Prophet Muhammad’s response to blasphemy


Laiq Ahmed Atif, Missionary and President Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Malta


The brutal and gut-wrenching killing of Priyantha Diyawadana, a Sri Lankan national, in Sialkot, Pakistan, at the beginning of December 2021 on blasphemy accusations, shook the entire world. Every sane person felt the pain and was speechless to watch such a horrifying and abhorrent killing of an innocent human. 

This horrendous act was done in the name of Islam, the religion that likens the unjust murder of a single soul to killing all of humanity (Surah al-Maidah, Ch.5: V.33); the religion that teaches tolerance, harmony, forbearance, freedom of speech and religion. (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.257) 

These so-called Muslims have committed such an abhorrent murder in the name of Allah – that Allah Who is Lord of all the worlds, the Gracious and Merciful – and in the name of Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, who was “sent as a mercy for all peoples”. (Surah al-Anbiya, Ch.21: V.108)

The so-called movement of Labaik Ya Rasool Allah by Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) of Namoos-e-Risalat – “honour of the Prophet” – in Pakistan is extremely hollow and without any substantiation. Love for the Prophetsa is not to be expressed through empty slogans; rather, Allah wants concerted efforts and concrete practices. True love is to follow the Prophet’s footsteps, to practice his teachings and to abide by his noble character. Anything beyond is not true love; it is only a deception.

Allah says in the Holy Quran:

“Verily, you have in the Prophet of Allah an excellent model, for him who hopes to meet Allah and the Last Day and who remembers Allah much” (Surah al-Ahzab, Ch.33: V.22). The Holy Prophet Muhammad was a true example of how Muslims should live their lives.

The Holy Quran points out clearly that all prophets and messengers of Allah were persecuted, harmed, given bad names and mocked, not only during their lifetime but also after their demise. Allah declares:

“Alas for My servants! There comes not a Messenger to them but they mock at him.” (Surah Ya Sin, Ch.36: V.31)

The question is when these prophets were blasphemed against, what was their reaction? Did they ever punish the blasphemers? The answer is they did not.  

Then the Holy Quran clearly speaks about the treatment of those who mocked prophets:

“And surely, Messengers have been mocked at before thee; but I granted respite to those who disbelieved. Then I seized them and how [terrible] was [My] punishment!” (Surah al-Ra‘d, Ch.13: V.33) 

“And Messengers indeed have been rejected before thee; but notwithstanding their rejection and persecution they remained patient until Our help came to them”. (Surah al-An‘am, Ch.6: V.35)

These verses make it clear that all the messengers observed extreme patience whenever they were blasphemed and they never tried to punish or respond to those blasphemers violently. However, all the enemies reached their bad end and they incurred the wrath of Allah. 

Our beloved master, the Holy Prophetsa and his followers had faced the worst form of blasphemy and persecution. However, they exhibited the highest standards of patience, forbearance, sympathy and forgiveness and left their fate in the hands of Almighty Allah who responded in the Holy Quran: 

“Verily, those who malign Allah and His Messenger — Allah has cursed them in this world and in the Hereafter, and has prepared for them an abasing punishment.” (Surah al-Ahzab, Ch.33: V.58)

This verse is very clear on the matter – that there is no worldly or human punishment of blasphemy. Moreover, the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa through his practices made it absolutely clear that there is no worldly punishment for blasphemy and the matter rests in the hands of Almighty Allah. 

The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa once owed money to a Jew. The Jew came to him mistakenly thinking that the amount was overdue, and confronted the Holy Prophetsa and demanded his money using very harsh and blasphemous words and accused him of not honouring his promise. He also insulted the Holy Prophetsa and his tribe. Hazrat Umarra, who was present, was extremely annoyed and perhaps was about to strike him. The Holy Prophetsa stopped him from doing so and said: “Umarra, you should have behaved differently”. He didn’t even let Hazrat Umarra speak harsh words to the Jew. (Muhammadsa The Perfect Man, p. 792-794)

This was the Holy Prophet’s behaviour when openly insulted in the company of his companions. 

When the Holy Prophetsa went to Taif to preach to the local people the message of Allah, they mocked him and tortured him and his whole body was ripped red with blood. Allah sent His angel to ask him if he wished the whole village to be torn into pieces. That was an opportunity for him to say yes, to teach a lesson to the rest that if anyone blasphemed against him, they could be punished or destroyed. But, our beloved Master Muhammadsa, instead of punishing those mockers and blasphemers prayed for them and said: 

“Do not do such a thing, I hope Allah will raise people from their generations who would worship One God and would not associate any partner with Him.” (Ibid, p. 792-794)

The history of mankind witnessed those moments when the Holy Prophetsa – the King of Peace – entered into Mecca victorious and said: 

“O people of Mecca you tell me, how you wish to be treated?” 

Just imagine the people who were being addressed? The bloodthirsty people whose hands were blood-stained with the blood of the Muslims which they had shed for the last 20 years. Those who had dragged the Muslim slaves in the streets of Mecca, those who had been merciless murderers of the Muslim ladies, those who had turned the Muslims out of their homes, those who had imprisoned our Prophetsa in a valley for three years, those who had attacked and mutilated the dead bodies of the Muslims, attackers of his daughter and thus causing her abortion and the ones who had chewed the liver of his uncle, Hazrat Hamzahra. But when they were asked to prescribe the kind of treatment they deserved, they replied:

“You have the power to do as you please, but we expect mercy from a generous man like you, the same treatment which Joseph extended to his brothers.” 

The Holy Prophet treated them way beyond their expectations. He said, “Go, you are all free today. Not only do I forgive you, but I also pray to my Lord to forgive you.” (Ibid, 613-614)

He forgave all his enemies who insulted him both verbally and physically, including Ikrima, son of Abu Jahal who was the leader of the opponents and Hinda who tore the chest of the Holy Prophet’s uncle Hamzara and chewed it to fulfil her savage vow. He also forgave Wahshi, who had killed the Holy Prophet’ssa uncle, Hazrat Hamzahra.

He forgave Habbar who had murdered several Muslims including the murder of the Holy Prophet’ssa daughter Hazrat Zainabra. He also pardoned Abu Sufyan, one of his greatest enemies who led many wars against the Prophetsa.

Prophet Muhammadsa forgave those who placed a camel’s entrails on his back while he was praying. He did not punish the Jewish lady who mixed poison in meat to kill him. He did not take any revenge on the enemy who waved a sword over him, while he was resting.

This was his beautiful revenge from his blood-thirsty blasphemers and mockers, who never missed any chance to ridicule him and his followers, who never stopped short of giving physical and emotional pain and sufferings to him, his family and his people on a daily basis. Can the world present any parallel response to their enemies and blasphemers to this?

Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IVrh aptly summarised the issue of blasphemy. He wrote: 

“Blasphemy is condemned on moral and ethical grounds, no doubt, but no physical punishment is prescribed for blasphemy in Islam despite the commonly held view in the contemporary world.

“Having studied the Holy Quran extensively and repeatedly with deep concentration, I have failed to find a single verse which declares blasphemy to be a crime punishable by man.

“Although the Holy Quran very strongly discourages indecent behaviour and indecent talk, or the hurting of the sensitivity of others, with or without rhyme or reason, Islam does not advocate the punishment of blasphemy in this world nor vests such authority in anyone.” (Islam’s Response to Contemporary Issues, p. 38)

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