Sunday, July 7, 2019

Quran's Blasphemy Law Is Not One Sided; It Calls For Mutual Respect for Religions

By S. Arshad, New Age Islam
04 July 2019
Its curtains for Aasia Bibi blasphemy case of Pakistan. She had to leave her beloved motherland Pakistan despite the highest court of the country adjudicating in her favour. The charges of blasphemy against her were found baseless. Even then extremist sections of Pakistan insisted that she was guilty and so she should no be allowed to leave the country so that she could be killed extra-judicially. They even called for the killing of the judges and revolt in the army and the government. These forces do not believe in any government or law process. They have their own interpretations of Quran and Hadith.
Aasia Bibi controversy was the result of a petty fight among poor illiterate women working as helpers in a garden in their village. She is a Christian woman who worked with Muslim women of her locality for a living. Hers was the only Christian family living with Muslims. The illiterate Muslim women had a quarrel with her over the water bowl kept in the garden. They were unhappy that Aasia being a Christian used the bowl to drink water. And the quarrel turned into a religious debate as the Muslim women with little knowledge of their own religion started speaking ill of Christianity and prophet Jesus (AS) not knowing that Quran held Jesus (AS) in equal esteem with other prophets and vilifying the religion of others is a sin in the eyes of the Quran. To defend her religion and her prophet Aasia retorted back which came under blasphemy. This should have been ignored as a quarrel between illiterate and ignorant women in a village garden but was reported to the religious circle which made it a religious issue that culminated in the murder of Punjab governor Salman Taseer because he had defended Aasia Bibi and called the so-called blasphemy law Black Law.
The Quran does not prescribe any punishment for blasphemy. Instead it advises Muslims to practice restraint over blasphemy:
" and ye shall certainly Hear much that will grieve you, from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if ye persevere patiently, and guard against evil,-then that will be a determining factor in all affairs." (Al-e-Imran: 186)
The Quran also forbids Muslims from vilifying the gods or deities of others so that they do not say anything blasphemous against the religion of Muslims in retaliation.
“Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance.”(Al Anam: 108)
The logic of the Quran is that if Muslims speak Ill of the deities or gods or goddesses of others they will also speak Ill about God of Muslims and about their religious icons in retaliation .This will create bad blood between the followers of other religions and Muslims. The Quran even says that if the polytheists and the people of the Book speak Ill about the religious personalities or Book of Muslims unprovoked, Muslims should observe restraint.
Therefore the verse in Surah Al Anam (108) declares speaking Ill of the deities of polytheists and religious icons of the People of the Book a sin. This makes it clear that the Quran not only asks Muslims not to speak Ill of others' religion but also asks them to observe patience and restraint over provoked blasphemy against them. In view of the Quran's position, the Muslim women who provoked Aasia by vilifying her religion and prophet should have been held guilty as they first violated the injunctions of the Quran. Being a member of the minority community and being the only. Christian family in the village Aasia could not have put her life in dander by saying against the holy Prophet of Muslims without provocation. More importantly, the allegations could not be proved and the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared her innocent. It is also a fact that the Blasphemy Laws of Pakistan are grossly misused in Pakistan and even Muslims accuse Muslims of blasphemy in a majority of cases and most of the times the allegations do not stand in the courts of law.
Aasia was a victim of lopsided judicial system which is based on anti minority bias though Quran and Hadith guarantee the minority equal religious rights and safeguard their religious beliefs from blasphemy by Muslims. Any case relating to blasphemy should also consider Surah Al Anam (108) to ascertain whether there was provocation and violation of the Quranic injunction? Quran does not give Muslims the freedom to villify the religion of the polytheists and the People of the Book.
S. Arshad is a regular columnist for

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