Few blasphemy cases make headlines. For every Rimsha or Asia Bibi, there are countless accused whose stories are ignored by media. One recent case, however, should be front page headlines to serve as a warning about how out of control the blasphemy laws have become and how they are being abused not to defend any religion, but to promote certain political agendas.
A few weeks ago, Pakistani Christian cleric Adnan Masih was charged under sections 295-A, 295-B and 295-C. He has received life threats and a judge has ordered special police security to protect him while he sits languishing in jail awaiting trial. Masih’s story is not the typical tale of jealousy or revenge, though. Actually, it is far more troubling.
According to reports, Masih was filling in for his brother at his glassworks shop when he noticed a book titled ‘Mein ney Bible sey poocha Quran kyun jaley’. As a Christian cleric he was naturally interested in the book, and while he was reading he noticed that some passages about the Christian Bible and Jesus that he believed from his training as a Christian cleric were incorrect. He highlighted these passages and wrote some notes correcting them on the page.
The next day, Masih found himself facing not only a blasphemy charge, but life threats. Masih did not deface a Qur’an. He did not make any statements defaming Islam or Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The Christian cleric’s real mistake appears to be that the book he dared to correct was written by a cleric of banned organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawa.
The book belonged to Mehmood, who works at the shop and is linked with the banned outfit. Upon seeing the alleged notations, he went to police and also notified his organisation.
The source said that amidst reports that the banned outfit had issued a fatwa calling for his head, Masih, his wife and two little girls aged 8 and 6 respectively, fled their home with very little money, leaving behind their valuables and important documents such as national identity cards and passports, which police have reportedly seized.
Some will ask why Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which claims to be a ‘humanitarian welfare organisation’, is issuing life threats. A more troubling questions must be asked first, though: Is it now considered blasphemy to disagree with a banned extremist organisation?
Iblis’ sin began in his pride and arrogance. Instead of accepting the position Allah (SWT) had determined for him, he believed that he deserved a higher status – even as high as that of Almighty Allah (SWT) Himself. Can we not see some traces of this prideful arrogance in the reaction of Jamaat-ud-Dawa to a poor Christian disagreeing with some of their claims about Prophet Isa (PBUH)? Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the Seal of Prophets – in Islam there can not be another one after him. So how can a recent book by Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s cleric be given the same status as the Qur’an revealed by Allah’s (SWT) last Prophet?
Whether or not one agrees or disagrees with Jamaat-ud-Dawa is a matter of personal choice, not a matter of blasphemy. For Jamaat-ud-Dawa to claim for itself the same status as Allah’s (SWT) Prophet and his revelation says more about the pride and arrogance of that organisation than the actions of a poor Christian man trying to tell about his own religion.