Blasphemy And Apostasy Laws: Islam or Hislam?

In January 2011, the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was gunned down by one of his own security guards over a controversial move — opposing the blasphemy law in Pakistan. Although thousands of Pakistanis condemned this by attending his funeral and showing support on social media, religious fanatics hailed his murderer as a hero, recently naming a mosque after him.

As a Muslim, I stand firmly against blasphemy laws. My faith demands that I do so, for it repeatedly asks me to stand for justice and fight oppression.

The Quran shows us that even though God’s prophets were mocked and threatened, they never killed their accusers for hurting their “religious sentiments.” In fact, the Quran opposes any laws that restrain freedom of speech or would have someone killed over differences in belief. Rather, Quran 73:10 says, “Be patient over what they say, and leave them graciously.”

So how did these blasphemy and apostasy laws come to be associated with Islam?

The blasphemy and apostasy laws are found in the Hadeeth, sayings attributed to Prophet Mohammad, which were compiled two-three centuries after his death. Muslims know that no Hadeeth should contradict the Quran if they are to be accepted, given their subjective nature and reliance on the Quran for authenticity.

But early scholars intentionally overlooked this to protect the interests of clergymen and political leaders. These oppressive laws allow them to exercise complete control over people, punishing anyone who threatens their position by declaring them apostates — enemies of Islam. To so many clergymen, religion is nothing but a means to gain power and control people. To keep out competition and force their monopoly, they invent laws in the name of God so “consumers” have no choice but to keep buying their “product.” Or else, face persecution.

Religious leaders like Tahir-ul-Qadri, a staunch proponent of blasphemy laws, rule people by fear. Add to that the fact that the average Muslim is unaware of the Quran’s teachings, which makes them likely to believe whatever the clergy tells them about Islam. Of these leaders, the Qur’an asks us to be weary: “O You who have believed! A great many religious leaders: rabbis, priests, monks, Mullahs, yogis, and mystics devour the wealth of people in falsehood, and bar them from the path of God” (Quran 9:34).

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So what exactly does the Quran say about blasphemy and apostasy?

Quite frankly, blasphemy and apostasy laws are themselves blasphemous to the teachings of the Qur’an. Not in the traditional sense, but because they violate the very instructions the scripture gives regarding freedom of belief.

Regarding apostasy, in Quran 2:256 God says, “There is no compulsion in matters of faith. The right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces false authorities and becomes at peace with God has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. God is Hearer, Knower.”

In a similar vein, verse 109:6 instructs adherents to end a debate by saying: “To you, your belief system. And to me, mine.”

If all that isn’t convincing enough, Quran 10:99 should seal the deal: “If your Lord willed, all who are on earth, would have believed (by not providing free will). Would you then, compel people to become believers?”

When it comes to blasphemy, I often hear some version of, “Hold on. If someone mocks my religion, it prompts me to act violently. You see, it makes me very emotional.”

But this statement only shows an ignorance of the Quran, which says in verse 6:68, “When you see them engaged in vain discourse about Our verses, turn away from them unless they engage in a different subject. If Satan ever makes you forget (i.e. your mind gets engrossed in their discourse,) then as soon as you recollect, no longer sit in the company of the people who confound the truth with falsehood.”

Here, Muslims are instructed to engage with these people if they change the topic. Certainly that means we’re not to have enmity towards them, let alone kill them!

And, again, Quran 28:55 instructs, “Whenever they (believers) hear vain talk of ridicule, they withdraw from it decently and say, ‘“To us our deeds and to you yours; Peace be upon you, we do not seek to join the ignorant.”

Those verses are practically shouting freedom of expression at the top of their lungs! Islam is a very progressive path to God, one in which differences in opinions and beliefs are accepted, not punished (Quran 39:18). On the other hand, blasphemy and apostasy laws lead to negative misconceptions about Islam being an oppressive faith.

But what are we Muslims to do? By not voicing our disapproval, we stand for these anti-Quranic laws and call them Islam. Is that not like setting your own house on fire? There is not a single verse that encourages Muslims to act violently toward those who leave Islam, or even mock the Quran. After all, shouldn’t truth be able to defend itself on its own merit? What good is a forced belief?

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We can even take it a step further by noting how rejecters treated the prophets.

Of Prophet Nooh: “They said, ‘If you do not desist, O Noah, you will surely be of those who are stoned’” (Quran 26:116).

Prophet Ibrahim’s father said, ”Do you dislike my gods, O Abraham? If you cease not, I will certainly cause you to be stoned to death! Now get away from me for good” (Quran 19:46). Similarly, the priesthood said of Ibrahim, “Burn him alive and uphold your gods if you are going to take any action” (Quran 21:68).

Regarding Prophet Musa, “[Pharaoh] said, ‘If you take a god/authority other than me, I will surely place you among those imprisoned’” (Quran 26:29). To Musa’s followers, Pharaoh also said, “I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and I will surely crucify you all” (Quran 26:49).”

