Islam and Blasphemy:
Muslim Conduct of State  

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Article 18 Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to   change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in   community with others and in  public or private, to manifest his  religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

-- From the UN Declaration of Human Rights


Article 19 Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

-- From the UN Declaration of Human Rights

Brutal Murder of Ashiq Nabi by the Mob for Blasphemy in Pakistan:
Appeal for Justice and the Abolition of Blasphemy Law

To: President of Pakistan, Governments of the Muslims Countries, UN Commission for Human Rights

"Today, a mob spotted him
and shot him dead

~ Mazahar ul-Haq
Nowshera police chief

Recently in Nowshera District in Pakistan, a man named Ashiq Nabi [external: BBC News], was brutally murdered for the unproven allegation of blasphemy by an angry mob following a rumor that he had damaged a copy of the Qur’an deliberately. As the rumor spread rapidly, a 400-plus village mob chased Mr. Nabi through the fields, who finally sought refuge up on a tree where he was shot dead by someone in the mob. This is one of many frequent cases of murder for those accused of blasphemy in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Many people, mostly from minority religions, are often jailed in Pakistan on charges of blasphemy. Sentencing to death for blasphemy is not uncommon in Pakistan; the most well-known case being that of Dr. Younis Sheikh, who was ultimately acquitted because of intense international pressure. Dr Sheikh, still in fear for his life, has now taken refuge in a Western country. However, people accused of blasphemy, are often murdered by religious mob, who believe it to be their religious duty as Muslims to kill those who desert or disrespect Islam. Indeed, death for blasphemy is common to all over the Muslims world. The case of Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasrin (Bangladesh), who are under “Islamic rogue justice” called “fatwa” and currently hiding in Western countries, are just a few well-known cases. Also recently Prof. Humayun Azad of Bangladesh was fatally assaulted by Islamic zealots for allegedly defaming Islam in his book, who finally died in Germany on 11 August, 2004.

Historically, Muslims have killed those who desert Islam (apostates) as well as those who deny the words of Prophet Muhammad or the content of Qur’an as divine truth. This brutal custom of killing the blasphemers was started by the Prophet Muhammad himself in the 7th century and continues even till today in the Muslims countries. Passages in the Ahadiths/Sunnah (actions and sayings of Prophet Muhammad: Sahih Bukhari 4:52:260, 5:59:369 etc.) recorded Prophet Muhammad ordering to kill those who disrespected or deserted Islam.

Sahih Bukhari 4:52:260:
Narrated Ikrima: Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn 'Abbas, who said, "Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, 'Don't punish (anybody) with Allah's Punishment. 'No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, 'If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.'

Sahih Bukhari 5:59:369:
Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:  Allah's Apostle said, "Who is willing to kill Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?" Thereupon Muhammad bin Maslama got up saying, "O Allah's Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?" The Prophet said, "Yes,"

The Quran also contains verses that sanction killing of the disbelievers or deserters of Islam (Quran 4:89, 9:12, 33:15-16, 33:60-61). For example:
They long that ye should disbelieve even as they disbelieve, that ye may be upon a level (with them). So choose not friends from them till they forsake their homes in the way of Allah; if they turn back (to enmity) then take them and kill them wherever ye find them, and choose no friend, nor helper from among them.  [Quran 4:89]

Does the Koran incite violence?

This idea of murdering those, who express opinions opposing or disrespecting any religion or prophet, is a vestige of the medieval barbaric traditions that has no place in today’s modern world of excellence in human rights and dignity where fundamental human rights must be assured to people in every country of the world. Articles 18 and 19 of the United Nation’s Declaration of Universal Human Rights guarantee the freedom of choosing, practicing and preaching one’s religion and belief as well as freedom of expression of one’s opinion without interference or fear. The blasphemy penal law, which carries penalty as severe as death, is in outright contravention of UN’s Declaration of Universal Human Rights and is barbaric and unacceptable today.

We, the members of Vinnomot [, an internet congregation of Bengali and international mix ] feel that such barbaric and cruel laws should not exist anywhere in the world and should be abolished without delay. We also express concern about the passages in the holy Qur’an and Ahadiths / Sunnah which frequently incite the religious Muslims to take justice in their own hands, even in countries without blasphemy laws, resulting in the unfortunate murder and torture of the so-called blasphemers. Even in the Western countries, despite being a minority, zealot Muslims and Imams routinely calls for death of the alleged blasphemers

We appeal to the President of Pakistan to take stern actions against those responsible for the barbaric murder of Ashiq Nabi and we plead with him to take immediate steps to repeal this barbaric blasphemy law which contravenes the universal human rights. We also appeal to Governments and the religious authorities of the Muslim nations to look into the religious text which spontaneously instigate the general public to “mob justice” to kill and torture the alleged blasphemers. Unless the religious basis of such brutal acts are properly interpreted or edited, the devout religious Muslims would continue to resort to such cruel “rogue justice”.

