Islamic Blasphemy Laws and the Strange Case of Mumtaz Qadiri – Part 1

I often look at the online fatwas and talks of Islamic ‘scholars’ and wonder if perhaps they are deliberately trying to arm Islamophobes or to further garner harassment and vilification for Muslims with their bizarre pronouncements. What makes me really sad is that they never couch these as their own idiosyncratic and extremist positions but rather impugn the whole of Islam by insisting that these are the ‘mainstream’ or normative Islamic verdicts, when in fact they have concocted these to please their Salafi paymasters or to whip up their followers into a (violent) hysteria. We have seen this kind of thing multiple times in the past, where scholars have worsened as opposed to resisted sectarian tensions and extra judicial violence, falling victim to the worst caricatures of religion by its enemies. Now we are seeing it again, this time in Pakistan concerning blasphemy laws as applied to non-Muslims who live in a Muslim country – a country which purportedly follows the normative Hanafi Sunni School of Islam, which categorically and famously does not allow the killing of non-Muslims for ‘blasphemy’. Of course, this does not stop said scholars from binning thirteen hundred years of Hanafi heritage when it suits them. Sadly this cannot be helped, but their disgraceful and fraudulent presentation of the Hanafi School, which they claim to follow in the same breath as rubbishing its tenants, must be addressed.

One may ask what is so strange or interesting about his case to both the Islamophobic press and Muslims scholars. Is it not resoundingly obvious? A vigilante by the name of Mumtaz Qadiri took the law into his own hands and killed a person he was being paid to protect, the governor of the Pakistani state of Punjab, Salman Taseer (who he claims was a blasphemer and therefore an apostate both, for and before questioning Pakistan’s blasphemy law during a fracas about the incident below). The expected response would be that everyone condemns and denounces this killer, right? Sadly not so, as many Muslim Scholars from the Brelwi sect, dominant in Pakistan, including many from the UK, have either supported him openly by stating ‘he did what we could not’ or claimed that he is a martyr. These scholars were in reality encouraging people to kill and then calling these killers ‘martyrs’ or ‘shaheed’, who in Islam are people who have a very lofty status with God after death. However, as soon as the British Media get a hold of it[i]they all started deleting their posts faster than you can say ‘security risk’ or ‘person of interest’. So these so-called scholars do not even have the courage or dignity to back up their ‘convictions’ by leaving the posts on their wall. This is due to fear of the UK government, which, like it or not (and they most certainly do not) is in fact one of the most lawful countries. Yet these same people ask or encourage others to kill and become ‘martyrs’. They do not mind that you receive a prison sentence, are killed or are given capital punishment but they want to make sure they keep their jobs, institutes and money out of fear of being investigated or asked questions. This is pure hypocrisy, or rather something worse.

All of this began with the case of Aasia Noreen. In June 2009 Aasia Bibi, a poor Christian woman with three children from a low ‘caste’ was working on a farm in Shiekhupura, Pakistan. She was asked to collect water from a well and as she was doing this, she took a sip of water using an old cup. Two workers who were Muslims and neighbours of Aasia refused the water stating, ‘we do not take water from the hands of a Christian’.[ii] After this there was a quarrel between the women where heated words were exchanged. It is only at this point there is a dispute about what was said. In court documents, Aasia Noreen maintains that she never made any blasphemous comments and that she respects the Quran as well as the Prophet Muhammad (). The two sisters argue that Aasia stated that ‘the Prophet Muhammad () was ill on bed for one month and before his death and insects emerged from his mouth and ear. That he married Khadijah for the purposes of looting her wealth and that the Quran is a ‘man made book’.[iii] The claimants are all connected – two of them are sisters and were studying under the wife of Qari Saleem, the religious scholar who brought forth the claim against Aasia Noreen, who herself maintains that ‘she was falsely accused to settle an old score’.[iv] The claimants all maintain that Aasia confessed to her crime when confronted by hundreds or perhaps thousands of people from her own and nearby villages. They claim that it was ‘civil’ and that Aasia confessed to her crimes but Aasia argues that it was far from ‘civil’, and that: ‘In the village they tried to put a noose around my neck, so that they could kill me,’ and that it was out of fear for her life that she confessed to the crimes of which she had been accused. When analysing the testimonies of the claimants there are many contradictions within their statements with some aspects giving clear indications of ‘coaching’. In court, Aasia maintained her innocence and clarifies that she offered an oath on the Bible that she has never stated “such derogatory…and shameful remarks against the Holy Prophet () and the Holy Quran.” She went onto say “I have great respect and honour to the Holy Prophet () as well as the Holy Quran”. What compounds the problem is that since 1953 in Baluchistan, Islamabad and the entire state of Punjab, the majority of people accused of blasphemy have been people from minorities such as Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis and Shia. Proportionally, in the entirety of Pakistan, minorities are accused of blasphemy much more than Sunni Muslims. The case took a dreadful twist when the Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, acted as an interloper for Aasia and said the blasphemy laws should be changed. He was subsequently gunned down by his own on-duty bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, who claimed that he committed the murder but was ‘provoked’ by Taseer and offered a ‘theological’ justification for his actions, adducing ‘proof’ of Taseer’s apostasy and blasphemy such as that he ‘drank scotch’ (although he admits to never having seen this) and was married to a Sikh etc. (see Criminal Appeals no 210 and 211, Supreme Court of Pakistan). We will leave aside the fact that none of these things is ‘blasphemy’ or worthy of the death penalty in Islam anyway, but I can imagine any non-Muslim friends of Islam understandably being horrified by this account and the extremely ‘inclusive’ criteria that Muslims seem to have for killing people. But please bear with me a while longer.

What compounds the issue is that Brelwi fanatics sent a letter to the Habaib, who are Shafis and who are in all likelihood not aware of the specifics of this case, as well as the case of Mumtaz Qadiri for an Islamic ruling. Now in the letter they mentioned, “It was investigated by a police officer and she admitted her crime in front of him.” Now in the court documents it does not mention she admitted her crime in front of the police officer. In fact she admitted her crime in front of a mob of people who were ready to lynch her. In her statement recorded under section 342 Cr.P.C:

“I offered an oath to the police on the Bible that I have never passed such derogatory and shameful remarks against the Prophet () and the Holy Quran. I have great respect and honour to the Holy Prophet () as well as the Quran.”[v]

I want to say at the outset that understanding ‘blasphemy’ as committed by non-Muslims in Islam actually requires absolutely no Islamic knowledge and can be understood by anyone with a modicum of common sense: it is clear that blaspheming the Prophet () and insulting him or calling him names is dreadful to Muslims. It is however likewise clear that the Prophet () is ‘insulted’ daily, explicitly or implicitly by non-Muslims who don’t believe in him (about five and half billion people, i.e most of Earth) and either regard him as wrong but innocuous or a liar and so on. We do not kill these people.

(Aasia Noreen’s three daughters)

Further, it is obvious that insulting God is much worse than insulting Prophet Muhammad (). According to Muslims, ideas like the Trinity or making an idol of God as, for example, as a naked women with her foot balanced on a skull, is blasphemy. Yet we do not go around burning down temples and challenging Hindus or Christians to a fight (not that many Muslims and non-Muslims alike wouldn’t like to see this). Also consider what unprecedented chaos would ensue if Hindus and Christians started to apply their blasphemy laws onto Muslims and declared monotheism or ‘tawhid’ to be grounds for killing people in a Hindu or Christian state (and this has happened). How would that work?

We might also have to kill a whole bunch of Muslims (perhaps the majority) who accuse the Prophet () of losing his mind due to ‘black magic’ or compromising on monotheism due to the ‘Satanic Verses’, because, spin it how you will, those are insulting too.

