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There is no punishment for Blasphemy in Islam, however, somewhere in the history, the bootlickers wrote the blasphemy laws to please the dictators and monarchs, and the ordinary men and women in the market today rely on those made up books... instead of Quran.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Boy’s Response to Blasphemy Charge Unnerves Many in Pakistan

Blasphemy laws are evil and anti-Islamic, check this out

Mike Ghouse
# # #

Boy’s Response to Blasphemy Charge Unnerves Many in Pakistan

Courtesy New York Times

LAHORE, Pakistan — Late one night, the imam Shabir Ahmad looked up from prayers at his mosque to see a 15-year-old boy approaching with a plate in his outstretched left hand. On it was the boy’s freshly severed right hand.

Mr. Ahmad did not hesitate. He fled the mosque and left the village, in eastern Punjab Province.

Earlier that night, Jan. 10, he had denounced the boy as a blasphemer, an accusation that in Pakistan can get a person killed — even when the accusation is false, as it was in this case.

The boy, Anwar Ali, the son of a poor laborer, had been attending an evening prayer gathering at the mosque in the village, Khanqah, when Mr. Ahmad asked for a show of hands of those who did not love the Prophet Muhammad. Thinking the cleric had asked for those who did love the prophet, Anwar’s hand shot up, according to witnesses and the boy’s family.

Continue reading the main story

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He realized his mistake when he saw that his was the only hand up, and he quickly put it down. But by then Mr. Ahmad was screaming “Blasphemer!” at him, along with many others in the crowd. “Don’t you love your prophet?” they called, as the boy fled in disgrace.

Anwar went home, found a sharp scythe and chopped off his right hand that same night. When he showed it to the cleric, he made clear it was an offering to absolve his perceived sin.

Continue reading the main story

Op-Ed Contributor: Pakistani Christians Fight Back MARCH 24, 2015
Op-Ed Contributor: Pakistan’s Tyranny of BlasphemyMAY 20, 2014
The police quickly caught the mullah and locked him up, but local religious leaders protested, and the authorities backed down and released him. After the international news media began picking up on the story over the weekend, the authorities rearrested Mr. Ahmad on Sunday, holding him on terrorism and other charges.

“There is no physical evidence against the cleric of involvement, but he has been charged for inciting and arousing the emotions of people to such a level that the boy did this act,” the district police chief, Faisal Rana, said.

The boy’s family, however, argues that the cleric did nothing wrong and should not be punished.

“We are lucky that we have this son who loves Prophet Muhammad that much,” Muhammad Ghafoor, Anwar’s father, said in a telephone interview. “We will be rewarded by God for this in the eternal world.”

Anwar, too, declined to make any charge against the mullah. “What I did was for love of the Prophet Muhammad,” he said.

Blasphemy is a toxic subject in Pakistan, where a confusing body of laws has enshrined it as a potentially capital offense but also makes it nearly impossible for the accused to defend themselves in court. Even publicly repeating details of the accusation is tantamount to blasphemy in its own right.

Such cases almost never make it to court, however. The merest accusation that blasphemy has occurred has the power to arouse lynching or mob violence.

The governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was assassinated by his own bodyguard in 2011, after Mr. Taseer criticized the country’s blasphemy laws and defended a Christian woman who had been falsely accused under them. The assassin is a national hero to many devout Pakistanis: His jail cell has become a pilgrimage site, and a mosque was renamed to honor him.

On Monday, Pakistan lifted a three-year-old ban on YouTube, which it had shut down because of accusations of airing anti-Islamic videos. The government announced that Google, which owns YouTube, had agreed to give it the right to block objectionable content. The Pakistani government blocks thousands of web pages it considers offensive.

“We have become a society so intoxicated by negative things in the name of religion that parents feel proud of sending their children to jihad and to die in the name of such activities,” said I.A. Rehman, the secretary general of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. “The government needs to do more to educate people and to speak out against extremism.”

Anwar Ali did not even go to a hospital after his amputation, but had his right arm’s stump bandaged at a village clinic and went home. Family members buried his hand in the village graveyard.

Waqar Gillani reported from Lahore, and Rod Nordland from Kabul, Afghanistan.

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A version of this article appears in print on January 19, 2016, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Imam’s Arrest in False Case of Blasphemy Roils Pakistan. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Nations Must Repeal Blasphemy Laws

Courtesy of Huffington Post
What did the terrorist attacks against the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and the kosher supermarket in Paris share with the flogging of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi in Jeddah last month? Each was an assault on freedom of conscience, religion, or belief. Moreover, in the Charlie Hebdo and Badawi cases, those responsible denied their victims the right to speak freely about religion because, in their view, such critics are blasphemers who insult religion and must be punished.


