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Islamic Ideology (14 Jan 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

How Islamic Are ‘Islamic’ Blasphemy Laws?


By Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

15 January 2017

January 4 has become an iconic day for moderate Muslims in the Indian subcontinent, reminding us every year that the battle for the soul of Islam has not even begun properly. Moderate, progressive, liberal Muslims are being killed in the name of blasphemy, but they are not able to defend themselves even with a coherent ideological counternarrative.

On this day in 2011, Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Pakistani Punjab, had been murdered by his own body guard for having shown compassion for a Christian lady Asia Bibi, falsely accused of blasphemy. This despicable murderer Mumtaz Quadri has now been executed on orders of Pakistan judiciary, but has acquired the status of a saint and martyr in the eyes of millions in South Asia, particularly ulema of most schools of thought.

Asia Bibi is known to have been falsely implicated, as most victims of Pakistan’s Black Blasphemy laws are. Pakistan Press has reported that all cases of blasphemy against Islam are actually to settle personal scores or to acquire a non-Muslim’s property. But Pakistan and South Asian Muslims are not alone in misusing the concept of blasphemy. A celebrated case going on in Indonesia now is against Governor Ahok, a Christian who is supposed to have quoted, just quoted, some verses from Quran and thus angered many Muslims enough to slap a case of blasphemy against him. How can a Christian quote scripture, the only true scripture? (Do Christians represent the Devil for these Indonesian Muslims?)

Apart from the criminality, and totally anti-Islamic nature of such devious thinking, the stupidity of it all takes the breath away. And this in Indonesia which we progressive Muslims used to cite as an example of moderation in Islam. Should we be at all discussing such inanity in the 21st century? But this is a very popular blasphemy charge and millions of people cannot be imprisoned; we can only argue with them hoping to instil some sense in their minds.

The Holy Quran does not prescribe absolutely any punishment for blasphemy, though numerous verses describe in detail how Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) was reviled and abused by early Meccans in prose and poetry. As Quran exegete and a columnist for NewAgeIslam.com, Muhammad Yunus points out: “The Meccan enemies of the Prophet called him impostor, a madman (Quran 30:58, 44:14, 68:51), and an insane poet (37:36) and ridiculed the Qur’anic revelation (18:56, 26:6, 37:14, 45:9), which they declared to be strange and unbelievable (38:5, 50:2), a jumble of dreams (21:5)9 and legends of the ancients (6:25, 23:83, 25:5, 27:68, 46:17, 68:15, 83:13). They accused him of forging lies and witchcraft (34:43, 38:4), forging lies against God, forgery and making up tales (11:13, 32:3, 38:7, 46:8), witchcraft (21:3, 43:30, 74:24), obvious witchcraft that was bewildering (10:2, 37:15, 46:7), and of being bewitched or possessed by a Jinn (17:47, 23:70, 34:8).”

He comments: “By definition, all these accusations were blasphemous. Nowhere in its text does the Qur’an prescribe any punishment for those who uttered these blasphemies.”

Yet ulema quote a consensus of scholarly opinion (ijma) in favour of blasphemy being an unpardonable offence. Indeed, if somebody simply questions this ijma, he meets the same fate, death. Ijma is an instrument of creative rethinking of Islamic provisions (ijtihad) in the absence of any clear guidance in Quran. The idea is to take the religion forward, in the absence of a messenger of God, not to regress to Dark Ages, as ulema are using this provision to do. Indeed, they have made ijma such a strong instrument that the Qur’anic dictates themselves have to be considered abrogated if they contradict the consensus opinion of Muslim jurists. “It is better that the verse (from Quran) is interpreted in such a way that it conforms to their opinion.” [Doctrine of Ijma in Islam, by Ahmad Hussain, New Delhi, 1992, p.16]

Regardless of any justification for Blasphemy laws in Muslim countries, common sense suggests that they can only be applied to Muslims. Otherwise, the term blasphemy can be stretched to mean anyone who doesn’t believe Islam to be a true religion. But anti-Blasphemy laws are applied to non-Muslims in every Muslim country that has such laws. So ultimately the question is related to whether Muslims believe in freedom of religion. Clearly many don’t, except when they live in non-Muslim-majority countries.

Although Quran, Islam’s foundational text, contains hundreds of verses asserting the legitimacy of other religions, a consensus in Islamic theology and jurisprudence has somehow emerged that other religions cannot be allowed to exist. Theologians cannot directly contradict the Quran by saying so, but this is the obvious implication of their doctrines of Jihad. Mainstream Islamic Theology and jurisprudence is completely based on a dichotomy between Muslim and Kafir. Kafirs have to be eventually eliminated from the world, either by persuasion or use of force. The only other option is they accept Muslim domination and accept the status of dhimmis (jizya-paying second class citizens).

