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The untold story of Pakistan’s blasphemy law

Updated Apr 13, 2017 05:08pm


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Note: This blog was first published on on January 15, 2015.

A few days ago, a video of erstwhile pop icon and widely heard Islamic evangelist, Junaid Jamshed went viral on the Internet, in which his remarks were perceived as blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his wife, Ayesha (RA).

By the time of the writing of this article, he has been charged under the Blasphemy Law (clause 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code). The clause reads:

295-C – Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet:

Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

The law prescribes a fixed death penalty for all those who are found guilty. The option of life imprisonment was made defunct after a 1991 Federal Shariat Court judgement.

Junaid Jamshed has already responded with a public repentance, re-affirmation of his faith and a plea for pardon.

Unfortunately, for Junaid Jamshed, the dominant religious narrative in the country holds that blasphemy is an unpardonable offence.

Simply put – you blaspheme, you die.

No ifs, ands or buts about it. The credibility of this assertion is built on an apparently universal consensus (ijma) on the subject across all four Sunni schools of thought. By maintaining this front of scholarly consensus, the religious leadership disallows any concept of an alternative position.

This idea of a unanimous scholarly endorsement of an unwaivable death penalty for blasphemy has been relentlessly repeated: in the Federal Sharia Court Judgment on the blasphemy law in the ‘90s, in the Parliament, in the popular print and oral narrative on television channels, and has seeped deeply into the consciousness of the Pakistani population.

In the collective imagination of mainstream Pakistan, blasphemy is not a pardonable offense and anyone who believes otherwise is also committing blasphemy, and must similarly pay with their life.

Junaid Jamshed’s plea for mercy has raised a question about whether or not a repentant blasphemer may indeed be pardoned.

This is also not the first time the issue is coming under inspection.

The question was asked centuries ago by Hanafi Jurists such as Abu Hanifa, his student Abu Yusuf in Kitab al-Kharaj, Imam Tahawi in Mukhtasar al-Tahawi, Imam Sufyan ath-Thawri, Imam Abu Bakar Ala al-Din Kasani in Bada'i as Sanai, Taqī al-Dīn al-Subki in al-Sayf al-maslūl ‘alā man sabba al-Rasūl, and a vast number of other eminent Hanafi scholars.

All were led to the question that Junaid Jamshed is currently plagued by:

Is blasphemy a pardonable offense?

The answer, it is clear, was a categorical yes.

The stance that ‘blasphemers who ask for a pardon would be spared the death penalty’ has already been established by the founder of the Hanafi school of thought, Abu Hanifa.

Within the Hanafi position, it simply does not go higher than Abu Hanifa, and it is the Hanafi school of thought that is foremost in significance, in terms of religio-legal debates in the Supreme Court, the Federal Sharia Court and the Council of Islamic Ideology.

Moreover, a long line of students and followers of Abu Hanifa, legal heavyweights of their respective eras, further corroborated this position in many of their works. Centuries of Hanafi scholarship have maintained the same categorical answer to our original question: Yes, blasphemy is a pardonable offense.

Keep in mind: as per the principles (usul) of the Hanafi jurisprudence, a consensus of Abu Hanifa and his students cannot now be challenged.

This is one of the primary principles of taqlid in traditional Islamic legal thought.

The letter of the law 295-C makes no mention of the permissibility of pardoning a blasphemer.

In fact, it is a Federal Sharia Court interpretation of the law that serves as the operational blueprint of the application of the law, which rules out pardon.

They considered the same sources as listed above, and somehow reached the opposite conclusion: that the authoritative position of Imam Abu Hanifa and his students is that blasphemy is not, in fact, a pardonable offense.

How could this possibly have happened? How could such a clearly stated position, maintained for centuries, be so misinterpreted?

In my pursuit of answers, I discovered that in the 15th century a Hanafi scholar, Al-Bazzazzi, misquoted the Hanafi position on pardon that had been established since the time of Abu Hanifa.

It is important to note that he was not offering an alternative stance; he meant to describe the original position but erroneously ended up misrepresenting it entirely. It is baffling to consider how he could have strayed so far from the original position.

Imam Ibn e Abidin, one of the most revered scholars in South Asia, chancing upon his erroneous depiction, was moved to write an impassioned critique of this divergent position – not only explaining Bazzazzi’s error as a 'misreading of two important works' (Al Sarim-ul-Maslool ala Shatim-ur-Rasool by Ibn Taymiyyah and Al Shifa by Qadi Iyad), but also summarily dismissing the idea that blasphemy is unpardonable as “ridiculous”.

Excerpt from translated summary of Ibn Abidin’s Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Dur al-Mukhtar.
Excerpt from translated summary of Ibn Abidin’s Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Dur al-Mukhtar.

Excerpt from Ibn Abidin’s Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Dur al-Mukhtar in Arabic.
Excerpt from Ibn Abidin’s Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Dur al-Mukhtar in Arabic.

One of the most important scholarly figures in Islamic legal tradition, and one of the most revered figures in Deobandi madrassahs across Pakistan, Imam Ibn Abidin had the wisdom and foresight to warn that these competing narratives, if allowed to exist, would create undue confusion and chaos. He counseled the scholars to be meticulous in their research on the referencing of primary resources.

Where Pakistan's laws came from

Advocate Ismaeel Qureshi, the architect of the blasphemy law, apparently did not get the memo.

In his best-selling book on blasphemy and his petition, Qureshi apparently built his case of an irrevocable death penalty, with no scope for pardon on the works of leading Hanafi authorities, and ironically, Imam Ibn Abidin himself.

In an a case of history repeating itself, he followed in Al-Bazzazzi’s footsteps in erroneously subverting the position of Imam Ibn Abidin.

At one point, in Fatawa e Shami, Ibn Abidin takes Bazzazzi’s claim – ‘the punishment for blasphemy is death, it is unpardonable and anyone who disagrees is also guilty of blasphemy’ – dissects it and goes on to criticise it for the next six pages.

Advocate Ismaeel Qureshi, grasping the first thing he saw, slaps Imam Ibn Abidin’s name on to the very position that Abidin so passionately refuted right after quoting the original problematic claim.

Excerpt showing Advocate Ismaeel Qureshi incorrectly attributed Bazzazzi's position to Ibn Abidin.
Excerpt showing Advocate Ismaeel Qureshi incorrectly attributed Bazzazzi's position to Ibn Abidin.

Advocate Ismaeel Qureshi incorrectly attributed Bazzazzi's position to Ibn Abidin.
Advocate Ismaeel Qureshi incorrectly attributed Bazzazzi's position to Ibn Abidin.

When I learnt of this, I approached Advocate Ismaeel Qureshi with the primary text and showed him the counter-evidence to his assertions.

Qureshi acknowledged that mistakes had been made in the research upon which the judicial interpretation of Pakistan's blasphemy law now rests. The history and process of how the events transpired to produce the law in its current form therefore, reads like a series of unfortunate errors.

The repercussions for those caught in the crossfire, are however, far more deadly than just 'unfortunate'.

Why does no credible source from the mainstream religious leadership then step forward and set the record straight?

It seems to be of greater importance to withhold the facts of the case, as a more open dialogue may also incidentally amount to collusion with the secular position – surely, the worst of crimes.

In the midst of all this chaos and misinformation, there is still hope for the likes of Asia Bibi and Junaid Jamshed.

There is no need to change the letter of the blasphemy law for Junaid Jamshed and Asia Bibi to get their pardon. All that is required is to revisit the judicial interpretation, and rectify the erroneous conclusion of the Federal Sharia Court that was reached on the basis of dubious research.

The blasphemy law, according to the Hanafi position, allows for pardon.

That is all that Imam Ibn Abidin pointed out.


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Author Image

Arafat Mazhar is the founder of Engage, an institution for research and reform of religious laws in Pakistan.

He can be reached on Facebook or at and tweets @arafatmazhar.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (295) Closed

Badar Dec 09, 2014 06:04pm

Great work Br. Arafat Mazhar. I am no scholar, rather a very illetrate student of religion. Unless we address each issue with such an approach of research, we won't be able to resolve challenges we are facing. I hope we all start approaching religious issues with research and open mind, rather than just what we hear from Alim and Mufti - we need to question everyone except Allah, and his prophets.

Owais Dec 09, 2014 06:08pm

The Prophet (PBUH) forgave all who caused physical & emotional harm to him, why can't we? Wasn't his act of forgiveness at the conquest of Mecca a clear message to us that forgiveness trumps vengeance?

Ali Dec 09, 2014 06:12pm

Extremely well written and explained!

Sunil Dec 09, 2014 06:15pm

Junaid Jamshed faces the death penalty, according to the blasphemy laws, like Aisha Bibi, or will he be pardoned?

kash Dec 09, 2014 06:17pm

Great research! Such a shame no one ever tried to look into this before. So many lives could have been saved. its time for Parliament do its job. On a different note i thought Sharia law is based primarily on Quran and Sunnah? correct me if I am wrong and also i want to know which other Islamic countries have blasphemy law and do they have the pardon clause in it?