People naturally should try to do their utmost to honor and uphold each other's inherent dignity as fellow human beings and respect their most cherished beliefs. But when this laudable idea is rejected by a demand that perceived transgressors be silenced by force -- including even murder and torture -- rather than engaged through debate and discussion, the line has been crossed from freedom to coercion.
As the Badawi case illustrates, it is not just private individuals and groups which cross that line. Governments also label and punish certain speech by enforcing blasphemy laws, some of which carry the death penalty. In so doing, they embolden citizens to commit bloodshed against alleged blasphemers.
In the face of this assault on human rights and dignity, the world community must confront these abusive laws and the horrific acts they unleash, pressing offending nations to repeal these statutes and release people imprisoned because of them.
As Badawi can attest, one such nation is Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom enthrones its own interpretation of Sunni Islam and bans the public expression of any other religious belief. Dissenters may be charged with offenses ranging from apostasy to blasphemy.
Badawi founded and edited the Free Saudi Liberals website, a forum for the free expression of diverse political and religious views. The government arrested him in June 2012, charging him with apostasy and "insulting Islam." While in January 2013, a Saudi court dropped the apostasy charge, it sentenced him in July 2013 to 600 lashes and seven years in prison on other charges and ordered that his web site be shut down. Last May, an appeals court increased the sentence to 10 years and the number of lashes to 1,000, or 50 lashes weekly for 20 consecutive weeks. Badawi's latest flogging has been postponed and the Saudi high court is reviewing his case.
While Saudi Arabia punishes dissenters from its interpretation of Sunni Islam, Iran does likewise to those it deems to threaten its own brand of Shi'a Islam. Muslims, including Shi'a dissenters, and non-Muslims including Baha'is and Christians, who have been jailed, tortured, and executed for "insulting Islam" or "waging war against God."
But when it comes to the application of blasphemy provisions, no nation is more zealous than Pakistan. While these laws largely target Muslims and carry the death penalty or life in prison, they disproportionately impact religious minority communities. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, on which we serve, knows of at least 17 Pakistanis on death row and 19 more serving life sentences for blasphemy, with many more awaiting trial.
Pakistan's blasphemy statutes also fan the flames of skyrocketing sectarian violence and provide extremist groups and vigilantes fuel to unleash terror, especially against minorities, with impunity.
No Pakistanis are safe from these laws, not even government officials. In 2011, Shabbaz Bhatti -- Pakistan's minority religious affairs minister and a Christian, and Salmaan Taseer -- the governor of Punjab province and a Muslim, were assassinated for opposing these laws. Reacting to mere allegations of blasphemy, mobs recently lynched a Christian man and his pregnant wife, while a policeman used an axe to kill a Shi'a in custody.
Clearly, the world community must respond to these abuses.
In March 2011, the United States and like-minded countries blocked efforts at the United Nations to internationalize blasphemy prohibitions, defeating an initiative that promoted an international legal norm against the so-called "defamation of religions." Instead, a framework that promotes tolerance, understanding, and community engagement replaced that flawed concept.
It is time to show similar resolve today by pressing nations to repeal their blasphemy laws and challenging leaders to promote cultures of tolerance and mutual respect.
It is particularly important for free nations to repeal their own codes. Several European countries, from Austria to Greece, Ireland to Poland, still have blasphemy laws on the books. Repealing them would send the right message.
Finally, the world should press for the release of Raif Badawi and other blasphemy-law victims. While many Western governments condemned Badawi's flogging and urged that his case be reviewed, which reports suggest is now happening, none have called for his unconditional release.
Let the message be clear: Don't quash speech that belittles or offends. Fight such speech with more speech -- speech that ennobles. Honor freedom of expression and religion by repealing all blasphemy laws.
*Katrina Lantos Swett is chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). M. Zuhdi Jasser is a USCIRF Commissioner.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Right to Blaspheme Essential to Islam, But No Duty to Blaspheme

It is a good piece by Dr. Shanavas  on freedom of speech as well as blasphemy.

Indeed, Freedom of expression is the God-given right of every human, and is the foundation of civil societies. Indeed, it is the freedom of speech that has allowed Islam to grow in Europe and America. We should honor and respect that freedom with all our heart, mind and spirit. We cannot betray the very ideals that gave us the freedom to be who we are, and we cannot allow anyone to violate others freedom.

Criticism of Islam, Cartoons of the prophet or cursing at the Quran will not make them disappear. Islam is not going anywhere and neither the prophet. They are here for good and nothing will happen to them, and they are not weaklings that seek the protection from ordinary humans. They are beyond all that. Indeed, the acts of these terrorists, who falsely claim to defend the name of the prophet, actually make God and the Prophet Look bad to the affected individuals.

These men need to know, that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was criticized, attempts were made to kill him, and he was even harassed including getting pelted with rocks that hurt him. What did he do in return? Retaliate? Hurt them? None of it, instead he prayed for their well being. If you are a follower of the Prophet, you need to be a mercy to fellow humans and not a terrorist.

