Jamia Ashrafia, a leading Islamic religious school, ruled that Sharia law doesn’t permit the construction of a new temple in an Islamic state. (Photo: YouTube)
Pakistani authorities have ordered the construction of Islamabad’s first Hindu temple to stop immediately after referring the matter to an official body of Islamic clerics for further deliberation.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has referred the matter to the Council for Islamic Ideology for its advice. The fund allocation for this project will be decided in line with its recommendation,” Noor ul Haq Qadri, a religious affairs minister, told media in Islamabad on July 4.
The minister also said the land for the temple had been allotted by the previous government.
The move came nearly a week after PM Khan approved a financial grant of 100 million rupees (US$597,000) to build the first-ever Shri Krishna Hindu temple in the capital city.
The government’s move was met with angry social media reactions, legal challenges and a fatwa from Jamia Ashrafia, a leading Islamic religious school, which ruled that Sharia law doesn’t permit the construction of a new temple in an Islamic state.
In a video message, Pervaiz Elahi, a former Punjab chief minister and a key coalition partner, said that building a new temple in Islamabad was an insult to Islam.
A video of the temple being desecrated and vandalized by a Muslim man went viral on social media, angering minority rights activists.
Lal Malahi, a Hindu member of the ruling Pakistan Justice Party, took to Twitter to announce the halt to construction work.
“Islamabad Hindu Panchayat in an emergency meeting held today has announced to discontinue Krishna temple construction work for time being following some unpleasant incidents at the site. So far the boundary wall was being erected with Panchayat resources,” the lawmaker tweeted on July 4.
The hashtag #MandirTauBanega (Temple shall be built) had been trending on social media platforms from supporters of the shrine.
“I have never ever felt so hurt, dejected & scared as today after seeing this disturbing video of demolition of temple's foundation. #Hindus living in #Islamabad are feeling so insecure & are scared. When will foundation of hatred & bigotry be demolished?” Kapil Dev, a Pakistani Hindu activist, tweeted.
“Victory for the extremists as a young boy in the video can be seen demolishing foundation of the temple in Islamabad. Did our forefathers make a mistake by choosing this part of the border in 1947 & did not move to India? Jinnah sb (founder of the nation) must be crying today!”