SpreadSomeLove Dec 09, 2014 06:17pm

Secular Pakistan Zindabad!

Aisha Dec 09, 2014 06:21pm

Nobody follows a single law in Pakistan except for the blasphemy law. Strange. This law should be removed.

Khurram Dec 09, 2014 06:30pm

You are a brave man to point this out. Be careful.

Asim Zafar Dec 09, 2014 06:30pm

IMHO the writer is right and as JJ himself admitted his mistake and asked for forgiveness form Allah(SWT) and all his fellow Muslim bros and sisters, this matter should be closed

zain ali Dec 09, 2014 06:31pm

Is this for real????

Will supreme court take notice of this???

xafy Dec 09, 2014 06:31pm

Excellent work ..I wish it to be included in all print media of pakistan to make ppl understand

AnonPak Dec 09, 2014 06:33pm

Wow! religious extremism is taking us down the drain

Sarah Dec 09, 2014 06:34pm

Seeking repentance for sins is what your Prophet taught all his life. He was sent to the world with this message. Quran tells Allah Almighty is the judge of all evil and good. I don't understand how people assumed that role. Isn't that blasphemy?

Sohaib Dec 09, 2014 06:34pm

A WONDERFUL ARTICLE. All the lawyers and sympathisers of human rights need to ACT NOW in the light of these findings. Common people, it's the question of innocent lives being taken unjustly in the name of God.

Normskyy Dec 09, 2014 06:35pm

Excellent article. You say, "Why does no credible source from the mainstream religious leadership then step forward and set the record straight?" Why not indeed. Why not for blashphemy, women's rights, paedophilia rappant in our society, men not giving women their due, injustices galore in society, for the right of education on all, for avoiding hate speeches etc etc...The answer to your question is they are generally spineless, lack vision and sadly only use the deen for their own gains/political agendas. That's why we are in this mess and why you had to write this article!

Aly Khan Dec 09, 2014 06:35pm

Islam is not as rigid as Mullahs have made it. This fact is drawing people away instead of inviting them to it. This is a classic example of it.

Maria Bilal Dec 09, 2014 06:42pm

Keep it up

Nasir Dec 09, 2014 06:46pm

Can Qureshi sahib be bothered to write another book to clarify this? It won't be a best seller this time as Madrassahs will put a ban on it but will serve as a extremely helpful reference for sane minds.

rafaqatwan Dec 09, 2014 06:47pm

this is the first time i heard it was debatable. I thought it was either a hadith or written in quran.

Mohammed Abbasi Dec 09, 2014 06:48pm

There is another version of Islam being practised in Pakistan and is fast leading to another sect - Mullah Islam - which will lead to another religion 'Mullahism' which is where Pakistan is heading. The Blasphemy Law is not there to protect Islam or Muslims - but Mullahs to increase their hold on the gullible public.

Perveznawaz Dec 09, 2014 06:50pm

We expect mercy from Allah yet we give none. This law is being used to settle scores between various groups. Sharia is totally against such barbarity. He has clearly apologised and explained himself. Why now try to kill him? What purpose will it serve. People used to abuse the prophet pbuh and he had mercy from them. We should also learn from our prophet pbuh's actions. Mercy, clemency, education and love for each other. Sword in the hands of a fool will no doubt be used regardless.

KhalidS Dec 09, 2014 06:53pm

Just because this time its Junaid Jamshed, every sane voice is talking in his favour! what about all those times when it was a non-muslim who was justly or unjustly accused to blasphemy, not a single sane voice spoke on this matter ever. how pathetic and discriminatory it is. A country which does not sees its citizens equal.

haris Dec 09, 2014 06:57pm

Thanks for sharing the info which unfortunately many leading religious scholars failed to do so.

Syed Faizan Raza Dec 09, 2014 07:02pm

Writings like this keep the hope alive. More power to the writer. The law is baseless, and current interpretation of it needs to go. Period.

saraz Dec 09, 2014 07:05pm

Great work. Qureshi did very bad to this country.

Ahmad Zubairi Dec 09, 2014 07:11pm

Good work. May Allah reward you. It baffles my mind how come none of the scholars have taken a stand like this. Hope Junaid Jamshaid's situation can be the start.

Shaz Dec 09, 2014 07:12pm

I think that the followers of Religion of Peace should be more inclined towards peaceful options of co-existence. Overall a very well written piece. Hats off to the author!

Sharjeel Sohail Dec 09, 2014 07:12pm

I am outraged. I am outraged by the incompetency of our parliamentarians and the silence of all the scholars that people have died and continued to die because some people didn't do their research WELL?? I remember after salman taseer's assassination all i could hear was this law has never been challenged in history of islam and yeh and woh.

time for the progressive section of the society to talk back in the same language and save asia bibi and carry on the mission of salman taseer even if we do it with a different strategy

Dawn - kudos for publishing this

Kamran Dec 09, 2014 07:16pm

Why is there no mob gathering outside of Junaid Jamshed's home ready to lynch him?

OR does the concept of vigilante justice only apply to our wretched minorities.

Nitin Gulhane Dec 09, 2014 07:17pm

After reading the comments, my morale went up. Thank you guys. Blasphemy law is something that scares me every time I think about visiting Pakistan as a tourist. But its really heartening to know that people of Pakistan can look at it critically and have courage to talk against it. I doubt if countries like Saudi Arabia would even allow such a discussion.

reality bites Dec 09, 2014 07:19pm

I wonder why would a religious person plead for mercy from the court that is implementing this law. If he or she admits to blasphemy, then wait for God to pardon you when you get there.

It seems like even mullahs also don't like the law, when they are accused of blasphemy.

What hypocrisy.

Huda Jilani Dec 09, 2014 07:20pm

First, extremely brave guy and a very well-written piece.. When it comes to facts, yes, it should be proved first, if it is proved, the guilty gets a chance to make an apology, and can be pardoned.. This way, he is innocent.. However, those who want him hanged today have a very valid point.. The people who never bothered about the minorities being lynched over blasphemy accusations and those who actually spurred the whole fiasco, they do deserve a taste of their own medicine.. Emotionally, I'd very well love to see him punished.. Third, the main insult was against women in general.. Even if u pardon the alleged blasphemy, which obviously didnt happen, why on Earth wont anyone talk about the insult against all women?

Anisa Ahmd Dec 09, 2014 07:21pm

I stongly advocate that our nation's laws be revised. In an era where we take God's name in vain, where people murder for the sake of religion, where morality is foresaken for selfishness, what gives us the right to manipulate people with laws that dont make any cohesive sense

Silence of the Lamb Dec 09, 2014 07:21pm

I must commend this brave young man. After reading this I believe we have been approaching this problem rather foolishly. You can't win this argument while basing it on human rights. This whole thing is standing on a flawed logic and should be attacked there. Thank you Mr. Mazhar for this great article. It's unbelievable actually. Fascinating study.

krishna prasad Dec 09, 2014 07:21pm

Hope this article reaches the government of pakistan and its law ministry to enable them to revisit their blasphemy law and its clauses. Peace.

NaMaaloom Fard Dec 09, 2014 07:23pm

" Aaj Ayaa Hai Oont Pahar K Neeche"! I am not a vindictive person but I must say that if JJ is forgiven, then every other person blamed for blasphemy must be forgiven as well. Let us not play God!

Vish Dec 09, 2014 07:26pm

The author is correct. His article points out a deeper issue. The current laws in Pakistan are a distortion of Islam. They are based on mullahism and fanaticism with the humane aspects completely discarded. It is the mullahs who must be held accountable.

Sunil Dec 09, 2014 07:28pm

If Junaid Jamshed is pardoned, and Aisha Bibi is put on death, it will be a discrimination and Hippocratic.

Asif Dec 09, 2014 07:30pm

It was a genuine mistake and the guy has apologized, no more to this subject, end off.

NajamSaeed Dec 09, 2014 07:37pm

Excellent article with such clarity. The author wrote, "Qureshi acknowledged that mistakes had been made in the research upon which the judicial interpretation of Pakistan's blasphemy law now rests. The history and process of how the events transpired to produce the law in its current form therefore, reads like a series of unfortunate errors". Does this mean that Advocate Ismaeel Qureshi, Gen. Zia, and all those who supported and worked to add the current blasphemy law language into the constitution bear the responsibility of all the bloodshed that has taken place? It is a great example of how much harm a thoughtless decision can cause. Needless to say that it is now the urgent duty of the current leadership and the highest judiciary to show courage, join hands, and amend the blasphemy law in the constitution. When Allah forgives, Prophet Mohammad (Peace be Upon Him) forgave his nemesis and tormentors, then why can't we. Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. Let us get away from fanaticism.

Arisha G Dec 09, 2014 07:40pm

fast readers on here, eh? Article was posted 14 minutes ago it says and already 39 comments posted.

D Dec 09, 2014 07:43pm

I have big respect for Junaid Jamshead. he is a very pious person and AH he become role model for tens of thousands people around globe. people who are making issue just because of jealousy.

We must support him.