Most Ulema do not even accept the religious freedom of those whom Quran gives the status of ahl-e-kitab, by virtue of their belief in previous prophets of God. Some of these have been mentioned in the Quran and many are not as they are too numerous (124,000, according to one Prophetic tradition). They were sent to all nations with revelations. Quran asks Muslims to have the best of and the most intimate including marital relations with all ahl-e-kitab. Iman or Faith is defined in Islam as, among other things, having faith in all previous prophets of God and considering them of the same status as Prophet Mohammad.’ (Quran 4:164; 2.21; 35:24; 10:47; 21:7).

To illustrate the point about Islamic theologians circumventing clear, unequivocal Quranic dictates about freedom of religions, I quote the following passage from the writings of Maulana Abdul Aleem Islahi, an influential cleric of Hyderabad. No Indian Alim (scholar, pl. ulema) has disputed this widely-circulated narration so far.

Discussing the oft-quoted Quranic verse 2: 256 “La Ikraha fid Deen” (meaning, let there be no compulsion in religion), the Maulana writes in his booklet, ‘Use of Force in Quran’: This is an established fact (that Quran gives religious freedom to all). But it is related only with accepting or not accepting the belief. This does not mean that ahl-e-Kufr, (infidels) should be left totally free on earth with their un-belief and should not be made accountable. If this were true, what do we mean when we say that the religion (Deen) of God has been revealed to dominate the world?

"It is He Who has sent His Messenger (Prophet Mohammad pbuh) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam) to make it superior over all religions even though the Mushrikoon (polytheists, idolaters, etc.) hate it." Surah at-Tawbah 9: 33. What will this verse mean then and what relevance will the obligation of jihad have (if we accept the Quranic decree of no compulsion in religion)?

“--- It is the duty (of Muslims) to struggle for the domination of Islam over false religions and subdue and subjugate ahl-e-kufr-o-shirk (infidels and polytheists) in the same way as it is the duty of the Muslims to proselytise and invite people to Islam. The responsibility to testify to the Truth and pronounce the religion God has entrusted with the Muslims cannot be fulfilled merely by preaching and proselytising. If it were so there would be no need for the battles that were fought. "And fight them until there is no fitnah (mischief) and [until] the religion, all of it, is for Allah. And if they cease - then indeed, Allah is Seeing of what they do." Surah Anfal 8:39)

“Jihad has been made obligatory to make the Deen (religion) dominate and to stop the centres of evil. Keeping in view the importance of this task, the significance of Jihad in the name of God has been stressed in the Quran and Hadith. That’s why clear ordainments have been revealed to Muslims about fighting all the Kuffar (infidels). “United, fight the polytheists as they fight against you.” (Surah Tauba:36)”

There is a consensus of ulema’s opinion (ijma) around such views. Peaceful, pluralistic, early verses revealed in Makkah are supposed to have been abrogated by aggressive war-time verses that came later in Madina. Guided by ulema as they are, Muslims have come to believe that ijma is more important than Quran, indeed Quranic commandments of peace and pluralism, co-existence with other religions, patience in times of adversity, not rushing to war on the slightest pretext, etc., have been abrogated for over a millennium. Ulema keep quoting these verses to non-Muslim audiences as part of their taqaiyya (a religious instrument to deceive the enemy), but Muslims are supposed to know that these verses are abrogated and are being quoted only as a strategy of deception.

Progressive Muslims keep quoting these peaceful verses as they are not well-versed in theology and jurisprudence. They still believe in Quran. Largely living in their own world, they have no idea what is going on in the community. They do not understand why pluralistic Quranic verses do not have any impact on the Muslim masses any more. No wonder they have not been able to come up with a cogent theological counternarrative.


