The eminent figures in Islamic scholarship have shaped the Islamic landscape in Pakistan. From powerful sermons and extensive contributions to religious education, each scholar has left a mark on Islamic discourse. This article is a journey through the lives and contributions of these scholars who have influenced the understanding of Islam in Pakistan and beyond.
10 Islamic Scholars of Pakistan
- Dr. Israr Ahmed (Late)
- Maulana Tariq Jameel
- Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
- Mufti Taqi Usmani
- Mufti Muhammad Naeem
- Dr. Farhat Hashmi
- Mufti Tariq Masood
- Nauman Ali Khan
- Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri
- Muhammad Raza Saqib Mustafai
1- Dr. Israr Ahmed (1932–2010)
Dr Israr Ahmad was a respected Islamic scholar from Pakistan, known for attracting audiences in South Asia and the Middle East, Western Europe, and North America. He gained recognition for his powerful speeches and deep knowledge of Islam, having written around 60 books, nearly half translated into different languages, including English.
Born in Hisar, Punjab, during British rule, Ahmad pursued his education at the King Edward Medical University in Lahore, where he earned a medical degree in 1954. Alongside his medical studies, he developed a passion for Islamic studies and completed a master’s degree from the University of Karachi in 1965.
Ahmad’s involvement in politics began with associations like the Muslim Student’s Federation and Jamaat-e-Islami. However, disheartened by the latter’s move into electoral politics in 1957, he founded Tanzeem-e-Islami in 1956. His vision aimed at implementing Quranic teachings and Sharia comprehensively, emphasizing the restoration of the Caliphate while rejecting Western influences.
A significant moment in his career came in 1981 when President Zia-ul-Haq granted Ahmad a weekly show on Pakistan Television, making him a national figure. His influential role contributed to the Islamization efforts in Pakistan.
Throughout his career, Ahmad emphasized a Quran-centered Islamic philosophy, leading to the establishment of Markazi Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Quran Lahore in 1972, Tanzeem-e-Islami in 1975, and Tahreek-e-Khilafat Pakistan in 1991. Ahmad was also honored with the Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 1981, recognizing his significant contributions to the field of religion.
Despite stepping down from leadership in 2002 due to health issues, Ahmad’s legacy endured through Tanzeem-e-Islami. He passed away in Lahore on April 14, 2010. Ahmad’s efforts over four decades to promote Quran-based Islamic philosophy have left a lasting impact, earning him followers in Pakistan, India, and the Gulf countries. His work in education, philosophy, and activism continues to influence Islamic discourse globally.
Read More: Islamic Scholars in History
2- Maulana Tariq Jameel
Maulana Tariq Jamil, born on October 1, 1953, in Mian Channu, Pakistan, is a prominent Islamic preacher, religious writer, and scholar known for his influential role in the Tablighi Jamaat. His contributions have been acknowledged with the Pride of Performance award, and he has consistently been recognized among The 500 Most Influential Muslims since 2012, securing the 32nd position in the 2023 edition.
Jamil’s family is a wealthy Punjabi Rajput family that ruled under Prithviraj Chauhan in the twelfth century. His family’s historical significance goes back to the 16th-century reign of Sher Shah Suri. He was raised at Tulamba, a town close to Mian Channu.
Jamil’s educational journey began at Central Model School, Lahore, followed by studies at Government College University, Lahore. He initially enrolled in King Edward Medical College but left without completing his MBBS to pursue religious education at Jamia Arabia, Raiwind, where he studied the Qur’an, Hadiths (Prophet Muhammad’s teachings), Sufism, logic, and Islamic jurisprudence.
As a scholar, Jamil is known for promoting ethnic and sectarian harmony. His preaching focuses on self-purification, non-violence, adherence to Allah’s orders, and following the path of Prophet Muhammad. This approach has contributed to his recognition as one of The 500 Most Influential Muslims globally since 2012.