String Theory Dec 09, 2014 07:47pm

So let me get this straight. Some guy once made a mistake in understanding his master's work and then this other uber scholar tries to correct him by quoting him and this advocate mistakes the uber scholars rebuttal as his views and we've had hundreds of people dead because of this. WOW what a messed up world.

Malik G Dec 09, 2014 07:48pm

The biggest irony is that Junaid is against the Secular laws himself but right now he is in UK to save his life. So the conclusion is that Secular societies are good when it serves your interest otherwise they are bad, pretty bad.

neo Dec 09, 2014 07:53pm

Junaid jamshed urf JJ should weigh his words before speaking. Else he is destined to see more misery in future.

EMQ Dec 09, 2014 08:04pm

very well written. Dec 09, 2014 08:06pm

Now he is popular person though a mediocre speaker so many are jumping in efforts to save Junaid. Its good to see this happening but what was the crime of other thousands unknown innocent people who have been killed even before having chance of fair trial in monkey courts. I feel shame to belong to country where we claim to be Muslim but don't learn anything from history. Jew women used to through trash on our prophet PBUH and he never asked any of his companion to kill her under blasphemy man made issue. Shame on Pakistan society and leaders particular who are scared of extremist reaction and don't repeal the law. Shame on lawyers who support Mumtaz Qadri mentality and have corrupted minds of millions by their actions. I have more respect for young Bilawal Bhotto who openly criticized Taliban and extremist. These extremist are becoming leaders as real Islamic scholars are keeping mouth shut or even leaving country for comfortable life standards.

Khizr Dec 09, 2014 08:07pm

My hope is that the law is repealed and all that are implicated though it be released, including all non-muslims. Advocate Ismaeel Qureshi should also come on the public media and ask for forgiveness from a nation led to the wrong path. Those who have died or killed due to this law, should be remembered and whatever can be done to ease the pain of their families be considered.

Goga Nalaik Dec 09, 2014 08:09pm


What a mess! We are sick of these muftis and their fatwa factories. Please come to the reason and modify or eradicate this law from our constitution...

C M Naim Dec 09, 2014 08:13pm

The sources quoted in the article do NOT show that any non-Muslim has the same opportunity to repent and survive that the author argues Jamshed Junaid has. The author mentions Aasia Bibi, a Christian, at the end but his article concerns only Junaid. Needless to say, his sources allow no chance for survival to some Muslim who decides to become a Buddhist.

The questions that should be pondered over is: why only one instance of 'Blasphemy' and subsequent murder between 1900 and 1979 but so many in the past 35 years?

Ali Dec 09, 2014 08:14pm

When he was singer no one cares. When be turned his life around running for his life. Only in Pakistan The land of Munafiqs.

Baber Dec 09, 2014 08:14pm


So did ZAB (2nd amendment) , Zia ul Haq and the wave of Mullahs.

shehzad noor Dec 09, 2014 08:17pm

This isn't about being left or right. Secular or religious. It's about facts that have been deliberately obscured.

Urooj Dec 09, 2014 08:18pm

When I was little, I heard stories about the nations who were wiped out because of their sins. I never really understood how but now I clearly see one more nation going down that route. Pakistan is its own worst enemy, all the cries about drone strikes and foreign involvement is just an excuse. JJ should be pardoned for sure but I heard his jab and I am furious about his comments about women.

DHK Dec 09, 2014 08:22pm

There is a good chance he will be pardoned. The real unspoken truth behind this law seems to be a tool to oppress minorities and those who question Islamization, and further the grip of mullahs on the society with fear (motivation by fear is something they excel at if you heard how they give sermons and how they treat students in Madrasas).

Fahim Anwar Dar Dec 09, 2014 08:25pm

A Great effort indeed, its about time that Ulema come forward and explain the correct positions. Dec 09, 2014 08:25pm

@KhalidS This is probably the real reason public don't listen from good genuine scholars as all of them are scared to death to speak against extremist.

Concerned Dec 09, 2014 08:26pm

When it comes to the interpretation of Islamic jurisprudence the bucks stops at Imam Abu Hanifa - good research.

shahid sadik Dec 09, 2014 08:27pm

great article, I wish there were more articles on how certain Asian countries have made tremendous economic and social progress (such as S.Korea/China/Taiwan/japan/Singapore) while Pakistan is going backwards. There is too much emotional baggage when people discuss US and West. Religion is just one factor. Many Christians countries such as El Salvador, Peru , Honduras are in bad shape as well. There are many factors such as culture/law/human rights/population control etc. etc. need to be discussed.

Junaid Dec 09, 2014 08:38pm

So Asia Bibi too must be pardoned

AdHawk Dec 09, 2014 08:39pm

Poor Junaid. This is what happens when a lamb tries to run with the wolves.

Ahmed Dec 09, 2014 08:41pm

Well researched and pertinent to the topic. Keep it up Arafat, I can see you will inshallah go a long way. Technically the subject might be clear to a research minded person, however everyone must help in the following long term goals: 1: Difference (contrast) of punishment for Non muslim blasphemer' must be clarified again and again, by multiple authors, in multiple languages till the issue is clarified for all, it might take 20-25 years 2: A point must be added to penal code regarding punishment of those who lynch blasphemers. 3: 'Prayer leaders' at small villages and localities must be reached as a mission to educate them about this issue. In 100% of lynching or 'mass protest' cases the actual ignitors are illiterate 'prayer leaders' who are not trained 'ulema' from any school, rather they are accidentally in this 'profession'.

AdHawk Dec 09, 2014 08:42pm

By the way, the letter of the cited law (295 C) as reproduced in the article clearly protects only the Prophet's name and says nothing about his companions. Am I reading it wrong?

AdHawk Dec 09, 2014 08:46pm

Reason over religion. Enough said.

abdulaziz Dec 09, 2014 08:50pm

Everyone is saying JJ should be forgiven because he asked for forgiveness. But these very people kept quiet when Christians and others were imprisoned or killed because of blasphemy. Poor Taseer was murdered because he was asking people to forgive Asia.

M. Siddique Dec 09, 2014 08:52pm

A country people do not practice honesty in day to day dealings, this law has been applied to settle personal score rather than its spirit. It is therefore state's responsibility to suspend any penalty unless witnesses' integrity is certified.

Ammar Rashid Dec 09, 2014 08:57pm

Brilliant, brave and important piece of writing, Arafat. This should be shared widely and pointedly sent to lawmakers and Ulema in Pakistan who should be asked to state their position on this clearly. Enough cowardice in the face of ignorant bigotry.

Shahid Khan Dec 09, 2014 08:58pm

Great Research !!

Batool Dec 09, 2014 08:59pm

@Asif As it is being repeatedly said, why should Junaid Jamshed be pardoned, when others weren't?

Batool Dec 09, 2014 09:01pm

@Malik G Very well said.

Fawad Dec 09, 2014 09:04pm

@NaMaaloom Fard I agree, when the preacher is blamed for blasphemy, all religious CITATION are out to pardon him, but no one was pushing for it before that. He even accepting and asking for forgiveness, he who knows more about crime. As you know, Police is punished more if they commit crime, because they are supposed to stop crime.

Lets see how it plays out.

Murtaza Mandvi Dec 09, 2014 09:05pm

None of the parties will ever speak of changing this rule in the parliament since it will definitely bring their points down as far as the right wing is concerned.Unfortunately this is something Pakistan will be stuck with forever it seems.

SMJ Dec 09, 2014 09:08pm

Brave Article

Sharic Dec 09, 2014 09:08pm

I wish such piece from our so called religious authorities. Atleast if this piece is wrong they should come up with the counter explaination.

Rohan David Emmanuel Dec 09, 2014 09:10pm

I am glad that someone could actually write it up and more than that some medium actually published it. Awaz Zaroor Uthay Gi!

Ali Dec 09, 2014 09:11pm

excellent read. it is of the most categorical importance that the record be set straight, and this misinterpretation be set right asap.

Fiza Dec 09, 2014 09:14pm

Thanks so much for your in-depth research, insight and analysis, Arafat. It was desperately needed.

Arsalan Pirzada Dec 09, 2014 09:15pm

An excellent article. This is a very important debate, and the author is on the right track here. The question of the blasphemy law itself is too volatile to be addressed without repercussions of an unsavory kind.

If the religio-legal tradition holds blasphemy pardonable, and the current legal application is purely a matter of misinterpretation and/or controvertible evidence, the matter must be highlighted in the media and pursued in court.

Geti-Ara Dec 09, 2014 09:20pm

Very well written! May this become the first step to a much-needed process which will lead to the abolishment of this atrocious law.

Greywulf Dec 09, 2014 09:33pm

You are a gentleman and a scholar. It is beyond my understanding why we look to centuries old books for forming laws in the present age, but your refutation of the current interpretation is amazing. Great work.

Arafat Mazhar Dec 09, 2014 09:43pm

Guys, this is Arafat - the writer. just to clarify in the second scan of ismaeel qureshi's book - the page of references. in case you are wondering where has he listed ibn abidin in the references - its the 25th reference Radd ul Makhtar. I forgot to highlight it in yellow.

