Is blasphemy law, whose lethality and repercussions are felt by religious minorities in Pakistan, UN-Islamic?
People who have come across the news of struggle of Asia Bibi who was sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy, insulting Islam, might think that blasphemy law has no basis in Islam and Islam stands against such laws and punishments because media writes like this on advice or under influence from so called Muslim moderate intellectuals who wish that Islamic doctrines and laws still remain esoteric.
Despite the attempts of the media and Muslims to gloss over anachronistic laws such as prescribing death penalty for apostasy, leaving Islam to another religion, and blasphemy, criticism of Islam and saying anything negative about Islam and its founder Prophet Mohammad, people increasingly all over the world, if not India, are learning that these laws are part and parcel of Sharia Law and have roots in Koran and deeds of Mohammad. These people are even understanding the end purpose of having such laws.
The roots and foundation of this blasphemy law, killing people who criticize Mohammad and Koran, tap in to what Mohammad did or ordered his followers to do.Biographies of Prophet of Islam, written by pious Muslims like Ibn Ishaq, Tabari and Ibn Sa'ad, mention many incidents where Mohammad, as he was becoming powerful politically in Medina, orders killing of people, Jews and idolaters, for simple reasons that:
1. They criticized him, his ways and acts as he was sending armed groups to raid caravans for the purpose of looting and taking people as captives for ransoming for money later; or some times as slaves.
2. They questioned him, his religion and his teachings; more importantly questioned his claim of prophet-hood. Even they understood that no God's prophet would raid caravans.
3. Some of them lampooned him by writing satirical poems.
At the end of this post, I will be presenting two of such incidents from authentic Islamic sources. Apart from deeds of Mohammad, Sunna, blasphemy law also exists in Koran as Koranic verses 9:64-66 say that any Muslim mocking or questioning, or even doubting, Mohammad, his prophet-hood, Allah and verses in Koran amounts to reverting to disbelief from belief in Islam. That is, such Muslims are declared apostates and punishment for apostasy is death penalty.
It is based on these primary sources (Koran and Deeds of Mohammad i.e. Sunna) that Sharia Law describes what is blasphemy and prescribes death penalty as punishment for it (one can read about sharia law on blasphemy from here; chapter 8 and section 7 (o8.7) for Muslims; Chapter 11 and section 10 (o11.10), clause 5 for Non Muslims.). All four major schools of Sunni Islam support death penalty for blasphemy and also hold the view that apostates must be killed. Shia branch of Islam also supports this blasphemy law; all one has to do is to recall famous fatwa on writer Salman Rushdie for writing novel,Satanic Verses, by father of Iranian Islamic revolution, Ruhollah Khomeini.
When ever Muslims come across news that is unfavorable to idea of Islam as moderate, tolerant, non violent or inclusive, they reflexively resort to negating sharia law saying that it is man made i.e. written by men and Koran and Sunna do not support instruments in questions e.g. like blasphemy law. They simply try to detach, sometimes willfully, Sharia law from Koran and Sunna as if later two are furthering just cause. Unfortunately, this view of falsehood on sharia is bought by main stream media and is passed on to its gullible readers. But irrefutable fact is that Sharia is explicitly based on Koran and Sunna. Some ordinary Muslim people might be ignorant about true Islamic history and what Islam teaches but those who write in media are just dissembling real motives of Islam and its followers.
As I stated earlier in the post that Mohammad ordered his followers to kill people who lampooned him by writing satirical poems; following are two such incidents (of course one can come up with many names, but the topic here is blapshemy that is why I am restricting myself.).
Case 1. 120 year old Jew, Abu Afak.
Abu Afak was one of the B. Amr b. Auf of the B. Ubayda clan. He showed his disaffection when the apostle killed al-Harith b. Suwayd b. Samit and said:........... (Ibn Ishaq mentions poem supposedly composed by Abu Afak, which I am not producing here.). The apostle said, "Who will deal with this rascal for me?" Whereupon Salim b. Umayr, brother of B. Amr b. Auf, one of the "weepers", went forth and killed him. (The life of Mohammad, Ibn Ishaq, Page 675)Ibn Sa’ad, see note below, also mentions this incident, in his work, but tries to reduce the blame of Mohammad by writing that he was instigating people against Islam and Prophet which is nothing but preposterous.
Then occurred the "sariyyah" (raid) of Salim Ibn Umayr al-Amri against Abu Afak, the Jew, in the month Shawwal in the beginning of the twentieth month from the hijrah, of the Apostle of Allah. Abu Afak, was from Banu Amr Ibn Awf, and was an old man who had attained the age of one hundred and twenty years. He was a Jew, and used to instigate the people against the Apostle of Allah, and composed (satirical) verses (on Mohammad).
