Blasphemy Law: Dominance Without Toleration

Posted on November 26, 2010
Filed Under >Manan Ahmed (Sepoy), Law & Justice, Religion
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Manan Ahmed (Sepoy @ Chapati Mystery)

1. According to the 1998 census, there are slightly more than 2 million Christians (1.59% of total population) distributed roughly equally across urban and rural areas. As a minority the Christian community in Pakistan is predominantly located in the province (state) of Punjab. Although sizable communities are found in the cities of Quetta, Karachi and Peshawar as well.

1a. The Objectives Resolution of 1949 stated that in the Republic of Pakistan “adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practise their religions and develop their cultures;” The Objectives Resolution was made the preamble in the 1973 Constitution. The word “freely” was removed.

2. The Church of Pakistan was amalgamated from Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican churches in 1970.

3. The earliest recorded attack on Christian communities was in 1952, when a family of 7 were burned alive in the village of Matti. The criminals were caught, prosecuted and hanged.

4. During the first two decades of Pakistan, Christian communities were largely integrated. They had a political party and in the 1951 and 1954 elections, they won four seats (each) in the local Punjab Assembly.

5. The 1973 Constitution of Pakistan declared that “Islam shall be the state religion of Pakistan” and restricted minority participation in government and politics.

6. General Zia ul Haq took over the state through a military coup in 1977 and the hung the deposed Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1979. He also undertook a strict policy of “Islamization” through which laws and practices in the country were to brought in accordance with Islamic jurisprudence. Some of the most damaging new laws fell under the rubric of “Blasphemy”.

7. In 1980, he introduced Section 298-A under the Martial Law Ordinance which criminalized derogatory remarks against the earliest leaders in Muslim history, as well as the family and friends of the Prophet Muhammad. Section 298-B & C focused on disrespect to the holy book Qur’an as well as the declaration of apostasy towards the community of Ahmadis (a sect within Islam).

8. Section 298-A: Use of derogatory remarks etc. in respect of Holy Personages:

Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or by any imputation, innuendo, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of any wife or members of the family of the Holy Prophet or any of the righteous Caliphs or companions of the Holy Prophet shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine or with both

9. Section 295-B: Defiling etc. of copy of Holy Quran

Whoever willfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life.

10. Section 295-C: Use of derogatory remarks, etc, in respect of the Holy Prophet.

Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.

11. Furthermore, in 1980, General Zia ul Haq by constitutional amendment created the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) through Article 203-D which had the following powers:

The Court may, either of its own motion or on the petition of a citizen of Pakistan or the Federal Government or a Provincial Government, examine and decide the question whether or not any law or provision of law is repugnant to the Injunctions of Islam, as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, hereinafter referred to as the Injunction of Islam.

12. In 1990, the FSC concluded that the “imprisonment for life” under Section 295-B and 295-C was unjust punishment according to Islamic law. The Sections were amended so that the only penalty remained was the death penalty.

13. The Blasphemy laws have become the main vehicle of prosecution and persecution of non-Muslims since 1980s. And, of ”other non-Muslims.

14. In Gujranwala, Punjab, in 1994, three men (including a minor) were accused of writing derogatory remarks against the Prophet. The three Christians, Rehmat Masih, Manzoor Masih and Salamat Masih were arrested. Manzoor Masih was murdered while awaiting trial. The others were acquitted after two years.

15. In Faisalabad, in 1998, Dr. Bishop John Joseph publicly committed suicide. He shot himself in front of the court room of Justice Rana Abdul Jabbar Dogar in protest of a death sentence that had been passed out against a Christian Ayub Masih for blasphemy on April 27th, 1998.

16. A series of terrorist attacks occurred in 2001 and 2002 against Christian establishments, perhaps as a result of Pakistani cooperation with United States in the war in Afghanistan: In October 29th, gunmen killed 16 Christians in the St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church near Multan. A grenade attack on International Presbyterian Church in Islamabad on March 17th, 2002 killed five and injured 40. Unknown assailants attacked Murree Christian School on August 5th, 2002 and killed six people. Unknown assailants attacked the Mission Hospital in Taxila on August 9th, 2002 and killed 4 nurses, injuring 21 others. Seven Christian workers of the charity “Idara Amn-o-Insaf” were killed on September 24th, 2002.

17. In November 2005, three churches, two schools and hostels and several houses of the Christian community were burned by a mob in the city of Sangla Hill. The mob had mobilized on the rumor that someone had blasphemed against the Prophet.

18. On September 27th, 2007 the missionary couple Rev. Arif Khan and Kathleen Khan were killed in their house in Islamabad on September 27th, 2007.

19. In August 2009, 60 Christian homes were burned in Gojra, 7 women and children were burnt alive. The accused were granted bail November 05, 2010.