So it is obvious from first principles that the non-Muslim citizens, by their very existence, are usually blaspheming, by Muslim standards – if not the Prophet () then certainly God. Even their worship is sometimes ‘blasphemous’ vis-a-vis Islamic norms. It is likewise then obvious that there can be no death penalty for them in Islam, no matter how disturbing Muslims find this, because then we would have to fight and kill almost everyone who was not Muslim. Of course, some people would actually like this. I hope people can appreciate both that such people are ‘mental’ and the inescapable weight of this rational argument. It is in fact not only a clear and rational necessity but is in fact the very same argument furnished by the first jurisprudential ‘Imam’ of Sunni Muslims, Abu Hanifa. But of course, many Muslims today don’t like this. Maybe it’s too simple or too bloodless or lacks the necessary ‘drama’ they feel should be associated with insults directed at the Prophet (). But religion is not about drama, hysteria or mobs. Religion is about answering those questions we ask which distinguish us from beasts: Why am I here? How should I live? Is there anything after death? Why do pain and loss exist, and so on.

Sadly, God is one of the most insulted ‘things’ in the world today. It detracts nothing from him. By rejecting him we only hurt ourselves and deny purpose and hope in an otherwise vast and unfeeling universe. When Pharaoh denied God and claimed to usurp him, who did you feel sorry for, God for having been rejected and insulted or Pharaoh?

I felt sorry for Pharaoh, he deceived himself by not accepting God. So did Moses – he persisted in trying to help him for a long time.

Now: is Islam really violent and does it really suppress minorities? The answer to this is a resounding ‘No!’ but you would never know that if you were to look at the viler pronouncements of both UK scholars such as the Brelwi adept Asrar Rashid nor those of ‘Dawah activists’, who are actually Salafis masquerading as Hanafis to groom and inveigle their way into normative Muslim communities[vi]

Bear in mind before reading further the general strategy of such groups and individuals:

  1. Ignoring the position of the Hanafi school, (which precisely for its understanding attitude to minorities and Muslims alike achieved success amongst non-Arabs and in lands with many non-Muslims) and presenting the extremely latter day and heterodox positions of Salafi influenced and cult-like groups from the subcontinent such as Deobandis (who were actually until 2005 apparently proudly funded by the Saudi government) and Brelwis. As for the former, they ignore the normative positions and methodology of Hanafis in favour of their modernist founders such as Shaykh Ashraf Ali Thanwi, Rashid Ahmad Gangohi and such. In the case of the latter, they defer to the equally late and heterodox Shaykh Ahmed Ridha Khan in all matters. Both groups are beholden to Shah Wali Allah, a eighteenth century anti-Sufi scholar who acted as an apologist and propagandist for Salafi archfiend Ibn Taymiyyah in the Indian Subcontinent
  2. Quote mining anyone and everyone they can find, especially people such as Shah Wali Allah and Ibn Abideen (who also took the positions of Ibn Taymiyyahh as opposed to Abu Hanifa – though he, unlike them, was open about this) and basically anyone they can find to try and turn the Salafi position into the Hanafi position – so the Hanafi and Maturidi position, which is anathema to the Salafis, is only to be taken and understood through those scholars who claim to be Hanafi but are in fact adherents of the Salafis position – this the same strategy as narrating the Hanafi position through Deobandis and Brelwis. It would assist Salafis greatly if they could pretend that Hanafis are really just Salafis and could thus occupy the ideological ‘main space’. The problem for them is that the scholars they wish to use, whether the very late ones of Deoband and Brelwis or the merely ‘late’ ones such as Shah Wali Allah and Ibn Abideen, openly abandon Hanafi principles.
  3. Deploying ‘reason’ and legal arguments…but only if they lead to killing people. Ignoring reason and law in all other cases.
  4. Blatantly, shamelessly, uninhibitedly and flagrantly ignoring the Hanafi position and following that of the other contradicting schools. Because it’s always better to err on the side of killing isn’t it?
  5. If all else fails, in case of emergency, break glass and freely mistranslate the Arabic

People of average intelligence and gullibility need read no further – as long as they look critically at the arguments of those who claim that Hanafis support the killing of non-Muslim blasphemers, they will find they invariably fall into one of these categories.

Bearing these points in mind, let’s look at the actual Islamic position of non-Muslims living in Muslim lands. Please remember that Pakistan alleges to be a country that follows the ‘Sunni Hanafi School’ in Islamic Jurisprudence and theology. Therefore let’s look at what is the position of this classical school really is.

Imam Abu Bakr al-Jassas al-Razi al-Hanafi was a prominent Hanafi jurist from the fourth century, one of the most respected scholars in the field of Usul (epistemic principles), and the grand-teacher of Abul Hasan al Quduri, who wrote the most famous and most commonly used primer in Hanafi jurisprudence, ‘Mukhtasar al-Quduri’.[vii] Salafis and occult Salafis alike would very much like to eradicate this man from the history of Islamic scholarship – it would make their lives much easier – but he is too central, too early and too big a deal in the Hanafi school to do away with – not that this stops them from trying.

Jassas stated in his book ‘Mukhtasar Ikhtilaf’ in the chapter titled ‘Dhimmi (Non-Muslim living in lands controlled by Muslims) insulting the Prophet’ () that according to Hanafi Imams, a Dhimmi (recall, this is a non-Muslim citizen of an ‘Islamic State’) is not killed but instead ta’dheer (discretionary punishment, which is a maximum of lashing twenty nine) is applicable.[viii]

As an aside, a vile strategy being used by faux Hanafis such as Rashid and their impious ilk is to claim that this ‘ta’dheer’ or ‘discretionary punishment’ can include death, thereby turning Hanafis repudiation of the death penalty into a charade where they kill them nonetheless under ‘judge’s discretion’ – but this is sheer unacademic and fraudulent poppycock – since it is an unassailable pillar of Hanafite law that discretionary punishments can never exceed the mandatory ones – the lowest of which historically is forty lashes to a slave – so the highest discretionary or ta’dheer punishment can be as a maximum thirty nine lashes only. So where did they get this ‘discretionary death penalty’ from? Indeed, non-Muslims are justified in fearing, nay, even hating us if we are willing to lie and manipulate to this degree to justify killing. Furthermore, it is funny how God failed to clarify what you would have thought were important matters like killing but instead left it to the ‘discretion’ of judges.

As proof for his stance, Imam Jassas mentions the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad ()which were reported by Ibn Umar (ra), Anas (ra) and Aisha (ra) about a Jewish person who insulted and cursed the Prophet () when they were greeting one another – but yet the Prophet () never killed him nor did he order the Sahabah (companions) to kill him.[ix] But of course, Salafis, Brelwis and Deobandis are always harassing people to follow hadith, anathematising those who question hadith and so on – unless the hadith stops them from stuff they want to do (like killing people for rubbish reasons), in which case they shamelessly ignore them or conveniently discover a ‘weakness’ in their chain which everyone else overlooked for a millennium and an half.

Jassas concludes the analysis of this hadith by stating that if a Muslim were to insult the Prophet () he would become an apostate and would have to be killed (because his stance is that apostates should be killed) but for some reason the Prophet () did not kill this Jewish person. He then narrates the hadith of Anas where a Jewish lady poisons food which the Prophet () then eats. When the Sahabah (companions of the Prophet ()) caught her and asked him if they should kill her, he said ‘No!’