Sultan Shahin is the founder-editor of a Delhi-based progressive Islamic website NewAgeIslam.com

This article appeared first in The Sunday Guardian, New Delhi on 15 January 2017.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/sultan-shahin,-founding-editor,-new-age-islam/how-islamic-are-‘islamic’-blasphemy-laws?/d/109726

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  • Mr saxena and Dolly Passy, I do not know your exact relgion, but whatever you may be following is I am not here to talk on that, but I am just replying and giving suggestion because of permenant business of some Muslim letting down Hindus on name of caste like here Iqbal Husian.
    I suggest read the book Anhilation of caste by Baba Ambedkar, what Mr sexena is trying to say was said by Ambedkar that it was base on work not by birth.
    Ambedkar was Dalit and never liked Gandhiji and this book is about long conversation between Ghandhiji and Ambedkar, both are well respected and have valid points.
    Muslims are happy to condem Hindus not looking their own human division on basis of prayer and to extent of even killing if you are Idol worshippersl they too are not different then Hindus, just their difference is base on your belife.
    Muslims used to be cruel but never had  meaness like bhrahmins had it but they have adopted meanness quality of bhrahmins, they cannot see that Hindus are breaking barriers and inter-caste marriage is already started to happen, though it is slow but mordenisation and industrialisation will make it happen, because it develops scientific attitude than relgious. Every caste is working every type of work depending on their education, so this heridatory base of work is already been demolished after slowly, this also had happen slowly but not entered slow, only marriage between different caste is slow but it will change, Europe had same caste problem like India and even worst but after industrialation it took them 300 years to break down rigid system.
    We in India should leave Muslims on their own term otherwise they are ever ready to play minority victim card. 

    By Aayina - 1/30/2017 4:45:24 AM

  • Wg Cmdr Hkl Saxena , Dolly Passey totally wrong on facts (1) caste was always hereditary since beginning. except few exceptions here and there most people in ancient india inherited caste of their fathers even those people who were considered to be "GODS". (2) How many social movements started till date for making caste "convertible". just one single social movement any example in this regard. (3) in recent history quote examples of people whose caste was changes upgraded / downgraded . quote specific examples. (4) what efforts made in form of writing books , social movements by current lot of hindutva leaders and organizations in making caste convertible .(5) will RSS willing to promote any of its SC ST members to the higher varna of Brahmin or kshatriyas . will some kayashtha in defence service be promoted top higher caste. (6) credit for current mobility of caste goes to Dr ambedkar , British govt and secular ethos of nehru etc . (7) for the post of pyujari / mahant almost 1005 reservation still exit for one caste except few handful of exceptions here and there.

    By Iqbal Husain - 1/29/2017 8:33:47 PM

  • @ Dolly Passy
    I will reply.
    Much earlier Manu had divided the people of Hindu Rashtra into four disciplines ie jobs,
    1. Brahmins, teaching.
    2.kshtriyas, Defense.
    3.vaish, Business.
    4, Shudra, working class,all types of work in the fields, offices, labour, cleaning etc. We Kayasth were also among working class.
    These VARN were applied to a person according to the the work he or she was doing at that particular time. Later,it had become hereditary, which was wrong. This wrong has been checked and is being corrected after Independence.Now, all the Varn ie jobs can be done by any body.
    Shudras are teaching and doing the duties of Priests in Mandirs and on Religious Functions.
    Brahmins are in Defense Services, in Business and working as labour.
    Earlier, Hindus used to marry in their own caste. Now, Inter Caste marriages are common.The whole Varun system has been gradually changed as was required.
    Now, some leaders do not like this change, so that they could keep them as their Vote Bank.

    By Wg Cmdr Hkl Saxena - 1/29/2017 8:33:02 PM

  • भारत में मुसलमान हिन्दुओ से डबल गेम कैसे खेल रहे है में आज आप सब के सामने रखता हूँ .... *4 शादिया करनी होती है तो मुल्ले शरियाः कानून को, भारत के कानून से ऊपर मानते है और २० -२५ औलाद पैदा करते है... *तलाक़ देना हो तो मुल्ले 3 तलाक़ कहकर आज़ाद हो जाते है, जो की शरियाः कानून है. तलाक़ के वक़्त भारत के कानून को नहीं मानते. * शरिया कानून के मुताबिक़ चोरी की सज़ा हाथ काटना है,लेकिन जब कोई मुसलमान चोर पकड़ा जाता है तो ये शरियाः कानून नहीं मानते. फिर कहते हैं हम इंडियन है, इंडियन कानून के हिसाब से 2 महीन की जेल दे दो .. * शरियाः कानून में रेप की सज़ा मौत है, जब कोई मुसलमान रेपिस्ट अरेस्ट होता है उसके ऊपर शरियाः कानून नहीं लगता उसको आसान सज़ा इंडियन कानून के हिसाब से मिलती है. जैसे मुहम्मद अफ़रोज़ को 3 महीने ज़ैल.... Summary : जिधर फाईदा मिले हम तो वही बात मानेंगे, शरियाः कानून हम सिर्फ अपनी आबादी बढ़ाने और अय्याशी के लिये मानेंगे. जब हम कोई अपराध करेंगे तो हम को Indian कानून के हिसाब से सज़ा मिलनी चाहिये. मुसलमान बना है तो पूरी तरह बनो , ये दोगला खेल क्यू खेलते हो ? जय महाकाल..!!!
    By Kartikaswara Gouda - 1/29/2017 8:30:40 PM

  • Aayina: In general, I liked your views and agree with you that one’s faith is one’s own. We must not be hypocrite, but I have some differences with you on some points or it is needed to see the facts vice versa.

