Sep 15, 2012

Islam, Blasphemy and West

By Atiq Durrani

Once again Islam and Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم is attacked by the west. The
US is mourning the death of Chris Stevens (US ambassador to Libya) and three
other Americans, killed in Benghazi and the filmmaker of the controversial movie
is trying to save his life hiding his face.
In this most recent act of blasphemy an anti-Islam film by the name of
“Innocence of Muslims” sparked deadly protests in the Middle East, amid
conflicting claims of Jewish or Coptic Christian involvement. The film’s
director Sam Bacile said Tuesday he is American-Israeli and had Jewish financial
backing. He went into hiding after the protests in Egypt and Libya over his
low-budget movie.
According to Sam Bacile, he had raised $5 million to make it from about 100
Jewish donors, and used some 60 actors and 45 crew members to make the two-hour
movie in a three-month period last year in California.
The film was screened in one Hollywood movie theater about three months ago,
and sank without trace. But after the failure of English version an
Arabic-language dubbed version was released last week and footage was aired by
an Egyptian TV station, triggering protests.
This is not the first occasion that Christians or Jews used media as a tool
to malign Islam. A Christian surveyor, Professor Edward reported in the TIME
Magazine of April 16, 1979 that in a span of 150 years, from 1800 CE to 1950 CE
over 60,000 books have been written against Islam. It works out to more than one
book against Islam every day.
What is blasphemy?
Christians define blasphemy as:
The public or criminal libel of speaking matter relating to God, Jesus
Christ, the Bible, or the Book of Common Prayer, intending to wound the feelings
of mankind or to excite contempt and hatred against the Church under any law
established, or to promote immorality.”

The punishment for blasphemy in most of the major religions is death. It is
stated in the Old Testament of the Bible, which is the authority for both the
Jews and the Christians:

And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be
put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him
[Book of Leviticus 24:16]

Moreover, if we read Manusmriti, the Law book of the Hindus, it says:

If a man born of a lower class intentionally bothers a priest,
the king should punish him physically with various forms of corporal and capital
punishment that make men shudder
.” [Manusmriti 9:248]

Blasphemy in Islam, as in other faiths, is speech that is insulting to God.
In Muslim history, blasphemy came to be associated mainly with perceived insults
to the prophet of Islam.

Islamic traditions indicate that from the start of Islamic history, speaking
against Muḥammad صلى الله عليه وسلم had come to be regarded an intolerable act
within the Muslims. Later, legal scholars began to discuss blasphemy, whether
against God, the prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم , or his companions, in the
context of apostasy (riddah) and unbelief (kufr). Islamic Law takes a more
severe view toward reviling Muḥammad صلى الله عليه وسلم than it does toward
reviling God. By the beginning of the fourth Islamic century, a consensus had
developed among the scholars that the one who insults the prophet of Islam must
be put to death. Muslim nations today who seek to abide by Islamic Law continue
to mete out punishment to citizens accused of blasphemy.

In 1982, Pakistani President Zia ul-Haqq introduced Section 295B into the
Pakistan Penal Code, punishing “defiling the Holy Qur’an” with life
imprisonment. In 1986, Section 295C was introduced, mandating the death penalty
for “use of derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet.”

Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم had ordered to his followers “Whoever curses a
prophet kill him,” (Tabarani, Daraqutni) and there are many examples of people
during his time who were guilty of blaspheming Islam and its Prophet. Most of
these people were assassinated with Muhammad’s blessing, and no punishment or
compensation was imposed on the murderers.

Why blasphemy law is different in Islam and other Religions /

In Islam blasphemy is treated as Treason. In order to properly grasp the
significance of why blasphemy are treated as Treason, it is crucial to note that
the Islamic concepts of “State, nation/nationality,” “citizenship” and
“naturalization” are drastically different from these notions as we understand
and routinely use them in the Western secular countries where they are defined
as follows: a “nation” is defined as:

- “a body of people recognized as an entity by virtue of their
historical, linguistic or ethnic links; a body of people united under a
particular political organization, and usually occupying a defined

- And a “state” is defined as:

“a self-governing political community occupying its own territory; a
partly autonomous member of a political federation; the political organism as an
abstract concept.”