Jassas states that there is no disagreement that if a Muslim were to do the same thing, he would then become an apostate that is liable for the death penalty. Jassas concludes his explanation of the hadith by stating that the Prophet () not killing her proves that the dhimmi must not killed. Jassas then goes even further, showing a comprehensive and bipartisan style which would shame todays scholars, and analyses the hadith used by those who support the position that a non-Muslim living in a Muslim land should be killed for blaspheming the Prophet () and says that; ‘if someone were to ask about the incident where a person came to Umar (ra) and said; “I have heard that some monk insulted the Prophet ()’’. Umar (ra) said; ‘if I would hear that I would kill him,’ then we do not agree with them about this issue and the chain of the hadith is weak’.[x]

Imam Tahawi another genuinely authoritative and genuinely early Hanafi scholar from the fourth century (as opposed to the handpicked, novel and ‘cross party’ groups of scholars served up to a vulnerable Muslim public by those demanding blasphemy killing), in his book ‘Mukhtasar Tahawi’ which has a commentary by Imam Jassas states:

If a Dhimmi insults the Prophet () he will not be killed but instead will be disciplined. This is because they have been left alone to practise their religion, and their religion includes worshiping someone beside God and rejecting the Prophet (). The proof of this is Jews visited the Prophet ()and they said ‘Damn you!’, and the Prophet () replied ‘you too’ but he did not order from them to be killed’’.[xi]

Abu ‘Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, a Maliki scholar from the thirteenth century stated that:

If a Dhimmi insults the Prophet () he will be killed according to Imam Malik, Imam Shafi, Imam Ahmad and others but according to Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Thawri, he will not be killed’.

Even the senior authorities in the other, rival schools are admitting that Hanafis are not in favour of killing non-Muslims who blaspheme. Not that this will stop the likes of Sheikh Rashid (and too many others to mention) bending over backwards and doing verbal somersaults to try and justify killing people nonetheless – after all, who needs laws or coexistence? As Hiroshi Sakurazaka put it: ‘All you need is ‘kill’’.

Now Imam Qurtubi attempts to justify the position of his school (the Maliki school), harder to find in Pakistan than a Latin Americans at a Donald Trump rally) by explaining that if a Dhimmi insults the Prophet (), degrades him, describes him by something which is not acceptable, then he should be killed as they do not give him protection for insulting the Prophet (). He further explained that his opponents in this issue are Imam Abu Hanifa and Sufyan Thawri and that their followers from Kufa (now in Iraq) as they argued that disbelief is a much bigger issue than insulting – and no one asked for a carte blanche killing spree on non-Muslims (they obviously never met todays scholars and ‘Dawah’ activists). The position of Imam Abu Hanifa and Sufyan Thawri was that a Dhimmi must be disciplined and ta’dheer must be applied. This is exactly the rational argument I stated at the outset.

Remember, according to Imam Abu Hanifa the minimum punishment of ta’dheer is a stern look and the maximum is thirty nine lashes. Imam Qurtubi then attempts to refute the position of Imam Abu Hanifa [xii] – which is more than a bit above his pay grade, and kind of ignores the whole ‘follow the salaf’ thing that the advocates of blasphemy killing are always going on about – since Abu Hanifa is one of the salaf and Qurtubi most certainly is not.

Qurtubi continues that the scholars held the same position in the case of a Dhimmi who insults Islam. A Dhimmi that criticises the religion has his agreement (with the Islamic State – a ‘contract’ of citizenship if you will) nullified according to the official position of Imam Malik and that this was also the position of the Shafi school but Imam Abu Hanifa said that the dhimmi will be asked to repent from his statement because criticising Islam does not nullify the contract seeing as God allowed fighting based on only two conditions and both of these conditions must be present according to Imam Abu Hanifa. (This is based on Surah Tawbah verse 12).

If they violate their oaths after having made a treaty with you and condemn your faith, then fight against these leaders of ungodliness, who have no regard for their own oaths, so that they will stop their aggression.

The first is breaking of the contract and the second is critiquing the religion. Qurtubi argued for his own proof that when they say something against the religion this ‘automatically nullifies’ the contract of citizenship. The fact that God mentioned two conditions does not mean they have to do both, for us to fight against them, according to Qurtubi. Qurtubi then argues that in his school of thought this means if the non-Muslim citizens do something prohibited in the contract, it then becomes permissible to fight against them. If they do not do something which is prohibited in the contract but instead if they criticise the religion it nullifies the contract anyway and Malikis can fight against them.[xiii] Which means that Imam Abu Hanifa holds the position in contradistinction to Qurtubi, the Malikis and Shafis, to say nothing of the Hanbalis and Salafis, that a Dhimmi must not be killed even if they insult Islam or insult the Prophet Muhammad ().

What is really funny and sad is that Abu Hanifa’s opponents and critics in the distant past were much more honest about his position than those like Asrar Rashid and Co. who claim to be championing his own school, today.

Muhammad Amin Ibn Abidin is a Hanafi jurist from the nineteenth century who wrote a long piece about this issue. He is considered a senior Hanafite, but Salafis and others cannot get enough of him because he was fond of quoting their all-time favourite person ever, Ibn Taymiyyah, who was an avowed enemy of Hanafi methodology and creed and let alone wanting to kill non-Muslims for insulting the Prophet (), wanted to kill Muslims for saying the intention to prayer out loud. Let’s go through Ibn Abideen’s reasoning. I’m afraid it’s long.

If a Dhimmi insults the Prophet () and he does it publicly or does it regularly then he will be killed even if it is woman and this is the ruling from now as narrated from ‘Durr’ and ‘Muntaqa’, this is what Temurtashi [another scholar and commentator] mentioned in his summary’.

Obviously, Salafis, Deobandis and Brelwis are over the moon at reading this, remember, ‘all you need is kill’.

Ibn Abideen is therefore explaining that this is the brand new fatwa of the Hanafi School which he is following. I think the more perceptive readers will see where this is going.

According to Ibn Abideen, Ramli, a Hanafi scholar added a further condition that if there was no prior agreement with the non-Muslims and if they then commit blasphemy then the ‘contract’ will be nullified. On the other hand if it is mentioned in the contract with the Dhimmi then it is obvious, meaning that they can be killed (so the discussion is exactly the same as what the previous Maliki who was trying to attack the Hanafi position, Imam Qurtubi said above). Imam Abu Yusuf (a student of Abu Hanifa) in the book ‘Kharaaj’ mentioned that it was stated in a contract of Abu Ubayda with people of Syria, he said that he would leave their churches, monasteries and temples with the condition that they would not build new places of worship and that they would not insult or beat Muslims. Ibn Abideen narrates that Alama Qasim mentioned from Khalal and Bayhaqi in the chapter of contracts, that when he came to Umar (ra) with the book, there was an extra condition that Christians will not beat Muslims. If they will not keep to this, then the contract will be nullified and it becomes permissible for us to do what we do with our enemies and rebels. After a lengthy preamble, Ibn Abideen continues that the summary of what he mentioned is that the contract will not be nullified unless it was specifically stipulated in that contract that if non-Muslims insult or blaspheme it will be nullified, otherwise it will not be nullified, unless they insult publicly or it becomes their habit as he mentioned before.[xiv]

In this issue Shurunbulali, whom Ibn Abideen quotes, wanted to convert the position of the Hanafis to that of the Malikis but because of the conditions mentioned such as the ruling of Umar not being applicable on other places (i.e. it is not general), Ibn Abideen explained however that he was not able to do it (that is, reconcile the Hanafis non-killing position with the killing opinion of Malikis). Ibn Abideen explains that he found quite a few references about a person falling within the parameters of blasphemy if these two things (public insult or habitual insults) occur, but the primary source of all of these references is Hafiz Uddin Nasafi, who said if a Dhimmi insults Islam publicly, it becomes permissible to kill him. This is because the agreement between him and the state was that he should not criticise Islam, but if he does criticises Islam, he himself then nullifies the contract and this contract is no longer applicable on him. Ibn Abideen then says, that even this position will necessitate that the reason for the nullification of the contract is that he should not be insulting Islam, and that there is no need for an extra condition as this is known by having a simple contract. Ibn Abideen explains ‘But that is going against our Hanafi scholars’ – so he tells the reader to ‘contemplate for yourself’. Ibn Abideen is alluding to the classical Hanafi position which was mentioned by the authorities Jassas and Tahawi – namely that insulting Islam is a part of their [non-Muslims] religion and we give them the right to follow different religions. Thus the justification of Imam Nasafi for killing is clashing with the position of the Hanafi School and this is why Ibn Abideen is saying that there is an obstacle and his opinion cannot be taken.