20. Just on November 15, 2010, a man accused of blasphemy, upon release on bail, was shot dead by unknown assailants.

The inhumane legal treatment of so-designated “minorities” in Pakistan is starkly repugnant.

Sign your name.

Dr. Manan Ahmed blogs as Sepoy on Chapati Mystery where this post was first published.

43 Comments on “Blasphemy Law: Dominance Without Toleration”

  1. Fauzia says:
    November 26th, 2010 1:01 am

    Very nice post. Informative and straight to the point. Today was the UN Day of Stopping Violence Against Women and this law has also been used in particular to target minority women, like in the Asiya case.

  2. Mohammed Amjad says:
    November 26th, 2010 1:21 am

    It is your point 12 that confuses me. So the FSC said that life imprisonment was not proper, why? Because it was too little!

    This is insanity!

  3. Wasim says:
    November 26th, 2010 1:25 am

    This Blasphemy law needs to be repealed. It makes no sense neither legally nor from an Islamic perspective. It is just wrong. Just barbaric.

  4. Ch. Aslam says:
    November 26th, 2010 1:38 am

    What is the PPP govt doing?

    One topi drama by Salman Taseer. Another topi drama by Babar Awan.

  5. YASIN says:
    November 26th, 2010 2:10 am

    The Blasphemy Law is a blot on the face of Pakistan and on the face of Islam itself. It should be repealed.

    I, for one, have the lowest opinion of the Zardari government but if they repealed this I would probably become even their supporter!

  6. Junaid says:
    November 26th, 2010 2:26 am

    Everytime I hear about this law it scares me. It is a tool of intimidation only.

    QUESTION: Has anyone actually every been convicted under this law? From the above it seems as if not.

  7. Proud Christian says:
    November 26th, 2010 3:11 am

    Thankyou so much for the useful information that you have provided alongwith all the history and figures. I strongly believe that NO CHRISTIAN can blaspheme against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) because this is against our Holy Bible teaching to desecrate other religions or to hurt anyone. People are misusing this law to take personal revenge and settle personal quarrels and fights against us. This law should immediately be repealed or i believe one day all of us will be hanged to death on the basis of personal matters. Thanks. Sehrish

  8. Anwer says:
    November 26th, 2010 3:42 am

    I think some corrections are needed to the historical narrative of the evolution of the law given in this post. A more accurate description is given by I. A. Rehman in a recent article in DAWN. An excerpt is given below.

    The irony is that the Blasphemy law in its present form, was approved during the early days of Benazir Bhutto’s second government where as Genral Zia’s government was not supportive of the death punishment that final became a part of the law. And to top it all, according to The News Friday, November 26, 2010, today the Law Minister Mr. Babar Awan has stated, :

    “In order to remove ambiguity pl (please) also write 2moro (tomorrow) that I told U (The Jang Group) (that) in my presence as Law Minister no one should think of finishing this law,” this is what the law minister precisely said in his written statement. On this, the law minister was asked if he should be quoted, he said, “Sure.”

    The blasphemy law

    by I.A. Rehman

    This will become abundantly clear from the history of the addition of Section 295-C to the Penal Code. As the Penal Code did not have any specific provision for blasphemy against the Holy Prophet (PBUH), advocate Ismail Qureshi moved the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) in 1984 that to prescribe the death penalty for blasphemy. The petition did not go unchallenged. One objection raised by the counsel for the federation (under Gen Zia) was that the petition was not maintainable. Another issue was that since legislation fell under the jurisdiction of parliament, could the FSC issue a direction to the federation? The court reserved judgment.

    Meanwhile, a bill was moved in the National Assembly seeking the insertion of Section 295-C in the PPC. It provided for the death penalty for blasphemy against the Prophet (PBUH).

    According to Mr Ismail Qureshi, the law minister did not support the bill on the ground that the Quran did not prescribe a penalty for this offence. “Besides, an unexpected situation arose,” says Mr Ismail Qureshi, “when many Islamic-minded members of the Assembly did not wholly agree with the bill because they thought imprisonment for life was sufficient punishment for blasphemy.” Anyhow the bill was passed though the law ministry added life imprisonment as an alternative punishment. Discussion on the bill was cut short because its supporters insisted that the issue was not debatable.

    Mr Qureshi again moved the FSC, this time for deletion of the alternative punishment from Section 295-C. He admits that “some ulema argued that blasphemy was a forgivable offence and some even said that the ruler could award a lesser punishment than death”.

    The FSC ruled in October 1990 that the alternative punishment should be deleted as it was repugnant to Islam. The court further directed the federation to add a provision to the effect that any act of blasphemy upon other prophets should also be punishable with death. The government was told to amend Section 295-C by April 30, 1991. The federation filed an appeal against the FSC verdict but it was withdrawn.

