Bangladesh rejects religious rule

Last week a Bangladeshi High Court ruled that all judgments and punishments outside of the legal system, including those made … Continued

Last week a Bangladeshi High Court ruled that all judgments and punishments outside of the legal system, including those made by religious authorities, are illegal. (Full story here)

The Court asserted that rulings and punishments made by people without proper judicial authority or on the basis of extrajudicial precepts are illegal. The court further directed authorities to take punitive action against anyone making such judgments and/or enforcing them, as well as against anyone involved in, taking part in, or simply observing the proceedings of such cases.

In particular the court noted that punishments such as caning, whipping or stoning are in direct violation of the Bangladeshi constitution that states no one shall be subject to cruel, inhumane, or degrading punishment.

This ruling is a direct blow against religious authorities who issue fatwa based upon their understanding of Shari’ah law. Bangladeshi civil rights groups are, rightfully, hailing the verdict as a victory for rule of law, and for women’s rights, as fatwa are disproportionately made against women.

While this ruling received scant attention in the worldwide media, it is a huge step forward for Bangladesh. It not only upholds the rule of law in Bangladesh, but also sets the tone for the entire Indian subcontinent where religious authorities and extremists have been taking matters into their own hands for years, and secular authorities have been all too willing to let them do so. Whether it is a vigilante militant throwing acid in the face of women who do not veil, or local councils passing religious judgments on their villagers, such extra judicial punishments and rulings are at best prejudicial as they subject certain groups to additional laws. At worst they are barbaric attempts to coerce religious observance and compliance to their own understanding of Islamic law.

The Qur’an tells us that there is to be no compulsion in religion; it is wonderful to see a Muslim country upholding this basic principle and standing firmly for religious freedom. The Qur’an also tells us we are all equal in the court of law, with equal duties and equal responsibilities; more kudos to Bangladesh for upholding this precept as well, and insisting that all its citizens should be subject to the same, duly formulated laws. One can only hope more Muslim nations follow their example.

  • PSolus

    “The Qur’an tells us that there is to be no compulsion in religion;…”Common sense should tell you that; you shouldn’t need to use a book of fables and mythology to figure that out.”The Qur’an also tells us we are all equal in the court of law, with equal duties and equal responsibilities;…”Again, common sense should tell you that; you shouldn’t need to use a book of fables and mythology to figure that out.

  • WmarkW

    “The Qur’an tells us that there is to be no compulsion in religion;”This is easily the most often quoted sura when Muslims speak to outside audiences. Where does it rank among Mosque sermons?

  • Safiyyah

    As Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa BarakatuThere is no such thing as a Muslim country, only Muslim populated countries. This is why we are starting to see separation between “church and state” in Muslim populated countries. Also, throwing acid in a person’s face and other such behaviors are not from Shariah law!

  • Arif2

    What is a modern Muslim? one who eats pork? drinks moderately? the women wear no veils? envision a world with other or no faiths?…

  • ak1967

    This is really a great news. This means that Bangladesh has separation of religion and state. Remarkable. And now if Pakistan does the same thing, the whole Indian subcontinent will thrive. Alas, it may not that easy in Pakistan, which is a hub of Islamic extremism.

  • Kingofkings1

    A “modern” muslim is someone who empathizes with those who wish to extinguish Islam. Anything less is insufficient

  • abrahamhab1

    “No compulsion in religion” is one of the most often quoted verses of Quran. It was written during the Muslim prophet’s early ministry when he hardly had any supporters. Yet later when he migrated to Medina and his following increased, he abrogated (repealed) this verse by many others, more notably 9:5 and 9:29 that openly incite for the physical elimination of whoever does not believe in his prophet hood. Muslims know this fact very well yet conveniently ignore it, especially since their Sharia (religious law) condones deception (taqqiya) if it “serves” their faith.

  • rksingh1987

    ” It not only upholds the rule of law in Bangladesh, but also sets the tone for the entire Indian subcontinent where religious authorities and extremists have been taking matters into their own hands for years”Dear Pamela, religious Authorities must be read Islamic authorities. Sub-continent also has a majority of Hindus. They dont take matters into their hands.

  • vishix1

    How can Bangladesh set the tone when India already has this rule? Wouldn’t a nation with 1.2 billion have greater say in the subcontinent? Must be muslim revisionism. How can one be a true muslim if they do not follow sharia?

  • moemongo

    She does look like a modern day Muslim. She reminds me of this neighbor I had who was 1st a catholic, then a Jew and last a Muslim. I think she is still a Muslim.

  • Nabihah

    Please check out

  • Stublore

    Does that equality apply to women?

  • arkns

    Bangladesh has a lot of problems my friends. There is a strain of radical Islam that rears its head from time to time. One of the main political parties in Bangladesh gets support from radical Islamists to maintain its political relevance. There are numerous madrassas along the border with India which incubate terrorists in close co-operation with Al-Queda and Pakistan-based terrorists groups. So Bangladesh presents a serious security risk to India. Indian intelligence agencies have to be on their toes to contain that risk. A Bangladeshi author who wrote “Lajja” or “Shame” recently sought asylum in India after Bangladeshi mullahs issued a fatwa to kill her. After she sought refuge in India, the Bangladeshi mullahs who have settled in India got together and held the Indian government to ransom. The Indian government was considering giving her asylum. But the Indian politicians partly as a result of chickening out and partly because they are experts at bending over backwards to appease Muslims, withdrew consideration for asylum. That was a shameful event in the recent history of a so-called modern secular democracy called India. If I were in the Indian government, I would issue shoot-at-sight orders to the Indian police and the para-military to deal with mullahs. My basic message to mullahs is–if you wish to live peacefully in secular democracies, you would have to abide by secular laws and respect the constitution of the country in which you live. We do not recognize barbaric Sharia laws and neither will we tolerate separatist movements. So the picture Ms. Taylor provides on Bangladesh is not the whole story. That country is also a hot bed of Islamic terrorism. According to some US intelligence agencies, Bangladesh needs to be watched very closely. It could be the next Pakistan.

  • arkns

    By the way, the author of “Lajja” Taslima Nasreen is now living in some Nordic country after India refused to grant asylum. A secular democracy held to ransom by mullahs! The Indian newspaper reported that the Police Chief of Bengal where Taslima sought refuge actually visited her and begged her to leave Bengal for another Indian state (Rajasthan) saying “We cannot protect you”. Wonderful isn’t it? Don’t underestimate the power of mullahs. And America, please don’t be naive and stop the immigration of mullahs before we have a similar situation here.

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