E Mullah الیکٹرونک مُلا: Blasphemy III .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Blasphemy III


At the height of Mohammad's (PBUH) depiction in Danish cartoon controversy (started by Jyllands-Posten), I am receiving a mixed reaction around the globe. Some of us don't care while others are concerned. Muslim scholars, Mullahs, and heads of States in Muslim countries are coming forward and offering solace and comfort to bereaved Muslim soul. Even people like Musharraf and Karzi are appealing the outraged Muslims to stay calm but their words are still entertaining the Muslim sensibilities by suggesting that the depiction of Prophet Mohammad is despicable and we condemn the publishing of cartoons. Even King Abdullah said today in his meeting with President Bush that violence is unacceptable and protests should be peaceful (emphasis is mine). Many in the Western countries on the other hand have joined to declare a war against Muslim protesters. A new generation of home bred cartoonists is publishing their own cartoons about Muslim extremists and the Prophet of Islam on the web, on Blogsphere in particular, in solidarity to Danes right of free speech. Not only appalling is all this but making me wonder where the world is heading to.

Apart from the issue that depiction of prophet of Islam is prohibited in paintings and pictures, or how west would respond considering it a war of liberty, and whether these acts of iconic blasphemy have occurred in Muslim tradition as well or not, no one is telling us:

  • How Prophet of Islam Muhammad (PBUH) would have reacted if he would have been alive today and confronted this issue?
  • Do Muslims have a right to demand an apology from a non-muslim who is living under a different government or set of moral values?
In order to answer these two questions let's assume for the sake of argument that Prophet is alive today and some acts of, so called, blasphemy are committed so that we can learn something from him. This assumption should not be unreasonable as Muslims believe in tradition of the Prophet and should do the same as their Prophet would do. Therefore, I imagine the following acts as blasphemous from Muslim sensibility's point of view; happening to prophet of Islam in front of the eyes of Muslims who have chosen to take streets in protest:

  • A Bedouin arrives and start beating the prophet; everyone rushes to stop him...
  • Another Bedouin arrives and desecrates the prophet's place of worship in response to nature call. Everyone rushes to beat him up...…
  • People of 'Tiaf' valley stoned him in response to his invitation to Islam and he bleeds so profusely from head to toe that his shoes are filled with his blood. Even heaven and earth could not take it anymore and angel Gabriel descends from haven to offer punishment to blasphemous beings ...
  • A woman is so sick of prophet that she starts throwing her daily household waste on him....
  • People mock at him; call him a magician; and a liar....
  • People make fun of him in every possible way.....
  • Least but not last they make caricatures of Prophet in newspapers...
All the blasphemy scenarios except the last --which has just occurred-- happened in his life time and the only thing he offered in response was mercy.

  • He forgave the Bedouin who would beat him.
  • He let the Bedouin finish his nature call and after that ordered his companion to wash and clean the Masjid. Only thing he said to Bedouin was this is not a place to relief ones self from natures call.
  • He not only refused the punishment offered by angel Gabriel to people of Tiaf but remarked as well that they don’t know what they are doing?
  • One day the woman did not throw anything on him so he knocked at her door to inquire if she is doing alright. He found out that she is ill and he did the best by taking care of her and cleaning her house.
  • In all the other events he did not let emotions run over rather stayed calm and remained merciful.
Looking at the tradition of Prophet, I am sure if the cartoon event had occurred when he was alive he would have smiled at his followers and dismissed their protests and said they don't know what they are doing. Why no one is talking about that? If Prophet had allowed Muslims to respond in all of the above circumstances with force it meant that he would allow them to worship his-self. He was an embodiment of mercy. The truth is that Allah would tell him that he is angry with mankind and people who oppose him but the Prophet in his prayers always beg Allah for his mercy for the entire mankind.

In my less than humble opinion all the responses that are coming out so far are catering to Muslim sensibilities and are either not helping or making the situation even worse. You earn respect through your actions not protests or burning embassies or demanding death for the cartoonist. The Muslim countries must take a tough stance on this and educate protestors about the tradition of prophet and tell the protestors to go home. The burning of embassies, churches, harming ambassadors and citizens of Western countries should be considered a punishable act in Islam. Muslim countries must take a tougher stance that they would not tolerate these acts. If a Muslim ambassador is harmed in another land Islamic Shariah declares a war onto the offending nation. In times of Prophet his companion Osman traveled to Mecca as his ambassador to negotiate peace. News broke out that he has been killed. Prophet took oath along with his companions to avenge the killing of his ambassador..... Having said that....from a similar perspective the ambassadors and embassies of other countries should be treated in a same way as Islamic law treats its own embassies and ambassadors. I want to ask Muslims how they would feel if foreign countries avenge the demolition of their embassies the same way the Prophet of Islam wanted to avenge the death of his ambassador.
Many Westerns have a misconception as well that this issue has helped to bring out all the terrorists hidden in their cells. I feel that everyone out there to protest was not a terrorist but just misguided because even the moderates have been commenting that we should go out there and at least protest in a peaceful manner to make our voice heard. It is very unfortunate that emotions are driving Muslim sensibilities. In very same way, my western readers are angry and believe they have to rattle some cages and furnish a tough response to Muslim protests because it is a war on Western liberty. I disagree with all because I don't see any need for protest. Best of all I see the dialogue as the finest way to tackle this issue. Those who want to continue the war of offense in the name of freedom of speech should also know that first you have to teach these people about freedom and democracy before you can teach them freedom of speech. War will lead us nowhere but to destruction of entire humanity.

