Islam and Blasphemy

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Islam and Blasphemy is open for . The scholarship allows level programm(s) in the field of taught at . The deadline of the scholarship is .

Blasphemy in Islam is any irreverent behaviour towards holy personages, religious artifacts, customs, and beliefs.

Blasphemers
Islamic legal authorities agree that a blasphemer can be Muslim or non-Muslim. To be convicted of blasphemy, an individual must be an adult, of sound mind, and not under duress. Some jurisdictions do not punish individuals who commit blasphemy accidentally. The Maliki School of Jurisprudence permits the exoneration of accused individuals who are converts to Islam.

Blasphemy against holy personages
Individuals have been accused of blasphemy or of insulting Islam for:
• speaking ill of Almighty God.
• finding fault with Holy Prophet (PBUH).
• slighting a prophet who is mentioned in the Holy Quran, or slighting a member of Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) family
• claiming to be a prophet or a messenger.
• speculating about how Holy Prophet (PBUH) would behave if he were alive (Nigeria).
• drawing a picture to represent Holy Prophet (PBUH) or any other prophet, or making a film which features a prophet (Egypt).
• writing Holy Prophet (PBUH) name on the walls of a toilet (Pakistan).
• naming a teddy bear Holy Prophet (PBUH) (Sudan).
• stating facts such as: Holy Prophet (PBUH) parents were not Muslims (Pakistan).
• invoking Almighty God while committing a forbidden act.

No government has so far shown either the will or the wisdom to face this problem with determination. Almost all have preferred to run with the hounds.
Blasphemy against beliefs and customs
Individuals have been accused of blasphemy or of insulting Islam for:
• finding fault with Islam.
• saying Islam is an Arab religion; prayers five times a day are unnecessary; and the Holy Quran is full of lies (Indonesia).
• believing in transmigration of the soul or reincarnation or disbelieving in the afterlife (Indonesia).
• finding fault with a belief or a practice which the Muslim community (Ummah) has adopted.
• finding fault with or cursing apostles (Rasul or Messenger), prophets, or angels.
• expressing an atheist or a secular point of view or publishing or distributing such a point of view.
• using words that Muslims use because the individuals were not Muslims (Malaysia).
• whistling during prayers (Indonesia).
• flouting the rules prescribed for Ramadan.
• reciting Muslim prayers in a language other than Arabic (Indonesia).
• consuming alcohol.
• gambling.
• being alone with persons of the opposite sex who are not blood relatives.
• finding amusement in Islamic customs (Bangladesh).
• publishing an unofficial translation of the Holy Quran (Afghanistan).
• practicing yoga (Malaysia).
• watching a film or listening to music (Somalia).
• wearing make-up on television (Iran).
• insulting religious scholarship.
• wearing the clothing of Jews or of Zoroastrians.
• claiming that forbidden acts are not forbidden.
• uttering "words of infidelity" (sayings that are forbidden).
• participating in non-Islamic religious festivals.

Blasphemy against artifacts
Individuals have been accused of blasphemy or of insulting Islam for:
• touching a Holy Quran or touching something that has touched a Holy Quran because the individuals were not Muslim (Nigeria).
• damaging a Holy Quran or other books of importance to Islam, for example, hadith (Pakistan).
• spitting at the wall of a mosque (Pakistan).

Blasphemy against Almighty God
Islamic law makes a distinction between a blasphemer, who insults Almighty God and a blasphemer, who finds fault with Holy Prophet (PBUH). The distinction is based on the notions of the "right of God" and the "right of Man." Reviling God violates the "right of God," who has the power to avenge the insult. Reviling Muhammad violates the "right of Man," who, in the case of Muhammad, does not have the power to avenge the insult. A blasphemer, who violates the "right of God" can seek forgiveness through repentance.

