The argument that, just because there are a lot of prisoners on death row with mental illnesses and one cannot let all of them off the hook, is a specious argument. If a person is suffering from mental illness, that person cannot be held legally responsible for their actions. That is the essence of Mens Rea, the basic building block of all criminal law, i.e, establishing criminal intent.

This is a dark chapter in the history of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. One way to distinguish this ruling to make it more palatable, would be to separate violent crimes versus non-violent crimes for death row inmates.

Does a mentally ill person claiming to be a prophet really deserve execution by the State? Let’s review some religious beliefs.

Firstly, the first Kalma does not have the word ‘final’ in front of the word ‘prophet’, which means that had Allah wished, he could have easily foreclosed any doubts but He chose not to, because the Jews have been waiting for a messiah since before the advent of Islam and birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Secondly, Prophet Muhammad used to describe himself as the ‘Seal of the Prophets’, which can be reconciled in theocracies like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia with the belief that there would be no ‘new’ prophets but that Jesus Christ was an older, more senior prophet. Furthermore, that he would not descend on a magic carpet from heaven, but rather, be born again, like any prophet before him.

It is not the business of the State to decide on matters of religious belief, or to pass death sentences or prison sentences for various beliefs in the realm of faith.

The Holy Koran is quite clear on this subject. “There is no compulsion in religion.” Well, sentencing someone to death is certainly a “compulsion”, as is putting them in prison for holding sincere religious beliefs.

OMAR MIRZA,

New York, September 28.