Freedom of Expression vs Blasphemy: Islam vs Human Rights

Freedom of Expression vs Blasphemy: Islam vs Human Rights

Free speech must include the right to offend. Granted, there are limitations upon free speech which do serve valuable and necessary functions – such as the prohibition against incitement to violence, or the prohibition concerning the deliberate causing of a panic that would likely result in imminent injury, etc – yet such limitations are not a valid basis for arguments that seek to increase restrictions on free speech. Put simply, the existence of common-sense limitations on free speech in no way testify to the alleged benefits of restricting speech that offends or hurts people’s feelings. Feelings should never be placed above fundamental human rights, particularly when the human right in question is the primary mechanism by which societies and cultures progress. George Bernard Shaw penned upon the lips of one of his fictional characters, “All great truths begin as blasphemies”. The validity of this noble and enlightened sentiment has been documented throughout the ages, from Galileo’s offensive yet useful and correct advancement of the heliocentric solar system to the advent of the then offensive germ theory of disease, which challenged and offended the consensus of the day that frequently fatally held the supernatural realm responsible for germs and diseases. The central point here is that the benefits of offense far outweigh the burdens. Feelings subside and recover, yet a stagnant or even regressive social order is much more dangerous and difficult to cure. Cultures and societies that place the greatest restrictions on free speech tend to be least harmonious and the most ignorant, and I think there is an obvious reason for this phenomenon. Free speech is the means by which the echo chambers of stale and recycled beliefs and opinions are, often reluctantly, shattered, which, as the Secular Enlightenment demonstrates, creates an environment conducive to the intellectual and moral advancement of our species. Where would the Women’s Rights and Civil Rights movements be without ‘offensive’ free speech? Where would human rights be without the blasphemous expressions of the Enlightenment? Where would science be today without the inalienable human right to express offensive ideas and hypotheses?  These are just a few of the reasons why free speech is so crucial.

Any doctrine or law that governs “offensive speech” will naturally collide with the fundamental human right to express one’s individual ideas, beliefs and opinions, thereby circumventing the progress afforded to society by intellectual diversity. Islam, as a religion, is at present the worst religion when it comes to infringing upon human rights, particularly freedom of expression. This short piece will demonstrate the reality that Islam is antithetical to human rights and progress.

Blasphemy in the Qur’an

Capital punishment for blasphemy (sabb) is not expressly prescribed in the Qur’an.[1] However, several verses and passages allude to and address a number of conflicting positions on matters pertaining to blasphemy, which, as mentioned above, includes the practicing of any religion other than Islam. The contradictions surrounding blasphemy in the Qur’an, some of which will be evinced below, are the result of the manner in which the Qur’an is believed to have been composed/“received”. The Qur’an is divided by Islamic scholars into two primary categories: Meccan surahs(chapters) and Medinan surahs.[2] The Meccan surahs, believed to be the earliest chapters, though not chronologically, are alleged to be revelations Muhammad received from Allah (via the angel Gabriel) whilst he was in Mecca,[3] at a time when the first Islamists were not yet powerful enough to engage in jihad with non-Muslims – a time in which Muhammad was openly and unapologetically mocked and ridiculed for sharing his alleged revelations with members of his non-Muslim tribe, the Quraysh.[4] The later Medinan surahs were allegedly revealed to Muhammad whilst he was in Medina,[5] when his forces – who went to war with the non-Muslims of Medina – had grown in number, wealth and military might and had the ability to forgo the pragmatic tolerance Muhammad was forced to endure in Mecca. For this reason, the Medinan surahs tend to be more violent and less tolerant than their earlier Meccan counterparts,[6] although such a dichotomy is not without its imperfections and exceptions. Nevertheless, there is a firmly established pattern between the two categories of surahs.  Matusitz states: ‘The early Meccan Qur’an is more peaceful, poetic, and religious. The later Medinan Qur’an is more brutal and political. This difference stems from the fact that, in Mecca, Muhammad was merely a religious leader. In Medina, he became a political and military leader as well’.[7] Further, Wild discusses Muhammad’s transition from powerlessness to power and the implications this transition had on the Qur’an, which began in 622 CE with his forced emigration to Medina, saying: ‘After the ‘emigration’ (hijra) from Mecca to Yathrib (later Medina) in 622 CE, the Prophet became the acknowledged leader of a community. A fair number of Medinan passages in the Qur’an are, therefore, of direct social and political relevance. Rules of conduct in relation to other religious groups, most notably Jews and Christians, laws of inheritance, marriage and divorce, but also financial and commercial regulations, rules of warfare and the distribution of booty, retaliation, the treatment of slaves, etc., became part of the holy text’.[8] The differences in content and tone between the Meccan and Medinan surahs regarding issues associated with blasphemy are pronounced, yet exceptions and variations do exist. Before evincing a number of the Meccan and Medinan surahs relating to blasphemy, it is necessary to understand the exegetic (tafsir)[9] doctrine known in Islamic scholarship as naskh (abrogation).

