The Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), Bishop Thomas Paul Schirrmacher, met with the Grand Mufti of Lahore, Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, in the capital of Saudi Arabia.
Maulana Abdul Khabeer Azad is Grand Mufti of Badshahi Mosque and was appointed as the chairman of Ruet-e-Hilal Committee on 30 December 2020 by Ministry of Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony, Government of Pakistan. He is also the Chairman of the National Peace Council for Interfaith Harmony in Pakistan, the Chairman of Pakistan’s Tanzeem Aiema Masajid Council and the Majlas-e-Ulama Council.
There are up to 100,000 people who pray on Fridays in the Badschahi Mosque, constructed in 1671–1673, the largest mosque in Pakistan, the second largest in southern Asia, and the fifth largest in the world.
Schirrmacher thanked the Grand Mufti for having several times stood in the way of Muslim mobs seeking to set Christians’ homes on fire and for having frequently demonstrated his solidarity after attacks on Christians. He has done so by seeking out the locations where these crimes occurred and condemning Islamic extremism.
Topics addressed during the discussion were the situation facing religious minorities in Pakistan, Pakistan’s blasphemy law, and slavery in brick production. Grand Mufti Azad and Bishop Schirrmacher were in agreement that extremists in Pakistan have come to view criticism of the blasphemy law as itself blasphemy. Ministers, governors, high level judges have for that reason been killed or threatened. The Grand Mufti reported that he is permanently endangered and lives under massive police protection.
Photos: Grand Mufti Azad and Bischof Schirrmacher in conversation © BQ / Dr. Esther Schirrmacher