So Ibn Abideen has rejected the position of Nasafi and explained that it does not meet the principles of the Hanafi School – as of yet he has not provided proof for his own position.

Ibn Abideen then goes on to say that it was Imam Shafi who introduced the idea that insulting Islam is not seen as something which is covered within the contract of a [Dhimmi], because a part of following their own religion is being able to insult Islam. Something which is claimed by the Hanafi School. Abu Sauud, an Ottoman Scholar, mentioned in his commentary that if they will mention our Prophet () by some evil comment which is based on their religion, or that he was not a Prophet (ﷺ), or he killed Jews without justice, or attributed a lie to him, then according to some scholars his contract will not nullified. If he mentioned something which is not concerning his non-Muslim religious beliefs and not part of his religion, then as that is not part of the religion of the Dhimmi, he will be disciplined and punished – and according to this commentator, ‘disciplining’ and ‘punishing’ will include killing for the person who will do it continuously or publicly. Here Ibn Abideen is clearly going against the position of the Hanafi School as ‘disciplining’ means ta’dheer (discretionary punishment) and the maximum punishment for this is thirty nine lashes. Ibn Abideen continues that its proof is what we mentioned above from Hafiz Uddin Nasafi in terms of it being public or continuous and that it is mentioned in the chapter of ta’dheer that the arrogant oppressor will be killed, the highway robber will be killed, the people who commit major sin will be killed and Nasafi said kill anyone who causes harm to the people – but Ibn Abideen has already refuted this position and admitted that it does not match with Hanafi principles and authorities. So as you can see Ibn Abideen has not been able to provide proof from the Hanafis, and he has even gone so far as to refute the same person he is now relying on as a proof for killing blasphemers (and even then, only in public or habitual cases) as he has admitted that Nasafi is incongruent with Hanafi rulings on the matter.

Ibn Abideen then uses the book ‘as-Sarim al-Maslul’ of Ibn Taymiyyah al-Hanbali. Here it is stated that Imam Abu Hanifa and his student said the contract of citizenship will not be nullified by insulting the Prophet (ﷺ) or Islam and the dhimmi will not be killed due to it, but he will get ta’dheer in the case of his doing it publicly…Ibn Taymiyyah goes on to say that according to Hanafi principles, people on whom there is no death penalty – can nonetheless be killed by the khalifah and the king will have right to kill him and it is permissible for the king to increase the official Islamic punishment if the king thinks it will have a benefit.

Quite apart from the fact that we can still see this bizarre ruling in effect in oppressive Wahhabi regimes inspired by Ibn Taymiyyah – from Saudi Arabia to ISIS, and the fact that we can see that when it comes to killing, people are willing to ditch the Sharia entirely and defer to a kind of ‘divine right of kings’, the problem with this is that no Hanafi ever made this statement. Ibn Taymiyyah continues that Hanafis justify this by the reasoning that the Prophet (ﷺ) and the Sahabah used to kill giving the reason that this type of death penalty is a ‘political death penalty’. There are quite a few problematic issues with this as I am sure readers can see, the first being that in the Hanafi School there is no such thing as Siyasa (political punishment) at all. If you ever wanted to see as example of a politically motivated fatwa’, then here it is.

The second problematic issue is that Ibn Abideen has not been able to find any Hanafi to support his opinion (and if he can’t even find it, what chance do the erstwhile ‘Hanafis’ Asrar Rashid and Co. have?) but is instead totally randomly using the opinion of Ibn Taymiyyah, the father of modern day Salafism and by no stretch of the imagination a Hanafi – in fact Ibn Abideen’s Ottoman employers had actually banned Ibn Taymiyyah’s works as an affront to Sunnism.[xv]

Ibn Abideen continues with more proofs outwith the classical Hanafi School, saying that Badr al-Din al-Aini states that it his opinion based on his ‘personal choice’, that Dhimmis can be killed for blasphemy. We can see that he had not used the Hanafi School as a basis of his opinion or it would not be his ‘personal choice’ otherwise (who knew that the personal choice extended to such matters as killing – but that’s a separate issue). Badr al-Din al-Aini is a hadith orientated scholar, and hence not in accordance with methodology of the Hanafi School. He is the brother in law of Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, a prominent Shafi scholar and his student Kamal ibn Hummam followed this opinion too. More on them later.

So what we are seeing is a wholesale, but honest and frank (unlike todays horrendous deceptions), abandonment, by a set of later scholars, of the authentic and early Hanafi position of not prescribing the death penalty for non-Muslims who blaspheme, in favour of Hanbali, Shafis and even anthropomorphists who do support it. If anyone pulled off such a maneuver today, they would be harangued with cries of betrayal of the Sharia and appeasing the government or the ‘West’, let alone modernism. But when it comes to fatwas that deal with violence, well…’all you need is ‘kill’’.

Ibn Abideen says explicitly that ‘it is a judgement of the rulers that we have to follow the opinion of our scholars who support killing the one who insults’. So the Hanafi madhab is to be decided by the government of the time and the ‘blessing’ of the differences of opinions of the scholars that we are always being told about is to be overlooked. Or as Henry Ford put it: ‘Available in any colour, as long as it’s black’. What this means is that Ibn Abideen has not brought forth any proof from the Hanafis to support his position. The main reason for him attempting to prove this position is the pressure he received from his employers, the Ottoman Empire c. 1800. Therefore he brought forth the famous opinion of Ibn Taymiyyah that killing people for political reasons is permissible. He states that Ibn Taymiyyah is reliable when he is narrating the Hanafi School and therefore this has to be accepted.[xvi] This is scandalous, as for the first time ever, we are being told that the Hanafi school has to in fact be narrated through a Hanbali anthropomorphist scholar who came seven hundred years after Imam Abu Hanifa and opposes the Hanafi Maturidi school anyway. Ibn Taymiyyah is known for supporting killing over peace, having a habit of transmitting incorrect information from scholars, making errors when narrating scholarly consensus (ijma) and is known to transmit disagreements when there is ijma on the issue. Therefore not only is he an extremist, but he is completely unreliable.

Imam Jassas says that concerning a Dhimmi who insults the Prophet (ﷺ) publicly, there is disagreement amongst the jurists. So this contradicts the statement of Ibn Abideen who stated that there was no disagreement about either public or private insults. Jassas says ‘our scholars said he will be given ta’dheer and will not be killed, this is narrated by Thawri. But Abu Qasim narrated from Imam Malik that the Dhimmi will be killed unless he accepts Islam. Waleed ibn Muslim narrated from Owzai and Malik that anyone who insults the Prophet (ﷺ), that is apostasy, and he must repent or otherwise he will be killed’. Jassas then continues and tests the issue of ‘breaking an agreement of citizenship’ and he states that according to Imam Abu Hanifa that agreement will only be broken in one scenario, and that is if this Dhimmi goes and joins the country who is at war with your country. Imam Malik, Imam Shafi and Imam Ahmad said it will be broken even if he critiques our religion.[xvii] A Dhimmi who publicly insults the Prophet (ﷺ) is different to the Muslim who publicly insults the Prophet (ﷺ).[xviii]

So as you see that Hanafis are quite clear about this issue even when related to an insult in a public context.