Waqas ahmad Dec 09, 2014 09:49pm

@Nitin Gulhane Dear you are welcome to Pakistan again and again.

Ram Narayanan Dec 09, 2014 09:58pm

I suppose Muslims can be pardoned but non-Muslims have no such luck in the Pakistani society.

Jawad Akmal Dec 09, 2014 10:01pm

Good research.

ak Dec 09, 2014 10:11pm

this is an incredible article and much needed in an environment where blasphemy is no longer questionable but automatically deigned to be the worst crime imaginable. the sooner we revisit and take the death penalty nonsense out of this, the more innocent people can go around spending their lives without the fear of death.

Hanif Dec 09, 2014 10:30pm

We must ban people to give speech publicly on religion without having a good moral and educated personality. We can see so many people beside Junaid Jamshed doing this. Ban Junaid and others like him to speak publicly until they show up with proper education and knowledge.

Azam Khan Dec 09, 2014 10:30pm

Islamic laws were good for their time i.e 1400 years back. Now we need new laws that will satisfy the needs of this age. People please contemplate. It is hard to give up the old ways but change is in

Azam Khan Dec 09, 2014 10:32pm

Our neighbors have sent rocket to mars and we are still trying to figure out what to do with the Blasphemy laws. Wake up pakistan before its too late.

saleem Dec 09, 2014 10:41pm

repeal religiosity from constitution. mixing religion with state laws create disharmony and inequality among citizens of state and who may follow different belief systems, religions or no religion.

Kamran Dec 09, 2014 10:48pm

This article should be presented in the court of law to help the poor people getting victimized.

Sonia Dec 09, 2014 10:52pm

Allah is ever forgiving and merciful...He repeatedly says in the Quran to ask for forgiveness and He will this says it All quite clearly if the Supreme power can forgive why can't mankind.Blasphemy law needs to be really looked into iin detail.

Proud Pakistani Dec 09, 2014 10:53pm

Please Muslims and fellow brothers don't be so rigid. Our prophet (PBUH)has spread the message of forgiveness all his life and that's why his life has been exemplary to the entire world not only for Muslims. He is a practising Muslim and follows sunnah to the best of his ability. We should follow the sunnah and should avoid being the judge. may Allah guide us and help us to follow the right path and the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH)

Sonia Dec 09, 2014 10:55pm

Allah is ever forgiving and mercifully...and expects the same from mankind. Blasphemy law needs to be definitely revised.

Shaheen Dec 09, 2014 11:07pm

Great work Arrafat. Well explained.

Ali Dec 09, 2014 11:12pm

This was eye opening! Excellent work!

Ambreen Dec 09, 2014 11:16pm

wow Arafat mazhar. what a well researched article. Please keep them coming

Sadiq Dec 09, 2014 11:17pm

We as followers of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) should refrain from showing double standards, one for a wealthy Muslims celebrity and the other for poor Christians and Hindu minorities. We should amend the blasphemy law immediately and forgive ALL the minorities who are being penalized through this law. ALLAH knows whether these poor minorities even committed this sin or they are just being victimized because they don't belong to the majority. If we are true followers of Islam and believe in the day of judgment we should track the people who were responsible in the killings of Christian couple last month and award them death penalty and do justice with the weak minorities living in Pakistan.

Ayub Dec 09, 2014 11:18pm

@Arafat Mazhar ASA...I am student of Islamic research Mr. Arafat and was wondering where can I get a good collection or web portal of Fiqhi works translated in Urdu from the classical arabic literature?

muslima Dec 09, 2014 11:23pm

Actions must be judged by intentions. He did not intend to insult anyone. There may be some conspiracy ,I suspect. May Allah help him aameen. Does anyone know who has filed case against him?

asif Dec 09, 2014 11:34pm

@Aly Khan agree with you 200%

Shahzad Dec 09, 2014 11:37pm

A great opening into this debate that does away with the 'hang jj/forgive jj' false dichotomy!

Husham Dec 09, 2014 11:50pm

Excellent research!

Kashif Dec 09, 2014 11:51pm

Peace please.

Haroon Dec 09, 2014 11:52pm

Islam is not regid religion. It was stated by so many ulema many time in my different speeches. If somebody did any sin even these sins are bigger then mountains it is pardonable. The only condition is that He /she should repent in front of Allah with sincercity. Not due to people pressure. In case of Junaid jamshed as he is muslim and believe Allah and his rasool so repentance of any muslim including JJ is acceptable Similarly in case of asia bibi if she is muslim then her repentance is acceptable also. But non beliver it is not.there are two types of blesmphy one intional and ond is un intensional Dec 10, 2014 12:15am

@Badar Very True.

alam Dec 10, 2014 12:33am

Well written, you did you homework before getting into this subject, I hope the Ulema and our court system does the same thing before deciding about taking some ones life, there is another book SHITAM E RASOOL KA MASALA written by Maulana Waheeduddin Khan, people should read it and get more clear picture of what Mr. Arafat has written on this topic. Good work Arafat Saheb, may Allah bless you with more wisdom.

Akhtar Dec 10, 2014 12:58am

It should be left to God to judge. Man has not be given the right to kill anyone.

It is simple as that. Those who strongly favour death penalty for blasphemy should look at themselves and ask if they are perfect human beings and punish themselves for all sins committed.

Zubaida Khan Dec 10, 2014 01:17am

@kash Sharia is based on Fiqh. Its man made. The question you want to ask is why did the Rashidun (4 Caliphas) caliphas (RZ) differ from each other in terms of their fatwas? And why did they not author the perfect book of Sharia for all times?

Answer is simple - Islam is an interpretive religion and meant for all times - conditions change, what we need to get from Sunnah are principles and practices and then device our own rules to live in these times, but those rules are not sacred, they are changeable.

Ali Dec 10, 2014 01:17am

A very good write up. Please write often.

Patrick Dec 10, 2014 02:16am

The commonly held view outside Pakistan is that the Koran can be interpreted as one sees fit

Asim Dec 10, 2014 02:25am

Much respect for your persistence. I know how long you've been working on this and how long you've been talking about this. I'm glad this has been so well received. I hope that its able to make a dent in the upper echelons of our rotten society.

Usama Dec 10, 2014 02:44am

This needs to be propagated as far and wide as possible.

muniza Dec 10, 2014 03:09am

Very well written and well researched. It isn't secular or sacred biased, it's factual.

Ilyas Bukhari Dec 10, 2014 03:18am

@KhalidS - Khalid bhai this stance has been taken by the ulemas. Many of of the leading scholars within Deoband have repeatedly taken the stance for forgiveness and abuse of this paragraph. inc. in the cases against Geo's shaista lodhi. they also condemned the hideous crime against the christian couple.
however i feel that every time this happens the ulemas are up for a bashing. i fail to understand how it their responsibility for solve every single issue arising in Pakistan the anger should be diverted towards authorities. it is their responsibility to ensure the rule of law including their interpretation and enforcement. But i guess that is a bit far fetched to expect that in Pakistan.

muhammad zahir Dec 10, 2014 03:26am

Was there any Blasphemy law enforced in era of prophet Muhammad(pbuh)?if no then it must be repealed,its implications are agianst true Islamic spirit so need to develop consensus & give positive posture of Islam,

muhammad zahir Dec 10, 2014 03:33am

@Badar Its implications are against true Islamic spirit so need to develop consensus & give positive posture of islam.

Chi Ben Dec 10, 2014 03:53am

@Anisa Ahmd Thanks Anisa, We need more youngsters with reason to stand up and be counted. Time to move on and live with present day, time and space.

Naveed Dec 10, 2014 04:02am

In fact, the discussion in the Hanafi school was based on the grounds of apostasy. It was argued that the one committing blasphemy becomes an apostate, and the existing fatwa for apostasy was death, which is why death was considered as a punishment for blasphemy as well. Since the fatwa for apostates allowed pardon if the apostate seeks forgiveness and returns to Islam, the same was allowed for the one who blasphemed. Secondly, a logical consequence of this context was that the law excluded non-Muslims by definition since the punishment for blasphemy was discussed in the context of apostasy of those Muslims who left Islam.

Asad Dec 10, 2014 04:15am

Well researched article. I hope this gets us to debate about the problems in this law and ultimately fix those problems. Best of luck! and Kudos to Dawn for publishing this!

Umar Aftab Dec 10, 2014 04:27am

The position seems more in line with theists mic teachings of compassion and forgiveness.

MA Dec 10, 2014 05:02am

Very well said AM, but please straighten out these Mullahs first.

jehansher Dec 10, 2014 05:18am

This is exactly the kind of research and approach we need, it so neatly points everything out without the traditional "tarkay lagana" which has sadly become the benchmark of pakistani journalism today. Great article.

Concerned Dec 10, 2014 05:19am

@Maria Bilal Keep it up- If the poor fellow stays alive.

fatima Dec 10, 2014 05:21am

a wonderful and much needed article!

Dipak Dec 10, 2014 05:25am

Very sad law. Must be eliminated. Period.

