The Rushdie Knighthood Affair – punishments for defamation and blasphemy?
Listening to Javed sb today on the subject and reading your article leaves three points unclear, as follows:
1. If there are punishments for defaming you or abusing you or your family (Hatak e izzat in Pakistan), then why cant we have laws for people who abuse our most revered personality? How does it contradict the Quran since the ayahs you quote have a very different perspective/context? I think Javed sb says we can have such laws.
2. Ofcourse the punishment must only be decided and executed by the state. But the situation will decide whether a certain blasphemous act is eligible for being categorized as ‘fasad fil ard’ or not. If rape is under this category then I think Salman Rushdie’s attempt also definitely falls under this category. The nature and severity of the act will therefore decide if the person deserves punishment by death or a fine of Rs. 1000.
3. We cannot lodge a stronger protest with the UK only because our State is impotent. Had we been strong enough we could have attacked them had they not listened to us.
Here are my responses to the points you have raised:
1. I am not saying that you cannot have laws for defamation in your country. What I am saying is that there is no such law in Islamic Shari’ah except in the case of a person who accuses another person of fornication or adultery. If a state makes a law of defamation to protect the living or the dead people, it has a right to do so. However, such a law wouldn’t be described as an Islamic law. Nor would it be an un-Islamic law. An Islamic law is the one that has been clearly mentioned in the Quran or Sunnah. However, the punishment under no such law can be death, because in that case the Islamic law stipulates that it can only be given for two reasons.
2. Blasphemy is not fasaad fil ard. However, it could be debated to be categorized as an act of instigating towards it. My vote would be against such a decision because of the reason that our noble prophet had always shown magnanimity in dealing with such people. Also, if we decide such a punishment for blasphemy, it should be consistently for all cases of blasphemy. I mean, a Hindu should also be allowed to bring to the court of law all such statements which he thinks are blasphemous in his view. Sikhs too should enjoy the right of bringing all those Muslims to the court of law who make fun of their religion and religious ways.
3. Although a country has a right to engage in a war against another country on charges of blasphemy, but before deciding, it should be absolutely clear that all other possibilities of correcting the situation have exhausted. Moreover, if we have a right to attack Britain because of our claim that one of its citizens has blasphemed against our beloved prophet, does Britain also enjoy the same right because we claim that their understanding that Jesus was the son of God was wrong and that it is highly objectionable to claim that trinity was the correct religious view? Who would decide what constituted blasphemy? Of course the attacking country. Would that not create a greater mischief on earth. Does our religion really stand for it? Are not the verse of the Quran I have quoted in my article suggesting a completely different attitude?