By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam
29 August 2012
How low can one get? A little girl, Rimsha, who suffers from Down’s Syndrome, is charged with blasphemy and handed over to the police. The Imam, Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, says that he saved the girl from the fuming mob by handing her to the police. But Chishti insisted she was fully aware of what she was doing. “The girl who burnt the Holy Quran has no mental illness and is a normal girl. She did it knowingly; this is a conspiracy and not a mistake.” During his sermon at Friday prayers Chishti told worshippers it was “time for Muslims to wake up” and protect the Holy Quran.
The penal code of Pakistan proscribes blasphemy against any religion (in reality it applies only to Islam), having penalties ranging from a fine (which is seldom applied when a Muslim blasphemes) to death (which one will certainly get if anyone speaks against Islam).
In Pakistan, murderers and killers are extolled. Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami in Sindh Asadullah Bhutto has declared that Salman Taseer’s assassin will directly go to the “seventh heaven”. “Aasia Bibi will suffer the same fate if the punishment awarded to her by the court for using derogatory remarks against Hazrat Mohammed Mustafa is not implemented,” he added.
These groups have no fear. They talk and act as if they are the true masters of the country. I fail to understand who is actually running the country of Pakistan, Zardari and Raja Ashraf or the army or these mullahs?
This is not a new phenomenon in Pakistan. Out of date blasphemy laws were applied in the past as they are also applied in the present; the only difference is that in the present age the laws have become stricter, more foolish and more unislamic.
In 1996 a Christian was arrested because he had said that Christianity is also right! The charge against him was violation of § 295-C. In 2000, a doctor was charged of blasphemy because he, in his lecture, had said that the parents of Muhammad were non-Muslims as they died before the Prophethood of Muhammad. In 2009, a FIR was registered against two teenager brothers, complainant falsely accusing them that they had spoke against Prophet Mohammad and this family had to leave the country for their safety. In November 2010, Asia Bibi was sentenced to death by hanging on a charge of blasphemy. Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was shot dead by his security guard for supporting Asia Bibi. He visited her in jail and tried to sympathize with her and this led to mass protests. In 2011 Shahbaz Bhatti Pakistan's Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs (a Roman Catholic member of the National Assembly was killed by gunmen after he had declared of his intentions to reform the blasphemy laws of Pakistan.
The two most worrisome things that should be noticed are: 1) not only the person concerned, but also his family is subject to the wrath of the mob as well as the outlandish law because of blasphemy; and 2) a continuous rise in fanaticism.
The Quran is a book (is this also blasphemy as I have not used the word “holy” and intentionally not used (pbuh) after the name of our Prophet?) that has been revealed in stages. Islam gives us a solution to the problem through various means; it is for us to choose which way is the best. For example: for blasphemy some scholars say that death penalty should be given or mutilation of the opposite limbs or exile from the land; while some scholars, with whom I agree with, quote:
“Invite all to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching and argue with them and reason with them in the ways that are best and most gracious.”
So instead of giving using out-of-date methods we can talk to them and “come to common terms”.
Why is there only one-sided picture seen by these radical Islamic groups. They talk about blasphemy and they think about things that have anti-Islamic sides; but what about anti-Christian or anti-Hindu or anti-Jew. They too have their religious beliefs, like ours; they too have one supreme God, like ours; they too believe in Prophets or Avatars, like ours. So where is the difference? Actually there is no difference if a logical person sees it, but for a fanatic there is a world of a difference between Islam and others.
If a Muslim says anything against the Bible or the Vedas then he is praised and is considered to be a very good Muslim, as if criticising other religions is Islam’s demand. But if a non-Muslim, even if he asks a difficult question regarding Islam, then he is put to death. What justice and what equality! The Quran says most emphatically ‘Do justice or stand out for justice, even it is against yourself, or your parents or your friends or relatives.”
Islam means ‘peace’, peace to all, even to non-Muslims. But there is no ‘Islam’ in Pakistan. True Islam is not followed in Pakistan; there is only outer exposure of religious identity. If anyone is alleged to have spoken anything against Prophet Muhammad the result is certain death with or without a fine (no evidence is required). If anyone is alleged to have insulted the Quran there will be life imprisonment, again without any need for any evidence whatsoever.
The Prophet is an epitome of mercy to all the worlds (Rehmatul-lil– Aalameen). There are many instances where the Prophet forgives even his staunchest enemies. One of the best and the most well-known examples is of an old woman who threw garbage on Muhammad every time he passed in front of her house. One day the garbage was not thrown; Muhammad got worried and inquired about the woman. He found out that she is sick, when he went to meet her, she felt guilty and finally she accepted Islam.