Naskh (Abrogation)

Naskh is an exegetic theory employed by Islamic scholars and jurists to resolve contradictions that exist within the Qur’an, or between the Qur’an and the sunnah.[10] The doctrine primarily derives its authority from three Quranic verses: ‘We do not abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten except that We bring forth [one] better than it or similar to it. Do you not know that Allah is over all things competent?’[11] And: ‘And when We substitute a verse in place of a verse – and Allah is most knowing of what He sends down – they say, “You, [O Muhammad], are but an inventor [of lies].” But most of them do not know.’[12] And finally: ‘Allah eliminates what He wills or confirms, and with Him is the Mother of the Book’.[13]

Naskh is an accepted exegetic theory in both Sunni and Shia Islam, however the two sects disagree over its various applications to the Qur’an, the Sunnah, and Islamic fiqh (jurisprudence and legal theory).[14] Only a handful of small reformist sects and Ahmadiyyas reject its application.[15] Naskh can either change or nullify verses and rulings within the Qur’an or between the Qur’an and Sunnah where a later verse or ruling is held to substitute, amend or nullify an older one.[16] One of the most popular examples of an abrogating verse within the Qur’an is the Medinan ‘Verse of the Sword’ (ayat as-sayf), Qur’an 9:5, which reads: ‘Then when the Sacred Months (the Ist, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islamic calendar) have passed, then kill the Mushrikun[17] (see V.2:105) wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. But if they repent and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and give Zakat, then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’[18] Commenting on this verse, Knysh notes: ‘The abrogation theory achieved great sophistication at the hands of later legal scholars, who, for instance, argued that the famous ‘Sword Verse’ enjoining the believers to ‘slay the idolaters wherever you find them’ (Q 9:5) abrogated no fewer than 124 other verses commanding ‘anything less than a total offensive against the non-believers’.[19] Further, Sachedina says: ‘It suffices to note the evident sense of pluralism that is being conveyed by Q 2:213 which was cited earlier. Yet Muslim scholars have found it difficult to extract and accept the moral universalism that underlies this verse. This and other verses that command Muslims to build bridges of understanding and co-operation between the once united human community have been regarded as abrogated by those verses that require Muslims to fight the unbelievers (for instance, Q 9:5 and 9:29).[20] Esposito argues that the ‘Verse of the Sword’ has been rendered redundant to modern Muslims and is confined to a specific historical context, and that it does not condone the slaughter of non-believers and blasphemers in general.[21] It may be argued, however, that Esposito is decontextualizing the Qur’an by transforming it from a holy text into a mere history book, and a number of verses in the Qur’an itself, which self-describe the Qur’an as an all-inclusive and complete divine manifesto for Muslims of all time periods, lend credence to this argument.[22] Further, although there are variant translations, the Mohsin Khan Translation translates Qur’an 8:39 in the following words: ‘And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allah) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allah Alone [in the whole of the world]. But if they cease (worshipping others besides Allah), then certainly, Allah is All-Seer of what they do.’[23] This verse enunciates the goal of Islam, which, like Christianity, presents acute exclusivist and expansionist tendencies within the core scriptures of the religion.[24] This verse grounds the ‘Verse of the Sword’ in its proper theological context by expressing the intent of the author(s), which is to spread the religion of Islam across the earth until all other “blasphemous” religions become abrogated by Islam.

