ISLAMABAD                -                 Maulana Amir Siddique, former Lal Masjid deputy chief and nephew of former Khateeb Lal Masjid Maulana Abdul Aziz had a fight with a retired khateeb over the issue of leading Maghrib prayers at Masjid Al-Shohada, Aabpara here on Saturday, said the witnesses.

A serious fistfight broke out between Maulana Amir Siddique, a former Naib Khateeb of Lal Masjid and now posted as khateeb of the Shohada Masjid, and another cleric Ghulam Rasool over the control of the mosque situated at a prime location in the federal capital.

The incident happened in the presence of dozens of people who had gathered there for the Maghrib prayers, said Aamir Siddiqui, a witness to the episode.

According to the sources privy to the development, verbal brawl followed by fistfight between the two clerics continued for over 15 minutes as the newly-appointed khateeb Amir Siddique attempted to lead the prayers. Maulana Ghulam Rasool, who had retired some months back, resisted the move which led to serious fight between the two.

According to the official sources, Ghulam Rasool had retired as an Imam of Shuhada Masjid last year and Aauqaf Department Islamabad had appointed Maulana Amir Siddique in his place. According to an office order dated 26 September 2019, Maulana Amir Siddique was appointed as khateeb at Masjid Al-Shohada, Aabpara, Islamabad. However, backed by a group of traders of the Aabpara Market, Maulana Ghulam Rasool declined to vacate the mosque and the accommodation adjacent to it. The sources privy to the development said that since the appointment of Maulana Amir Siddique as khateeb of the mosque, he was trying to take charge of the mosque. However, Maulana Ghulam Rasool was not willing to surrender the pulpit.

According to the sources, few traders in the market have been backing Maulana Ghulam Rasool, which has emboldened him to resist the newly-appointed cleric and challenge the government’s decision. They said the capital city administration has sought a report on the incident from the Administrative Officer (Auqaf) ICT, Islamabad.

The officials said that the group of traders had also filed an application with the Islamabad administration, requesting to appoint younger brother of Maulana Ghulam Rasool, who is a cleric in another mosque of Islamabad, as khateeb of Masjid Al-Shohada; however, their request was not entertained.

They said few traders in the Aabpara market are against the appointment of Amir Siddique as prayer leader at the Shohada mosque as they believe that he had previously remained associated with the Lal Masjid and may create problems in the future in this mosque as well. The sources said that Maulana Ghulam Rasool led the Isha prayers that day as Maulana Siddique backed out after the brawl. 

Interestingly, in the recent past, differences had emerged between Maulana Abdul Aziz and Maulana Aamir Siddique and the former issued pamphlets against his nephew to propagate that he was not qualified for the post of khateeb in the Shohada Masjid.

Appointment of khateeb in Islamabad mosques has had been an issue for the city administration.

The famous Lal Masjid which is in the headlines these days again, has not had a khateeb between 2004-2014 as the order notifying Maulana Abdul Aziz as the prayer leader of the mosque was withdrawn by the ICT administration in 2004. The notification of Abdul Aziz as khateeb of the Lal Masjid was withdrawn by the ICT administration in 2004 after he issued a fatwa against the army and its operation in Waziristan. However, despite withdrawal of the notification of Maulana Abdul Aziz as khateeb of Lal Masjid, he continued and did not vacate the government-owned mosque. The authorities did not try to enforce their decision and the situation continued until the events of 2007 started to unfold.

On the other hand, Lal Masjid is again in the headlines. This time again due to Maulana Abdul Aziz, uncle of Maulana Aamir Siddique. The mosque in the heart of Islamabad remains a trouble spot as the former prayer leader at the Lal Masjid has again taken control of the mosque and the authorities have put the premises under siege. Aziz is famous for his defiance and challenging the government writ.