On December 3, 20021, in Sialkot a Sri Lankan man was tortured to death and his body set on fire by a mob over allegations of blasphemy. This gruesome sight has been the highlight of social media. Was the individual who was tortured in such a manner, deserving of the punishment of blasphemy against the Prophet ﷺ? The murdered Sri Lankan was a non-Muslim and was he even aware of the norms, cultural or religious values? This is what is being investigated currently. Whatever the outcome is awaited, what is apparent is that the reaction of the mob has humiliated Islam

The Command to Investigate

When an incident of such nature occurs, Qur’an commands us the following in this verse:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنْ جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَنْ تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَى مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ

O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.
[Surah Al-Hujurat: 6]

According to this command, it is essential to revert the issue back those who are learned scholars and responsible for a better understanding of the situation. The mob of people did not care to revert the situation back to anyone. This is totally against the ruling of Islam and the words of Qur’an.

Who Has the Right to Punish?

Once a verdict or conclusion has been reached, the implementation of the punishment advised is not be administered by the general public. It is the responsibility of the state or the government and this fact is unanimously agreed upon by all scholars. The first criterion is the proving of the crime through solid evidence and witnesses. It had to be proven first that the one alleged really means what he has said and is saying it with complete consciousness and mind. Only then does he deserve to be punished. These people who committed this heinous act were adamant that they will continue to do the same to anyone who speaks up in such a manner whereas they cannot take the law in their hands.

To Kill a Non-Muslim Without Right

To kill a non-Muslim, who is living in a Muslim state, without right is a heinous crime. Not only this, but it is also a breach of the Muslim state contract. According to the religion of Islam, even if a scavenger, a worker, poor Muslim promises a non-Muslim anything, he is to fulfill that pact.

In a hadith it is clearly stated the Prophet ﷺ has said:

الْمُسْلِمُونَ تَتَكَافَأُ دِمَاؤُهُمْ، ‏‏‏‏‏‏يَسْعَى بِذِمَّتِهِمْ أَدْنَاهُمْ وَيُجِيرُ عَلَيْهِمْ أَقْصَاهُمْ

“Muslims are equal in respect of blood. The lowest of them is entitled to give protection on behalf of them, and the one residing far away may give protection on behalf of them.”
(Abi Dawud: 2751)

What this means that all Muslims are equal. For matters of qisas or diyat (blood money), all Muslims whether wealthy or poor are the same.

Breaking of Promise

An unjust Muslim murder has been mentioned in a hadith. The Prophet ﷺ has said:

مَنْ قَتَلَ مُعَاهَدًا لَمْ يَرِحْ رَائِحَةَ الْجَنَّةِ، وَإِنَّ رِيحَهَا تُوجَدُ مِنْ مَسِيرَةِ أَرْبَعِينَ عَامًا

“Whoever killed a person having a treaty with the Muslims, shall not smell the fragrance of  Paradise though its smell is perceived from a distance of forty years.”
(Bukhari: 3166)

The Punishment to Burn Someone

The punishment to burn another is grave in sight of Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ). The fact that this mob not only killed the man but also burnt his body proves that these people had nothing to do with Islam nor the teachings of the beloved Prophet ﷺ.

وَإِنَّ النَّارَ لاَ يُعَذِّبُ بِهَا إِلاَّ اللَّهُ

As punishment with fire is done by none except Allah
(Bukhari: 2954)

In Pakistan, it is becoming a norm to find a way to kill people under the name of blasphemy or religious outlook , yet it has rarely occurred that a foreigner person has been killed in such a manner. It is alarming how many people have been killed under the allegation of religious rights and blasphemy. To blame unjustly and cast wrong verdicts of what blasphemy has become the right of those who want to spread corruption. On occasions such false verdicts have led to immense form of undue killing. When these “so called scholars” are countered, the objection is held against the one who is objecting casting him to be a disbeliever, apostate or a blasphemer.

It is important so see such situations in light of Qur’an and Sunnah.

The Punishment of Blasphemy

Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) says in the Qur’an:

Indeed, those who abuse Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this world and the Hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment.
[Al-Ahzab: 57]

It is mentioned in a hadith of Sahih Bukhari that on the day of the Conquest of Makkah, the Prophet ﷺ commanded for Ibn Khattal and his two slave girls to be killed as these slave girls used to curse the Prophet ﷺ. Mujahid says[1]:

أتی عمر برجل یسب رسول اللہ ﷺ فقتله ثم قال عمر: من سب اللہ أو سب أحداً من الأنبیاء فاقتلوہ

A man who used to disrespect the Prophet ﷺ  was brought to Umar (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ). Umar (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) slayed his head and said, “Whoever disrespects Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) or any of the prophets should be slain.”
(As-Sarim Al Masloom)

What is the Consensus on the Punishment for Blasphemy?

