There are some sinister practices and beliefs in our society that disturb us greatly, but still we are not allowed to talk about it. It is prohibited by all means and those who have enough courage to raise their voice are silenced and caged by the gods who rule over this land. The land which is famous for its diversity to some and terrorism to others. The land where people would not stop talking about the variety of cultures and traditions and at the same time where people would have enough time to point out the worst in each other and judge each other till their hearts are content. The list of societal problems which prevail in this country is quite long and one of those is the debate on the blasphemy law that exists in the society like a scary ghost not seen but felt by everyone. The blasphemy law is the God’s sword for some people and unjust satanic practice for the rest.
The history of this ghost goes quite back to the times when the subcontinent was ruled by the British Colonial rulers. In 1927, the British colonial rulers of the sub-continent made it a criminal offence to commit “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religious belief”. The law did not discriminate between religions. The law was retained when Pakistan gained independence in 1947 under the rule of the country’s moderate founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Pakistan’s late military ruler Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, who was in power for 11 years from 1977, made several additions to its blasphemy laws, including life imprisonment for those defiling or desecrating the Holy Quran. In 1984, followers of the minority Ahmadi sect, who believe that Ahmad was a prophet, were banned from calling themselves Muslims, punishable with three years in jail.
Since then there have been many cases related to the defiling of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) and defaming of the Holy Book. There has been this case of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi who was sentenced to hang in Punjab after being found guilty of insulting the Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) following a row with Muslim women in her village. This case aroused fury and again raised questions against the blasphemy law which to some people appeared an unjust way of restricting freedom of speech and action. Lawmaker Sherry Rehman from the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (at that time) sparked fury later that month (In November 2010 after Asia’s case was filed) when she lodged a private member’s bill, seeking to abolish the death penalty and clarify the law on blasphemy. Like always, the ruling government’s member also failed in her struggle for this change. On December 30, 2010, the PPP-led government announced it had no intention of amending the blasphemy law. The silence prevailed.
On December 31, 2010, businesses went on strike across Pakistan in protest over moves to amend the law despite international controversy over Bibi’s death sentence. Pakistan has yet to execute anyone for blasphemy. Most of those given the death penalty have their sentences
overturned or commuted on appeal. Taseer was killed in a hail of bullets by his bodyguard on Tuesday for vocally seeking to amend the law and appealing for clemency for Bibi. It clearly shows that there were people who wanted to take a stand on this issue, who wanted to have a discussion to make a decision on mutual grounds but alas they were not strong enough to smash the walls of injustice and hatred.
The cult of blasphemy proves to be disastrous in the long term. It discourages people to be tolerant and harmonious towards each other and instead conjure brutality, hatred, violence and social differences. This law openly condemns the act of having a discussion and finding common grounds between people with different mindset which may enable us to move forward with optimism. There are a lot of questions that a lot of us want to ask but who would even dare do that as no one would be brave enough to risk their lives or even pay with that later. After experiencing Salman Taseer’s brutal murder who could do that? Keeping all this aside there is this little voice that keeps on whispering words of wisdom. It whispers in our ears, “Are we capable of judging who is a true believer and who is not? Can we really distinguish who is right and who is wrong in this regard?” The answer is the same as always, ‘No, I don’t think so.’
In the end, this is something I want the people of this land to ponder over this matter. We believe that the sole purpose of the blasphemy law is to protect the respectable position of the beloved Prophet (S.A.W) and Quran from any mistreatment. Then how come we ignore the standards and examples they have set for us in their lives. How come we forget the way Prophet (S.A.W) treated the woman who used to throw garbage on him on a daily basis but when she got sick one day, he was the first person who went to ask for her welfare. What are our thoughts on the way our Prophet (S.A.W) forgave everyone on the event of conquest of Makkah and maintained a standard of being merciful and forgiving towards others. So before protecting His (S.A.W) respectable position, His (S.A.W) honour and His (S.A.W) dignity and before uttering the notorious rant, ‘You Blaspheme, You Die!’ I believe we should first protect the standards and examples of our religion set by him who is known as Muhammad (May peace be upon him-and His Ummah who have been led astray!).

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