Islamic Perspectives

The beheading in France was an act of blasphemy against the Prophet

Demonstrations around France have been called in support of freedom of speech and to pay tribute to a French history teacher who was beheaded near Paris after discussing caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad with his class.

A French Muslim man beheaded his fellow citizen because he disapproved of him showing a naked cartoon of Prophet Muhammad. It was not only a crime in French Law but also a crime as well as a sin in Islam. Life is sacred, and no one can deprive fellow human beings of their right to live without following due legal process.

The gruesome murder was more than an emotional act. It has its roots in several medieval Muslim scholars who have defined insults to God and Prophet Muhammad as “blasphemy” subject to punishment. Qadi ‘Iyad ibn Musa (1083–1149), a judge in the Emirate of Granada, summarized scholars' consensus in the following words: "Certainly, a blasphemer against Allah, Exalted be He, from among Muslims shall be deemed a disbeliever, and killing him shall be declared lawful."

The Quran, the divine book Muslims consider their source of guidance, speaks contrary to what many scholars have argued. It tells the believers: "But do not revile those [beings] whom they invoke instead of God, lest they revile God out of spite, and in ignorance: for, goodly indeed have We made their doings appear unto every community. In time, [however] unto their Sustainer people must return: and then He will make them [truly] understand all that they were doing" (8:106).

There is no punishment suggested in the Quran or Hadith against those who ridicule or revile God or his messenger.

People may control their emotions, but when a questionable theology incites them to defend their faith and justifies violence, not many care for a due process for getting their grievances redressed. They act on their self, approving their action to defend God and His messengers.

Muslims are not the only people in this violent reaction. Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and even atheists have often resorted to individual violence to defend their beliefs and practices.

The mob that lynches an unarmed Muslim or Christian under the suspicion of slaughtering a cow is no different than the French Muslim beheading a French man insulting the Prophet.

The Jewish settler shooting a native living peacefully in his home while defending his land is no different from Muslims putting a bounty on Salman Rushdie's head to write an insulting book about Prophet Muhammad.

People often use religious interpretation to defend their nefarious acts against the basic creed of their faith.

God is not sectarian, ethnic-centered, or racist. Every faith defines him as universal, embracing everything that exists, and does not need humans killing humans or other creations to please Him. He did not appoint some humans as His deputy on earth. He is powerful to defend himself. He does not take revenge from His creation for their deviation because He understands their limitations.

The argument that believers in God must avenge every act against Him has no connection with His divinity or teachings of Islam. Criminals and mafias indulge in such acts. Glorifying violence and murder goes against the essence of God in almost all religions.

The Muslim theology has to clean itself from the violence that some scholars, a minority, have tried to justify and promote in the name of God. Muslim scholars of the 21st century must challenge the theology of blasphemy and ensure that violence is not a solution to any problem. Violence against fellow human beings is, in reality, violence against God and a flagrant act of blasphemy.