Muslims in the middle

Blasphemy: Impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things Anjum Naveed AP In this May 16, 2007 file photo, … Continued

Blasphemy: Impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things

Anjum Naveed


In this May 16, 2007 file photo, Shahbaz Bhatti, then head of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, displays a threatening letter which a Christian resident of Charsadda town received, during a press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan. On Wednesday March 2, 2011, gunmen shot and killed Pakistan’s government minister for religious minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, the latest attack on a high-profile Pakistani figure who had urged reforming harsh blasphemy laws that impose the death penalty for insulting Islam.

The recent killings and the violent threats against anyone who criticizes the colossally misused and ill-founded blasphemy law in Pakistan continue to warp perceptions of what Islam is, and specifically, what kind of a man the prophet was. Meanwhile, a crowd of anti-Muslim activists, fueled by hate, chanted their pitiably ignorant slogans “Mohammad was a pervert,” “Mohammad was evil,” “Go back home!” at a Muslim charity event in California earlier this year. As a Muslim, it seems to me that the madness keeps surging to confounding proportions.

I find my faith being mangled, used and abused for all sorts of rhetorical and political purposes in the West and back home, where I grew up Pakistan. In the past decade, we have seen the Koran desecrated and insulting caricatures of the prophet used as a proud symbol of freedom of expression in the West–in this same decade, Islam’s very spirit has been desecrated by those who claim to be its saviors.

Among the many stories of the prophet I loved when I was growing up was the story of how Muhammad calmly dusted himself and continued walking after his daily encounter with a
kafir (non-believing)
woman who emptied out her garbage on him as he passed by her house. This went on for a long time until there was no garbage thrown at him for several days. The woman had fallen ill. He went to her house to inquire after her health; she was so shocked and moved by the gesture that she embraced Islam. The lesson: Conquer your own ego and hearts can follow. What could be a greater victory?

And when the people of Taif pelted Muhammad and his adopted son Zaid with stones, Gabriel appeared with a summons from the Almighty to punish the people of Taif; still Muhammad’s feet bled as he pleaded their case and prayed for another chance for them. The lesson: Mercy should prevail, even in the most unlikely circumstances.

There are many examples of how Muhammad practiced humility and showed mercy, even when he had the upper hand. When he returned to Mecca, the hostile home from which had been exiled, he ordered his men not to fight anyone without a weapon or any one not willing to engage in combat, nor to deface property, kill animals or cut down trees. His was not the ego-dictated course. He would stand up in respect to greet his daughter, he would mend his own clothes and was known never to raise his voice with his wives. Muhammad’s strength of character was in his gentle but upright and courageous, judicious approach to conflict. He fought battles but not without exhausting the option of dialogue with the opponent first.

Ben de la Cruz


Deborah Pauly, 52, is City Council member, Villa Park, California and spoke of Muslims. During the rally in California, Pauly gestured towards the mosque and said “I know quite a few Marines who would be very happy to help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise.”

The sanctimonious murderers of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti in the name of Islam, as well as the self-righteous, insult-hurling “Christian” crowd in California –the former persecuting Christians and the latter, Muslims,— both groups, by Abrahamic standards, are guilty of blasphemy.

Shadab Zeest Hashmi has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her book Baker of Tarifa is the winner of the San Diego Book Award for poetry. Her work has appeared in many journals worldwide. She has been the editor of the annual Magee Park Anthology since 2000. She has recently joined San Diego State University as the writer-in-residence. Her second collection Kohl and Chalk is due out in 2012.

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  • rentianxiang

    Once again, an example of cherry-picking the Mohammed stories that seemingly portray him as “merciful.” The problem is that there are plenty of stories that also portray him as intolerant of those who rejected his message and claims, including using violence to silence critics and destroy communities that continued to practice their own faiths and regarded him as a fraud. Islam is not defined by this writer nor by any other single Muslim. By that token, the writer is wrong when she claims that the terrorism and myriad heinous acts committed in the name of Islam is an example of the mangling or abuse of her religion. It is wrong according to her interpretation but perfectly consistent with the understanding of Islam as prracticed by many millions of her fellow Muslims. They would probably think that her idea of tolerating other faiths is a bastardization of Islam and possibly blasphemy, and they would have sufficient historical evidence, including the pact of Omar, to support their position. The problem is not a mangling of Islam but Islam itelf. And, by the way, stating an opinion about Mohammed which Muslims don’t like is nowhere near the level of intolerance practiced by Muslims who violently persecute, incluidng importiong and even killing, Christains or other non-Muslims for their beliefs.. If Christians, or others, treated Muslims as intolerantly and with the same severity and “punishments”, well then perhaps Muslims might really have something to complain about.

  • WmarkW

    >The recent killings and the violent threats against anyone who criticizes the colossally misused and ill-founded blasphemy law in Pakistan continue to warp perceptions of what Islam is…

    If one want to know what “capitalism is,” should you read Adam Smith and Ayn Rand, or study how capitalist economies work?

    The Quran is a piece of literature. Once Muslims accept that, and study it as a human document, they’ll find pretty quickly that the ethics-based verses in Mecca differ in style as well as content, from the conquest-oriented verses set in Medina. They aren’t even about the same Muhammed.