Criticism can fade away or rain on us depending on how Muslims respond to it.  Lack of conviction in one's faith breeds intolerance towards criticism, whereas firmness in faith can lead us to learn from criticism, explore the infinite wisdom and realize the strength of our faith (Imaan); a worthy feeling to have, instead of living in doubt and shooing criticism away.

Mike Ghouse
# # #

Right to Blaspheme Essential to Islam, But No Duty to Blaspheme
By T.O. Shanavas, New Age Islam
January 24, 2015

My prayers are with the people of France and with the victims of Muslim terrorists all over the world. If caricature of a prophet can disturb the respect and love of him in his followers, that prophet does not deserve my reverence.

Unlike the terrorists’ prophet, my Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the Qur'an stand tall on the side of free press by asking Muslims to ignore the insults and extend kindness and decency to mockers and in worse cases to withdraw from the source of mockery.

According to Qur’an, the right to blaspheme is essential to the Islamic order, but there is no duty to blaspheme or react violently to blasphemy.

“And verily messengers before you were mocked but in the end, the mockers were overwhelmed by the very thing they ridiculed.” [Qur’an 21:41.]

“Indulge [people] with forgiveness, [accepting] what issues spontaneously from people's manners [of behavior], and do not scrutinize them, and enjoin kindness, decency, and turn away from the ignorant, and do not counter their stupidity with the like.” [Qur’an 7:199]

“You shall most certainly be tried in your possessions and in your persons; and indeed you shall hear many hurtful things from those to whom revelation was granted before your time, as well as from those who have come to ascribe divinity to other beings beside God. But if you remain patient in adversity and conscious of Him - this, behold, is something to set one's heart upon.” [Qur’an 3:186]

“When you see those who engage in discourse about Our signs, the Qur'an, in mockery, turn away from them, and do not sit with them, until they discourse on some other topic…”[Qur’an 6:68]

"And obey not (the behests) of the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites, and ignore their insults, but put thy Trust in Allah. For enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs." (Qur’an 33:48)

None of the verses mentions the abridgement of free speech for non-Muslims even if it is painful, insulting, and indecent. In fact, free speech is abridged for Muslims because they are expected to ignore any mockery and make a polite exit from the scene in Verse 6:68. So, all Muslims must promote and defend free press. An honorable response from Muslims to insult or other matters is clearly defined in the following verses:

“And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel evil deed by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.” [Qur’an 41:34]

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/to-shanavas,-new-age-islam/right-to-blaspheme-essential-to-islam,-but-no-duty-to-blaspheme/d/101194

Monday, June 2, 2014

Blasphemy and Apostasy Laws: Islam or Hislam?

It is one of the simplest but effective pieces in understanding Blasphemy, this virus has penetrated deeply into the psyche of Muslim, even though, it is not Islamic. Recommended reading.

Mike Ghouse


Courtesy: FaithStreet

n January 2011, the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was gunned down by one of his own security guards over a controversial move — opposing the blasphemy law in Pakistan. Although thousands of Pakistanis condemned this by attending his funeral and showing support on social media, religious fanatics hailed his murderer as a hero, recently naming a mosque after him.

As a Muslim, I stand firmly against blasphemy laws. My faith demands that I do so, for it repeatedly asks me to stand for justice and fight oppression.

The Quran shows us that even though God’s prophets were mocked and threatened, they never killed their accusers for hurting their “religious sentiments.” In fact, the Quran opposes any laws that restrain freedom of speech or would have someone killed over differences in belief. Rather, Quran 73:10 says, “Be patient over what they say, and leave them graciously.”

So how did these blasphemy and apostasy laws come to be associated with Islam?

The blasphemy and apostasy laws are found in the Hadeeth, sayings attributed to Prophet Mohammad, which were compiled two-three centuries after his death. Muslims know that no Hadeeth should contradict the Quran if they are to be accepted, given their subjective nature and reliance on the Quran for authenticity.

But early scholars intentionally overlooked this to protect the interests of clergymen and political leaders. These oppressive laws allow them to exercise complete control over people, punishing anyone who threatens their position by declaring them apostates — enemies of Islam. To so many clergymen, religion is nothing but a means to gain power and control people. To keep out competition and force their monopoly, they invent laws in the name of God so “consumers” have no choice but to keep buying their “product.” Or face persecution.

Religious leaders like Tahir-ul-Qadri, a staunch proponent of blasphemy laws, rule people by fear. Add to that the fact that the average Muslim is unaware of the Quran’s teachings, which makes them likely to believe whatever the clergy tells them about Islam. Of these leaders, the Qur’an asks us to be weary: “O You who have believed! A great many religious leaders: rabbis, priests, monks, Mullahs, yogis, and mystics devour the wealth of people in falsehood, and bar them from the path of God” (Quran 9:34).

So what exactly does the Quran say about blasphemy and apostasy?

