Naturalizing’ Blasphemy Laws

Nadeem A. Butt

If you have wrapped some thing like fruit, samosa or sweet in a newspaper, if you deliver (throw) or print a newspaper which has any Quranic Reference or the names like Ibrahim, Kareem, Wakeel, Shafi, Ismail or even Dera Ismail Khan, Lala Musa, or Fazl-ur-Rehman, Mian Muhammad Bakhsh etc. (because they have direct or attributed holy names in them), or you some how express that Muhammad (SAWW) was a “Bashar” and not “Noor” or otherwise, then you should be worried, very worried, because it may cause you to be put to death or at least death trial which may haunt you for years. This is not just an assumption, this has actually happened to several people, Muslims or Non Muslims alike! Any crooked mind can go to police station and gave the meaning of his choice to the situation and lodge an FIR against you under Blasphemy Laws. Police do not really want to get into any controversy in religious matters so they normally file a case. Like wise local courts do not want to be at any mob’s watch, so either they delay or they normally announce punishment, then the accused has to go to the High or Supreme Court to get relief. This takes years out of someone’s constructive life – without bothering anybody!!!  Is that what is really meant by any Religion of Nature or Laws in Its name?

Now coming to the Aasia Bibi and Blasphemy laws, I wonder the laws should be for the benefit of the common people not for the sake of power of a group or class. If the main idea behind the these laws are to save folks from the anarchy and enmity in the name of religion, then it should not be of any worries, but there must be some check and balances so that it could not be a tool to crush or silent someone. Though there are other laws which may be enough to stop violence and anarchy in the society and specific blasphemy laws may not be needed, but repealing them completely may not be possible for the Government at this time, so curbing them to benefit society is quite possible and in fact necessary even though it might be very difficult.

Let us see what the current law says …..Section 298:

Whoever, with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person, utters any word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person or makes any gesture in the sight of that person or places any object in the sight of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

298 B and C are directed towards Ahmadies/Qadianis not to pose them as muslims “in any way, what so ever” that may cause 3 year imprisonment and fine.

Also 295-A forbids outraging religious feelings. 295-B forbids defiling the Quran. 295-C forbids defaming Muhammad. Except for 295-C, the provisions of § 295 require that an offence be a consequence of the intent of the accused. Defiling the Quran merits imprisonment for life. Defaming Muhammad merits death with or without a fine. If a charge is laid under 295-C, the trial must take place in a Court of Session with a Muslim judge presiding. (You may easily google more details of these laws if you need)

Here according to 295A,or 298A I believe all religions are entitled to complain against others who try to say something which is not in accordance with their certain beliefs, like a Christian may complain against a Muslim who expresses that he does not believe in divinity of Isa (AS), for hurting his religious feelings. Sunnis will be running against Shias and vice versa. Also to note that in 298 B and C, Ahmadies seem to be under a constant threat because all their practices were or are same as of Muslims (or perhaps they should devise new practices for Pakistan). And I do not understand how the law and justice will react if an Ahmadi/Qadiani under 295A and 298A, lodges a complaint against his opponents to hurt his religious feelings.

Now, you must be thinking I am saying something odd, yes, it is, and the question is if any odd or unnatural law can be Islamic? It actually seems as if intolerance has been legalized and promoted on purpose! Also such laws actually bar the healthy debate or preaching if we really take the law at its current face value. And let’s ask ourselves if The Holy Prophet of Islam (SAWW) was alive today, would he allow such phenomena as this one?

I do understand that it is almost impossible for the government to repeal these laws but they can refine or regulate or balance them without any hesitation, because to have a balanced law is clearly in accordance with the teachings of Islam. Here is what realistically the writer believes, Pakistan should do:

1-     Invite all sections of people including Religious Scholars (included form Minorities), Lawyers, Historians, Journalists, Parliamentarians etc. and have a round table conference. And the proceedings should be recorded and should available for reviews and public awareness. And the media especially urdu print media must help to bring the peaceful Islam forth the world.

2-     Upon the advent of a complaint, A retired Judicial or High Court Magistrate should be appointed (may be under the under the instructions of the Deputy Commissioner or RPO), who should form a sub-committee consisting of A Police Officer of at least SP or DSP Level and one member each from the accused and the accusing parties – or something close to this to be more transparent.

3-     The Blasphemy laws must have no ambiguity and should be crystal clear, that what exactly makes it a crime punishable by law. There should be nothing like “in any way” or “what so ever”.  And the Law should leave the room to differ from each other in the matter of faith.