Now, some people deceptively use the quote from Imam Muhammad, a student of Abu Hanifa, to present the case that it is permissible to kill the Dhimmi. “If she publicly insults the Prophet (ﷺ) there is nothing wrong in killing her.”[xix] Not only has the quote been taken out of context but it has only been used in the issue of a Dhimmi when it is not referring to a Dhimmi at all. The ruse is to use this quote as a reference for a Dhimmi when Imam Muhammad was speaking about the Harbi (Non-Muslim who is not living in Muslim land, whose military is a threat to the safety of the Muslims). Remember in the Hanafi School (and common sense), killing old people and woman in the battlefield is not permissible. That is what the entirety of the chapter from Imam Muhammad is referring to. The chapter is in fact called ‘who amongst the HARBI can and cannot be killed’.[xx] He mentioned that if someone kills Harbi women and old men (in the battlefield) there is no penalty but instead it is better not to do it (Khilaaful Awlaa) The second thing is that according to Imam Muhammad, it will be permissible to kill the Harbi woman if she insults the Prophet (ﷺ) publicly. So there is a difference between a non-Muslim who is protected by their contract, which allows for them to live peacefully in Muslim land and a Non-Muslim who does not live in Muslim land. Using this as reference to give one a licence to kill is completely unacceptable. It seems like the modus operandi is that if you cannot find a classical reference to support your bloodlust then you have to fabricate a reference which has no relevance to the topic at hand.

Unlike most Muslims scholars and so-called apologists, I believe in neither undue violence nor undue censorship: you are free to follow either the early Hanafis such as Abu Hanifa and Imams Jassas and Tahawi from the first to the fourth centuries or you can follow the ‘new’ opinions of eighteenth century authorities and the ‘interpretations’ of rival and antagonistic schools. But please be consistent: if people from the eighteenth century or whatever can rewrite the Hanafi school, then don’t complain about someone doing that today either. Don’t complain about ‘modernism’ and if rivals are the most reliable narrators of one’s own position, then I am sure Salafi followers of Ibn Taymiyyah will have no problems with people narrating his positions through Sufis. All I ask is to be consistent and not just pick and choose your favourite evidence when you feel like making a big song and dance about how pious you are because you are willing to kill people because they ‘insulted Islam’. If killing is the determinant of piety then I guess Genghis Khan was an archangel. Who knew.

Sadly, this will not be enough to silence the voices that incite and bray so loudly in our community, only to fall silent when they are called out by the press. So allow me to present a veritable barrage of scholars of all stripes, including Salafis and Zahiris, who despite being trenchant critics of Hanafism, are far more honest and state the real position of Abu Hanifa and others of authority in that school, that non-Muslims citizens are not licit to kill for blasphemy, than today’s erstwhile Hanafis.

Muhammad ash-Shawkani, a scholar from the eighteenth century, beloved of Salafis, explains in his ‘Tafseer’ (commentary of the Quran), that Abu Hanifa used Surah Tawbah verse 12-16, to say that if a Dhimmi criticises the religion he will not be killed unless he disowns the citizens contract. ‘This is because God only allowed one to fight non-Muslim citizens if two conditions are met, the first is them disowning the contract and the second is insulting the religion. But Imam Malik, Shafi and others said critiquing the religion is enough to be killed because by critiquing, the contract will be nullified’.[xxi]

Ibn Hazm an eleventh century Zahiri scholar says that according to the Zahiri School, the dhimmi who insults the Prophet (ﷺ) according to Imam Malik must be killed without any excuse, this is also the opinion of Layth ibn Sa’d. Imam Shafi said we have to include the (two extra) conditions (stating it continuously or in public):

On the other hand Imam Abu Hanifa and Sufyan and their followers said that anyone who insults God, or his Prophet (ﷺ), will not be killed but he will stopped from it. Some of the Hanafis said we apply ta’dheer. There is a narration from Ibn Umar wherein he states ‘anyone who commits blasphemy must be killed without any excuse’ and therefore, [according to Ibn Hazm] the Hanafis have proven their misguidance and slander by using the Hadith of Anas (ra) about the group of Jews and the Prophet (ﷺ) responded to them by saying ‘to you too’.[xxii] The Hanafis also use the hadith of Aisha and the Jewish lady poisoning him and that the Prophet (ﷺ) did not say kill them and so we do not kill them.

Ibn Hazm explains that the Hanafis have no proof beside what he mentioned.[xxiii]

Mahmud al-Alusi, an Iraqi/Ottoman scholar, wrote in ‘Ruh al-Ma`ani’ that the scholars who supported killing if the non-Muslim citizen insults publicly are Malik, Shafi, Layth and this was supported by Ibn Hummam:

We already said the Dhimmis pay the tax and this protects them and their disbelief (kufr), so insult of the Prophet (ﷺ) is not worse than other kufri beliefs, which are protected by their tax [the ‘jizya’ or exemption tax on non-Muslims]. So that tax which is protecting them by their bigger kufri statements will protect them from insulting the Prophet (ﷺ) and the religion. The criticism mentioned in the Quran is different to what Malik, Ahmad and Ibn Hummam are saying. That is not justice to the Quran. Based on this it is necessary to not apply the ta’dheer too, paying tax means that we have given them permission to make kufri statements. So if the tax protects from kufr, then why does it not protect for small incidental mistakes?[xxiv]

Of course, the same people who were insisting on admitting late scholars from the 18th century and rival schools as evidence will now be furious that we have admitted one from the same period who doesn’t want to kill non-Muslims for blasphemy, but pot/kettle etc.

Jarir ibn Atiyah, a Maliki scholar from the sixth century narrates:

The Dhimmi who critiques our religion, the relied upon position is that he must be killed. The weak opinion in the Maliki School is that some said that if he makes a statement of blasphemy which conforms with his own religion then he will be disciplined for publicising it, but if he makes a statement of blasphemy which cannot be found in his own religion then he will be killed. But Imam Abu Hanifa states that he will be requested to repent, which means that he will be told to stop making these statements. But there is disagreement if a Dhimmi insults the Prophet (ﷺ) and then accepts Islam to avoid a death penalty and the relied upon opinion of the Malikis is that he will left alone. But in Athbiyah it is stated that he has to be killed, so he will be killed and will not get priority over Muslims’.[xxv]

Ilkia, a Shafi scholar from the fifth century, states:

’This verse [Surah Tawbah: verse 12] proves if Dhimmi publicly insults the Prophet (ﷺ) or criticises the religion it becomes permissible to kill him and fight against him. But Imam Abu Hanifa said just critiquing the religion does not nullify the contract with him. But no doubt this verse is strongly supporting the position of Imam Shafi.[xxvi]

Ibn Nujaim a Hanafi scholar from the sixteenth century narrates in ‘Bahr al-Raiq’, that in the following cases a non – Muslim’s protection as ‘Dhimmi’ will not be nullified:

  • If he doesn’t pay the tax – him paying is not a condition because protection he is given is by agreeing to pay and not by actually paying. So not paying will not nullify his contract or status.
  • If he commits adultery with a Muslim woman
  • If he kills a Muslim person,
  • Or he insults the Prophet (ﷺ).
  • In terms of adultery and killing we apply the just punishment as we apply on Muslims but in terms of insulting the Prophet (ﷺ) that is kufr (disbelief) which he already commits anyway so by renewing his disbelief he is not going to get anything extra as he already has that disbelief. That initial permanent kufr did not nullify the transaction so renewing the kufr also will also not nullify the transaction.

