How to Properly Understand the Sources of Blasphemy Law?

Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel

Question

There is a Hadith [Sunan Abi Dawud 4361] often cited by hardline Muslims who are in favor of harsh anti-blasphemy laws where a blind man kills his concubine for insulting the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him), and the Messenger (Peace and Blessings be upon him) seemingly does not reprimand this act.

Can this narration be used to justify extrajudicial killings in Islam?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

To summarize, the hadith of the blind man killing his concubine without due process is a weak narration due to the doubtfulness of Uthman al-Shuhham in all the variations of the chain. If the incident did take place, then it contradicts all the moral and legal principles. Some say if the incident did occur, it must have been done in a manner that was aiding or inciting enemy forces, as the Muslims in Madina at the time was fighting a defensive war against the idolaters of Mecca. She was considered an enemy combatant.

Ruling of Blasphemy

The punishment in the Hanafi school is no death penalty, but as the judge and ruler befit. Although the majority view is that death is the punishment of the blasphemer, regardless of religion.

However, as we live in a non-Muslim country, any penal punishment cannot be carried out individually or collectively by the Muslim community. Any fatwa or individual understanding does not legitimatize a death sentence, and it must be a formal Islamic court ruling in an Islamic-ruled country. Hence, extrajudicial killings are not allowed in Islam. [al-Mawsu’at al-Fiqhiyah al-Kuwaytiyyah; ‘Ibn Nujaym, Bahr al-Raiq; ‘Ibn Taymiyyah, al Sarim al-Maslul]

Call to Sound Guidance

Mercy and patience with blasphemy was the general rule applied by the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), while legal punishment was the exception, only when it was compounded by high crimes of apostasy, treason, warfare, sedition, or incitement. Our religion is of mercy; we should work towards inviting all too accurate eternal guidance by clearing their misconceptions. This is the proper understanding and spirit of Islam.

I pray this helps with your question.

[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied within UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan and Turkey.

He started his early education in UK. He went onto complete hifz of Qur’an in India, then enrolled into an Islamic seminary in UK where he studied the secular and Alimiyyah sciences. He then travelled to Karachi, Pakistan.

He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for a number of years. He has taught hifz of the Qur’an, Tajwid, Fiqh and many other Islamic sciences to both children and adults onsite and online extensively in UK and Ireland. He was teaching at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences.

He currently resides in UK with his wife. His personal interest is love of books and gardening.