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No justification for murder

No justification for murder

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.

Sana Saleem is a Features Editor at BEE magazine and blogs at Global Voices,  Asian Correspondent, The Guardian and her personal blog Mystified Justice. She was awarded the Best Activist Blogger Award by CIO & Google at the Pakistan Blogger Awards. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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177 Responses to “No justification for murder”

  1. mehmoona says:

    what is our country being reduced to.?..are there no thinking minds left,are there no compassionate souls left… is all that we can do kill , celebrate death and eulogize murders !!!
    the whole issue about blasphemy law, and the alleged blasphemer…
    i would like to kno what kind of blasphemy did salmaan taseer commit?
    was he disrepectful to the Prophet(peace be upon him),?the answer to that is no.
    was Jinnahs Pakistan not islamic prior to zia ul haq?
    is death penalty the only punishment for blasphemy in the Quran?
    ..the whole issue has been sidetracked ,
    is our purpose in this life to kill and celebrate there going to be no moral right or wrong except for those that perpetrate violence. it seems we are gradually being reduced to a mob of bloodthirsty killers only looking forward to causing suffering.
    what has the sheikh of mecca said in this regard,will his religious views not count…s
    simply and simply because we want an Islam of our choosing not the Islam that is.
    are we going to distort our religion to further suit our limited views,where is the pan islamic religious authority on this .t
    the world of islam does have proper religious scholars what is their opinion on this.
    please dont let the reins of a religion as beautiful as Islam be in the hands of those whose hands are tainted….

    • Another muslim says:

      Sana is right. We are looked as an uneducated mass of religious extremists or Pakistan as breeding ground of terrorism.

  2. brighton says:

    makin Qadri hero murdering Government of Pakistan’s high ranking official is state of mind which have been
    developed by nurturing unreal education. Being a christian I have been taught in government schools and
    Islamia College , Karachi, that muslims are perfect in leading a poise life. The Islamic history I have learned
    in Pakistan mostly proved to be wrong when I came across the truth through books written by non-muslims and even muslims authors. I remember a few words of Wali Khan who said people who make the leader climb on the top of the pole should first learn how to bring him down. The entire state of mind is set by the
    teaching we have acquired in 60 plus years, have fought so many wars with India and have created so many
    dictators who have absused human rights of men, woman and children in the name of religion.People of
    Pakistan have to think clearly and rightly and learn to live with other human beings of this world. Open up
    your mind, pakistanis donot create masses who have no knowledge to make their living. By reciting Quran
    or any holy verse will not enable to compete this sharp world. Let us pray for using our wisdom in righteous way and first all of us need wisdom.

  3. Fizza Rizvi says:

    Good work Sana. A single word in favor of tolerance and religious acceptance in a world full of intolerance, anger and terrorism seems a bounty for me. Your words give me the hope for the future of Pakistan.

    Kind Regards and Best of luck for all the efforts and words.

  4. Abbas Sukhera says:

    It apears that you have read few books on religion and now you behave like an expert on Islam. The people with knowledge who spent years learning islam have refused to lead his funeral prayer. The late governor had no right to call it a black law as it was passed by the parliament in 1992. Am I wrong, pl. let me know.

    • parvez says:

      Yes you are so very, very wrong. Suggest read Sana’s blog again carefully. I wish you well.

  5. kartik says:

    let us take a hypothetical situation where the prophet himself faces a harmless joker , who abuses him. Will the prophet advocate his murderer for blasphemy ?

    If the prophet himself would not have minded abuse then what are these lesser mortals trying to defend.