    After you straightforwardly reject the prescriptions of the Medina verses, we can talk about the positive ethics of the Mecca ones.

  • PhillyJimi1

    Blasphemy and free speech can’t not exist together. Blasphemy is a joke. If you god exists it is up to him to enforce his rules. A few lighting bolts should be enough to let the offending party know he said something wrong.

    Religions invented blasphemy laws to protects themselves from ridicule and criticism. Imagine if the Catholic Church had it’s way, the bad things the priests did would still be covered up and going on.

  • ccnl1

    How much money would the following save the US taxpayers ?:

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror

    One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!i.e. No Easter, no Christianity.

    The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian “religions” and non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses probably never existed.

    Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!

    (Note: the globe already has one billion agnostics/atheists on board)

  • EddietheInfidel

    Most of the “peaceful” verses in the quran date from mohammed’s “Meccan period”, a time when he was generally weak and was able to garner few followers. After he was essentially ostracized and banished to Medina, he was more successful in his recruiting efforts, largely because he abandoned this peaceful narrative with promises of booty (spoils of war) and eternal paradise for those dying in service to his borrowed pagan moon-god allah. The brutal and primitive societal norms of 7th century Arabia provided him with plenty of misogynistic criminals on which to build his “congregation”, and he was later able to return and conquer the tribes of Mecca, slaying or “converting” many of those who’d viewed him as the marginally insane conman that he was.

    There is a concept in islam to explain the inconsistencies between the peaceful Meccan verses and the warlike Medina verses: abrogation. This holds that somehow allah “changed his mind”, and that the earlier peaceful verses are rendered null and void by later “revelations” delivered to the “prophet”.

    All 4 schools of islamic interpretation and jurisprudence are in agreement with this concept of abrogation and that the “gates of ijtihad” are closed and have been for about a thousand years; no further reinterpretation of the core texts is necessary or even possible; to do so is heretical. That is why we have 21st century islamic “leaders” making statements supporting the murder of homosexuals, oppression of non-muslims and women, hatred of Jews, and calling for jihad (holy war) against Dar al Harb (the house of war, i.e. western civilization).

    While Ms. Hashmi’s attempt to portray islam as a benign and peaceful ideology (more than just a religion, islamic teachings espouse a political and sociological agenda as well), daily news reports of attacks by her co-religionists and fiery sermons by islamic “clerics” from around the world would seem to indicate otherwise.

    Rather than trying to convince us that islam is benign, while

  • Love4Justice

    How sad. Deborah Pauly is pretty on the outside, but her statement reflects a less than pretty inside. According to Islam, we receive our rewards based on our intentions. Since her intention of contention appears to be 100% negative, I guess she can expect the same result in the next world.

    Sadly, her whole “argument” sounds a lot like the childish “My dad is going to beat up your dad.” You would think that at the age of 52, someone could give it up.

    It requires a bit of a stretch to accept, accede, embrace, or allow others to live according to their own faiths, but that is what inner growth is all about, I think.

  • Love4Justice

    How can we take anyone seriously when he calls himself Eddie the Infidel? Really, Ed.

    And, he wants us to believe his derogatory commentary about Islam but he sports a picture of Vlad, the reason Dracula the blood sucking monster symbolizes. In one event, Vlad impaled 20,000 people. His vileness is still abhorred to this day.

    You’re not convincining, Vlad. You have to credibility. To oppose the violence you say Muslims believe in you must oppose violence with Peace.

  • Love4Justice

    I read that article W, but you are missing one point. The 3000 attacks are attacks. It is not 3000 murders.

    The whole concept of honor killing does not come from Islam. This is a hindu concept. The prophet Muhamed, peace be upon him, never recommended killing people.

    In a book called “How to be Free of Sin,” the Promised Messiah states that according to Divine Law (ie. the source of all religions) there are three things that people must not do: one, kill an innocent person; two, injure someone’s honor; three, take property that does not belong to him.

    Therefore, if these people who can put together “honor and killing” and call themselves Muslim are active hypocrites. Their behavior does not resemble the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, they say they follow.

    No more does Pauly represent the teachings of Christ. Jesus, peace be upon him. said turn the other cheek regarding antagonists.

    The anti-Christ which Christians misinterpret in Revealations is explained by the Promised Messiah: those who act against the teachings of Christ. And only the Christians will be held accountable for following Christ, so they are the Anti-Christ who will bring about the final clashes in war.

  • Love4Justice

    Sorry, W. Wrong.

    The Quran is an outstandingly beautiful book, but it is not just “literature.” It is the word of God.

    Ayn Rand is much vetted, but over idealized. She doesn’t win the prize. She was just a human. Some people are so passionate about her ideas that you might think she must be true, but she isn’t.

    The Promised Messiah advises us that when people are swayed by their emotions, they go astray. (How to be Free of Sin)

    The Blasphemy law in Pakistan should be erased, revoked or deleted. I don’t care which. With all the money America sends, I don’t see why the U.S. of A. can’t accomplish this. It would benefit the Christian minority and the Ahmadi Muslims who are both viewed as wajibul kutl or worthy of killing because the mainstream simply disagree with their views. Why can’t America lend a hand? Good intentions get rewarded.

