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Blasphemy Outrages; The Frenzy Goes On Unchecked: Will The Ulema Take Responsibility For The Murders Of Innocents?

By Dr. Mohammad Ghitreef, New Age Islam

19 February 2022

Any Blame For Insulting The Prophet Is Immediately Accepted In Public

Main Points:

1.    The Ulema, the police, and even the modern educated people consider every accusation of humiliation to Prophet as the true one.

2.    Main cause of this precarious situation in Pakistan is the glorification of killers

3.    Ulema have been constantly saying that one should not take the law in one’s hands.


A few days ago, in a town in District Khaniwal of Pakistani Punjab, Mian Chunnun, a heinous incident of mob lynching happened on the pretext of blasphemy. Strangely, some policemen happened to be there, but they were unable or unwilling to protect the innocent victim, a mentally ill Mushtaq, from the fanatic religious mob. Though it is also being said that initially the policemen had taken the man in their custody, yet eventually overwhelmed by the religious zealots, who had snatched him back, beat him to death by kicks, stones, iron rods, etc. Not satisfied with that, they also abused his lifeless body, spitting on it and kicking at it endlessly. The inhuman criminals then hanged their wretched prey to a tree and then beheaded it by striking it with an axe before the eyes of the policemen who remained mute spectators.


Police officers stand outside a mosque on Sunday, a day after a mob lynched a man in Tulamba Village, in Mian Channu, Punjab. — Reuters


The mother of the slain man told the reporters that her son was mentally ill. The mob first accused him of blasphemy because he was seen with some burnt pages of the holy Quran, held him, and promptly gave him instant justice without any trial, and without due judicial process. It is to be noted that it is one of the many extrajudicial murders that happens regularly in Pakistan in the name of blasphemy. Some other cases are the following:

1-Mashal Khan was killed by a mob with the connivance of corrupt university management.

2-Sri Lankan company manager Priantha Kumara.


Priyantha Kumara was beaten to death over blasphemy charges. File photo


The frenzy victim's brother said that at the time of burial, it was discovered that the angry mob had cut off all his fingers. When Mashal Khan's mother wanted to kiss his hand, it turned out that all the fingers were cut off. All the bones of Prantha Kumara's body were also broken. A horrible resemblance! That too in the name of one who Muslims themselves claim was sent as a mercy for the worlds?

In the aftermath of Priantha Kumara's brutal killing there came some videos on social media. In one of them one Maulvi was lecturing a class of innocent 8-12 years old boys, possibly of Hifz e Quran (memorizing Quran) classes, as the children were wearing a traditional cap. The teacher after his sermon gave vent to a popular slogan: Gustakh e Rasool ki Aik hi Saza (there is only one punishment for a blasphemous person) the innocent children echoed his line by saying loudly: Sar Tan Se Juda, Sar Tan Se Juda), that is, he must be beheaded, he must be beheaded). In another video the scene was slightly different, as the school was a modern one, the boys in the age group of 12-16 years, were wearing modern school uniform. The teacher too was suited booted, who put forward first his views then shouted in Urdu: Gustakh e Rasool Ki Aik Saza: on that point the whole class reiterated and roared: Sar Tan Se Juda, Sar Tan Se Juda. This shows the real situation at the ground level. The whole society is mesmerized and indoctrinated by this religious frenzy. Now the issue is not only a law and order issue, rather it has become a deep-rooted one, especially in rural areas in Punjab.


Also Read:  A Mentally Ill Mob of Muslims Kills a Mentally Ill Muslim Man in Pakistan: No Ulema Condemned the Incident; Perhaps They Can't; Allegations of Blasphemy Makes All Muslims Go Crazy


A closer look at the number of cases that have come up so far shows that any blame for insulting the Prophet is immediately accepted in public. The Ulema, the police, and even the modern educated people consider every accusation of humiliation as the true one. Everybody puts his intellect on the side in this regard. That is why even a Quran memorizer in Gujranwala was beaten to death by an angry mob on such an accusation. Likewise, an entire Christian settlement was set on fire on that account. And the case of Asiya Bibi acquired notoriety all over the world. Though the Pak Supreme Court had exonerated her, the religious zealots had not accepted the decision of the Supreme Court. Instead, they have been doing since then the propaganda that this decision was taken under international pressure. All the Maulvis still abuse her as “the accursed” Asia.

