Posts Tagged ‘Law’

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RESERVATIONS REGARDING THE BLASPHEMY LAW

Salam,

What follows should not be taken as outright denial of the ‘blasphemy law’, herein I simply express my doubts concerning it’s veracity, and should rather be taken in good spirit with educational motives.

Firstly, I seek to know who, in real, is responsible when a person decides to verbally abuse our holy Prophetﷺ? If we were to ponder an answer, most probably you will admit that our own lack of respect towards the Prophetﷺ has caused others to exaggerate beyond limits. When we as Muslims, claimants to alliance with Rasool’Allaahﷺ, don’t abide in Islam and portray our Religion as that which condones violence and extremism, lacking tolerance towards others faiths and viewpoints; people begin to perceive the holy Prophetﷺ in the same image as we. It is, at least in my opinion, basically our own shortcomings that give air to formation of a negative image of our Religion and allows people to open their mouth in a defamatory and insulting manner towards our holy Prophetﷺ.

At the same time, we ought keep in mind the holy Prophet’sﷺ dignity, repute, eminence, is not in the least bit lessened by their mockery. How many among men would ridicule the great manﷺ during his lifetime and yet his status and dignity kept increasing to greater heights, Thomas Carlyle said: “the lies which well-meaning zeal has heaped round this man (Muhammad) are disgraceful to ourselves only.” The planes whereon the holy Prophetﷺ resides are far beyond requiring any human constitutional law for safeguarding. When Michel Hart described the Prophetﷺ as the greatest ever human being, there was no 295-c to compel him, and who needs it, when Allaah, the Most High, has written in His divine Book ورفعنا لك ذكرك.

One also wonders that if blasphemy against Allaah Ta’aala can be left un-punished then why can’t blasphemy against His agentﷺ? As I understand: both cases fall under rights pertaining to God (huqooqu’Allaah) that are to be left upon the Almighty to deal with, the implied meaning of Allaah’s statement انا کفینٰک المستہزئین. Let’s take Christians for example who base their faith upon the ‘blasphemy’ of asserting Christ Jesus[p] was the “Begotten-God”, but even under Islamic rule (state): no punishment for this act is extracted. We might also recall that sin is of two types; moral and legal. Apart from being morally wrong; legal sin is that on which punishment becomes binding; such as fornication, robbery, and murder. But some sin are purely moralistic requiring no legal discipline; like anger, hate, jealousy etc. Take arrogance for example, the Prophetﷺ said concerning it that no haughty and arrogant person would enter heaven. Such is the gravity of the sin, yet, it is not a legal sin for which a punishment is extracted. Blasphemy is something similar, it’s a moral sin of immense magnitude that is more than enough to expel one from paradise but it has no or little legal aspect to my knowledge.

I make this claim not in rashness, only after having searched thoroughly I still haven’t been able to locate where exactly does the Qur’an prescribe the punishment of execution for blasphemy of the Prophetاستہراء رسولﷺ) ﷺ)? Let me show you what prescribed punishment means. For instance,  Allaah Ta’aala states concerning theft: As for thiefs, Male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example, from Allaah, for their crime: and Allaah is Exalted in power. [Al-Qur’an, 5:38] Concerning fornication the ordered is thus: The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication,- flog each of them with a hundred stripes… [Al-Qur’an, 24:2] Similarly, the Qur’an ordains Qisas or taking blood-money on murder. Notice the clarity and un-ambiguity with which punishments are prescribed leaving no or little room for further explanation (ta’weel). Yet these ayaat concern robbery and fornication, whereas, blasphemy is a crime more severe that certainly deserves to be mentioned with more or at least similar clarity. Allaah Ta’aala’s laws (hudood) or penal codes are well-defined in the Qur’an and are so explicit that no honest reader could object their prescription. Hence, in light of forgone explanation my contention with regards to the ‘blasphemy law’ is: Where does the Qur’an say something like ‘as for those who blaspheme: slaughter them’? Indeed, if any punishment was necessary in case of blasphemy, then I see no reason why the Qur’an, which details hudood on theft, murder, fornication, false-witness, etc with great lucidity, would leave a law for blasphemy out of the picture. Recall too that Allaah’s orders (ahkam) come to serve mankind in contentious issues, wherein man lacks authority to make the correct and decisive choice. Certainly, blasphemy is a disputed affair nowadays, and if it really demands death then where is this clear cut order (hukm)?

In my personal opinion, which is open to adjustments; the Qur’an actually discourages re-acting to insults, and as startling as it may sound: the Qur’an educates it’s devotee that the best method via ignorance (blasphemy) can be eradicated is ignorance (disregard) thereto, for clowns wouldn’t have reason to shout if we don’t pay attention. Observe the following selected verses;

فَاصْبِرْ صَبْرًا جَمِيلا
Therefore do thou hold Patience,- a Patience of beautiful (contentment). [70:5]

ذَرْنِي وَمَنْ خَلَقْتُ وَحِيدًا
Leave Me alone, with whom I created alone! [74:11]

وَاصْبِرْ عَلَى مَا يَقُولُونَ وَاهْجُرْهُمْ هَجْرًا جَمِيلا وَذَرْنِي وَالْمُكَذِّبِينَ أُولِي النَّعْمَةِ وَمَهِّلْهُمْ قَلِيلا
And have patience with what they say, and leave them with noble (dignity). And leave Me (alone to deal with) those in possession of the good things of life, who (yet) deny the Truth; and bear with them for a little while. [73:10-11]

ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ السَّيِّئَةَ نَحْنُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يَصِفُونَ
Repel evil with that which is best: We are well acquainted with the things they say. [23:96]

وَلا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ
Nor can goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: Then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate! [41:34]

Many people (scholars) have brought blasphemy under the banner of ‘fasaad fi’l-ardh’ (creating chaos in the land), and their position is not un-tenable, but to what extent one might over-state for it be tagged ‘fasaad fi’l-ardh’ is a matter of grave un-certainty which more than often has lead people to misuse the law, suppress the meek and those in minority, and has enabled certain group of extremists to maintain a psychological grasp over the masses. How actually does one define blasphemy and offers an explanation as to what constitutes blasphemy and what does not solely revolves around sentiments of the person you ask. Ideally, blasphemy should be dealt with disregard, as stated above, but if certain lunatics persist then actions against such can be taken only with the aim of rectification (islah) in mind.

No single individual, supremo or lay-men, has the right to carry out murders. Allaah Ta’aala states manifestly: Nor take life – which Allah has made sacred – except with justice. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand qisas or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (by the Law). [Al-Qur’an, 17:33] Every soul is sacred in the eyes of Allaah Ta’aala and no life can be taken except after due process of justice that includes witnesses against and testimony of the accused person, only after he/she be given every right to defend him/her self as a citizen is in a society of Islamic social justice; then only can the court alone pass due verdict. With regards to the punishment then ideally, instead of a bunch “’Aashiqan-e Rasoolﷺ”, the court should decide appropriately if one is actually found guilty. And the court does not (at least should not) work on emotions, and ought try her utmost for rectification i.e. look at the root cause as to why a person might take up such line of action. If his ‘blasphemy’ be due to some misconception then the court can (should) take lenient action, but if the cause be sheer hatred and create corrupting in society then she can determine what punishment is suitable, options of which include fine, flogging, jail, capital punishment is a distant but real option if that blasphemy actually causes havoc (fasaad), as in Rushdi’s case. But even for such, four options are available followed by glad-tidings on repentance [Surah Ma’idah, 33-34].

But it’s always better to ignore in the first place, as the Qur’an tells us, so did our holy Prophetﷺ at face of some serious insults. Those who produce isolated incidents wherein blood of war criminals was sanctioned on the day of Conquest in support of a blasphemy law fail to note that all Meccans, in fact whole of Arabia was guilty of blasphemy against Allaah’s Messengerﷺ, but Rasoolu’Allaahﷺ, instead of taking revenge, choose to pardon all of them except a handful who were involved in some major and heinous crimes against Muslims. I seek to know that if the ‘blasphemy law’ was ordained by Allaah Ta’aala then why did not His noble Messengerﷺ implement it when we take into consideration the fact that it is not possible for the Prophetﷺ to alter what Allaah Ta’aala has prescribed? Umm `Aa’ishah said: “Allaah’s Apostleﷺ never took revenge (over anybody) for his own sake but only when Allaah’s Legal Bindings were outraged, in which case he would take revenge for Allaah’s sake.” [Bukhari]

Our real difficulty and the reason why people adopt aggressive opinions about us Muslims is the glaring problem of increasing intolerance in our society. A society which claims to abide by لا اكراه في الدين. I mean, isn’t patience and forbearance (sabr) best form of ‘ishq-e-Rasoolﷺ, or “ishq-e-Rasoolﷺ” mere lip-service? But what can one say about a society where intolerance be celebrated, injustice be upheld, and extremism showered with flowers. Islam is definitely the Religion of moderation (اعتدال) and for all moderates the whole Salman Taseer episode is not just an un-fortunately incident: for the underlying ideology is far more severe and frightening. Just imagine the consequences if such an ideology were to gain strength from this point on and become the predominant mindset insofar as any person holding dissenting, even objective (un-bais) views could easily be deemed sacrilegious and hence held punishable. Just think of what would happen if people purporting this mindset pervade; people who are in-tolerable towards dissent, even impartial opinion which does not conform their ideology. People who are willing to disregard all (religious) bounds in order to achieve what they see appropriate. Would there remain, in such an atmosphere, room for free-minded moderates who see things with objectivity and proemial un-bias, those who won’t just bow at their will and have the “audacity” to raise voices in their presence? Freedom of speech and right to form and educate an opinion is a fundamental right of each person and no one deserves to have his head chopped-off just because he may view matters differently to the pervading mind-frame.

Lastly, I ask what benefit does it serve to just kill the ‘blasphemer’ closing upon him/her all doors rectification (islah) which is our primary duty فانما عليك البلغ المبين. Did any amongst the five hundred or so learned but overzealous ‘Ulema personally pay Salman Taseer a visit to guide him? What happened to rectification (islah) propagation (tableegh), the fundamental tools via Islam spread? And why did they not take into consideration Islam’s global image of a Religion upholding peace and tolerance? Are our ‘Ulema so negligent of the fact killing one non-Muslim mother of four, or a Muslim Governor who repletely claimed innocence, could hamper Islamic da’wah in the west and astray a large number of people from accepting Islam? And last but not least, I believe these very ‘upholders’ of the blasphemy law violated it by passing their own judgment, by encouraging slaughter without jurisdiction, and glorifying an assassin who broke bonds with Allaah Ta’aala and His Rasoolﷺ.

wa’Allaahu a’lamu b’l-Sawab!