Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Dissenting Voice on Pakistan's Blasphemy Law

by Yoginder Sikand
January 21, 2011
In the wake of the dastardly killing of Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, for having dared to question Pakistan’s draconian anti-blasphemy law, scores of Pakistani ‘Islamic’ outfits celebrated the crime by showering encomiums on the man’s murderer, insisting that his action was perfectly in consonance with (their understanding of) Islam. They feted him as an intrepid Islamic hero, a ghazi or warrior of the faith. Across the border, not a single Indian Muslim religious organization condemned the attack. This might well suggest that they shared the enthusiasm of their Pakistani counterparts, although, for obvious reasons, they were unable to openly express their delight at the deadly event. Probably the only Islamic scholar of note on either side of the border to have condemned the brutal murder in no uncertain terms, and to have insisted that it had no sanction whatsoever in Islam, was the New Delhi-based Maulana Wahiduddin Khan. He immediately responded to the murder in an article published in the Times of India, insisting that the punishment of death for blasphemy, as prescribed in Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law, had no sanction in Islam at all.
Read the rest here.

Comment: It is absolutely true that Blasphemy has "no sanction" in Islam.  In fact, it is not even present in the Qur'an as a concept.

Blasphemy laws/edicts inclusive of so-called "fatwas" that are issued against anyone who 'blasphemes' against Islam is not only unfounded but essentially a fabricated political manipulation.

Islam has five straightforward pillars that define it.  You either accept all five or you don't.  If you accept all five and commit to Islam you are a Muslim.  If you don't, you are not a Muslim.

In this simplicity there is also no conceptualization of fundamentalist Islam for the same reasons: There are five pillars to Islam.  If you accept all five and commit to Islam you are a Muslim.  If you don't, you are not a Muslim.

You cannot be anymore fundamental than accepting the five pillars, therefore, the concept of fundamentalism is absolutely absent in Islam.

The notion of fundamentalists or the more popular (now) Islamists are imposed from the outside without any relevance inside the religion.  Neither exist in Islam.  

For these reasons Islam does not rely on the concept of blasphemy or fundamentalism or Islamism to 'police' Muslims (and non-Muslims).

The five pillars stand simply and are interrelated as the core of being a Muslim.  Nothing more.

This context is premised on the Qur'anic injunction that there is no compulsion in religion.

You either are a Muslim or you are not.  There is no need to police this duality and hence the need for blasphemy laws is not Islamic, it is rather quite clearly un-Islamic. 

See also Islamic scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamidi argument against blasphemy laws here.

Desert demons brought Junaid S. Ahmad's article to my attention and it is worth a read to get a fuller picture of the politics beneath the blasphemy laws from inside of Pakistan.  Read it here.



TRT said...


Ridwan said...

Thanks TRT.

Trust you are well up there.



desert demons said...

I agree with what you have said regarding the blasphemy laws having no basis in islam however I think it is abit irresponsible to think that the issue of Salman Taseer's death is only about his defence of the said laws. Pakistan's political situation is volatile for many
reasons other than the blasphemy laws and it is important to take note of these 'other' reasons.
The article below offers some alternative insights. Of course quoting Moulana Ghamdi creates its own set of issues as he is so vehemently opposed what Mahmood Mamdani calls the 'bad muslim'.

Ridwan said...

Thanks for your comment desert demons.

I am merely commenting on the blasphemy laws. The assassination of Taseer is touched on by Sikand.

Thanks for the link to Ahmad's article it brings a balance no doubt.