When Parantha Kumara was killed by a mob, there were mass arrests and Prime Minister Imran Khan had assured that no criminal would be left to go scot-free and the atmosphere in the country would be changed for the better, law enforcement would be strictly ensured. But the situation has not changed much as this new case is showing. Also, the fact is that when a mob kills someone, it is difficult to identify the exact killer and hundreds or thousands of people cannot be punished. While all political parties have been using religion and religious sentiments for their own benefit. Imran Khan is no exception. In this background, this issue is not simply a law and order issue as the religious parties are assertively trying to make it one aiming to save their own skin.

I think the main cause of this precarious situation in that country is the glorification of killers of fabricated or imagined perpetrators of blasphemy by the Ulema in the subcontinent. For, there has been a history of glorification of extrajudicial killers of Shatemeen (blasphemous persons) starting from Ghazi Alam Deen who had killed Swami Shraddha Nand, the notorious writer of Rangeela Rasool, a book in Urdu tarnishing the Prophet’s image. It is said, Allama Iqbal also praised the murderer saying:

Ye Tarkhan Ka Larka Hum Par Bazi Legaya” (This son of a poor illiterate Turk has surpassed us all). The Ulema have been constantly saying that one should not take the law in one’s hands. Yet, if somebody rises and kills a blasphemous person and after the investigation the allegation is proved to be true, then the killer is rewarded by God in the Hereafter; so, he should not be punished by the authorities in this world. That is why there was a hyper glorification of Mumtaz Qadri, an illiterate, ignorant bodyguard of Governor Salman Taseer. Maulvi Khadim Rizwi took the Mumtaz Qadri glorification as his mission and when Qadri was hanged by the court then he was termed as a martyr of Namoos e Resalat (the sanctity of Prophethood) by all the Ulema irrespective of their sectarian affiliation. All the Ulema stubbornly refused to perform the due funeral prayer of the slain governor, a sheer absurdity telling volumes about our Ulema’s cruelty and misbehaviour towards a human being who does not subscribe to their convictions, and , of course, their lack of belief in Islamic postulates. Whenever any such mob lynching took place the Ulema and some prominent journalists like Oria Maqbool Jan instantly start trying to somehow justify the crime in the name of the blasphemy law. If someone from their rank and file dares to condemn the heinous crime, they generally decry and look down upon him and make strong efforts to eventually side-line or silence him, as they all did with Maulana Wahiduddin Kahn and Javed Ahmad Ghamidi. Moreover the Ulema generally blame the government as well as the judiciary for not acting properly and not punishing the persons accused of blasphemy in time. Hence their justification: the common man can’t help but take the law into his own hands.


Also Read:  Stop Taking the Blasphemy Law into Your Own Hands; Mob Lynching Has No Place In Islam


As Pakistan has become notorious all over the world and is referred to as the hub of extremism and terrorism, nowadays Ulema of different schools of thought and politicians too, willingly or unwillingly condemn every such criminal incident. In the case of Parantha Kumara, possibly keeping in mind the strategic or economic interests of the country, a delegation of prominent Ulema visited the Sri Lankan Embassy in Islamabad apologizing for the gory incident. In this case of poor Mushtaq murder, no condemnation from the Ulema community has come out yet. In fact, if one says that they are now harvesting with glee what they have been sowing for more than one century or so, one may not be far from the truth.

The fact of the matter is that there is no definite punishment in Islamic law for insulting the Prophet which is called “had”. This is just a reprimanding dressing down called “Taazir”  which should be based on the judgment and discretion of the Imam (i.e. the Muslim government) as many incidents of the Prophetic era show that he sometimes punished this crime and sometimes not. However, Muslim scholars, Ulema, especially in the subcontinent), have made it a compulsory punishment, which is not supported by the Qur'an, nor by the hadith, nor by the Islamic jurisprudence. This is actually the ijtihad of Ibn Taymiyyah on which not only the Salafi Wahhabis but surprisingly also the Hanafits of the subcontinent have unanimously agreed upon, and now it is considered as a consensus. However, such a consensus has no real status in principle, but it is subject to time and space and the consensus of one age and place can be changed in another time and space when required. No harm ever touches Ulema, yet innocent person’s killings continue due to their fatwas in this respect. Will they ever reconsider their attitude on pure rational grounds?

