Punishment of blasphemy based on a hadith narrative

Question

Assalamualaikum,

My question is directed towards Ghamidi sb or anyone else learned from his team.

You constantly maintain that a non-Muslim/Zimmi who reviles the Prophet (sws) is not to be slain but there is a hadith From Ibn Abbas and it appears in (Sunan Abu Daud

Reference : Sunan Abi Dawud 4361, Sunan Nasai and lots of other hadith books with 'reliable' chain of narrators. And has been classified as 'Sahih' by Sheikh Albani as well.

It is as follows:

"A blind man had a freed concubine (Umm walad) who used to insult the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and say bad things about him. He told her not to do that but she did not stop, and he rebuked her but she did not heed him. One night, when she started to say bad things about the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and insult him, he took a short sword or dagger, put it on her belly and pressed it and killed her. A child fell between her legs, and became covered by blood. The following morning that was mentioned to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). He called the people together and said, "I ask by Allah the man who has done this action and I order him by my right over him that he should stand up." The blind man stood up and said, "O Messenger of Allah, I am the one who did it; she used to insult you and say bad things about you. I forbade her, but she did not stop, and I rebuked her, but she did not give up her habit. I have two sons like pearls from her, and she was kind to me. Last night she began to insult you and say bad things about you. So I took a dagger, put it on her belly and pressed it till I killed her." Thereupon the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Bear witness, there is no blood money due for her." (Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood 4361).

Kindly I need a detailed analysis of this incident and whether the various isnad (as mentioned by the islamqa website) regarding this incident are sahih or not. And if this is a Sahih Riwayat then this *proves* the stance of majority of our ulemas that :

1. Non Muslims committing blasphemy can be punished with death

2. Any one can punish Noh muslims comitting blasphemy without the ruler's consent.


Answer

Salaam

Thank you for writing to us.

The reason we hold the position that anyone who reviles the Holy Prophet (sws) is not to be slain is that there is no such punishment mentioned in the Qur'an or the sound ahadith. All we have are incidents the details of which are reported by people and mentioned in the books of hadith. Laws can never be derived from incidents as it may be that all the details related to the incident are not transmitted or a transmitter may have misunderstood a part of the incident, etc. The law needs to be spelled out in black and white clearly and unambiguously. For example, the laws concerning murder, adultery/fornication, theft, etc. are mentioned in the Qur'an very clearly. If blasphemy was a penal crime, its punishment should also have been mentioned clearly, but there is no such thing. That is why even in our traditional fiqh (jurisprudence), the jurists have not dealt with this matters as a separate crime but only under apostasy (in case the offender was a Muslim) and under the contract of Dhimma (if case the offender was a non-Muslim Dhimmi). The jurists also acknowledge that there is no separate punishment for basphemy mentioned in the sacred law. As a result there is a difference of opinion among renowned jurists also. For instance, the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah and his students, Imam Thawri etc. that there is no Hadd punishment of death for reviling the Holy Prophet (sws) in Islam. They are of the opinion that any other punishment may be given by the authorities (on the basis of political requirements) according to what is deemded appropriate.

On the contrary the Qur'an is very clear that capital punishment can be given to an individual only in two cases, viz., murder and fasad (threating the life, weath and honour of people) (Qur'an 5:32)

Now, coming to this narrative that you have cited, a lot of questions arise on it:

1.There is no way to determine what the complete proceedings of cases such as the one reported in this narrative might have been. The narrators could only narrate what they considered to be of relevance and importance in such incidents. Therefore, even though this narrative does not mention it, it is quite possible that the Prophet (pbuh) may have called upon witnesses to assess the situation more thoroughly, before giving any judgment.

2. This narrative does not explicitly mention why the Prophet (sws) did not press for revenge for the victim's blood, yet it seems that the Prophet (sws) gave a concession for the inciting circumstances of the individual, which caused outrage on his part and subsequently led him to take a rash action on his own. In modern parlance, it appears that the Prophet (sws) acquitted the person of the charge of 'first degree murder' and did not pronounce the severe death sentence. However, it does not mean that a lesser punishment may not have been given to this man. It just may not have been reported.

3. The narrative mentions that the man stood up in a large assembly and the Prophet (sws) heard the case publicly. Reason demands that an incident which happened in front of a large number of people, must be narrated by a large number of people, and that too if the incident had any significant legal importance. But this is not the case. There is only one person at the top of the chain viz. Ibn Abbas (ra), who is narrating this incident.

Now let us come to the chain and text analysis of this hadith. This is a solitary (ahaad) narrative, which has only single narrators in the first three steps i.e.

Ibn Abbas > Ikrima > Uthman ash-Shaham

Further, the person of Uthman ash-Shaham in the chain is controversial. Ya'ya Bin Saeed al-Qattan comments that his traditions are sometimes accepted and sometimes not. (Meezanul-I`tidal vol.5 page 76) Nisaai is reported to have said that he (Uthman-al-Shaham) was not reliable. (Meezanul-I`tidal vol.5 page 76) Bukhari didn't take any report from him and he is dealt with among Zuafaa (weak narrators) in Al-kamil-fi-Zuafaa.

This was analysis of the chain part. If we accept the narration as authentic (sahih) or at least trustworthy (hasan), as most scholars of prophetic narrations have done, then we must understand it in proper context and in agreement with the abundance of conflicting evidence. This is not sufficient independently to derive any ruling from it.

Coming to this incident there are several questions which must be answered like who was the woman? what made her do this repeatedly, did the Prophet (sws) already know about it? Did this man who killed her try to talk to her relatives? Did he separate the bed with her? Why did he not divorce her? What was the period of the Prophet's mission when this happened? (This is very important to know) It is not such a light matter than one solitary hadith with suffice to derive a legal ruling.

Narratives like this with a lot of related questions unanswered do not become a sufficient basis for deriving a severe ruling. Every narrative like this must be in harmony with the known moral and legal teachings of our faith and cannot just bypass or contradict them. Those people who call for bypassing state authority, bypassing the legal procedure and taking the law into your own hands by killing whoever you like must rein in their raised passions and not display a holier than thou attitude by belittling the faith of those who call for patience and calm, and who are also led by the love of the Holy Prophet (sws) as much as they claim to be led by his love.

May God guide us and save us from misguidance. Aameen.

Hope this helps.

Regards,

About the Author

Mushafiq Sultan


Mushafiq Sultan, born in Kashmir in 1988, has been studying world religions from his school days. In 2009 Mushafiq came across the works of Ustaz Javed Ahmad Ghamidi and since then has been highly influenced by his thought. He has an exceptional interest in world religions, their philosophies and their mutual relations. He formally joined Al-Mawrid in 2016 as Assistant Fellow (Honorary). Presently, he is in charge of Al-Mawrid’s query service. In 2016, he published his first book ‘Muhammad (sws) in the Bible- An Exposition on Isaiah 42’. He has written articles on Islam, Christianity and Hinduism. He has also translated several articles of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi into Hindi.

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