Beyond his religious endeavors, Maulana Tariq Jamil ventured into business with the launch of MTJ Brand, a clothing line, in March 2021. The brand, headquartered in Karachi, claims to use its revenue to support Jamil’s Madressahs, as well as the construction of schools and hospitals in Pakistan. He established the Maulana Tariq Jamil Foundation, a non-profit organization in Tulamba, Khanewal, dedicated to gathering funds for social work, health, and education to benefit the people of Pakistan.
Jamil’s commitment to education and religion earned him the Pride of Performance award in 2020, presented by the President of Pakistan, Arif Alvi. In essence, Maulana Tariq Jamil’s multifaceted contributions include religious leadership, business initiatives, and philanthropy, reflecting a holistic approach to serving society.
3- Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, born on April 18, 1952, is a famous Pakistani figure known for his contributions as a philosopher, educationist, and Islamic scholar. He is the founding President of the Al-Mawrid Institute of Islamic Sciences and Danish Sara. Ghamidi served on the Council of Islamic Ideology, offering legal advice on Islamic matters to the Pakistani government and Parliament, from January 28, 2006, for a couple of years. He also taught Islamic studies at the Civil Services Academy for over a decade, from 1979 to 1991.
Born as Muhammad Shafique in Jiwan Shah, Arifwala, Punjab, Pakistan, he later renamed himself Javed Ahmed Ghamidi. Raised in a Sufi household, Ghamdi pursued both modern and traditional education, including studies at Government College, Lahore, graduating in English Literature & Philosophy in 1972.
Ghamidi’s intellectual journey shifted from literature and philosophy to religion after encountering the works of Hamiduddin Farahi and meeting Amin Ahsan Islahi. Under Islahi’s guidance, Ghamidi studied Islamic disciplines, including interpretation and Islamic law. His association with Abu al-A‘la Mawdudi also played a significant role in shaping his early perspectives.
In his book “Mizan,” Ghamidi presents his understanding of Islam, emphasizing the Quran and Sunnah as the sole sources, distinct from tasawwuf, qalam, fiqh, and other influences. Ghamidi’s views on jihad emphasize its validity only in an organized Islamic state to end oppression when other measures fail. He opposes individuals or groups taking up arms independently. Regarding democracy, he asserts that Islam prescribes consultation among Muslims in running state affairs.
Ghamidi’s departure from the Council of Islamic Ideology in 2006 was prompted by differences over a bill involving women’s rights. His resignation highlighted concerns about the interference of a separate ulema committee and amendments conflicting with Islamic teachings.
Facing criticism from certain quarters, Ghamidi has remained dedicated to presenting Islam through modern lenses, often engaging with audiences on television programs and through various media channels. His relocation to the United States in 2010 was driven by opposition and threats to his life, but he continued his educational efforts through the Ghamidi Center of Islamic Learning.
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi has received several awards, including the Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 2009, for his significant contributions to Islamic scholarship. Despite criticism, Ghamidi’s work resonates with an audience seeking a balanced and modern understanding of Islam.
4- Mufti Taqi Usmani
Muhammad Taqi Usmani, born on October 3, 1943, is a leading Pakistani scholar in various fields, including the Quran, Hadith, Islamic law, Islamic economics, and comparative religion. He has made significant contributions to the Islamic movements, earning the title of Shaykh al-Islām for his extensive knowledge of Islamic studies. His influence extends globally, and he is recognized as a key figure in the Muslim community.
Usmani’s academic journey began at Darul Uloom Karachi, the University of Karachi, and the University of the Punjab. He started teaching at Darul Uloom Karachi in 1960 and has been the editor of both the Urdu magazine Al-Balagh since 1967 and the English magazine Al-Balagh International since 1976. As a jurist, he served in various prestigious positions, such as the Council of Islamic Ideology, the Federal Shariat Court, and the Shariat Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Acknowledged for his expertise in Islamic law, Usmani has authored 143 books in Arabic, English, and Urdu. He played an important role in establishing Islamic banking in Pakistan, notably founding Meezan Bank. His efforts in Islamizing the banking and finance industry earned him recognition, and in 1998, his book “An Introduction to Islamic Finance” was considered highly significant.
Usmani’s influence goes beyond Pakistan; he is a permanent member of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy of the OIC and has served as Chairman of the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). On the other hand, he chaired the Shariah Board of the State Bank of Pakistan and various Islamic banks as well.
