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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.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Punishment for Blasphemy: a Pre-Islamic Practice

Punishment  for Blasphemy: a Pre-Islamic Practice

Those who believe that anyone who ridicules the Prophet Muhammad should be hanged,  can  produce no clear commandment from the Quran or Hadith  to  support  this  belief. They merely give  a distorted  version  of some incident  which  took  place  during the Prophet’s time and say that such and such a person  involved  in this incident was put  to  death  because he was a blasphemer. The case of Kab ibn Ashraf is generally cited  in support their ill-conceived argument.

Kab ibn Ashaf (d. 624 A.D.) a  native of    Medina, was  a poet as well as an orator. His mother belonged  to the  Banu Nadhir, a Jewish tribe.  In the early days of Islam in Medina, he started defaming the Prophet and his followers, satirizing them  in  his  poems and speeches.

It is clearly mentioned in Al-Bidayah wa’l Nihaya by Ibn Kathir (pp. 326-336, Vol. 5) that when Kab ibn Ashaf started defaming the Prophet, the only  action taken by   the  latter  was to ask Hassan ibn Thabit, one of the Companions who  was a poet, to counter his false allegations. On the Prophet’s advice, Hassan ibn Thabit, then  composed verses in which he refuted the false propaganda  directed against the Prophet  by Kab ibn Ashraf. 

The Prophet entered into an agreement with several tribes of Medina, including  the Banu Nadhir tribe of which Kab ibn Asharaf was a member, that they would not support any other tribe against the Muslims. But Kab ibn Ashaf broke this agreement by visiting Mecca and inciting the Quraysh against the Muslims. He told the Quraysh leaders to attack the Muslims from outside Medina and his tribe will attack the Muslims at the same time from inside the city. He became the ring leader of a group  whose  sole  aim was to incite people against the Prophet and his followers. This was a clear violation of the agreement between the Prophet and the Banu Nadhir tribe. He not only turned his own tribe against the  Muslims but also played a major role in inciting other tribes such as the  Aws.

This was a clear act of violation of the agreement between the Prophet and the Banu Nidhir tribe and it amounted to treason against and betrayal  of the state of Medina.

He was put to death on account  of this act of treason and his conspiring against the state, and not because  of his satire and ridicule of the Prophet.

The contention of a modern scholar, Sheikh Mohammed Riza, that Kab ibn Ashraf was hanged for blasphemy is meaningless, as  it  is  unsupported  by any clear reference from the Quran, the Hadith or from the writings of the early scholars of Islam.

Anyone  who  cares   to go through the attached pages of Al-Badaya Wan Nihya by Ibu Kathir, will  find   that the case of Kab ibn Ashaf was clearly  one of treason against the state and not of blasphemy.

Before Islam, during the pagan age, or jahiliya, many people were prosecuted on  account of their faith. The Quran refers to this in the following verse:

They ill-treated them for no other reason than that they believed in God, the Almighty, the Praiseworthy. (Al-Buruj, 85:8).

With  the  advent of  Islam, the age-old pagan practice of prosecuting people on account of their faith was   abolished. But the Muslims in the Abbasi period revived the former pre-Islamic custom of prosecuting people on  a charge of blasphemy against the Prophet. This was highly irregular and totally against the principles of Islam, as the Quran only sanctions capital punishment for those who have committed  a crime such as murder. There is not a single injunction in the Quran and the Hadith to  the  effect that anyone who says anything against the Prophet should  be put to death. Rather the Quran asks the Prophet and the believers to be as patient as  the other great prophets who endured such  conduct with patience (Al-Ahqaf, 46:35).

The world is a  testing ground. Here, everyone is free to do whatever he likes. Without freedom, it   is not possible  to  put  human beings to  the   test.. People’s freedom of speech cannot  then be snatched away when it has  been given to them by none other than God Almighty Himself.    Punishment  for blasphemy  cannot  therefore  be  countenanced.