Quite frankly, blasphemy and apostasy laws are themselves blasphemous to the teachings of the Qur’an. Not in the traditional sense, but because they violate the very instructions the scripture gives regarding freedom of belief.

Regarding apostasy, in Quran 2:256 God says, “There is no compulsion in matters of faith. The right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces false authorities and becomes at peace with God has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. God is Hearer, Knower.”

In a similar vein, verse 109:6 instructs adherents to end a debate by saying: “To you, your belief system. And to me, mine.”

If all that isn’t convincing enough, Quran 10:99 should seal the deal: “If your Lord willed, all who are on earth, would have believed (by not providing free will). Would you then, compel people to become believers?”

When it comes to blasphemy, I often hear some version of, “Hold on. If someone mocks my religion, it prompts me to act violently. You see, it makes me very emotional.”

But this statement only shows an ignorance of the Quran, which says in verse 6:68, “When you see them engaged in vain discourse about Our verses, turn away from them unless they engage in a different subject. If Satan ever makes you forget (i.e. your mind gets engrossed in their discourse,) then as soon as you recollect, no longer sit in the company of the people who confound the truth with falsehood.”

Here, Muslims are instructed to engage with these people if they change the topic. Certainly that means we’re not to have enmity towards them, let alone kill them!

And, again, Quran 28:55 instructs, “Whenever they (believers) hear vain talk of ridicule, they withdraw from it decently and say, ‘“To us our deeds and to you yours; Peace be upon you, we do not seek to join the ignorant.”

Those verses are practically shouting freedom of expression at the top of their lungs! Islam is a very progressive path to God, one in which differences in opinions and beliefs are accepted, not punished (Quran 39:18). On the other hand, blasphemy and apostasy laws lead to negative misconceptions about Islam being an oppressive faith.

But what are we Muslims to do? By not voicing our disapproval, we stand for these anti-Quranic laws and call them Islam. Is that not like setting your own house on fire? There is not a single verse that encourages Muslims to act violently toward those who leave Islam, or even mock the Quran. After all, shouldn’t truth be able to defend itself on its own merit? What good is a forced belief?

We can even take it a step further by noting how rejecters treated the prophets.

Of Prophet Nooh: “They said, ‘If you do not desist, O Noah, you will surely be of those who are stoned’” (Quran 26:116).

Prophet Ibrahim’s father said, ”Do you dislike my gods, O Abraham? If you cease not, I will certainly cause you to be stoned to death! Now get away from me for good” (Quran 19:46). Similarly, the priesthood said of Ibrahim, “Burn him alive and uphold your gods if you are going to take any action” (Quran 21:68).
Regarding Prophet Musa, “[Pharaoh] said, ‘If you take a god/authority other than me, I will surely place you among those imprisoned’” (Quran 26:29). To Musa’s followers, Pharaoh also said, “I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and I will surely crucify you all” (Quran 26:49).”

These verses should reveal to us a different perspective: all prophets were seen as blasphemers and apostates to the prevalent religion of their time. To condone the oppressive laws of religious leaders today is to support ill treatment of the prophets. After all, you would’ve done the same!

And that’s the most ironic part. If a messenger were to come today, these clergymen and their ardent followers would utter the same threats to him. They have fabricated their own laws in the name of God, so when you ask them to reform, they either consider you a blasphemer or an apostate and have a fatwa issued to kill you.  That’s the scary thing about truth: it doesn’t warrant aggression but is always met with it.

This is not a matter of interpretation, as some would call it. The Quran condemns forced belief in numerous verses. Rather, this is a matter of giving preference to the Hadeeth over the Quran to justify bigotry and extremism in the name of Islam. Having said that, it’s up to you whether you want to rethink your stance or keep blindly following what you have been taught — whether you want to follow Islam or Hislam. Because unlike misguided religious fanatics, sincere believers never force their beliefs on others.

What’s the Golden Rule, again? “Any secondary source on Islam that goes against the Quran should be rejected.”

Often said, but seldom followed.

The opinions expressed in this piece belong to the author.
Image courtesy of Cezary Piwowarski.
More on:


Ro Waseem Ro Waseem is a progressive Muslim who is bent on separating culture from religion. His articles have been published by The Express Tribune, The Malaysian Insider, and World Religion News. He blogs about Muslim reformation at http://quranalyzeit.wordpress.com.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Blasphemy Charges against Christians Shafaqat Masih and Shagufta Bibi in Pakistan, Muslims Condemn these charges.

Evil exists because good people do nothing about it – all it takes for evil to subside is for the good people to speak up.

The formula is simple: The evil people (in all nations and all religions) are less than 1/10th of 1% - if 5 of them scream, all we have to do is get 10 of us from a lopsided pool of  99% to speak up,  and I have seen them run – realizing that there is no support for them.

The latest is the SMS blasphemy charges, the good news is that the Deobandi Ulema have promised the Christians to bring amendments to blasphemy charges in Pakistan, it would be good to see them keep their promise.