Blasphemy in the Meccan Qur’an  

Note: Verses marked Ab.* are generally taken to have been abrogated by ayat as-sayf (‘Sword Verse’, Qur’an 9:5).

Qur’an 73:10-11: And be patient over what they say and avoid them with gracious avoidance. And leave Me with [the matter of] the deniers, those of ease [in life], and allow them respite a little.[25] Ab.*

Qur’an 28:55: And when they hear ill speech, they turn away from it and say, “For us are our deeds, and for you are your deeds. Peace will be upon you; we seek not the ignorant.”[26] Ab.*

Qur’an 109:1-6: Say, “O disbelievers, I do not worship what you worship. Nor are you worshippers of what I worship. Nor will I be a worshipper of what you worship. Nor will you be worshippers of what I worship. For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.”[27] Ab.*

Blasphemy in the Medinan Qur’an 

Qur’an 5:33: The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter…[28]

The renowned tafsir of Ibn Kathir interprets the verse above, explaining: ‘`Wage war’ mentioned here means, oppose and contradict, and it includes disbelief, blocking roads and spreading fear in the fairways. Mischief in the land refers to various types of evil’.[29] Thus, according to one of the most popular tafsirs, the verse cited above could be interpreted as supporting the death penalty, or at least crucifixion and/or maiming, for blasphemy.

Qur’an 33:48: And incline not to the disbelievers and the hypocrites. Disregard their noxious talk, and put thy trust in Allah. Allah is sufficient as Trustee.[30] Ab.*

Qur’an 3:186: You will surely be tested in your possessions and in yourselves. And you will surely hear from those who were given the Scripture before you and from those who associate others with Allah much abuse. But if you are patient and fear Allah – indeed, that is of the matters [worthy] of determination.[31] Ab.*

Qur’an 33:60- 61 – Truly, if the Hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and those who stir up [al-fitnah] in the City, desist not, We shall certainly stir thee up against them: Then will they not be able to stay in it as thy neighbours for any length of time: They shall have a curse on them: whenever they are found, they shall be seized and slain (without mercy).[32]

Qur’an 33:57 – Those who annoy Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this World and in the Hereafter, and has prepared for them a humiliating Punishment.[33]

According to the tafsir of the Islamist philosopher Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, the phraseology, ‘Allah has cursed them in this world’ obliges Islamic states to legally prosecute people guilty of slander (blasphemy) against the Prophet and/or Allah.[34]

Qur’an 4:140: And it has already come down to you in the Book that when you hear the verses of Allah [recited], they are denied [by them] and ridiculed; so do not sit with them until they enter into another conversation. Indeed, you would then be like them. Indeed Allah will gather the hypocrites and disbelievers in Hell all together…[35]

From the examples cited above, it is clear the Qur’an is ultimately unclear on how Muslims should deal with blasphemy. Some extant verses advise Muslims to ignore blasphemy and walk away – although many of these verses are interpreted by many Islamic scholars to have been abrogated by the ‘Sword Verse’ – while other verses, including the ‘Sword Verse’, encourage Muslims to either employ the powers of the state to prosecute blasphemers and unbelievers, or else seek out and slay those guilty of practicing blasphemous beliefs, or creating fitnah. This ambiguity also plagues the sunnah, the secondary scriptural source of authority in Islam.

