Asia Bibi: Analysis of flawed Supreme Court judgement


{jb_quote}[33:40]Muhammad (peace be upon Him) is not the father of [any] one of your men, but [he is] the Messenger of Allah and last of the prophets. And ever is Allah, of all things, Knowing.{/jb_quote}


The trial stems from an argument Aasiya Noreen (aka Asia Bibi) had with a group of women in June 2009.

They were harvesting fruit when a row broke out about a bucket of water. The women said that because she had used a cup, they could no longer touch it, as her faith had made it unclean. Prosecutors alleged that in the row which followed, the women said Asia Bibi should convert to Islam and that she made offensive comments about the Prophet Muhammad in response. She was later beaten up at her home, during which her accusers say she confessed to blasphemy. She was arrested after a police investigation. Acquitting her, the Supreme Court said that the case was based on unreliable evidence and her confession was delivered in front of a crowd "threatening to kill her".

{jb_redbox}Pakistan is not the only country in the world with blasphemy laws, there are 13 European nations where blasphemy is punishable crime.{/jb_redbox}


Mufti Rafi Usmani

Facts & Judgements

{jb_bluedisc}1{/jb_bluedisc} Asia Bibi (a Christian) was plucking Falsa (Grewia asiatica) in the fields belonging to Muhammad Idrees on the 14th of June 2009 along with other ladies (Mafia Bibi, Asma Bibi, Yasmin and others). Asia Bibi uttered the following words (sic) for which the matter was referred to Qari Muhammad Salam:

{jb_bluebox}The Prophet of Muslims fell ill one prior to his death and insects nourished his mouth and ear. Prophet married Hazrat Khadija just for her wealth and after looting the same, she was deserted by him. Quran is not the book of God but a manmade book.{/jb_bluebox}

{jb_bluedisc}2{/jb_bluedisc}Qari Muhammad Salam asked Asia Bibi and in front of multiple witnesses she confessed.

{jb_redbox}It should be noted that the women working with Asia Bibi committed no crime and did not resort to violent, they merely reported the issue. Qari Muhammad Salam also did not take the law into his hands and investigated the issue. After Asia Bibi’s confession, there was no violence, no crime and the issues was reported to the Police.{/jb_redbox}

{jb_bluedisc}3{/jb_bluedisc} Asia Bibi was charged under F.I.R (326) on the 19th of June 2009 at the Police Station (Nankana Sahib) for an offense under Section 295-C. The articulation of 295-C as defined in the Pakistan Penal Code is as follows:

{jb_bluebox}Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet: Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.{/jb_bluebox}

{jb_bluedisc}4{/jb_bluedisc} The case was tried in District Court of Sheikhupura and Additional district Judge Muhammed Naveed Iqbal at the  convicted her with the impugned judgement on the 8th of November 2010 as follows:

{jb_bluebox}U/s 295-C PPC. Death with a fine of Rs.100,000/- and in default whereof, to further undergo six months SI{/jb_bluebox}

{jb_bluedisc}5{/jb_bluedisc} This was appeled in the High court. Lahore High court on the 16th of October 2014 after thorough examination of the original F.I.R and the judgement of the earlier court dismissed the appeal and upheld the earlier judgement. The full judgement of the Lahore High court can be read here.

{jb_bluedisc}6{/jb_bluedisc} This was further appeled in the Supreme court of Pakistan.The Supreme Court dramatically reversed the decisions of the earlier courts and dismissed the case. The full judgement of the Supreme Court can be read here.