Usmani received the Islamic Development Bank Prize in 2014. He has provided translations and explanations of the Quran, with his major contributions being “The Noble Quran” in English and “Tauzeeh Al-Quran” in Urdu. His comprehensive explanation of Sahih Muslim, titled “Takmilah Fath al-Mulhim,” is regarded as his finest work in the field of Hadith.
Recognitions for Usmani’s contributions include the King Abdullah II Award in 2010 and Sitara-i Imtiaz in 2019. In 2022, he received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the American International Theism University.
Currently serving as the President of Wifaq ul Madaris Al-Arabia, Usmani remains an influential figure in Islamic scholarship and continues to contribute significantly to various fields of study. His legacy encompasses a lifelong commitment to education, jurisprudence, and Islamic principles.
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5- Mufti Muhammad Naeem (1958 – 2020)
Mufti Muhammad Naeem was a distinguished Pakistani cleric and Islamic scholar, best known for his role as the Chancellor of Jamia Binoria. Born in 1958, Mufti Naeem came from a family with roots in Surat, Indian Gujarat. His grandfather was originally born a Parsi but later he adopted Islam.
Mufti Naeem co-founded Jamia Binoria, a leading institution for Islamic education in Pakistan. He also served as an executive member of Wifaq ul Madaris Al-Arabia in Pakistan, showcasing his commitment to the promotion of Islamic knowledge.
He played a significant role in developing a curriculum that provided students with a comprehensive understanding of the principles of Islam. Many of his students, inspired by his teachings, have become scholars and leaders within their communities.
One of Mufti Naeem’s notable qualities is his ability to simplify complex Islamic concepts, making them accessible to a broad audience. His lectures and sermons emphasize the core values of compassion, tolerance, and understanding inherent in Islamic teachings. This approach has made him a beloved and respected figure among people of all ages and backgrounds.
Apart from his contributions to Islamic education, Mufti Naeem played a crucial role in shaping ‘Paigham-e-Pakistan,’ a historic fatwa against terrorism issued on 10 February 2016. This significant declaration emerged from the ‘Paigham-e-Islam’ conference, gathering over five thousand Ulema, Mashaikh, and Islamic scholars.
Mufti Naeem had consistently raised his voice against suicide bombings and the alarming rise of terrorism as early as 2007, establishing himself as a prominent advocate for justice and a staunch opponent of terrorism. His legacy extends beyond his academic and religious contributions, his efforts for social justice and his stance against terrorism left an impact on the religious landscape of Pakistan.
Tragically, Mufti Muhammad Naeem passed away in Karachi on 20 June 2020, due to a heart attack. However, during a speech at the Sindh Assembly, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah revealed that Mufti Naeem, along with two other clerics, Talib Jauhri and Munawar Hasan, had contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic.
His funeral, led by Muhammad Taqi Usmani, witnessed the presence of eminent scholars such as Muhammad Hanif Jalandhari, Hakeem Azhar of Ashraf ul Madaris, and Merajul Huda Siddiqui. Political figures, including Imran Khan, Arif Alvi, Imran Ismail, and Murad Ali Shah, expressed deep sorrow at his demise.
6- Dr Farhat Hashmi
Farhat Naseem Hashmi, born on December 22, 1957, is a Pakistani-Canadian Islamic scholar known for founding the Al-Huda Institute, a network of Islamic schools for women. She holds a PhD in Islamic studies from the University of Glasgow and was a lecturer at the International Islamic University, Islamabad.
She established the Al-Huda International Welfare Foundation in 1994, aiming to educate women on interpreting and applying Islamic principles in their daily lives. The foundation runs schools, seminaries, and social welfare projects. In 2004, the Al-Huda Institute was inaugurated in Mississauga, Canada, offering courses on Quranic explanations and Hadith, attracting students globally.
Known for her feminist approach, Dr. Farhat’s religious lessons draw large crowds, reaching up to ten thousand attendees. She emphasizes engaging her students in voluntary education to exemplify Islamic values rather than adopting rigid preaching styles.