Badr al-Din al-Aini , a Hanafi scholar from the fifteenth century mentions ‘Waqiyat’ of Husami, a twelfth century Hanafi scholar as saying, if a Dhimmi refuses to pay the tax, the contract will be nullified and we will fight against him – that is the opinion of Imam Malik, Imam Shafi and Imam Ahmad. Ibn Nujaim comments:

It is obvious that it is weak in terms of its textual proof and its meaning. What Aini said is also weak as he said ‘I choose’, (meaning that it is his personal opinion), this opinion has no basis in terms of narration from our Hanafi sources. Also in terms of what Ibn Hummam said, he opposed the Hanafi School. Qasim Ibn Qatlubgah, the student of Ibn Hummam, in his fatwa confirmed that the research of his teacher when he opposes our School will not be accepted.

Ibn Nujaim continues:

‘I do find that inside (our heart) we may have inclination in the issue of insulting the Prophet (ﷺ) but for us following the [Hanafi] School is compulsory.

It is stated In Hawi al-Qudsi if a Dhimmi insults the Prophet (ﷺ), Islam or the Quran, then we will discipline him and he will be punished’.[xxvii]

We see here the inspiring academic and moral rigour of the genuine scholars of the past: he admits that insults to the Prophet (ﷺ) cause him and all Muslims anger and the feeling to lash out – but he insists that the rule of law and Islamic principles are more important than emotion. If only we had a single such scholar today, who understands that religion is there to control our urges and to moderate our impulses, not to unleash them. But today’s scholars are militant when it comes to restraining our urges to talk to a member of the opposite sex and accommodating when it comes to our urge to kill people. They are more than happy to pervert the earliest and most widespread school of Sunnism for this end.

Zailae, a Hanafi scholar from the fourteenth century states:

‘He has to be killed according to Shafi. But our proof is that some Jewish person insulted the Prophet (ﷺ), he said ‘damn you oh Muhammad’. The Sahabah said ‘shall we kill him?’ and the Prophet (ﷺ) replied ‘no’. The Prophet (ﷺ) did not nullify contract of the Jew and nor did he kill him. This is our proof against Imam Shafi and Imam Ahmad, as well as against Imam Malik who believed that Dhimmis insulting the Prophet (ﷺ) have to be killed.

The insult of the Prophet (ﷺ) is disbelief, but he is already a disbeliever so renewing the disbelief does not cause anything extra which permanent disbelief did not already cause’.[xxviii] 

Imam Abdul Hakeem Afghani, a Hanafi scholar from the nineteenth century, in his commentary of ‘Kanzul Daqaiq’ stated:

In terms of insulting Prophet (ﷺ), this does not nullify their [non-Muslims] agreement with us as he has got permanent kufr. So if permanent kufr does not nullify the contract then the ‘refreshing’ of the kufr also does not nullify it. The proof of this that Aisha narrated that a group Jews came and said ‘damn you!’ to the Prophet (ﷺ) and there is no doubt that this is an insult and if this is nullifying the covenant of citizenship then the Prophet (ﷺ) would kill them as they became non-Dhimmis’[xxix]

Imam Abdullah Ibn Ahmad Ibn Mahmoud Al-Nasafi in ‘Kanz Daqaiq’ writes,

‘…the contract will not be nullified by them not paying tax, adultery with a Muslim lady, them killing someone or even insulting the Prophet (ﷺ). But it will only be nullified if he joins a war against us or they will commit treason and overtake the state and then they will be challenging us. Only in that scenario will it will be nullified’.[xxx]

In ‘Bidayat al-Mubtadi’ Imam al-Marghinani a Hanafi scholar from the twelfth century narrates:

‘The Contract of citizenship for non-Muslims will not be nullified by them not paying tax, adultery with a Muslim lady, them killing someone or even insulting the Prophet (ﷺ). But it will only be nullified if he joins a party at war with us or they will commit treason and overtake a state; and then they will be challenging us and only in that scenario will it be nullified’’[xxxi]

As one can see all the Hanafi scholars are relaying the same position: that a Dhimmi cannot be killed for blasphemy as a contract can only be invalidated in one instance.

In ‘Hidayah’, which is a commentary of ‘Bidayat alMubtadi’ also written by Al- Marghinani, he states:

Shafi said insulting Prophet (ﷺ) is classed as nullifying the contract of citizenship for non-Muslims but our proof is that insulting the Prophet (ﷺ) is kufr and permanent kufr did not nullify the contract so renewing the kufr also doesn’t’.[xxxii]

Kamal ibn Humam is the hadith orientated scholar we met above, who supports the anti-Hanafi position of killing non-Muslim citizens for blasphemy says in his commentary on ‘Hidayah’, he states:

[He mentions our Hanafi proof about the Hadith of the Jews]. Aisha replied, ‘Damn you and may curse be upon you!’ The Prophet (ﷺ), ‘Oh Aisha take it easy, because God loves gentleness in everything’, and then she said “Oh Prophet (ﷺ) are you not listening that they are insulting you?’ And the Prophet (ﷺ) said “I know and I replied to you too”.

No doubt it is insulting from them. If it were to nullify the transaction then the Prophet (ﷺ) would kill them but he did not kill them’… So he is giving the Hanafi proof.[xxxiii]

Then Ibn Hummam continues on and states ‘but according to me,’ (clearly expressing it is his own personal opinion), ‘insulting the Prophet (ﷺ) and attributing to God what they don’t already believe as part of their religion makes it permissible to kill them.[xxxiv]

Shibili, a sixteenth century Hanafi scholar, in his hashia (brief commentary) of the commentary of Zailae on ‘Kanzul Daqaiq’ of Imam Nasafi stated:

Abu Yusuf [the student of Abu Hanifa] said, [regarding] someone who commits kufr multiple times he will not be asked to repent but will be killed. In the ‘Hashiyyah’ however it says we ask him to repent indefinitely’.

Shibli confirmed we carry on asking him to repent infinitely, so he would not be killed, if he does not accept we will continue asking him. He narrated that Imam Abul Hasan al-Karkhi, a Hanafi scholar from the tenth century said that it is the opinion of all of our scholars; they also said the apostate will not be killed. But there was a narration from Ali and Ibn Umar that after the third apostasy his repentance will not be accepted, as he is demeaning the religion.[xxxv] So our scholars confirm that the apostate will not be killed and a dhimmi insulting the Prophet (ﷺ) regularly will not be killed according to Shibili and Kharkhi.

Thus Shibili is using the statement of Kharkhi to show that a person insulting the Prophet (ﷺ) regularly will not be killed, as it is one of the two conditions mentioned by the other schools which will result in breaking of the contract of citizenship – but not according to Hanafis.


For those who support killing and oppression, this blog post will upset them. Of course, they will never say that they support these things, nor authoritarianism or despotism or legal laxity or anarchy (which they will call ‘theocracy’ or ‘sharia’ or ‘legislating by God’ – evil people have always used God to justify their desires and oppressions, because deep down they think, ‘well, he can’t really speak for himself can he?’) or any of the other pejorative terms. They will try to make themselves sound like heroic warrior monks standing for ‘authentic Islam’ in the face of weak and lily livered people succumbing to ‘liberalism’, ‘secularism’ and ‘the West’. People who want to oppress the masses usually cannot do it openly at the start. Even the Nazis had to ‘start slow’ (just as Islamophobes are doing) and get people to sympathise with them. What the public has to do is to see whether these people are consistent: do the really respect and adhere to Islam or the scholars or the Salaf or the hadith as they so vociferously claim, or is it only when it favours their temperaments and proclivities? I think we can see clear examples that answer that question: Jassas and Abu Hanifa can go in the ideological dustbin when they say something ‘inconvenient’, and there is a remarkable and suspicious ‘unity’ of Salafists, Brelwis and Deobandis – groups who claim to hate one another – behind the issue of killing non-Muslim blasphemers. They want to take Ibn Abideen and Ibn Taymiyyah come what may, even when they admit they are deviating from the Hanafi School.

