Kashif Hafeez Siddiqui

Blasphemy Law and The Dilemma of the Apologists!

In Blashphemy Law - An Islamic Perspective on December 10, 2010 at 5:25 am

By Mirza Faraz Baig

A few years back there was a huge uproar in the Muslim communities around the world over the Danish cartoon controversy. Protests in some parts such as Pakistan turned violent and angry mobs damaged private property apart from burning effigies of the culprits. This scribe had written a piece- in fact a series of articles- back then urging people to just ignore these insults as, in my opinion back then, that’s the only suitable reply. Apart from that, the series also tried to prove from the Seerah of RasooluLLAH (s.a.w.) and Sahaba (r.a.) that they always dealt with blasphemous behavior in the same way.

Well, I have to confess, I was ignorant of our history and I was foolishly wrong!

I guess now that I’ve read and heard a bit of our history (still not all of it obviously), I can tell you that there’s overwhelming evidence that the only suitable punishment against blasphemy to RasooluLLAH (s.a.w.) and all the prophets of ALLAH (s.w.t.) is death, and a swift one at that! Not only there’re instances that Sahaba (r.a.) killed blasphemers but they did so with the approval, and in some cases orders, of RasooluLLAH (s.a.w.).

Ka’b ibn Ashraf, Abu Rafay, Ibn Khatal and his two slavegirls, a jewish woman in Medina and lots of others are such criminals that were slain by Sahaba (r.a.) and, as is reported in numerous Hadith, with orders or approvals of RasooluLLAH (s.a.w.). Some were set up, some ambushed, some immediately killed, some properly executed.

The fact that such an important part of Seerat un Nabi (s.a.w.) is one of the most obscure ones is a mind-boggling phenomenon. We’ve been taught in our schools and colleges and higher levels that Islam is a religion of tolerance, that RasooluLLAH (s.a.w.) always fought when war was thrust upon Muslims and that RasooluLLAH (s.a.w.) pardoned each and every one of his enemies – even the killers of Hadhrat Hamza (r.a.)- on the day of Fath Makka,.

It turns out that we’ve been told only partial truths!

The history that we have been studying in our course book has been contorted; the Truth has been misconstrued. The roots of the current science-centric education system that we are following in Pakistan, can be traced back to two major movements historically: a) Malthusianism[1] and b) the Ali Garh movement[2]. It was with the efforts of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan that Muslims started studying the sciences and English language and his services can’t be denied. Yet, it was also largely due to his influence that Muslims, early after, adopted the already corrupt and infected education system set by British East India Company.

The advent of this modern education in Muslims became the main cause of promotion of a more docile version of Islam. A docile, rather toothless, version of Islam that practices non-violence to the core and goes to war only when war is thrust upon it. While that’s not entirely untrue, it’s not the whole truth either. There are countless examples when the offensive was taken by Muslims and took the Kuffar by surprise. Ghazwa Badr was well and truly the first proper battle between Muslims and Kuffar but what’s not told to us is that there were as many as eight military expeditions sent or led by RasooluLLAH (s.a.w.) before the battle of Badr. Each of those expeditions paid dividends and a large area in Hijaz which was earlier under allegiance with Quraish either became a Muslim ally or became neutral. Also, there’re a lot of examples of preemptive strikes out of which the famous battle of Khyber and the battle of Bani Al-Mustaliq are famous. Reading our history in this way casts a totally different light altogether to how we should go about our religious duties. But by and large, these incidents have been obscured by our education system and either inadvertently or intentionally created breeds after breeds of apologists whose life’s work is to deny such important elements of our history.

Some glaring examples can be found in response to the recent case of Aasia Maseeh, the woman convicted of blasphemy against RasooluLLAH (s.a.w.). While there are liberal fascist making raucous noises to repeal the blasphemy law altogether, there are also some apologists, senior opinion-makers in the print and electronic media, who are trying to remind us of the tolerance in our religion, that a mother of 5 children – one of which is disabled- should be pardoned, especially after she says she’s sorry. There are also such daft columnists who see Salman Taseer’s hasty visit with his family to the convicted woman in prison and conducting a press conference there as an act out of empathy. It’s beyond words how disgusted the people of Pakistan are with the efforts of the ruling class to have a convict of blasphemy pardoned, that too on the orders of Pope Benedict, while the same ruling elite is tightlipped over the abduction and illegitimate trial of Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

But even if we assume that the government will go the whole nine yards to get Aasia removed to some western country, it seems appropriate at this point to see if pardoning Aasia Maseeh is within the power of the government or not.

