Mohammed Hanif, the author of this disgraceful op-ed published Friday in the New York Times, is a Pakistani novelist, and so it is perhaps understandable that he may wish to observe Islamic blasphemy laws, but why is the New York Times, which is supposedly a journalistic outlet in a nation that upholds the freedom of speech, validating his doing so?
In it, Hanif writes this about Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman charged with blasphemy and held in prison for years, and whose recent acquittal touched off nationwide riots in Pakistan: “There are many versions of what led to the charges against her, but all revolve around a verbal altercation with Muslim neighbors in Punjab, an eastern province, about drinking water from the same vessel. Some Muslims won’t share utensils with non-Muslims, a belief that has more to do with (Hindu) casteism than (Islamic) scripture.”
Nonsense. It comes from this Islamic scripture: “O you who have believed, indeed the polytheists are unclean…” (9:28)
And then there is this hadith: “It was narrated that Abu Tha’labah Al-Khushani said: ‘I came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, we live in a land of the People of the Book and we eat from their vessels. And we live in a land (where there is) game, so I hunt with my bow and with my trained dog and with my untrained dog.” The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “As for what you say about living in a land of the People of the Book, do not eat from their vessels unless you can find no alternative. If you can find no alternative then wash them and eat from them….”‘” (Sunan Ibn Majah 3328)
This hadith is graded by Islamic scholars as sahih, or reliable. Was it, too, a product of “Hindu casteism”? When the Muslims invaded and conquered India, they pursued a policy of unremitting hostility toward the Hindus, as I show in detail in my book The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS. They were unlikely to pick up theological notions from the Hindus they despised and derided as idolaters.
Hanif also says: “We can never know what she may or may not have said because repeating blasphemy is also blasphemy, and writing it down may be even greater blasphemy. So let’s not go there.”
Why not? In the United States we don’t have blasphemy laws — at least not yet. Criticizing Islam and even jihad terror will get you smeared and shunned as a bigot and an “Islamophobe,” and deplatformed and refused service, but it is technically not illegal. And contrary to Hanif’s claim, what Asia Bibi said isn’t unknown or hard to find at all. She recounted in August 2013:
I, Asia Bibi, have been sentenced to death because I was thirsty. I’m a prisoner because I used the same cup as those Muslim women, because water served by a Christian woman was regarded as unclean by my stupid fellow fruit-pickers.
Picking fruit with a group of Muslim women, Bibi was ordered to fetch water for them – and drank a bit of it herself in the stifling heat. A Muslim woman rebuked her for doing so, saying to the other women: “Listen, all of you, this Christian has dirtied the water in the well by drinking from our cup and dipping it back several times. Now the water is unclean and we can’t drink it! Because of her!”
Bibi stood up to her, responding: “I think Jesus would see it differently from Mohammed.” That drove the Muslim women into a fury, and they started yelling at Bibi: “How dare you think for the Prophet, you filthy animal!” That’s right, you’re just a filthy Christian! You’ve contaminated our water and now you dare speak for the Prophet! Stupid bitch, your Jesus didn’t even have a proper father, he was a bastard, don’t you know that. You should convert to Islam to redeem yourself for your filthy religion.”
The embattled woman stood her ground, responding: “I’m not going to convert. I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind? And why should it be me that converts instead of you?”
For that, she was sentenced to death, held in prison for years, and now mobs in Pakistan are demanding that she be publicly murdered. And the New York Times, instead of standing for the freedom of speech, is validating the blasphemy laws that have destroyed this poor woman’s life.