I am totally confused about the blasphemy law in Islam.Islamic ummah seems to be divided on the issue.What are your views?Kindly give clear references from Quran, Hadith and Fiqh.
Blasphemy against the Prophet is a crime which, without shadow of a doubt, deserves to be punished severely, and in its extreme form, where the blasphemy is likely to spread anarchy, a death penalty can even be issued to the perpetrator of the crime. However, just as it is important to punish such criminals, it is equally important to ensure that the crime has taken place in an unambiguous form and that the criminal doesn’t deserve any lenience.
A lot has been written on the issue. This is our very humble contribution to this highly sensitive topic.
The references of jurisprudence (fiqhi) given in this write up have been taken from the work of an Islamic scholar (Amir Gazdar).
-Firstly, according to Quran, death penalty can be given in ONLY TWO types of crimes:
2-Promoting anarchy and disorder
Surah Maidah (5) verse 32 says:
“Whoever kills a person—neither as a punishment for murder nor as a punishment for promoting disorder in the land—is as if he has killed the whole of humankind”
Secondly, the Quran mentions on number of occasions how all the Prophets of God, including Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), were insulted by their addressees, yet not once does Allah command the Prophet (PBUH) or his companions to react angrily.
Thirdly, the Quran, Ahadith, and the entire Muslim ummah unanimously agree that the Islamic punishments can only be given by an established and sovereign state. Therefore, if an individual or a group attempts to implement these punishments on their own, they could be declared to be someone who is promoting disorder in the land, and hence could be subjected to capital punishments prescribed by Quran for such crimes.
Fourthly, there are a number of differing opinions on the punishment for blasphemy even amongst the most prominent religious figures and Sahaba. The following references will clarify our argument;
“It is correct that Imam Malik, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, Imam lais bin Saad, Ibn Taimiah and some other fuqahas are of the opinion that punishment of blasphemy against prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is death penalty, however, Hazrat Ali (RA), Hazrat Ibn Abbas (RA), Imam Abu Hanifa and his students, Imam Shafi and, according to one reference, Imam Malik and Imam Hanbal, stress that the accused’s repentance will not only be accepted in the court of law, but he/she will also be encouraged to seek forgiveness from God as well. Some scholars also say that the accused should be given at least three days to repent. Hazrat Ali (RA) suggests that he should be given a time of two months, while Imam Nakhaee and Imam Sauri are of the opinion that the accused should be given as much time as possible if his/her repentance is expected”.
Lastly and most importantly, the killings mentioned in Ahadith for blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) need to be investigated thoroughly. Some of these Ahadith have been transmitted through unreliable sources, so we will not discuss them. We will take up the ones which mention killing of Ka’ab bin Ashraf, as it is commonly referred to by both friends and foes. Bukhari and Muslim have mentioned his killing through reliable sources and hence these Ahadith deserve to be analysed critically under the light of Quran.
It is extremely important to note that Ka’ab bin Ashraf and the likes of him were not killed just for blasphemy. These people were guilty of rejecting a messenger (Rasul) of God. According to the divine law elaborated in Quran in many places, including the Old Testament, if the addressees of a Rasul (messenger) of God turn their backs on the Rasul despite the truth becoming crystal clear to them, then they lose their right to live as the Rasul is a representative of God, and rejecting him is akin to rejecting God. Such criminals have been awarded punishments over history, which can be seen in both the Quran and Bible. However, this divine law is clearly associated with the presence of a Rasul among his addressees. In the case of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), this punishment was given to polytheists of Mecca in battle of Badr and during other encounters. This divine law has nothing to do with the permanent Shariah brought by the Prophet (PBUH), which is to stay with the Ummah until the Day of Judgement.
Ka’ab bib Ashraf, in addition, was guilty of four crimes;
-He was a rejecter of Allah’s Messenger (his main crime)
-He violated the treaty done between his tribe (Banu Nazir) and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). According to the treaty Banu Nazir were to stay neutral between Muslims and Quraish but he sided with Quraish.
-He plotted to murder prophet Muhammad (PBUH) (History by Ahmad bin Yaqoob)
-He used to ridicule the Prophet (PBUH) and insult Muslim women openly through his poetry.
As can be seen through this write up, in Islamic Shariah there is no death penalty for blasphemy against the Prophet (PBUH) unless the issue reaches a level where a society is in danger of being thrown into disorder. In that case such criminals will be subjected to capital punishments based on surah Maidah (5) verse 33.
Hope the answer helps!