Sunni Ittehad: Policing deviant thought

"How dare Aasia, or anyone else, blaspheme and distort something as beautiful as Islam?" say defenders of the faith.

Madeeha Ansari November 29, 2010
The Sunni Itehad Council says that letting Aasia Bibi live is going to plunge the country into chaos.  “Anarchy” will reign, as the boundaries of right and wrong are forever altered - all due to the unthinkable idea of allowing discretion in religion.

Discretion, after all, demands context.

It would not do for the Council to think about a poor woman, humiliated to the point of anger. It must have been blind rage that prompted words of bitterness against those more powerful than she. It would not do to wonder what religion was represented by people according to whom the vessel she touched was 'unclean'.  There are some things that you’re just not supposed to say, regardless of the provocation.

The truth is that no one really knows what Aasia Bibi said that day – not even the Qari who felt obliged to report the incident. This particular case, then, is one of "thought crime." The rationale goes that if a maverick thought becomes pardonable, then nothing is inviolable. The Council’s insecurity therefore stems from a fear of having its moral authority questioned.

All this noise is not really about Aasia, or the tumult in a single life caused by a word let fly. It is about the precedent that this now high-profile case will set. For those who are riding their high horses against the idea of blasphemy, too much time has lapsed since a symbolic sacrifice was presented to the gods of principle. How dare she, or anyone else, distort something as beautiful as Islam?

The Sunni Itehad Council believes that people must be held accountable for what they think, say and do, especially when it will set a trend and affect so many others.  What it has failed to note is the bigger thought crime, which originally drove Aasia to think that the religion championed by her accusers is cruel, condescending and unjust.

The idea that human dignity can be crushed by the heels of those who declare themselves to be morally and spiritually superior. Now, whoever came up with that one is truly beyond pardon.
Madeeha Ansari A graduate of the London School of Economics who works at a development consultancy.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Maggie Bockmann | 12 years ago | Reply @Humanity: Would that Christians had always lived by the wise words of Caliph Ali (RA)! History would be a very different story, as we all know! Thank you for sharing such deep wisdom from Islam, which can enrich the whole world.
Humanity | 12 years ago | Reply @ Maggie Bockman On dispensation of Allah's justice, I include the following excerpt from Caliph Ali (RA) letter that he wrote to Governor Malik on governence about 1,400 years ago. (This excerpt was deleted from my earlier comment by the ET moderators for some reason. Hopefully they will publish this time.) "Do not say: ” I am your overlord and dictator, and that you should, therefore, bow to my commands”, as that will corrupt your heart, weaken your faith in religion and create disorder in the state. Should you be elated by power, ever feel in your mind the slightest symptoms of pride and arrogance, then look at the power and majesty of the Divine governance of the Universe over which you have absolutely no control. It will restore the sense of balance to your wayward intelligence and give you the sense of calmness and affability. Beware! Never put yourself against the majesty and grandeur of God and never imitate His omnipotence; for God has brought low every rebel of God and every tyrant of man. Let your mind respect through your actions the rights of God and the rights of man, and likewise, persuade your companions and relations to do likewise. For, otherwise, you will be doing injustice to yourself and injustice to humanity. Thus both man and God will turn unto your enemies. There is no hearing anywhere for one who makes an enemy of God himself. He will be regarded as one at war with God until he feels contrition and seeks forgiveness. Nothing deprives man of divine blessings or excites divine wrath against him more easily than cruelty. Hence it is, that God listens to the voice of the oppressed and waylays the oppressor."
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