Legal Status of Blasphemy & Punishment in Islam


{jb_quote}[2:178] O you who believe, Qisaas has been prescribed for you in the case of murdered people: The freeman (will be killed) for the freeman, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. However, if one is somewhat forgiven by his brother, the recourse (of the latter) is to pursue the former (for blood money) with fairness, and the obligation (of the former) is to pay (it) to the latter in a nice way. That is a relief from your Lord, and a mercy. So, whoever transgresses after all that will have a painful punishment.{/jb_quote}

Shaykh (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (HA)

Introduction (

Aasiya Noreen (aka Asia Bibi) is a Christian Pakistani citizen was convicted and given the Death Penalty as a result of committing Blasphemy in respect Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) according to Pakistan Penal Code, (Section 295-C).

Salman Taseer was the Governor of province of Punjab in Pakistan who visited her in Jail, did a press conference and said that since he is the highest office holder of the province, he will personally deliver the appeal for clemency on her behalf to the President of Pakistan. The President has the authority to grant clemency and he believed that “Insha’Allah” clemency will be granted.

The Governor stated that Pakistan (as envisaged by the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah) didn’t have such a law and couldn’t have been and such an (oppressive) punishment couldn’t have been awarded and our religion (Islam) also emphasizes the protection of minority rights. The founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah had approved the white strip in the flag of Pakistan to recognise minorities and for the sake of their protection. Therefore I deem the punishment which has been given to her as against humanity. He also stated that as the Governor and legal head of the Province this appeal of clemency has been given to him and he will personally carry it to the President and “Insha’Allah” she will be forgiven. We are discussing humanity and don’t wish to bring religion into it.

He also termed [295-C: Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet] as a Black Law in his Interviews.

Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri (1985-2016) was a commando of Elite Police Unit and was part of the Security squad for the protection of Governor. He regarded the comments of Salman Taseer at the Press conference and on other occasions with regards to [295-C: Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet] as blasphemous to the and killed him on the 4th of January 2011.


The punishment of the one who blasphemes the (noble) personality of Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) has been set differently by various Fuqaha (Scholars).

In the Hanafi Madhab, the punishment is not the Death Penalty but a Ruler can set a punishment which judges to befit the situation. Except that the blasphemer may be Muslim and he becomes an apostate by blasphemy and the punishment of the apostate is Death.

If the Blasphemer is a Non-Muslim then the Judgement is not the Death Penalty but a punishment other than the Death Penalty will be given. This is the opinion of the Hanafi Madhab.

However, the judgement of the Jamhoor (vast majority of Fuqaha) is that Death is the punishment of the blasphemer regardless of religion (Muslim or not). The law in Pakistan [295-C: Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet] is based upon the opinion of Jamhoor. Since the judgement of the ruler removes the (differences of opinion), the law of Pakistan is correct in its own right, the Judgement of which is awarding of the Death Penalty for the one who blasphemes Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam).

The details of the incident which has occurred in front are hidden from us.  Firstly, it is said a woman (and it is said that she is Christian) committed blasphemy and from (a court) she was tried and given the Death Penalty. The Governor of Punjab at that time (Salman Taseer) commented on this judgement, he went and met this woman and further commented that this “law” is incorrect. What he said, how he said and what is the interpretation of “law being incorrect” is not clear.

Therefore, did blasphemy actually occurs due to his statements, this is subject to further investigation. Until all the facts are known to us…

This is because just like to blaspheme Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) is monumental crime, the weight of evidence required to confirm that this has actually occurred is also great.

The facts of the case which were known at that time were that he went and met her and he showed some sympathy with her. He then further commented that this law is incorrect (in his opinion). What did he mean by this? Did he mean that Death Penalty shouldn’t be awarded for this crime, some other punishment should be given? Did he mean that this law is being incorrectly used or applied (in some instances) and this should be stopped? These are all possible (interpretations) and due to various (interpretations) it is difficult to say that he (personally) blasphemed Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam).

The other person interpreted the comments in a manner that he has indeed committed blasphemy and therefore he killed him.

The reality is that if a person commits blasphemy with respect to Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) he becomes entitled to the Death Penalty (if he is a Muslim since he becomes an apostate). However, it is not the right of an individual to execute this punishment. An individual cannot be allowed to take the law into their own hands. It is not permissible for an individual to kill him.