4-     Any Blasphemy must be done in public, and the accuser should be able to bring at least 10 witnesses to prove that the accused did the act of blasphemy on purpose and also insisted on the same. Writing a book or saying things on mass media which are not true and/or which are expressed to ridicule or to attack others’ faith or religious personalities which would definitely result in hatred and violence. Questioning or reasoning some teachings or replying an objection (within the limits of decency) must not be compromised in this process.

5-     Any law must not be discriminatory or directed towards a specific community or minority, because you cannot promote tolerance if you allow intolerance against one and think that all others will be saved.

6-     Also it is clearly in accordance with Islam and nature that there must be counter punishment for those who fail to prove their case and/or do not provide with enough witnesses – I would suggest 10, which might sound a little extra but a real culprit would definitely say things in public, without caring how many are listening or watching.

7-     The punishment should start from the lower degree to higher – not the opposite. Because if someone does that and then realizes the mistake and seeks forgiveness and stops doing that again, should be forgiven, because this would not only be the victory of the decency and the truth and the society, but this would also be rightly according to the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAWW). And if there is a culprit who really insists on his open blasphemy and starts causing chaos by his actions should be face some kind of penalties e.g. fine, offering social service, attending a certain school or getting proper education, social and media boycott … and if there is no chance of betterment then imprisonment or other sentence.

And last but not least, all the laws should confirm peace, sincerity, cooperation and tolerance in the society and must not promote any personal agendas, ethnic or religious clashes, mistrust and violence.

(During writing these lines, I heard that President has formed a committee to review the current laws and to see if there is an thing that is against Islam – My prays are with them).

13 Comments

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13 responses to “Naturalizing’ Blasphemy Laws

  1. amaar

    If your rational and sound understanding was possessed by our politicians and mullahs then this idiotic law would not be here in the first place. It is precisely for the purpose of harassing opponents of ”Islamic” parties. Their ‘ownership’ of Islam is a blasphemy against our religion.

  2. amaar

    Still I await the return of sanity and humanity to the powers that be.

  3. KR

    Does any one know if other Muslim countries have a law similar to Blasphemy Law of Pakistan??

  4. T.S. Bokhari

    @amaar
    November 30, 2010 at 9:22 am

    “Still I await the return of sanity and humanity to the powers that be.”

    But the natural law is power corrupts. The nature usually restores its balance by its dialectics. The extant evil is got rid of by it only by inflicting a bigger evil. The evil in this case is not the law but the lawlessness which can corrupt any law and the remedy for this lawlessness bordering on barbarism is a more evil barbarism. History is replete with such examples. To day we call China as our most trusted friend without ever even hinting at the faith of the Chinese. It was once ruled by a Mongol ruler Kublai Khan. It was reported to the Khan that there is a new faith called Islam spreading in China according to which we Mongols are held as kafir deserving to be killed. On hearing this the khan got very furious and called for a head of that community. It happened so that they brought up a bigoted Mullah. The Khan asked the mullah whether it was true that your Quran says that those who do not believe in Islam must be killed. The mullah said,”Yes it is so”. “Then why don’t you kill me” said the Khan. “Let our time come and we would see to it” said the mullah. ‘But our time is extant” said the Khan and he ordered all Muslims to be collected and killed before their time comes and they kill us. This caused great consternation among Muslims as they new what Mongols can do even at the slightest provocation. Some sensible Muslims therefore gathered and went to meet the Khan to pacify him. They told the Khan that they do not consider Mongols as kafir to be killed as they believe in some super power like Aasmaan (Sky). But today’s Chinese are our best friends despite the fact that they do not believe even in any Aasmaan waan. If the faith is to be judged it is only that of the Paky Muslims who are obliged to submit insulting declarations to be considered as Halfi Muslims to differentiate them from non-halfi Muslims called Ahmadies, and that too only in the pakiland. Ironically, it is only the Paky Muslims whose faith is questionable and that too only in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

    Allama Iqbal has rightly said:

    “He jurme zaeefi ki sazaa marge mafaajaat”.
    [The punishmen for weekness is untimely death(?)]