Blasphemy and Apostasy are tools of tyrants to suppress people; it is not Islamic in any sense.  Prophet showed the right way by example, but the Muslim monarchs, dictators and a handful of ulema (it is shame that we call them Ulema instead of Jahil) like all damned fascists erected the apostasy and blasphemy charges to oppress.
Besides, these fanatics are dumb people, if they really want to convert other people, pray for them, like the Prophet, instead of pushing them. Don't kick the beehive if you want to gather honey.  

The Muslims of today – I mean the 99% of Muslims are civilized and cultured,  and we should not let 1/10th of 1% of Jahils (brutes) dictate the nature of Islam.
As a Muslim I condemn these shameful and ugly acts against Christians, and as Muslims, it is our duty to stand up for the oppressed. 

Please remember, Islam is not going anywhere; prophet is not going anywhere, and by opening ourselves up to criticism, we will learn a lot more about our faith than we would ever know. We need to move away from intolerance to acceptance of a different point of view without having to agree with it. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) lived through it and Muslims can learn from his examples.

Criticism can fade away or rain on us depending on how Muslims respond to it.  Lack of conviction in one's faith breeds intolerance towards criticism, whereas firmness in faith can lead us to learn from criticism, explore the infinite wisdom and realize the strength of our faith (Imaan); a worthy feeling to have, instead of living in doubt and shooing criticism away.

Mike Ghouse
and WorldMuslimCongress@yahoogroups.com

ASIA/PAKISTAN - "Technological Blasphemy": Christian couple arrested for insulting Muhammad via SMS

Islamabad (Agenzia Fides) - A new "front" of blasphemy seems to be opening in Pakistan after the life sentence of a man accused of having sent a blasphemous SMS (see Fides 15/07/2013), cases and complaints of blasphemy via SMS increase. As reported to Fides, another blasphemy case was registered against a Christian couple in the town of Gojra, in Punjab. Shafaqat Masih, 35, and his wife Shagufta Bibi were arrested by the local police because accused by the Muslim Rana Mohammad Fiaz for having sent a blasphemous SMS on the Prophet Muhammad. The police traced the SIM card and arrested the couple.

A court of first instance validated the arrest, placing further investigation. Shafaqat Masih is disabled and his wife is a waitress in a local school. Their two teenage children are now being taken care of by the NGO "World Vision in Progress", which also aims to provide legal assistance. Gojra is a place which is "religiously sensitive" since 2009, when, due to a case of alleg ed desecration of the Koran, the Christian area of the city was set on fire, causing 8 deaths, destroying 40 homes and a church.

Currently the debate on blasphemy through new technologies, mobile phones, computer resources is alive in Pakistan. The Telecommunications Authority and the government are discussing technical solutions to the problem of the presence of blasphemous material on the Internet, on YouTube, on social networks. Many are calling for a law to limit and censor blasphemous Internet sites.

Another issue is the abuse of the law of blasphemy, sometimes used instrumentally to hit opponents. As reported to Fides, recently a delegation of 15 ulema in Karachi, of the Islamic school of thought "Deobandi," assured its support to the Christian community to propose an amendment to the blasphemy law: the goal is to stop their misuse against members of religious minorities.

Among the cases reported by Fides is that of a Christian 15-year-old from Karachi, Ryan Brian Patras, accused of having sent blasphemous SMS to some peers (see Fides 12/10/2012) and the victim of a plot. The boy and his family escaped by miracle from the murderous rage of a few extremists. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 23/07/2013)

Criticism of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and free speech

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We need to welcome every criticism of Quraan, Islam and the Prophet and deal with it with grace. Let freedom of speech be the corner stone of Islam.

Islam is not going anywhere; prophet is not going anywhere, and by opening ourselves up to criticism, we will learn a lot more about our faith than we would ever know. We need to move away from intolerance to acceptance of a different point of view without having to agree with it. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) lived through it and Muslims can learn from his examples.

Criticism can fade away or rain on us depending on how Muslims respond to it.  Lack of conviction in one's faith breeds intolerance towards criticism, whereas firmness in faith can lead us to learn from criticism, explore the infinite wisdom and realize the strength of our faith (Imaan); a worthy feeling to have, instead of living in doubt and shooing criticism away.

You may ask, "Why are you presenting a different point of view, and why should I believe you?" The great scholars from the past have done it, and what is the need for me to learn?

I will ask you, "Why wouldn't you review the work of Tariq Ramadan, Hamza Yusuf, Ziauddin Sardar, Wahiduddin Khan, Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, Asghar Ali Engineer, Chandra Muzaffar, and a host of other critical Muslim thinkers? Why should you believe every word of Maududi, Banna and others? Isn't Islam for all times and all people?