    Fears that Section 295-C could be abused were expressed from the very outset, by Mr Ismail Qureshi himself. He wrote: “In my opinion, this Section 295-C needs to be further amended because it is necessary to bring it in accord with Quran and Sunnah (emphasis added). In the present form it could create ambiguity and legal complications.” He then emphasised that proof of intent was necessary to secure conviction (a point also made by the FSC) and that the sentence of death should be based on ‘tazkiat-ul-shahood’ (unimpeachable evidence).

    To give effect to a part of the FSC verdict (relating to the deletion of the alternative punishment) the Nawaz Sharif government moved the Criminal Law (Third Amendment) Bill 1991. In its report on the bill the Senate Standing Committee, headed by PML-N leader Senator Zafarul Haq, expressed reservations about the definition of the offence. It said:

    “The Standing Committee on Law and Justice after detailed deliberations decided to recommend the proposed deletion of ‘or imprisonment of life’ from Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code. The members, however, observed that there was a need for a more specific definition of the offence under Section 295 PPC which the members were of the considered opinion was in the present form very generalised. The committee suggests that the matter may be referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology for suggesting a more specific definition of the offence falling under Section 295 PPC As well as for its opinion as to whether during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) or during the period of Khulafa-i-Rashideen or afterwards in any of the Muslim countries, what was the punishment awarded to the offenders for committing offence falling under Section 295 PPC” (Gazette Extraordinary, Feb 22, 1992).

    It was only during the early days of Benazir Bhutto’s second government that the amendment bill was finally adopted. Again the government was in a hurry to push the bill because the house was about to be prorogued.

  9. libertarian says:
    November 26th, 2010 5:13 am

    @Proud Christian: I strongly believe that NO CHRISTIAN can blaspheme against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) because this is against our Holy Bible teaching to desecrate other religions or to hurt anyone.

    Good one. Pragmatic approach to self-preservation. Heck, when you have so many frothing-at-the-mouth psychos backed by the Law of the Land, this is a smart approach. Also say it loudly and often so everyone knows you are more loyal than the king.

  10. kamal says:
    November 26th, 2010 5:31 am

    Every one strongly believe that NO CHRISTIAN can blaspheme against the Holy Prophet (PBUH)

  11. Angelos says:
    November 26th, 2010 5:53 am

    Blasphemy laws should be there but the ambiguities in them should be removed. Anyone who is found using them for his/her own personal gain should be given strict punishment. Moreover, using blasphemy as a source to target minorities is a crime against teachings of Islam. It is time that we understand the reason why blasphemy laws were created at first place and their importance in creating a society free of hate-speech. The amendments introduced by Zia needs to be looked again and any loopholes shall be removed from them.

  12. Allahkabanda says:
    November 26th, 2010 8:59 am

    @ kamal

    Which world do you live in???? Come out of your fool’s paradise and stop making talk claims on behalf of others. Even on this forum you will find many wayward Muslims shamelessly committing blasphemy innuendo …..

    Why didn’t the original poster recap and list incidents of Muslim minorities being oppressed and persecuted in
    other countries??? Why don’t opponent of blasphemy laws and sympathizers of a culprit woman just avail the legal remedies available to them in going for justice to the Superior Courts and stop their propaganda against Muslims and Pakistan???

    The OP’s insinuations are only aimed at encouraging minorities and even some wayward Muslims to have their way with religious obligations and if that is let to happen rogues like Rushdie, Tasleema Nasreen and Hirsi and more would find a shelter to escape from their heinous religious insults to the majority

  13. banjara286 says:
    November 26th, 2010 10:52 am

    blasphemy law has become a convenient tool in the hands of the unscrupulous to settle personal scores and oppress the weak. it must be drastically reformed to eliminate loopholes and to severely punish the scoundrels who abuse it.

  14. Musalman says:
    November 26th, 2010 11:30 am

    I just don’t understand the crazy logic of “why don’t you write about the bad things happening elsewhere.”


    Why should I hold myself comparable to those who I consider to be the least and worst of all? Why should their bad behavior define mine? Only the worst enemies of Islam would suggest that Islam should mimic and repeat the worst behavior of those working against Islam.

    It is not a surprise that this type of argument comes most often from Taliban and their supporters who, after all, are on a mission to destroy Islam and humiliate Muslims everywhere.

  15. Kamran says:
    November 26th, 2010 11:50 am

    Remember it was the PPP under Bhutto who made this barbarious law and it is PPP under Zardari who is defending it. Zardari himself says he will not issue any pardon. Then the PPP government’s Minister of Tourism says that the Taliban are the only real Muslims and now the PPP government’s Law Minister says that no one can or will repeal this Blasphemy law and that he will himself defend this barbarious law to death.

    And yet, Adil and others still think the PPP is “liberal”. The PPP is a facist force, not a liberal one.