We also appeal to the United Nations to take her Declaration of Universal Human Rights seriously and work with or pressurize (if needed) member Governments to abolish such uncivilized criminal laws, including their religious bases.

We also appeal to those, who value life, human rights and human dignity, to sign this petition so as to raise your voice and conscience against such unacceptable and barbaric cruelty that still exists in our civilized world.

Sign Petition Here


BBC: Pakistan mob kills 'blasphemer'
A mob of angry villagers in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province has killed a man accused of blasphemy, police say.

Aasheq Nabi was shot dead in Nowshera district, 30km (18 miles) from Peshawar, after reports he had burnt a copy of the Koran.  News of the alleged desecration spread rapidly, bringing people onto the streets and calls for his arrest.

Correspondents say it is the first time in several years that a blasphemy case in Pakistan has involved mob violence.

Police said on Wednesday they had raided Mr Nabi's house in the Pabbi area, but the 400-strong mob found him first.
Witnesses say he was chased through fields and sought refuge up a tree before being shot dead by someone in the crowd.
Police said Mr Nabi, who was in his 40s, had been in hiding since Monday.
"We registered a case against him on Tuesday, but he was shot dead today before we could arrest him," local police official Abdul Razzaq told the Associated Press.

He said Mr Nabi's family had been among those who reported him to police.

Police have yet to make any arrests in connection with the lynching.

'Flawed' law
Under Pakistani law, the death penalty is mandatory for anyone convicted of blasphemy.

Human rights activists describe the law as deeply flawed.

They allege that since coming into force, it has been used to settle personal scores and to target minorities.

Over the last 15 years or so, dozens of Pakistanis - including Christians, Muslims and Ahmadiyya (a sect declared non-Muslim under Pakistan's constitution) - have been charged with blasphemy.

In 1994, religious extremists shot dead a Christian, Manzur Masih, who was accused of blasphemy but was acquitted by the Lahore High Court. He died on the spot and two of his co-accused - also acquitted by the court - were seriously injured.

Three years later, Arif Iqbal Bhatti, the judge who had acquitted Manzur and his co-accused, was also shot dead.

In 1998, a Pakistani bishop, John Joseph, committed suicide in protest against the laws.

BBC News article

Does the Koran incite violence?

This is a reproduction of paragraphs 330 to 335 from
Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah's The Muslim Conduct of State.

To wage war against apostates is justified on the same principle as that on which the punishment of a solitary apostate is based. The basis of Muslim polity being religious and not ethnological or linguistic, it is not difficult to appreciate the reason for penalizing the act of apostasy, for it constitutes a politico-religious rebellion. The greater the harm of a given rebellion to a polity, the greater is the severity of repression. Every civilization, not the least the modern Western one - both in the communistic and capitalistic manifestations - has provided capital punishment against violating the integrity of what it considers its very raison d'etre; and one cannot deny that right to Islam. As an independent organic community, Islam will have the liberty to determine what points should be dearer to it: color of one's skin, language spoken by its subjects or ideology which animates its existence. As a passing remark, let us recall that the Byzantine law of the epoch of the Prophet also punished with death the apostasy from the Byzantine sect of Christianity. (paragraph 330)

A peaceful protest was held in Washington, DC in front of
the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,
on Sept.
22, 2001,
 to support freedom for Dr. Younis Shaikh
and other victims of BLASPHEMY STATUES.  A copy of
an on-line petition on behalf of Dr. Shaikh, as well as a
Statement of Concerns was presented to officials at the
Embassy by Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists.

Individual members of several groups including Amnesty
International, Washington Area Secular Humanists, American
Humanist Association, American Atheists and other
organizations joined in this important show of solidarity on
behalf of Dr. Shaikh.

Photos of the demonstration and other information are at

Apostasy in Muslim law means turning from Islam after being a Muslim. Not only does it occur when a person declares his conversion to some non-Islamic religion, but also when he refuses to believe in any and every basic article of the Islamic faith. (paragraph 331)


The sayings and doings of the Prophet, the decision and practice of the Caliph Abu Bakr, the consensus of the opinion of the Companions of the Prophet and all the later Muslim jurisconsults, and even certain indirect verses of the Qur'an, all prescribe capital punishment for an apostate. In the case of apostasy, no distinction is made between a Muslim born of Muslim parents and a convert; and similarly there is no difference between accepting Judaism or Christianity, atheism or idol-worship or any other non-Islamic faith. Nevertheless, Muslim jurists emphasize that before prosecuting and condemning an apostate, it is necessary officially to discuss the matter with him and to remove his doubts regarding the soundness and reasonableness of the Islamic point of view in the matter concerned. Time is given him for reflection sometimes even for months before finally proceeding with the prosecution. There is no difference between a free man and a slave, as Sarakhsiy is explicit. (paragraph 332)



The Holy Qur'an: Text,
Translation & Commentary

Abdullah Yusuf Ali (Editor)