Salim Ibn Umayr who was one of the great weepers and who had participated in Badr, said, "I take a vow that I shall either kill Abu Afak or die before him. He waited for an opportunity until a hot night came, and Abu Afak slept in an open place. Salim Ibn Umayr knew it, so he placed the sword on his liver and pressed it till it reached his bed. The enemy of Allah screamed and the people who were his followers, rushed to him, took him to his house and interred him. (, Kitab Al Tabaqat, Vol. 2, Ibn Sa’ad, Page 31)Case 2: A woman, Asma Bint Marwan.
ASMA' D. MARWAN She was of B. Umayyya b. Zayd. When Abu `Afak had been killed she displayed disaffection. `Abdullah b. al-Harith b. Al-Fudayl from his father said that she was married to a man of B. Khatma called Yazid b. Zayd. Blaming Islam and its followers she said:......
When the apostle heard what she had said he said, "Who will rid me of Marwan's daughter?" `Umayr b. `Adiy al-Khatmi who was with him heard him, and that very night he went to her house and killed her. In the morning he came to the apostle and told him what he had done and he [Muhammad] said, "You have helped God and His apostle, O `Umayr!" When he asked if he would have to bear any evil consequences the apostle said, "Two goats won't butt their heads about her", so `Umayr went back to his people. (The Life of Mohammad, Ibn Ishaq, Pages 675, 676)
Then (occurred) the sariyyah of `Umayr ibn `Adi Ibn Kharashah al-Khatmi against `Asma' Bint Marwan, of Banu Umayyah Ibn Zayd, when five nights had remained from the month of Ramadan, in the beginning of the nineteenth month from the hijrah of the apostle of Allah. `Asma' was the wife of Yazid Ibn Zayd Ibn Hisn al-Khatmi. She used to revile Islam, offend the prophet and instigate the (people) against him. She composed verses. Umayr Ibn Adi came to her in the night and entered her house. Her children were sleeping around her. There was one whom she was suckling. He searched her with his hand because he was blind, and separated the child from her. He thrust his sword in her chest till it pierced up to her back. Then he offered the morning prayers with the prophet at al-Medina. The apostle of Allah said to him: "Have you slain the daughter of Marwan?" He said: "Yes. Is there something more for me to do?" He (Mohammad) said: "No. Two goats will butt together about her. This was the word that was first heard from the apostle of Allah. The apostle of Allah called him `Umayr, "basir" (the seeing). (Al-Tabaqat, Vol. 2, Ibn Sa’ad, Page 31)These are the earliest biographies of Prophet Mohammad. Many modern biographers also mention these but in a twisted way. But, In "23 Years; A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad", by an Iranian, Ali Dashti, (Mazda Press, 1994), Dashti also references the murders of Abu `Afak and `Asma' b. Marwan. He wrote:
Abu Afak, a man of great age (reputedly 120 years) was killed because he lampooned Mohammad. The deed was done by Salem b. 'Omayr at the behest of the Prophet, who had asked, "Who will deal with this rascal for me?" The killing of such an old man moved a poetess, Asma b. Marwan, to compose disrespectful verses about the Prophet, and she too was assassinated. (page 100)Prophet Ordering his people to kill those who criticize him points to his intolerance and intellectual bankruptcy that too when he claims he was sent as a mercy to entire mankind; yes, Koran says this. Other noteworthy thing from above passages is how he says that it (murdering those who criticize him) was for sake of Allah. Lets also recall that when he was in Mecca, he himself was abusing Pagans, their gods, their ways of life, their fore fathers and also how he refused to stop reviling Pagans and their customs when Meccans called for respecting all religions. One can easily see parallel in present day Islamic world after all, they all have learnt from their prophet. Prophet can abuse others but when others protest and wants an end to it, Muslims call it persecution. But when others abuse Islam, Islam authorizes that those people be killed for sake of Allah. Readers themselves can make the judgement on such ideology.
Further reading: Yet another Islamic scholar on Blasphemy law.
Note 1: I referred to http://www.answering-islam.org. It is from here that I quoted Ibn sa'ad's work.
Note 2: The biographies I constantly refer to are:
1. Sirat Rasul Allah by Ibn Ishaq. This was translated in to English by A. Guilaume under the title The Life of Mohammad. It is this English translation I refer to by pointing page numbers.
2. Al-Tabari is another one I refer to, though not here in this post. He is easily considered as the greatest historian of all biographers. His work is Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk or in short, Tarikh al-Tabari (In English, History of the Prophets and Kings). This was also translated in to English and it is from this translation one refers to.
3. Ibn Sa'ad wrote books under direction of Waqidi; he is popularly called scribe of Waqidi. The name of his work is is Kitab Tabaqat Al-Kubra. In short it is called Tabaqat. It was translated in to English under the title 'The Book Of Major Classes.'
Last two run in to many volumes (Ibn Sa'ad's in to 8 volumes while Tabari's in to 40 volumes.)
Another thing I must confess is I only own one book i.e. 'The Life of Mohammad' by Ibn Ishaq. But I point to other works as I have noted these references from various works.