    1. I did not like your statement, “Abrahmic relgions which are blood thirsty on base of their books”. You have quoted all the followers of all the Abrahamic religions as the killers. It is contradictory to your own ideology that you respect all religions and their followers.

    2. As you mentioned Zakir Naik, first of all I wish to clear I am not his admirer, for your kind information, I think he can not ne bracketed among Owaisi brothers who are pure opportunist politicians. Mr. Zakir Naik’s problem is that he is a preacher of Islam – that is why he makes a contemporary study of all religions and brings out the virtues and vices before the people to promote his religion using his constitutional right. When you talk of Owaisi bros, you must know their origin and the reason behind their propaganda of minority politics in Bihar’s Muslim belt or in U.P. He is the Muslim version of Joshi, Katiyar, Singhal, Thakreys, Verghese, Uma, and numerous Sadhus and Sadhvis. Muslim fringe separatist leaders are not the origin of this kind of communal politics; they are the reactive results to the Hindu communal politics.

    3. We must have empathy for our fellow citizens, feel guilty of the Kashmiri Pundits’ exodus and extend our full support to their resettlement, but at the same time, we should also think about Muslims’ mass departure from Gujrat, Dadri, Bhagalpur and many Indian cities since independence. Is there any solution to the growing intolerance created the communal political parties which are the only reason behind increasing venomous thoughts of the citizens? There is almost zero intolerance among the general citizens; hence, all the incidences of intolerance, communal violence are the brainwork of our divisive political parties.

    4. The Muslims invented word Aadab for non-Muslim is not without a reason - that is less religious and more inconvenience caused to our fellow brothers. First, our most of the brothers are unaware of the formal word literally and phonetically, so it becomes embarrassing for the speaker as well as the listener if someone pronounces incorrectly.

    I am sorry to mention, it is just as an example, even you have typed ‘Aslam-wale-kum’ whereas it should be ASSALAM WA ALAIK for an individual and ASSALAM WA ALAIKUM for more than one person. Although I do not see a lot in the spelling and pronouncement of various words, important thing is the feelings behind it, but some Muslims, of course, are very particular about it. Another point is that we should greet others according to their customs so that they can feel comfortable and honored. Thanks!

    By Raihan Nezami - 1/29/2017 12:14:24 AM

  • Raihan Nezami.

    I have already condem Hindu extremist thought in many post, you can read by search.

    I have said many times in favour of Dalits, even to extent if they feel not secure under Hindu banner, they should start their new relgion were they can be safe or can follow Ambedkar path of Buddisium.

    My thoughts are very clear A oppressor and victim, I see people with those two eyes only, God is important, but irrelevant unless if my fellow brother on earth cannot remain secure and happy life.

    I made it very clear that I do not like Muslim for lots of reason, so do hindu and Chistians, but I do not hate.

    All those Hindu extremist outfit you talking about are mirror image that will automatically spring up when Owasi brothers, Zakir Naik speak threatening language and issue like Kasmiri pandit exodus happens, you cannot stop it, even if I wish, it is not going to happen, they will kill Hindus like me if we talk against them, same like Muslim bloggers are killed or get disappear.

    I see Indian Muslim as second largest majority not minority, which can play constructive role.

    You can see the pattern here of Indian commentators always talking of Palestine Muslims and always try to portray true patriotic Indian Muslims, but you will hardly see any comment in favour of Kashmiri pandits, so Muslim feel brotherhood miles away but they do not have any pain for their Indian  brothers who are on exodus, that how you can see the hypocracy of Indian Muslims.

    Another hypocracy of Muslims even in greeting Muslim won't tell fellow non-Muslim( A muslim degoratry certificate)  Aslam-wale-kum because it is against Muslim relgion to tell them, so they invented word Aadab for non-Muslim, so Muslim want to give security to another Muslim in greeting but not to non-Muslim, so when Muslim talks of peace of the world, does it make any sence. Mr Raihan Nezami hypocracy is just hypocracy(munfikian is munfikian) it need to be told even if it Hindu or Muslim or Christians.