Albie Dec 10, 2014 05:27am

Being a Christian we believe basic teaching of Christ FORGIVE, However in Junaid Jamshed's case he should be Trialed and face court decision. Not long ago Practicing muslims Burned Alive christian couple in Lahore, Junaid came on TV and accepted his mistake,why Pardon for one Individual and PUNISHMENT for others.

Idea Khan Dec 10, 2014 05:38am

Religion and country are two different things. Keep them separate. In Syria and Turkey, praying in public or even keeping a long beard without permission could put a person in jail because it is forbidden to show religion out side your home. That is how it should be. Or else religion becomes the bastion of all the unemployed people who shout, kill, and follow orders just for two meals and some self importance.

Raja Islam Dec 10, 2014 06:08am

The big question here is why have blasphemy laws at all? It seems that today's Muslims have weakened their faith that they feel that Islam is in danger if anyone makes a statement that they don't like.

All other religions have all kind of discourse which allows them to grow and progress. Pakistani's on the other hand are intolerant and make derogatory comments about all other religions, but cannot stand to be questioned.

Palwasha Dec 10, 2014 06:23am

I'm very glad someone is taking religion seriously in this country! After all it was the foundation Pakistan was built on!

A Dec 10, 2014 06:25am

Thank you for educating us!

Zohaib Dec 10, 2014 06:25am

Very well researched. I wonder what are mullahs doing sitting all day and declaring blasphemy on everyone? They should be the one researching these things instead of putting on banners with senseless hurmat-e-rasool banners.

Ihtesab Dec 10, 2014 06:27am


I am not a scholar but I think his intention was not to disrespect the Prophet peace be upon him or his beloved wife, our mother Aisha R.A.. No doubt it was a big negligence. Allah looks at hearts. He will be careful in future. LaHola waLa Quwat illa BiAllah. May Allah forgive us all because we all make mistake in our lives some of these may be taken as blasphemy. I am afraid to make any judgement. In fact masses should not judge but only those who have authority on Islamic teaching and law should be allowed to make judgements.

I am against judgement made by mobs even for non Muslims. In fact we are a nation who forget ourselves in improvements and run after others to improve them and punish them.

RGK Dec 10, 2014 06:43am

@Azam Khan Islamic laws are there till yom e qiamah.....if interpreted correctly & not manipulated.

BRR Dec 10, 2014 06:45am

When people look into books to see if one should be killed for a crime, then they have given up all thinking faculties.

Raja Islam Dec 10, 2014 06:52am

@Khizr Looks like this guy was appointed Rector of the National School of Public Policy.

BRR Dec 10, 2014 06:54am

So much energy wasted just to prove others are bad muslims and one is a better muslim. So much law created to punish and kill at the drop of a hat but little created to help the poor and powerless.

waleed memon Dec 10, 2014 06:57am

Amazing work bythe author. I wish our rreligious leaders pay head to it. A simple mistake have taken so many innocent live.

Z khan Dec 10, 2014 07:17am

@Asim Zafar you cannot forgive JJ without forgiving the others. A nation must have only one set of laws for all its people.

Otherwise we have apartheid, the system that was followed in south africa.

Z khan Dec 10, 2014 07:20am

@rafaqatwan blasphemy is not covered anywhere in the Quran. Also, you are supposed to follow Sunnah, not Hadith. All Sunnah are Hadiths, but not all Hadiths are Sunnah.

Subhe Nau Dec 10, 2014 07:21am

Zinda baad. Glad somebody has the guts to call a spade a spade.

HZR Dec 10, 2014 07:21am

The common citizen has no say in matters of reilgion and it is the so called few devout mullahs and ayotollahs who interpret relegion to suit their obscurantitst views .They bring a bad name to religion.Islam has earned a reptuation as a hardline relgion in the world mainly because of mullhas who show no understanding or have sympathy ofr its values.

2cents Dec 10, 2014 07:23am

Allah is the most merciful, unfortunately those who follow his teachings aren't. What an irony.

Javid Dec 10, 2014 07:24am

I don't understand why are the mullas making such a hue and cry when the person has apologized in public and accepted that it was purely based on ignorance. Allah(SWAT) is gaforur-raheem, Junaid Jamsheed has done a great service to Islam and he has already asked for forgiveness. May Allah(SWAT) bring his mercy on JJ. # love and respect .

Javeed Dec 10, 2014 07:28am

When our Prophet was alive didn't he forgave those who brought physical harm to him! I wonder why is there a law which deviates from the very principle of Islam that is forgiveness. There is a strong need to amend the law!

tariq Dec 10, 2014 07:33am

Well written however the author forgets that eventhough modt pakistani muslims are hanafi, the minority wahabis or deobandis have tajen over religios thought and they considr this as unpardonable

mike hasan USA Dec 10, 2014 07:35am

At least people like JJ will think many times before they speak, opening the much needed chapter of tolerance in our society....

WEL WISHER Dec 10, 2014 07:35am

@Sadiq wel said

SMQ Zaman Dec 10, 2014 07:37am

How the mighty have fallen, with a slip of the tongue!

I hope that he can come out of this mess. I have seen the video in which he made the derisory comments against Syedna Ayesha (r.a.), but also women, in general, in the same sentence. But, this article should be an opener for many folks who are not aware of the rulings on Pakistan's blasphemy law and the Hanafi Law of Jurisprudence (incl. myself).

Shaukat Dec 10, 2014 08:20am

@Ram Narayanan ,More Muslims are found guilty of blasphemy than non Muslims,could you give me only one example where non Muslim was hanged by this law,of course not.

hassan Dec 10, 2014 09:00am

thank you for this wonderfully researched article.

Mahboob Khan Dec 10, 2014 09:02am

"295-C – Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet: Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine".

The law prescribes a fixed death penalty for all those who are found guilty. The option of life imprisonment was made defunct after a 1991 Federal Shariat Court judgement.

The edifice of Islam rests on Justice, if there is no justice there is no Islam. For capital punishment such as the one stipulated in Section 295C PPC there must be a clear Commandment in Qur'aan and clear practice of the Prophet, Muhammad, peace be upon him through which this Quranic Commandment is explained and demonstrated. Unfortunately, I have failed to find such a clear Commandment in Qur'aan and Sunnah.

In Islam you cannot make a Law on mere cherry-picking. It requires thorough research to examine and formulate it from all angles.

Pakistani Dec 10, 2014 09:21am

@Nitin Gulhane : Man! We do look critically and no one will really bother you about anything as long as you respect our religion. You respect us we will love and respect you , its that simple.

Saad Dec 10, 2014 09:22am

I am extremely impressed by the research you have put in the subject. Brilliantly written article. I honestly hope that more people understand this and the law is modified.

Umair Dec 10, 2014 09:37am

@Badar "I hope we all start approaching religious issues with research and open mind, rather than just what we hear from Alim and Mufti - we need to question everyone except Allah, and his prophets." You are hoping for become every one a mufti by just doing Reasearch??? by just reading 3 or more books one could stand beside mufti?? Instead then you can also create your own fiqh.

ziavrep labqi Dec 10, 2014 09:42am

The matter is extremely sensitive in nature. Understandably, even authorities on Islamic jurisprudence generally tend to be reticent on the subject. Given the prevailing environment of increasing intolerance and obscurantism, the effort by the author and DAWN deserve kudos.

Advocate Ismaeel Qureshi, author of Pakistan"s Blasphemy Law, has a religious, national and moral obligation to spearhead an appropriate amendment to the Blasphemy Law in light of the omission indicated in the article under reference.

At stake are human lives held sacrosanct by all religions.

kkkhattak Dec 10, 2014 09:53am

A wise person before he speaks, will consider well what he speaks to whom he speaks where and when.

Saira Dec 10, 2014 09:58am

Very good article. Well written and should be published in urdu newspapers as well. It's highly important to educate the common Pakistani people who blindly follow ignorant mullahs

Beena Siddiqui Dec 10, 2014 10:00am

It has to be a limit to everything ... if some one is NOT an Aalim, why is he sitting at a TV Channel and talking in the capacity of an Aalim in the first place? If I will be offered a show to conduct as an Aalima, i will refuse to , because i dont have the knowledge which is required to conduct that certain type of mass medium show. How Junaid and Amir Liaqat( both are backing out to be an Aalim position and saying we are NOT aalims) can be allowed to be on a show like this? how can they can easily take this hat of an Aalim and when it comes to responsibility , can easily take this hat off ? i strongly condemn these branded Aalims, who are making fun of my graceful religion.

Aadil Dec 10, 2014 10:07am

Finally, some intelligent, evidence-based discussion on this law. This is the direction the national conversation needs to go in. Great work man. Would love to read a follow-up article on this same topic.

Nasir Awan Dec 10, 2014 10:25am

Junaid Jamsheed has not been charged yet as only an FIR has been registered against him. Once police will arrest him and complete the investigation then his challan will be submitted before the court, then the court will charge him, in legal sense.

Fahim Khan Dec 10, 2014 10:28am

I wish if someone can do the same research on the source of Talaq Talaq Talaq?