Way back in 1967, my sister had asked me, if I knew more than Allama Iqbal? That question has never left my mind, and I had to scramble for the answer, the answer was a definite no, but I did not want to discard individual responsibility of not learning and knowing it on my own. I was always stuck with one of the most powerful sentences from Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) last sermon, "I leave behind two things, the Qur'an and the Sunnah and if you follow these you will never go astray." The responsibility to know was placed directly on us.

Like all Mothers, my Mother taught me responsibility, she said, "if you do wrong, you alone will get punished and not your brother who might have instigated you, it is not what he said, but it is how you respond that matters to me". She would invariably add, "On the Day of Judgment, you stand alone, there will be no one for you, as each one will be busy in reflecting his or her own deeds."

The Qur'an repeatedly reinforces the paramount principle of faith: "O You who believe, on you rests (the responsibility) of your souls"(Q5:105) and (Q53:38), "that no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another's burden." The picture was clear to me.

I don't wish this for others, but the best thing that has ever happened to me was walking away from Islam and Quraan when I was 15. I made the same mistake that every maligner of Islam makes; reading the wrong translations of Quran and blaming the religion for it. After 30 years of searching for the truth on my own as the Prophet had advised "to read the book", I found the truth. Islam is an inclusive faith, it is about co-existence, it is a faith that appreciates all of God's creation and urges one to respect the otherness of others (Quran 109:6) without having to agree, it explicitly says (Quraan 49:13), that all of us are his creation, created to be different, and that we have to learn about each other to mitigate the conflicts and nurture goodwill. Today, I am proud to be a believer, not a blind one, but a critical believer in Islam.

The Critical thinking has given me inordinate confidence to the point of challenging Pastor Jeffress in Dallas, that if he finds three faults in Quraan, I will convert to his faith, and if he cannot, all I asked of him was to become a blessed peacemaker and work with me in mitigating conflicts and building a cohesive America, where all of us can aspire to live without the fear of the other. He backed off as we returned the bad challenge with the request to reason and finding the truth. We held a Quraan Conference with ten Non Muslim Clergy on the panel and four Muslims including Imam Zia Shaikh, Dr. Basheer Ahmed, Imam Shakoor and Brother Hamid Shaikh, and I moderated the event. A full accounting of the event, including media interviews and the program is recorded in details at  www.QuraanConference.com

When you have an issue with your spouse and child, you don't scream and shut them down; the problem will not go away unless you face it and solve the issue. When people accept the solutions willingly, we will have peace. Isn't that Islam is all about, freedom?

Indeed, we must gracefully respond to every criticism of Quraan, Islam and the Prophet and I have the patience to welcome it.

Aren't we supposed to learn and know each other to mitigate conflicts and create the kingdom of heaven right here on the earth, while waiting to go the next heaven? Didn't God say, the best among you is the one who learns about the other (49:13), so the myths, phobias and fears can be dismantled?

I urge fellow Muslims to open to all the criticism with confidence, don't shut it, and let freedom of speech be the corner stone of Islam. Islam stands on its own; it does not need our defense, and it is silly to protect God or the Prophet, they are not weaklings or our property to protect, they belong to the whole universe, don't they?

Muhammad Yunus, a Muslim thinker and a writer at New Age Islam responds,   "Doesn't the Qur'an repetitively say, "repel evil with good" (13:22, 23:96, 41:34). Shouldn't you take the opportunity to demonstrate the good in your faith and remove the cloud of hatred that is forming by the twin growing menaces of the day: Islamophobia and Radicalization? Inscribe on the facade of your mosques in bold and golden letters, the verses of the Qur'an that demonstrate the divine scheme on religious pluralism - 2:62, 2:136, 4:124, 5:69, 22:17, 64:9, 65:11 for example.

Tell the believing world by visual display on billboards at all Islamic centers that the divine Light is lit in all places of pure worship (24:35) and God's name is proclaimed regularly in monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques (22:40). Inform the atheist and all categories of non-believers that they all are recipients of a portion of divine spirit (15:29, 32:7-9, 38:72) and God will judge them as well along with the believing humanity (22:17). Tell the whole world that however they demonize our Prophet, we must ignore them as this is an article of faith for us (6:112, 25:31).

Dr. Tariq Cheema of World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists, adds another point of view, "the Muslim scholars and intellectuals around the world must rise to the challenge and offer guidance to the faith-loving masses on how to encounter the exploitation of freedom of speech, which is often quite provocative and insulting. On the other hand every one must strive for a legislation that guards the sanctity of all religions and their Prophets, scriptures, and symbols alike."

Prioritizing Sunnah

The most important Sunnah (Prophet's example) and the first Sunnah is to be the Amin; the trust worthy (81:21), the truth teller and someone who mitigates conflicts and nurtures good will for the peaceful coexistence of his or her neighbors, communities, tribes and nations.

