By Raheel Raza
September 3, 2018
I never thought that far-right, Dutch
firebrand politician Geert Wilders would cave in to pressure or that I would
have to write a defense of blasphemy.
Wilders initiated a cartoon drawing contest
of the Prophet Mohammad slated for November in the Dutch Parliament. After the
news leaked, there were huge protests in Pakistan with 10,000 opponents calling
for canceling diplomatic ties with the Netherlands and the expulsion of the
Imran Khan, the new prime minister of
Pakistan, vowed to raise the issue at the U.N. with the cooperation of the OIC
(Organization of Islamic Cooperation).
Social media is rife with Muslims calling
for the deaths of Wilders and the cartoonists.
Wilders eventually cancelled the contest
“to avoid risk of victims of Islamic violence.”
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood
Qureshi called this “a great moral victory for the Muslim Ummah.”
But is it a victory?
As an observant Muslim, I am offended by
the mockery of any faith or religious figure including my Prophet. In addition,
1.6 billion Muslims are also offended and being offended is our right. I
respect their freedom to be offended.
However, taking the liberty of drawing
offensive cartoons is also the right of those who reside in the free world. I
respect this freedom to offend.
We know that blasphemy laws exist in many
Muslim countries, so if there is an issue in Iran, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan,
one can see from where that is coming. By the way, the law against blasphemy is
not Quranic but was instituted by Muslim rulers after the death of the Prophet
Mohammad to control the tribes and ensure compliance.
The blasphemy law as practiced in Pakistan
with impunity is evil, obsolete and a way of victimizing its minority
The Pakistani flag has a white stripe which
signifies the representation of 23% of its non-Muslim population, which existed
at the time of Pakistan’s creation. Today this population has been reduced to
approximately 3%. Major victims of the blasphemy laws are Christians and
In recent years in Pakistan, many Christian
women have been forced to convert to Islam. Churches have been burned down.
Ahmaddiyas are not allowed to call themselves Muslims and are constantly
In 2010, a Christian woman named Asia Bibi
was jailed and sentenced to death for allegedly making derogatory remarks about
Prophet Mohammad. Facts of the story have always been in dispute, and she still
languishes in jail.
When Salman Taseer was governor of Punjab
state in Pakistan and spoke out in support of Asia Bibi, he was gunned down by
his own bodyguard and accused of blasphemy. The killer that shot him now has
the status of a saint and his grave has been turned into a holy pilgrimage
Whether one draws a cartoon of the Prophet
or not is beside the point. The Prophet, whom Muslims are trying to protect,
was — in his lifetime — cursed, abused and ridiculed. However, there is no
historical tradition of him ever subjecting to death the people who abused him.
On personal attacks, he just looked the other way and, in fact, forgave his
Ironically the so-called “protectors of the
faith” will kill in the name of the very faith they call the religion of peace!
So we have to weigh the freedoms that exist
in democratic countries with the laws that oppress and silence in parts of the
When the influence of blasphemy laws shows
itself in the West, we have much to worry about.
N A, you say “Without
religion, there would not have been any culture or civilization.”
What I say is “Without civilization there would not have been any
culture, arts and especially enlightenment”.
ad-deen, universal Islamic civilisation propagated by ALL Messenger,
named and not named in Quran, through the ages attempted to add steps
to the one and the same stair case for human progress up words but
no-thanks to the confronting brigades of priesthood always succeeded
in converting it to slippery slide of religions; the retrogressive
“Church” I believe, which is not supposed to be there in Islam.
Islam is not a “Religion” which needs to be defined in its
present day construct:-
Church, Dogma, Scripture, Priesthood, its Hierarchy, distinctive
Houses of Worship, modes of Worship, its Liturgy, god to be Feared,
his Rewards and Punishments etc etc!
to read yours and others interesting articles on this.
GM, for once I saw in 'hats off!'s
comment which (perhaps) approximated with my concept of Religion.
need to define “Religion” – which to me is NOT ad-deen,
an Arabic word in Quran!
Thankfully 'hats off!' spared the
Messenger by saying “after the prophet's death” and that suited
If blasphemy was punishable in Islam
there would have been a bloodbath in Makkah in the 9th
Hijri when it was subjugated by the Messenger of Islam who was
vilified by its citizens, along with the God whose message the
Messenger was commissioned to propagate.
So this law is a blasphemy in itself
particularly in Muslim countries!
2-79: Then woe to those who write
the Book with their own hands and then say “ This is from
Those people who are Civilised respect each others faiths.