I Had To Chuckle…


In the Name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful

In the midst of the furor over the alleged desecration of the Qur’an at Guantanamo Bay, I came across an article in the Christian Science Monitor which described an incident in Pakistan this past April:

“When Ashiq Nabi got into an argument with his wife, she held up a Koran to protect herself, setting into motion a deadly series of events. Mr. Nabi then pushed his wife, say human rights activists, sending Islam’s holy book onto the floor and prompting the local mullah in Spin Kakh, Pakistan, to file blasphemy charges.

Before the police could act, Nabi was spotted in town and the mullah allegedly spread the word over the mosque’s loudspeakers. A mob of more than 400 villagers chased Nabi until he climbed up a tree, then shot him dead.

The April incident is only the latest in a string of extrajudicial killings by vigilantes for blasphemy, which is punishable by death under Pakistani law.”

Although it was hardly a funny situation, I had to chuckle. The local mullah was so offended by the actions of Mr. Nabi that he filed blasphemy charges which, according to the Monitor article, is punishable by death in Pakistan. The man’s actions were so heinous that 400 villagers chased him up a tree and later killed him. What were these horrific actions? Causing a Qur’an to fall on the floor.

Now, it is true that I did not witness the incident between Mr. Nabi and his wife, but if what was reported had actually transpired, isn’t something very wrong here? There are many problematic aspects to this case. First, the reaction to the “blasphemy” against the Qu’ran. Yes, it is wrong to treat the Qur’an with disrespect, such as purposefully throwing the book on the floor. But, in this case, the Qur’an accidentally fell to the floor. Did it really warrant killing the man? Even if Mr. Nabi threw the Qur’an on the floor, did the villagers have the right to kill him? To take the law into their own hands? To deprive Mrs. Nabi of her husband? To take away the father of her children (assuming they had children)? In one word: NO.

Second – and much more importantly – it seemed that the more heinous crime was completely disregarded in this case: Mr. Nabi’s actions toward his wife. I mean, why did the Qur’an end up on the floor in the first place? His wife was shielding herself with the Qur’an. It seems that Mrs. Nabi was so afraid that she sought to shield herself with the word of God. Shouldn’t the mullah have charged the man with domestic violence? Shouldn’t Mr. Nabi – again, assuming this incident actually took place – have been punished for attacking his wife? What’s worse: causing the Qur’an to fall to the floor, or pushing your wife onto the floor? My vote is the latter.

This case highlights a major problem of many Muslims today: missing “the big picture,” failing to see the “forest for the trees.” The mullah and villagers of Spin Kakh were so focused on the Qur’an falling to the floor – the “trees” – that they seemed to completely miss that the man may be abusing his wife, which is a far greater crime in the eyes of God – the “forest.” I live this sort of paradox every week of my life: during Friday prayer.

Inevitably, a Muslim brother will double park his car in order to catch the Friday prayer on time. After the prayer finishes, rather than get up right away and move his car – a car that is blocking the cars of fifty other worshippers anxious to get back to work – he stays behind and prays a number of “sunnah” prayers. Does this make sense? Which action – do you think – will get more reward from God: staying behind and making a few extra prayers or moving his car to let fellow Muslims go back to work? My vote, again, is the latter.

If said man is SO keen on making a few extra prayers after Friday prayers, then why doesn’t he move his car out of the way and find another spot in which to park? Now that the prayer is over, I’m sure he can find another parking space with ease. Then, he can go back to the mosque and pray as many “sunnah” prayers his heart desires. Isn’t this better? I think so. To stay behind in the mosque to pray, while needlessly inconveniencing dozens of other worshippers, seems to be the epitome of “missing the forest for the trees.”

Now, I can almost hear the objection of some who will read what I have just written and say, “So, we shouldn’t pray sunnah after the Friday prayer?!!!” No, (chuckle) that is not what I am saying. I am saying that we shouldn’t block other people from going back to work after Friday prayer, and if that means that we have to forgo praying “sunnah” prayers after the Friday prayer, then so be it. In my mind, blocking people from going back to work by double parking is far worse than missing the 2-4 rak’at sunnah after Friday prayer. Don’t you agree?

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