That was the first example of Muhammad (pbuh) to be a good citizen, wasn't it? Wasn't that the first model prophet had set up for one to follow? Mind you, he was called Amin by non-Muslims. Shouldn't we start with the same first foot forward? To be good citizens, whether in Pakistan, America, Saudi Arabia, China or Indonesia, we have to earn it by being a participant and a contributor towards the wellbeing of the nation. Your presence should relax others, and make them comfortable that you are a peacemaker and they can trust you for your fairness. Do you follow the Prophet?

The second most important Sunna to follow is to be Rahmatul Aalameen (Mercy to mankind) (21:107). To be a Rahmat (Mercy) to fellow beings who are Atheist, Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Sikh, Wicca, Natives, Zoroastrians and others, we must be kind to them, no one should be afraid or apprehensive of us. Should anyone be afraid of a Muslim, then we have not followed the Sunna of the prophet.

Please note that I have stripped the title of Allama or Maulana from all the names above. We have a habit of placing individuals next to God, they are just like you and I, of course with more knowledge, sometimes real, and sometimes looped up. Practicing and rehearsing the same wrong thing over and over again does not make them perfect. We need to reserve the titles to the Prophets; all others must be referred to just by their names with utmost respect.

We should not be loose with titles, unless they have shown that Allah is Rabbul Aaalamen (Universality of the Creator) and Muhammad is Rahmatul Aalameen in their actions and words. How many of them would qualify to be an Allama then?

All other Sunna emanates from these two basic steps, clearly and unambiguously corroborated by the Qur'an (81:21, 21:107).

We cannot compromise on free speech, however much a few may abuse it, but free speech is an enduring value and the hallmark of civilization. I believe in free speech and that is the only way societies will grow. As Muslims we need to seriously consider the gains Muslims have had, that far outweigh the tensions given by a handful of loonies.

Islam is a universal inclusive faith, it is from Rabbul Aalameen (creator of the universe, its prophet is Rahmatul Aalameen (Mercy to mankind) and we should be Mukhlooqul Aalameen (Universal, all embracing beings). Islam is about goodness and not forcing others, and not domineering but co-existing, just as the Prophet did and proclaimed in the Madinah treaty. Islam is about appreciating everything God has created on this universe (55:16).

If they curse the prophet, prophet is not going to be cursed, have the strength in your faith and return badness with Good; we know all the examples of his work. When you hear someone curse the prophet, just say I am sorry you feel that way, but if you wish to seek the truth, find it on your own or I will connect you with someone who can guide you, if you don't that is your choice and nothing will come off me or the prophet, your words do not have the power to reduce Islam or the prophet, I will pray peace of mind to you. 

Don't feel compelled to convince anyone, let go. What did Allah say to Prophet when he was frustrated that people were not getting his message? You do your dharma (duty) and let them have the freedom to accept. Elsewhere God says there is no compulsion in matters of faith (2:256).

Have confidence, read what is good in Islam and ignore the bad things others say, write, or put it in the film about Islam or its Prophet.  From the very first day of his mission, the Prophet was criticized and the Qur'an reviled and the criticism and revulsion only gained momentum through the medieval ages as Islam continued to win the hearts of other people. It has come to surface again with greater ferocity, but we the Muslims as peace makers must act peacefully.    

Islam is not going anywhere, prophet is not going anywhere, and by opening up you will enjoy your Imaan (faith) immensely with genuine admiration for its wisdom. I thank Allah for helping me see the light and beauty of Islam, and you can too.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, activist, pluralist and a writer committed to building cohesive societies. More about him at www.MikeGhouse.net

Related Articles:

• Huffington Post -Muslims don't get it http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/freedom-of-speech-and-the-legitimacy-of-muslim-protests_b_1902427.html

• Dallas Morning news -Separation of church and state http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/09/texas-faith-is-separation-of-church-and.html

• Dallas Morning news - right to free speech http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/09/texas-faith-religion-and-right-to-free.html

• Critical Muslim by Ziauddin Sardar http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2012/09/critical-muslim-by-ziauddin-sardar_30.html

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Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralismpolitics, peace making, foreign policy, IslamIsraelIndiaPakistaninterfaith, and cohesion at work place or social settings. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. Mike has a strong presence on national local TV, Radio and Print Media, and is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News, fortnightly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes everything you want to know about him.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Blasphemy Law in Islam – A Definition

I just happen to run into this article and pleased to share it here at www.BlasphemyLaws.com and www.WorldMuslimCongress.com - Its well written for those who want to get a good idea about the law - Mike Ghouse
In November 2010, I posted some research work about Blasphemy Law in Pakistan. I got a great response from all over the world and specially from Pakistan. Since then I was assigned to collect some more and detailed information about Blasphemy Law. During my research I visited several websites, journals and newspapers and also verified their responses. I feel first there is high requirement to chalk out the basic & important details about Blasphemy Law before discussing the detail version about Blasphemy Law. So here I have come up with some basic information about Blasphemy Law in Islam.