In this regard the Ulema generally put forward three reasons:

1-A prophetic saying namely: Man Subba Nabiya Faqtuluh( ( من سب نبيا فاقتلوه whoever abuses a prophet kill him.

2-In the prophetic era there were so many killings of shatemeen (abusers).

3-There is a consensus of all Ulema regarding this punishment.

 Ibn Taymiyya built his theory on these very points. Here I argue that firstly the above-quoted Hadees is either a concocted one or very weak as researched by M Hasan Ilyas. So, it should not be referred to, specially by an Aalim (scholar) of such eminence as Ibn-e-Taimiyya. Secondly, all the incidents of blasphemy killings in the prophetic era, jumbled and mixed up by Ibn Tamiya un-categorically have indeed different contexts if you look into each incident separately. Then one should not confuse them as Ibn-e-Taimiyya did. For example, he mentioned some tribals belonging to Ukal and Uraina tribes as blasphemers, who came to Madina, fell ill there, and were quarantined at a Madinan suburb and facilitated. Eventually, they became healthy, attacked the suburb, killed the shepherd of the prophet, and looted the belongings, they were caught up and given severe punishment, yet not on blasphemy grounds.

In fact, Ibn-e-Taimiyya was working in a very turbulent time of Islamic history. Abbasid caliphate had been destroyed by Mongols in which millions of Muslims were killed by Changez and Holga Khan et al, on the one hand. Crusades by Christian priests and Kings had begun on the other. Europe was in a religious frenzy similar to that Muslims are finding themselves in now around the world. Christian zealots had been on martyrdom spree by perpetrating blasphemy intentionally on which Muslim Qazis were compelled to issue death sentences, so as the common Christians be inimical to Muslim rule and should rise against it. Yet, many Qazis used to go to great lengths to avoid awarding death sentences, knowing the purpose behind open blasphemy by martyrdom-seeking priests. It all started in Muslim Spain then crept to Middle East and elsewhere. In this context, Ibn-e-Taimiyya came up with his book on blasphemy named: Alsarimulmaslool Ala Shatimir Rasool, written forcefully, though lacking a coherent treatment of the subject as shown with an analytical study by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan.(see Shatme Rasool Ka Masla. Good Word publishers).

The third point is the consensus of all Ulema regarding blasphemy law. So I must say here that such a consensus has no meaning, if, in principle, it has no basis in Quran or Hadees; the two main textual sources of Islam. As far as the holy Quran is concerned it doesn’t mention this punishment at all, not a single time, nor do Hadees or books of Fiqh. For example, you take any classical book of Hadees or Fiqh literature you find there many chapters, as chapter of prayers, chapter of zakat and alms chapter of Hudud (punishments), etc. Then if you look in any book’s chapter of Hudud you will not find any mention of blasphemy as a separate law itself. Most of the time Muslim jurists mention this punishment inter alia, with apostasy or war crimes, in other words very cursorily. You can’t find any such thing as a chapter of the blasphemy law.

Contemporary scholars like Javed Ahmad Ghamidi say that it is only a Taazir not a had.

Ibn-e-Taimiyya jumbled all the material he could find in the annals of Sirah literature, history and books on Islamic warfare and un-categorically compiled all these things under one heading, which was an impressive one and left a deep yet now fatal effect on Muslim psyche. He was unlikely to be questioned in the periods to come on this account.

To me, it is imperative also for the civil society to launch a movement and assert itself about this issue, discuss it freely and bravely and question its misuse by religious extremists not buying in the fragile government’s tall claims.


A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Dr. Mohammad Ghitreef is a Research Associate with the Centre for Promotion of Educational and Cultural Advancement of Muslims of India, AMU Aligarh.


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