The Holy Quran speaks of punishment in relation only to those who make war and mischief in opposition to Almighty God and Holy Prophet (PBUH):

The punishment of those who wage war against Almighty God and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter (Surah Maida: 33)

Blasphemy against Holy Prophet (PBUH)
A blasphemer, who violates the "right of Man" must seek forgiveness from the person insulted. In the case of an insult to Holy Prophet (PBUH), the Muslim community is considered to be under an obligation to avenge the insult because the possibility of forgiveness expired upon the death of Holy Prophet (PBUH).

In March 2009, Pakistan presented a resolution to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva which calls upon the world to formulate laws against the defamation of religion.

Blasphemy laws in Pakistan
295-B Defiling, etc, of copy of the Holy Quran. Whoever will fully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable for imprisonment for life.

295-C Use of derogatory remarks, etc; in respect of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

298-A Use of derogatory remarks, etc..., in respect of holy personages. Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly defiles a sacred name of any wife (Ummul Mumineen), or members of the family (Ahle-Bait), of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), or any of the righteous caliphs (Khulafa-i-Rashideen) or companions (Sahaba) of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

298-B Misuse of epithet, descriptions and titles, etc. Reserved for certain holy personages or places.
1. Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves Ahmadis or by any other name) who by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation:

a. refers to or addresses, any person, other than a caliph or companion of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), as "Ameerul Momneen", "Khalifat-ul-Momneen", "Khalifat-ul-Muslimeen", "Sahabi" or "Razi Allah Anho";
b. refers to or addresses, any person, other than a wife of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), as Ummul Mumineen;
c. refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a member of the family (Ahle-Bait) of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), as Ahle-Bait; or
d. refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a member of the family (Ahle-Bait) of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), as Ahle-Bait; or
e. refers to, or names, or calls, his place of worship as Masjid; shall be punished with imprisonment or either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine.


  1. Any person of the Qadiani group or Lahori group, (who call themselves Ahmadis or by any other names), who by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, refers to the mode or of call to prayers followed by his faith as "Azan" or recites Azan as used by the Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.



298-C Persons of Qadiani group, etc, calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith. Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves Ahmadis or any other name), who directly or indirectly, poses himself as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Key facts of blasphemy laws in the country:
• In 1927, the British colonial rulers of the subcontinent made it a criminal offence to commit “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religious belief”. The law did not discriminate between religions.
• The law was retained when Pakistan gained independence in 1947 under the rule of the country’s founder Quaid-i-Azam.
• Pakistan’s military ruler Mohammed Ziaul Haq, who was in power for 11 years from 1977, made several additions to its blasphemy laws, including life imprisonment for those defiling or desecrating the Holy Quran.
• In 1984, followers of the minority Ahmadi sect, who believe that Ahmad was a prophet, were banned from calling themselves Muslims, punishable with three years in jail.
• The death penalty for anyone found guilty of defaming Islam was introduced in 1986.
• Ten blasphemy cases were reportedly heard in courts between 1927 and 1985, but since then more than 4,000 cases have been handled.

Punishment
The punishments for different instances of blasphemy in Islam vary by jurisdiction. A convicted blasphemer may, among other penalties, lose all his legal rights. The loss of rights may cause a blasphemer's marriage to be dissolved, religious acts to be rendered worthless, and claims to property—including any inheritance—to be rendered void. Repentance may restore lost rights except for marital rights; lost marital rights are regained only by remarriage. Women have blasphemed and repented to end a marriage. Women may be permitted to repent, and may receive a lesser punishment than would befall a man who committed the same offence.

Pakistani authorities charged 647 people with offences under the blasphemy laws between 1986 and 2007. Fifty per cent of the people charged were non-Muslims. Twenty of those charged were murdered.

No judicial execution of a person charged with blasphemy has occurred in Pakistan. Article 45 of the Constitution says, "The President shall have power to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority."

The only law that may be useful in countering misuse of the blasphemy law is PPC 153 A (a), whoever “by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations or otherwise, promotes or incites, or attempts to promote or incite, on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities” shall be fined and punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to five years.

