A pupil murders his professor over blasphemy

Associate professor Khalid Hameed was killed on Wednesday at the campus of Sadiq Egerton College in the southern city of Bahawalpur, Pakistan. Ktatib Hussain attacked his professor in the early hours of the day. The assassin accused the professor of blasphemy. Khatib said he was also against the un-Islamic events being organised in the department which the slain professor supported.

Thanks to the draconian blasphemy laws of Pakistan, rising religious fundamental in our populace and socio-economic frustration in the youth, we are seeing over and over again what we saw this time in Bahawalpur on 20th March 2019.

With religious sentiments so high in the population, when its youth is exposed to violence-inciting verses in the manuscripts they learn, especially in an earlier age, it leaves an impression on how and what they think.

Whether we want to call it misinterpretation, out of context or devise another similar apology, some verses of the Quran do incite violence. Most religions had had such harsh stances in their revealed books. What makes Islam so special is its self-professed claims for finality for eternity; not being open to any modifications. For instance:

Surah 9:29:

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

Surah 3:56:

 “As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.”

The assassin stressed that his professor spoke against Islam repeatedly. Last time I checked, someone being against Islam conveniently falls under the category of an apostate. Let us now see what a Sahi Bukhari Hadith (Volume: 9, Book: 83, Hadith: 17) has to say about apostates.

Narrated Abdullah:

Allah’s Apostle said, “The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims.”

And if the argument is that the Hadiths are in some way an inferior source of reference compared to Quran, let me remind you that the Constitution of Pakistan specifies the Quran and Sunnah to be the two equally valid sources of Islam. So no back-footing from here.

According to the deceased’s son, the attacker said he had killed his professor because of his support for the scheduled function in which “obscenity is promoted”. Khatib believed the planned activities were un-Islamic. For the sake of argument only, assuming his accusations of the planned activities – which as per sources were local traditional dances in a farewell party – as being un-Islamic, what exactly is wrong with anything being un-Islamic?

The problem is the hatred the religion generally has towards the ‘others’. There is a plethora of verses in Quran if references be needed. For a starter, try Surah 8 versus 12-13:

[Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, “I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip” [12]. That is because they opposed Allah and His Messenger. And whoever opposes Allah and His Messenger – indeed, Allah is severe in penalty [13]’.

The discontent pertaining to ‘us vs others’ finds its roots in the manuscripts we hold dear – Quran and Sunnah, the personas we cheer – Zia and Mullahs, and the group thinking we conveniently adhere – Hate-preaching Friday sermons and teachings in majority of the madrasahs. Over time, the bigotry begins to pollute the mind’s faculty of empathy; a new normal begins to form. The contempt for the ‘others’ grows so fervent that even the sanctity of life loses its meaning. That is when we come out as fierce animals like this shameless, remorseless Khatib from Bahawalpur who ended the life of a professor whom his friends described as a gentle and nice human being.

Remember, it takes a tiny, delicate, feeble matchstick and a fitting surface to ignite a fire that can then burn hectares. It may start as a flicker but within an eye blink it can go out of hands. Especially when there is volatile fuel leaking here and there.

It is a moment of silence so I will end here and go in hiding to have some remorse over the state of affairs in Pakistan.

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