  5. lota6177

    God loves ceremonies and uses certain men known as Mullahs to teach His will and perform these ceremonies; these men must have a place to live in. This place was called a mosque, and it was sacred. And the pots and pans and kettles and all in it were sacred too. No one but the Mullahs must touch them. Then the God wrote a book in which He told His covenants to men, and gave this book to mullahs to interpret. While it was sacrilege to touch the pots and pans of the mosque, it was blasphemy to doubt or question anything in the book. And then the right to think was gone, and the right to use the brain that God had given was taken away, and religion was entrenched behind that castle fortification called blasphemy. God did not wish man to be impudent or curious about how He did things. You must sit in audience and watch the tricks and ask no questions. In front of every fact He has hung the impenetrable curtain of blasphemy. Now, then, all the little reason that poor man had is useless. To say anything against the Mullah was blasphemy and to say anything against God was blasphemy–to ask a question was blasphemy. It always has been blasphemy to say “I do not know whether Allah exists or not.” In all Muslim countries it is blasphemy to doubt the Quran, to doubt the authenticity of the hadiaths. It always has been blasphemy to laugh at a Mullah, to ask questions, to investigate. In a world of superstition, reason is blasphemy. In a world of ignorance, facts are blasphemy. In a world of cruelty, sympathy is a crime, and in a world of lies, truth is blasphemy. Blasphemy is a padlock which hypocrisy tries to put on the lips of all honest men. Blasphemy laws were invented to crush free thought in every place. God uses blasphemy laws like a rattle, so that when he is in danger he can summon the police immediately. I’ll tell you what blasphemy is. It is blasphemy to live on the fruits of other men’s labor, to prevent the growth of the human mind, to persecute for opinion’s sake, to abuse your wife and children, to increase in any manner the sum of human misery. I’ll tell you what is sacred. Our bodies are sacred, our rights are sacred, and justice and liberty are sacred.

  6. Pingback: World of Islam » Blog Archive » Pakistani court delays pardon for Christian

  7. Nadeem A. Butt

    @ KR: I believe, there are some basic laws here and there to stop chaos or false propaganda or to misuse religion or to defame religion etc., but to this extent – I really doubt. Saudi Arabia and Indonesia do have some strict laws though!
    @ T.s. Bokhari: Great examples

    @ Lota6177: Again the sacred things are sacred because of God actually, made them sacred! And yes mostly you have great words, shared here!

  8. lota6177

    The idea of abolishing slavery and equal treatment of women was wishful thinking a hundred years ago. God never found the time or courage to deal with these issues in all the perfect books he has authored. Ijtihad failed to end slavery and give women equal rights. The issue of blasphemy is no different. The rest of the world has already moved on since they believe in the right to life of an individual. The only way to end blasphemy laws is to promote reason and rational thinking.

  9. lota6177

    Right to life is a phrase that describes the belief that a human being has an essential right to live, particularly that a human being has the right not to be killed by another human being.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_life
    A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action—which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)
    The concept of a “right” pertains only to action—specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.
    Thus, for every individual, a right is the moral sanction of a positive—of his freedom to act on his own judgment, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice. As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations on them except of a negative kind: to abstain from violating his rights.
    The right to life is the source of all rights—and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.
    Bear in mind that the right to property is a right to action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object. It is not a guarantee that a man will earn any property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns it. It is the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values.
    Freedom is not a product of historical destiny, divine intervention or happy accident—it is an intellectual achievement that depends on the vital concept of individual rights.
    The source of man’s rights is not divine law or congressional law, but the law of identity. A is A—and Man is Man. Rights are conditions of existence required by man’s nature for his proper survival. If man is to live on earth, it is right for him to use his mind, it is right to act on his own free judgment, it is right to work for his values and to keep the product of his work. If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational. Any group, any gang, any nation that attempts to negate man’s rights, is wrong, which means: is evil, which means: is anti-life.
    It is not society, nor any social right, that forbids you to kill—but the inalienable individual right of another man to live. This is not a “compromise” between two rights—but a line of division that preserves both rights untouched. The division is not derived from an edict of society—but from your own inalienable individual right. The definition of this limit is not set arbitrarily by society—but is implicit in the definition of your own right.
    Within the sphere of your own rights, your freedom is absolute.
    If you exist only because society permits you to exist—you have no right to your own life. A permission can be revoked at any time.
    Since Man has inalienable individual rights, this means that the same rights are held, individually, by every man, by all men, at all times. Therefore, the rights of one man cannot and must not violate the rights of another.
    For instance: a man has the right to live, but he has no right to take the life of another. He has the right to be free, but no right to enslave another. He has the right to choose his own happiness, but no right to decide that his happiness lies in the misery (or murder or robbery or enslavement) of another. The very right upon which he acts defines the same right of another man, and serves as a guide to tell him what he may or may not do.
    The Right to the Pursuit of Happiness means man’s right to live for himself, to choose what constitutes his own private, personal, individual happiness and to work for its achievement, so long as he respects the same right in others. It means that Man cannot be forced to devote his life to the happiness of another man nor of any number of other men. It means that the collective cannot decide what is to be the purpose of a man’s existence nor prescribe his choice of happiness.
    right cannot be violated except by physical force. One man cannot deprive another of his life, nor enslave him, nor forbid him to pursue his happiness, except by using force against him. Whenever a man is made to act without his own free, personal, individual, voluntary consent—his right has been violated.
    Therefore, we can draw a clear-cut division between the rights of one man and those of another. It is an objective division—not subject to differences of opinion, nor to majority decision, nor to the arbitrary decree of society. No man has the right to initiate the use of physical force against another man.
    Man’s rights can be violated only by the use of physical force. It is only by means of physical force that one man can deprive another of his life, or enslave him, or rob him, or prevent him from pursuing his own goals, or compel him to act against his own rational judgment.
    The precondition of a civilized society is the barring of physical force from social relationships—thus establishing the principle that if men wish to deal with one another, they may do so only by means of reason: by discussion, persuasion and voluntary, uncoerced agreement.

