Today marks the first death anniversary of Mr Salman Taseer. The man needs no introduction in the local as well as international circuit. Most of us know him not because of the life he lived or the political associations he had but because of the manner in which he died. Exactly an year ago on 4th January 2011 Salman Taseer was murdered by his own security guard Mumtaz Qadri. The reason of killing as we all know was a statement Mr Taseer made on media about the infamous blasphemy law. I will not go in the details of the event as those have been repeatedly discussed nor I will try and defend the law or Mr Taseer’s view on it. What I want to reflect on is the reaction of our masses to this murder and my personal stance on the entire matter. Before I am alleged with affiliations to any pro-liberal organization/group let me make it very clear that I do not support the liberal movement, Civil society , SAFMA etc. Those who are close to me can testify to this fact, what I am writing here are my personal views and has no hidden agenda behind it.
It is a well known but rarely acknowledged fact that Islam in general and specially in Pakistan has been hijacked by a certain mindset. It is not one organization, group or cult that is causing this epidemic nor is it the work of a few men planning to rule the world. The violent mindset has been around for generations and slowly it has hacked our subconscious taking over any rational thinking and tolerance present within us. I would like to pose a question at this point. What is the easiest way to convince the masses of our nation to converge on a opinion? The answer is “religion”. It is the oldest formula in the book, take an issue add religious viewpoint to it and then declare anyone contradicting to it as an infidel. Over the years our minds have been trained not to ask questions about anything that has a religious ingredient in it. I ask why? Is there a single proof where Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H) asked the ummat not to ask questions? Did any of the khulfa-e-rashdeen punished a person just because he/she was asking questions? On the contrary there are several record cases when people asked questions and were given answers instead of a death penalty. Personally I believe everything can be questioned, even God and the concept of God.
I often wonder what exactly did Salman Taseer do to deserve 20 bullets delivered to his body? Is the blasphemy law a holy law? The blasphemy law is nothing more than a human created rule, and criticism to it is totally viable and in no accord falls within the context of blasphemy. Keep this in mind that Mumtaz Qadri killed Salman Taseer as according to him and other religious extremists Mr Taseer was a blasphemer since he had criticized the law. Again the question of rational thinking and tolerance applies here. How in the world criticizing a human made law be considered blasphemy? The problem is that we as a nation have lost all common sense and are merely emotional fools, ready to be manipulated at the slightest mention of religion. Understanding the concept of blasphemy must be made clear and I will discuss my views on it in a later part of the article. For the moment I must say that most of us lack the basic understanding of Islam leave alone the sharaih problems. It is not just this one case of Mr Taseer’s murder, over the years our nation has demonstrated its inability to react peacefully and rationally to any given matter. One example that comes to mind is the burning of shops and vehicles during protests against the cartoons published in a Danish newspaper. Really? What was the logic behind burning properties of our own people? How did that have any affect on the Danish?
Coming to the core issue of the entire assassination I would first like to give a quick overview on the concept of blasphemy and the law itself. Blasphemy is considered “when a person intentionally disrespects or hurts the feeling of another person with respect to his/her religious beliefs”. It is vital to understand that the concept of blasphemy applies to all religions not just Islam. Being a a human it is ethically not acceptable to make fun of another person on the basis of their religion and being a Muslim it is simply a non-permissible action. For those of you who have actually read the law will understand that it clearly states that it is applicable to everyone irrespective of the religion. My personal view for a person who disgraces prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H)if proved is that the person should be punished, the punishment however is for the Shariah to decide. I am perfectly in align with the fatwa against Salman Rushdi given by Ayatullah Khomeni. The reason for this seemingly stark contradiction is that there is a subtle difference which must be understood. The actions of Rushdi were proven to be blasphemous, intentional and were causing a nuisance. What Salman Taseer said was not blasphemous. The way in which the law is being misused by our people is alarming, it is being used to end personal disputes, grab lands, occupy wealth etc. Anyone can accuse another person of blasphemy and within minutes the public will pass a judgement without even pausing momentarily to confirm the accusation. Even if the allegation is true it is not for the people to rule a punishment. It is the responsibility of the state.
The reaction of our masses was shocking, people throwing flowers on Mumtaz Qadri and going gaga over the sight of him. Display of jazba-e-emaani was on full throttle, those who had never practiced Islam in their entire lifetime had somehow suddenly become the “thaikedar” of Islam. I still remember the day this incident took place, a friend of mine exclaimed in a proud manner “Allah shukar our nation is still unified on somethings. Salman Taseer was silenced for good.” When I asked him if he knew what had Salman Taseer done? his response was, “Huzoor (s.a.w) ki shaan main gustakhi ki thi. This reflects the mindset of our nation, it shows how easily we can twist facts and be convinced of them. I did not indulged in a lengthy debate with my friend because honestly speaking I was a bit scared to raise my voice on the matter at that time. However one must not refrain on voicing their opinion on a matter only because of fear. It is high time that our nation came back to its senses and every little contribution towards it counts. I may not be able to change any mindsets and most likely I will be on the receiving end of so called lovers of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) but at the very least I will have personal satisfaction.
Islam is a religion of peace, love, tolerance and above all rational thinking. The Quran teaches us to pursue, to do fikar and make use of tadbeeer. I hope a day will come when Muslims will preach the true essence of Islam by their words and actions alike.