Sunnah of Muhammad and Blasphemy

The sunnah refers to ‘the normative example of the prophet Muhammad, as recorded in traditions (hadith) [and the sirah (biographies)] about his speech, his actions, his acquiescence to the words and actions of others, and his personal characteristics’.[36] It is seen as either equal or second to the Qur’an in terms of its weight upon the religious, political and legal workings of Islam,[37] and it is used in conjunction with the Qur’an to establish laws relating to punishments under shari’ah (Islamic law) which are considered hudud (singular: hudd) offences (‘Allah’s immutable punishments’).[38] Unlike Christianity, Islam is not merely a religion, but an all-inclusive ideology that governs the religious, political and legal aspects of life within the ummah (Muslim community).[39] If blasphemy were expressly and unequivocally dealt with in either the sunnah or the Qur’an, then laws pertaining to its punishment would be considered hudd (fixed). However, as will be demonstrated, the Sunnah is ambiguous in this regard. Some traditions contained within the hadith portray a lenient and tolerant reaction from the Prophet, whilst others record brutal and severe reprisals for blasphemy against the Prophet and Islam.[40] Such ambiguity leaves the punishment of blasphemy in the hands of jurists (Fuqahā)[41], judges (Qadi)[42] and states, and this open and flexible aspect of Shari’ah is known as taz’ir.[43] Qasmi remarks: ‘The deterrent punishment or “tazir” is discretion made available to the ruler in Islamic law under the doctrine of “Siasa Shariah.”  The basic premises of the doctrine are the sound order of the state and considerations of public interest…’[44] The only way for a punishment based on a scriptural ambiguity to become fixed and obligatory is for there to be an ijma (consensus) within and/or across the Islamic schools of jurisprudence (fiqh).[45] However, ironically, there is no universal consensus on the meaning of ijma, with some taking it to mean consensus among the contemporaries of Muhammad, whilst others interpreting it as consensus among the all, most, or many of the Fuqahā and/or Ulema (Islamic scholars).[46] This will become relevant in the ensuing analysis of Pakistan’s application of its blasphemy law against Muslim and non-Muslim minorities within Pakistan.

There are several recorded incidents of blasphemy in the sunnah, and as with the Qur’an the Prophet displayed more tolerance in the earlier part of his career as opposed to when he had the power to enforce his will on those he and his militia defeated and subjugated. But again, there are exceptions to this pattern. As mentioned above, the hadith and the sirah record Muhammad being mocked and ridiculed by members of the Quraysh tribe when he first began to express the alleged revelations he received. A notable example can be found in Muhammad’s reaction to the harsh criticisms made of him by Suhayl ibn Amr, one of the leaders of the Quraysh at the time of the birth of Islam in Mecca. According to the account relayed in Ṭabarī’s History of Muhammad, Umar bin al-Khattab was so outraged by Suhayl’s rhetoric against the Prophet that he exclaimed, “O Messenger of God, pull out Suhayl b. Amr’s two lower front teeth so that his tongue will loll out and he will never be able to stand up and make speeches about you anywhere”. Muhammad is recorded as replying, “I will not mutilate him or God will mutilate me even if I am a prophet”.[47]

Contrast this example with two examples later in Muhammad’s career in which he had a Jewish poet, Abu Afak, killed for insulting him and then the daughter of Marwan, Asma bint Marwan, who, angered by Abu Afak’s murder, insulted Muhammad and was subsequently killed upon Muhammad’s command.[48] The accounts of Abu Afak and Asma bint Marwan’s murders are found within Ishaq’s eighth-century seminal biography of Muhammad, Sirat Rasul Allah.[49]

The few examples of sunnah evinced from the sirah (biographies) above demonstrate the same ambiguity surrounding blasphemy as found within the Qur’an, and both the Qur’an and the sunnah display a similar pattern with regards to the increasing severity of Muhammad’s fundamentalism in the later part of his career. If naskh is applied to both the Qur’an and the sunnah, then it could be argued that the later, severer reactions of Muhammad in the face of blasphemy should be interpreted as constituting hudd, which would make the death penalty for blasphemy an immutable punishment. On the other hand, because neither the Qur’an nor the sunnah provide clear hudd concerning blasphemy, the matter may generally be seen as falling within the purview of the hadith to clarify, or left to the jurists (Fuqahā) to arrive at a consensus (ijma) regarding the regulation of blasphemy. Should the jurists and scholars fail to establish an ijma, then the matter will be relegated to the discretion (taz’ir) of Islamic rulers and authorities to decide how to deal with blasphemy in a way that protects the public interest. The huge number of hadith contain too many contradictions in this regard.[50] Thus, for the moment, the matter falls upon the shoulders of the Fuqahā to arrive at a consensus (ijma).