    A right is the sanction of independent action. A right is that which can be exercised without anyone’s permission.
    If you exist only because society permits you to exist—you have no right to your own life. A permission can be revoked at any time.
    If, before undertaking some action, you must obtain the permission of society—you are not free, whether such permission is granted to you or not. Only a slave acts on permission. A permission is not a right.
    Do not make the mistake, at this point, of thinking that a worker is a slave and that he holds his job by his employer’s permission. He does not hold it by permission—but by contract, that is, by a voluntary mutual agreement. A worker can quit his job. A slave cannot.

    http://principlesofafreesociety.com/individual-rights/

  10. Nadeem A. Butt

    As I understand, your God is what you think and then expect from him! And your expectations are directly proportionate to your obedience and/or sacrifice!
    It’s two way track! God wants you to be part of Him, before you want God be part of you and your desires!

  11. Allahkabanda

    Like all roads lead to Rome, all grievances ‘lead’ to Mirzai’s.
    Between the lines NAButt has miserably failed to say something better than the same damn rhetoric!

    NAButt should carry his burden to Saudia who will tell him why in an Islamic Republics (or Empire) the right to complain for blasphemy is meant only for Muslims … and the punishment for that is Death!!.. In a democracy laws are made by the Majority and not the Minority…in Empires by the regal monarch!
    It’s a shame that people like NAB forget that they are not living in a secular country to ask for such simplistic reliefs which clearly smack of Qadiani vested interest!!

  12. T.S. Bokhari

    @lota6177
    November 30, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    A great writeup indeed! They say Allah loves the man more than his mother but He loves His prophet more than any thing and ordains men to do so, to love the prophet more than your parents even. Where go the human rights when you can hang or lynch a human being for calling human a man called ‘prophet’, who himself had to run for his life having been condemned for sacrilege by Abulehb and his coterie?
    How prophetically Allama Iqbal had said:

    “Kise khbar thi kih le kar charaagh-e-Mustafwi
    Jahaan mein aag lagaati phire gi Bulehbi”
    (Who new that taking in hand the lamp-light of the prophet his very arch enemies would set on torching the world over) (The translation is mine which I wish to be improved).

  13. NAB

    @ AllahKaBanda:
    Ha Ha Ha!
    What kind of Allah ka Banda you are?
    Where did you get all this info? “Mirza’i” “Islamic Rebublic” Regal Monarch” “Only Majority has the rights”…
    But yes you are right that there are some lands where in the name of Islam, people are deprived of their very basic rights!
    Would you like England or USA do the same thing to muslims, because they are minority!
    And yes there are some people whose “Dal Roti” is going on because they are running after Mira’is and the faster they run, with their legs, toungues or pens, the more they get, fame and wealth and may be “honor” too and in the end “Chaos” too!
    Let me remind you first establishment by Muslims in Madina, where the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAWW), does not deprive any other people fro their rights! Can you do the same, if you truly are the follower of The Same Holy Prophet (SAWW)!
    I just wrote for Allah ke Bande, not for my bande or your bande! I wish you instead of running after Mirza’is, you would have written something better, something specifically about the arguments, I presented.
    Thanks for your time though!