Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law: a Sign of Bliss or Catastrophe?

Analysis, posted 02.15.2011, from Pakistan, in:

By Abdullah al-Ahsan

Reports about Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law have become a focal point in the international press. It is natural for the international press to undertake this issue so seriously mainly because of the way Pakistani leadership, both the government and the opposition, has been viewing it with such an importance. It is as if this law constitutes the complete teachings of Islam and without this law there is no scope for Islam to survive in the world today. The prime minister has claimed that, “a Muslim cannot have two opinions on the blasphemy law and being descendant of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), he cannot even think of amending it.”[1]  The opposition, including a number of religious oriented political parties, also has adopted a similar position on the law. Although Pakistani politicians and religious leaders seem to achieve bliss through this law, this is bound to create a catastrophe. In our opinion, this constitutes sheer exploitation in the name of Islam and its prophet.

Circumstances in Pakistan clearly suggest that it is not the law, but execution of the law which has created a volatile situation in the country. Our knowledge of history tells us that letters are not always capable to ensure the purpose of the law. That is why history has coined the phrase “letter and spirit.” This is most relevant in the application of law, and especially in Pakistan where, according to reports, many people belonging to minority communities have been harassed under the guise of this law.

Mistreatment of the poor and weak has been common is found in every society throughout history, but when it is done in the guise of religion, it naturally causes horror. Followers of religion, however, view any criticism or description of this horror as religion-phobia. In the case of Pakistan it would be called Islamophobia which, of course, is in abundance around us today. But shouldn’t one raise the question whether the way this law is being manipulated would have the genuine potential to create fear within the minority communities? What would be the rationale to support a murderer? Love for the Prophet? A Prophet who was known for his love and kindness for weak and destitute? A Prophet who went to visit an adversary when he came to know that the woman (a non-Muslim) who used to put trash on his pathway was not well and counseled her? The woman was so moved by the behavior of the Prophet that she immediately accepted Islam. Does the blasphemy law in any way reflect teachings of the Prophet? In our opinion, if the upholders of the blasphemy law believe that they hold the truth, let them have the truth manifest itself through their behavior.

[1] The Prime Minister claims to be a descendent of the Prophet.

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