by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Due to some recent events in Pakistan, the issue of blasphemy is again in the news. It is generally held that Islam prescribes capital punishment for those who commit blasphemy; that is, using abusive language against the Prophet of Islam. But this is quite untrue. According to Islam, blasphemy is simply a misuse of freedom and not a cognisable offence; the blasphemer is not liable to incur legal punishment. This kind of law has no basis in Islamic scriptures. If someone uses abusive language against the Prophet, Muslims must take it as a case of misunderstanding, and then try to remove this misunderstanding. They are required to do so by engaging in discussion or by providing the blasphemer with Islamic literature that gives the true image of the Prophet of Islam.
To use abusive language against the Prophet or to praise him are both a matter of one’s own choice. Whatever the choice, it is in God’s domain to pass judgment on it. Muslims have nothing to do in this situation except try to remove the misunderstanding and then leave the rest to God.
If there is such a case – which could be called blasphemy – and in anger one tries to punish the offender, one is simply reacting negatively to the situation. And acting in this way is looked upon with extreme disfavour in Islam. Islam always tries to go to the root cause of any given problem.
When one abuses the Prophet of Islam, it is most probably due to some kind of provocation. Without provocation, this kind of negative attitude is extremely unlikely. That is why the Quran advises Muslims to get at the real reason.
The Quran points to one such root cause behind this kind of act and urges Muslims to try to come to grips with it: “But do not revile those (beings) whom they invoke instead of God, lest they, in their hostility, revile God out of ignorance.” (6:108)
It is on the record that, during the Prophet’s time, there were some non-believers who used to use abusive language against the Prophet of Islam. The Prophet of Islam never suggested any legal punishment for those persons. He simply directed them to one of his companions, Hassan bin Sabit al-Ansari, who would respond to their blasphemous statements and remove their misunderstanding by means of argument. Islam suggests capital punishment for only one offence, and that is murder.
Read more : The Times of India