Blasphemy in Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh)

Unfortunately, there is an ijma within and between the four Sunni schools of fiqh (Hanafi, Malaki, Shafi’I and Hanbali) and the two Shia schools of fiqh (Ja’fari and Zaydi) concerning the punishment of Muslims who blaspheme, although the specific punishments vary between the schools; as blasphemy is generally interpreted as either an indication of an intention to apostatize or the perpetration of apostasy itself.[51] Further, there are different categories of blasphemy which exist across different jurisdictions and across the schools of Sunni and Shia fiqh.[52]

Blasphemy Against Holy Personages: International Case Examples

There exists a plethora of cases in which Muslims, ex-Muslims and non-Muslims have been given either prison sentences or the death penalty for insulting Muhammad. In 2015, an Indian man was jailed in Dubai for insulting the Prophet (sabb al-nabi/sabb al-rasool)[53] on Facebook.[54] Again in 2015, Sara Al-Drees, a 28-year-old Kuwaiti blogger and teacher, was arrested for insulting Muhammad on Twitter. Sara compared the forced marriage (rape) of 17-year-old Jewish captive Safiyah bint Hayi to Muhammad, which shortly followed the slaughter of her fiancé and her family by Muhammad’s militia, to the modern atrocities committed by ISIS, as these sunnah and certain passages from the Qur’an appear to justify their extremist behaviour. In Iran, which operates under shari’ah governed by Shia Islamic fiqh, the sentence given for insulting the Prophet is death.[55] In 2015, 19-year-old Sina Dehghan was arrested Iran and after being tricked into signing a written confession, he was given the death penalty for insulting the Prophet on social media.[56]

Blasphemy Against Beliefs and Customs: International Case Examples

In 2007, an Indonesian man was sentenced by the Supreme Court of Indonesia to five years in prison for expressing the heretical belief that he was the reincarnation of the Prophet Muhammad – a belief which goes against the established orthodoxy of not only Islam but the Islamic customs specific to Indonesia.[57]  In 2008, a Jordanian poet was charged with blasphemy and atheism for incorporating verses of the Qur’an into a book of love poetry entitled, Grace Like a Shadow. ‘Jordan’s highest religious authority, Sheikh Nuh Qdah, said, “What Samhan did was a type of atheism and blasphemy”’[58] Islam Samhan was given a one-year prison sentence, declared an apostate and fined US$14,000.[59] Three Moroccan journalists were arrested for blasphemy in Morocco and given a 3-year suspended sentence as well as an $8,000 fine for publishing light-hearted jokes about religion, Allah, and the Moroccan king, which were deemed to be deeply insulting to the Moroccan people.[60] In 2007, a British schoolteacher working in Sudan was charged and convicted of blasphemy for allowing her class of 7-year-old students to name a teddy bear ‘Muhammad’. Although the name itself is very common in Sudan, top Islamic clerics in Sudan, believing her actions to be part of a Western conspiracy against Islam, called for her to be given 40 lashes and a lengthy prison sentence – however – due to diplomatic pressure placed on the Sudanese government by Britain, Gillian Gibbons escaped with a 15-day prison sentence and was thereafter deported.[61]

