Salman Taseer: No justification for murder

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First Published on The Dawn Blog

Photograph: Fareed Khan/AP

On January 6, around 150 members of civil society gathered at the Karachi Press Club for a vigil in memory of the late Governor. It was a fairly decent turn out, especially considering the security risks involved. We took to the streets and went around the Press Club with candles in our hands, demanding an end to this state of lawlessness. Keeping in line with the idea of a peaceful protest, none of the protestors called out for death or blood but instead, demanded justice and respect for the deceased. Even so, there were only 150 of us when there should have been thousands more.

Whether you stand for the blasphemy law or against it, this blog is for you. It is a plea addressed to each of you regardless of your stance. In order to reach a mutual consensus on a debatable issue, it is important to have a holistic approach. Rather than obscuring and isolating the issue, we need to look at the larger picture, analyse every aspect before deciding on a stance. Unfortunately, when it comes to one of the most pertinent issues we currently face, we are wasting our energies in arguing, blaming and categorising the other rather than thinking rationally. Our own flaws prevent us from solving issues, which often get so out of hand that they are then dubbed controversial and thus, snubbed forever. The debate on the blasphemy laws in Pakistan is one of the many examples of how our myopic view has hindered any progress that might have been possible.

I cannot seem to shake off the image of Mumtaz Qadri, the 26-year-old assassin who killed Governor Salman Taseer, smiling with content, his words “Bus sarkar, qabool karlain” as he confessed to the murdered of Governor Taseer.

In his opinion and in the opinions of many others, Qadri is a hero because he had killed in the name of God. Again, the lack of foresight and fervor for martyrdom prevented hundreds of his supporters from condemning something that was nothing but cold-blooded murder. Islam does not allow us to take law into our hands. Whether you stand for or against the blasphemy law is insignificant, taking the law into our hands is a crime irrespective of the motive. Islam, by means of Quran and Hadith, strongly advocates against false accusations and the need for concrete evidence before any kind of punishment is ruled out:

“He who, in order to find fault, says something about a person that was not there, Allah will throw such a person in hell till he tastes fully what he had fabricated.” (Tibrani)

Those who claim that Qadri was a hero conveniently overlooked that there is a reason why there are courts in this country. There is a reason why there is a proper judicial system to tackle any forms of crime. The reason is fairly simple: to prevent lawlessness and injustice. Taseer wasn’t a blasphemer, he had never insulted the Quran, the Prophet (PBUH) or Islam but he was killed in the name of the blasphemy law that according to him, was “man-made.”

Governor Taseer was killed because he asked for mercy for a 45-year old mother of five. Twenty-seven bullets for taking a stance.  His murder highlights the abuse of Islam and Quran for the sake of power and authority. By encouraging such behavior we are promoting lawlessness and a state where people will be at each other’s throat on a mere disagreement. Is this the message of the Quran? Is this what Islam teaches us? How humane is it to rejoice someone’s death?

In the aftermath of Governor Taseer’s murder and the confession, many considered the murder a victory for Islam, justifying the killing by Governer Taseer’s opposition to the abuse of the blasphemy law. It was mind-numbing to see people using all forms of media to publicly advocate murder and justify blood in the name of religion. Let’s be clear on this: these people rejoicing weren’t the Taliban and neither did a significant number of these individuals have links with terrorist organisations. Some television anchors resorted to using “jaa bahaq” rather than the more suiting (and often abused) “shaheed” (martyr) when talking about the murder. A Wikpedia entry and a few fan pages were created on Facebook in support of Qadri. Over 500 ‘moderate’ religious clerics, pronounced Qadri as “ghazi” while lawyers showered him with rose petals; one of them even embraced him as he arrived in Islamabad.

Governor Salman Taseer stood for tolerance and he was killed at the hands of extremism. There’s no justification for his murder, and every single one who instigated violence, has blood on their hands. Governor Taseer’s death highlights intolerance, hate and bigotry and speaks of a desensitised society where cold-blooded murders are justified.

We have been moving in the wrong direction for a very long time now. Our ideologies have become distorted and our vision, diminishing. The constant state of violence and the need to prove ourselves as pious Muslims and patriotic Pakistanis has engulfed our humanity. There are no rational dialogues anymore, only ego tussles, labels and death threats.

It appears that when religious sentiments are involved anything and everything is justified. This is not piety or devotion, it is pure insanity, inhumanity and barbarism.

The solution to our problems does not lie in striking each others head off, or battling for or against the blasphemy law, the solution lies in reasonable public discourse. Taseer’s death highlights the need for counter abuse laws to prevent wrongful accusations. Let us not talk of repeal and amendments but the need to fight abuse, to ensure that no one is allowed to use laws to settle personal vendettas, that violence is no longer justified in the name of religion.

