THE LOST PROMISE
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Original Title: IQBAL TAIRAY DAIS KA KYA HAAL SUNAOON?
Urdu Article by: Irshad Ahmed Arif
Translated by: S Roman Ahsan (January 2011)
After Governor Salman Taseer’s assassination, a question is being constantly raised whether there is a need for any blasphemy law in a country whose constitution is Islamic and which is inhabited by Muslims with 98% population. And hence, nobody could dare insult their Prophet’s (pbuh) image. It is understandable that in a 98% Muslim majority country like Pakistan no person would really go to the extent of uttering any insulting remarks against the Prophet (pbuh) or carrying out any other blasphemy action but who would enlighten the intellectuals of this nation that a book by the name of “Heavenly Communism” was written in Lahore in 1983. This book was written by an advocate Mushtaq Raj and was freely distributed amongst the literate society in Pakistan. Upon publication of this book, Lahore High Court Bar Association and Bar Council cancelled the membership of Mushtaq Raj and demanded that the government ban this book and the author should be arrested thereby given a severe punishment.
A resolution was presented in a session of Lahore High Court Bar Association which was being addressed by President Syed Afzal Haider. It was demanded in the resolution that there should be death penalty for blasphemy against Prophet (pbuh) since there was mention of no punishment for such transgressions in the law before that. It is pertinent to mention here that this resolution was neither presented in an assembly of religious leaders, nor the session was headed by Late General Zia-ul-Haque or any of his followers. Rather it was presided by a progressive and broad-minded person Advocate Syed Afzal Haider who was a supporter of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) yet carried a strong love for Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in his heart. Hence, the resolution was approved with mutual consensus finally.
After the resolution was presented, a member suggested that the author of the book Mushtaq Raj should also be called in the session. Before any other member could intervene, Barrister Malik Saeed Hassan (a PPP loyalist who became the judge in Lahore High Court during Benazir Bhutto’s reign) whose liberal views, respect for law and religious tolerance were endorsed by everyone, stood up and opposed this suggestion. His face was red with anger and he spoke in a loud voice, “If that offender is called, I will throw him out of this session.” At that time, neither the extreme opponents of General Zia’s dictatorship made any effort to label the book as the finest specimen of freedom of expression, nor Mushtaq Raj was portrayed as the symbol of progressive thought (Roshan Khayaali) and religious tolerance. Also, no question was raised whether there was any need for creating Blasphemy law. However, the elements in United States and Europe voiced their support for Mushtaq Raj. Besides that, a lady lawyer who was a human rights activist considered the issue as falling under under human rights and at a seminar she used careless words about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) but apologized later on.
The emotional attachment and love for Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) by the Muslims is incomprehensible by the capitalist societies of the West. Same is the case with those entities that hate religion who want to make the Pakistan of Iqbal (ra) and Quaid (ra), a godless state where they want to promote vulgar values. Liberalism is different from godlessness it needs to be noted and still has its limits if we talk about a Muslim country.
In the book “Hayaat-e-Iqbal”, the following incident is quoted about a gathering in which Allama Iqbal (ra) was seated. One day Iqbal (ra) was surrounded by people and a debate was going on concerning some literary topics. A few college-students arrived there also. During the discussion, a student took the name of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.w.) as "Muhammad Sahab”. Allama Iqbal’s face turned red with anger and he said “Expel him from this gathering as he has no manners on how to take the name of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.w.)”. Then tears started falling from his eyes profusely and this condition persisted for a long time.
A fellow of trinity college Oxford writes in his book ‘Muhammad (saw) and Muhammadinism (saw)’, “Christians should keep this in mind that the message by Muhammad (s.a.w.w.) created such intoxication amongst his followers which cannot be found even amongst the early followers of Jesus (pbuh).”
Suhail Bin Umroo wrote the clauses of the petition of Hudaibiya. When he went back to Makkah, he said to his people “What I saw in the assembly of Muhammad (s.a.w.w.), I did not even see in the royal courts of Iran or Rome. I have seen that when their Prophet performs ablution (wazoo), they do not let that water drip down on the floor but rinse their faces with it. When he has his hair cut, they do not waste the hair, rather distribute it amongst them. They do not even waste his saliva and apply it on their hands and eyes. Who do you talk about? Will you fight him?” (It is important to mention here that ordinary Muslims like us are not supposed to form such an attachments with any spiritual person in real life - the level of attachment mentioned here was only for Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.w.) )
Rationality demands that after this gruesome incident, every person and group should evaluate their approach and way of thinking. The rising tendencies of breaking the law should be analyzed so as to curb further division of this nation which is already split into sects, castes, races and political parties. The murder of Governor Taseer has instead been made a source of acquiring political and grouping gains by political and religious groups and by foreign funded NGOs in particular. Different justifications are being given to abolish blasphemy law and attempts are being made to create acceptance for blasphemy against the Prophet (pbuh) amongst society by imparting lessons of tolerance, moderation, compassion and forgiveness to the nation but the 18 crore emotional Muslims are not that foolish that they will forget this verse of Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, a keen devotee (aashiq) of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):
Till I die for the honor of Khawaja But-ha (Prophet s.a.w.w.),
God is a witness that my faith cannot be complete
[Na jub tuk kut maroon main Khawaja “But-ha (saw)” key izzat per,
Khuda Shahid hai kaamil maira emaan ho nahi sakta]