This is a guest post by Kisan
As an illiterate and impoverished Christian woman faced the sentence of death for blasphemy, a secular leaning Governor of Punjab tried to intervene to get her freed, describing the blasphemy law as a ‘black law’ and was killed by his own guard after being named by clerics as ‘wajib ul qatl’, or necessary to be slaughtered.
The history of the law mandating the death penalty for blasphemy can be traced back to an earlier chapter in the history of Pakistan. In the British times a law was enacted in the then undivided Indian penal code, article 295A, which makes it a criminal offence to: “insult the religion or the religious beliefs of any citizen with deliberate and malicious intention to outrage their religious feelings.” This law, still current in India, has in Pakistan been further modified to include article 295B which mandates life imprisonment for defilement of the Quran and article 295C which prescribes the death penalty for the “use of derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet.”
The reason the British found it necessary to bring this law into effect was the Ilm ud din episode which has striking parallels with today’s events.
A book had been written called Rangeela Rasool ‘colourful prophet’ in Hindi which quoting embarrassing stories from the hadiths painted an unflattering picture of Islam’s founder and was published by a Raj Pal in Lahore. Imams inLahore incited their congregations to kill the blasphemous publisher and hearing this, a carpenter called Il-mud-din bought a dagger and stabbed Raj Pal to death.
He was arrested and eventually executed by the British Raj, who however seeing how incensed the Muslims had become over the issue introduced the law in 1927 to deal with blasphemy (the above 295).
Ilm-ud-din was deemed a great hero by the Muslim masses. He was represented by up and coming lawyer Jinnah (later to be founder of Pakistan) and his funeral rites were organised by Allama Muhammad Iqbal (later to become Pakistan’s national poet). He was given the honorific title Ghazi Ilm-ud-din Shaheed. Ghazi is a title of honour for a Muslim who slaughters a non-Muslim for the cause of Islam and Shaheed is the term for a martyr. Until now he remains a great hero inPakistan and where he was once jailed there is now named in his honour Ghazi Ilmuddin Shaheed Mosque.
So the law that accounted for the death sentence on Asia Bibi, directly evolved from a similar event of Muslims seeking to murder a blasphemous non-Muslim.
In the same way there are clear parallels with the treatment of the murderers Ilm-ud-din and Qadri. Both are lauded as heroes and given the same honorific titles Ghazi and Shaheed. The Judge who has sentenced Qadri to death is now in fear for his life and lawyers have trashed his courtroom to protest the sentence against Qadri. Huge rallies are being held by Pakistan’s religious parties in support of Qadri whom they laud as a true lover of Islam’s prophet or “Ashiq-e-Rasool”. Not content at just murdering Taseer, his son too has been kidnapped, and is apparently being used as a bargaining chip for the release of Qadri.
It is indeed a bind for the Pakistani Government, caught between honouring its National ideology of Islam and all that entails or between being a responsible member of the community of nations. As the history shows in the past both its founder and national poet came down on the side of a killer of blasphemers.
The Pakistani Government has been a leading proponent of trying to export a watered down version of its blasphemy laws to the United Nations along with other OIC countries. Much of the hullaballoo about Islamophobia you hear of from Islamic organizations in the West is also similar attempts at trying to criminalize blasphemy.
There is an interesting article I read online translated from Urdu in which the author Maulana Nademul Wajidi says:
Does he not know that in undividedIndiaaLahoreresident had dared to challenge Muslim’s self-respect having written a book called Rangeela Rasool (The colourful Prophet). An illiterate young Muslim Ghazi Ilmuddin had answered him with his sword. Having killed him, he had proved that no one can insult our prophet. Muslims will never tolerate that. Recently Pakistani Punjab’s governor Salman Taseer was killed for showing sympathy for the accursed blasphemer Aaasia Bibi. His own bodyguard Mumtaz Hussain Qadri killed him.