But a person does take the law into their own hands and kills such a person whom he deems to have committed blasphemy. The reasons could be many, for example he thinks that the Government won’t do anything so I will take care of this myself or he becomes overwhelmed due to his intense love for Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) and due to his being overwhelmed commits a murder. In all of these circumstances if it is proven beyond doubt that a person did commit blasphemy and another killed him (although it was not permissible for him to kill) there will be no Qisaas [2:178] because the one who has been murdered was deemed to be worthy of a Death Penalty. Therefore it is not correct to award the Death Penalty to the one who killed the other.

Here the situation is ambiguous as I have said. Did his (objections) amount to blasphemy of Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) or not? His statements were ambiguous while he was killed so we are unable to issue a clear cut ruling on the matter.

There is little doubt that the motive behind the killing was righteous i.e. the motive was that the (noble) personality of Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) has been blasphemed so I will revenge this wrong. The motive was righteous so we should have good expectations for him because what he did was to honour and for the sanctity of Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam). We hope that due to his intention (and motive) he will be rewarded due to the Mercy of Allah (SWT). But he should not be regarded as a precedence nor raised to such an example that anyone can take the law into their hands in circumstances which are ambiguous, such action will not be correct.

Student: Dear Teacher, This law entitled “295-C.: Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet” which we have learned from some sources has been called a “Black Law”. We have learnt that he has used these words, does it come into the sphere of blasphemy?

{jb_bluebox}This is what I am saying, it is dependent upon what he meant as “Black Law”. Did he say it was a “Black Law”? OK…”Black Law” or he uttered something against this law can be interpreted in many different ways…One interpretation could be (may Allah protect us) that committing blasphemy in respect to the noble personality of Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) is not a crime, this comes under the injunction of Blasphemy (indeed). A second interpretation could be that it is a crime but its punishment shouldn’t be the Death Penalty and this doesn’t come under the injunction of blasphemy and it is because some of the Hanafi Scholars also rule out the Death Penalty. A third interpretation could be that the law (in the way it has been enacted) is open to misuse or misapplication i.e. people can accuse others of this in order to take out personal vendettas etc and have others killed, there is a possibility that he opposed this law due to this reason. All of these are possible (interpretations) of what he meant. We are unable to reach a conclusive judgement unless and until a specific interpretation is confirmed which leads to the committing of blasphemy. {/jb_bluebox}

Student: Dear Teacher, Is it not the right of the Government to punish a Government official who takes the (constitution and the law) in his own hands and opposed which is an agreed (law)?

Yes, it is (the right of the Government)…Yes it becomes their right…

{jb_bluebox}So as I said that if a person takes the law into his hands and kills someone who is worthy of the Death Penalty to be awarded to him then he is still worthy of Punishment but Qisaas [2:178] won’t be applied to him.{/jb_bluebox}

Shaykh (Mufti) Amjad Mohammed (HA)

The Islamic Shariah (as interpreted by the Hanafi Madhab) does not permit an Islamic state to award Death Penalty to a Non-Muslim for Blasphemy.

وَلَا يَخْفَى ضَعْفُهَا رِوَايَةً وَدِرَايَةً كَمَا أَنَّ قَوْلَ الْعَيْنِيِّ وَاخْتِيَارِي أَنْ يُقْتَلَ بِسَبِّ النَّبِيِّ - صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ - لَا أَصْلَ لَهُ فِي الرِّوَايَةِ وَكَذَا وَقَعَ لِابْنِ الْهُمَامِ بَحْثٌ هُنَا خَالَفَ فِيهِ أَهْلَ الْمَذْهَبِ وَقَدْ أَفَادَ الْعَلَّامَةُ قَاسِمٌ فِي فَتَاوِيهِ أَنَّهُ لَا يَعْمَلُ بِأَبْحَاثِ شَيْخِهِ ابْنِ الْهُمَامِ الْمُخَالِفَةِ لِلْمَذْهَبِ نَعَمْ نَفْسُ الْمُؤْمِنِ تَمِيلُ إلَى قَوْلِ الْمُخَالِفِ فِي مَسْأَلَةِ السَّبِّ لَكِنَّ اتِّبَاعَنَا لِلْمَذْهَبِ وَاجِبٌ وَفِي الْحَاوِي الْقُدْسِيِّ وَيُؤَدَّبُ الذِّمِّيُّ وَيُعَاقَبُ عَلَى سَبِّهِ دِينَ الْإِسْلَامِ أَوْ النَّبِيَّ أَوْ الْقُرْآنَ اهـ. البحر الرائق