By: Mufti Obaidullah Qasmi*
In refutation of
Mr. Wahiduddin Khan’s article ‘Blasphemy in Islam: The Quran does not prescribe punishment for abusing the Prophet’
Mr. Wahiduddin Khan’s article published in the Times of India ‘ Blasphemy in Islam: The Quran does not prescribe punishment for abusing the Prophet’ on 2nd October, 2012, like many of his articles in the past usually devoid of scholarship and insight into the Quran and Hadith is nothing short of a misleading article which is opposed to the established sources of Islam. His entire article centres on the Quran while ignoring Hadith, the second most important source of Islamic faith and Shariah, which prescribes death penalty as the punishment for blasphemy against the Prophet (p.b.u.h.)
In principle, Hadith is the best interpretation of the Quran as has been stated in the Quran itself. The five-time prayers, Zakat, Hajj, punishment for drinking and many other injunctions have not been mentioned in full details in the Quran but their details have been left to Hadith. The Quran emphasizes the importance of what the Prophet commands and regards his utterances as divinely revealed, in the verses 59:7, and 4:80 etc. The Quran says in another verse “(The Prophet) does not speak of his own desire. It is not less than inspiration sent down to him.” (53:3).
Islam regards blasphemy against the Prophet a very heinous crime and the Quran strongly forbids blasphemy and makes 11 references to it: 2:88, 4:15, 5:17, 5:64, 5:68, 5:73, 6:19, 9:74, 11:19, 14:28, 39:8. They are all against it. At the conquest of Makkah, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (p.u.h.) announced general amnesty to all except those who were guilty of blasphemous acts and sacrilegious statements. Both Nasai and Sunan Abu Daud, famous Hadith books, narrate that a slave Jew woman was killed by her master for her repeated blasphemy against the Prophet and when the case was brought to the Prophet’s notice he declared no retaliation against the master. (Hadith No.4348)
The death punishment assigned for blasphemy is agreed by all Islamic scholars of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah and, is normally covered in Kitabul Hudud in Islamic juridical texts. Because of the evidence for blasphemy punishment being based on Ahadith, certain reported incidents during the lifetime of the Prophet (p.u.h.) and unanimous agreement of all Islamic scholars in all the ages (Ijma), many Islamic countries of the world including Saudi Arabia have legislated death punishment for blasphemy. It is only Qadianis, a community regarded infidels by Muslims across the world, who support no-punishment for blasphemy. It is very surprising that Mr. Wahiduddin Khan, ignoring many clear Ahadith and Ijma (consensus of Islamic jurists) of Islamic scholars - the second and the third most important sources of Islam- claims that no punishment should be meted out to the offender of blasphemy. He stayed blind to Ahadith and Ijma upon which thousands of Islamic injunctions are based.
It is also noteworthy that not only Islam prescribes severe punishment for blasphemers but most of the major religions have prescribed death as punishment for blasphemy. It is stated in the Old Testament of the Bible, which is the authority for both the Jews and 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]”
Love for the Prophet (p.b.u.h) and defending his honour is an important part of belief for a Muslim and, thus, guarantees rewards from Allah. To defend the Prophet is, indeed, a service to humanity and nobility too.
But, under no circumstances can a Muslim take matters in his own hands and go about executing the abuser or blasphemer of the Prophet (p.b.u.h). Muslim individuals are not allowed to punish the blasphemer, but they should demand their governments in a constitutional manner to punish the perpetrator and ban blasphemy.
It is very sad that in his entire article Mr. Wahiduddin Khan has not condemned blasphemy, neither has he said a single word for governments to curb such blasphemous acts. Instead, twisting the fact of the legal status of blasphemy punishment, he has criticized the Muslim community whose sentiments have already been hurt due to the insult to the Holy Prophet. Surprisingly, he did it at a time when even the rulers of many secular and non-Muslim countries of the world including the US President Mr. Barak Obama have strongly condemned the blasphemous film against the Prophet. On the pretext of freedom of expression, does he intend to justify blasphemy? Why is he tight-lipped about exercising the same freedom of expression regarding holocaust denial?
Mufti Obaidullah Qasmi, Former teacher at Darul Uloom Deoband & Markazul Maarif Education and Research Centre, now Assistant Professor, Arabic Dept. Dr Zakir Hussian College New Delhi. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org