  16. November 26th, 2010 12:11 pm

    Some comments from the ATP Facebook Page:

    - “For God Sake be human first then you can be a Muslim, look at her daughters, why you people are still faking the people on the name of Islam and killing the others who are as much human as you are..”
    - “all should be treated fairly women are not property if it werent for us you wouldnt be there”
    - “takes 2 to make a man not one except in begining its future now dears”
    - “Good post. We need to repeal this blasphemy law immediately.”
    - “thankyou Pakistaniat for such a wonderful post. We need to repeal this law forever to save the minorities”
    - “Muslims should justify with other people even if they are Non Muslims. Our beloved prophet (peace be upon him) said:

    Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 43 :: Hadith 628
    Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:
    The Prophet sent Mu’adh to Yemen (where People of Book, Jews and Christians used to live) and said, “Be afraid, from the curse of the oppressed as there is no screen between his invocation and Allah.”
    He (peace be upon him) did not make any distinction between whether oppressed on is Muslim or Non Muslims.
    May Allah guide Pakistani nation to justify and not to transgress the people rights.”
    - “O you who believe! Take not as (your) Bitânah (advisors, consultants, protectors, helpers, friends, etc.) those outside your religion (pagans, Jews, Christians, and hypocrites) since they will not fail to do their best to corrupt you. They desire to harm you severely. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, but what their breasts conceal is far worse. Indeed We have made plain to you the Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses) if you understand.3.18

    We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they joined others in worship with Allâh, for which He had sent no authority; their abode will be the Fire and how evil is the abode of the Zâlimûn (polytheists and wrong-doers).3.51″
    - ” thanks for all above comments for changing of blaspheming law….. as other Religion did with their prophet changed their name , made them like sons of God or start abusing or even start blaming that he ‘s mother was etc……

    u r all looking like the players of the same lobby who wants to eliminate ISHQ Mohammad from our hearts…..
    Dont you think after every 4 moths some body stood up from the minorities and start blaspheming and whole bloody media jumped to save on the name of human rights that first we are human then Muslims……
    people who are dying in kashmir, iraq , bosnia, afghanistan, somalia and other muslim countries are not human being… please shake your mind… and think it is the same propengda like jewish did with christen

    why u have feeling for the other humans not for our ( peace be upon him) as we are here because of him…..
    We are Ashiq Rasool and will not bear any blaspheming…… now today they used this lady, may be next time any disable person… then again hypothesis will come see … disable person……

    we dont want to kill anyone or hangup for the sake of joke but who ever will change our bleaves or touch our theory will be on sword….”
    - “We need to repeal the Blasphemy law not to save minorities, but to save ourselves and to save Islam from the fanatics and barbarians who have taken control of it.”
    - “There is NO concept of a Blasphemy law in Islam. This law is entirely unislamic. In fact it is ANTI-Islamic and only enemies of Islam can support it since it goes against the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) an brings dishonor and a bad name to Allah and his religion.”
    - “was zia ul haque then an enemy of islam ?”
    - “YES. Zia ul Haq was an enemy of Islam. Amongst the worst enemies Islam has ever had. He messed up the true religion and created a generation of Jahils who continue to destroy my beautiful religion of Islam. Khuda gharat karey uss ko.”

  17. Brian says:
    November 26th, 2010 12:22 pm

    I salute the fact that so many Pakistanis are speaking up against these injustices. When good people start speaking up then bad times are bound to change for good.

  18. Allahkabanda says:
    November 26th, 2010 12:56 pm

    @ banjara286

    Tell me which law in Pakistan is not used to benefit vested interest?? Even the Constitution is being ridiculed. Consequently laws are not bad in itself it is who those violate it. This gives rise to the premises that a measure should be adopted to stop the misuse and abuse of the process of law or law rather than cussing the Law itself.

  19. Musalman says:
    November 26th, 2010 1:02 pm

    OK, so lots of laws are being abused.
    Lets start dismantling them then.
    Lets start with the Blasphemy law and all others that abuse and malign Islam to impose mullahism in the name of Islam.
    With me on that?
    We can also dismantle all other unjust laws on the way and I will be with you on that.

  20. Allahkabanda says:
    November 26th, 2010 1:10 pm

    @ ATP Administrator


    Unscrupulous attempt to take refuge behind Traditions without ascertaining their relation to the present incident or the context.

    “”No non-Muslims is “”OPPRESSED” in Pakistan… neither is that blasphemer woman. She is an ADJUDGED CRIMINAL and liable to be punished~!

    Such silly bullshit by wayward Muslims is only tantamount to malign their own faith and serve no logical or legal end as well.