  6. naved says:

    I think the media both print and electronic needs to set their boundaries on this issue of extremism in Pakistan. They need to guide the people towards positive attitude and should not exploit the sentiments of the people of Pakistan. The american journalists do not exploit the people on 911 issues in USA and have a moratorium on that issue, the same way the Pakistani journalists should not exploit the sensitive issues of Islam in Pakistan. There are so many issues to talk about in Pakistan including basic needs, corruption, education and so on, why do we have to keep on pushing on the Blasphemy topic. Have we resolved all other issues. Are all journalists and TV anchors not showing that they are of problem and they are not trying to resolve issues but EXPLOITING them….. Can we the journalists create a moratorium and stop publishing on any sensitive issues in papers and on live TV. Can we expect a simple respect from our own journalists. Is it not time to step up and show leadership

  7. Ali Khan says:

    Aslam o Aliakum
    Terms such as fundamentalist, extremists, radical etc are all mand made. Islam is a practical religion and simple one. This is the beauty of Islam and it is religion of truth that is why so many are embracing it. It does not teach brutality neither does it teach to judge people at the spur of the moment.

    I don’t think any muslim will accept disrepectable remarks about any of our Prohpet (PBUT). I am not for praising this woman for what she did but at the same understand that she is not a muslim and she does have a different point of view although with a wrong approach. However, we as muslims need to understand that our beloved Prophet (PBUH) was tollerant when non muslims uttered disrespectfull remark and exercised violent actions. We need to do the same.

    Have we forgotten the incident of a woman hauling garbage on the Prophet (PBUH). Have we forgotten fatah Makkah or have we forgotten Hazrat Ali R.A exercising restraint and not killing the kafir when he spitted on Hazarat Ali’s R.A face. The tolerance and patience of our Prophet (PBUH) and sahaba R.A ajmain gave non believers chance to see & experience Islam in practical which led them to accept the dean of truth.

    I grew up in Pakistan & I love every bit. It is unfortunate to see that we have left the teachings of Prophet (PBUH) and have adopted the ways of emotions & nafs.

    I do not believe the picture that we are painting s helping Islam any shape or form.

    I pray to Allah for right guidance for myself & the umma.


  8. Tahir says:

    The other day I was listening to a TV program on the national TV channel hosted by a distinguished anchor about tolerance levels and how to improve and promote harmony amongst those holding extremist views.

    To my utter surprise and disgust, I was alarmed to hear one of the invited guests, to speak on the subject, was an alim from another rival TV channel, a person who openly had incited a couple of years ago the killing and extinction of a minority community as an act of Wajib ul Qatil.

    if we are going to idolize such people then God forbid what is in store for our nation.

  9. AB says:

    If Pakistan has to survive we will somehow have to defeat these religious extremists like Mumtaz Qadri, The image of Pakistan that is being portrayed by such fanatics. If we don’t stand against such elements now it will be too late, today they are killing us in the name of blasphemy tomorrow even they will even explain the very system of democracy as un-islamic. The killing of Salman Taseer is the first of many if we don’t choose to act to the occasion.

    We have to show the Mulla thier limits and boundaries. Mumtaz Qadri should be made into an example. But the thing is Mumtaz Qadri is not the only one to blame, Many TV anchors and Columnists are portraying him as a hero. They are the ones who set the fire ablaze, they were continuously criticizing Salman Taseer for a very long time, even before Asia Bibi’s Case.

    • shabir says:

      I wonder if any Judge will have the courage to condemn this murderer. Even our PM has not had the courage to repeal the law that caused this tragic result.

      What kind of country have we inherited? and what kind of country are we going to leave for our children?
      or are we going to leave a country for our children at all ?

  10. Sohail Akhtar says:

    A very concerned person,

    It calls for a lot of courage to stand by one’s ideals and convictions. Salman Taseer did that and paid by sacrificing his life. An innocent victim. Will his sacrifice yield any positive results or was it a futile stance in the face of so much opposition? The moot question, who has benefited? Needless to say, the fallout from his death has solely benefited mullah community – the hardliners. It has served their purpose and grand design. Now the opposition to the blesphemy law will be minimal if not non-existent. Those who oppose the blasphemy law will now keep quite out of fear of unwarranted reprisal. In other words, the blesphemy law has been reinforced in its entirely and is here to stay. Alas, ST’s manumental sacrifice has played into the hands of the mullahs. Their aim is fulfilled, fear is the key. The opposition to the blesphemy law will be silenced forever. A definite victory for misguided mullahs. A sad state of affairs. Now the reign of terror will persist. God help the minority. Now who will take the cudgels for them?

