The Head of Outreach of a pioneering Sri Lankan Islamic organization called on the Government of Pakistan to reform its controversial blasphemy law that mandates the death penalty for those convicted of blasphemy. The call comes in the wake of the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri who was convicted of killing Governor Salman Taseer and subsequent protests and sit-ins by extremist elements protesting the execution of the killer. Governor Taseer had urged the repeal of this draconian law and was killed by his own bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri simply because Taseer had opposed his country’s harsh blasphemy laws introduced by dictator Zia Ul Haq.
Asiff Hussein, Vice President, Outreach, Centre for Islamic Studies (CIS), said that Pakistan’s Blasphemy law in its current state is unnecessarily harsh since it does not give the option of repentance to the offender which Islam grants.
Hussein pointed out that this harsh law needed urgent reform as it not only contributed to the rise of extremism in Pakistan and allowed unscrupulous elements to abuse the law for their own ends, but also led to mob rule as could be seen from the nature of the protests in Islamabad and elsewhere. Moreover it has given the Islamic faith a very bad name. “This harsh law in its present state is unislamic as it does not give the option of repentance to the offender while the practice of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was to forgive all those who insulted him no sooner they repented and sought his forgiveness. The case of the poet Ka’b Ibn Zuhair is a case in point. Those who say that there can be no repentance in blasphemy cases are committing the greatest blasphemy against Islam as it goes contrary to Islamic teachings of God as All Merciful and the Prophet as a Mercy to the Worlds”.
Hussein welcomed the death sentence handed down to Qadri and urged the government of Pakistan to do more to rid the country of extremist elements. “These extremists have nothing to do with Islam. They are offshoots of a dangerous sect known as the Kharjites who even rose in rebellion against the rightly-guided Caliphs. The only way to control these undesirables is implementing the harsh laws that the Qur’an mandates for these lawless criminals. This will necessarily mean implementing capital punishment for these extremist elements who have taken the law into their own hands, but it cannot be helped if Pakistan wants to return to its days of peace before Zia Ul Haq introduced this very unislamic blasphemy law. We call on the government of Pakistan to crack down on these elements and remove its Satanic Blasphemy Law that has led to all this extremism”, he said.
He also condemned the Jamaat-e-Islami which has been consistently supporting the blasphemy law and opposed attempts to reduce the rigour of the law by introducing the option of repentance “This view of the Jamaat-e-Islami is not a Godly view but rather a Satanic idea, since it does not recognize the basic Islamic principle of repentance. It is not the way of Islam, but the way of Satan, the unrepentant one who did not repent of his sin in disobeying God. It is Satan who does not believe in repentance. But God is Merciful and always accepts the repentance of sinners. As such, we urge the Jamaat e-Islami to rethink its position in the light of true Islamic teachings instead of sticking to its warped logic and giving Islam a bad name” he added.