Being a sermon (khutbah) delivered on 1st of Muharram, 1442 A.H (21-08-2020) at MCAN Central Mosque, Abakaliki, Ebonyi.
Indeed all praises are due to Allah, we praise Him and we ask Him for guidance and His forgiveness. And we seek protection in Allah from the evils of our own souls, and the evil consequences of our actions. Verily, whom Allah guides, no one can lead astray, and whom He leads astray, no one can guide to the right path. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Slave and Messenger.
“O you who believed! Fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except as Muslims.” [Āl- ‘Imrān 2:102].
O mankind! Fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer. [An-Nisā’ 4:1].
“O you who have believed! Fear Allah, and (always) say a word directed to the truth. That He may make your conduct whole and sound, and forgive you your sins: he that obeys Allah and His Messenger has then attained the highest Achievement.” [Al-Ahzāb 33:70-71].
Verily, the most truthful of all speech is the Book of Allah, and the best of guidance is that of Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and the worst of all affairs are the newly invented matters, and all newly invented matters are innovation (bid’ah), and all innovations are misguidance, and all misguidance lead one to Hell.
On the 10th of August, 2020, an upper Sharī’ah court in Kano state sentenced a 22 year-old musician, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, who was said to be a member of Tijāniyyah sect to death for the crime of blasphemy against our beloved Prophet- Muhammad (peace be upon him). The defendant was accused of committing blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad in a song he circulated in the social media via WhatsApp in March 2020. On the same day, the court also sentenced another convict, Umar Farouq, to 10 years imprisonment with hard labour for making derogatory statement concerning the Almighty Allāh in a public argument. [ Vanguard News].
In light of this, there is no iota of doubt that the theme of discussion is one that requires lengthy explanation, however, this khuṭbah (sermon) seeks to provide a rundown to the topic and explain how grave this crime is, so that we advise those who commit it and guide them to the path of sincere repentance. May this explanation give understanding and guidance to the speaker and listeners.
In Islamic literature, there are many different words for blasphemy, they include: سب (insult) شطم (abuse), لعن (curse), تجديف (blaspbemy). At the same time, it also overlaps with كفر (disbelief), فسق (wrong-doing) and ردة (apostasy). Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) defines blasphemy as: “The use of words that shows a lack of respect and are perceived by all people regardless of their belief to be profane, exactly like cursing, condemnation, etc. [IslamWay.net].
Oh servant of Allah! The issue of insult towards Allah, His Prophets, is one of the serious and grave matters. Allah curses those who commit blasphemy and promises them humiliation in the hereafter. Allah said:
“Indeed those who abuse Allah and His Messenger, Allah has cursed them in this world and the Hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment.” [Al-Ahzāb 33:57].
He also said:
“Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and
Strive upon earth to cause corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or
that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from
the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and from them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.” [Al-Mā’idah 5:33].
‘Wage war’ mentioned here means: oppose and contradict, and it includes disbelief, it has also been used by some commentators to justify blasphemy.
RULING OF BLASPHEMY
Honoured Servants of Allāh, to bring close to your understanding that blasphemy isn’t a joke in this religion. Allah, Himself warns the Muslims not to blaspheme the deities of other religions, lest people of that religion retaliate by blaspheming Allah:
“And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allāh in enmity without knowledge.” [Al-An’ām 6:108].
Al-Imām Ibn Kathīr said: “Allah, the Almighty, and His Messenger prohibit the believers from insulting the gods of idolaters even if there is truth in them (words of blasphemy). The reason being that, it could lead to a greater harm; for they would return the insult back to Allāh, while Allah the Most High is Rabb (God), and there is no other god worthy of worship except Him. [Tafsir Ibn Kathīr, vol.3 pg.272].
What is the status of a believer that abuses or mocks anything from the religion of Allah- the most High, His Prophets, Angels, Books, among others? Know, may Allah guide you to the straight path, from the nullifiers of one’s Islām as mentioned by people of knowledge such as Shaykh Muhammad ibn AbdilWahhāb (may Allah have mercy on him), and other than him, in his book (Nawāqiḍ al-Islām) is what he said:
“He who mocks anything from the religion of Allāh, or His reward, or His punishment has disbelieved.”
The proof to this statement is the statement of Allāh the Exalted:
“And if you ask them, they will surely say, ‘We were only joking and playing’. Say; ‘Was it Allah and His Āyah and His Messenger that you were mocking?’ Make no excuse, you have disbelieved after you had believed. [At-Taubah 9:65-66].
Meaning: Anyone who mocks anything from the religion – whether issues relate to belief, acts of worship or etiquettes, or the reward or punishment of Allah, then this act of mockery he has disbelieved and left the religion.