{jb_bluedisc}7{/jb_bluedisc} Asia Bibi's represented by Saiful Mulook in the Supreme Court who equally dramatically fled to Netherlands shortly after the judgment. Mr Mulook said that he contacted a United Nations official in Islamabad after violence erupted following the Supreme Court’s acquittal of Aasia Bibi on Wednesday and then he stated…

{jb_redbox}And then they (the UN) and the European nation ambassadors in Islamabad, they kept me for three days and then put me on a plane against my wishes,” the lawyer told a press conference in The Hague. pressed them that I would not leave the country unless I get Aasia out of the prison... I am not happy to be here without her, but everybody said that you are the prime target at the moment and the whole world is taking care of Aasia Bibi. They were of the view that I was the prime target to be killed, and that my life was in imminent danger. For three days they did not let me open the door, one day I called the French ambassador and said I do not want to be here.” The lawyer had previously said before his departure on Saturday that he was leaving because “in the current scenario, it’s not possible for me to live in Pakistan.{/jb_redbox}

Press release of Grand-Mufti of Pakistan

Shaykh (Mufti) Rafi Usmani (HA) who is the Grand-Mufti of Pakistan issued the following press release subsequent to the Supreme Court Judgement:

The recent decision by the Supreme Court is a cause of great concern and anxiety for the Muslim Ummah. It is therefore the right of Muslims of Pakistan to protest peacefully.

The law and order situation of this country (Pakistan) has deteriorated due to this decision and the situation demands that legal steps should be taken to address this decision. We demand that the Government take two immediate steps:


{jb_bluedisc}1{/jb_bluedisc} File an appeal for the Supreme court to reconsider its decision;


{jb_bluedisc}2{/jb_bluedisc} Asia Bibi should be immediately placed on the E.C.L (Exit control list) so she is unable to leave the country.


At the same time, I appeal to all Muslim brothers to absolutely refrain and abstain from harming each other, the property of each other and the property of the nation and the country.


Mufti Rafi Usmani


Analysis of flawed Supreme Court judgement

Here is a through breakdown and technical analysis of the Supreme Court of Pakistan judgement. This analysis clearly outlines why the judgement is hasty, flawed and must be thoroughly reviewed by legal experts and reconsidered otherwise it has the dangerous potential of becoming one of the biggest travesties of modern legal history.


Feedback & Questions

Question: Can you tell me a verse of the Qur’aan which outlines the punishment of blasphemy to be death? (Received 12th of November 2018)

You are asking a different question to what the article addresses. By the way, the Qur’aan does not tell you to pray 5 times daily so should we quit praying 5 times a day?

{jb_bluebox}295-C is part of the penal code of Pakistan, like any other law. The article thoroughly outlines and shows that due judicial process was not followed and an appeal is required for the decision to be reviewed. It backs both points from the constitution of Pakistan.{/jb_bluebox}

It also contains the specific instructions from Grand-Mufti of Pakistan to categorically state that peaceful protest is the right of every Pakistan. It also categorically and unequivocally states that damage to property belonging to others or the nation (of Pakistan) or the country is to be absolutely avoided.

This article neither calls for violence, nor advocates it; in fact it articulates the exact opposite.

As far as your question of where is the verse of the Qur’aan advocating punishment that is a matter for “Islamic Scholars” and not “judicial scholars”. The domain of the judicial scholar is to ensure judicial laws are applied.

Grand-Mufti of Pakistan, Mufti Rafi Usmani (HA) on the 9th of November 2018 gave a second talk in which he states that Islam places great emphasis on the issue of “innocent until proven guilty”. In fact, Islamic law goes out of its way to pay due deference to doubt and in the presence of doubt, the person charged is to be allowed to walk free.

{jb_bluebox}In this case, an appeal should be filed by the Government of Pakistan. The bench of the Supreme Court presiding over this case should be expanded from the 3 justices which delivered the verdict to a bigger bench. Council of Islamic ideology and Shariah Applet (Supreme Court of Pakistan which are both legally enshrined bodies within the constitution of Pakistan should also be engaged. The hearings should also be public. If you are angry about ignorant people blockading traffic, destroying property and causing damage you need to take it with them. We equally condemn those activities and deem them to be contrary to the spirit and practise of Islam. If you wish to discuss the Islamic punishment, the reasons and evidence for it, consult a Maulana because we are arguing within the framework of the constitution of Pakistan (as it stands today).{/jb_bluebox}

Question: But why is blasphemy a crime in Pakistan, only? Does it not mean that people of Pakistan are religious extremists? (Received 12th of November 2018)

You are mistaken! Blasphemy is a crime in many countries including 13 European nations, the main article has been updated to reflect this.