    If criminals are to be freed in midstream of trials , the norms will law and justice will go haywire! Consequently people will be pushed to exercise undesirable Dark Justice…

    The judiciary is doing fine in Pakistan , let all sympathizers of the blasphemer go to courts and establish her innocence. If she is proved innocent those who accused her of the crime ought to get the same punishment as hers. Fair enough….

    People must not try to eke out unfair ”special’ ways to defeat the ends of law and justice ….All ”special” options and pardons have an aura of unfairness and injustice around it!!
    NRO is a prima facie example…

  21. Allahkabanda says:
    November 26th, 2010 1:20 pm

    @ Musalman

    I am with you but we have more important problems than the present case. Let this case fist go to Supreme court for a final verdict and on that basis let’s together voice against other black laws….most of which belong to the Colonial times and whims.

    But as long as Pakistan continues to be an Islamic Republic the yearnings and aspirations of wayward Musslamans to make the country a like of Bangkok or Manila is not going to see the light of the day.

    Mullah or no Mullah, beard or no beard, a Muslim is a Muslim and he cannot imagine to go beyond his BOOK!!

  22. Musalman says:
    November 26th, 2010 1:46 pm

    I agree wit Allahkabanda that the real problem is in this “Islamic Republic” business. So, lets both start by dismantling and taking that out of the Constitution. After all, this was never supposed to be and those words were added only 30 years after the country was made to please the Mullahs who have since used them in every way they can to advance their anti-Muslim anti-Islam agenda.

    Let’s begin then by taking out the whole “Islamic Republic” language. Let us be Islamic or not by the actions of our citizens rather than by empty words in a Constitution that no one – least of all the Mullahs and their Taliban friends – seem to respect.

  23. Allahkabanda says:
    November 26th, 2010 4:01 pm

    @ Musalman

    Pakistan needs an entirely new system to keep pace with the modern world. Corruption and hypocrisy, not restricted to Mullahs only but to educated class as well, has become the trait of our nation. Almost every one every one wants to make quick money and get rich, those who cannot are hurled into beggary!!

    it may seem extreme but conditions debunk the need to get rid of all the existing so-called leaders, feudal lords, peers, pseudo-intellectuals, land lords , politicians and mullahs.
    Like China there should be death penalty for food and medicine adulteration and any or all laws which directly defame the country and are injurious to the welfare of the nation.

    No one should be held above the law….

    But as far as blasphemy law is concerned I think and may be i am wrong, it will continue to survive de facto because Pakistan is a Muslim-majority country and even if this law is repealed or revised there will yet be no guarantee for blasphemers to escape the capital punishment.

    In the present instance, the indicted blasphemer are now asking for US visa…and quarter! Funny, next time it will be all the minorities who will seek refuge against the repealed blasphemy law and look to the US or EU for safe quarter. Nice/lucrative business they would be in….. just blame Muslims that you are fear in persecution and lo!! you become eligible for visas to the US or EU!! Subhanallah!!

    By having the Blasphemy laws the minorities now seem to misuse and abuse the leniency or the repeal of this law in the way they are accusing Muslims of doing otherwise…kia baat he meray sarkaar kee!!

  24. Naan Haleem says:
    November 26th, 2010 4:02 pm

    In Management, there is a term called “Glass Ceiling” which refers to discrimination against women. (some variations suggest other biases as well).

    In the west and now in the new corporate culture of Pakistan, we actually experience “Reverse Glass Ceiling”, where just to display the organization as EOE (Equal Opportunity Employer), the organisation prefers females for certain jobs even if the women are not competitive enough.

    This is a separate story that how this reverse glass ceiling is actually being used for exploitation of women. But this matter of Asiya Bibi and resultant uproar over the concerned law… it all looks to me a tug-of-war between glass ceiling and reverse glass ceiling.

    Asiya Bibi admitted in court that she said some insulting words, then in the court she apologised for her remarks. I think a review petition can settle the issue there and then in the light of Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and I am sure that she will be pardoned by the higher court on the ground of being ashamed and apologetic over her words. At least her death sentence would be reduced to imprisonment.

    On the other side, it is the responsibility of political and religious leaders of non-muslim communities to widely disseminate the definition and consequences of inappropriate, insulting and blasphemous remarks so everyone should be careful in their words.

    On the law itself, OIC can be accessed to organise a congregation of the experts in Islamic jurisprudence. An IJMAA over the definition, legal proceedings and punishment of blasphemy will settle this heated discussion forever.

    Having said that, I strongly believe that there should be an equally strict law for false accusation of blasphemy. Anyone using Quran or Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to settle personal scores must be tried under the same conditions and similar punishment be guaranteed.

  25. JJ says:
    November 26th, 2010 9:23 pm

    Muslims in the west are quick to identify discrimination against them. However, they remain SILENT on Muslim discrimination and intimidation of Christians in Muslim countries. SHAMEFUL

  26. ASAD says:
    November 27th, 2010 12:35 am

    What are you smoking. Or are you trying to be disingenious!
    What you are reading and commenting on here is itself Muslims living in the west identifying and speaking against discrimination of non-Muslims in a Muslim country!!!!!

    Now if only those in the West were half as honest about pointing out the problems in their own societies as we are about ours!

  27. The Capital Post says:
    November 27th, 2010 12:38 am

    Yr iTs veRy bad ………………..SHAMEFUL

  28. TruthSeeker says:
    November 27th, 2010 2:27 am

    From the article it seems that the law, which may be unjustified, is not the main issue, most of the incidents quoted in the article speak of violence against christians, which is condemnable, by mobs. I do not know if anybody was actually hanged as a result of this law. So even if the law is repealed, which may be a desirable thing to do, the violence will not cease until people psyche changes and they become more tolerant.

  29. khairulbashar Siddiqui says:
    November 27th, 2010 9:37 am

    Can we agree on one principle that Islam is for Huminity. We treat all Human with dignity and respect. We are better than any other religion. Our Prophet was and is ” Rahmatul lilalamin”. We as his follower should stand for all injustices.
    As Pakistani living outside we should create Justice for all including Christian, Hindu and Ahmadis.

  30. banjara286 says:
    November 27th, 2010 10:49 am

    i hope u r not suggesting that just because there are other laws in pakistan that have been abused (and have not been reformed so far), therefore the present blasphemy law should be left untouched. this sort of reasoning may have some basis in secular legal logic, but has no leg to stand on in the teachings of the the islamic faith.

    islamic principles demand that the loopholes which permit abuse of laws be closed in all existing laws in general, but a crucial law like the blasphemy law in particular; the abuse of this law often means the difference between life and death of helpless and poor victims. over the decades this law has led to extensive suffering for the members of the minority communities in pakistan; it is clearly unjust and oppressive.

    i urge u to live up to (the demands of) ur nic and stand up for what is right by the standards of ur own faith …

  31. TruthSeeker says:
    November 27th, 2010 11:44 am


    I think what JJ may be referring to is not individual condemnation by muslims commenting here, there is no such condemnation by a representative group of Muslims, at least not that I am aware of.


    I agree with you that if the law is bad it should be repealed after a careful and thorough discussion but this issue runs deeper than that, we unfortunately have a society where a considerable number of people think that if someone makes a derogatory remark against their religion or its prophet then not only that person is liable to be killed but if they do not kill him/her they have failed in their duties as a muslim. I wonder how can that mindset be changed. Maybe repealing this law will be a move in that direction.

  32. Adnan says:
    November 28th, 2010 3:28 am

    @The “Musalman” Mian:

    OK, Help me to getrid of following things and I will be with you to repeal Blasphemy law(s) from Pakistan.

    1- Let Qadyanis start admitting that they are not following the basic teachings of Islam and they are following “Qadyaniat” in the disguise of Islamic laws hence they agree to be considered as Non-Muslims.

    2- Throw out all so called “roshan Khyal” Scholars like Ghamidi and others who are busy to pollute teachings of Islam by promoting anti-Hadith cult and others.

    3- Let the experts of the religion to interpret the teachings of Islam rather than drawing experts like you and other liberals who are always up to show more hatred against Islam then genuine non-Muslims. Let me help to stop all those wannabe e-Muftis and others who hardly opened Quran in life yet ready to interpret it one way or other(e.g: Liberals on This forum,Salman Taseer and Asima Jehangir)

    Help me to clean all filth mentioned above and I would second you to repeal Blasphemy law. So if you have guts then come forward and help me to eliminate the reason of excuse which modern AbuJahals aka Liberals use to malign Islam.

  33. Adnan says:
    November 28th, 2010 4:38 am

    While people here are more eager to label themselves up as “Musalman” as nicks, in reality any one who claims to be called a MUSLIM can’t be called one if does not comply the hadith:

    “None of you has faith unless I am dearer to him than his father and his son and all mankind(Bukhari 2:7)

    So any one who makes such claim ask himself what is the worth of the Prophet(saw) inside then come out and “promote” himself as a Muslim. Only naming as “Musalman” is not going to save him at all

  34. Watan Aziz says:
    November 28th, 2010 9:24 am

    ATP congratulations!

    A powerful article.

    More powerful than the tamashbeen.

    Little more than what Jang would have done.

    About the same as Dawn or the News would have produced.

    But the editors in Boston, Chicago, Princeton or Berkley would have laughed it out and not even responded asking for corrections.

    And any magazine of Nature stature would given warning not to submit any for another two years.

    So let us see.

    Well, let me get the disclaimer out of the way first, blasphemy has no concept in Qur’an; there is no word for it either. To think there is a punishment associated with it is like trying to string yarn from Earth to Moon. Impossible.