The punishment for blasphemy can be nothing less than death. Muslims have always punished blasphemers with death. But we are live here inIndia. We are merely demanding punishment in accordance with laws of this land. Why should the government have any problems then?
The learned Mullah is indeed correct. Muslims have indeed punished blasphemers throughout history with death, but will use any means to shut up the critics of Islam at their disposal.
For those unaware of some of these historical killings of blasphemers you can go right back to the time of the holy prophet of Islam and see that he instigated his followers to kill many of his critics (blasphemers):
On the orders of Muhammad a follower went and killed Asma Bint Marwan, a woman suckling her infant child:
Umayr Ibn Adi came to her in the night and entered her house. Her children were sleeping around her. There was one whom she was suckling. He searched her with his hand because he was blind, and separated the child from her. He thrust his sword in her chest till it pierced up to her back. Then he offered the morning prayers with the prophet at al-Medina. The apostle of Allah said to him: “Have you slain the daughter of Marwan?” He said: “Yes. Is there something more for me to do?” He [Muhammad] said: “No. Two goats will butt together about her. This was the word that was first heard from the apostle of Allah. The apostle of Allah called him ‘Umayr, “basir” (the seeing).
Another critic of Muhammad, Abu Afak, an old man, composed poetry that doubted Muhammad’s claims to be a prophet. Muhammad said: “Who will deal with this rascal for me?” One of his followers then went and killed Abu Afak.
There are numerous other examples of killing of blasphemers in the time of the prophet such as:
Sunan Abu Dawud Book 38, Number 4349:
Narrated Ali ibn AbuTalib:
A Jewess used to abuse the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and disparage him. A man strangled her till she died. The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) declared that no recompense was payable for her blood.
Throughout the Islamic domination of the subcontinent also blasphemers were killed again and again in keeping with the Islamic tradition that the Mullah writes about above. There is this example I read of, about a man murdered as he made the apparently incredibly blasphemous claim that both Islam and Hinduism were true:
It is related in the Akbar Sháhí, that there came a Bráhman,* by name Laudhan, who dwelt in the village of Kaner, who had one day asserted in the presence of Musulmáns that Islám was true, as was also his own religion. This speech of his was noised abroad, and came to the ears of the ‘Ulamá. Kází Píyára and Shaikh Badr, who resided at Lakhnautí, gave fatwas which did not coincide respecting the merits of the case. Consequently ‘Azam Humáyún, the governor of that district, sent the Bráhman, the Kází, and Shaikh Badr, all three into the King’s presence at Sambhal. Sultán Sikandar took great pleasure in disputations on religious questions, and on this occasion summoned all the wise men of note from every quarter. Mullá ‘Abdu-lla, the son of Mullá Ilahdád, Saiyid Muhammad, and Míán Kádan, from Dehlí, all the Mullás in short of his empire, were summoned to Sambhal, and the assembly of the also present on this occasion. After investigating the matter, the ‘Ulamá determined that he should be imprisoned and converted to Muhammadanism, or suffer death, and, since the Bráhman refused to apostatize, he was accordingly put to death by the decree of the ‘Ulamá. The Sultán, after rewarding the learned casuists, gave them permission to depart.
The incitement of Muslims to kill blasphemers is a recurring theme throughout history. The basis of it lies within the teachings of Islam. Islam believes it has the right and mandate to murder those who oppose it in word or deed. This is due to the very founder of the religion using such means and those means in fact assisting the rapid expansion of Islam.
The world needs to be aware of methodology in play to shut down debate on Islam by devout Muslims. Devout Muslims will when in power or a strong position seek to kill blasphemers or critics of Islam. When in a weaker position vis-à-vis critics they seek to use other laws and means to silence critics. The current push for international blasphemy laws and talk of Islamophobia represent that path of action.
Rather than laws to entail and criminalize criticism of Islam, strict laws that severely punish those inciting murdering in the name of Islam need enacting and enforcing. This would work towards eliminating this unacceptable menace to societies around the world.