Sufi Muhammad

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Sufi Muhammad
صوفی محمد
Personal details
Maidan, Dir, British India
Died11 July 2019(2019-07-11) (aged 85–86)[1]
Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
ChildrenAt least one daughter

Sufi Muhammad bin Alhazrat Hassan (Urdu: صوفی محمد بن الحضرت حسن; born 1933 – 11 July 2019) was a Pakistani Sunni Islamist cleric and militant, and the founder of Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), a militant group (declared a terrorist outfit and banned in 2002) vying for implementation of Sharia in Pakistan.[3][4][5][6] It operated mainly in the Dir, Swat, and Malakand districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.[5]

Sufi Muhammad was jailed for sending thousands of volunteers to Afghanistan to fight the U.S. intervention in 2001.[7] However, he was freed in 2008 after he renounced violence.[8][9]

He was the father-in-law of Mullah Fazlullah, who assumed the leadership of TNSM during Sufi's imprisonment.[5][7][10]

He was described by BBC as a "follower" of Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi Islamic school of thought,[11] and by the Jamestown Foundation as one of the "active leaders" of Jamaat-e-Islami in the 1980s.[12]

Early life[edit]

Sufi Muhammad, born in 1933 in Maidan, Lower Dir District,[13] and received religious education at Panjpir, Swabi.[14]

His son, Matiul Haq, would become an influential ideologue of the Tehreek-e-Taliban, which would at one time be led by his son-in-law Mullah Fazlullah.[15]


Early activities[edit]

During the 1980s, Sufi Muhammad actively participated in Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist political party of Pakistan.[13] In 1992 he split from the group to form TNSM.[5][12] From its stronghold of Malakand Division districts in northwestern Pakistan, Sufi Muhammad and his group engaged in violent agitation for the enforcement of Sharia law.[11]

After 9/11[edit]

In October 2001, following the September 11 attacks, Sufi Mohammad crossed into Afghanistan with thousands of his followers to help the Taliban fight the US-led forces.[11] In 2001 he issued an edict, or fatwa, for holy war against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan. After the Taliban was ousted from power in 2001, he returned to Pakistan, and was arrested.[5][7][11][12]

Sufi Muhammad remained in prison until 2008, when he agreed in talks with the Government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to use his influence to work towards peace in the region.[8][9]


Maulana Sufi Muhammad took part in negotiations with the government that led to the announcement of a temporary ceasefire in the Malakand region on 16 February 2009. The Pakistani government agreed to allow the implementation of Sharia in the region once violence had stopped.[6][10][16] He agreed to travel to Swat to discuss peace with Fazlullah and his followers. He told reporters, "We will soon open dialogue with the Taliban. We will ask them to lay down their weapons. We are hopeful that they will not let us down. We will stay here in the [Swat] valley until peace is restored."[17]

In early April 2009, Sufi Muhammad ended support for peace negotiations stating that the government was stalling the implementation of sharia courts in the Swat valley. President Asif Ali Zardari refused to sign any agreement until peace had been restored in the valley but failed to elaborate on how those conditions would be achieved.[18]

However, the president signed the Nizam-e-Adl-Regulation law for Swat, after it was hurriedly pushed through the national Parliament a few hours earlier on 13 April 2009.[19]

On 19 April 2009, Sufi Muhammad declared that "democracy was un-Islamic" and that decisions made in the qazi courts could not be appealed in Pakistan's central judicial system. According to the cleric, Western-style democracy had led to divides among Pakistanis and the judicial system had contributed to the factionalism. He ordered the central government to withdraw all judges from Malakand within four days and to set up a Darul Qaza, an Islamic supreme court, to hear appeals from local Sharia courts.[20][21]


On 3 June 2009, while engaging in Operation Black Thunderstorm against the Taliban, the Pakistani Army arrested senior aides to Sufi Muhammad in the Amandara region in Lower Dir. Among those aides arrested were Muhammad's deputy, Mohammad Alam, and his spokesperson, Ameer Izzat Khan.[22][23][24] Initial reports indicated that Sufi Muhammad himself and possibly two of his sons had also been detained, though government sources would not confirm and would only say they knew of his whereabouts.[22][25] TNSM sources confirmed that Sufi Muhammad and his sons were missing, but suggested that he had gone into hiding.[23][25]

On 26 July 2009, the government announced the arrest of the cleric for encouraging violence and terrorism.[26][27] On 2 August 2009, police announced that he had been charged with sedition, aiding terrorism and conspiracy.[28][29]

In January 2011, Sufi Muhammad denied to an anti-terrorism court that he had any links to the anti-state Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and that he only sought enforcement of sharia in Malakand.[30] He was indicted on sedition charges by an anti-terrorism court on 7 February 2015.[31] He was released on bail on medical grounds in January 2018 by the Peshawar High Court.[13]


Muhammad bin Hassan died from kidney failure and diabetes on 11 July 2019 at the age of 86.[13]


Some of his writings include:[32]


Haakimiyat Allah Taala Shariat-e Muhammadi kay Aayaynah mayn, 1998.