These verses should reveal to us a different perspective: all prophets were seen as blasphemers and apostates to the prevalent religion of their time. To condone the oppressive laws of religious leaders today is to support ill treatment of the prophets. After all, you would’ve done the same!

And that’s the most ironic part. If a messenger were to come today, these clergymen and their ardent followers would utter the same threats to him. They have fabricated their own laws in the name of God, so when you ask them to reform, they either consider you a blasphemer or an apostate and have a fatwa issued to kill you.  That’s the scary thing about truth: it doesn’t warrant aggression but is always met with it.

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This is not a matter of interpretation, as some would call it. The Quran condemns forced belief in numerous verses. Rather, this is a matter of giving preference to the Hadeeth over the Quran to justify bigotry and extremism in the name of Islam. Having said that, it’s up to you whether you want to rethink your stance or keep blindly following what you have been taught — whether you want to follow Islam or Hislam. Because unlike misguided religious fanatics, sincere believers never force their beliefs on others.

What’s the Golden Rule, again? “Any secondary source on Islam that goes against the Quran should be rejected.”

Often said, but seldom followed.

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Oh, Maulana Tariq Jameel…

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Just a while ago, I was listening to a talk given by Mr.Tariq Jameel (revered by many) and found out some very interesting things. Let me begin by saying that his lectures are somewhat better than what is usually propagated by other clergymen. As you might be aware, I am not against scholars. Rather, I am of the opinion that before listening to anyone speaking about Islam, read the Quran for yourself. And I will demonstrate why:

I will add the reference, but the context of the video is that the angel of death had come to take Prophet Mohammad’s soul. In his exact words: “Peace be upon you, Messenger of Allah. Till this day, I have never greeted anyone, you are the first.”

Now, when I heard this, immediately a verse came to mind:

Those whom the angels gather in death while they are in a state of inner purity, greeting them thus: “Peace be upon you! Enter paradise by virtue of what you were doing [in life]!” 16:32

Does it refer to the exclusivity of Mohammad? No, every noble human being is greeted by words and gestures of peace.

Furthermore, in another video, Mr. Tariq was talking about how every other Prophet except Mohammad (salutes and respect to him) would only be caring about himself on the Day of Judgement. Mr. Tariq Jameel described it like this: “ And the Prophets will say: Nafsee, Nafsee! Save me God, I do not intercede for anyone else on my behalf. But what would Mohammad do? He would be the lone person seeking forgiveness for his “Ummah.”

But, what would Prophet Mohammad actually say on the Day of Judgement?

And the Messenger will say, “O my Lord, indeed my people have taken this Qur’an as [a thing] abandoned.” 25:30

Here, we see, that he is in fact complaining about his people having totally abandoned the Quran. And this is the case with us today! We have no idea what the book says, only what so and so scholar told us about.

And, the concept of intercession by prophets is a lie. You can read about it here.

So it all boils down to two scenarios. Either Mr. Tariq Jameel is ignorant about these verses, or he is purposely misguiding his audience about Islam. Both ways, it doesn’t paint a very good picture of him. Do you see why I am against blind following? I skimmed through the comments on these videos, and not a single person had tried to rectify his mistake. All I could see was “Subhan Allah, Masha Allah, wow that is so true.” Why? No education about the Quran.

Personally speaking, having read the Quran, I have the luxury of knowing when a person is speaking from the Quran and when he is speaking out of his own desires and attributing it to Islam. Hence, I would heartily advise you to please familiarize yourself with what God has to say about first, then listen to other people’s opinion. Without a Furqan (criterion), how can you judge?

References: 1st video –http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnjWTomBUVk
2nd video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvPU8Guj0fg

Follow The Voice Within

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If you call yourself a Muslim, but haven’t read the Quran — then the best course of action to take would be to obviously read it. No one is born into a religion just as you can’t be born into a political ideology. I can’t call myself a Communist if I haven’t researched it for myself. Bear in mind, that when you decide to identify yourself as a Muslim to other people, you decide to become an ambassador of Islam. People who aren’t familiar with Islam will usually base their opinion on it according to your actions.

However, even if you can’t get yourself to read it for some reason or the other, the least you could do is follow your conscience. Now, by conscience, I mean the inner voice which never shies away from expressing itself –The Rooh (Spirit/Soul) of God that is within us all (15:29). No one can be spiritually content if their actions are negative. As an example, don’t drink, gamble, fornicate, backbite, lie, spend lavishly, cause corruption etc. If only you happen to avoid such things, then congratulations! You have adhered to many teachings of Islam as well as all the other religions. See, every religion stresses the importance of behaving morally. That is essentially the core of them all. And we all know that you don’t need religion to teach you morals. The soul already knows what’s right and wrong. Just listen to it!

Having said that, it is of paramount importance that you read the Quran sooner than later. Why? Because then you’ll not be as gullible as most religionists usually are. Since you have no foundation of the Quran, “scholars” can basically feed you anything and attribute it to Islam and you won’t know what hit you. That’s why, some of them (if not most!) try to keep people away from reading the Quran for themselves. After all, their bread and butter depend on it! They discourage people from forming their own opinions lest they interpret it ‘wrongly’. Or, the promises of rewards that one gets by reading the Quran in a language he doesn’t even understand! How ridiculous! The Quran is a practical guide on life. The sole purpose of this book is to bring people out of darkness, towards light (14:2).   It is a book that yearns to be understood, and most importantly implemented!     