    Again I will say God is irrelevant for me my fellow humans brothers comes first, this God thing is after death, their are various different after death belief, non of them is provable, better I fight with God later on after my death, but give peace and security to my fellow human brothers.

    I think it might be clear to you, so you will find me talking against all relgions absurdity, but I would like to remain Hindu, where all thought and belife are allow to exist not like Abrahmic relgions which are blood thirsty on base of their books.

    By Aayina - 1/28/2017 1:20:43 PM

  • Aayina: What do you have to say about Karni Sena, a sister concern of Ram Sena, Shiv Sena, Dharm Sena, anti-Valentine Sena etc who take laws and orders in their hands. They are the masters of Bollywood, issue censor certificates, take donations to release a film, beat a renowned film producer who is the savior of Indian culture, paint black colour on the scholars' face, punish cinemagoers who don't stand for National Anthem. Is it not blasphemy? How religious is the Hindus blasphemy laws?
    By Raihan Nezami - 1/28/2017 5:01:50 AM

  • Aayena: Thanks for the prayer wishing better thoughts for the Muslims. Insha Allah the Muslims will hold on the righteous path of Allah with patience tolerating the vicious Islamophobic antics. When I mention MUSLIMS, I mean the true followers of Islamic tenets practicing the Quranic Aayats in true sense, not those who are using Islam for their personal gains: politically, economically, socially or religiously etc.

    By Raihan Nezami - 1/27/2017 11:28:00 PM

  • No power on the earth can finish Jews, they are the first people who bring and fighted for one God concept, they kept their covenant with God all other later relgion who came after them and want to finish them will be punish too because they are first people of earth who suffered lot to bring oneness of God. God will certainly punish Muslim, in heaven and is already punishing them on earth for not allowing to live gods first chosen race.

    May god help Muslim to have some better thoughts. Amin.

    By Aayina - 1/27/2017 3:05:36 PM

  • Mr. Dinesh Pareek: No power on earth can destroy Islam as Allah Kareem is the Protector. The people who have got deviated and are committing sins, they too will be punished by Him.
    By Raihan Nezami - 1/27/2017 10:28:20 AM

  • Madame Dolly, 
    Don't you see that the tree crore Muslim in Manuvaadi India multiplied to thirty crore,whereas in Islamic Paki,or Afghani,or Irani,Iraki Islamists reduceced their non Muslim people to zero.
    Please madame,be ashamed to know that the islamists in Syriya,Nizeria,etc are proudly slaughtering innocent people.

    By U.p. Ojha - 1/27/2017 5:21:51 AM

  • So what is the message... Quran supports human rights and equality of religions.... no is the answer. It is better Muslims grow the courage to accept this simple fact. I request non-Arabs, including myself, to stay away from this debate and let the natives such as Hamed Abdel-Samad do the talking. This person is an Arab speaker and the son of an Imam. He speaks in Arabic but the subtitles in English are read by the computer. Switch off volume and educate yourselves you lowly non-Arab Muslims: youtube.com/watch?v=PK2rBDcCYhY
    By शरण कुमारः - 1/27/2017 3:34:54 AM

  • @Wg Cmdr Hkl Saxena , Dolly Passey do you understand the difference sect and caste. sect are convertible changeable while caste is not. shaih , sunni, arya samaji, catholic protestern are sects not caste. sister dolly is correct. even a person of sc st obc caste or kayashtha caste serving in defence services cannot be promoted to caste of kshatriyas. except few exceptions here and there post of pujari exclusively reserved for one caste people only.
    By Iqbal Husain - 1/27/2017 3:24:07 AM

  • @Dolly Passy I was born in April 1933.
    Since then the caste system is being gradually discarded and at present, all can do any job and are equal in social status.
    Ladies from so called lower caste earlier are doing the job of priest in Mandirs and in Religious Functions. Intercast Marriages are common, which could not be thought of earlier.
    Muslims had claimed to have no caste system but they are divided themselves into Shia, Sunni, Syed, Sheikhs and other lower castes. They do no marry in other caste.

    By Wg Cmdr Hkl Saxena - 1/27/2017 2:38:39 AM

  • @Wg Cmdr Hkl Saxena fundamanlaist of all religions are equally bad. have you not read about murder of kalburgi , dabolkar etc. india needs convertibility of caste. why a kayashtha or kshatriya canot be promoted to brahmin caste.
    By Dolly Passey - 1/27/2017 2:37:56 AM

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