What does Blasphemy Law means ?
In Islam it is any irreverent behavior toward holy person, religious artifacts, customs, and beliefs that Muslims admire. Let be clear that the Quran and the hadith do not speak about blasphemy. Law experts created the offense, and they made it part of Sharia. Where Sharia applicable, the penalties for blasphemy can include fines, imprisonment, flogging, amputation, hanging, or beheading. Muslim leader (religious) may call for the punishment of an alleged blasphemer by issuing a fatwa.
Who would be Blasphemers?
It is agreed by all Islamic authorities that a blasphemer can be Muslim or non-Muslim. To be declare as guilty of blasphemy offense, an individual must be an adult, of sound mind, and not under threat. Some jurisdictions do not punish individuals who commit blasphemy accidentally. The Maliki school of jurisprudence permits the exoneration of accused individuals who are converts to Islam.
How Blasphemy against holy persons yet?
  • Speaking ill of Allah.
  • Finding fault with Muhammad.
  • Slighting a prophet who is mentioned in the Qur’an, or slighting a member of Muhammad’s family.
  • Claiming to be a prophet or a messenger.
  • Speculating about how Muhammad would behave if he were alive (happened in Nigeria).
  • Drawing a picture to represent Muhammad or any other prophet, or making a film which features a prophet (happened in Egypt).
  • Writing Muhammad’s name on the walls of a toilet (happened in Pakistan).
  • Naming a teddy bear Muhammad (happened in Sudan).
  • Invoking God while committing a forbidden act.
How Blasphemy against beliefs and customs of Islam yet?
  • Finding fault with Islam.
  • Saying Islam is an Arab religion; prayers five times a day are unnecessary; and the Qur’an is full of lies (happened in Indonesia).
  • Believing in transmigration of the soul or reincarnation or disbelieving in the afterlife (happened in Indonesia).
  • Finding fault with a belief or a practice which the Muslim community (Ummah) has adopted.
  • Finding fault with or cursing apostles (Rasul or Messenger), prophets, or angels.
  • Expressing an atheist or a secular point of view or publishing or distributing such a point of view.
  • Using words that Muslims use because the individuals were not Muslims (happened in Malaysia).
  • Praying that Muslims become something else (happened in Indonesia).
  • Whistling during prayers (happened in Indonesia).
  • Flouting the rules prescribed for Ramadan.
  • Reciting Muslim prayers in a language other than Arabic (happened in Indonesia).
  • Consuming alcohol.
  • Gambling.
  • Being alone with persons of the opposite sex who are not blood relatives.
  • Finding amusement in Islamic customs (happened in Bangladesh).
  • Publishing an unofficial translation of the Qur’an (happened in Afghanistan).
  • Practicing yoga (happened in Malaysia).
  • Watching a film or listening to music (happened in Somalia).
  • Wearing make-up on television (happened in Iran).
  • Insulting religious scholarship.
  • Wearing the clothing of Jews or of Zoroastrians.
  • Claiming that forbidden acts are not forbidden.
  • Uttering “words of infidelity” (sayings that are forbidden).
  • Participating in non-Islamic religious festivals.
How Blasphemy against artifacts yet?
  • Touching a Qur’an or touching something that has touched a Qur’an because the individuals were not Muslim (happened in Nigeria).
  • Damaging a Qur’an or other books of importance to Islam, for example, hadith (happened in Pakistan).
  • Spitting at the wall of a mosque (happened in Pakistan).
What would be Punishment in Blasphemy?
The punishments for different instances of blasphemy in Islam vary by jurisdiction / region / country and even cities. A guilty blasphemer may, among other penalties, lose all legal rights. The loss of rights may cause a blasphemer’s marriage to be dissolved, religious acts to be rendered worthless, and claims to property (including any inheritance) to be rendered void. Repentance may restore lost rights except for marital rights; lost marital rights are regained only by remarriage. Women have blasphemed and repented to end a marriage. Women may be permitted to repent, and may receive a lesser punishment than would befall a man who committed the same offense.
Difference between Blasphemy against Allah and Muhammad
There is a distinction between a blasphemer who insults Allah and blasphemenr who finds fault with Muhammad. Difference is based on the notions of the  “right of God” and the “right of Man.” A blasphemer who violates the “right of God” can seek forgiveness through repentance.
The Qur’an advises Muslims to reject those who find fault with God. Detail Reference
A blasphemer who violates the “right of Man” must seek forgiveness from the person insulted. In the case of an insult to Muhammad, the Muslim community is considered to be under an obligation to avenge the insult because the possibility of forgiveness expired upon the death of Muhammad.
Here is summary and brief version of my long research work. It took time to collect and verify the information about such sensitive topic. Please share your opinions regarding Blasphemy Law and its relationship with Islam in comment section. Subscribe with my rss for more updates. To get more details and information about project management,web design you can connect to me on twitter, facebook, linked in and google+.