Ask yourself if this is consistent.

We can clearly see the position of the Hanafi School from nearly all of the great scholars, who stated in multiple places that a Dhimmi living in Muslim land cannot be killed for blasphemy and the reason for this is that he has a contract for protection. We have seen Hanafis hold that this person is already a disbeliever and as such any further statements of blasphemy that are made by this person will not increase his disbelief. Therefore, as per what is mentioned in the Quran, a person will only be fought if he breaks the contract and insults your religion. And insulting the religion of Prophet (ﷺ) in and of itself does not break the contract.

What does nullify the contract of dhimmis is that the person joins people with whom you are at war or they commit treason and attempt to overtake the state. It is only in this scenario the contract will be nullified, not just blasphemy, vile though it is.

This is the relied upon opinion of the Hanafi School and this opinion is relayed by a huge proportion of Hanafi Scholars.

There are three Hanafi Scholars who left the Hanafi position. If we look at a fourteen hundred year history of anything, any subject, we will find individuals who held virtually every imaginable opinion. So we can see that at one time, senior physicists such as Isaac Newton had a penchant for alchemy or spiritualism and so on. It does not mean that this ‘proves’ that alchemy is a part of physics but rather than any discipline practiced by enough people over enough time will have nearly every conceivable tendency. This is why we look at a ‘normal distribution’, in statistical terms, and not at the extremes of the Bell Curve when we look at any group. Some Americans are racist or teachers or astronauts for example. But what are most Americans? Lamentably, today, what is called ‘mainstream Islam’ is frequently occupied by those who are in fact at these fringes of a ‘normal distribution’. Those who support killing will look for these isolated opinions to help support their bloodlust, and they will find them here and there, just as I can find a famous physicist who believes in alchemy or fairies or whatever. But this does not mean that this is then main position of the discipline known as ‘physics’. So it is with the Islamic legal schools.

But if this deviation from the norm and following isolated opinions is permissible as these people in general and Salafis in particular would like (for their whole sect is based on isolated and aberrant trends in both creed and law), then why not follow the same procedure for other issues too? For example we have many weak opinions in all four schools which will make the lives of people much ‘easier’. There is a weak opinion in the Hanafi School that temporary marriage is permissible, but people will not propagate this as this a position held by Shia Muslims, and apparently we are meant to hate them. There is also a weak opinion within the Hanafi School that if you participate in adultery and you then pay the woman, then you are not liable for any punishment, basically modern day prostitution. I am guessing that modern ‘Hanafis’ who are so eager to follow the minorities within and without the Hanafi school in matters of killing, will not be encouraging their followers to participate in this weak opinion. Anyone who has studied the Islamic sciences to a basic level knows that it is impermissible to follow the weak or minority opinion within a given school anyway. We have been at pains to state many times, by referring to classical scholars, that following the weak opinion is like following an invalid opinion.[xxxvi]

As for these three aforementioned scholars, Aini and Ibn Hummam are Hanafi scholars whose methodology is that of an over-reliance on hadith. What you find is that they leave the position of the Hanafi School on many occasions and instead follow the position of the Shafi, Maliki and Hanbali Schools. Both of them are connected to the famous Shafi scholar Ibn Hajar Asqalani, a pioneer within their school. He placed a huge emphasis on hadith and his commentary of ‘Sahih Bukhari’ is considered the most reliable. Aini is his brother in law and Ibn Hummam is his student. In this instance both of them are very honest unlike the modern day crypto-Salafists masquerading as ‘Hanafis’, and make it clear that it is their personal opinion and not the opinion of their school. In the case of Ibn Hummam his student, another Hanafi Scholar called Ibn Qatlubgah stated that it is not permissible to follow the position of his teacher as he has gone against the position of the Hanafi School.

Their position is not accepted in this issue as they clearly left the position of the School, most likely due to their affiliation to Ibn Hajar and the emphasis they place on the non-Hanafi methodology of Hadith.

You are free to accept it nonetheless – we are happy to grant those freedoms which Salafis, Deobandis and Brelwis would violently remove, but just don’t pretend that this is the opinion of the Hanafi school. Stand or fall on your own arguments as opposed to prostituting the name of Hanafism to get you a ‘free ride’ with the South Asian public and others who have an affection for it. This is actually the perverted strategy of nationalism adapted here for religion.

Now, most of the joy that occurs in this issue amongst Salafists and extremists who think they have found ‘support’ from the Hanfis is coming from the statement of Ibn Abideen. There are many problematic issues with the position of Ibn Abideen as stated, but he again was honest that he was leaving the position of the Hanafis but then bizarrely insisted that an anti-Hanafite anthropomorphist must be admitted as an ‘Imam’ of the Hanafis. I wonder is Salafis would be as happy to have an anti – anthropomorphist, someone who said that Salafi beliefs are in fact heretical disbelief, such as Al Ghazzali or Imam Razi, admitted as an ‘Imam’ of Salafism. I suspect not, especially given that Ibn Taymiyyah gleefully labelled these two as disbelievers.

The main reason for Ibn Abideen stating his position as he did was probably due to the political pressure placed on him by the rulers who in this case were the Ottomans. He was most likely forced due to fear of death or incarceration. Another clear example of how politics shaped the laws of the Muslims perhaps, but who knows – what is inescapable is that in this issue he not only makes statements which are demonstrably inaccurate (as above) but much worse than this, the basis of his opinion is ‘Shaykh ul-Islam’ Ibn Taymiyyahh – the grandfather of modern day Salafism and ISIS type ideology. ‘Kill first and ask questions later’ is the prime position of his methodology. All you need is ‘kill’, right?

Ibn Abideen also said that there was no disagreement between the Hanafis and the Malikis about insulting publicly, but we have seen many proofs from Jassas, Alusi, Malikis and Shafis where they quote that the disagreement between the schools was only about public insults. He also said that there is no disagreement between us and the Malikis when a Dhimmi insults continuously. This is also incorrect as Imam Abu Hanifa stated that we will ask him to repent…infinitely.

Of course, Deobandis and their ilk want to whip people up into an emotional frenzy, that’s the whole point and problem. So they will dramatise, wail, gnash teeth and claim that we have rejected Ibn Abideen and impugned a giant of Hanafism, fill whole blog posts of scholars singing his praises etc. But apart from the fact that Ibn Abideen is a late, though admittedly senior scholar, he is no more or less fallible than anyone else of his rank. Furthermore, why were these same people not kicking up an equal stink when Ibn Abideen was neglecting and ignoring Imams Jassas, Tahawi and even Abu Hanifa? Because kicking up a stink is only when you reject positions they like and scholars they like. It isn’t applied uniformly. Ibn Abideen is expedient to their cause, so they will defend him to the hilt come what may. Abu Hanifa is extraneous and even opposing their desires, so they callously cast him aside. Don’t fall for it.

Therefore the correct and authentic position of the Hanafi School is that a Dhimmi living in a Muslim land cannot be killed. They are protected through their contract of residence. Therefore even if Aasia Noreen had made those statements she should not have been given the death penalty. It would also permissible for the governor to release her because according to the Hanafi School ta’dheer punishment can be as little as giving the individual a stern look. However when reading the statements made in court, it seems like there was a personal grudge, with the Muslim girls screaming blasphemy to receive support from the courts with their ongoing vendetta. In Pakistan, the current law needs to be re-assessed and the classical position of the Hanafi School should be implemented. And no, asking for this law to be reassessed is not blasphemy as I believe that the position of the Hanafis is in line with the Quran: No killing of non-Muslims is prescribed for blasphemy and the punishment must not go beyond ta’dheer.

