Combating Blasphemy by Force: Lawful?

Question and answer details
Abdul Jabar TS
As-salamu `alaykum. Dear brothers, one of my friends has doubts regarding defending our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) against blasphemy by physically stopping the blasphemer. He quoted some incidents in the Prophet's life. Once one Sahabi (one of the Prophet's Companions) killed his wife and Prophet asked why? The Sahabi said she used to use bad words about you. Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said nothing. Another incident: once Prophet asked help from his Companions for avoiding (means killing) one blasphemer and someone came forward and did the job. My friend argues that these incidents show that it is permitted in Shari`ah to physically stop the blasphemer even though it is not wise in the present world. What does really Shari`ah say?
Ahmad Kutty

Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

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Dear brother, we really thank you for the question and for your concern about Islam.

As for your question, the texts you have mentioned should be understood in their contexts; they refer to a period of war time which may have exceptional rulings and decdisions.

In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states,

These traditions you have cited cannot be taken out of their context; they refer to the situation of war. In other words, they refer to a time when Madinah was facing attacks from enemies within and enemies without.  Furthermore, there is no indication that they were done by the order of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). The only thing we can infer from this that the Prophet did not condemn the actions.

Another point to note: often times a narrator cites only one aspect of the story, thus failing to give us the complete story. Therefore, we cannot generalize based on the above isolated reports.

The Qur’an itself cites statements of pagans and others which are blasphemous, and yet no where it suggests that Muslims are supposed to react to them violently; rather, we are repeatedly ordered to bear them patiently: We read, {Surely you will hear lots of hurtful slander and allegations from those who are the scriptures and others, and indeed you shall hear many hurtful things from those to whom revelation was granted before your time, as well as from those who have come to ascribe divinity to other beings beside God. But if you remain patient in adversity and conscious of Him - this, behold, is something to set one's heart upon.} (Aal `Imran: 3: 186).

And the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is told in unequivocal terms:

{Endure, then, with patience (all that they who deny the truth may say] -always remembering that it is none but God who gives you the strength to endure adversity-and do not grieve over them, and neither be distressed by the false arguments which they devise} (An-Nahl:16:127).

In conclusion, we cannot violate these well-established Qur'anic principles and act upon isolated traditions taken out of context, nor are we allowed to take laws into our own hands.

Allah Almighty knows best.