main Nizam ud Din Road and in adjacent areas of Rawalpindi.
It should not be a surprise to us that in the football ground opposite to Jama Masjid Salman Farsi, the wall has been covered with a graffiti message against the army ( “Namak Haram Fauj Murdabaad”)
This has now been replaced with Islami Jamiat-i-Taliba’s wall chalking about America’s demise and their upcoming convention in Punjab University.
Looking back, I am surprised that HuT offers free food at their corner meetings and protests. They publish their pamphlets on 80 gram imported paper (which is 50 paisa per sheet if you buy it from any shop). I still don’t understand who is funding them.
Latest reports say that intelligence agencies failed to disband HuT but I feel the fault is with local police who can sniff our mouths for the smell of alcohol and harass us if you encounter them after 10 o’clock, but never take any serious action and check the activities of HuT.
A news item disturbed me when I heard that HuT was planning an‘Arab spring’ in Pakistan.
How did this organization become so powerful in this region?
I remember when they had to lie to people and bribe them with free food to make them come to their meetings but now they seem to be operating openly – that too under the nose of police. The proof is that posters and stickers of HuT are even on main 9th avenue and on the poles just next to Police Picket that falls in the jurisdiction of Industrial Area Police Station on the cross section of 9th Avenue with IJP Road.
The same is true for the stickers and posters (usually of orange color) next to the Police Picket on Main Jinnah Avenue right after the Faisal Avenue Flyover. That picket comes under the jurisdiction of Kohsar Police Station.
Well, who are their sponsors and why are our agencies afraid to unmask them? I want to know!