Secondly, the killing of  a   person accused of blasphemy by an individual (as  was done recently in Pakistan) is definitely haram. In Islamic law, it is quite clear that if a person is accused of committing a crime, his case will go to the authorities  who will file a case against him. His case will then be examined by a state authorized court in  which the  testimony  of  four witnesses will be heard,  after  which the court, having gone through a proper legal process, will give its verdict. If the accused is found guilty, then the law enforcement agencies will carry out the punishment. But if any  member of the public picks up a gun and,  taking  the law  into  his own  hands, shoots down a person whom he considers a blasphemer, he    will be considered  to  have  acted totally against the spirit of Islam.

In the same way, the case of Abdullah ibn Khatal was not one of blasphemy. It is true that he too, like Kab ibn Ashraf, used to ridicule the prophet in his poetry. But his punishment was not because of blasphemy of the Prophet, but on  account  of a murder  he  committed. He killed his servant  and, as a punishment for that, he was put to death.  Reference is  made  to  this in Ibn Taimiya’s book, Al-Sarim al Maslul ala Shatim al-Rasul, page 265, Vol. 2. (Arabic text attached).

The most important thing which the proponents of the blasphemy law have  chosen  to  ignore is that it is a very important principle of fiqh (Islamic law) that, before making such a law, there has to be a clear reference  to  it in the nass, or text of the Quran and the Hadith.

The Quran makes   the  very  clear statement  that if anyone killed a person, his  action would be seen as killing the entire mankind (al-Maida, 5:32) Supposing   the Almighty  had seen  fit  to  award  such  a punishment as  the execution  of  anyone who ridiculed  the Prophet Muhammad, how  is  it    that, on  this  particular  issue,   the Quran  makes no  statement   whatsoever?

Saniyasnain Khan

Islam believes in freedom


Blasphemy is in the news. According to general perception, Islam prescribes capital punishment to a person who indulges in blasphemy, that is using profane language against the Prophet of Islam. But this concept of blasphemy is completely alien to the original teachings of Islam. Before the advent of Islam, difference of belief was also a punishable act.

They used to punish on matters of belief just as on matters of social crime. This old practice is called religious persecution in history. Islam abolished this practice. The Prophet of Islam declared that personal belief is a subject of discussion and persuasion rather than of legal punishment.

Wahiduddib Khan, Islamic spiritual scholar and founder of Centre for Peace and Spirituality International
Wahiduddib Khan, Islamic spiritual scholar and founder of Centre for Peace and Spirituality International
However, if non-believers use profane language against the Prophet, Muslims are directed not to react. They have only two options, either to simply ignore it or to respond on equal basis, that is, issuing a statement in return for a statement. The Quran says: "The recompense of an ill-deed is an ill the like thereof (42:40)." According to this injunction, reaction must be on an equal basis, that is, word in return for word, statement in return for statement, book in return for book.

If you go through the Quran and the hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet of Islam), the only two authentic sources of Islam, you will find that there is not a single Quranic verse or hadith that gives this kind of injunction which says: "Man shatama nabiyakum faqtuluhu. (Kill the person who commits blasphemy against the Prophet)."

Such an injunction was added in the Islamic law only during the Abbasid caliphate, about 150 years after the death (632 AD) of the Prophet. Although the majority of the Fuqaha (Muslim jurists) of this period accepted the law, it was clearly an innovation which is not acceptable in Islam.

Devotees at Delhi
Devotees at Delhi's Jama Masjid
According to a well-known hadith, there are three authentic periods of the Islamic history: the period of the Prophet, the period of Sahaba (companions of the Prophet), and the period of Tabein (companions of the companions). It is a fact that all the Fuqaha belonged to the Abbasid period which came after these authentic periods. According to a hadith, the Prophet of Islam has said: "I have left behind for you thaqalain, two authentic sources of Islam: the book of God, and the Sunnah of the Prophet.

