Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Daily News Online        1 January, 2011

Islam, Muslims and Pakistan’s blasphemy law

‘Show mercy and you will be shown mercy’ - Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him)

Every Muslim is obliged to love the prophet
The assassination of Salman Taseer must come, not only as a rude shock to those Ulemah (Muslim scholars) who had not lent their voices of reason and logic in the charged atmosphere Pakistan finds itself in, but also as a wake up call. It’s about time they got into action and explain to Muslims the requirement of mercy, love, compassion and forgiveness that is enshrined in the Qur’an.

Unfortunately there are certain Moulavis (preachers) who shoot straight from the lip not realizing the effect their rhetoric might have on those who act or react merely on emotions. Like, for example, Salman Taseer’s assassin Mumtaz Qadri.
There are Moulavis, especially on the subcontinent, who vie with one another for supremacy in the same way cheap politicians do to grab a vote or two.

They must realize their job is to create an environment where the life and the message of the Prophet Muhammad is celebrated with joy and in sublime a manner as is required of Muslims. Harsh and combative language will only serve as springboards to those with limited understanding and parochial views.

The Qur’an calls on Muslims to ‘Invite them to the ways of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious’ and also ‘lower you voice for the harshest of sounds is the braying of the donkey’. Sad to say, some Moulavis have missed these vital points found in the Qur’an.
Moulavis must never use language that arouses passions or emotions that might generate hatred amongst human beings if they don’t want to encourage intolerance.

Love for the Prophet

This does not imply support for the stand Salman Taseer took on Pakistan’s blasphemy laws or for his jet set life style which arguably may not have been in line with the nation’s Islamic identity, but certainly his murder was not in keeping with the Shariah. It is true that every Muslim is obliged to love the Prophet more than anybody or anything else in the world. But definitely murder is not an expression of that love. Rather it is a manifestation of the bigotry in some sections of Pakistani society that has replaced the love and compassion the prophet Muhammad wanted his followers to have for all human beings.
Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer  Salman Taseer’s Assassin Mumtaz Qadri
Under the circumstances that surrounded the controversial Governor a group of Muftis (Doctors of theology) should have conferred and then invite the offender to retract his views. Failing which they would have had to campaign for his removal from public office and then leave him to his devices.

The punishment or forgiveness for the likes of Salman Taseer falls squarely in God’s department and is not the prerogative of the likes of Mumtaz Qadri.

Insulting the Prophet

The case of Asiya Bibi is a mystery. There is no confirmed report in the media of what she actually said that might have been offensive to the Prophet Muhammad. In fact, the media reports that attract attention are the ones that suggest the accusations had stemmed from a village dispute over cattle.

Besides, what can this woman from a backward village have said that could be worse than what Salman Rushdie or Taslima Nazreen have said? Neither Rushdie nor Nazreen have succeeded in destroying Islam. So what damage could this poor farm worker, who finds it hard to feed her four children, have said that could be more offensive?

This brings us to incidents where the Qur’an talks about the insults heaped on the noble Prophet by his detractors calling him a sorcerer and a liar.
The Qur’an consoles him telling him, in short, not to be concerned by these insults and that chastisement lies with God.
Posing a question the Qur’an asks the Prophet ‘Could thou be the disposer of affairs for them?’ God almighty goes on to advise him in relation to the blasphemers ‘And have patience with what they say and leave them with noble dignity’.

Indeed if God Almighty wanted to introduce blasphemy laws, then this was the opportune moment for Him to do just that. ‘Angry’ Moulavis and their followers must reflect on these verses in the Qur’an and leave God Almighty to do His work. Certainly He does not need any help from anyone to protect His Prophet. It is true Muslims are required to defend the Prophet’s person but they will have to do that in dignity and certainly not in a radicalized manner. If the argument becomes profane then the Muslim is obliged to take his leave with the word ‘salaam’ (peace).


Let’s now turn to the aspect of forgiveness enshrined in the Qur’an, especially in the case of those who hide the truth and distort the divine message.
The Qur’an advises the Prophet, and by extension Muslims, ‘... forgive them and overlook (their misdeeds) for Allah loves those who are kind’. Another verse tells the followers of the beloved Prophet that ‘goodness and evil are not equal’ and encourages Muslims to ‘repel evil with what is better’ so that God Almighty might make those who are against ‘you your friend and intimate’.

What wonderful advice this is! Wish ‘angry’ Moulavis in Pakistan and elsewhere heed this advice especially in the case of Asiya Bibi. She is, after all, a creature of the same Allah Muslims worship five times a day. Her Christian faith does not come into play.
If Allah wanted her, or anybody else, to be of the Islamic faith then He would have seen to that, as He proclaims in the Qur’an.
Another event that is related to the subject of blasphemy or slander or a wicked lie against the Prophet Muhammad is the incident that Ibn Ishaq records in his biography where he claims that the Prophet ordered the slaughter of a large number of Jews who had violated a treaty and sided with his enemies during a battle.

Imam Malik, who is the founder of the Maliki Madhab (school of thought), it is believed, was a contemporary of Ibn Ishaq and when he heard this report he dismissed it as utter nonsense. A group calling themselves ‘Jews for Allah’ conducted a thorough investigation into Ibn Ishaq’s claim and came to the conclusion that this was a fib and that Ibn Ishaq had not checked his source who, in this case, was a Jew. The point here is that Imam Malik did not go into a rage and declare a fatwa against Ibn Ishaq.

Matters of this nature in those early years of Islam were discussed in accordance with the Shariah and any disagreements was left with the words ‘Allah hu Alam’ (‘Allah knows best’). No Moulavi today will ever dare equate himself with Imam Malik. Why then don’t they conduct themselves, especially the ‘angry’ ones, like he conducted himself?


Mumtaz Qadri is a murderer according to the Shariah. He had no business to take the law into his own hands. In his case the Shariah must take its course and it is hoped that when the verdict is delivered the ‘angry’ Moulavis and their followers will behave in the way Islam and Muslims the world over expect of them. It is undeniable that a small section of Muslims in Pakistan have been radicalized due to the constant killings of Muslim civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The West, and especially the US must be held responsible for this radicalization. But this in no way justifies the assassination of the Governor of Punjab, even though, as reports claim, he was siding with the Americans in its fake war on terror.

Muslims must enshrine in their hearts and minds the words in the Qur’an that say ‘If you take one life (without due process of law) it is like as if you have killed the whole of humanity and if you save one life it is like you have saved the whole of humanity’.

Colombo - Sri Lanka

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