  • Love4Justice

    Hey Rent, how can you accuse the author of cherry picking. Really, your own generalization does not convince us of your argument. You say “there are plenty of stories that also portray him (Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him) as intolerant.” So, where are they?

    All claims that are made without proof are baseless and therefore unconvincing.

    I really don’t know why you can generalize about Muslims. My children turn on the news for Christian America and start asking me: “What is rape?” “What is molestation?” They don’t know what all that is about because they are sheltered by their belief in the one true God.

    If you want to accuse the Muslims of crimes, accuse the Christians of their impurities too. There is ONE sect that follows a caliph and that is the Ahmadi Muslim Community which is clear of all this dirt. Check out There are lots of free reads online. Start with How to Be Free of Sin by the Promised Messiah. He speaks so softly, but his vision is incisive and eye opening. It’s like having truth etched into your soul with perfect clarity. Read it! I cannot praise his writing enough. You cannot argue with Islam after you read his writings. Honestly.

  • ccnl1

    Dear Shadab Zeest Hashmi,

    The answer is easy:

    (from the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi)

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using “The 77 Branches of Islamic “faith” a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true “faith” (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings.” i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    “1. Belief in Allah”

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

    “2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence.”

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the “Gib Gnab” (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the “akas” for Allah should be included if you continue to be a “creationist”.

    “3. To believe in the existence of angels.”

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hittites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No “pretty/ugly wingy thingies” ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as fairies and “tinker bells”. Modern devils are classified as the demons of the demented.

    “4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore.”

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are s

  • BlackEyedSusan

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions and the off ramp is the middle east.

  • Secular1

    Ms. Shadab, i cannot figure out the point of your post. Do you really think you are the first one to address this issue in this manner – self pitying, playing the victim, and whining manner? I must have read at least a 1,000 such articles. Not only that your article is not even timely. You and your ilk, the so called moderate muslims, always choose this avenue to feel good, about yourself and gain some sympathy for your victim-hood. This is not affective swipes your problems under the rug, and frankly cowardice. You have but a few choices

    1) one is you go and confronts the extremists in your midst and come back and report to us on the progress you made. Otherwise we rather you just shut up. I have been following that hudood laws in your beloved Pakistan, for 25 + years and also the rest of the 46 dal-ul-islams. Not one has been repealed. After Zia, you Ms. Bhutto, & Mr. Sharif each had two shots at it and did nothing. Then you had that nincompoop Musharaff for over a decade with no action and you now have the Mr. 10% Zardari who hasn’t uttered a negative thought on this. Of course we have by those like you by the scores, who mouth eloquence in the western secular media but would not dare to articulate the banes of hudood – a blasphemy in of itself – to your society. You do not do that because you all have no BALLS, so to speak. But you beg for our understanding and empathies for your victim-hood. Sorry we used up the reservoir long ago. If you want an example of what moderates do, you need to look no further than in your backyard towards Arizona, how they recalled the pond scum, who started th e”Show me the papers” law in that state.

    2) is to confront the bigots here on their own ground, but again you have no BALLS for that either.

    3) just shut up and take your lumps and hope the liberal west does not exact the same price that likes of me would have to pay in Karachi or Lahore. You are an immigrant like me, so try to be as accommodating as at le

  • EddietheInfidel

    So, Love4Justice, while you have plenty to say about my choice of handle and avatar, you have nothing to say to refute the points raised in my comment.

    Vlad Tepes was indeed brutal, as were many 15th century tyrants. However, much of the Impaler’s brutality was directed against the INVADING Ottoman Turks of Mehmet II in his fight to stem islamic expansion into Christian Europe. I’m sure that, had he “opposed violence with Peace” as you suggest, Europe would have been swallowed by your “oh-so-not-brutal” friends in islam.

    I do not promote violence against muslims, and believe that many muslims are just as liable to be victims of jihad violence as non-muslims (perhaps even more so). However, I reserve the right to be critical of a political, military and sociological ideology that masquerades as a “religion of peace”.

  • Kingofkings1

    Some people are stuck on that term “72 virgins”, which is probably a metaphor. Anything to malign the other – has been in practice for thousands of years, as the pope of the crusades can testify as well as brievek and geerts wilder. If it wasn’t the 72 virgins, it would be something else.
    Hate pays in todays society, and the anonymity of the internet is a gret incentive

  • Kingofkings1

    She looks like a dumb blonde to me, compensating for her lack of intelligence, and need to be liked by some individuals with testosterone. Haven’t we seen this before: Palin, Chapmann, Geller, etc.


    All “holy books” are works of fiction. Bad fiction.

    I have more respect for my worn-out old copy of “Moby Dick” than I have for all of the violence-laden, bigotry-inciting, Bronze Age claptrap kill-manuals in book form that you all worship.

  • Secular1

    Love4Justice, you are indeed an ignoramus and brainwashed by the islamic propaganda.

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