Archive for the ‘Media Watch’ Category

Yellow Journalism

On May 28, 2009 Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan decided on a petition against Hudood Ordinance’s articles about punishment on drinking.

The way Daily Dawn presented it gave the false notion that the Court had ruled that drinking is not a punishable crime. True that the report did not explicitly say so but while it reproduced the contentions of the petitioner in great detail and highlighted some reservations of a judge which were actually not even nuanced in the original petition it failed to mention the most important fact that the Court had totally dismissed the petition calling it “misconceived and without any substance.

You find Daily Dawn’s report HERE

But our ever frustrated and allergic-to-anything-Islamic liberals played to the ingenuous catch of the cunning liberal/secular media. A simple google search tells you how the report was taken to imply that the court ruled drinking was not unlawful or not punishable at least. (Now defunct link on some pages suggest it was later reported by Pakistan Observer as well)

The petitioner, Muhammad Aslam Khaki, had contended that punishment of 80 lashes was unIslamic and there was nothing in Qur’an and Sunnah to support it. Federal Shariat Court (FSC) dismissed it out-rightly on May 28th 2009 (a day before the above piece appeared on Dawn)

Complete decision of the Court published in PLD (vol. LXII, pp. 191-214) is available on the FSC’s website

For the contention of the petitioner see para 1 on p.4.  He challenged Article 8 and 25 of Prohibition Order (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance 1979, in which drinking was provided as Hadd, prescribing 80 lashes as punishment for the offense.

The court after detailed discussion ruled.

The upshot of the above discussion is that since there is no Verse or Hadith that contradicts the impugned provision of law in any way, we find this petition misconceived and without any substance and therefore, dismiss it accordingly.

see para 27 on pp.209-210 (pdf file pp.19-20)

It is signed by Justice Dr. Fida Muhammad Khan and other judges agreed to it.

Arguments of the petitioner (Dr. Aslam Khaki) and the ulema, namely; Dr. Yousuf Faruqi and Maulana Tafazzul Ali who was deputed by Mufti Rafi Usmani and Sardar Abdul Majeed, Standing Counsel for the Federation, are also (summarily?) given. Allama Talab Jauhari and Javed Ahmed Ghamidi did not respond to/appear in the court.

What was actually exploited by the liberal media is the note of Prof. Haziqul Haq Khairi towards the end of the decision. It only speaks of reservations on defects and ambiguities in the provisio of Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 for it can lead to imprisonment as well whereas there is no such punishment in Islam for this crime. Thereafter he suggests an amendment in section 4 of the Whipping Ordinance 1979 defining whip. (See, para 8 of the note on p.212 of PLD)


  • The verdict does not say taking intoxicants is permissible.
  • It does not say there is no punishment for intoxication.
  • It rather dismisses the petition against the punishment.
  • The verdict does not declare whipping for drinking un-Islamic.
  • It rather defines whipping.

The twist was about reporting the contention of the petitioner in detail without telling the fact that it was dismissed by FSC. Even while mentioning the ruling, not the decision but the arguments in the dismissed petition are highlighted. The other observation about definition of whip was made on a side note.

It is important for us to double check the reporting of secular media outlets on everything that concerns Islamic law and Muslims who stand for upholding it.


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Islamic Laws

In this age questioning and objecting to Islamic principles is the best pastime of the ‘educated’ yet intellectually impaired. They fail to understand Islam’s approach and vent the anger for their ignorance on the whoever they can – the idea or the people who stand for it.

1) Hudood (prescribed punishments) in Islam are indeed very strict and the mess other legal traditions have created after failing to check the crimes and dealing with the convicts supports the idea of having strict punishments. (the case of the rapist and serial killer Clifford Olson is a classical example of what confused legal traditions can lead to.)

2) Islamic law of witnesses is also very strict. This is especially true for cases involving sex offenses (in which case carrying out hudood requires 4 witnesses) as it relates to two sensitive issues simultaneously 1) Life 2) Honor.  In fact it won’t be out of place to say that punishment based on witnesses is extremely rare. When the skeptics say that having four witnesses is extremely difficult they make no revelation.