Ibn Taymiyyah also added that: “Blasphemy against Allah or His Messenger is an act that nullifies faith, both outwardly and inwardly, whether the blasphemer knows that it is haram (forbidden) or it is halal (permissible) or is not aware of the ruling at all.” [IslamWay.net].
Ibn Qudāmah Al-Maqdisiy wrote, “Whoever blasphemes against Allah shall be a disbeliever, whether he is joking or serious.” [IslamWay.net].
So, be cautious, O respected listeners, not to fall in this dangerous path, and avoid whatever causes the wrath of Allah- the Almighty.
PUNISHMENT FOR BLASPHEMY
Scholars unanimously agreed that, anyone who blasphemes regardless of whether he repents openly and sincerely, such a person shall still be punished. However, there might be no Qur’ānic verse that definitively prescribes worldly punishment for a blasphemer. The Sunnah and Ijmā’ (consensus of Scholars), which are other sources of Sharī’ah (Islamic Law), have captured narrations that have to do with blasphemy. Different schools of Islamic Jurisprudence spelt out different punishment for blasphemy depending on whether the blasphemer is Muslim or non-Muslim, adult or immature, man or woman. The punishment ranges from death sentence, imprisonment, banishment and lashes.
One of those who were killed during the era of the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf because he had insulted the Prophet. Al-Bukhari related on the authority of Jābir ibn AbdilLāh that the Prophet (Peace Be upon him) said:
“Who is ready to kill Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf who has really hurt Allah and His Apostle?
Muhammad bin Maslamah said: ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Do you like me to kill him?’ He replied in the affirmative. So, Muhammad bin Maslamah went on talking to him till he got the chance to kill him.” [al-Bukhari 2510]
Also, Ali ibn Abı Ṭālib narrated that: “A Jewess used to abuse the Prophet and disparage him. A man strangled her till she died. The Apostle of Allah declared that no recompense was payable for her blood.” [Sunan Abu Dawūd].
Another incident is where a man was found guilty of insulting the Prophet during the time of Umar bin al-Khattāb. Thus, Umar sentenced him to death. Then he said:
“Whoever insults Allah-the Almighty, or insults one of the Prophets, then kill him.” [Saiful maslūl ‘alā man sabba ar-Rasūl, pg.124].
From the above narrations, it is evident that in each of the cases, the blasphemers were put to death. However, there is a discussion among the scholars regarding the right of Allāh and His Prophets with regards to blasphemy. In the case of the one who insults Allāh, of course, such makes one an infidel, yet the one who insults Allāh is not killed – he is severely called to repentance. This is because even if the whole world insults Allāh, it does not depreciate His greatness, and neither does it hurt Him.
However, the Prophet had complete authority to waive his right whenever he wanted (i.e., not to punish those who mocked him); but after his death he retained his right, and no one has the authority to waive the right of the Messenger. That is why those who insult the Prophet must be killed [Excerpt from an interview given by Shaykh Abu Ishāq Al-Huwaini].
A variety of punishments including putting to death, have been legislated in the field of Islamic jurisprudence which draws evidence from the Prophetic tradition. Nonetheless, if killing the one who blasphemes the Prophet would lead to a greater Fitnah towards the religion of Allāh, those in authority can employ other means to punish the offender. This is evident in some narrations where the Prophet, pardoned the one who insults him like the case of Abdullāh bin Ubayy bin Salūl (the infamous leader of hypocrites) who said:
“If we return to Al-Madinah, indeed the more honourable will expel therefrom the meaner (i.e. Allah’s Messenger).” [Al-Munāfiqūn 63:8]
This made Umar angry and he sought permission from the Prophet (peace be upon him) to kill the hypocrites. Thus, the Prophet replied:
“I do not want the people to say that Muhammad kills his companions.” [Al-Bukhari].
O servants of Allah! It is appropriate to state here explicitly that despite how great the offense of blasphemy is, the legal right to arrest and punish anyone who blasphemes Allāh, His Prophet and anything from the religion is in the hands of the constituted authority, i.e the Sharī’ah court. We should not at any point in time take laws to our hands and then transgress.
It is very clear up to this point that the issue of blasphemy is one of the grave and serious matters in the religion of Allah, and it leads to apostasy and thus taking one out of the fold of Islam – regardless of whether it is done purposefully or by mockery. The defendant shall be sentenced to death – even if he sincerely repents – as agreed upon by majority of the scholars of Islām. It is then upon every Muslim to revere everything in the religion and give them honour as due.
I ask Allah to make this endeavor solely for His sake, and of benefit to the Muslims. And peace and blessing of Allāh be upon our Prophet, his family, his companions and all those who follow their path.
And Allah knows best.