Temple controversy


THE embarrassment that the Government is facing on the issue of construction of Hindu temple in the federal capital would have been avoided if there is an institutional mechanism for decision-making but regrettably decisions are routinely made whimsically without deeper and proper thinking on the issues especially delicate ones. At the instance of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Religious Affairs Ministry has sought opinion of the top religious body – Council of Islamic Ideology – on the issue and hopefully it would clear all the ambiguities in the light of teachings of Islam.
Those in favour of construction of the temple argue that rights of minorities are guaranteed in the Constitution and that this place of worship would have served as symbol of religious tolerance. There is no doubt about it and that is why minorities including Hindus have representation at the highest level of elected houses. No one would object to any programme or plan aimed at promoting welfare of the minorities but construction of a temple at the expense of an Islamic state is altogether a different matter. Temple is directly linked to idolatry, which has been described as an ‘unforgivable sin’ and ‘gross injustice’ in the Holy Quran. It has been enjoined that Allah Almighty may forgive lesser sins but will not forgive idolatry. It is, therefore, crystal clear that an Islamic state cannot fund a place of worship aimed at spreading idolatry. Unlike in India and some other countries, there should be no bar on Hindus to construct temples but this should be done under a rationalized process and expenses should also be borne by the Hindu community. It is rightly pointed out that like other democracies construction of religious places should be governed by clear criteria and procedures taking into consideration needs of the concerned community. There is negligible Hindu population in Islamabad and temples already in existence are dysfunctional. There are 428 temples across Pakistan and out of them only 20 are in actual use, which speaks volumes about need or otherwise of having new temples and that too at the State expense.

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