Dr Farhat’s career began as a television preacher on Geo TV, hosting programs like Shahru Ramadan and Fahm ul Quran. Her distinctive style, appearing veiled and giving lectures from her laptop, combines traditional piety with media-savvy communication.
Hashmi’s influence earned her a place in ” The 500 Most Influential Muslims.” Her journey reflects a complex intersection of tradition, feminism, and challenges in interpreting Islam.
7- Mufti Tariq Masood
Mufti Tariq Masood is a Pakistani Islamic scholar known for his contributions to Islamic education and religious guidance. Born and raised in Pakistan, he has dedicated his life to imparting knowledge and promoting a deeper understanding of Islam.
Mufti Tariq Masood’s journey in the field of Islamic scholarship began with his early education in traditional Islamic sciences. He studied under prominent scholars, receiving teaching licenses (ijazahs) that authorized him to pass on the knowledge of Hadiths and other religious disciplines.
His commitment to learning and teaching led him to become a key figure at prominent Islamic institutions. Mufti Tariq Masood actively participates in delivering religious lectures, conducting classes, and providing guidance on various aspects of Islamic teachings. His approach is known for its accessibility, making complex religious concepts understandable to youth.
Mufti Tariq Masood’s influence extends beyond traditional settings. He has embraced modern communication tools to reach a broader audience, utilizing social media, online platforms, and television to share Islamic insights. Through these mediums, he addresses recent issues, offers religious advice, and promotes a balanced understanding of Islam.
Mufti Tariq Masood is often sought for his expertise in issuing fatwas (religious rulings) on diverse matters. His ability to navigate the complexities of modern challenges within an Islamic framework has made him a trusted authority for individuals seeking guidance on religious practices and ethical dilemmas.
Mufti Tariq Masood focuses on the importance of tolerance, compassion, and community service in his teachings. He encourages his followers to lead righteous lives, portraying the teachings of Islam in their actions and interactions.
8- Nauman Ali Khan
Nouman Ali Khan is a Pakistani-American Islamic speaker and Arabic instructor, best known for founding the Bayyinah Institute for Arabic and Quranic Studies. Born on May 4, 1978, in Germany to a Pakistani family, he spent his early years in East Berlin and later moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he attended the Pakistan Embassy school. During his teens, Khan’s family relocated to New York.
In his career, Khan served as an Arabic instructor at Nassau Community College before establishing the Bayyinah Institute. This institute focuses on Arabic language education and Quranic studies, aiming to make these subjects accessible to a broader audience. Nouman Ali Khan’s contributions have earned him recognition as one of the 500 most influential Muslims globally, according to the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre of Jordan.
In his speaking engagements and educational initiatives, Nouman Ali Khan has authored several publications. These include “Divine Speech: Exploring Quran As Literature”, “Revive Your Heart: Putting Life in Perspective”, and “Arabic With Husna” released in multiple volumes. Other works include “Bondhon” (2010) and “Revive Your Heart” (2019), both published in Bengali, and “Dirilt Kalbini” (2017) published in Turkish. Nouman Ali Khan’s influence goes far beyond his teachings, publications, and efforts to make Arabic and Quranic studies more accessible.
9- Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri
Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri is a Pakistani Islamic scholar, author and the founder of Minhaj-ul-Quran International, a non-political organization dedicated to promoting peace, interfaith harmony, and education. Born on February 19, 1951, in Jhang, Pakistan, Tahir-ul-Qadri has made significant contributions in the fields of Islamic scholarship, law, and social welfare.
Tahir-ul-Qadri started his academic journey by studying classical Islamic sciences at the University of Punjab in Lahore. He later pursued higher education in law, earning a degree from the University of Punjab. His commitment to knowledge and education led him to complete a Ph.D. in Islamic law from the University of Karachi, where he focused on the rights of women in Islamic law.
Throughout his career, Tahir-ul-Qadri has been a strong advocate for peace, tolerance, and the rejection of extremism. His teachings emphasize the true, peaceful essence of Islam and promote understanding and dialogue among people of different faiths. He has authored numerous books, many of which address issues and challenges faced by Muslims around the world.
