Religious Divisions over Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law

Source: Tony Blair Faith Foundation

Yasser Latif Hamdani

The recent execution of Malik Mumtaz Qadri, who assassinated the governor of Punjab, shines a spotlight on Pakistan’s religious puzzle.

The recent execution of Malik Mumtaz Qadri, the police guard who shot and killed Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer in 2011, has once again brought to light deep Pakistani divisions on the thorny issue of blasphemy. Mumtaz Qadri targeted the late governor for describing Pakistan’s rigid blasphemy law as draconian. For many Pakistanis, this in itself was blasphemy. In deciding Qadri’s appeal against his death sentence, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that questioning blasphemy law does not amount to blasphemy, but this did little to assuage the opposition of Barelvis, Pakistan’s largest Sunni group.

At the heart of the blasphemy debate is Pakistan’s sectarian make up. Not only is Pakistan home to the second-largest Shia population in the world, but its Sunni majority is divided into three groups: the Barelvis, the Deobandis and the Ahl-e-Hadith. Barelvi Sunni Islam has long been considered the “low church” of Islam in Pakistan, a softer, popular form of the faith that eschews violence. This is only partly true, however. Consider the fact that Mumtaz Qadri was a Barelvi; so were the majority of people who agitated against his execution.

At the heart of the blasphemy debate is Pakistani sectarianism.

The perception of Barelvi Islam as popular and non-violent goes back to the sect’s founder, Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi (1856-1921), a Sufi Islamic scholar. His main doctrine, at least as far as the British were concerned, was political quietism, a doctrinal withdrawal from politics. He argued that since Muslim religious freedom was assured in British India, Muslims were obligated to live as loyal subjects. His approach to the veneration of the Prophet Mohammed also distinguished Barelvis from other Sunni groups.

Barelvi Islam, often associated with the syncretic Sufi culture of the subcontinent, is considered more permissive than the Deobandi sect, whose followers adhere to a strict code of religious law. The third group, Ahl-e-Hadith, is the South Asian variant of the Wahhabi and Salafi movements. The difference between Deobandis and Ahl-e-Hadith followers is that the latter are ghair muqalid, meaning that they do not follow a tradition of Islamic knowledge. Instead, they apply their own intellect to the Quran and the Hadith, or sayings of the Prophet. Yet another Pakistani variant of Islam is the Ahmadi sect. Many see their beliefs as heretical and Pakistan’s consitution declares them non-Muslims.


3 replies

    Al Quran is Holy, Allah’s words, promote peace, compassion, love, harmony, tolerance, forgiveness , respect different religion, do not judge others, justice for all people regardless his religion, race and gender and prosperity. Allah guarantee its purity of Al Quran,

    Conversely, the book of Hadith is the men’s word, create violence, division and poverty. Men can makes mistake.If there is one a false hadith, Muslim will go astray, go the wrong direction. But Allah never guarantee its purity of the book of Hadith.

    Proverb is teaching us as following;
    If on a table there is a glass of clean water , then a small fly falls into the glass, glass of water whether it is still called clean water? Not. Because of the flies carry bacteria and disease fall into glass. Who is drinking a glass of unclean water will be sick. Same as of the book of Hadith ; If someone wrote a false hadith, can we call the book of Hadith Muslim is saheeh hadith? The answer is NO. The book of Hadith Muslim is defective.
    It means that the book of Hadith Muslim and Bukhari contains of
    (1) the true Hadith
    (2) the false Hadith
    (3) and ancient Arab tradition Hadith

    So those who practice the false Hadith will go astray, violence, and those who practice ancient Arab tradition will live in at time of stone age or backward time.

    That is why we see today Musim are judging, hating and killing each other. Millions people have bees suffering, displacing and killed in Islamic countries. I am so sad, pity, heartbreaking, and embarrassing too as a Muslim.
    What is about you?

    My concern is why do they believe in ancient Imam (clerics) Muslim_Bukhari,Hurairrah etc etc
    there is no one verse that mention to believe in Muslim-Bukhari etc.

    There is anyone from Muslim Ahmadiyah can respond to my concern?


    These are what I found some mistakes. Please open your mind and heart without prejudice and hatred. May Allah fill your heart with the truth of Islam.

    The book of Hadith order Muslim to punish and kill blasphemer, apostates and homosexual, whereas Allah condemned to kill innocent people. QS 5;32

    I am not an anti Hadith, what I am concern is that I believe strongly that the book of Hadith have been contaminated with false hadith. Muslims need to speak up loudly until our voice will be heard by Authority to take out / remove all the false Hadith from the book of Hadith.


    Verily, Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with him; but He forgiveth anything, else to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin most heinous indeed. QS 4:(48).

    Believe in Allah plus believe in Muslim, and Bukhari = Syrik.
    Believe in Al Quran plus believe in the Book of Hadits = Syrik.

    They associate Allah with Muslim, Bukhari and other narrators are sinful Syrik. In other words, they believe in idols (Imam Muslim, Imam Bukhari, other narrators)

    Allah warned; Do not believe in man, scholar, clerics, but believe in God(Al Quran).

    Do not believe in Imam, leaders beside Allah or Al Quran. As Allah warned; and They have taken their imams and their monks as gods beside Allah,QS 9;31.
    O humankind,) follow what has been sent down to you from your Lord, and do not follow any masters (idols) other than Him. Little you heed to advice! (3) How many a town We have destroyed! Our punishment came upon them at night or when they were having a nap at midday. QS 7;(3-4) .

    There are many verses that Allah warned people,NOT to believe in men, idol, master,or imam etc.

    These golden rule is found also in Christianity and Judaism

    There is no one in this earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake. Ecc.7:20

    It is better to trust in God (His Books),than depend on man.( sch. Muslim )
    It is better to trust in God ( His Books),than depend on human leaders.Psalm 118:8.

    It is very clear that Allah condemn and curse those who believe in idol, imam, Cleric, Chlaiphate, Leader , or those who place his faith on idol, men, imam, Cleric than Allah alone.

    Because of Muslims believe in his idol, imam, cleric, Chaliphate, Islam’s followers, or Prophet’s followers become many sects as we today.

    Therefore, an leader of sect of Islam judge, hate, blame, and accuse each other. One of them, Extremist Muslim claim that they are true Islamic teaching and they accuse others are wrong infidel. Kafir, or blasphemer etc. Most of Prophet Muhammad(saw)’s followers have fallen into sinful Syrik.

    Allah says in Al Quran, only few people will enter Paradise. Q 7;10. those who follow Allah’s laws rightly,completely and not that partners should be set up with him Q 4:48.

    I urge all Muslims around the world to avoid believing in idol, do not place your faith on your idol, but on Him alone.Quran 3;59.

    Was Salam–With love

  3. Ahmadiyya community says that if any hadith goes against the teachings of the holy Quran, it should not be considered as a true hadith. It is right that those people who are involved or justify the so called jehad ( killing of innocents ) take shelter in those hadits which presents a different Islam. In fact , we have two ideology ; first that Islam which ahmaddiyya community presents and which is based on the Quran, sunnat and all those hadiths which don’t go against the teachings of the holy Quran. Second ideology presents that Islam which even makes some Quranic verses irrelevant or mansookh ; which accepts even those hadiths which are against the teachings of the Quran and uswah of huzoor SAW . You right that all problem is with the second ideology . It is this ideology which is waiting for that Isa who will give only two options to the kafirs , either embrace Islam or will be killed . If a Jew takes shelter behind a tree , the tree will invite a Muslim to kill that Jew, etc. Does this ideology not open the door to kill a innocent on the difference in the faith ? First ideology warns that whosoever indulges in the sword – jehad, he will be ashamed ( Promised Messiah told in his poem ) while second round ideology recommends sword and waiting for the time when Isa and Mehdi will use sword . It is the time for Muslim mass to decide which ideology they choose .

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