As a practicing Muslim and a devotee to the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet (PBUH), I am outraged by those like Qadri who justify their heinous crime in the name of Islam. Nothing would disappoint the Prophet (PBUH) more than violence being justified in his name; nothing is more blasphemous than using Islam as a tool to justify violence.


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19 thoughts on “Salman Taseer: No justification for murder

  1. FFS you writers have nothing to do except for updating your twitter status and when something comes up take long long hours and write down something. Anyways but by doing so you are giving your stupidity a new level. The reason everything is on your webpage. Has there been any solution ever with the writers no there never has been. Do you know what you want to blame perhaps I dont think you know what you want to blame cause tomorrow you will blame something else. Today you are blaming Qadri previously you must have blamed Salman Taseer. Tomorrow you must be blaming the government and day after tomorrow praising the old government over new government. The point is social media has given you a right to write what ever you want. So keep writing keep blaming until you find yourself to be blamed for everything.

  2. Salman Taseer’s murder was wrong, deepest sympathies to the believed family.

    On other hand Salman Taseer marhoom epitomized all that is wrong with our corrupted political leadership and the so-called elite class. After having been used by Mush as a tool of convenience he endeared himself to Zardari Rehman Malik cabal, jumped aboard the liberal-secular bandwagon and emerged as champion of sorts on women rights. While playing out to his western audience he went overboard, condemning the blasphemy law against the sensibilities of people of Pakistan.

    On 6 September 1929, Lahore based Publisher Mr Raj Pal was murdered just for exercising his democratic right of the expression of his views about Prophet Mohammed. A “deranged fanatic” Ghazi Ilm Din Shaheed was charged for his murder. Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah represented Ilm Din in the court. Il Din was hanged on 31 Oct 1929. Muslims from the whole city and millions from adjoining areas attended his funeral. Ilmuddin’s father requested Allama Muhammad Iqbal to lead the funeral prayer and this shivered Dr. Allama Iqbal who replied that I am a sinful person not competent to do this job to lead the funeral of such a matchless warrior.

    Lesson Learnt: Curse Islam or Allah to your heart’s content but do not mess with the Holy prophet.

  3. I know I’m a little to late on this, but I love this piece.
    You’ve said everything I’ve wanted to say. Everything that has
    bothered and enraged me about this senseless act of violence and an
    even senseless embracing of this act. It makes me livid and
    simultaneously breaks my heart to think that people find it logical
    to kill defenseless people in the name of Islam and the Prophet

  4. Thank you for speaking out when nobody else would, and not shrinking back with fear. This incident has shook the very core of our society. We’ve been living in a dream world for too long, rejecting everything that’s being predicted about Pakistan for a long time. I think this has really woken us up. Our country is becoming ‘fundamentalist’ at the core. I just dont know if I can ever voice my opinions openly with friends I’ve known for life, with modern educated doctors, lawyers – the supposedly ‘moderate’ population in Pakistan. What is to become of us?

  5. I think, when it come to religion then non of us has enough
    knowledge to express over views, either its right or wrong. As a
    human begin and as per law we can say that its criminal act but on
    the basis of Islam ” i am still waiting for the voices around the
    country from the Ulma”. this is very sensitive issue and you have
    to think on it before writing any thing.

  6. Like so many other commentators, you have failed to tackle a huge aspect of this murder i.e. rampant corruption in government machinery. Like any civilized country we a have a very well structured system of law & order and justice, but only on paper. Mullahs have been blaming for all of problems on lack of Islamization rather than corruption. Everybody is affected by corruption and everybody gets radicalized as a consequence. Corruption and government incompetence let an extremist like Qadri slip through the gaping holes in the system and reach the Governor.

  7. Why a vigil @ Karachi Press Club

    In a previous post you spoke of the ugly role of some news papers in giving details of rape victims such as their address and so on

    What did the Karachi Press Club do about it

  8. Good job Sana, you have completely nailed it. I just can’t get my head around and understand people who r justifying this heinous crime and sin.

  9. I am now going in to a state of total craziness… This guy Mumtaz Hussain Qadri has done what he had to do… He has shown the world that Islam is a kind of religion where there is no such thing as forgiving…. He has totally and utterly shattered what little hope I was trying to see in Pakistan, that there are a number of people who are not coming in front yet. But after this scene, I was shocked to see facebook fan pages being made and etc. Oh boy!

    1. “”He has shown the world that Islam is a kind of religion where there is no such thing as forgiving””
      The sooner the world learns of this, the better. This is the truth and has been for centuries. Just ask the Jews, Christians, Hindus and any other non-muslims who had to and are still living in Muslims majority countries.

  10. I think this issue is very sensitive and people and media should stop talking about it now. More over media has over highlighted this issue and played active role in killing Late Salman taseer RIP.

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