On Jan. 11, 2010, Imran Ghafur Masih was sentenced to life in prison and fined 100,000 rupees ($1,155 U.S.), according to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts. His family has appealed the decision to the Pakistan High Court and is awaiting a hearing date.
On July 1, 2009, Pakistani police arrested Imran Ghafur in Punjab province after Muslims accused him of burning pages of the Quran. While cleaning his brother’s retail shop, Imran removed the trash he had collected, intending to burn some of it. While burning the trash, pages of an Islamic book flew into the fire and burned. Imran’s neighbor, Haji Liaqat, saw the burned pages of the Islamic book and alerted other Muslims in the area. “Haji Liaqat saw the burned pages, and he aggressively told all resident people and travelers that Imran burnt the pages of a Quran also,” a VOM contact said. “He was telling everybody that Imran Ghafur is burning the Quran … he should be killed.”
Imran and his father were severely beaten before police arrested Imran. Following the arrest, news of the incident spread throughout the city, and angry Muslims threw stones at the police station where Imran was being held. “Give the death sentence to him who disgraces the Holy Quran, and hang him who disgraces the Holy Quran,” the Muslims said. “Christians are dogs; Imran is a dog,” they shouted.
On July 2, 2009, Imran was moved to a jail. “The situation is very tense in Hajwari town, where the Christian families live,” the VOM contact said. “Haji Liaqat and his friends are saying that they will not allow Imran’s family to live in the colony or run their business.”
Imran and his family have been managing businesses in the area and are actively involved with other Christians in the area.
Imran Released - Dec. 2020
Imran Ghafur was acquitted and released late last year. During his 10 years in prison, Imran fought the blasphemy charge through the court system, with multiple delays. In Nov. 2020, a scheduled hearing was delayed without explanation, but on Dec. 8, the court acquitted Imran of all charges. He was released to his family on Christmas Day. He is currently in hiding as extremists angry about the court’s decision continue to issue threats.
December 2020 update
Imran’s brother recently visited VOM workers in Pakistan to give an update about his brother. “You have been helping us since 2010, and we are grateful. In our area, due to corona, many people are jobless and don’t have food to eat. God is our helper through you,” he said.
Naveed visited Imran in jail to bring him winter clothing and a blanket. Imran passed along his thanks and requested that he be remembered in prayer. “Please pray for freedom for me,” he told Naveed.
Nov. 12 Trial Delayed
Imran's Nov. 12, 2015 court date did not take place, as one of the attorneys was sick. Court clerks told Imran's family that a new date would be scheduled.
Singing Songs at Midnight
In March 2012, Imran Ghafur's family told us how Imran spends his time in prison. At midnight, Imran prays and sings spiritual songs. Sometimes Muslim prisoners join him and ask him to pray for them. Imran also spends a lot of time in prayer and Bible reading. He is anxious to be released so he can "do missionary work for Jesus."
Please pray for his family, who seemed to be feeling particularly low last month.
Thank You for Your Prayers
On Thursday, May 26, 2011, Imran’s brother, Naveed, visited Imran in jail. Naveed told Imran many people were praying for him and he asked Imran what message he wanted to give VOM and other prayer partners.
Imran had tears of joy in his eyes. He said, “I am thankful to Lord for this help. I wish that I could personally meet and thank you, but I am in jail. I cannot do that, but I promise, the day I come out of this prison, surely I will thank you for this love and prayers.”
Imran said he is using his time in prison to study God's Word. "I am happy the Lord wants to use me for his Kingdom."