Resist these mullahs, Benazir

POLEMIC You don't execute people for failing to be polite, says Ziauddin Sardar

Related Topics
The death sentences imposed on two Christians, a 14-year-old boy Salamat Masih, and his uncle, Rehmat Masih, by a Pakistani court, are an affront to fair-minded Muslims everywhere. The two have been found guilty of throwing pieces of paper containing blasphemous words into a mosque. Does such an act, even if deliberately provocative, really deserve the death penalty?

This absurd and extreme sentence breaks every canon of Islamic law, in which the accent is strongly on mercy. In a more enlightened Islamic court, the accused would have been given a warning against causing fitna (social unrest) and sent home. But in a Pakistan that has been hijacked by a syndicate of mindless mullahs, every act against Islam, however minor, becomes a threat to the very existence of the Islamic civilisation. Every utterance, every criticism, is an offence to the dignity of Islam and must be avenged!

In fact, there is no such thing as blasphemy in Islam. The "corrupt word", according to the Koran, "has no permanence". The Koran unequivocally states that the punishment or reward for insulting God lies with Him alone - muslims, mullahs and the courts have nothing to do with it. The "penalty" for blaspheming or abusing the Prophet, even though it affects every fibre of a believing Muslim, is forgiveness.

Islamic law does not recognise blasphemy. Indeed, the classical jurists could not even define it. While acknowledging that every individual has a duty to express his or her opinion, Islamic law only asks that the opinion be expressed with due decorum. And you don't execute people for their failure to be polite.

Then there is the important matter that one of the accused is a minor. Salamat Masih was 11 when he committed the offence. In Islamic tradition, an 11-year-old is a bundle of innocence and virtue.

Naughty young boys are "punished" by providing them with examples of good behaviour; not executed.

The case offers Benazir Bhutto, the lame-duck and ostrich-like prime minister of Pakistan, a chance to redeem her integrity. She has expressed her shock and unhappiness at the sentences; and has been accused by a Pakistani lawyer of contempt of court for so doing. She should take this contempt a step further and use her prime ministerial prerogative to pardon the accused.

Only by standing up to those who have declared a full-frontal assault on human dignity can Ms Bhutto regain the confidence of the Pakistani people.

She should also abandon the foolish notion of amending the blasphemy law. This law, introduced in the wake of the Rushdie affair under pressure from the mullahs, should be confined to the legal scrap heap where it belongs.

The zealots in Pakistan need seriously to ponder why "blasphemies" against Islam are spreading like wildfire. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the mullahs have lost their humanity. As self-appointed guardians of Islamic purity, they have not only legitimised violence at every opportunity but made paranoia and mob rule the order of the day.

It is time they started following the example of the Prophet in whose name they are committing such gross acts of viciousness. It would be nice if they could, just occasionally, follow the path of forgiveness, compassion and innate sense of justice which the Prophet Mohamed displayed during his dealings with those who abused and persecuted him.

The writer is co-editor of `Muslim Minorities in the West', published by Greyseal, £25.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Residents of the Gravesham constituency are 10 times closer to what Peter Hain scorns as the “Westminster elite” than are those of Linlithgow and East Falkirk  

Will no one stop the march of localism?

Jonathan Meades
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam