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Offline HOPE

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« on: July 06, 2013, 05:29:56 AM »
Peace to all,

"In Islam, blasphemy is a subject of intellectual discussion rather than a subject of physical punishment. This concept is very clear in the Quran.

The Quran tells us that since ancient times God has sent prophets in succession to every town and every community. It says, moreover, that the contemporaries of all of these prophets adopted a negative attitude towards them.

There are more than 200 verses in the Quran, which reveal that the contemporaries of the prophets repeatedly perpetrated the same act, which is now called 'blasphemy or abuse of the Prophet' or 'using abusive language about the Prophet'. Prophets, down the ages, have been mocked and abused by their contemporaries (036:030); some of the epithets cited in the Quran include "a liar" (040:024), "possessed" (015:006), "a fabricator" (016:101), "a foolish man" (007:066). The Quran mentions these words of abuse used by prophets' contemporaries but nowhere does the Quran prescribe the punishment of lashes, or death, or any other physical punishment.

This clearly shows that 'abuse of the Prophet' is not a subject of punishment, but is rather a subject of peaceful admonishment. That is, one who is guilty of abusing the Prophet should not have corporal punishment meted out to him: he should rather be given sound arguments in order to address his mind. In other words, peaceful persuasion should be used to reform the person concerned rather than trying to punish him.

Those who adopt a negative stance towards the Prophet will be judged by God, who knows the innermost recesses of their hearts. The responsibility of the believers is to observe the policy of avoidance and, wishing well, convey the message of God to them in such a manner that their minds might be properly addressed.

Another important aspect of this matter is that at no point in the Quran is it stated that anyone who uses abusive language about the Prophet should be stopped from doing so, and that in case he continues to do so he should be awarded severe punishment. On the contrary, the Quran commands the believer not to use abusive language directed against opponents: "But do not revile those [beings] whom they invoke instead of God, lest they, in their hostility, revile God and out of ignorance" (006:108).

This verse of the Quran makes it plain that it is not the task of the believers to establish "media watch" offices and hunt for anyone involved in acts of defamation of the Prophet, and then plan for their killing, whatever the cost. On the contrary, the Quran enjoins believers to sedulously refrain from indulging in such acts as may provoke people to retaliate by abusing Islam and the Prophet. This injunction of the Quran makes it clear that this responsibility devolves upon the believers, rather than holding others responsible and demanding that they be punished.

Looked at from this angle, the stance of present-day Muslims goes totally against the teachings of the Quran. Whenever anyone - in their judgment - commits an act of 'abuse of the Prophet', in speech or in writing, they instantly get provoked and respond by leading processions through the streets, which often turn violent. And then they demand that all those who insult the Prophet be beheaded.

Muslims generally advocate the theory that freedom of expression is good, but that no one has the right to hurt the religious sentiments of others. This theory is quite illogical. Freedom is not a self-acquired right. It is God, who, because of His scheme of putting man to the test, has given man total freedom.

Then the modern secular concept of freedom is that everyone is free provided he does not inflict physical harm upon others. In such a situation, the above kind of demand is tantamount to abolishing two things: firstly, to abolishing the divine scheme, and secondly, to abolishing the modern secular norm. Neither goal is achievable. So the hue and cry against the so-called abuse of the Prophet is simply untenable. By adopting this policy, Muslims can make themselves permanently negative but they cannot change the system of the world.

Given that the exact definition of the terms that denoted blasphemy are not specified in the Quran and Sunna, sectarian and doctrinal disputes among early Muslims provided subsequent jurists and theologians the opportunity to explore the implications of blasphemy even further. Jurists, scholars and ordinary Muslims who claimed that their own position on Islam was normative, began to characterize dissenting Muslims as apostates, blasphemers, hypocrites, or unbelievers. Thus, a charge of blasphemy and apostasy was often used to impose or refute certain doctrines or theological positions.

For instance, the Ash'aris claimed that the Quran was the uncreated word of Allah, whereas the Mu'tazilis refuted that view. This theological point was debated in the ninth and tenth centuries. The Muslim community was polarized between those who believed that the Quran was the created word of Allah Most High and Exalted, and those who believed that the Qur'an was the uncreated word of Allah. Both sides charged the other with blasphemy.

Similarly, the Mu'tazili stance over Allah's attributes, the philosophers' controversy over the nature of punishment in the Hereafter, the early Shi'i contention over the alleged omission of certain verses from the Qur'an and the Sufi belief in seeking oneness with Allah Most High and Exalted frequently elicited charges of blasphemy or heresy. Since unbelievers, heretics, or apostates by definition did not belong to the Muslim community, a Muslim who acted against such a person would be supported by the community, even if he took the law into his hands and killed the alleged offender without being mandated by the religious authority.

Gradually, a plethora of "apostasy list" was formulated which was fluid and often quite ambiguous. Thus, the contemporary definition of terms connected to blasphemy are the result of a long process of development and refinement. The legal consequences of such accusations were very serious. Depending on where one is and the school of law one follows, it is blasphemy:

- to speak ill of Allah Most High and Exalted,

- to find fault with the Prophet Muhammad upon him be peace and blessings

- to slight any prophet who is mentioned in the Quran, any member of Prophet Muhammad's family, or any cleric.

- to draw a picture to represent Prophet Muhammad upon him be peace and blessings or any other prophet, or to make a film which features a prophet.

- to write the Prophet Muhammad's name on the walls of a toilet.

- to state facts such as Prophet Muhammad's parents were not Muslims.

- to find fault with Islam.

- to say Islam is an Arab religion; prayers five times a day are unnecessary; and the Qur'an is full of lies (Indonesia).

- to believe in transmigration of the soul or reincarnation or to disbelieve in the afterlife.

- to find fault with a belief or a practice which the Muslim community (umma) has adopted.

- to find fault with or to curse apostles, prophets, or angels. to express an atheist or a secular point of view or to publish or to distribute such a point of view.- for non-Muslims to use words that Muslims use (Malaysia).

- to pray for Muslims to become something else.

- to whistle during prayers (Indonesia).

- to flout the rules prescribed for Ramadan.

- to recite Muslim prayers in a language other than Arabic (Indonesia).

- to be alone with persons of the opposite sex who are not blood relatives.

- to find amusement in Islamic customs (Bangladesh) to publish an unofficial translation of the Quran.

- to practice yoga (Malaysia).

- to watch a film or to listen to music (Somalia).

Blasphemy against artefacts

It is blasphemy:

- for a non-Muslim to touch a Quran or to touch something that has touched a Quran.

- for anyone to damage a Quran or other books of importance to Islam, for example,

- to spit at the wall of a mosque.

- To set up intermediaries between oneself and Allah Most High and Exalted, making
supplication to them, seeking their intercession with Allah Most High and Exalted, and placing one's trust in them is unbelief (Saeed, Freedom, 44-8).

The above list indicates the fluid nature of the terms associated with blasphemy and
apostasy and that jurists were not in agreement as to what constitutes blasphemy.

NOTE: Extracts, narration, paraphrases and replication from multiple sources. Please contact LMU if you require references

"Hope is like a bird that senses the dawn and carefully starts to sing while it is still dark"