By Farman Nawaz (Daily Outlook Afghanistan) – By Mistake this article was published by line (Jawad Rehmani)
The people, who support secularism, are of the opinion that religion is something personal and state should not impose its religion by declaring any religion as state religion because it is considered interference in some ones religion – which is considered a private matter. But here the problem arises that if any individual tries to interfere or degrade some ones religion then what should the state’s law say. At this point secular people are silent. They must also think about those people whose religious sentiments are hurt.
If we cannot tolerate the state’s right to interfere in religious matter then surely if an individual is using derogatory words against some one religion then it the duty of the state to punish that person. But here in Pakistan the situation is different. Here the customs say that religion is some thing not private. State has the authority to safeguard Islam and it will ensure the propagation of the religion. But the same right – which is also given to minorities in the constitution of the Pakistan – is prohibited for minorities to practice. They are not allowed to propagate their religion. Even Shia Muslim community is not allowed to offer “Azan” publicly in the most parts of the country.
Now the problem arises when Muslims preach Islam to minorities because in response non-Muslims are not allowed to raise any questions. Even their questions are considered derogatory to Islam. But the Holy Quran says that Muslims should preach with logic. If non-Muslims are even not allowed to argue so can we present Islam logically?
On the other hand many non-Muslims are killed on the charges of using derogatory words for our Holy prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). There are three viewpoints about the blasphemy law. One group is of the opinion that this law is according to the teachings of Islam. They strongly oppose any alteration in the law. The second group is of the opinion that this law is only used against the minorities and it is against the international law and morality that’s why it should be totally abrogated. Third group of people are of the opinion that there must be blasphemy laws but it must be made compulsory that these laws should not be used against innocents.
Nowadays in Pakistan, the issue of Asia Masih is becoming a point of politics for many. Politicians must not exploit the death of some one. She is given death sentence by the lower court but still higher courts can solve this issue. However, it will be a challenge for the Supreme Court of Pakistan because in the past a judge is killed in one such case. Secondly, if the blamed person is not proved guilty in the courts even then that person life is not safe.
In this case of Asia the real competition is between sacredness and the real situation. Blasphemy law was introduced to stop people from killing such people who use derogatory words against Islam but now because of the flawed judicial system in Pakistan people are using this law as a tool to teach a lesson to their opponents. In case of Asia Masih the eyewitnesses are two women. But in “Hadood” ordinance the evidence of a woman is not acceptable. Why we are not applying the same case in point on this issue? Even if their evidence is accepted, again two female witnesses are equivalent to one man. Secondly, these eyewitnesses are also the opponents of Asia Masih. It means that still this case needs attention of the Chief Justice Iftakhar Muhammad Chudary. He has such stature in Pakistan nowadays that his point of view can not be rejected by the hardliners. He has the moral and legal support to solve this issue. Other judges may feel hesitation to touch this issue.
The higher courts must also notice the issue that there must be some distinction between the people who deliberately use derogatory words against Islam and they try to publish or broadcast their opinions to the masses, and those people who have used such derogatory words against Islam in their personal quarrels. Because may be the opponents had also used derogatory words against their religion that is why they could not control their emotions.
We must also look into the issue from the angle that what the Islam says in this matter. Is Islam insists on severe punishment in this matter or Islam supports amnesty to promote the preaching and propagation of Islam? We should also think that Asia has asked for pardon and she has no intention to do so in future. Instead of hanging a woman, we must set such an example that can attract non-Muslims to come closer to Islam because extremists have already defamed Islam as religion of terror. How we will face our prophet at the judgment day if we are beheading innocent and weak people?