Blasphemy is such a grave crime that throughout history, scholars and the people of knowledge that the punishment in this world for the who does blasphemy against the Prophet ﷺ  is death. Imam Ibn AlMundhir (Rahimullah Alaih) has written in his book: There is a consensus amongst the scholars that whoever has abused the Prophet ﷺ and uttered foul words against him should be punished by death. [2]

There is another saying by Imam Ishaq bin Rahuwiyah (Rahimullah Alaih). He says, “There is a unanimous consensus amongst the scholars that whoever abuses Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) or His Messenger ﷺ , rejects any command of Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) or kills a prophet is deemed a disbeliever based on this act despite that fact that he may be a believer of all the rest of the commands of Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ). [3]

Muhammad Bin Sakhnun has said, “The scholars unanimously agree that the person who abuses and disrespects the Prophet ﷺ  is a disbeliever. For him, Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) has sent down a punishment. For the Ummah, the command is to kill this individual. The one who doubts this punishment and his disbelief is also a disbeliever. [4]

Who is a Blasphemer Against the Prophet ﷺ  ?

Just as there is no linguistic definition to the sun, moon, belief, disbelief, fasting and prayers, similarly, a blasphemer is understood in a general way. Having said this, we understand that whoever puts down, abuses, condemns the Prophet ﷺ  and the Prophethood in a manner which hurts him either directly or in an indirect manner can be said to have done blasphemy against the Prophet ﷺ .

Can an Individual Kill a Blasphemer on His Own Accord?

This is a very grave matter where the question is asked whether an individual has the right to get up and kill a person who has done blasphemy? The reason for this question is that on the whole, the implementation of Islamic laws is not found. Hence, the government fails to punish the blasphemer in the manner prescribed. This actually gives way to more blasphemer being allowed to carry on with their act as they see that others got away with the crime. With this injustice being done at the state level, Muslims then begin to take the law in their own hands and aim to punish at an individual level. The question still remains, are they allowed to do so at an individual level?

The answer to this is simple. From the point of view of Islamic Jurisprudence, we are not allowed to do so. An individual does not have the right in whatever way possible to punish a blasphemer with the ‘hadd’ as prescribed by Shariah. This has to be carried forth by the state and at the government level. In Fatawah Lajnah Daima, it is stated[5]:

ولا يقيم الحدود إلا الحاكم المسلم أو من يقوم مقام الحاكم ، ولا يجوز لأفراد المسلمين أن يقيموا الحدود لما يلزم على ذلك من الفوضى والفتنة

Hudud (Prescribed punishment as per Islamic Jurisprudence) have to be implemented by the Muslim ruler or the cabinet created by the Muslim ruler. Any Muslim individual does not have the authority to implement it on his own as this may become a cause for disruption and corruption.

A trustworthy and notable scholar as well as a senior member of Saudi Arab’s Committee of Scholars,  Dr. Shaykh Salih Bin Fawz replies in answer to a similar query: “To commit a murder is not the way of peace. This is not an acceptable act. This will become a cause of further tribulation and trials for the Muslims. Muslims are advised to abstain the following of the disbelievers. To take action with the hands or with weapons is the job of the Muslim leaders who are responsible to carry out this task through fight in the way of Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) (Jihad fi sabilillah).”

It is important to mention another school of thought here to keep the perspective of the goal at hand which is to condemn the recent mob killing is important. Hence, the leader of the Barevli school of thought, Hazrat Raza Khan Bareveli is also of the same opinion that the blasphemer is only to be punished by the state and no individual bears the right to do so at his/her discretion. In fact, if an individual deems another a blasphemer against the Prophet ﷺ and kills him, the killer is to be also punished by the head of state. Hazrat Raza Khan Bareveli has explained this in such a manner in his book called, Husamul Haramain.

Capital punishment is only to be implemented by the ruler and not by the general people, just as the burning of an individual is only the right of Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ). The general masses are only to stop another by their tongue and speech. The scholars have in their writing have clearly mentioned that if an apostate is killed by an individual the leader is to punish the murderer.[6]

I would like to remind everyone of two things at this point. Firstly, whenever such an event of blasphemy occurs, we as Muslims will be hurt. It is advised to abstain from punishing the blasphemer on your own as it is against all laws. Secondly, in every country, courts are the means to punish criminals. Even in states where Islamic laws are not implemented, the court and law can be approached to seek help to bring justice. If all Muslims are to unite and plea against the individual, justice will be served. The only condition is that Muslims need to be united.

It is a sad state of affair that our beloved Pakistan has had to face many such incidents where blasphemy has been blown out of proportion in the name of Islamic ruling whereas the reality which has been clearly laid out in this article is completely opposite to what has happened. Out of ignorant ways, many have been harmed including those who implemented the act although they may have been practicing Muslims. We need to remember that the love of the Prophet ﷺ is to implement his ﷺ way and whatever has been prescribed by Allah the Almighty. Extremism is not being a Muslim and is not an acceptable way. This is not Islam. May Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) guide us to the correct understanding of our religion. (Aameen)

[1] As-Sarim Al Masloom P. 419

[2] Al Ijma’ LiIbn AlMundhar P. 79

[3] As-Sarim AlMasloom Al Shatim ArRasul (Ibn Tahmiyah), 2/15

[4]  As-Sarim AlMasloom Al Shatim ArRasul (Ibn Tahmiyah), 2/15

[5] Fatawa AlLazna Daima 21/7

[6] Tamheed AlIman, Husamul Haramain. P 102