Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
Please carefully listen to this 21 minute video of one of the popular Sunni Muslim leaders in USA and his defense of the blasphemy laws.
I love him but do not endorse his idea that Blasphemy Laws exist in Islam. What exists in Islam is freedom of religion and speech. The mistake that he is making is not his alone, I have rather seen most of the scholars of Islam from the Pakistan background have been vulnerable in this regards.
While I agree with Qadhi’s overall tolerant approach, his defense of blasphemy laws simply violates the principles of freedom of religion for many, which is a very fundamental and signatory principle of the holy Quran and modern human civilization. It seems to me that he is unable to make a succinct case of what he wants to say. He makes claims that there is no ambiguity in the understanding of blasphemy in jurisprudence, but does not site any evidence for it.
I believe that short comings of Yasir Qadhi and other present or previous scholars arises from the fact that they do not realize that the separation of church and state or mosque and state was not so precisely defined in the seventh century Arabia and Hadith were quoted and written without that clear understanding.
Today, when we understand these domains better we have to state our case in contemporary terminology. In present times we talk about hate speech or defamation laws in the Western world rather than blasphemy laws. Even the European Convention on Human Rights, makes clear exceptions to free speech. Article 10 provides the right to freedom of expression, subject to certain restrictions that are “in accordance with law” and “necessary in a democratic society.” This right includes the freedom to hold opinions, and to receive and impart information and ideas, but allows restrictions for:
- interests of national security
- territorial integrity or public safety
- prevention of disorder or crime
- protection of health or morals
- protection of the reputation or the rights of others
- preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence
- maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary
If the Muslim countries have to make laws those need to be with these modern understanding of statehood so that there is greater consensus among the Muslims and these concepts can be better communicated with the rest of the world, with whom we share our planet earth.
The scholars continue to read the Quran and the Hadith in literal terms without translating those for our times and culture more than 1400 years removed from the 7th century Arabia.
I have addressed the issue of literal reading of the Quran in several of my prior articles: The Taliban Rule: Do Muslims Prefer Camels Over Modern Cars? The Holy Quran and the Seventh Century Arabian Metaphors and Reason or Orthodoxy: Which One Should Rule?
Scope, Style and Preservation of the Quran
- Sometimes the Quran is Written on Stone and Often on Paper?
- The Scope, Style and Effect of the Holy Quran
- The History of the Qur’anic Text: From Revelation to Compilation
- Sources or Criteria for Interpretation of the Holy Quran
- The Quran Gives Principles of Justice, But No Judicial System
- The Quran Only Means What Our Wisdom and Intentions Dictate: A Progressive Understanding
- The Holy Quran and the Seventh Century Arabian Metaphors
- Is God Alive or Dead: A Metaphor for the Scriptures from the US Constitution?
- God Is Living, So Why Does Religion Treat God As Dead?
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