Wajuhat-e-Arbaa Ashrah li Marifat-e Haqiqat-e al-Shariat-e al-Muhammadiah; Yani Swaarlas Wajuhaat da Pijandalu da Shariat-e-Muhammadi, 2008.


  1. ^ Controversial cleric Sufi Muhammad passes away
  2. ^ Halverson 2010, p. 48.
  3. ^ Lakshman, Kanchan (9 July 2003). "Deep roots to Pakistan's sectarian terror". Asia Times. Archived from the original on 16 April 2004. Retrieved 19 February 2009.
  4. ^ Fair, C. Christine (1 March 2007). "The educated militants of Pakistan: implications for Pakistan's domestic security" (PDF). Contemporary South Asia. 16 (1): 99–100. doi:10.1080/09584930701800446. S2CID 143810428. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Laws)". South Asia Terrorism Portal. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  6. ^ a b Jan, Delawar (17 February 2009). "Nizam-e-Adl Regulation for Malakand, Kohistan announced". The News International. Archived from the original on 16 June 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
  7. ^ a b c Khan, Riaz (27 October 2007). "Inside rebel Pakistan cleric's domain". USA Today. Retrieved 15 February 2009.
  8. ^ a b "Top Pakistani militant released". BBC News. 21 April 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  9. ^ a b Toosi, Nahal (15 February 2009). "Taliban to cease fire in Pakistan's Swat Valley". Yahoo News. Archived from the original on 16 February 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2009.
  10. ^ a b "Pakistan agrees Sharia law deal". BBC News. 16 February 2009. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  11. ^ a b c d "Pakistan's militant Islamic groups". BBC News. 13 January 2002. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  12. ^ a b c Nasir, Sohail Abdul (17 May 2006). "Religious Organization TNSM Re-Emerges in Pakistan". Terrorism Focus. The Jamestown Foundation. 3 (19). Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2009.
  13. ^ a b c d "Controversial cleric Sufi Muhammad passes away". The Express Tribune. 11 July 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  14. ^ An Enemy We Created: The Myth of the Taliban-Al Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan. Oxford University Press. 2012. p. 492. ISBN 9780199927319.
  15. ^ Sheikh, Mona Kanwal (2016). Guardians of God: Inside the Religious Mind of the Pakistani Taliban. OUP India. p. 75.
  16. ^ Ali, Zulfiqar; Laura King (17 February 2009). "Pakistan officials allow Sharia in volatile region". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 February 2009.
  17. ^ "Pakistan Blasted for Creating Taliban Safe Haven With Islamic Law Deal". Fox News. 17 February 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  18. ^ "Sufi Mohammed calls off Swat peace deal". Dawn. 9 April 2009. Retrieved 9 April 2009.
  19. ^ Asghar, Raja (14 April 2009). "Sharia for Malakand as Zardari signs law". Dawn. Archived from the original on 3 June 2022.
  20. ^ "Deadline to set up Darul Qaza in Malakand by Sufi Muhammad ends today". The Nation. 23 April 2009. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  21. ^ Shah, Saeed (20 April 2009). "Militants demand Islamic courts in troubled Pakistani region". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  22. ^ a b "Pakistan Swat leader aides arrested". Al Jazeera. 5 June 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
  23. ^ a b "Pakistan arrests senior Islamists". BBC News. 5 June 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
  24. ^ "Men with links to Taliban arrested". CNN. 5 June 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
  25. ^ a b "Three senior TNSM leaders arrested in Amandara". Dawn Media Group. 5 June 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
  26. ^ "Pakistan holds pro-Taliban cleric". BBC News. 26 July 2009. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  27. ^ "Sufi Muhammad, two sons held in Peshawar". Dawn. 27 July 2009. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  28. ^ "Pakistan pro-Taliban cleric charged". Al Jazeera. 2 August 2009. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  29. ^ "Swat deal broker cleric 'charged'". BBC News. 2 August 2009. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  30. ^ "No link with TTP, Sufi tells court". Dawn. 4 January 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  31. ^ Sherazi, Zahir Shah (7 February 2015). "ATC indicts Sufi Mohammad in sedition case". Dawn. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  32. ^ "Tahrik Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi and Democracy: TNSM's Critique of Democracy." Sultan-i-Rome. Pakistan Vision; Lahore Vol. 13, Iss. 2, (2012): 142-143