Some sincere people will of course feel aggrieved that there is not a more harsh punishment for the crime of insulting the Prophet (ﷺ). Though the opponents will tell you otherwise, I feel just as furious as the next man when I hear these vile remarks – including the idiotic pronouncements of Muslims who claim the Prophet (ﷺ) was affected by black magic, became impotent, lost his mind or compromised on monotheism due to the ‘Satanic Verses’. All of this disgusts me, not only the vile garbage of Islam haters. But ask yourself: are we to be emotional and driven by our urge for revenge or to be rational and controlled as the Quran asks? Do we want to reflect the Quran or the caricature of Muslims and believers that our enemies without and within would like? Do we let hatred of a people, just or unjust, deviate us from justice and the law of God?

Do you want to kill and avenge on behalf of the Prophet (ﷺ) or do you want to be like him and forbear and teach? Does religion control or unleash our hatred?

Or is it really as these people would have it, that ‘all we need is ‘kill’?









[vii] Shaykh Atabek Shukurov and Sulaiman Ahmed, ‘Hanafi Principles of Testing Hadith’, (Avicenna Publishing, UK, 2015), p. 4

[viii] Abu Bakr Ahmad bin Ali Al-Razi Al-Jassas, “Mukhtasar Ikhtilaf’ (Dar al-Bashair, Beirut, Lebanon, first edition year 1995), Volume 2, p. 504

[ix] Ibid, p. 505

[x] Ibid, p.506

[xi] Abu Jafar al-Tahawi, ‘Mukhtasar Tahawi’, (Dar al – Bashair, first edition year 2010, Beirut, Lebanon), Volume 6, p. 142

[xii] Abu ‘Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, ‘Tafseer Qurtubi’, (Mussasah Risala, first edition, Beirut, 2006), Volume 10, p. 124

[xiii] Ibid p. 125

[xiv] Muhammad Amin Ibn Abidin, ‘Fatawa Shaamia’, (Dar Aalam al-Kutub, Riad, KSA, special edition year 2003), Volume 6, p. 344

[xv] ibid, p. 345

[xvi] Ibid, p. 346

[xvii] Abu Jafar al-Tahawi, ‘Mukhtasar Tahawi’, (Dar al-Bashair, first edition year 2010, Beirut, Lebanon), Volume 6, p. 142

[xviii] Abu Bakr Ahmad bin Ali Al-Razi Al-Jassas, “Tafseer Jassas (Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, Beirut, Lebanon, 1992), Volume 4 , p. 275

[xix] Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Abi Sahl Abu Bakr al-Sarakhsi, Sharh Al-Siyaar Al-Kabir, Volume 4, p. 188

[xx] Shams al-Aimmah al-Sarakhsi, Mabsut, (Dar al-Ma’rifah, Beirut Lebanon, 1989), Volume 9

[xxi] Muhammad ash-Shawkani, al-Badr at-Tali, (Dar al-Wafa, , year 1994), Volume 2, p. 489

[xxii] Abu Muḥammad Ali ibn Aḥmad ibn Saʿid ibn Ḥazm, al-Muhalla, p. 415

[xxiii] Ibid, p. 416

[xxiv] Mahmud al-Alusi, Ruh al-Ma`ani, Mahmud al-Alusi, Ruh al-Ma`ani (Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, Beirut, Lebanon), Volume 10

[xxv] Jarir ibn Atiyah, ‘Tafseer ibn Atiyyah al-Muharrar al-Wajeez fee Tafseer al-Kitab al-Azeez’, Dar ibn Hazm, Beirut, p.829

[xxvi] Imam Imad al-deen bin Muhammad al-Tabari Ilkia, ‘Tafseer ”Ahkaam al-Quran’ (Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, beirut, lebanon, first edition, 1983), Volume 3-4, p. 183.

[xxvii] Ibn Nujaym, ‘Al-Bahr al-Raiq’, (Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, first edition 1997), Volume 5, p. 194-195

[xxviii] Fakhr al-Deen Zailae, Hashiyat al-Shibli, by Shihab al-Deen Ahmad al-Shalabi, ‘Zaile Tabyeen al-Haqaiq’ (Dar al-Amiriyyah, Bulaq, Egypt, 1313 Hijri), Volume 3

[xxix] Abdul Hakeem Afghani Kashf al-Haqair, ‘Matba’a al-Adabiyyah’, (Egypt’, first edition year 1318 Hijri), Volume 1, P. 333

[xxx] Abdullah Ibn Ahmad Ibn Mahmoud Al-Nasafi, ‘Kanz daqaiq’ (Dar al bashair, beirut, first edition year 2011) , p. 385

[xxxi] Qasim ibn Qutlubgha, ‘al-Tarjeeh wal-Tas’heeh’, (Dar al-Kutub al-ilmiyyah, Beirut, first edition 2002)

[xxxii] Burhan al-Din al-Marghinani, ‘Al-Hidayah fi Sharh Bidayat al-Mubtadi’, (Idarat al-Quran wal-uloom al-Islamiyyah, Karachi, Pakistan, first edition, 1417 hijri), Volume 4, p. 138

[xxxiii] Kamal Ibn Hummam, ‘Fat’h al-Qadeer’, Kamal ibn al-Humam, , (Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, first edition 2002, Volume 6, p. 58

[xxxiv] Ibid, p. 59

[xxxv] Shibili, Tabeen Haqaiq, p. 249

[xxxvi] Muhammad Amin Ibn Abidin, ‘Fatawa Shaamia’, (Dar Aalam al-Kutub, Riad, KSA, special edition year 2003)



  1. This is beautifully written, mashallah. Perhaps the reader could ask the author to format the article with headings and subheadings to make it a little easier to come back to for specific reference? I plan to use this for teaching purposes in one of my college classes.


  2. Jazakallah khair for this beautifully written article. Personally, I never feel okay with death punishment for those who insult Prophet, but everyone telling me if I’m questioning this then I’m kufr, anti sharia, or ”where is your respect /love to Prophet”. My reason is, blasphemy law seems to be so easily abused. For example, if you dislike a person and want to get rid of him, just tell the authority that the said person had insulted Prophet, done. He’ll be in trouble ASAP, or dead.

    secondly, it makes us looking so insecure. instead of digging the reason why the insult happened, engaging him in intellectual discussion so the matter sits right, or give chance to repent, just silence them all. ”all you need is to kill”. not to mention Quran never stipulate this, so how come scholars can take over God on who deserves to live or not?

    Thirdly, you must heard some well-known story about a blind Jewish beggar on Madinah market who insulted Prophet every single day to anyone who passed. What did the Prophet do? He fed this beggar everyday until he died. Then Abu Bakr took this task & finally after being told that it’s Muhammad(pbuh) that used to feed him, the Jewish beggar broke in tears, regret his act, and embraced Islam. Prophet didn’t order him to be killed, although he can if he wanted to.

    By Allah, I’ve come across a ”Hanafi” scholar who despite claiming against mujassim creed, support ISIS openly, kind of defending Ibn Taymiyyah on hell is not forever, and years before that — making fatwa to kill ON THE SPOT anyone who you find insulted the Prophet.


  3. Assalaamu `alaykum dear shaykh,

    I have a question, and I apologize for it not having anything to do with the article (which is amazing ma sha Allah, I’ve shared it with everyone I know). Could you and/or Shaykh Atabek please explain the Deobandi position that Allah can lie, and whether or not this is the official Maturidi position, if it’s not too much trouble?

    Jazakum Allahu khayran! You remain in my prayers.

    – Rasheed


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