Blasphemy Against Islamic Artefacts: International Case Examples

In 2014, a Turkish ex-Muslim atheist woman was arrested in Turkey on suspicion of blasphemy for allegedly posting a picture on Twitter with her foot on the Qur’an.[62] In 2016, an Indian man was arrested in Saudi Arabia for posting a doctored photo depicting Krishna sitting atop the Ka’bah. Saudi Arabia’s brand of shari’ah is regulated by the Wahhabist Hanbali school of fiqh, which prescribes the death penalty for blasphemy.[63] In 1990, Tahir Iqbal, an ex-Muslim Christian was charged with blasphemy in Pakistan for allegedly insulting the Prophet, imparting non-Islamic teachings to children and underlining verses in the Qur’an with a green marker. After spending two years in jail, Iqbal was assassinated in prison and died in 1992.[64]

Beliefs beget behaviours, and the belief that it is better to kill or imprison someone who offends or even insults your beliefs than to have your beliefs insulted is central to the Islamic religion. The incomplete corpus of examples from modern history proffered above demonstrates unequivocally that Islam will never stand side-by-side with human rights and progress, because Islam is a regressive ideology that causes otherwise loving and sane adults to behave like petulant, paranoid, oppressive and deadly children.




  1. Lorenz Langer, Religious Offence and Human Rights: The Implications of Defamation of Religions, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014, p. 332.
  2. Fred M. Donner, The Historical Context, in: Jane Dammen McAuliffe (ed), The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’an, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 30.
  3. Ibid. p. 42.
  4. Johnathan E. Brockhopp (ed), The Cambridge Companion to Muhammad, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010, p. 7.
  5. Ibid. p. 30.
  6. Stefan Wild, Political Interpretation of the Qur’an, in: Jane Dammen McAuliffe (ed), The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’an, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 284; Raymond Ibrahim, Taqqiya: War and Deceit in Islam, in: Eric D. Patterson (ed) and John Gallagher (ed), Debating a War of Ideas, New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009, pp. 71-72; Elie Elhadj, The Islamic Shield: Arab Resistance to Democratic and Religious Reforms, Boca Raton: Brown Walker Press, 2007, p. 27.
  7. Jonathan Matusitz, Symbolism in Terrorism: Motivation, Communication, and Behavior, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, p. 167.
  8. Stefan Wild, Political Interpretation of the Qur’an, in: Jane Dammen McAuliffe (ed), The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’an, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 273.
  9. Tafsir is the Arabic word for interpretation/exegesis: Hussein Abdul-Raof, Schools of Quranic Exegesis: Genesis and Development, Abingdon: Routledge, 2010, p. 239.
  10. Tahir Wasti, The Application of Islamic Criminal Law in Pakistan: Sharia in Practice, Leiden: Brill, 2009, p. 63.
  11. The Qur’an, 2:106, Sahih International Translation.
  12. The Qur’an, 16:101, Sahih International Translation.
  13. The Qur’an, 13:39, Sahih International Translation.
  14. Youssef H. Aboul-Enein, Militant Islamist Ideology: Understanding the Global Threat, Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2010, p. 29; Louay Fatoohi, Abrogation in the Qur’an and Islamic Law: A Critical Study of the Concept of “Naskh” and it’s Impact, New York: Routledge, 2013, pp. 247-278.
  15. Frans Wijsen (ed) and Peter Nissen (ed), Mission is a Must: Intercultural Theology and the Mission of the Church, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2002, p. 218.
  16. Hamid Naseem Rafiabadi, Saints and Saviours of Islam, New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2005, pp. 298-319.
  17. Mushrikun in V. 9:5 refers specifically to the pagans of Muhammad’s day, yet it generally refers to people who practice shirk, which is the sin of being ‘in revolt against Allah, irrespective of any professed belief in other gods. It also describes atheism: Cyril Glasse, The New Encyclopedia of Islam: Revised Edition of the Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 2001, p. 429.