You will not astray till you adhere to these authentic sources." (Mu'atta Malik, Hadith no.1661). And those additions made by the Muslim jurists of the later history are certainly not a part of the authentic sources. According to this Islamic injunction, if there is a person who commits blasphemy, then the responsibility of Muslims is to meet him and persuade him and to remove his misunderstanding by peaceful means and if supposing he fails to understand then Muslims are left only with one option, that is to pray for him.

There is ample evidence that tells us what to do in such cases. For example, once when Prophet was in Mecca, one idol-worshipper came to him and told him face-to-face, "Muzammaman abaina (O Muhammad you are a condemned person)." The Prophet simply smiled. This smile was a kind of moral response and was bound to hit his conscience. He fell into introspection. And after some time he accepted him as the Prophet and became one of his followers.

Islam greatly believes in freedom of expression. I would like to say that the secular law of India in this context is more "Islamic" than the so-called Islamic law of Pakistan.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Silence has become the mother of all blasphemies

I am rather pleased to read the following, its central thrust is Silence, and I wrote the article just a day before this article appears in Guardian. http://blasphemylaws.blogspot.com/2011/03/pakistan-blaming-blasphemy-laws.html # # #

Pakistan: Silence has become the mother of all blasphemies http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/03/pakistan-silence-blasphemy-mohammed-hanif

Two months ago, after Governor Salmaan Taseer's murder and the jubilant support for the policeman who killed him, religious scholars in Pakistan told us that since common people don't know enough about religion they should leave it to those who do – basically anyone with a beard.

Everyone thought it made a cruel kind of sense. So everyone decided to shut up: the Pakistan Peoples party (PPP) government because it wanted to cling to power, liberals in the media because they didn't want to be the next Taseer. The move to amend the blasphemy law was shelved.

It was an unprecedented victory for Pakistan's mullah minority. They had told a very noisy and diverse people to shut up and they heard back nothing but silence. After Pakistan's only Christian federal minister, Shahbaz Bhatti – the bravest man in Islamabad – was murdered on Tuesday, they were back on TV, this time condemning the killing, claiming it was a conspiracy against them, against Islam and against Pakistan. The same folk who had celebrated one murder and told us how not to get murdered were wallowing in self pity.

In a very short span of time, Pakistan's mullahs and muftis have managed to blur the line between what God says and what they say. The blasphemy law debate was about how to prosecute people who have committed blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad and the Qur'an. Since repeating a blasphemy, even if it is to prove the crime in a court of law, is blasphemous, no Pakistani has a clear idea what constitutes blasphemy. Taseer had called the blasphemy law "a black law" and was declared a blasphemer. The line between maligning the Holy Prophet and questioning a law made by a bunch of mullahs was done away with. What would come next?

During the last two months sar tan se juda (off with their heads) has become as familiar a slogan as all the corporate songs about the Cricket World Cup. Banners appeared all over Karachi and Islamabad last week demanding death for a Pakistani writer. The only problem is that nobody quite knows what she has written. Her last book came out more than eight years ago and, if it wasn't so scary, it would be ironic that it is called Blasphemy. It was a potboiler set mostly in religious and spiritual leaders' bedrooms. The banners condemning her say that not only she has insulted the prophet, she has insulted religious scholars.

So now disagreeing with anyone who has a beard and armed bodyguards can get you killed. The PPP government has tried to appease this lot by silencing the one-and-a-half liberal voices it had. What it didn't realise is that you can't really appease people who insist their word is God's word, their honour as sacred as the Holy Prophet's. In Pakistan, silence is the mother of all blasphemies. Most Pakistanis are committing that blasphemy and being punished for it.

Mohammed Hanif is a journalist and author of the novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Taseer’s killer, media and the Muslim majority

Taseer’s killer, media and the Muslim majority

DALLAS, Texas: The responsibility to perpetuate the truth falls squarely on each one of us, indeed, we have to maintain a balance and build cohesive societies. We cannot let nations, societies and communities come apart over divisive issues, whether we are Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Sikhs or others, we cannot let the statistically insignificant few to represent us, neither our silence should be construed as an endorsement of the views of the few.

