Yahaya Sharif-Aminu: Blasphemy and Death Sentence Revisited
While the Muslim Lawyers Association, the Council of Imams, and the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria have called for the execution of the Muslim singer, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, I urge a stay of action and ask that the death sentence be reconsidered and quashed.
Here I argue that Sharif-Aminu did not commit any crime as the sharia court in Kano had ruled. First of all, as in cases of capital punishment, there is a risk-a high risk of executing an innocent person. Sharif-Aminu’s is a typical case.
The Kano state government is about to execute an innocent person. Unfortunately, all Muslim associations, including the Christian Association of Nigeria, that have come out in support of the death sentence, have not considered this possibility-that Sharif-Aminu could be innocent and that the sharia court could have erred in judgment. Nobody has bothered to ask. What if the sharia court was wrong?
Look, the sharia court in Kano sentenced Sharif-Aminu to death for insulting the prophet of Islam in his song. Right? Ok. What if it is later found out, after executing this sentence, that the song did not insult the prophet, Muhammad. I mean, someone’s life is at stake here. And we need to thoughtfully and painstakingly look at the facts.
Imagine this. The parties that were not insulted were the ones who determined and punished the insult. And they have gone to the extent of ruling that the insulter, Sharif-Aminu, be killed. And no Muslim organization sees nothing wrong in this Islamic misstep and judgmental overstep? Let us assume that by some stretch of Islamic sense, this Muslim singer insulted the prophet of Islam. Who will be the ultimate judge? A sharia court judge in Kano? No. The Muslim Lawyers Association, the Council of Imam, or the Supreme Council for Sharia? Not at all. It is the prophet, Muhammad.
Now, the prophet of Islam, who is the one that was allegedly insulted did not affirm-or was not in the position to affirm- that he had been insulted. So, how could a sharia court judge sitting in Kano and all these Islamic busybodies determine beyond a reasonable doubt that Sharif-Aminu insulted the prophet of Islam, and should be executed? Is it not viciously presumptuous of this judge? Is it not a demonstration of lack of wisdom on the part of all who support the death sentence to think that Sharif-Aminu should be killed at this instance?
Once again I urge the Kano state government not to execute Sharif-Aminu because he did not commit any crime in the song that he circulated on Whatsapp. This Muslim singer exercised his right to freedom of expression and belief. He sang a song that reflected his beliefs. Muslims who disagree with his song and message should release and circulate a song that reflects their own beliefs. Muslims say that there is no compulsion in religion. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The death sentence passed on Sharif-Aminu for merely singing a song is an indisputable affirmation that there is a compulsion in the practice and profession of Islam in Nigeria.
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