  18. The Qur’an, 9:5, Mohsin Khan Translation.
  19. Alexander Knysh, Multiple Areas of Influence, in: Jane Dammen McAuliffe (ed), The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’an, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 218.
  20. Abdulaziz Sachedina, The Qur’an and Other Religions, in: p. 300.
  21. John L. Esposito, What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam, 2nd Ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 138.
  22. The Qur’an, 16:89, 6:114, 7:52, 15:1, 6:105, 54:17, 10:37, 6:115, Sahih International Translation.
  23. The Qur’an, 8:39, Mohsin Khan Translation.
  24. Volker Kuster, Toward an Intercultural Theology, in: Viggo Mortensen (ed), Theology and the Religions: A Dialogue, Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing company, 2003, p. 181; Clinton Bennett, Studying Islam: The Critical Issues, London: Continuum, 2010, p. 42.
  25. The Qur’an, 73:10-11, Sahih International Translation; Rev. Anwarul Haqq, Abrogation in the Qur’an, Lucknow: Methodist Publishing House, 1925, p. 71.
  26. The Qur’an, 28:55, Sahih International Translation; p. 54.
  27. The Qur’an, 109:1-6, Sahih International Translation; p. 73.
  28. The Qur’an, 5:33, Yusuf Ali Translation.
  29. Ibn Kathir, Quran Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Qur’an 5:33, cited at:, accessed on 17th March, 2017.
  30. The Qur’an, 33:48, Pickthall Translation; Mahmoud Ayoub (ed), Contemporary Approaches to the Qur’an and Sunnah, London: The International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2012, pp. 17-18; Rev. Anwarul Haqq, Abrogation in the Qur’an, Lucknow: Methodist Publishing House, 1925, p. 55.
  31. The Qur’an, 3:186, Sahih International Translation; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 1., (Abridged by scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safi-Ur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri), Riyadh: Darussalam, 2003, p. 333.
  32. The Qur’an, 33:60-61, Yusuf Ali Translation.
  33. The Qur’an, 33:57, Sahih International Translation.
  34. Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, Tafhim al-Qur’an, The Meaning of the Qur’an, 33. Surah Al Ahzab (The Clans), cited at:, accessed on 10th March, 2017.
  35. The Qur’an, 4:140, Sahih International Translation.
  36. Cyril Glasse, The New Encyclopedia of Islam: Revised Edition of the Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 2001, p. 666.
  37. John L. Esposito (ed), The Oxford History Islam, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 118; Mohammad Ali Syed, The Position of Women in Islam: A Progressive View, Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004, p. 7; Rajnaara C. Akhtar, Unregistered Muslim Marriages: An Emerging Culture of Celebrating Rites and Conceding Rights, in: Joanna Miles (ed), Perveez Mody (ed) and Rebecca Probert (ed), Marriage Rites and Rights, Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2015, p. 169.
  38. Tahir Wasti, The Application of Islamic Criminal Law in Pakistan: Sharia in Practice, Leiden: Brill, 2009, p. 33; Nisrine Abiad and Farkhanda Zia Mansoor, Criminal Law and the Rights of the Child in Muslim States, London: British Institute of International and Comparative Law, 2010, p. 40.
  39. Ian Adams, Political Ideology Today, 2nd Ed., Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001, p. 256; Michaelle Browers, Islamic Political Ideologies, in: Michael Freeden (ed), Lyman Tower Sargent (ed) and Marc Stears (ed), The oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 627-628.
  40. See: Sahih al-Muslim, 19:4436 v Sahih al-Bukhari, 57:27, 60:339, 60:475, for example; Coeli Fitzpatrick (ed) and Adam Hani Walker (ed), Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God, Vol. 1, Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2014, p. 62.
  41. Liyakat Takim, Maqasid al-Shari’a in Contemporary Shi’i Jurisprudence, in: Adis Duderija, Maqasid al-Shari’a and Contemporary Reformist Muslim Thought: An Examination, New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014, p. 109.