So if you don’t want to be fooled, read it. After having read the Quran, you will have developed a criterion from which you can judge whether a statement is Quranic or not. That’s where the “blasphemy law” comes in to silence those who speak truth, a law so contradictory to the message of the Quran! (You can read it about it here)

Follow your conscience, think for yourself & evolve!

5 Misconceptions about Islam.

Hello & Peace be with you! I want to share some of my thoughts with you on Islam. I’ve really had enough of “my religion/sect is right and yours is false” line of thinking.
  1. Allah (The God) is NOT a man in the sky. God is everywhere and is hence timeless/boundless. None can fathom His form, yet He perceives everything (Apparent or hidden – 6:103). When the Qur’an refers to his “face” (2:272), it refers to His existence as the face is covered when one dies. Beautifully presented, but taken literally by some people unfortunately. In addition, when He refers to His “hands” (36:71), it obviously denotes His strength! And that is a pretty straightforward thing to understand.
  2. Every Prophet came with the same message, and that was Islam (42:13). Islam is NOT a label or a religion of the Arabs. Rather, it is the means to achieve peace (what Islam means) in your inner self, in the society, and eventually in the Hereafter.
  3. Allah is NOT an economist who observes behaviors and patterns, and then passes laws accordingly. He is the Creator and hence knows its Creation perfectly. He knows what will work and what wouldn’t. Hence, his laws do not ever change! To think otherwise would obviously demean His Knowledge (33:62).
  4. Malaika (angels) are NOT endowed with wings! Wings denote power and speed. They are the universal forces, I believe. When Allah says: “Jibrael (Malaika) brings down the revelation to your hearts” (2:97), it is NOT an angel with wings that does so. It is only a natural phenomenon that whenever you study the book with interest and conviction, the force Jibrael brings down the revelation to you. It is automatic! Just like a pen is bound to fall if it is dropped! No “angel brings it down”. Malaika praise Allah by carrying out his commands in the universe, not by humming his Praises. He is FAR above what we attribute to Him. He does not need our Praise. He only wants us to acknowledge His existence, follow his commands (to attain peace) and stay connected with Him (Salat) for our own betterment!
  5. Salat (Prayer) is NOT necessarily a rigid bundle of rituals. It is your connection with God. So, just as there is no “set” method of eating/studying/teaching/conversing, Connection with God is also a thing which should come naturally to you. How that comes to you is none of my or anyone else’s business. If you find it in rituals, please continue to do so (without invoking anyone else of course, including the prophets). If you find it in reading the Qur’an, then that can also be considered as Salat. The prime focus should be on what derives the most connection, not mindless rituals on which people debate even today! The important thing is to establish a connection whereby one can feel His presence at all times. 2:67-71 deals with this beautifully. It is to be noted that I do not condemn rituals, just the overemphasis on them.

See, the Deen (Way of life) by Allah is very easy to implement. In a nutshell, it is to develop your inner self, help other people to the best of your abilities by opposing tyranny in the land, and being at peace with the Hereafter. That’s all! Now the problem is, no money can be made if the Deen of Allah was this simple since there would be absolutely no need of endless priests/imams. That’s where they come in and make the Deen difficult for everyone to implement (by coming out with their own books and laws) and thus making one of the worst crimes by making the Qur’an dependent on THEM (57:27). They divide people into sects and delude them into thinking that only their followers will achieve salvation. Examples are in front of you!

Now some of these concepts might be new to you, but if you’re reading this, I just want to thank you. And I want you to think about it with a clear head. Are we doing justice to the Supreme Creator by dividing into religions, and worse even, sects? And that we fight with each other that our version is the best and others are doomed for fire when we don’t even need any book to teach us about how to spend this life! It’s installed in every single one of us! We already know what is good and what is bad. The Qur’an is a reminder (Dhikr) for a reason. It reminds you of what’s already there! The only reason we might not be at peace is because of the piles of garbage that has been fed to us, unfortunately by our own family, society, and priests (knowingly or unknowingly). Hence the need of Qur’an, only to polish our souls! So break the shackles and set free! Don’t let anyone think for you and dictate YOUR life. Do it yourself! If you disagree with any of my points, fair enough! Your path should be unique since you have to walk on it. I am nobody to tell you to do this or do that. Focus on your spirituality! Walk your own path!

Finally, if you find anything useful out of this, it is only from the Lord of the Universe and I am really humbled to him for making me at peace with His book and Himself. What I condemn today, I was a part of a year ago so I know how it feels like. You can defend your imams all you want but it does not change the fact that they’re one of the biggest problems why the so called “Muslim world” is totally opposite to what its name suggests, and that is to attain peace and security.

Thank you for your time 🙂