Islam came to class these notions among the evil traits of humanity and tried
to bring about a cure. What is the Islamic cure? Or to put it another way: How
different then is the Islamic concept? To start with, the basis of the Islamic
nationality is religious not political, ethnic, linguistic or regional.

A common ideology is the basis of “nationality” among the Muslims and Islam
is this ideology and this Islamic ideology is a synthesis of the requirements
both of the body and the soul. After all, life in this world is but ephemeral,
and there must be a difference between the behavior of a man and a beast.

“Naturalization” (to grant citizenship) or “nationality” in Islam is a thing
depending solely upon the will and the voluntary choice of the individual, not
on an essentially ineluctable accident of nature.

In Islam, contemptuous, irreverent speech or sacrilegious acts, not only
about God , but also about the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and all other
Prophets, and the members of these Prophets’ households, as well as the holy
scriptures, including the Qur’an, and other things that are of a similar
religious nature (i.e., which are regarded as sacred) are all acts of

Muslims regard blasphemy to be as heinous a crime as apostasy. Since
blasphemy is tantamount to apostasy, which in Islam is an act of political
treason, (i.e. a crime against the state which is a capital offence) the
punishment for blasphemy is the same as the punishment for apostasy. In other
words, by committing blasphemy, a Muslim takes himself out of the pale of Islam
and becomes an infidel, an apostate. As to the question of the severity of
punishment for treason, we need only mention the fact that almost every country
and every nation in the world regards Political Treason as a capital offence
which calls for capital punishment involving forfeiture of life.

In order to bring the differences and similarities of the two systems into
relief, the following illustration may be useful: -
Freedom of speech, Islam and Blasphemy
As the concept of state and its laws are different in Islam compared to west
and other religions, similar is the case with freedom of speech.
The concept of freedom of speech came from the capitalist ideology and
according to this ideology God and religion should be separated from life’s
affair. According to this ideology individuals or human beings will define how
to live their lives; freedom of individual, ownership, religion and speech are
the foundation of capitalism. The limits of speech and right to speak both are
defined by human beings.
This concept completely contradicts Islam. Muslims will follow the orders of
the Creator of the human beings (Allah). Muslims will lead their life according
to the teaching of Islam and Allah is the one who gave the right of speech to
people and defined the limits on what is acceptable and unacceptable.
Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم said “Whosoever believes in Allah and the
last day, then let him speak good (khair) or remain silent.” Khair in this
hadith means Islam or what Islam approved of.
According to Islamic law, speaking ill of Islam, its prophets and its holy
scriptures (Quran and Hadith) comes in Blasphemy and Blasphemy is punishable by
Islam is a religion of peace. Muslims respect every religion, for Muslims
Jesus Christ, Isaac (Ishaq) and Jacob (Yaqoob) are also as honorable as our
Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم that’s why muslims never disrespect, mock or
ridiculate them. But as Muslims respect all the prophets because it’s the part
of Islam similarly we can’t tolerate if someone disgrace Muhammad صلى الله عليه
وسلم because this is also the part of Islam.
Today there is virulent propaganda against Islam in the international media,
in international newspapers and magazines, on radio broadcast stations and
satellite TV channels. A section of the media is attacking Islam, and this has
reached epidemic levels especially after eleventh of September, 2001.
It’s an open fact that in spite of all the negative propaganda in western
media, Islam is the fastest growing religion, not just in the west but also
across the world. Mocking and ridiculing our messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم can’t
stop this. It cannot bring any harm to the grace of our Prophet but it always
hurt the feelings of Muslims just because Muslims love him the most in this
world and whenever our loved ones are disgraced, it’s beyond our tolerance.


No comments: