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BLASPHEMY
A PUNISHABLE OFFENSE

An article, ‘Blasphemy in Islam’, published in the Times of India argues that the Quraan does not prescribe punishment for abusing the Prophet (SallAllaho 'Alaihe WaSallam).

The article declare: “It is generally held that Islam prescribes capital punishment for those who commit blasphemy; that is, using abusive language against the Prophet of Islam. But this is quite untrue. According to Islam, blasphemy is simply a misuse of freedom and not a cognisable offence; the blasphemer is not liable to incur legal punishment. This kind of law has no basis in Islamic scriptures…….. To use abusive language against the Prophet or to praise him are both a matter of one's own choice. Whatever the choice, it is in God's domain to pass judgment on it. Muslims have nothing to do in this situation except try to remove the misunderstanding and then leave the rest to God……. Islam suggests capital punishment for only one offence, and that is murder. Except in the case of murder, there is no such severe legal punishment in Islam……. In the Islamic scriptures, the Quran and the Hadith, there is no such injunction to deliver physical punishment to one who commits blasphemy……. It is on the record that, during the Prophet's time, there were some non-believers who used to use abusive language against the Prophet of Islam. The Prophet of Islam never suggested any legal punishment for those persons. He simply directed them to one of his companions, Hassan bin Sabit al-Ansari, who would respond to their blasphemous statements and remove their misunderstanding by means of argument.”

The author of the article has many other articles in his credit in past that devoid authentic verdicts of pious Ulamaa (Scholars) of Islam established since ages. The author, unfortunately, did not learn the teachings of Islam through the authentic Ulamaa of Islam, rather he has a tendency to deduce conclusions after self study of available books. The above article, too, is a misleading article which is opposed to the established sources of Islam. His entire article centers on the Quraan while ignoring Hadeeth which is the second most important source of Islamic faith and Shari’ah. It does prescribe death penalty as the punishment for blasphemy against the Prophet (SallAllaho 'Alaihe WaSallam).

In principle, Hadeeth is the best interpretation of the Quraan as has been stated in the Quraan itself. The five-time Fardh (Obligatory) Salaah (Prayer), Zakaah (Obligator Charity), Hajj (Obligatory Pilgrimage to House of Lord in Makkah al Mukarramah), punishment for drinking (Liquor) and many other injunctions have not been mentioned in full details in the Quraan but their details have been left to Hadeeth of Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho 'Alaihe WaSallam). The Quraan emphasizes the importance of what the Prophet (SallAllaho 'Alaihe WaSallam) commands and regards his utterances as divinely revealed, in following Aayat (Verses)

وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ [الحشر: 7]

“And whatever the Messenger gives you, take it, and whatever he forbids you from, abstain (from it).” (Al-Hashr 59:7)

مَنْ يُطِعِ الرَّسُولَ فَقَدْ أَطَاعَ اللَّهَ [النساء: 80]

“Whoever obeys the Messenger obeys Allah…….” (An-Nisaa 4:80)

The Quraan says in another Aayah:

وَمَا يَنْطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَى Oإِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَى [النجم: 3-4]

“He (the Prophet) does not speak out of (his own) desire. It is but revelation revealed (to him).” (An-Najm 53:3-4)

Islam regards blasphemy against any Messenger and Prophet of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa) a very heinous crime.

At the conquest of Makkah al Mukarramah, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho 'Alaihe WaSallam) announced general amnesty to all except those who were guilty of blasphemous acts and sacrilegious statements. Both Sunan An-Nasaai and Sunan Abu Daawood, famous Hadeeth books, narrate that a slave Jew woman was killed by her master for her repeated blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho 'Alaihe WaSallam). And when the case was brought to the Prophet (SallAllaho 'Alaihe WaSallam)’s notice he declared no retaliation against the master. (An-Nasaai and Abu Daawood)

The death punishment assigned for blasphemy is agreed by all Islamic scholars of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah and, is normally covered in Kitaabul Hudood in Islamic juridical texts. Because of the evidence for blasphemy punishment being based on Ahaadeeth, certain reported incidents during the lifetime of the Prophet (SallAllaho 'Alaihe WaSallam) and unanimous agreement of all Islamic Scholars in all the ages (Ijmaa’), many Islamic countries of the world have legislated death punishment for blasphemy.

It is only Qadianis, (followers of false claimer of prophet-hood, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani), a community regarded infidels by Muslims across the world, who support no-punishment for blasphemy. It is very surprising that the author of above-referred article, ignoring many clear Ahaadeeth and Ijmaa’ (consensus of Islamic jurists) of Muslim Ulamaa -- the second and the third most important sources of Islam -- claims that no punishment should be meted out to the offender of blasphemy. He stayed blind to Ahaadeeth and Ijmaa’ upon which thousands of Islamic injunctions are based.

It is also noteworthy that not only Islam prescribes severe punishment for blasphemers but most of the major religions have prescribed death as punishment for blasphemy. It is stated in the Old Testament of the Bible, which is the authority for both the Jews and Christians: “And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him” (Book of Leviticus 24:16)

Respecting all Messengers and Prophets of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa) and defending their honor are important parts of belief for a Muslim and, thus, guarantees rewards from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa). To defend the Prophets is, indeed, a service to humanity and nobility too.

But, under no circumstances can a Muslim take matters in his own hands and go about executing the abuser or blasphemer of the Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho 'Alaihe WaSallam). Muslim individuals are not allowed to punish the blasphemer, but they should demand their governments in a constitutional manner to punish the perpetrator and ban blasphemy.

It is very sad that in his entire article the author did not condemn blasphemy neither he said a single word for governments to curb such blasphemous acts. Instead, twisting the fact of the legal status of blasphemy punishment, he has criticized the Muslim community whose sentiments have already been hurt due to the insult to the Holy Prophet (SallAllaho 'Alaihe WaSallam). Surprisingly, he did it at a time when even the rulers of many secular and non-Muslim countries of the world have strongly condemned the blasphemous film against the Prophet (SallAllaho 'Alaihe WaSallam). On the pretext of freedom of expression, does he intend to justify blasphemy? Why is he tight-lipped about exercising the same freedom of expression regarding holocaust denial? (Based on the article by Mufti Obaidullah Qasmi)
 

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