  11. anujrj says:

    I am afraid Ms Sana is acting ALMOST an apologist for the rather more extreme action people in Pakistan, rather than as a courageous opponent of plain buthcery under the garb of religion.

    I also think that this killing and it’s message is – in Pakistan, it is OK to interpret the blasphemy law and kill for it, not just post a court verdict, but whenevr, wherever. And, thou shalt become a future hero/heroine. I’m afraid that this does show that SOME Muslims in Pakistan do believe and accept that essentially THEY understand their religion to be one FOR VIOLENCE, and no pretence attached.

    • siva says:

      I agree with anujrj. This is a typical article of a muslim fanatic trying to please all sides by sliding or masking the “let us not repeal” sentence.

      None so blind as those who refuse to see.

  12. rz says:

    Your article is a feeble attempt to soften the blow on the image of the religion because of this senseless murder of a well-wisher of the country. Most of the points were well taken in the article but the sentence “Let us not talk of repeal and amendments….” revealed your true fundamentalist self. Why not talk about repeal? This law and Hudood laws were passed in 1980s by a dictator. These laws have to be condemned and repealed if Pakistan has to be saved from imploding. I recall how this country’s people were progressives and forward looking just 20-30 years ago. Many were religious but no one imposed their brand of religion on others. What a sad state of affairs as far as religiosity is concerned!

    • siva says:

      I agree with anujrj. This is a typical article of a muslim fanatic trying to please all sides by sliding or masking the “let us not repeal” sentence.

      None so blind as those who refuse to see.

    • Saleem says:

      agreed. this law should be repealed.

  13. MK says:

    It seems like both the Muslims and the rest of the world is equally confused about this beautiful religion of Islam. The main reason for this mess that we got ourselves in is our own ignorance about this religion. That is why the whole world is struggling, suffering and failing. If the whole world gets the true message and the truth, we all would prevail. We all were able to live in peace and harmony for centuries and this could happen again in the future. But if we chose to stay illetrate, who will suffer? I am afraid, we all will. I would assure you that this status quo will keep on continuing if we keep on shying away from the facts. Please try to get the knowledge so that this craziness could be stopped for good.

    • Muhammad says:


      You are right Islam is beautifull religion but illiterate like Talibans, fanatic Mullahs and people like Mumtaz Qadri have brought a bad name to Islam they are blotch on the face of this religion of peace we all should study atleast basic teachings of Islam so that we could get rid of these barbarians

      • david coleman headley says:

        so all clerics do not understand islam.

        lawyers do not. the army does not.

        the real reason is that you do not understand your religion.

        most nonmuslims have a very bad opinion of Islam and the prophet.

        this opinion is confirmed by daily happenings.

      • saswath says:

        i’m pretty sure all region is beautiful minus fanatics & illiterate imposers…and not only islam & muslims have license of a beautiful religion & most pure believers…I always found any religion most beautiful when its an individuals private affair, but when it comes to public with so many opinions and self praising nomads its becomes the ugliest..and that happens with your religion…and so happening with other religions…i must have to point its because of your own radical beliefs world is dividing very fast..and its only you guys how needs to be blamed.

  14. Bharat says:

    I didn’t realise that religion could propagate so much hate and killing

  15. Analytical Engine says:

    Please read the comment I posted in Mr. NFP’s blog.

  16. shumaila says:

    well said…

  17. mrpqrs says:

    Ms Sana

    Great piece: you have articulated the thoughts of many like minded people, and done it so well. Great loss to the country. Pakistan has tipped beyond the point of possible return to sanity. The mullahs are openly offering millions for murder, and they have the (tax-free) money too. It is too late now … Just migrate to a safe and sane place. Live this life happily. We have only one life.