In 1981, Tahir-ul-Qadri founded Minhaj-ul-Quran International, an organization dedicated to Islamic scholarship, interfaith dialogue, and social welfare. The organization has expanded globally, reaching various countries and establishing educational institutions, mosques, and welfare projects. Minhaj-ul-Quran International is known for its emphasis on education, and it has set up schools and colleges to provide quality education based on Islamic principles.
Tahir-ul-Qadri gained international recognition for his efforts to combat terrorism and extremism. In 2010, he issued a fatwa (Islamic legal opinion) against terrorism, declaring it un-Islamic and incompatible with the teachings of Islam. This fatwa was a groundbreaking initiative in the Muslim world, providing a scholarly and authoritative response to the misuse of Islamic teachings for violent purposes.
Apart from his educational and peace initiatives, Tahir-ul-Qadri has been actively involved in legal and political spheres. He has been a member of Pakistan’s parliament and has played a role in advocating for electoral and legal reforms. He emphasized that his political activities are aimed at promoting justice, human rights, and the rule of law, rather than pursuing political power.
Read More: Famous Politicians of Pakistan
10- Muhammad Raza Saqib Mustafai
Muhammad Raza Saqib Mustafai is a renowned Islamic scholar and preacher from Pakistan, recognized for his inspirational lectures and efforts to promote Islamic teachings. Born on 26th June 1972 in Gujranwala, Pakistan, Mustafai has dedicated his life to spreading the message of Islam with a focus on compassion, peace, and spiritual well-being.
From an early age, Mustafai displayed a keen interest in religious studies. He started his educational journey by studying the Quran and Hadith under the guidance of local scholars. As he delved deeper into Islamic knowledge, his passion for understanding and sharing the teachings of Islam grew.
Muhammad Raza Saqib Mustafai is particularly known for his powerful and emotional style of delivering sermons. His lectures often touch the hearts of listeners, addressing various aspects of life and guiding individuals on the path of righteousness. Mustafai highlights the importance of love, tolerance, and kindness in Islam, encouraging his followers to adopt these values in their daily lives.
One of his significant contributions lies in using modern communication tools to reach a global audience. Mustafai leverages social media platforms and online
channels to share his lectures and engage with people from different parts of the world. This approach has allowed him to connect with a diverse audience, including the younger generation, who may not have easy access to traditional religious gatherings.
Mustafai is the founder of Idara-tul-Mustafa, an organization committed to providing Islamic education. Through this platform, he organizes events, seminars, and conferences to spread the teachings of Islam and address issues faced by society. The organization also focuses on providing educational resources and support to those seeking knowledge about Islam.
His dedication to promoting religious harmony and discouraging extremism is evident in his speeches. Mustafai condemns violence and terrorism, emphasizing the peaceful and compassionate nature of Islam. His messages resonate with people seeking a deeper understanding of their faith, and he encourages followers to embrace the core principles of Islam with sincerity.
These top Islamic scholars of Pakistan have played essential roles in spreading Islamic teachings, promoting unity and guiding individuals on the path of righteousness. Their collective contributions include promoting peace, tolerance, and understanding in the light of Islamic principles. Through their lectures, writings, and community engagement, they have impacted people’s lives, inspiring them to lead more meaningful and spiritually fulfilling journeys. These scholars continue to be revered for their dedication to the dissemination of Islamic knowledge.
Who was Dr. Israr Ahmed, and what made him a notable Islamic scholar?
Dr. Israr Ahmed was a renowned Islamic scholar known for his deep understanding of the Quran and the founding of Tanzeem-e-Islami. His notable contributions include advocating for an understanding of Islam.
What is the impact of Maulana Tariq Jameel in the field of Islamic preaching?
Maulana Tariq Jameel is a prominent Islamic preacher known for his impactful sermons that resonate with diverse audiences. His significance lies in his ability to effectively communicate the message of Islam.
Who is Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, and how does he contribute to Islamic discourse?
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi is a recognized Islamic scholar who contributes to Islamic discourse through scholarly interpretations and encouraging a rational understanding of religious principles.