Activists celebrating the Bangladesh Supreme Court’s decision, on Wednesday, to uphold Mullah Rahman Nizami’s death sentence for allegedly committing atrocities and killings during the nation’s independence war against Pakistan in 1971. (Inset) Mullah Rahman Nizami is the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami. AP pic

The world has come to the point that Muslims are killing one another, while Western countries also take part in this terrifying conflict. Given the fact that there are extremely large numbers of Muslims dying in many places around the globe, some Muslim states are handing out death sentences to individuals for alleged crimes committed years or even decades ago, without batting an eyelash. One of these countries is Bangladesh.

Two days ago news reports were dreadful for Muslims, as well as for the entire humanity. The death sentence issued for 73-year-old Mullah Rahman Nizami, the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami was upheld in Bangladesh. Since 1973, 156 criminals facing death sentences were declared not guilty and released. This demonstrates that such executions are clearly ill-judged.

That being so, we urge Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to leave behind the incidents that took place 45 years ago and strive for a Bangladesh where love, peace, harmony and democracy will prevail.

There could be a small group that seeks to uphold the death sentences, but such a loveless approach could in the future raise serious problems for her and her country. Forgiveness, and a loving, friendly conduct will help in resolving all issues.

I would also like to make a humble request from my brother, Mullah Rahman Nizami, the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami who has made significant contributions to the Islamic world as a scholar.

For the sake of all his Muslim brothers who have great love for him and, most importantly, for the approval of God if there is any possibility for his death penalty to be commuted to life imprisonment, he should issue an apology.

Offering an apology will not impair his honour since the world is well aware of his devotion to God. Because when a Muslim is under risk of death, then he can speak out what is asked from him. Everyone would know that this was a necessary action to save a life.

At the time of our Prophet, the Companions also underwent hardship and were tortured in Meccan society. To save themselves from such torture, the Prophet advised his Muslim brothers to speak words of denial when they were threatened with death. This incident, which is considered to be the reason for the revelation of verse 106 of Surat an-Nahl, took place as follows:

“Those who reject God after having had faith — except for someone forced to do it whose heart remains at rest in its faith — but as for those whose breasts become dilated with disbelief, anger from God will come down on them. They will have a terrible punishment.”

Ammar (ra), whose family was martyred by means of torture, says that he has no faith to free himself from torture. Then one person approached the Prophet and claimed that Ammar had abandoned his religion. The Messenger of God responds to him: “No, Ammar is faithful from head to foot. Faith is in his flesh and bone.”

Meantime, Ammar arrives and the Prophet tells him the following: “If they force you again, you may seem to agree with them in words.” (Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Quran al-‘Azim, Istanbul, 1985, IV, 524)

In addition to these, asking for forgiveness does not imply the acceptance of the alleged crimes. Muslims who are well informed and knowledgeable of the verses of the Quran and the Sunnah of our Prophet would understand the circumstances and never be upset with this. Muslims have total trust in the faith of Mullah Rahman and would never be suspicious of him. Besides, making an excuse would never be degrading. On the contrary, by carrying out such conduct, my brother Mullah Rahman will be carrying out this commandment of God and will be able to serve in the way of God’s religion for a longer time.

Sheikh Hasina, in order to establish a perfectly secular, modern and progressive Bangladesh, which is your goal, I believe your conduct with gentleness in commuting the death penalties would be noteworthy. Your decision would find great appreciation in international public opinion, and history will never forget your exemplary conduct.

The writer has authored more than 300 books translated into 73 languages on politics, religion and science

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