  18. Shakeel.Quddus says:

    After the murder of the Governor of Punjab and with the possibilities of debate over the now infamous blasphmehy law, ‘the solution lies in reasonable public discourse.’ The assumption is that the Mr. Quadri had acted irrationally and if a peaceful debate were to take place, men like Quadri would see the light and renounce the violence. What if more than considerable amount of Pakistanis feel that they are not going to compromise thier ideas even after a ‘reasonable publice discourse.’
    Ideas have consequences and Mr. Quadri proudly follows an idea present long before the creation of Pakistan. Idea being that Muslims were free to pray in the Hindu India but Pakistan was created as an Islamic state with an intent to establish Islamic rule. Up until 2010, it had been quite a struggle to enact the rules suitable for an Islamic state such as the rule of Sharia, the Hoddod ordinance and the blasphmey law. How could, in a debate, a murdered Governor could defend his position while under oath upholding the laws of the land?

  19. Ruma says:

    Great article. We need more people like you.



  20. usman says:

    beautifully writen.

  21. Saleem says:

    for those who support the killer and are rejoicing should remember that if these fanatics remain unchecked, they will come to you too one day.

  22. Proud to be Hindu says:

    No body in this world nor any religion is above the human life, So it is not justifiabel to kill or discriminate a person for his life style, ideology, colour, relgion and sexual orientation.

  23. shafi says:

    ‘ A Peshawar based mullah Yousaf has offered Rupees 30million for the killer of Asia Bibi a Christian women in jail’. Is it not a crime to instigate murder even in Pakistan? Why does not the government arrest this mullah charge him? Where is the shriah court now? Or is it permitted by the shriah court?

    Allah save Pakistan from barbarians,

  24. shafi says:

    ‘A Peshawer based mullah, Yousaf has offered Rupees 30million for the killer of Asia bibi, the condemned Christian in jail’. This is an instigation to murder which I hope is a crime even in Pakistan. Should not this mullah be arrested and charged? W

  25. Emmon Khan says:

    Dear Sana,

    Only a miniscule English reading minority will listen to voices of reason like yours. An overwhelming majority of Pakistanis will listen to and follow myopic self-servers and blind ideologues like this gentleman:

  26. Jannat says:

    Very well said Sana, and I agree with you all the way. These people abuse Islam to justify violence. They have ruined our image worldwide and because of the mentality of these jahl people, innocent people are being killed everyday and all over the world all in the name of means of gaining power. Disgusting and inhumane, I spit on all of their faces.

  27. Jacho says:

    This is the choice of Pakistani people, whether they want to continue the lawlessness or want to govern by law. The problem is, the country never appreciated the peaceful protest or respect for democracy. Since inception the country is run by mostly military and through dictatorship. There is no sense of urgency of the population and it’s leaders for true education. It will be extremely difficult for the country to mange its millions of illiterate religious extremist population.

  28. Abu Aayan says:

    Sana, well done like always..
    This indeed was a tragedy. Dont know if it was designed or what … But what I am worried about is even the bigger tragedy which is happening on the streets of this country after the killing of Governor ST. The ruthless Killer is being praised like a hero and a solider of Islam etc. etc. What precedent is this Society setting??? Does not it make such acts more fantasizing and great-looking? Many more “so-called-extremist-cum-lovers-of-PBUH” would be more than happy to take the law into their own hands and then end up having rose petals being showered onto them. So far whoever did anything like this was not made a hero like this but all what is happening is drafting an extremely ugly picture of the future of minorities for this country. … and What more damage these Mullahs can do to Islam. For sure they are the ones who are actually committing blasphemy by damaging and dis-reputing OUR religion “ISLAM”.

  29. Waqar says:

    root root root just basic roots are required to be reconstructed! Otherwise murders like taseer’s will be continued in Pakistan. I am afraid that did Qadri read a law before killing taseer?

  30. Abhijit says:

    Dear Sana,
    Nice article, I would like to add one point. In the current situation (Terrorist, Blasphemy law & Mr. Tasser’s murder) it is necessary that the entire nation address following question.
    What stands first?
    a) Human Life
    b) Religion
    c) Pakistan as nation

    The answers may be differnt, however the future of Pakistan depends on it.

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