Early this week, an upper Sharia Court in Kano sentences a musician to death for Blasphemy against the Noble Prophet of Islam (SAW). The Presiding Judge was yet to finish reading the Judgement when people took to social media to condemn the action.
The issue of Blasphemy has attracted jungle justice in the past with the same people calling for legal prosecution as opposed to Jungle Justice.
Ironically, the two Major religions kicked against Blasphemy and prescribed punishment for such. Most of the people that condemned the act are neither Muslim nor an Indigene of Kano or a close family member of the blasphemer. It is a raw case of crying more than the bereaved and an act deliberate provocation against the faith of other people.
Despite our differences, Nigerians are very religious and holds issue of their faith dear to their heart. Agreed, the Northern part of the country are mainly Muslims while reasonable number of people in the Southern part of the country are Christians.
The determinant factor of a punishment for Blasphemy is not contained in our perception and opinions rather in the Holy Books and the law of the land. Unfortunately, what is being expressed so far is about ‘this is how it should be’ and ‘why will a religion prescribed death penalty for Blasphemy.
Those who expressed this view are mostly Christians based in either South East or even South West of Nigeria.
Now let’s burry our feeling and read what the Bible say about punishment for Blasphemy.
In the book of Leviticus, which is in the Old Testament of the holy Bible, God actually ordered the killing of a certain man who blasphemed the name of the Lord. In that Bible verses, God instructed Moses to put forward that man that blasphemed so that the people around will put him to death through stoning. That instruction from God to Christians through Moses was seen in the book of Leviticus chapter 24:10-16. See the Holy Bible instructions
*Leviticus 24 15 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. 16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death. 17 And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.**
In the book of – Leviticus 24:10–16. The Lord Said ““Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death” (v. 16).
Taking the Lord’s name in vain (Deut. 5:11) happens in many ways. As we have seen, this sin can refer merely to casual irreverent speech about God. However, vain use of His name can also mean cursing Him, which is the subject of today’s passage.
Although every misuse of God’s name is a serious sin, not every instance of blasphemy merits the same consequences. Just as the law distinguishes between first-degree murder and murder caused by carelessness (manslaughter), prescribing different punishments (Num. 35:9–34), it shows that certain forms of blasphemy are worse than others. Cursing the name of the Lord is a particularly brazen violation of the third commandment. This was particularly true when the son of Shelomith cursed God in the Israelite camp. In other words, he blasphemed in the very midst of the community among whom the Creator chose to dwell.
He cursed God in a location close to the Most Holy Place (Lev. 24:10–12). Such audacity reflected a profound hardness of heart. After all, it is serious enough to curse God outside of His church, but how much more serious is it to spit on His name in His church, that is, among His holy people?
Faced with this challenge, Moses and the leaders of Israel asked God what to do. The Lord prescribed death by stoning (vv. 13–16). If this punishment seems excessively harsh to us, it likely indicates the irreverence of which we are all so often guilty.
The death penalty according to the Bible
Several years ago Dan Van Ness, then president of Justice Fellowship wrote A Call to Dialogue on Capital Punishment. It was not meant to take sides on the death penalty, but rather explore some of the important issues raised by the various sides. This article is excerpted from Dan’s monograph. Dan now works with Prison Fellowship International.
Does Scripture mandate, prohibit, or permit capital punishment? Christians are divided on this issue. Let’s summarize the arguments for each position:
Scripture mandates capital punishment
The principal argument is that because life is sacred, those who wrongfully take another human life must lose their own lives. This is a form of restitution; a matter of justice— the state purging itself of those who shed innocent blood. Proponents of this position cite three scriptural arguments:
Genesis 9:6 says, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” This is part of the larger covenant that God made with Noah after the flood. It not only reflects the great value of human life, but also gives the reason for that value: Man is made in God’s image. The absolute language of Genesis 9:6 suggests that all those who kill another human being must be killed. And since this mandate was given long before the Mosaic Law to all who survived the flood, it apparently has universal application.
The Law, as given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, ordained execution for several offenses: murder (but not accidental killings), striking or cursing a parent, kidnapping, adultery, incest, bestiality, sodomy, rape of a betrothed virgin, witchcraft, incorrigible delinquency, breaking the Sabbath, blasphemy, sacrificing to false gods, oppressing the weak, and other transgressions. (See Exod. 21, 22, 35; Lev. 20 & 24; Deut. 21-24.) (Source: Learning Bibleonline)
Given the above, I finds difficult to see the reasons while some people will hides under this Judgement to disparage the Religion of Islam.