Manu Mehta Dec 10, 2014 10:41am

No one has been executed for blasphemy in Pakistan. But most of the accused have been killed by someone or the other. Junaid Jamshed will live forever in fear because many Pakistanis are convinced that killing such a person is a sure way reserve a place in heavens.

Faizan Qureshi Dec 10, 2014 10:48am

@dipak it is not a bad law. its a law and law are made for peace

Ijaz Dec 10, 2014 10:58am

May Allah reward you for this pious effort And may Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) be happy with your effort to prove that he was a "Rehmatal-lil- Alameen".

white noise Dec 10, 2014 11:19am

about time somebody went into depth to explain the word 'blasphemy', and that will not sit well with hard heads who have no idea what it means and only know what their mullah has told them so. truth of the matter is that if you put arguments against clergy, they will lose and they don't want to lose cause they lose an argument, they lose following and there no business like faith business in Pakistan !!!

Ali Ibrahim Dec 10, 2014 11:24am

The Wahabi/Salafi/Takfiri mindset is hijacking the Hanafi school of thought for the promotion of their own version of Islam. Dec 10, 2014 11:29am

Great and wonderful research work on concept and true interpretation of the blasphemy law. Dec 10, 2014 11:31am

@KhalidS I totally agree with you

aktivehuber Dec 10, 2014 11:56am

@Huda Jilani thank youuu. couldnt have said myself...

david Dec 10, 2014 12:00pm

he is in london now wont be coming to pak,but 10 year down the line asking sharia in london.good job man

riz Dec 10, 2014 12:04pm

Blasphemy laws will never change in this country. If they do, people might actually start openly debating pros and cons and open thought might lead to derogation of religious identity and beliefs. This cannot be allowed to happen, ever. People must only have one view of religion, never doubt it, never question it. That is the only way!

Zaheer Dec 10, 2014 12:11pm

@SpreadSomeLove fully agree

Shams Javaid Hashmi Dec 10, 2014 12:17pm

@Aisha This law should not be removed, but we have to follow other laws as well.

Jude Allen Dec 10, 2014 12:29pm

Just a quick question: In all of JJs life i'm sure he read about many minorities who were charged with blasphemy law. As a preacher, what was his contribution and stance on speaking up for the truth?

Safa Dec 10, 2014 12:30pm

You are a brave man Arafat! A brilliant article. If the judicial interpretation is reviewed there is hope for Junaid Jamshed and Asia bibi. And if this incident sets a precedent, more madness and gloom could be avoided.

Weirdity Dec 10, 2014 12:35pm

Does any sane person has to through volumes of books on theology to figure out that such laws are barbaric and belong to an unenlightened age? A terrible and sad situation.

Parvez Dec 10, 2014 12:38pm

Laws are made by governments that comprise of people..........and laws can be unmade by people. What is needed is that the concerned people muster the courage to do what is right.

Blister Dec 10, 2014 12:39pm

Well done! Now translate it into Urdu and drum it into the countless DIY Islamic scholars who are ready to become killing machine for any unspecified or specified cause (as long as killing is involved). If all new papers and media do it without discrimination there may be a chance for redemption.

Rafiq Ali Dec 10, 2014 12:42pm

Pakistan or entire Islamic world is now where Europe or much of Christian world was in 500 years back. The age of darkness is maturing in the land of the "pure". There are two options, we head back to stone age or progress to a civilized society. I hope will be in a civilized society someday, though it may take 5 more centuries.

S A M Dec 10, 2014 12:55pm

Brilliant. Laws may not be all bad. Misuse of laws is the real problem.

Salma Dec 10, 2014 01:28pm

I admire the meticulous research done by Mr Mazhar. It is interesting, thought, Such dispassionate research into should be necessitated because the danger was now at ones own door-step. Never mind. We may at least hope that it will also cease to be a weapon to terrorize the helpless hapless minorities in Pakistan

Awam Dec 10, 2014 01:51pm

Thanks to Arafat for enlightening us on this important subject. Let's raise voice for the repealing or at least changing this law.

Ashwin Dec 10, 2014 01:53pm

@riz Questioning or Reasoning is the only thing which differentiates human from apes. Following anything without reasoning is the work of apes. Without questioning there is no evolution.

aku Dec 10, 2014 01:57pm

Well done. If these arguments are correct then shame on all the aalims who were unable to raise a voice against this so far. ON the other hand, what constitutes a blasphemy also deserves a debate. Also shame on many of us who are criticizing JJ's defense as being hypocritical. Two wrongs don't make a right, I hope some sense prevails in the end.

Khalid Dec 10, 2014 02:04pm

Well reseached article. After listening to the apology, we must pardon JJ and let all the people in Tableeghi Jamaat know their limits. We Pakistanis are tollerent people and wholehartedly love Prophet (PBUH) and all Sahabas.

AK Dec 10, 2014 02:08pm

All Blasphemy Laws should be abolished and there should be a separation of State and Religion.

AK Dec 10, 2014 02:10pm

Abolish all blasphemy laws and separate the State from Religion.

Usman Dec 10, 2014 02:15pm

Im not spreading hate just asking the obvious, what JJ did offcourse wasn't right but there are "people" (everyone knows who they are) in Pakistan openly doing that as well. Why are They not being pointed out??

Athar Dec 10, 2014 03:02pm

How many lives we have destroyed in the name of an erroneous law!

Aayman Dec 10, 2014 03:11pm

I have only one thing to say that people should research and rehearse their work before presenting it to public,specially when it comes to religious matters.This could happen again with someone else, whether pardonable or unpardonable.Special care should be exercised when one is talking about our Holy Prophet(PBUH) and his Ahl-e-Bait... People seem to be laying a lot of stress on whether JJ should be punished or not,but the actual point is that such carelessness does not happen in future!!!

punit Dec 10, 2014 03:12pm

@Asim Zafar where was this wisdom when Aisa biwi was sentenced. Now all "scholar" are coming out of wood work when a fellow mulla get caught in the same muck !!

The Wretched of the Earth Dec 10, 2014 03:38pm

In the light of the above research, it is time the blasphemy law is revised and rectified.

The government, the judiciary and the nation should apologise to those who lost their lives just because of a 'misinterpretation'. The government for its apathy to initiate any debate, the judiciary because of its calculated lethargy, and the nation for being passive recipients of these 'misinterpretations'.

shami Dec 10, 2014 03:45pm

JJ has realized his mistake and asked for pardon. I think keeping in view of his contributions to the society he should be pardoned. Thanks for bringing truth to the people Mr. Mazhar.

Asad Sultan Dec 10, 2014 03:53pm

very happy to see someone point out the mistakes in the blasphemy law. great work done and i hope this goes to mainstream. our Prophet(p.b.u.h) forgave people of taif when they had him bleed till the extent that his shoes got filled with blood, he(p.b..u.h) even forgave the people of Makkah after all the hardships and brutal times they gave him and the muslims. so what was all that for? we all should question anything we get to hear of sheer importance regarding our religion because this is how we can all be better muslims

Hafeez-Ur-Rehman Hadi Dec 10, 2014 04:03pm

Thank you Arafat for raising a sane voice, and that too with an excellent research piece. Please keep writing.

Ash Dec 10, 2014 04:26pm

Thank you so much for contributing such a well-intentioned and researched article. I wish all our mullahs will read and pay head along with the judicary that lays the foundations for an effective governance.

Ali Dec 10, 2014 04:45pm

Ive heard his original comments or atleast part of it. Whilst he could have said all that in a better way but whatever he did say that does exist, although there was perhaps some addition to the original story. Surely it dint sound blasphemous in spirit to me. Lastly, as far as women's right people are considered in short all he implied was women are different and moral of the story was that men should co-exist with them and not try to force and change their behavior to suit their own. He hasnt said anything against women but actually for women, so Men in our society understand women better and do not impose things on them. My personal view is Men and Women are not equal, they are different physically and approach matters differently from psychological point of view.

Hira Dec 10, 2014 04:55pm

A much needed elaboration on the most controversial and most frequently misinterpreted law in Pakistan. Everyone, especially those who feel the need to comment on the blasphemy law with absolutely no knowledge of it whatsoever, NEED to read this. A great initiative taken by Dawn in publishing this piece. Looking forward to reading more articles on this subject.

Laeeq,NY Dec 10, 2014 05:01pm

For some writing such an article is itself blasphemous. If a society is such an intolerant to this issue, to reform or change this law is not possible for any person and government. We may not be doing any thing Islamic or following the prophets foot steps, but any words against him will be punished by death.

Mohammad Ali khan Dec 10, 2014 05:09pm

Prophet Mohammad Pardoned all the Meccans when the Muslims finally captured Mecca.These were the Meccans who insulted him and wanted to kill him.

This is the great example Prophet Mohammad has left for us.

Who are we to judge any one in the affaires of their thoughts and beliefs.

Different Perspective Dec 10, 2014 06:00pm

Very well written.