  42. Joseph Drory, Founding a New Mamlaka, in: Michael Winter (ed) and Amalia Levanoni (ed), The Mamluks in Egyptian and Syrian Politics and Society, Leiden: Brill, 2004, p. 183.
  43. John L. Esposito (ed), The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003, p. 318; Ervand Abrahamian, The Islamic Left: Radicalism to Liberalism, in: Stephanie Cronin (ed), Reformers and Revolutionaries in Modern Iran: New Perspectives on the Iranian Left, London: Routledge, 2004, p. 273.
  44. H. Qasmi, Islamic Government, Delhi: Isha Books, 2008, p. 306.
  45. Pieter Coertzen (ed), M. Christian Green (ed) and Len Hansen (ed), Religious Freedom and Religious Pluralism in Africa: Prospects and Limitations, Conference-Rapp, p. 73; Niaz A. Shah, Islamic Law and the Law of Armed Conflict: The Armed Conflict in Pakistan, London: Routledge, 2011, p. 21; Zafar Iqbal and Mervyn K. Lewis, An Islamic Perspective on Governance, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2009, p. 35.
  46. Abdullah Saeed, Islamic Thought: An Introduction, London: Routledge, 2006, p. 49.
  47. Ehsan Yar-Shater (ed), The History of al-Tabari, Vol. VII: The Foundation of the Community, (Trans. W. Montgomery Watt and M. V. McDonald), New York: State University of New York Press, 1987, p. 71.
  48. Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq ibn Yasār ibn Khiyār, Sirat Rasul Allah, cited in: A. Guillaume (ed), The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998, p. 675.
  49. Ibid.
  50. See: Sahih al-Muslim, 19:4436 v Sahih al-Bukhari, 57:27, 60:339, 60:475, for example.
  51. Lorenz Langer, Religious Offence and Human Rights: The Implications of Defamation of Religions, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014, p. 332.
  52. Intisar A. Rabb, Society and Propriety: The Cultural Construction of Defamation and Blasphemy as Crimes in Islamic Law, in: Camilla Adang (ed), Hassan Ansari (ed), Maribel Fierro (ed) and Sabine Schmidtke (ed), Accusations of Unbelief in Islam: A Diachronic Perspective on Takfir, Leiden: Brill, 2016, p. 450; Gerhard Bowering (ed), The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013, p. 71.
  53. Rudolph Peters, Crime and Punishment in Islamic Law: Theory and Practice from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-first Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005, p. 180.
  54. Thaer Zriqat, ‘Man jailed by Dubai court for insulting Islam on Facebook’, The National, May 28, 2015, cited at:, accessed on 20th March, 2017.
  55. Rudolph Peters, Crime and Punishment in Islamic Law: Theory and Practice from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-first Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005, p. 180.
  56. ‘Twenty-Year Old on Death Row After “Confessing” on Promise of Freedom’, Center for Human Rights in Iran News, September 14, 2014, cited at:, accessed on 10th March, 2017.
  57. Patung, ‘Abdul Rahman’, Indonesia Matters, February 27th, 2006, cited at:, accessed on 10th March, 2017.
  58. ‘Jordanian poet accused of ‘atheism and blasphemy’’, Daily Star Lebanon, October 25, 2008, cited at:, accessed on 10th March, 2017.
  59. Salah Malkawi, ‘Jordanian poet prepares for jail’, The National, September 2, 2009, cited at:, accessed on 10th March, 2017.
  60. ‘Journalists fined over Islam joke’, BBC News, 15 January 2007, cited at:, accessed on 10th March, 2017.
  61. ‘UK teacher jailed over teddy row’, BBC News, 30 November 2007, cited at:, accessed on 10thMarch, 2017.
  62. ‘Turkey arrests women on suspicion of blasphemy, Dunya News Pakistan, cited at:, accessed on 10th March, 2017.
  63. Murray J. Leaf, The Anthropology of Western Religions: Ideas, Organizations, and Constituencies, Lanham: Lexington Books, 2014, p. 163; Harry R. Dammer (ed) and Jay S. Albanese (ed), Comparative Criminal Justice Systems, 5th Ed., Belmont: Wadsworth, 2014, p. 60.
  64. Tabinda Siddiqi, Timeline: Accused Under the Blasphemy Law’, Dawn News, August 18th, 2013, cited at:, accessed on 10th March, 2017.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s