Saturday, 7 November 2020

Punishment of Blasphemy (Part 1)

 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

وصلى الله تعالى على نبيه الكريم

The enemies of God have been directed by their demons to use a new weapon in their war against Truth. In the name of freedom of speech they are committing blasphemy - cursing and mocking the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم - with the aim of constantly hurting the sentiments of the Muslims who are known to love their Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم more than anything in the world, including their own parents, children and their own selves. The unbelievers in reality are deeply envious of this attachment and reverence the Muslims have for our beloved Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم because they have nothing like it. They seek to detach the Believers from this devotion and affection for the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم by making him the object of their denigration and hurtful mockery. The publishing of insulting caricatures of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم in various parts of Europe, particularly France, is undoubtedly a devilish scheme that is motivated by fear of the spread and vitality of Islam relative to the pitiful condition of Europe’s traditional religion Christianity.

But in this article I want to focus on the Islamic response to blasphemy. I happen to disagree with the response rooted in emotion that whoever dares to blaspheme the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم or anyone or anything else considered sacred and intimately associated with Islam should be killed and dispatched to Hell. While I understand and appreciate that which motivates this response to blasphemy, we must be cognizant of the boundaries which Allah Himself has set in our Shari’ah and consider the problem of blasphemy dispassionately from a legal perspective.

Allah Most High says:

لَتُبۡلَوُنَّ فِیۡۤ اَمۡوَالِکُمۡ وَ اَنۡفُسِکُمۡ ۟ وَ لَتَسۡمَعُنَّ مِنَ الَّذِیۡنَ اُوۡتُوا الۡکِتٰبَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِکُمۡ وَ مِنَ الَّذِیۡنَ اَشۡرَکُوۡۤا اَذًی کَثِیۡرًا ؕ وَ اِنۡ تَصۡبِرُوۡا وَ تَتَّقُوۡا فَاِنَّ ذٰلِکَ مِنۡ عَزۡمِ الۡاُمُوۡرِ

You shall surely be tried in your possessions and in your persons and you shall surely hear many hurtful things from those who were given the Book before you and from those who set up equals to God. But if you show fortitude and act righteously, that indeed is a matter of strong determination

(Surah 3:186)

In this Ayah, Allah Most High informs us that we will have to deal with the phenomenon of blasphemy, especially from the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and from the polytheists (Hindus and others), but that we must display patience in the face of this enormous trial. No worldly punishment has been prescribed for those from among the people of the Scripture and the polytheists from whom hurtful things, namely, blasphemy, will be heard. On the contrary, Allah commands us with patience and righteousness as the ultimate response to it.

In another place of the Quran, Allah says:

وَ قَدۡ نَزَّلَ عَلَیۡکُمۡ فِی الۡکِتٰبِ اَنۡ اِذَا سَمِعۡتُمۡ اٰیٰتِ اللّٰہِ یُکۡفَرُ بِہَا وَ یُسۡتَہۡزَاُ بِہَا فَلَا تَقۡعُدُوۡا مَعَہُمۡ حَتّٰی یَخُوۡضُوۡا فِیۡ حَدِیۡثٍ غَیۡرِہٖۤ ۫ۖ اِنَّکُمۡ اِذًا مِّثۡلُہُمۡ

And He has already revealed to you in the Book that, when you hear the Signs of Allah being denied and mocked at, sit not with them until they engage in a talk other than that; for in that case you would be like them

(Surah 4:140)

Mocking the Signs of Allah is the definition of blasphemy. But rather than legislate a worldly punishment for such mockery, Allah commands the Believers to remove themselves from any such gathering where blasphemy is taking place, and not to return to that gathering until it has stopped. But in this Ayah, mockery of the Signs of Allah is general in meaning and it is not specifically about blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, for the honor of Islam and Muslims dictates that we completely disassociate from those who openly blaspheme the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and cut off relations and communication with that completely, at the very least. 4:140 is understood as referring back to this Ayah:

وَ اِذَا رَاَیۡتَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَخُوۡضُوۡنَ فِیۡۤ اٰیٰتِنَا فَاَعۡرِضۡ عَنۡہُمۡ حَتّٰی یَخُوۡضُوۡا فِیۡ حَدِیۡثٍ غَیۡرِہٖ ؕ وَ اِمَّا یُنۡسِیَنَّکَ الشَّیۡطٰنُ فَلَا تَقۡعُدۡ بَعۡدَ الذِّکۡرٰی مَعَ الۡقَوۡمِ الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ

And when thou seest those who engage in vain discourse concerning Our Signs, then turn thou away from them until they engage in a discourse other than that. And if Satan cause thee to forget, then sit not, after recollection, with the unjust people

(Surah 6:68)

There are many examples from the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم sirah in which the unbelievers and hypocrites committed blasphemy against him, but he took no action against them. For example:

اسْتَأْذَنَ رَهْطٌ مِنَ الْيَهُودِ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالُوا السَّامُ عَلَيْكَ

A group of Jews sought permission to enter upon the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and said: as-sāmu alaikum “poisonous death be upon you”

(Sahih al-Bukhari)

Here is a clear cut example of blasphemy with this particular group of evil Jews cursing the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم to his blessed face. But rather than ordering their execution in retribution for such blasphemy, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم would merely reply to their curses:

وَعَلَيْكُمْ

and likewise upon you”

To be continued ان شاء الله

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