Shaykh Ul Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir Ul Qadri was born on February 19, 1951 in the historical city of Jhang, Pakistan, and the son of the great spiritualist and intellectual of his time ash-Shaykh Dr Farida’d-Din al-Qadri. Since his birth had been foretold through a spiritual dream to his father, he was educated from the young age in both the Islamic and secular sciences simultaneously, imbued with the belief that his entire life would be devoted to the renaissance of Islam. Although he had already started his religious education under his father two years earlier, his formal classical education was initiated in Madina at the age of 12, in Madrasa al-‘Ulum ash-Shar‘iyya which was situated in the blessed house of Sayyiduna Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, the first residence of the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) after his migration. By the time he had received a First Class Honours Degree from the University of the Punjab in 1970, he had also completed his Classical Islamic Studies, having spent over ten years under the tutelage of his father and other eminent Shuyukh of his time and achieving an unparalleled understanding of the classical shari‘a sciences and Arabic language. He earned his MA in Islamic Studies in 1972 with the University of the Punjab Gold Medal, achieved his LLB in 1974 and began to practise as a lawyer in the district courts of Jhang. He moved to Lahore in 1978 and joined the University of the Punjab as a lecturer in law and completed his doctorate in Islamic Law. He was also a member of the Syndicate, Senate and Academic Council of the University of the Punjab, which are the highest executive, administrative and academic bodies of the University.
However within a short span of time he emerged as the country’s leading Islamic jurist and scholar and revivalist of the Islamic ideology. He was appointed as a Jurist Consult (legal adviser) on Islamic law for the Supreme Court and the Federal Shari`a Court of Pakistan and also worked as a specialist adviser on Islamic curricula for the Federal Ministry of Education of Pakistan. At various times between 1983-1987, he was offered the positions of Senator for the Upper House of Parliament, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, Federal Minister for Education and the Federal Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs. He was also nominated as ambassador for Pakistan as well as being offered the post of Justice of the Appellate Shari`a Bench, Supreme Court of Pakistan and the position of being a member of the Islamic Ideology Council of Pakistan (highest constitutional body for Islamic legislation). All of these positions were offered by the then president of Pakistan. However Shaykh-ul-Islam refused to accept any of these due to his lifelong commitment to serving Islam, Muslim Umma and humanity at large.
In the 1980s, a number of historical judgments in the legal and constitutional history of Pakistan were passed by the Federal Shari`a Court and the Appellate Shari`a Bench, Supreme Court of Pakistan as a result of Shaykh-ul-Islam’s juristic arguments, documented in the Pakistan Legal Decisions (PLD) and Pakistan Legal Judgments (PLJ). In particular the Federal Shari`a Court passed a judgment denying the legal position of rajm as a hadd of shari`a, in which almost all well known ‘ulama and senior renowned classical scholars of the country had appeared before the court giving their arguments. In a review petition Shaykh-ul-Islam presented his arguments before the court against the judgment for three consecutive days. As a result, a landmark decision was passed by the full bench of the Federal Shari`a Court of Pakistan overturning their prior judgment and the rajm was judicially re-accepted as a hadd of shari`a.
In another case the Blasphemy Law protecting the esteemed station and reverence of the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) was also passed for the first time in the history of Pakistan after Shaykh-ul-Islam presented his arguments to the court, over a period of three days, culminating in an Act of Parliament. Another landmark and famous enactment of Parliament concerning ad-diya (blood-money) of a murdered woman resulted after Shaykh-ul-Islam presented arguments in the President House of Pakistan during a special legislative session chaired by President Zia’ al-Haqq. This session was attended by all Federal Ministers, Secretaries, Governors of all provinces, all judges of the Federal Shari`a Court and Appellate Shari`a Bench of the Supreme Court, members of the Islamic Ideology Council, selected top ranking classical scholars and Shuyukh belonging to all schools of law. Shaykh-ul-Islam presented arguments in favour of equality of rights of women concerning ad-diya for eight hours followed by a question and answer session. This was a unique and unprecedented event in the judicial and legislative history of Pakistan. As a result of his arguments the discrimination clause was removed and women were given equality of redress. This shows the amount of concern that Shaykh-ul-Islam has for the respect and safeguarding of women’s rights in Islam. Moreover during the 1980s hundreds of un-Islamic clauses from the old civil and criminal laws of Pakistan, which had existed since the period of colonial rule, were amended according to Islamic principles upon the juristic recommendations of Shaykh-ul-Islam.
He is also a former Professor of Islamic Law at the University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan, and the youngest person ever to have been awarded a professorship in the history of the University. Shaykh-ul-Islam has also previously held the position of the Head of the Department for LLM in Islamic Legislation.