Extremism, fundamentalism, fanaticism and terrorism are being considered the grave threats for today’s world. Presence of these ‘isms’ in any society are highly dangerous. Unfortunately, these characteristics have occupied many countries and societies around the world, where even governments bend their knees in front of these powers.
Extremism and fundamentalism are great threats to those countries and societies where these exist. And if these are not eliminated completely and immediately from such places, I am afraid, they might bring to risk the existence, freedom, liberty and independence of such countries and societies.
For the better development of a country or a society, tolerance and harmony are very crucial and important. Without dialogues and without being ready to accept others’ point of view, societies and countries cannot prosper and cannot gain better achievements in any field.
We have seen the results of fundamentalism in the past, and we are even witnessing them now in some parts of the world. In recent weeks we have seen two high profile murders in Pakistan, where on 4 January, Salman Taseer the Governor of Punjab, and later Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic, Federal Minister for Minority affairs of Pakistan, were assassinated. The most painful and saddest aspect of these events is that the killer was presented rose petals and protests were carried out for his release. This is grave insensitiveness.
The death of Mr Bhatti and Mr Taseer is not a death of two persons, but this can be considered the death of liberalisation and openness, because the extremists have once again won against the liberal, secular, open-minded and tolerant persons. And they have hijacked the nation, and any voice against their violent ideology is put to silence by these extremists. This is extremely dangerous, and these are clear signs of intolerance and inharmoniousness.
Killing a person is a grave crime, and in the Holy Quran it is mentioned that “killing a single human life is like killing all humanity.” But very unfortunately we have seen people celebrating the death of innocent men, distributing sweets and presenting rose bouquets to the killer.
We believe that not only Islam, but all the major religions of the world preach respect and human dignity. Killing innocent people is completely forbidden and it is considered a grave sin in all the religions and civilised societies.
When we dig into the details, we do not come across any crime by those who were killed. So, why were they killed? The answer is very simple: Because they were speaking up for justice, they were speaking to repeal a law which was introduced to gain political favours and interests; this legislation was totally unacceptable, was being misused for the last 25 long years, was being used to gain personal and political ends and was totally against the Islamic teachings.
And I should say that they were killed for their outstanding stands on principles. They were killed because they said the truth. They were killed because they were trying to help the victims. They were killed because they raised their voices for innocent Asia Bibi, who is behind bars because of allegations of blasphemy against her, even though she is denying to all charges. The blasphemy law has been used against minorities e.g. Christians, Hindus and Ahmadis, and in the last 25 years dozens of people were brutally killed, injured, persecuted, sentenced and put to death because of the misuse of this infamous blasphemy law.
And the clerics and religious zealots are speaking in favour of this law, saying that in Islam there is only death penalty for such people. Please permit me to write a few lines to prove that this is not according to the Quran. This law is totally against Islamic teaching. The Holy Quran mentions nowhere that the punishment for blasphemy is death, nor even a lesser punishment. I admit that the religious clerics and zealots have misinterpreted the teachings.
I believe that respect is a basic human right for all, and religious personalities deserve even more respect from their followers and even from others; and to disrespect those noble personalities is really a grave crime. But, there is no worldly punishment mentioned, not at all. Nor did the prophet Muhammad punish anyone who blasphemed him during his time.
I thus appeal to such forces that let us build bridges, let us promote tolerance, harmony, love, respect and brotherhood in every part of the world and let us promote and establish the human dignity.Laiq Ahmed Atif is President Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta firstname.lastname@example.org