In case an insane person, a delirious, a melancholy and perplexed man, a minor, or intoxicated, one who had declared his faith in Islam under coercion, and a person whose faith in Islam has not been known or established were to become apostate, they would not suffer the supreme penalty. So, too, an apostate woman, or a hermaphrodite, according to the Hanafi school of law, would not be condemned to death, but imprisoned and even physically tortured. An old man from whom no offspring is expected is also excepted. (paragraph 333)


The apostate has to choose between Islam and the sword; he cannot be given quarter, nor will he be allowed to become a dhimmi, i.e. a resident non-Muslim subject of the Muslim State, on payment of the yearly protection-tax. (paragraph 334)

De jure he is dead. So if he does not re-embrace Islam, and escapes to some non-Muslim territory, his property in the Islamic territory will be distributed among his Muslim heirs as if he were dead. In addition to this, the debts owed to him will be wiped out if he has reached non-Muslim territory. This is what Mawardi says, but I wonder why these debts should not be inherited by the heirs of the renegade just like the rest of his property." (paragraph 335)

Muhammad Hamidullah, The Muslim Conduct of State, Lahore, Pakistan: Sheikh Muhammad Ashraf, 1977.

  Editorial: Blasphemy and Apostasy

The fair name of Islam has recently been darkened by the murderous directive issued by certain Muslim leaders and endorsed by their supporters that Salman Rusdhie must be assassinated as a result of his making blasphemous remarks about the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in his book Satanic Verses. No doubt Salman Rushdie has been guilty of blasphemy but this is not an offence for which the death penalty is prescribed by Islam. Not at all. No such instruction is contained in the holy Quran and it is a significant point to bear in mind that not one protagonist demanding his assassination has quoted a single verse from the Holy Quran as a basis of authority. No Prophet of God was more blasphemed, maligned, insulted and abused during his life-time than the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. He and his faithful followers were subjected to every kind of verbal invective and physical harassment. He was forced to migrate from Mecca to Medina due to the severity of persecution by the Meccans. Ten years later he returned to Mecca with ten thousand followers who could have taken the town by storm but the Holy Prophet saw and forbade any bloodshed. Much to the amazement of the Meccans he forgave them their cruel enormities and this was his general attitude throughout his life towards his enemies and blasphemous opponents. All Muslims look upon the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, as a perfect exemplar for mankind and they would do well to be moved and guided by his noble example. Voices have also been raised that Salman Rushdie is an apostate from Islam for which the punishment is death. We hasten to state that not only is no such punishment for apostasy prescribed in the Holy Quran but on the other hand the following verse completely refutes this erroneous claim:

Those who believe, then disbelieve, then again believe, then disbelieve and then increase in disbelief, Allah will never forgive them nor will He guide them to the right way. (4:138)

This verse proclaims that persons who renounce Islam have the opportunity to re-enter Islam if they so choose. This verse disproves the assertion that according to the Holy Quran an apostate should be put to death. Were death the automatic punishment for an apostate then there arises no question of having the opportunity to join Islam again. This verse mentions apostates who again accept Islam.

There is no mention in the Holy Quran or anywhere else of any punishment for an apostate which may be meted out to him by any other person. The consequences of his apostasy in this world and in the next life lie solely in the hands of God. Man is free to accept or reject whatever beliefs he chooses. God says in the Holy Quran:

There is no compulsion in religion. (2:257)

It is the truth from your Lord; wherefore let him who will believe and let him who will disbelieve. (18:30)

Islam recognizes the right of freedom of conscience and freedom of belief and that as far as one's religious belief is concerned one is answerable to God alone. No man has the right to punish another for his choice of belief. There is absolutely no compulsion whatsoever in Islam and no punishment of any kind permitted in the Holy Quran for apostasy.

Human rights are laid own in the Holy Quran which guarantee man the right of perfect freedom of faith and conscience. In such matters God is the Judge - not man. Our constant prayer is Guide us on the Right Path. (1:6) - Amen.

Transcribed from  Review of Religions  April, May 1989  No. 4, 5  Vol. LXXIV     Copyright © 2001, American Atheists, Inc.

Australian Cleric finds inanimate objects at "fault"
Muslim cleric and the mufti of Australia's biggest mosque Sheikh Taj El-Din Hamid Hilaly
is surrounded by supporters as he leaves midday prayers at Sydney's Lakemba Mosque.
 October 27, 2006.
 (D a v i d   G r a y / R e u t e r s)

Australian cleric refuses to quit  over "meat" sermon

"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the
street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard
without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault
is it, the cats or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat
is the problem," Hilaly said, according to a newspaper
   CANBERRA (Reuters) OCT 2006

Australia's top Muslim cleric, suspended from preaching after
describing women who do not dress modestly as "uncovered
meat," rejected calls to resign, saying he would not do so the
 White House was cleaned out. He apologized for his
comments, which he said had been misinterpreted and taken
out of context
. In a sermon last month, he said sexual assaults
might not happen if women wore a hijab and stayed at home.