    Blasphemy as matter of common laws also has no basis. All sections related to this matter should be expunged from the books of Pakistan. And with haste.

    Now on to the article.

    As usual, it will remain mystery to me why Pakistanis have a lower standards for Pakistan? And more importantly, why does ATP want to participate willfully in perpetuating ignorance? I will leave it to ATP to figure it out.

    First, there is no “Blasphemy Law” in Pakistan. It is part of the Penal Code of Pakistan.

    Next, there is the oxymoron of “Dominance without Toleration”. Duh! Dominance is always without toleration. Do you know anyone who dominated with toleration?

    The word “freely” was reinserted in the Constitution via the 18th Amendment. Pakistanis do not read, so who cares!

    And this is the classic illustration, that the word “freely” has no impact in Pakistan. It’s omission or commission does not change ground realities. No Pakistani is free unless he or she has “protection”. And no Pakistani can freely ask for equity and justice. They even attempted to deny it in the broad day light to the Chief Justice of Pakistan. Bullies. Thugs.

    The Church of Pakistan is one of the largest Churches in the world. (Actually, this is one of my favorite “Stump the Chump” questions.) It also includes Lutherans. The Church of Pakistan is a united church in Pakistan, which is part of the Anglican Communion and a member church of the World Methodist Council. It was established in 1970 with a union of Anglicans, Scottish Presbyterians (Church of Scotland), Methodists, and Lutherans. It is the only United Church in the South Asia which involves the Lutheran Church. Though united, it is mainly Anglican in theology and outlook, since from the beginning Anglicans formed the bulk of the 800,000 strong congregation and most of the important Sees. (Source: Wiki)

    The 1973 Constitution did not restrict minority participation in government or politics. Pakistan recently elevated a greatly respected justice as the Chief Justice of Pakistan whose religion happened to be other than Islam. True, the highest political offices are limited to Muslims but that does not entirely mean “restrict minority participation in government or politics”. It casts an incorrect and wrong impression about Pakistan.

    Sections 298-A, B and C are part of Pakistan Penal Code and not of “Martial Law Ordinance”.

    It is to deny the ground reality that blasphemy is not used against Muslims themselves in addition to the minorities.

    The ignorant mullah routinely uses it to bully the people in “his” masjid. To feel it’s affects, take your life in your hands one day in any masjid.

    The fake liberals have and will use it so that you do not speak in “their” policy meetings. Recently someone posted how his brother was implicated in a legal dispute with this tool. It is a good tool to keep a person shut out and sit quite.

    Now just because it has not been reported widely or recorded extensively does not mean this has not been used. As a matter of fact, in the ealy days of Zia, government officicals were even been harrassed for not wearing shalwar-kamiz and not showing up for Jumma prayers. They were promised worst for themselves. I know this first hand.

    So, to imply that blasphemy is used against the minorities alone, is both intellectual dishonesty and factually wrong.

    Finally, I have said it here, here and here (OK, Google it for the links) that to just because someone has wrongly associated Islam and Qur’an with a statement or concept or belief does not mean we should equally reward it by discussing it under the same venue and forum. Just the opposite.

    The evil usurper and his cohort Brohi, in their fits of madness, subjugated Pakistani to their total control via these sections. And they did it under the name of the Islam. I still recoil when I see those evil eyes. I still get a chill in my spine when I hear someone recite the “Namdahoos” that evil piped piper used to recite.

    But it is not Islam. It is not Qur’an. And this is not how Rasool was known.

    Those who are writing to repeal the law, I am all with them, but please stop associating Qur’an and Rasool with it.

    To do so, you may be politically correct, but you sell Qur’an and Rasool short. With repeated references you induce the element that somehow, you are trying to undo something that is part of Qur’an or teachings of Rasool.

    There are enough ignorant people on both side of the shouts who do not read or think for themselves. Amazingly, on this topic ignorance from both sides joins and wants to associate blasphemy with Qur’an and Rasool.

    Let us reject this temptation.

    Let us repeal this dastardly law, with haste, for what it really is and not how someone wants to implicate the faith of the good, decent, honest, hardworking and middle of the road Pakistanis.

    Let us “free” all Pakistanis from the long nightmare we are suffering due to evil usurper doings.

  35. Watan Aziz says:
    November 28th, 2010 9:52 am

    Oh, yes, yet one more time, for the eAbu Jahil, the resident ignorant:

    Within the context of Qur’an, if someone declares another as “not a Muslim”, that person is committing shirk.

