There is a tragic story out of Scotland where Muslim shopkeeper Asad Shah was murdered after posting good wishes to his neighbors for Easter. Police say that the attack by another Muslim man was “religiously prejudiced.” Shah represents the best of Islam and humanity. He appears to have died for his desire to build social and religious bridges to his Christian neighbors. In the meantime, Imam Maulana Habib Ur Rehman of Scotland’s largest mosque has been calling out to the worst elements of the faith in praising an Islamic extremist who murdered as politician who opposed blasphemy laws. While the Imam insists that he was taken out of context, it is hard to see how the quoted responses can be given any moderate meaning. They are two opposing images of Islam: one of tolerance and one of extremism. In the meantime, thousands of Muslims have gone into the streets not to denounce the murderer but to demand the adoption of Sharia law and the punishment of blasphemy.
In the case of Shah, his last Facebook post read “Good Friday and a very Happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation. Let’s follow the real footstep of beloved holy Jesus Christ and get the real success in both worlds.” Police are looking at whether the posting prompted the murder by the 32-year-old suspect. In media coverageShah is described as a devout Ahmadi Muslim who regularly posted videos from his shop with messages of peace and unity. He is not alone in the Muslim community. Indeed, we just celebrated Easter with our annual Easter egg hunt with Muslim friends who participate every year. It is important to keep in mind that ISIS kills more Muslims than non-Muslims and they have been denounced by Muslim clerics and countries around the world.
The steady stream of massacres and rapes by ISIS is precisely why most people are less than sympathetic to the American who recently left ISIS and said that he was confused about the group and found conditions too hard. It appears that the stories of beheadings and sexual slavery were not enough to clear the mind of Mohamad Jamal Khweis.
In the case of the imam, the controversy concerns his message to the faithful after the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri in Pakistan. Qadri of part of an elite commando unit of the police and assigned to guard the former Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer. Taser spoke out on the case of Asia Bibi who was convicted of blasphemy and spoke out against the blasphemy law. We previously discussed the Bibi case which was another example of the abusive Islamic laws against blasphemy and apostasy.
After Qadri was hanged for the murder, Imam Maulana Habib Ur Rehman said that he is “disturbed” and “upset” about the execution and extended a “rahmatullahi alai”, a religious blessing usually given to devout Muslims and meaning may God’s mercy be upon him, to the murderer. He also said “I cannot hide my pain today. A true Muslim was punished for doing which [sic] the collective will of the nation failed to carry out.”
If that is an accurate quote, it is hard to see any meaning than a deeply disturbing notion that Qadri was justified in committing this murder as well as support for blasphemy laws. The media has referenced multiple witnesses supporting the account of what the Imam said to the faithful.