We continue our inquest* and next examine the shadows of influence cast by our religious parties. They can be classified into three categories on the basis of their aims and objectives.

The first category comprises religious schools of thought which have organized themselves into religious parties to propagate their specific thoughts and safeguard their rights and interests. The basic principle underlying their formation is that since Islam grants every person the right to freely deliberate over all affairs of life and formulate his own views, therefore, which a group of people adheres to certain thoughts in common, which may be the result of a lone or a collective intellectual endeavour, they should be granted this right also by Islam to organize themselves in the form of a party. We acknowledge this principle and upon its basis various schools of thought can organize themselves into parties. They can strive with all freedom to propagate their beliefs and increase their following. In this regard, though, certain stipulations should be sought from them: They should obstain from denouncing and censuring other religious schools and issuing religious verdicts against them. Each party should refrain from inflaming and provoking the common man against other parties and should not be a source of any hindrance in the propagation of their beliefs. Furthermore, the common practice of the party leaders forbidding their followers to sit in the company of scholars of some other religious school should be discontinued. They should only be permitted to rationally reason out the flaws in the thoughts of other religious schools and at the same time positively assert their own. Intellectual disagreements are in fact a blessing it is due to them that the frontiers of knowledge expand revealing newer dimensions and making the truth more and more discernable. But these differences should remain within bounds and not exceed them by manifesting themselves into rivalries and enmities. This is what actually leads towards religious prejudice and bigotry, which are now so apparent in our society. An Islamic State can in no way tolerate such attitudes and tendencies.

Among the second category are constituted those religious parties whose aims is to disseminate the basic message of Islam and to reform the moral character of the people. These are the parties that assist an Islamic government in fulfilling its primary duty of Da`wah-ilal-khair1, Amar-bil-Ma`roof2 and Nahee-`anil- Munkar3 and an Islamic Government is as such indebted to them to them for this service. For an Islamic State this noble collaboration is not doubt indispensable, but can only produce the desired results when these parties base their message only and only upon the Quran and Sunnah. When such virtuous enterprises base themselves upon traditions, legends and folklore, then inevitably the true picture of Islam begins to vanish from the people's minds, and they are ultimately not even able to distinguish the good from the bad. Unfortunately, such religious parties are not free from this serious drawback. Until and unless this flaw is overcome, no Islamic government can accomplish the obligation of Da`wah-ilal-Khair.

The third category comprises parties that have been formed to enforce the Islamic Shariah at the state level. Quite obviously, after this enforcement they would have no justification to exist upon previous aims. They would, in fact, be left to accept two alternatives: either to devote all their energy in reforming the nation or to transform themselves into political parties and by adopting constitutional measures strive for a better political set-up. These are the only two options, which would of course have the same stipulations and restrictions mentioned earlier on.

However, among this category there are some other religious parties as well which insist that even after the creation of Pakistan as Muslim Republic, a Muslim will die as an unbeliever, if without any excuse he is not a member of any such party or otherwise, does not form his own party. They further assert that for such a religious party of this third category, the Prophet's Sunnah is that its leader will assume the title of Ameer and his followers would be required to pledge a convenant of Sam`u Taa`at (to listen and to obey). This point of view is in obvious contradiction with the Quran and Sunnah and amounts to a revolt against the state affairs of Pakistan. Therefore, no political party can be established on this basis in Pakistan.

This, in our view, should be the policy of an Islamic State towards religious parties, and it should be very clear that any deviation in this regard could lead to serious mishaps in the state affairs.

(Adapted from Ghamidi's "Burhaan")