His guests, David Miliband and some other clown, rush to absolve Islam from any responsibility for this, going on to argue with him that this is a Pakistani problem. They do not, however, address Maher’s point, that this blasphemy death sentence was just affirmed by a high court in Pakistan. His implication was that the court is made up entirely of Muslims, and they are officials of an Islamic Republic; is it really likely that they are finding a death penalty for blasphemy in Islamic law when there is none there? Nonetheless, Maher is ill-equipped to defend his point, and so he doesn’t, and says at the end of the segment, whether sarcastically or not I don’t know, “Right. It’s all just about Pakistan.”
Maher had earlier said that the punishment for blasphemy was in the Qur’an. It can arguably be found in this verse: “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.” (5:33)
Also: “Those who annoy Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this World and in the Hereafter, and has prepared for them a humiliating Punishment” (33:57)
And: “If they violate their oaths after pledging to keep their covenants, and attack your religion, you may fight the leaders of paganism – you are no longer bound by your covenant with them – that they may refrain” (9:12).
There is more in the hadith. In one, Muhammad asked: “Who is willing to kill Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?” One of the Muslims, Muhammad bin Maslama, answered, “O Allah’s Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?” When Muhammad said that he would, Muhammad bin Maslama said, “Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab).” Muhammad responded: “You may say it.” Muhammad bin Maslama duly lied to Ka’b, luring him into his trap, and murdered him. (Bukhari 5.59.369)
“A Jewess used to abuse the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and disparage him. A man strangled her till she died. The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) declared that no recompense was payable for her blood.” (Sunan Abu-Dawud 38.4349)
In light of these passages and others like them, there is clear justification in Islam for a death penalty against blasphemy. Miliband and the other guy, and Maher as well, would have had a more illuminating and useful discussion if they had addressed this material and strategized on ways to pressure Pakistan and other Islamic states that enforce the death penalty for blasphemy to stop doing so. But such illuminating discussions are not afforded a platform in the mainstream media.
“Maher: Pakistan Punishes Blasphemy with Death, but I’m Wrong on Islam?,” by Josh Feldman, Mediaite, October 17, 2014:
Bill Maher has been getting a bit of flak recently for his views on Islam, and he followed up tonight by bringing up a case of a Pakistani high court upholding a woman’s death sentence for supposedly making derogatory remarks about Muhammad. Maher sarcastically said, “So yeah, Sam Harris and I were way off on that.”
Maher did get some pushback from guest David Miliband, who argued “it’s one thing to take on a religion, the other thing is to take on the people who are abusing the religion.” Maher shot back, “But if that’s popular with the people, they’re not that different.”…