Do we have any grounds to condemn Mumtaz Qadri’s actions?
A lot of hypocritical toys were thrown out of the quasi-liberal prams following PTI MNA Mujahid Khan’s demand for Mumtaz Qadri’s release in a speech in the National Assembly. Mujahid Khan, by supporting Salmaan Taseer’s murderer and in turn echoing the popular voice in Pakistan, invited the wrath of many proponents of “freedom” and “justice” from our neck of the woods. According to them, Qadri did something unprecedented by killing an alleged “blasphemer.” Those who propagate, or buy this assertion are either kidding themselves, being deliberately dishonest or are simply oblivious of the past.
–Ilam Din’s (or “Ghazi Ilam Din Shaheed” as he is more popularly known) case is the obvious choice for the relevant juxtaposition. By killing Raj Pal in the year 1929, who was the publisher – not the writer – of a blasphemous book, Ilam Din managed to carve out a legacy of veneration in the hearts of the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. This murder was defended by Father of the Nation, the “epitome of secularity”, Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the Lahore High Court, while the Poet of the Nation Allama Iqbal dubbed the killer a “matchless warrior”, and is on record as saying at Ilam Din’s funeral, “We just did all the talking, it was the carpenter’s boy who took home the glory.” Jinnah was a part of Ilam Din’s defence in court at a time when he was still the ostensible flag-bearer of Hindu-Muslim unity, while Iqbal extolled the murder while he was scribing The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, a book that later on confirmed that Iqbal’s apparent reconstruction was supposed to be done by brushing the 20th century paint on the same antediluvian bricks.
When the two founding fathers of our country can be traced on the gamut that runs between defending and extolling someone who murdered a “blasphemer”, when there’s a mosque built in the killer’s honour and when the murderer’s legacy is a part of the curriculum that is spoon fed to the children in Pakistan, is there any ground to condemn Qadri’s actions?
Massacring blasphemers is considered a noble acts by the scholars which laid the foundation of the Shariah.
Contrary to popular opinion among the Pakistani liberals, Ziaul Haq did not create the Blasphemy Law out of thin air. Through “blatant Islamisation” Zia merely gave us all a glimpse of what we all dutifully revere. Just because some of us couldn’t digest it, doesn’t mean that the dose wasn’t authentic. And the Blasphemy Law is an integral – albeit overly piquant – flavour of this dose.
The Blasphemy Law traces its origin in Fiqh – an integral part of the study of Islam – which involves expansion of the Shariah by Islamic jurists, taking into account the authentic traditions and narrations of the past. The examples of Asma Bint Marwan, Ibn Khatal’s slave girls, Abu Afak among many others are presented to show how Islamic scholars incorporated the Blasphemy Law as a part of the Shariah.
Every leader who has been at the helm of an Islamic empire has implemented the Blasphemy Law in all its blood and goriness. To question the blasphemy law would be akin to questioning the veracity of the actions of pretty much every single Muslim leader that is respected in Islamic history, which would be like stumbling upon the blasphemy jackpot. And therefore, when one condemns the act of killing a “blasphemer” as is the case with Mumtaz Qadri, one sets a blasphemous train in motion that stampedes over the ideological raison d’etre of Pakistan, and the unyielding belief system of over 97 percent of the country’s population.
For all practical and logical purposes condemning the murder of blasphemers means one is condemning an integral facet of over 1400 years of Islamic history, which in turn means that one condemns the jurists that incorporated the law via Fiqh in the Shariah, this takes us all the way to condemning Fiqh and the Shariah itself. It’s a merry-go-round of blasphemy that is instigated when one vies to condemn Mumtaz Qadri, and once you jump aboard it’s a never ending vicious circle.
When Pakistan’s founding fathers stand by the Mumtaz Qadri of pre-partition India, when Islamic history itself is brimming with practical implementation of the Blasphemy Law, and when the law itself traces its roots in the religion’s foundation, screaming bloody murder over Mujahid Khan’s claims can be dubbed hollow rhetoric or amateur jibes at best. Before slamming Mumtaz Qadri one should deride the legacy of Ilam Din and the mindset of our founding fathers. Before condemning Mumtaz Qadri one would have to chop off the theological and judicial roots upon which superstructure of Dar-ul-Islam stands. That would take the combination of cojones and honesty that the most vocal of Qadri’s critics seem to be devoid of.
The writer is a financial journalist and a cultural critic. Email: [email protected], Twitter: @khuldune