A classical jurist stated:

لم ينقل عن السلف ثبوت الزنا عند الإمام بالشهادة، إذ رؤية أربعة رجال عدول على الوصف المذكور كالميل في المكحلة كما في الكلاب في غاية الندرة

“Establishment of the proof of adultery in legal proceedings based on witnesses is not reported from the predecessors (salaf), because it is extremely rare for four trustworthy men to witness it in the required way of seeing it like collyrium stick in its case as it happens among dogs .”[1]

3) Islam by the virtue of its very nature of being a religion promising salvation in the Hereafter inspires people to confess the offenses committed so that they may be free of blame in the next world. This ensures some practical examples of the execution of the prescribed punishments (hudood) that duly serve the purpose of deterrence against crimes. The cases of Ghamidia and Ma’iz al-Aslami who were stoned to death by the Prophet ﷺ are perfect examples.[2]

4) In any case 2) does not entail an offender can go unpunished in the absence of 4 witnesses because the whole scheme of ta’zirat (discretionary punishments) is there. Such punishments can be given for any other evidence including lesser number of witnesses, DNA or any other circumstantial evidence that convinces a judge of the accused being a culprit.

If, for example, a person is accused of rape repeatedly and every time crime is proven through DNA and similar proofs alone, the judge -according to what I understand as the strongest opinion[3]– can even give him capital punishment (though it cannot be stoning to death). Or a judge may even go for such strict discretionary punishment as a deterrence when the frequency of the crime gets on the rise.

5) All this collectively make hudood the ultimate defense against social evils. If 2) and 3) are religiously observed no one will be punished unjustly and 4) will have to be invoked only rarely because seeing someone stoned to death or even lashed in public will tame the animal within most people. This is why the Prophet ﷺ said,

إقامة حد من حدود الله، خير من مطر أربعين ليلة في بلاد الله عز وجل

“Carrying out one of  the  legal  punishments prescribed by Allah  is better than forty nights of (blissful) rain in the lands of Allah.”[4]


[1] al-Baabarti, Abu ‘Abdullah Akmal ad-Deen, al-‘Inayah Sharh al-Hidayah, (Beirut: Dar al-Fekr, n.d.) vol.5, 278

[2] Muslim bin Hajjaj, as-Sahih, (Riyadh: Maktaba Dar-us-Salam, 2007) Hadith 4432 (23-1695)

[3] This is the opinion of the jurists of the Hanafi school (at least).

[4] Ibn Majah, as-Sunan, (Beirut: Dar al-Jeel, 1418 AH) Hadith 2537. Classified as Hasan by al-Albani.

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There are certain media outlets who have fair number of mental retards among their writing crews.

Saroop Ijaz’s latest attack on reason “War on Reason” is an interesting read. He brings up some examples of unscientific views from the classical scholarship and links it to CII’s latest opinion that DNA is not acceptable as primary evidence in rape cases. I will comment on the DNA as primary evidence issue and its relation to what he mentioned regarding the classical jurists sometimes soon in-sha’Allah. Here I would only like to share an insight into what he mentioned regarding jurists’ opinions on maximum gestation period. He wrote;

… the intention today is to draw attention to something else. Imam Abu Hanifa believed that the maximum period a woman can remain pregnant (gestation period) with a child was two years; Imam Malik, Imam Shaafaee and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal believed it to be four. We now know that to be medically impossible.

Though he himself clarified that, “the scientific facts we hold to be self-evident today were not completely established or, at least, known to them at the time”, the very tone in which he put up the entire thing has a good potential to get the ordinary skeptics excited.

Firstly, it needs to be seen as to what formed the basis of these opinions. The answer simply is that they thought it was actually possible. In fact they based their opinions on what they had learnt as real happenings in/by their time. It’s only that that best possible they could know about this back then was not really true in the light of what is now known to us.

For, some details on the basis of these opinion see, Dr. Abdul Azeez bin Alee Al-Ghaamdee, Minimum and Maximum Periods of Pregnancy between Jurisprudence and Medicine and their Effect on the Inheritance of the Fetus, Quarterly al-Adl, Ministry of Justice, KSA, issue 43, pp.202-203

The paper tells us precisely as to why the classical jurists could not get the thing scientifically correct;

Therefore, physicians term the events of prolonged periods of pregnancy mentioned by jurists, assuming they were true, as false pregnancy (pseudo pregnancy). A woman may remain falsely believing to be pregnant for one year or more because she has the symptoms of pregnancy like the cease of the menstruation, vomiting, pains and big abdomen. She may have a real pregnancy after that and thus she thinks to have pregnancy from the time she falsely believed to be so. In modern times, it is easy to  diagnose such a case by ultrasound which was not available in old days. (p.209)

Next I’ll, in-sha’Allah, write on Saroop’s failure on the account of reason in commenting about something he, it appears from his write up, is “certainly not equipped to” i.e. the issue of acceptability of DNA as primary evidence in rape cases.

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