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Muhammad Abdul Aziz is a Pakistani cleric, son of Maulana Muhammad Abdullah and elder brother of Abdul Rashid Ghazi. He was the Khateeb (prayer leader) in the central mosque of Islamabad known as Lal Masjid, which was the site of a siege in 2007 with the Pakistani army. On July 4, 2007, he was arrested by the Pakistani police as he was trying to escape the complex while dressed in a burqa.

Muhammad Abdul Aziz is the son of Maulana Muhammad Abdullah, the first prayer leader of Lal-Masjid. He is descended from Sadwani clan of Mazari tribe in the town of Rojhan at the border of southern Punjab and Balochistan. Pakistan's last military ruler, General Zia-ul-Haq, was said to be very close to Maulana Abdullah. Aziz came to Islamabad as a six-year-old boy from his home town in Balochistan, when his father was appointed Khateeb of Lal-Masjid in 1966. He grew up in the liberal atmosphere of Islamabad. After studying for few years in a public school, he was later sent to Karachi to study in the most renowned religious seminary. He is recognized as a religious scholar by his contemporaries.

Maulana Abdul Aziz served as officially designated prayer leader in government constructed and owned Lal-Masjid until 2005 when he was dismissed from service (but never removed) after he issued a "fatwa" (religious decree) against the army officers who were fighting against the Taliban and their supporters in the tribal areas close to the Afghan border. In the fatwa he declared that none of the army officers who were killed in the fighting in tribal area was a martyr and religious sanctions were not available for their funeral. His fatwa irked the government and he was dismissed from service. But in fact, the government has not attempted to remove him from his post. A replacement cleric was appointed for Lal-Masjid, but female supporters refused to pray behind anyone other than Aziz. It is speculated that President Musharraf did not want to stir up popular unrest in an already tense national political atmosphere due to massive support for Aziz within Islamabad.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Maulana Abdul Aziz."
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