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November 11, 2018

Mufti Rafi Usmani’s open letter : Allah’s law flawless, witnesses and adjudicators can err

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November 11, 2018

KARACHI: Religious scholar Mufti Rafi Usmani has said Aasia Bibi’s departure from Pakistan before the Supreme Court verdict on the review petition will result in a mayhem across the country.

In an open letter to the nation on Saturday, the scholar cautioned the people of Pakistan against becoming emotional to the extent that they resort to unlawful actions. 

Referring to the immense love and respect for the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in the hearts of the people, the scholar said Islamic faith is not complete without love for the Holy Prophet (PBUH). It says Pakistan is passing through a turbulent time when various crises are rising one after another, and the current issue of blasphemy has created a wave of extreme anger among the faithful because they cannot compromise over love for Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). 

The love for Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is the corner stone of the faith and every Muslim would sacrifice everything for that.

According to Mufti Usmani, the Supreme Court has thoroughly examined the evidence before acquitting Asia Bibi. The apex court based its judgment on the available evidence and also cited various religious references in the judgment, he said, adding the SC judgment has raised some issues that are worthy of consideration by the Ulema and experts of Islamic Jurisprudence. A thief's hands cannot be cut off without going through all the several strict conditions and restrictions attached to the law in Islam.

 There is a critical decree in the Islamic Jurisprudence to save the person from the ultimate punishment or "Hadd" where the circumstances allow that concession. Dilating further, he said a mere suspicion of theft does not qualify for the extreme punishment of cutting the hands. He said the value of the stolen property and the place it is stolen from and most critically a clear, unambiguous and non contradictory evidence by two people is pivotal to reach a judgment. He said the Sharia Law consider the case and its circumstances of the crime very minutely and allows benefit of doubt to the criminal where possible. While quoting principles of Islamic Jurisprudence and citing various conditions and circumstance of the law for theft, the letter says every thief cannot be awarded the extreme punishment.

Mufti Taqi Usmani said during Gen Zia's tenure, when the Hadd Law was being drafted it was suggested to adopt extreme care so mockery is not made out of the Islamic Laws. The Shariat or the Islamic Jurisprudence upholds the principle of benefit of doubt that goes to the accused. The Supreme Court, Mufti Usmani says has very elaborately discussed the strength of evidence and the contradictions of the witnesses both in the light of the Islamic Laws and those of the country. They have also concluded that there is a reason to give benefit of doubt to the accused based on the quality of evidence. He maintained that Allah's law was flawless. But, he added, adjudicators and witnesses are fallible, and any error by witnesses can create doubts about the evidence of crime. Therefore, according to Islamic jurisprudence, benefit of doubt would go the accused, causing release or reduction in punishment.

Mufti Usmani said he does not doubt the love the honourable judges have for the Holy Prophet (PBUH). They have expressed their love for the Prophet (PBUH) by expressing their readiness to sacrifice their lives for his honour, he added.

Mufti Usmani said the Shariat forbids against any extreme act to enforce the Islamic Jurisprudence besides it also warns against miscarriage of justice. Considering judges’ fallibility, it is reasonable that the Supreme Court's larger bench considers the review petition minutely. The verdict of the bench considering the review petition would be final and has to be accepted wholeheartedly in accordance with Shariah.

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