Malik Mumtaz Qadri shot the very person he was to guard; Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer. The governor was faulted by him for speaking out against the blasphemy laws, a few men have welcomed this killing and have hailed Qadri as a “Hero” for defending the honor of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and showered him with rose petals, a cultural symbol of honor.

An appeal was circulated seeking justice for blasphemy-accused Asia Bibi of Pakistan, of the thousands on my list, three wrote, "Do you know what are you are going to lose — both the worlds perhaps?" Another one writes, "Islamically, insults and abuses against the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) count as acts of war and rebellion against a justly created Islamic entity. The Qur'an commands terrible punishment for such acts of war. "Finally, the third one writes, "Salman Taseer was a shame on Islam".

Islam forbids killing anyone, unless it is in self-defense and it is indeed a morbid sin to commit suicide. This statement breeds an enormous confusion among a few Muslims and non-Muslims, they want to know what to believe, what the radicals are doing in the name of Islam or the ones who say they are misrepresenting it.
There is an old saying, “evil thrives in the world unchecked because good people do nothing about it” and the purpose of writing this article is to invoke the goodness in people to speak up.

An overwhelming majority of people in every faith get their religion right; it is a divine instrument that teaches one to be truthful to oneself and bring about a balance within and with what surrounds; life and matter and live in harmony with the creation (the word is ‘follow’ for Christians, ‘surrender’ for Hindus, and ‘submit’ to the will of Allah for Muslims). The prophet was called “Amin” the truthful and the trustworthy. The core value of all religions is expressed in terms of the Golden rule; treat others as you would want to be treated to create orderly societies so everyone can live without the fear of others.

The silent majority needs to speak out at crucial times like this where the murderer Qadri is being hailed as a hero in defending the very Prophet who was a mercy to mankind. This entire sordid affair started when Bibi, a Christian woman was denied the water by a few senseless individuals.

One of the many things you can do as "speak out" is to organize conferences on blasphemy where differing views are listened and understood. You can also sign the petition to express that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was indeed Rahmatul-Lil-Alameen; the man who brought mercy to humanity. http://www.petitiononline.com/Asiabibi/petition.html

Unfortunately, the media mirrors the stories generated by less than 1/100th of 1% of population and dumps on the rest of the population as though it is 'their' story, and the public on the other hand has not demonstrated their support for scrutiny and good news.

We cannot accept statistically insignificant number of people to represent any group. The right-wingers among Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Jews have become a fodder for each other. The left on the other hand shouts that we have to declare a war on right-wingers. Mahatma Gandhi had aptly said an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.
The public is as guilty as the media when it comes to what gets currency; it is a vicious circle and has to be consciously chucked. Qadri should be treated as disloyal criminal for murdering the very person he was to guard and not fall to hysteria generated by the few.

As people of faith, also known as peacemakers, we cannot cause people in conflict to dig in their heels and stick with unamenable positions, we have to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill for the ultimate good of all. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) applied that method in many of his examples. His wisdom comes as guiding light; follow the middle path. Everyone has a God given space, if we can learn to respect that, conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

As moderates we are an overwhelming majority in every society whichever way you classify them, we can express our support to the middle path and ask the extremists to study the life and examples of the Prophet, the ultimate peacemaker and spread kindness and goodness invoking his name.

— Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies through America Together Foundation and the Foundation for Pluralism championing the idea of co-existence through respecting and accepting the otherness of other and is committed to nurturing the pluralistic ideals embedded in Islam through the World Muslim Congress. He an be contacted at MikeGhouse@aol.com.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pakistan; Blaming the Blasphemy Laws

The purpose of this site is to bring together differing views on Blasphemy, and develop an understanding from Islamic point of view for the good of all humanity. Current Blasphemy laws and practices do not go with the values of Islam; free will and respect for life. 

