By Humaira Masihuddin
I am both shocked and amazed at the audacity with which asiyabibi’s case has been pursued in the electronic media by people who are supposed to be conversant with Islam. Leading from the front along with the political maulanas are some journalists who appear to be showing great loyalty to the personality of the Prophet (PBUH) by insisting that the punishment in Islam for blasphemy cannot be condoned and that it has to be carried out under all circumstances , and that there is no room for repentance or forgiveness.
Then we heard that the standard of proof need not be stringent that any one making a claim against another for blasphemy is to be taken seriously even though such blasphemy might have taken place in the privacy of a room.
Clearly those making such ludicrous claims in the name of Islam or Islamic law are committing the most vile of deeds and that to in the face of solid and fool proof evidence from the Holy Quran and sunnah , the two undeniable fountain heads of Islamic law .
As for the controversy surrounding whether blasphemy can be forgiven or not, all we need to do so here is take a seerah centric approach to study the subject .
The Quran unequivocally and for all times establishes the gentle and merciful disposition of the prophet (s) in the following verses “It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them…….Surah 3 v 159. “We sent thee not but as a mercy for all the worlds “ surah 21verse 106. “Thou would’st only perchance, fret thyself to death, following after them in grief, if they believe not in this message” Surah 18 v16
This kind and gentle disposition of the Prophet remained a constant throughout his life whatever the circumstances whether during the persecution in the “Makkan Crucible “or the days of complete authority and power in Medina. So much so that RVC Bodley in his book the Messenger remarks
“ I doubt whether any man whose external conditions changed so much ever changed himself so less to meet them”.
One of the most telling and insightful incidents from his life is his trip to Taif. Shibli Nomani narrates
“ The scoundrels of the city flocked from all sides and stood in lines on both sides of the road when the Prophet came along they pelted his feet with stones, so that his shoes were filled with blood. His bleeding feet compelled him to sit down, but his persecutors would pull him up by the arm and make him stand and as he moved on ward, stones were showered again to the accompaniment of abusing and clapping”.
But the story does not end there, it goes on to tell us that as the Prophet took refuge angel Jibrael came asked him if he desired to have the people of Taif punished, the prophet’s famous answer was No!
Some argue that that this was the Prophet’s conduct in Makkah but not so in Medina when he was in authority, but once again facts show nothing could be further from the truth .
We all know about the kind of treatment Abdullah bin Ubay extended to the prophet (S) . He was known as the Raeesul Munafiqeen the leader of the hypocrites in medina. He deserted the Muslim army along with 300 followers in the battle of Uhud , and with his attitude and words hurt the prophet Grievously yet when he was dying this is what happened in the words of Martin Lings in his book, “Muhammad his life based on the earliest sources” “….the Prophet visited him in his illness and found that the imminence of death had changed him. He asked the Prophet to give him a garment of his own in which he could be shrouded and to accompany his body to the grave ….. he spoke saying O messenger of God I hope that thou wilt pray beside my bier and ask forgiveness of God for my sins…….and after his death(the Prophet) did as he had promised.” Particularly interesting is his answer to Umar when the latter protested that the Prophet should not bestow such grace on a hypocrite . The prophet replied “Stand Thou behind me Umar I have been given the choice and I have chosen. It hath been said unto me ‘ Ask forgiveness for them, or ask it not though thou ask forgiveness for them seventy times, yet will not God forgive them’ and did I know that God would forgive him If I prayed more than seventy times I would increase the number of my supplications”.
Another outstanding example of forgiveness is that of the poet Kab bin Zuhayr ibn abi salma who used to write satirical verses against the prophet(S) His brother Bujayr a Muslim urged him to go ask for the Prophet’s forgiveness in the following words. “He slayeth not him who cometh unto him in repentance”. The poet approached him after the conquest of Makkah and said “O messenger of God If Kab the son of Zuhayr came to you in repentance………wouldst thou receive him…..” as the Prophet answered that he would the poet said “I, O Messenger of God am Kab the son of Zuhayr” Then he recited an Ode in praise of the Prophet (s) and the emigrants, upon his finishing The Prophet took of his striped Yemeni cloak and gave it to Kab. This robe is enshrined in the Topkapi museum in Turkey a testament of the prophet’s magnanimity and the relish with which he accepted his former enemies whole heartedly without rancor and grudges.
Bujayr knew the essence of the prophet’s personality as did Abu Dujjana who was given the Prophet’s sword to fight with In Uhud . Witnesses say that he fought every man who came in his path that day the fearsome soldier that he was but immediately with held his sword as he came upon Hind wife of Abu Sufyan. He said in later years that he did not think it appropriate to strike a woman with the prophet’s sword.( No wonder the Prophet found him worthy to carry his sword) Today those who don’t have any knowledge of the Prophetic conduct are baying for a woman’s blood, and that to in his name . They say that during the conquest of Makkah and despite the general amnesty given there was a list of people who were ordered not to be spared but they fail to mention that in that list only three men were killed and others who asked for forgiveness were forgiven . They also fail to mention that among the three who were killed two were confirmed murderers and one was a torturer. One of the women in the list got killed but two others who asked for clemency were forgiven including a woman named Sarah who was known to cause the prophet considerable harm.
The conquest of Makkah far beyond being a conquest of territory was a conquest of hearts. So eager was the prophet to forgive that when Umair ibn Wahab asked for the forgiveness of Safwan one of the men on the death list the prophet not only forgave but when Umair asked the prophet for a sign of guarantee he took off his turban yes, the turban he wore at the time of the conquest of Makkah as his personal guarantee.
If the above cannot prove the fact that there is no point of no return in Islam then nothing can. Islam allows people to return over and over again. That was the creed of Prophet Muhammad (s) let his seerah dauntingly challenge any one who says otherwise.