Irongloves Dec 10, 2014 06:19pm

@Azam Khan: Bravo the first ever post that draws attention to the fact that Islamic (and for that matter Christian) laws/gospels were written from 1400 and from 2014 years ago in language that would be understood by largely desert and uneducated people. Were the founding fathers of both religions to have lived today, does anyone imagine for a moment that they would deliver their sermons/commandments etc in the language and manner that they did in those days? I think the world has come a long way since then, and if you believe in the Almighty, then the world has evolved this far because the Almighty has wanted it to progress. If not, the all-powerful Almighty would have put a permanent stop to what often is our madness.

Jehanzeb Khan Dec 10, 2014 06:48pm

Great work. I think what Junaid has Said was not a clear act of blasphemy rather mistakenly spoken words which are due to his lack of knowledge. Therefore the Tablikhi Hazrat should be advised, not to put forward everybody on the Member to deliver religious speeches. And how a Muslim can be derogatory and blasphemous regarding his own prophet? This was just a stupid mistake of a former singer and recent Tablighi orator. He was not aware of Aadab e Guftago on religious topics. Should be forgiven.

Jehanzeb Khan Dec 10, 2014 06:49pm

@Sunil Mr. Sunil Case is different. what were the actual words of them individually?

ashraf Dec 10, 2014 06:53pm

The merit of any law should be judged by the result it brings & not the debate or controversy it creates. By promoting intolerance & bigotry this law has only been abused by all & sundry and has brought great shame to our country & our religion. Have we asked ourselves why no other muslim country is using this law with such frequency or predictability?

Arslan Dec 10, 2014 07:19pm

Great article by a truly knowledgeable scholar. Let us start listening to the enlightened and shed away the misguided leaders of the nation and our religion.

ali Dec 10, 2014 07:34pm

Great Insight.

Adnan Dec 10, 2014 09:51pm

Great work

Jibran Dec 10, 2014 11:00pm

Great article. More writers should be writing on this sensitive issue.

Nida Dec 11, 2014 02:09am

Finally, a re-examination of original sources. Good job!

Omar Dec 11, 2014 03:19am

Wonderful article.

Sonya Dec 11, 2014 04:30am

Great piece. Lets get a conversation started on this issue!

Junaid Dec 11, 2014 06:38am

Excellent work Arafat. I hope this research will open doors for the debate.

Junaid Dec 11, 2014 06:40am

Excellent work, Arafat. I hope this will help opening doors for the debate.

Vijay Rao Dec 11, 2014 07:42am

This Blasphemy law should be completely abolished. Its only a source of politics and mischief. It has no place in any civilized society. People are struggling under so many social burdens already - caste, gender discrimination, corruption, lack of basic needs. Such draconian religious and social rules are the roadblocks to stop Pakistan realizing its potential.

Kashim Dec 11, 2014 08:30am

Junaid Jamshed is a good Muslim and I believe he made a mistake in this matter. He should receive a pardon but those who are guilty of intentional blasphemy such as Asia Bibi must submit to the rule of law so long as they do not repent their actions.

Mustafa Dec 11, 2014 11:09am

@NaMaaloom Fard ;

"JJ is forgiven, then every other person blamed for blasphemy must be forgiven as well"

Every other person has been forgiven, nobody has been executed by this law yet.

Zara Dec 11, 2014 11:54am

It's crystal clear now. Great work!

Nayan Dec 11, 2014 01:43pm

@Kashim - Were Salman Taseer, Kot Radha Kishan couple, the Ahmediya gentleman and innumerable others given a chance to repent ? Now since a "devout" muslim has what they call a moment of madness, you all have become so large-hearted ! Where was this magnamity in the earlier events ?

Abbas Khan Dec 11, 2014 03:23pm

Things are really confusing in Pakistan. Apparently its just an honest mistake by JJ, for which he has said sorry. But there is a lot of biases hidden behind this. Tha can be understood from JJ's follow up letter via platform of jamia banoria in which has come down hard on a minority sect which was not at all involved in this blame game. In doing so he has lost out on supporter like myself who have followed him since teenage, and really appreciated the way he has evolved. Was least bothered by which sect he belonged to, but am frightened by his stance showing sympathies for a terrorist group.

Sriram Dec 11, 2014 04:27pm

Very productive pursuits the Pakistani public have!

Hrushi NYC Dec 11, 2014 10:55pm

@riz is that said in satire ?

Sunil Dec 12, 2014 03:08pm

Pardoning a true repenter is compassionate aspect of Islam and every religion.

It is the middlemen who cause the distortions.

Khalid Dec 13, 2014 02:11am

@Zubaida Khan Dear sister, how wonderfully you have said whatever I wanted to say. God bless you. I really hope we start teaching our children to respect every other religion the same way we want others to respect Islam.

HN Dec 13, 2014 09:29pm

Interesting article. Pardoning Aasia Bibi is the only morally appropriate position! #Pardon4Blasphemy

Mohammad Adam Khan Dec 14, 2014 01:58am

What he said, is not blasphemy, joining any sect is blasphemy. ~Adam~

Fazal Karim Dec 14, 2014 06:47am

Our Ulmas in parliament and heading seminaries should come out in favor or against this article.

Fazal Karim Dec 14, 2014 06:51am

Members of Pakistan parliament should read comments from the democrats and act quickly.

Taimur Tareen Feb 20, 2015 07:38am

@Badar, you do not need a scholar to understand the issue. Any act punishable with death has been described in Quran being a very serious issue. If it is not in Quran, it is not there. Period. Rest is all Taveelaats. good for ever quarreling mullahs and scholars to indulge in never ending argumants.

illawarrior Feb 20, 2015 08:39am

Islam states that there should be no coercion of religion. How then can blasphemy exist if people are supposed to have religious freedom? ..... freedom to say what they do and do not believe?

Mark Feb 20, 2015 09:13pm

Blasphemy is a pretend crime with no victims.

Mark Feb 20, 2015 09:21pm

Blasphemy is a pretend crime with no victims except those that are accused or prosecuted for it.

Sam Feb 21, 2015 08:24pm

please write an Urdu version of this article. The majority of Pakistanis who are fooled at the hands of the mullahs wouldn't bother reading or comprehending your research and the English speaking lot already hates mullahs

shahid Feb 29, 2016 04:05pm

Thank you.

Awais Feb 29, 2016 07:23pm

hats off to you !!!

Muzzamil Mar 01, 2016 12:52am

This is a very matter. At time of prophet many ppl committed blasphemy and later become sahaba. They were not charged with death penalty. There is no offence in the that is not pardonable.

Muzzamil Mar 01, 2016 12:55am

So salman taseer was correct. This law needs revision

Faisal Mar 01, 2016 01:01am

Great research! I do not believe in religion but the ones who believe should read their own texts.

illawarrior Mar 01, 2016 09:30am

@Nasir Banning a book almost ensures it becomes a best seller. Most people never hear of obscure books and movies until they are banned.

Imran Mar 01, 2016 05:26pm

Why the corrupt people of ruling or PRE ruling who have eaten up pakistani money in billions of dollars not punished or questions

Uzair Mar 01, 2016 09:12pm

Incredible investigative journalism! Gripping from start to end!

Jalaluddin S. Hussain Mar 02, 2016 10:17am

While the Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan must appropriately amended by the National Assembly, in a unanimous manner, Pakistanis need to be more tolerant and respectful of all religions without exception!

Islam Mar 27, 2016 03:43pm

Thats ok whatever is the punishment of a blaspheme, thats a completely different issue, but here the matter is a entirely different, Has Junaid Jamshed committed this? Answer is NO!. His context, what he was saying, is taken wrong.. at that time of saying he was interrupted and he could not complete the full sentence but he was not saying what people are taking it as..

Islam Mar 27, 2016 03:59pm

here the question is has JJ committed it or not, and the answer is NO. 1. its quite apparent from the video as he could not completed his sentence and then it was misinterpreted. 2. neither he accepts that he did it. so why people are insisting to declare him a sinner. and those who attacked him should be arrested and punished. no body is allowed to take law in their own hands!

Zohaib Mar 27, 2016 05:59pm

Whole education and governance system is questionable it includes Judiciary and Partliament who passed such laws, and in the end people who suffer.

Ali Vazir Mar 27, 2016 07:32pm

Excellent, bravo Mazhar. If the ulema, if they need to be called ulema (scholars), do not come out to raise their voice against this fatal error, the blood of all the innocent victims will be on all of their necks.

irfan Mar 27, 2016 11:14pm

Great Work

Saima Razzack Mar 27, 2016 11:43pm

What a delight it is to read your article. Your voice and your research needs to be magnified. Its high time the hateful narrow minded mullahs be challenged for highjacking our faith!

Thank you for your hard work.

MAN Mar 28, 2016 01:30am

Thanks for writing such a knowledgeable article Mr. Arfat Mazhar. We need to translate this article into Urdu/Pushto/Sindhi and all other local languages and get to foremen's of our religion to show their ignorance.

chacha Mar 28, 2016 02:29am

Everything depend on your 'niat', In case of JJ he did not meant to say what he said. It is these mullah who give bad name to Islam and create violent confrontation where innocent/mis-informed people get killed

sam Mar 28, 2016 02:38am

Forgiveness is Almighty's most important attributes and that is give us chance as well and we are not prepared to forgive anybody. Forgiveness is missing in our society at large.