Although Quran does not permit killing oneself or the other person (unless in self defense),  the actual deaths from the enforcement of Blasphemy laws average 3/ year in the entire Muslim world of 1.6  Billion people, where as just in Texas and Florida we execute that many in one year. Neither should be acceptable, shamefully our laws in Texas and laws in Iran are primitive, and Neanderthalic. Both nations need to get rid of these archaic laws.

While agreeing with the need to abolish blasphemy laws, we must acknowledge that it is not going to be easy and it cannot be done overnight.  

The issue is the books that have been referred to for generations, even though they are concocted, they are a backbone to the right wing conservatives, they go by the book, who the hell are you and I to tell them otherwise, they have the books to support their position.

Two alternate ways of dealing with it.

Need a Mustafa Kemal Pasha to burn all those books, and it is not going to happen, because the Pakistani Politicians do not have guts to be bold, the one who had (Musharraf) turned out to do more harm to the nation than the good. The others before him kissed assess of the religious radicals to remain in power like ZH and ZA. Some of the blame comes on us Americans for feeding and supporting the criminals.

The second viable choice is education. Give them the right books, get the Ulema to write as a text or a part of the Sharia Law. Most of them are right, you can listen to almost all of them, they have the right answers, but don't have the books!

The small town Ulema don't have the books or the resources, we cannot blame them for the lack of knowledge, we need to blame ourselves for not facilitating them with the knowledge, the books. You cannot slam dunk the decision on the radicals, it will not be sustainable, get them to sit with you, and review Quraan and Hadith, they will listen to it. Throw them a challenge to prove it from the Quraan, honor them for finding the truth, when they own the research, they will take it upon themselves and the Blasphemy laws will be out of door. 

Write the Books... any one can write one, and then all of us can improvise on it. Whether they are radical or not, Muslims respect Quraan without blinking an eye, give them the Quraan, the right one from the wrong translations. It is possible.

 The ones who are screaming have the back up books to support them... we as Muslims need to come up with books on the topic, endorsed by at least a few Ulema's for them to have something in their hands.  They rather believe in the book they have, however wrong it may be, than you and I. 

Blasphemy laws have no religious grounding, none whatsoever. Instead of murdering in the name of God and the prophet, it is time for reflection. God and the Prophet will not only reject, but condemn human sacrifices in their names.

To kill a human is like killing the whole humanity, Quraan prohibits killing unless it is in self defense, and even then, if the offender backs off, a Muslim is required to withdraw the revengefulness and forgive the opponent. Suicide is condemned in Islam.

Quraan is abundantly clear about no compulsion in matters of faith; you cannot compel one to believe against his or her will. Quraan calls for civility and move on with life; to you is your belief and to me is my belief.

Now a teenage girl is being arrested on blasphemy charges. This needs to stop and only education will take it out in the long haul. More about http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/muslims-condemn-blasphemy-charges-against-pakistan-christian-girl_b_1815127.html

The Blasphemy law is a game of the politicians; it was initiated by the rulers in the past to appease the religious fanatics and to keep a lid on their subjects. It was done by the English Kings, and it is done by the Republicans to appease the religious right in America today, and it was done to do the same in Pakistan; to appease the religious right who has morphed into Talibans.

Governor Taseer was a Muslim, and the Minister for Minority Affairs
Shahbaz Bhatti was a Christian, both were shot dead for asking to bring about the reforms in the Blasphemy laws.

Think about it, neither the killers of Taseer nor Bhatti are evil; it is the damned silence of Pakistanis that is evil for doing nothing about it.  It takes just a few boys in the class room to stand up to the bully from beating them up and the bullies will flee. The Tunisians, the Egyptians, the Libyans are standing up against the bullies, the Pakistanis can do it too to bring about a change they really want, but have to show the moral courage. If you let extremism prevail,
you won't be able to run from it and will sink in the quick sand.

Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. More about it at; www.blasphemylaws.com/