I have read several of your answers regarding blasphemy, both against the Almighty Himself and the Prophet (p). However, none of the answers have clarified whether or not blasphemy laws, widely held as part of Islamic Law, do indeed have any basis in the Qur’an and the Sunnah (though the lack of any clarification might be an oversight on my part or the style of the question placed to you).
From my limited understanding of the Qur’an, blasphemy laws do not really have any basis, either in the Qur’an or the Sunnah of the Prophet (p). What I gather is that one is asked either to leave the company of those who do blaspheme or to keep calm and hold to forgiveness, since God is the Final Judge. The examples of all the Prophets (p) as cited in the Qur’an is, I think, a perfect example of holding to the Almighty’s Help and Mercy.
However, for any society that intends to create and atmosphere of Islamic values, slurs and insults aimed at God, any of his Prophets (p) or Religion in general, cannot be accepted as the social norm. What is your opinion on this? Can a society function when any questioning is stifled under laws which are aimed at “protecting” Islamic personalities etc.? Indeed, many people do in fact find Islam, after sincere questioning, though they may have started off “studying” Religion in a less than satisfactory manner.
I do understand why Muslims may get angered. I too get angry when people willfully insult and abuse God, the Prophet etc. But I feel that Muslims have nothing to be ashamed of, nor anything to be frightened of when it comes to Islam. We should concentrate on propagating the truthful picture, both in words and more importantly in actions.
May Allah, Most High, reward you for your efforts.
salaam `alaykum and Ramadhaan ul-Mubarak
I agree with you that the Shari`ah has not prescribed any punishment for blasphemy. This really implies that there is no worldly punishment for blasphemy prescribed by the Shari`ah. Nevertheless, a Muslim state, for the purpose of discouraging such uncalled for behavior, may pass a legislation, whereby a suitable punishment is implemented upon those guilty of blasphemy, which according to the stipulations of the Qur’an cannot be the death penalty1, just as the legislature passes laws for protecting its citizens against defamation and other such crimes.
Furthermore, extremely strict laws should also be passed against those, who, taking the law in their own hands, take severe actions against those accused of blasphemy. It is quite clear that if a person accused of blasphemy is killed by ordinary citizens, without being granted his basic right of defending himself in an open court of law, then those guilty of inciting and taking such actions should be brought to justice, which, in this case, could obviously be the death penalty – being the prescribed punishment for murder.
In my opinion, it is the duty of the Muslim state to pass balanced legislations, which on the one hand should strongly discourage people from making any uncalled for comments regarding the revered personalities of its citizens (whether Muslims or non-Muslims), while on the other, saves its citizens from becoming targets of hate crimes.
For the last part of your question, please refer to one of my earlier responses to a related question titled: “How Should Muslims React to Derogatory Remarks against their Revered Personalities?“.
I hope this helps.
December 6, 2001
- This derivation is based on the Qur’anic verse, which prohibits the death penalty except in the case of murder and creating unrest in the land. [↩]