Nadeem Mar 28, 2016 06:58am

@Owais, You said the word of my heart!

Sriram Mar 28, 2016 09:16am

What a sorry state of affairs! I pity right minded people in that country.

malik nawaz Mar 28, 2016 10:22pm

Law should not be taken by an individual to go and beat any body. so first thing if the proof is valid about the person who did the harm to JJ, then that person should be sentence behind the bar asap. Do this first.......

Farhan Apr 01, 2016 09:57pm

Treat this matter according to law.

Asim Apr 08, 2016 02:13am

Believe me after getting pardon, as he must, he is talking the first flight out of pakistan

vishal Oct 14, 2016 02:06pm

@SpreadSomeLove I don't think it is possible!

ABDUL MUQTADIR Oct 14, 2016 04:39pm

Excellent video on this issue. Thanks,

Abbas Shah Oct 14, 2016 05:34pm

Until Pakistan gets a grip on these 'maulvis' pakistan is always going to be held back and held to ransom. Islam is an open, tolerable and forgiving religion. These maulvis seem to be making up their own laws with no relevance to islam.

kichhan Oct 14, 2016 06:07pm

Pakistan has great scholars and thinkers both in classical 6th century Islamic theology as well as progressive 21st century scientific thinking. Pakistan is well placed to be a progressive nation to combine the best of Islam and the best of science. It should not handover itself to the extremists of theology and ignore 21st century advancements and progressive thoughts. Paramount thing is of any religion is "Live and let Live", "Pardoning is greater than God".

fakir Oct 14, 2016 09:21pm

My comment as coming from an Indian..great article! India can also learn a thing or two from here!!

Nadir Sadiq Oct 14, 2016 10:08pm

Why can Junaid be excused and not Aasia bibi, this is not Islam. I could never believe Islam could be so unforgiving. This is all because of our close minded, misrepresenting and uneducated mullahs who really have no grasp of the real religion.

Indian Oct 14, 2016 10:57pm

If there is one thing that still is working in Pakistan, it is the alert media in the form of newspapers like the Dawn. You write thoughtful and relevant articles that are keeping some semblance of civilized existence alive. The lack of interest in sensational write ups and the seriousness with which you approach researching your materials is evident. All the best to you and keep up the good work.

logicallyspeaking Oct 14, 2016 11:47pm

After reading this article I believe that "there is still hope for of Asia Bibi." Let the nation be led by the spirit of mercy. Thank you for writing this article.

Parvez Oct 15, 2016 12:11am

Excellent article....... it is clear that it is easy to do wrong but very hard to correct it later.

ash Oct 15, 2016 12:49am

Mistakes happens -- should be corrected that is the way it has been and should be.. Why in world this mistake which is a very serious one and the mistake acknowledge by Mr Qureshi - the architect of this infamous law.. what he had done about it -- is he going to take on his head all the verdicts which have been or will be imposed based on his mistake. The mullahs who are so vocal about everything under the sun are keeping quite .. why ?

Raj Oct 15, 2016 01:28am

This article and the kind of comments I see here is a perfect example of how the decision makers and the religious power is disconnected from real people. This is what many in India, Isreal or USA should see and learn that many in Pakistan are not what they stereo type and will be extremely surprised to see that they are really wrong about those perceptions. I keep my fingers crossed that these kind of sane voices wins one day. I wish Kashmir issue settles one day (trust me, it will never be like India has what it wants and Pakistan will get what it wants or Kashmiris will get what they want, I hope all are ready to lose something for all of us to win finally) and I get to travel Pakistan and enjoy the food that I really love.

Barry Oct 15, 2016 02:32am

It seems that the most eminent scholars are at loggerheads about the this pardoning of blasphemy

The overriding question that arises out of this is simple - should any of them be allowed to judge the very question of blasphemy?

s.r.reddy Oct 15, 2016 03:40am

@Mohammed Abbasi If every muslim brother thinks as you think there will be peace.

Talkn Parrot Oct 15, 2016 06:40am

@Aisha Hope you are proven right.

Asif A. Shah Oct 15, 2016 07:01am

A scholarly article. It should be a part of curriculum for the law students in Pakistan.

Zok Oct 15, 2016 07:06am

@Aisha: Bravo!--from North America.

Zok Oct 15, 2016 07:11am

@Normskyy : Often, people claim: We must 'introspect'. However, they assume that introspection will reveal truths that we WILL accept! One has to be HONEST and accept the revelations arising from introspection--and NOT cast about to fix blame outside of ourselves. *Sure others are to blame for some things, but are we (ourselves) blameless?

yawar abdul rehman Oct 15, 2016 11:08am

people didn't accepted Islam when Makkah was conquered ... but when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) forgiven all of them for the hardships they threw towards the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions ...

Dixit Oct 15, 2016 11:26am

@Rafiq Ali I think you assessed it perfectly.

Saad Mahmood Oct 15, 2016 12:08pm

A very well written article. We need to align our thoughts and give them a direction which will be possible after thorough research and study. These type of writings will give us an hope that we still have such people around us, who motivate others to think from the basics.

Naeem Oct 15, 2016 01:55pm

We go too far- where is the evidence that blasphemy (as defined here) is actually an offence in Islam? And the death penalty in Islam is only permissible in 3 instances. Even murder is pardonable by the next of kin so there isn't even a debate here!

Khurram Shahzad Oct 15, 2016 07:32pm

Excellent work by the writer. People must be acknowledged by the correct laws of Islam and those who misuse the religion just to gain power should be charged with high treason.

Comrade Oct 16, 2016 08:04pm

Good one.

Noor Oct 16, 2016 09:05pm

Prophet Muhammad pbuh never said a word to a lady who dumped gabage on him. On the contray his good behaviour won her over. Its clear he had no intention to punish people who said or did wrong to him. This is the path he has shown to muslims. Why do we digress.

Tickleme Elmo Oct 17, 2016 04:45am

You're very brave Mr. Mazhar. I pray for your safety. Pakistan now is in a desperate need for more sons & daughters like you. You are my hero.

Kumar Oct 17, 2016 04:59am

I am surprised at "pardon" requests and considerations here in comments and otherwise. What if the charged person was a non-muslim?

Faisal Khan Mar 14, 2017 01:41pm

great article

MALIK FROM AUSTRALIA Mar 14, 2017 08:24pm

Arafat Mazhar's contribution is highly timely and much appreciated. Furthermore, the comments that follow cover such a vast spectrum and are so illuminating that I am unable to add anything to the discussion. My only suggestion is that the whole piece and readers' comments should be published in Urdu so that the contents reach to a wider audience.

What intrigues me is that there are at least four universities in Pakistan that are totally dedicated to Islamic studies. (These are the International Islamic University, Islamic University Bahawalpur, Minhaj University Lahore, and Moin-ud-Din Islamic University). None of these great institutions has produced research on this issue of life and death! Why?

punnikutti Apr 13, 2017 05:21pm

@zain ali ;Why are you surprised Zain? Read Dawn daily!

IMTIAZ ALI KHAN Apr 13, 2017 05:36pm

Beef eating/Blasphemy and people kill each other for this welcome to IndoPak.

Good riddance!! Please get rid of this law once in for all for the sake of a humanity, primitive behavior!

Raza Apr 13, 2017 06:49pm

Excellent Mr Arafat Mazhar

Sana Apr 13, 2017 07:21pm

@Jalaluddin S. Hussain Mr. Hussain I commend your comment Tolerance for ALL religions as you say, is the only way to peace May God Bless you

Awaz... Apr 13, 2017 10:32pm

Job Well Done!!! Thank you so much Mr. Arafat Mazhar and Dawn News.

asd Apr 14, 2017 01:17am

The untold story here is that people don't need a book to make judgement calls. It just helps those who use it to justify their means. People in the islamic world never had enlightenment or renaissance periods. Now you lag ages behind. And this is just the beginning.

Vish Apr 14, 2017 03:05am

Great Article by an educated man. Only one concern though... how long will he be able to live now? Dear educated Pakistani citizens... please try to save such souls...

Peace from India...Sanity should prevail...

jaydeep Apr 14, 2017 05:55am

@KhalidS I do agree with you but now there are people like you who are voicing their opinion and there must be many like you in Pakistan , Which is good . Regards from India.

Farouq omaro Apr 14, 2017 06:42am

Law of the Dark Ages should be discarded.... plain and simple. People should be allowed to criticise, those on the defensive should learn to fight criticism with scholarly justification. These kind of laws not only make people stupid, it keeps them stupid!

kaliraja thangamani Apr 14, 2017 08:42am

Wonderful, great service to humanity.I appreciate the author for the efforts he has taken to correct the historical mistake.Thanks to DAWN.

well meaning Apr 14, 2017 03:10pm

this is what happens when you elect uneducated people to run the govt . Science education should be must for anyone in public ofice