We are completely losing the link with our Prophet’s teachings. Islam gives freedom to all, even to those who go against it. There are numerous verses which supports this.
"But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in God: for He is One that heareth and knoweth (all things). (The Noble Quran, 8:61)"
"Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy handhold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things. (The Noble Quran, 2:256)"
Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it):......(The Noble Quran, 18:29)"
"If it had been thy Lord's will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! wilt thou then COMPEL mankind, against their will, to believe! (The Noble Quran, 10:99)"
The Messenger's duty is only to preach the clear (Message). (The Noble Quran, 24:54)"
"Say : O ye that reject Faith! I worship not that which ye worship, Nor will ye worship that which I worship. And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship, Nor will ye worship that which I worship. To you be your Way, and to me mine. (The Noble Quran, 109:1-6)"
It is high time these vague, ludicrous and blatantly inhuman blasphemy laws of Pakistan are abolished. There is no possibility of reforming them. This is one law that cannot be even debated. Any fruitful discussion on various provisions of blasphemy laws will also be seen as an act of blasphemy. How can you debate the nuances of every word in an article of law with any precision without quoting possible blasphemous statements? The anti-blasphemy law of Pakistan says that if anyone speaks anything against the Prophet, the punishment for it is certain death. All one needs to do is to allege that a person has abused the Prophet and the end result would be sure death, with no chance for the victim of this law to defend himself or herself. The judge cannot give any verdict less than the death penalty. It is no surprise that this law has been criticised on many fronts and by many international organizations. This law has been misused by the people to score personal vendetta, the police and the courts simply cannot investigate the matter. As long as this law remains, there will be death sentences to innocent people, particularly religious and sectarian minorities. This law must be opposed on all fronts.
Blasphemy laws in Pakistan
Offenses relating to religion: Pakistan Penal code
Defiling, etc, of copy of Holy Quran. Whoever will fully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable for imprisonment for life.
Use of derogatory remarks, etc; in respect of the Holy Prophet. Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
Use of derogatory remarks, etc..., in respect of holy personages. Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly defiles a sacred name of any wife (Ummul Mumineen), or members of the family (Ahle-bait), of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), or any of the righteous caliphs (Khulafa-e-Rashideen) or companions (Sahaaba) of the Holy Prophet description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
Misuse of epithet, descriptions and titles, etc. Reserved for certain holy personages or places.
Persons of Qadiani group, etc, calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith. Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves Ahmadis or any other name), who directly or indirectly, posses himself as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
In 1857, Muslims killed a Parsi high priest and a notorious Parsi character for his supposed insult to Islam and for receiving from the British what was deemed as only a mild punishment. The 1874 riots too originated because of a Parsi's translation of an American writer's article on the Prophet.
This lead to Hindus being attacked in NWFP and Punjab. Rajpal got acquited of Section 295 by 2-1 vote . 2 non-muslim judges acquited him and 1 muslim judge convicted him. Ilamdin killed Rajpal and was defended by Jinnah, Taseer and Iqbal.
The Indian penalty is about 1 year in Jail
The History is that even before this law, muslims have taken to riots for alleged blasphemy
In theory, Hindus could take missionaries to court using this, and I think MF.Husain was charged with this for his naked drawings of Hindu deities
M Yunus says:Some Muslims are reluctant to use Ahadith, but Muslims Majority can't live without Ahadith.My comment: It resonates with the saying:" They got a tiger by the tail.
Alternatively, Muslim could always leave Islam and shop around for some other religion that is more conducive to today's world.
@Yunus 1, thank you. You are correct, and you are a very dedicated man. May God bless you.
Yunus 2, I will not ignore those verses, I will try to understand their historical context and will explain it to others as well. Ignorance is not good.
@ Barani, I am in full agreement with you. If we don’t give
attention to it then I am sure the heat of the matter will cool off. We should
not ignore the “violent parts of the text”, but I would like to suggest, we
should try to understand it in the proper context. We should tell others that
these verses were meant for those people and that time only, these war-related
verses have no contemporary relevance. That is what, I think, will ease the
@ Ghouse, yes I agree with you. Books give a sense of authentication.
One can also publish a book by having a collection of articles related to this
topic. I am sure Muhammad Yunus, Sultan Shahin, Saif Shahin, and of course you
can contribute to it.
Barani says: Muslim societies will continue to have this problem until they ignore the violent parts of their texts My comment: The above statement resonates with Bil Maher talk that after the Rainissance Jews and Christiaon, although the still have those barbaric laws on the book, they just don't follow it. They just blow it off. Muslims. on the otherhand, continue to follow those laws.