    The word shirk is derived from the Arabic root Š-R-K. This consonantal root has the general meaning of “to share” (A. A. Nadwi, Vocabulary of the Qur’an). In the context of the Qur’an, the particular sense of “sharing as an equal partner” is usually understood…(Source: Wiki)

    Further, in the context of Qur’an, if anyone calls himself or herself as Muslim, then that concept they so acclaim has moved from the domain of man to that of the Malik. No one can pronounce judgement on it. The faith of that person is not even relevant. He could be of any faith and yet claim to be a Muslim. It is both the concept and a word given by Qur’an that the person will be judged by Malik.

    And the only One who knows if a person has submitted or not, is the Malik, the Khaliq.

    Shirke-e-Akbar is defined as “to associate Allah’s attributes to someone as his own. (Attributing, considering, or portraying God’s knowledge or might to anyone else)”. (Source: Wiki)

    Anyone else who seem to possess this knowledge has equated himself or herself to the Khaliq. Anyone who calims that such and such person will not be able to “save” himself, is attributing himself or herself with the Malik.

    And while Qur’an showers mercy on all mistakes, it does not consider “shirk” as a mistake.

    And always, on matter of faith, only Khaliq knows best.

  36. Eveerybody's Dad says:
    November 28th, 2010 11:51 am


    While you might have a point on some of the issues you’ve raised, you’re wrong about Dr. Ghamidi Sahib. Please do some research before making your claims. He has used well over 700 hadith to clarify points about the Shariah in his book, Mizan (Balance) and even scholars like Taqi Usmani hold him in high respect. He can hardly be called part of the ‘anti-Hadith’ crowd.

    Its become common practise to declare any and every enlightened scholar (I’m not talking about the Quraniyoon types, but real, qualified scholars) as ‘anti-Islam’ merely because some of their conclusions don’t mesh with somebody else’s version of Islam. If the so-called e-Muftis ‘jiyalas’ have done it (as you repeatedly remind us) then so have various factions of the Mullahs. Regardless of who’s doing it, it needs to stop.

  37. Kashifiat says:
    November 28th, 2010 2:35 pm
  38. Adnan says:
    November 28th, 2010 2:49 pm




    As long as people are “learning” quran from “Wikis”, we can hardly take such kids seriously to be involved in a discussion.

    @The “everyone’s dad: Ghamidi surely has ‘proved’ himself as media generated scholar who was just able to bring some fans via TV. Ghamidi has been controversial since beginning. Initially he has said so many times that hadiths naratted by individuals can’t be considered authentic and he was referring Ayesha(rA) and Abu Huraira(RA). He loves to bring controversy without any knowledge just like his mentor, Ahsan Islahi. It does not matter me whether Taqi Usmani “respect” Ghamidi’s knowledge, i would still like to see the reference of what you re mentioning here.

  39. Everybody's Dad says:
    November 28th, 2010 3:47 pm

    Ghamidi Sahib was there long before the media and all stripes of religious scholars have used the media in some shape or another so the term ‘media-generated scholar’ is kind of meaningless.

    I don’t believe I’ve read the remark you say he made. It is not possible for me to put forth all of his views on hadith transmission here but he upholds the fact that laws and ethics of Islam ought not to be based on a single hadith but after doing a thorough investigation of all the available hadith on a particular matter, in order to fully understand the context behind them. This is in line with other work I have read from hadith scholars.

    Both Islahi sahib and Ghamidi sahib are, in fact extremely knowledgeable scholars of Islam with a profound knowledge of classical Arabic as well as its history. They have defended Islam from the onslaught of secularists as well as obscurantists.

  40. Anwer says:
    November 29th, 2010 10:23 pm

    کبھی افلاک سے نالوں کے جواب آتے تھے
    ان دنوں عالم افلاک سے خوف آتا ہے

    رحمتِ سیدِ لولاک پھ کامل ایمان
    امتِ سیدِ لولاک سے خوف آتا ھے

    عارف افتخار

  41. Jawwad Riaz says:
    December 1st, 2010 3:06 pm

    If the above still doesn’t convince you, then please visit wikipedia’s page on “Blasphemy Law” section “Selected Cases” for even more horrors of this law.

  42. readinglord says:
    December 18th, 2010 7:57 pm

    I am a lay man knowing little of the legal intricacies of jurisprudence but I wonder whereas there is much stress on omission in the LB about intention of the accused, called mens rae in legal jargon, and rightly so, there is no mention of omission of any provision in the law either to question the bona fide of the accuser. My point is why any dick and harry with ulterior motives, having no genuine cause of action, is given the right to accuse somebody of blasphemy. Perhaps, as it is, even a person like Abulehb can accuse any body of blasphemy against the prophet to get all genuine Muslims exterminated or at least make them go through the tyranny of police and judiciary, which seem to be hand in glove with the theocracy.

  43. Badar says:
    December 30th, 2010 4:31 pm

    Linking of the draconian blasphemy law to the Saudis and our mullahs, militants, army and foreign policy makes this blog a fascinating and informative read.

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