Blasphemy cases have gone significantly up since the Jamia Hafsa incident in 2007
There have been at least 51 cases wherein blasphemy suspects were either extra judicially murdered or died in jail (see Viewpoint Online issue# 43: ‘Blasphemy toll’ reaches 51). Of the 51 extra-judicial killings, 34 claimed the lives of accused women. The data on accused women shows: of the 34 women extra-judicially killed, 4 died in blasphemy-related Gojra violence, 1 died in jail, and 1 unidentified mentally-challenged woman was burnt alive. Women are normally considered to be more religious than men. Yet, in a country that is claimed to have been created in the name of religion, we find women committing blasphemous acts. Either the teaching of religion was not right or there was a gross misuse of blasphemy law. What makes it more surprising is that the number of accusation has gone significantly up since the Jamia Hafsa incident in 2007.
Although, religious Ulema have been demanding death against a blasphemy convict, Aasia Bibi, there is a clause in the judgement of the Federal Sharia Court petition (P L D 1991) for implementation of death penalty against blasphemy law 295C that suggests different punishment to female than male. Read it:
“In clause 4, Maulana Subhan Mahmood consented with the Jurists on death penalty against the contemner but, maintained that the punishment of life imprisonment can be given to a woman contemner or a non-Muslim of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h).”
Another point to note is that the majority of blasphemy accused belong to Christian community. If we apply their numbers to the percentage of their population, we observe that 2400% of their population is affected by this law compared to 100% of Ahmadi community and only 10% of Muslim community.
The FSC petition (P L D 1991) contains following clause in dealing with the non-Muslims:
“ 27. Ibn Taimiyyah writes, "Abu Sulaiman Khattabi said, "When the contemner of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) is a Muslim then his punishment is death.”
“31. Ibn Taimiyyah, while relating the opinions of the Jurists in this connection, writes, "Abu Bakar Farsi Shafie has related that there is consensus of opinion among the Muslims that the punishment of contemner of the Prophet is death, if he is Muslim." (Assarimul Maslul, page 3).”
There is another clause that suggests waiver of penalty if there is doubt:
“48. ----Shariah also waives the penalty of Hadd if any doubt occurs therein. It is also based on a Tradition of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) that doubts dispel sentences of Hadd.” [Excerpt]
Our judicial system couldn’t take these rules into account even in cases where the victims were mentally challenged persons.
Now I will share the complete data on blasphemy accused women for the list members so that they can have better understanding of this subject:
Muhammad Nafees is working as a Research Analyst with The Financial Daily, Karachi and is a Senior Research Fellow for Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy, Islamabad.