Islam and blasphemy
The concept of blasphemy and the prescribed punishment are both contradictory to the Holy Quran and the Prophet's conduct. The Holy Quran prescribes restraint, and distancing from the blasphemous persons or situations. The emphasis is on restraint and forgiveness.

A study of the following verses should bear this out:
"And it has already been revealed to you in the Book (this Qur'an) that when you hear the Verses of Allah being denied and mocked at, then sit not with them, until they engage in a talk other than that; (but if you stayed with them) certainly in that case you would be like them. Surely, Allah will collect the hypocrites and disbelievers all together in Hell." [Holy Quran 4:140]

"And when they hear vain talk, they turn away therefrom and say: "to us our deeds and to you yours; peace be to you…." [Holy Quran 28: 55]

"Hold to forgiveness, command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant." [Holy Quran 7:199]

"Have patience with what they say, and leaves them with noble (dignity)." [Holy Quran 73:10]

"And the (faithful) slaves of the Most Gracious (Allah) are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness." [Holy Quran 25:63]

In his lifetime, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was subjected to verbal and physical humiliation. He narrowly escaped assassination by migrating to Medina. He was accused of forgery " . . . nay, he forged it." [Holy Quran 21:5], was stigmatized as a man 'possessed' [Holy Quran 23:70] and 'mad' [Holy Quran 68:2]. His personal reaction, as also the reaction of all his devoted companions, while both in and out of power, was impeccable adherence to the Quranic teachings. One of his regular tormentors, a woman (wife of Abu Lahab) once had to break the daily ritual on account of ill health. In obedience to the Quranic injunctions, he called on her to offer his services in her household chores.

The emphasis in all cases, including murder, is on forgiveness and reform. Does our blasphemy law touch even the outer fringes of the letter and the spirit of the Quranic position on the subject? I'm afraid the answer is in the negative. "My Lord has indeed forbidden trespasses against truth and reason" [Holy Quran 7:33] says the Holy Quran, while the law as presently formulated is a naked and blatant transgression against the Holy Quran. It trespasses Hadood Allah- the limits set by Allah and the Prophet's conduct. Allah forbid, we have no authority to consider Allah and the Last of His Messengers in any way deficient or inadequate in dealing with blasphemy or to take it upon ourselves to try to outdo them. This approach is uncalled for, indeed, blasphemous. In Pakistan there is no law to take cognizance of such trespasses.

Since 1952 the religious factor, in one form or another, has been used as a tool for pressuring the government, settling old scores, or advancing political or financial interests. No government has so far shown either the will or the wisdom to face this problem with determination. Almost all have preferred to run with the hounds.

United Nations
In March 2009, Pakistan presented a resolution to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva which calls upon the world to formulate laws against the defamation of religion.

Internet censorship
In May 2010, Pakistan blocked access to Facebook because the website hosted a page called Everybody Draw Muhammad Day. Pakistan lifted the block after Facebook prevented access to the page. In June 2010, Pakistan blocked 17 websites for hosting content that the authorities considered offensive to Muslims. At the same time, Pakistan began to monitor the content of Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Amazon, MSN, Hotmail, and Bing.

Religious fundamentalism
The minorities in Pakistan are caught up in a grave situation, with gory incidents occurring. A wild wave of sectarianism has engulfed the society. The armed religious extremists are active in the society. A situation of religious intolerance has spread suffocation in our lives. The doors of dialogue are being closed. Religious fundamentalism has grown beyond proportions.

The minorities in Pakistan have already suffered seriously on account of sectarian legislation which has thrown non-Muslim citizens out of the mainstream of national life. They are no more part of the mainstream activities of the state and are being discriminated against in all fields of life. The claim of the minorities as equal and respectable citizens is at stake. A sense of insecurity is growing fast among them.

The Christians are being involved in blasphemy cases. Zealots take the law into their hands and do not even wait for the judicial verdict. The judgments of the superior courts have proved that this law is being ruthlessly abused for settling personal scores and, of course, for religious persecution. This law is proving to be a sword hanging on the heads of non-Muslims and the secular-minded people.

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