Apologists claim that RasooluLLAH (s.a.w.) pardoned everyone who ever said anything foul to him. They give the examples of the women who threw garbage on RasooluLLAH (s.a.w.) daily, whom he (s.a.w.) had visited when she’d fallen ill. They also give the examples of conquest of Makka (Fath Makka) when he (s.a.w.) pardoned everyone in Makka. They also claim Aasia Maseeh said she’s sorry and has hence repented. They also say that Aasia is a non Muslim and Muslim capital punishment is not applicable to her. They say she’s a women and she’s poor so she should be pardoned. That we should pardon her to show goodwill towards west and thus pave the way to Islam’s preaching.

First of all, the amnesty on the day of the Fath Makka was for everyone, except there was a black list. A list of those who were to be slain even if they were found hanging with the curtains of Kabba, the most sacred of sacred places on earth. Ibn Khatal, as it goes, was found exactly in this situation and still was executed. There were two slavegirls of Ibn Khatal who used to sing absurdities against RasooluLLAH (s.a.w.) and they were also in that list. It’s important to note that they were also women like Aasia, they were also non-muslims like her, they probably were also poor, in fact they were slaves and hence had no free will, still they were executed. Ibn Taimiyah says that it shows that blasphemy against RasooluLLAH (s.a.w.) is an even greater crime than murder.

Secondly, even if we agree that RasooluLLAH (s.a.w.) pardoned some when he found it appropriate, it should stand as his prerogative and that’s it. Now we can’t pardon anyone on his behalf. Neither the government, nor the complainant.

Thirdly, even if she’s sorry for what she did doesn’t make her crime any milder. It’s similar if a murderer on the death row says he’s sorry, doesn’t absolve him of his crime. After all we’ve just seen that the crime that was perpetrated here was bigger than murder. It’s the verdict of scholars new and old, that the perpetrator of blasphemy should be killed immediately and not to be given a chance.

Lastly, we shouldn’t pardon her to just show our goodwill towards the west. Just to show how tolerant we are. That’s the most absurd excuse to do something equally absurd. If we had dealt with blasphemers in the way of Sahaba (r.a.) lately, our outlook would be a lot more different from it is today. It’s because of this tolerant behavior that any tom, harry or dick could say or write what he likes about our sacred personalities. If Salman Rushdi had been slain back then in the eighties, or Tasleema Nasreen back in the nineties, or the perpetrators of the European newspapers controversy had been killed back then, we would be a lot better off than we are today. Every time something like this happens, our response has grown weaker. And now it has come down to the point where our government is trying to dodge its public to provide safe passage to a convict of blasphemy. I seek refuge with ALLAH (s.w.t.) from the day when our public would be trying to save such a criminal from punishment.

As an afterthought, we probably should agree with the liberal fascists on one thing. That the blasphemy law should be repealed altogether. As it happens, having a law for a crime makes the punishment predictable. And when something is predictable it’s all the more defendable. If there’s no blasphemy law, then public would do justice on its own. The anticipation of punishment would be all the more painful for the perpetrators as the punishment itself.

There would be a Ghazi Ilm Deen Shaheed on every street, every city!
[1] Malthusianism refers to the political/economic thought of Reverend and indirect employee of British East India Company Thomas Robert Malthus, whose ideas were first developed during the industrial revolution. It follows his 1798 writings, An Essay on the Principle of Population, which had a great impact on the way British East India Company managed India; it had a great impact on economic\political\education policies of Great Britain.
[2] Aligarh Movement was the movement led by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, to educate the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent after the defeat of the rebels in the Indian rebellion of 1857.

Source : http://baigsaab.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/blasphemy-law-and-the-dilemma-of-the-apologists/


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