A SCOTS writer has been threatened with beheading by extremists after he claimed fasting between dawn and sunset during the month of Ramadan is not a requirement in the Quran, the Sunday Herald can reveal.
Paigham Mustafa and his family have been offered protection by police after several fundamentalists branded him a "Kafir", which means disbeliever, and issued death threats.
Mustafa claims to be living under a fatwa issued in 2001 by 15 imams in Glasgow after he published a series of articles questioning mosque teachings. The married father of three later published his book The Quran: God's Message to Mankind, his interpretation of the central religious text of Islam.
Last week, a letter written by Mustafa questioning the practice of fasting during Ramadan was published and subsequently posted on Facebook.
In a series of threatening messages under the post, one critic said: “Shut up or else you will get your head chopped off … shut up or else you will be beheaded … shut up you Kafir dog … you will get beheaded … we will kill you kafir.”
A separate message sent privately by another critic said: “Quran says kill people like you. You deserve to be killed. We will kill you.”
Another post by a third critic warned: “Don’t talk about Islam you Kafir. Remove this post Kafir. Or else you will get killed like Rashad Khalifa.”
Khalifa was an Egyptian American who was stabbed to death in 1990 by an Islamic fundamentalist at a mosque where he worked in Tucson, Arizona. Like Mustafa, Khalifa wrote a book about the Quran and his analysis and his subsequent claim to be a prophet led to the 11th Majlis al-Fuqaha' (Council of Religious Scholars) to brand Khalifa a Kafir in 1989. He was killed less than a year later.
Mustafa fears he will be targeted by fundamentalists in the UK and compared himself to Asad Shah, who was stabbed to death in a religiously-motivated murder in Glasgow in 2016. Shah’s killer, Tanveer Ahmed, said Shah had “disrespected the messenger of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad”.
Speaking to the Sunday Herald after he received death threats, Mustafa said: “I feel very tense and my family are extremely anxious and worried. As we saw with the case of Asad Shah, there are people in the UK who are quite capable of carrying out these threats. It’s happened once and it’s quite possible it could happen again.”
In his letter about Ramadan, Mustafa wrote: “Contrary to popular practice, ritual fasting is not prescribed in the Quran.”
He went on to describe ritual fasting as “another detrimental facet of religion and no part of Islam”.
Mustafa told this newspaper: “I think it is important to emphasise that it is not Islam that I am against. I simply want to make people aware of those rituals that are not in the Quran. I did not say that it is wrong to fast, but ritual fasting is not decreed.”
Mustafa said he has received death threats in the past but the apparent coordinated response to his comments unsettled him.
“Sometimes people say threatening things to me online but in this case a number of people made death threats, which is troubling.
“I have a contact at Police Scotland who told me I must report this immediately. Security services are now involved and they’re taking measures to find out who these people are. They are also offering additional protection at my home and at my work.”
Mustafa added: “I am happy to have an open discussion [with critics], but death threats are not decreed in the Quran and those who make such threats need to question whether they are following Quranic values.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman confirmed that officers are investigating but no one has been charged.