For having a true perspective on Islam and its value system the imperative of studying the life of the holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ---who was the benefactor of entire humanity and whose life was true embodiment of the Islamic injunctions--- can hardly be over-emphasised. The need for studying the life of the holy prophet (PBUH) was never as great as today when Pakistan is in the grip of burgeoning religious extremism that tends to misinterpret teachings of Islam and the prophet, terrorism and challenges to the writ of the state. The actions of the religious extremists and terrorists have not only maligned the great religion of Islam at the global level with all the negative fallout but has also portrayed Pakistan in a dismal light before the international community besides shattering communal harmony in the country. The self-styled guardians of Islam are misguiding the people through their skewed view of Islam, teachings of the holy prophet (PBUH), particularly in regards to the blasphemy issue.

Prime Minister Imran Khan was right on money when addressing the inaugural session of the two-day international Rahmatulil Asslmeen Conference said “Those who are unable to understand the philosophy of the life of the Holy prophet (PBUH) have now become guardians of the religion” His remarks ostensibly coming in the backdrop of TLP reaction over the SC verdict in Asia Bibi case and the sit-ins staged throughout the country which caused extensive damage to the public and private property by its followers, cannot be contested on any ground whatsoever. What the TLP did was an insult to the genius of the majority of Muslims in the country who have unqualified veneration and respect for the Holy prophet, a challenge to the Islamic credentials of the SC judges and the sitting government. Put in simple words it was a mutiny against the state.

There are no two opinions about punishment for a blasphemer and every Muslim is prepared to sacrifice his life for the sake of the honour of the prophet. Islam does not allow mob justice against a blasphemer and it is only the state which can award punishment to him or her after due process of law making sure that no innocent person becomes the victim of false and trumped up charges motivated by personal vendetta. In Sura Maidah the Quran enjoins the Muslims to do justice and shun hatred against other communities in these words “Oh Ye who believe, be steadfast witness for Allah in equity and let not hatred of any people seduce you that ye deal not justly, that is nearer to your duty” The judges of the SC in their verdict made abundantly clear that they were lovers of the prophet (PBUH) and prepared to sacrifice their lives for his honour but they could not punish a person against whom the prosecution had failed to prove its case. The verdict of the SC was according to the law and constitution. Expressing disrespect to the decisions of the apex court can lead to chaos and anarchy in the country. The edifice of any state and for that matter an Islamic state like Pakistan is built on justice and respect for the Judiciary.

The honour of the prophet cannot be protected through actions against his teachings. The Holy prophet under no circumstances used abusive language and invectives even against his bitter enemies and invariably prayed for guidance of Allah for them. The videos gone viral show Khadim Hussain Rizvi the head of TLP using filthy language against SC judges, Prime Minister Imran Khan and even casting aspersions on the COAS. In his protest rallies also he has been sermonising to his followers in the same vein. The question arises as to how a person with such a low level of morality can protect the honour of the Holy prophet (PBUH)? The stance of the TLP is manifestly against the injunctions of Islam and the teachings of the Holy prophet. The government announcement of standing with the judiciary and making sure that all its verdicts were implemented was right and commendable.

The fact is that the credentials of the government in regards to protecting the honour of the prophet are beyond reproach. The position that the PTI government took on the planned publication of blasphemous caricatures contest by a Dutch MP and the diplomatic offensive launched by it which culminated in the cancellation of the move, amply proves the seriousness and commitment with which it looks at the question of blasphemy. It was an outcome of its efforts that European Union also admitted that freedom of expression could not be used as a pretext for blasphemy. The European Human Rights Court in its ruling also expressed similar views saying such activities exceeded the permissible limits of freedom of expression and could stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace. As revealed by Prime Minister in his speech the government will also spearhead a worldwide campaign against defamation of religions and strive for securing an international convention for the purpose. The Prime Minister also directed HEC to set chairs on the life of the prophet (PBUH) in at least three universities.

The holding of the international conference with the theme of ‘Finality of Prophet-hood and Responsibilities of Muslims in the light of teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), coinciding with his birth anniversary, was indeed a very imaginative and visionary move. The international scholars attending the conference in their discourses categorically rejected violence in religious matters and highlighted the trait of tolerance preached and practiced by the prophet. Such undertakings are quite helpful in projecting true image of Islam for promoting inter-faith harmony as well as improving the permeating negative perceptions about Pakistan among the global community besides conveying the true spirit of Islam and teachings of the Holy prophet (PBUH) to the young generations.

Those elements which are trying to mislead the people and disrupt peace and tranquility in the country through their hostile activities and promoting the culture of intolerance also need to revisit their creed. They must put their faith in the integrity of the apex court and its sanctity. They also need to keep in mind that the state will never allow any entity to challenge its writ and flout the state laws and constitution of the country. Majority of the Pakistani Muslims disapprove their antics as they are neither serving the cause of Islam nor protecting honour of the prophet. Pakistan is an Islamic state. The constitution of Pakistan declares it unequivocally that no law incompatible with Islamic injunctions could be promulgated in the country and there is also an Islamic Ideology Council to ensure that the constitutional provision was duly adhered to in letter and spirit.

 

The writer is a freelance columnist.

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