The religious leader at Scotland’s biggest mosque has praised a fanatic who was executed for committing murder in Pakistan. Mumtaz Qadri was executed by hanging recently due to the assassination of a Pakistani minister he was assigned to protect. The bodyguard used his privileged position to turn his weapon on the man he was supposed to protect, shooting him 28 times.
Maulana Habib Ur Rehman Mumtaz Qadri
The politician, Salman Taseer, was the governor of Punjab and was a moderate who opposed the blasphemy laws of Pakistan. Mumtaz was a Barelvi Sufi Muslim, a sect that reveres the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, to an exaggerated degree. To them, blasphemy includes any criticism of the Prophet of Allah. Such criticism ignites a passionate and emotional response that overcomes reason and promotes fanatical, insane responses, including the motivation to kill any perpetrator of such “blasphemy”. We have witnessed such reactions when murderers have gone after non-Muslims who dare to characterize Islam and Muhammed, peace be upon him, in cartoons and films in a way abhorrent to them.
Punjabi Governor Salman Taseer
No matter how repugnant a person’s opinions are, whether blasphemer or non-believer, it is not an individual’s prerogative to act as an executioner, nor is it the right of a community to act as a lynch mob. If this man, Mumtaz Qadri, was acting on behalf of a lynch mob, or by their orders, the leaders of the mob should be the ones to pay for this murder. If he was acting on his own, then it is right that he should pay for the crime with his life – except that his victim’s family accept blood money for the deed.
Lawyer Aamer Anwar
Never-the-less, the views reported by the BBC of one lawyer, Mr. Aamer Anwar, describing Mumtaz Qadri as “a convicted terrorist,” is merely pandering to the ongoing media representation of Muslim criminals as “terrorists,” no matter the crime involved. He is a plain murderer, motivated, perhaps, by his extreme religious views, but not a terrorist. A terrorist is one who seeks to terrorise a broad section of the population to further their ends; it is not a murder motivated by strong religious opinion aimed at one man. However, he is right in saying that “he was no national hero, and he was no martyr.” Martyrs die in the way of Allah, not due to crimes against Allah and resistance to Allah’s Sharia.
It is this knowledge of Sharia that an Imam should possess, and Islamic definitions of Juridical punishment and who has the duty, and, therefore, the right, to rule and sentence criminals by them, that should have tied Maulana Habib Ur Rehman’s tongue. Even if he was of the opinion that the Governor was a blasphemer and went beyond the boundaries a free democracy allowed him, he should support the authorities in dealing with the criminal who takes the law into his own hands. His views should focus on bringing an indictment against Governor Taseer for blasphemy, which could then have a sentence passed upon him such as the posthumous sentence on Jimmy Saville, if he felt so strongly about it. It is also incredibly damning to fanaticism in any form that the Berelvi Elders encouraged their rank and file congregation to campaign for Mumtaz Qadri’s martyrdom. Martyrdom is not a prerogative of men to label their dead with, but the one who sees into the heart of the one who died and the circumstances through which his death came about.
In my opinion, insignificant though it may be, both Maulana Habib Ur Rehman made a mistake in implying injustice in the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri and standing against the Pakistani Justice system in this case, and also Lawyer Aamer Anwar made a mistake in labelling the murderer a “terrorist”. Let us examine the background of the incident and the support expressed for the murderer without the passion which clouds the mind.