Tariq Ramdan is a Swedish-Muslim (a controversial figure though). However, his response is somewhat sensible than any other Muslim scholar or head of state (if he really believes in what he says). This was the kind of response that I had been looking for (Source: Watandost). In his interview with Nathan Gardels from Switzerland Tariq Ramadan argues that
"Muslims must understand that laughing at religion is a part of the broader culture in which they live in Europe, going back to Voltaire. Cynicism, irony and indeed blasphemy are part of the culture."
Islam does not allow Muslims to behave in a rude and irresponsible manner. Therefore, in my opinion whoever is trying to comment on the issue his/her talk should proceed from what is mentioned by Tariq Ramadan. In Tariq Ramdan's words:
"When you live in such an environment as a Muslim, it is really important to be able to take a critical distance and not react so emotionally. You need to hold to your Islamic principles, but be wise enough not to overreact to provocation."
As we have seen now that boycotting Danish products (although I have disagreement on this issue as well and I still love Danish cookies) would have been a more powerful and peaceful response than taking streets and burning embassies. Again I will seek help from Tariq Ramdan. He says:
"For Muslim majority countries to react emotionally to these cartoons (with boycotts) is to nurture the extremists on the other side, making it a test of wills. On one side, the extremists argue that, "See, we told you, the West is against Islam," and on the other side they say, "See, Muslims can't be integrated into Europe, and they are destroying our values by not accepting what we stand for." This way of opening a debate on emotional grounds is, in fact, a way of closing the door on rational discourse."
As far as the explanation of Muslim behavior worldwide is concerned, Ramdan says:
  • First, it is against Islamic principles to represent in imagery not only Mohammed, but all the prophets of Islam. This is a clear prohibition.
  • Second, in the Muslim world, we are not used to laughing at religion, our own or anybody else's. This is far from our understanding. For that reason, these cartoons are seen, by average Muslims and not just radicals, as a transgression against something sacred, a provocation against Islam.
  • Yes! These two points do explain the phenomena but I do not endorse Mr. Tariq Ramdan in this regard. It should be kept in mind that these principles may apply to Muslims and Muslim countries only and not to Muslims and Non -Muslims in Britain, France, and USA etc. If a Muslim would have committed that kind of mockery the outrage could have been justified. Yet in Prophets teaching forgiveness is better. We know from the tradition of prophet that he knew about hypocrites but he did not punish them. (Update: In my most recent study I have figured out that Allah says in Quran that such mockery will happen however no where he advises Muslims to act in a manner that they are doing at the moment across the globe).

    For overly concerned Muslims, I must ask which Muhammad we are talking about. Mohammad who? The one who was prophet of Islam or the one that appeared in Danish cartoons. To me they are two separate entities. So as to speak of Mohammad in caricatures, to me it is depiction of today's misguided Muslims. The Islamic world is abundant with self-proclaimed Mohammads. For majority of Muslims having first name Mohammad is equivalent to Islamic baptism. In order to show their love, or probably out of reverence for prophet, Muslims name their sons Mohammad XYZ apart from the fact that many of them even don't know about the teachings of their own religion. This act of naming their children Mohammad can be considered equivalent to worshiping Mohammad (PBUH) or bringing shame to the prophet of Islam which is evident from what Muslims are doing in their outlaw world.
    • So I dare to ask Mohammad who? You or me! Or the prophet of Islam?
    While many consider the cartoon distasteful and not dare to look at it out of reverence for prophet of Islam, I dared to look at the cartoon. The cartoon with a bomb shaped turban resembles more to a 'Sikh' more than it does to a Muslim. Even the turban is 'Khalsa' genre. So little, the cartoonist knew about Islam or Mohammad. That even makes it more distasteful and unappetizing for any comment---yet I am commenting because of all the controversy out there.

    Mona Omar Attia, Egypt's ambassador to Denmark, said after a meeting with Rasmussen that she was satisfied with the position of the Danish government but noted the prime minister had said he could not interfere with the press.

    "This means the whole story will continue and that we are back to square one again. The government of Denmark has to do something to APPEASE the Muslim world,"
    I don't consider it reasonable to ask for apologies from those who do not even know about Islam or the prophet of Islam. By demanding an apology Muslims are not only making fun out of their selves but rejecting the tradition of the Prophet of Islam. I wish Attia had said otherwise because asking for an apology is itself a mockery of not only the tradition of Prophet but an effort by Muslims themselves lampooning the principles of Islam. Islamic law does not hold anyone else liable for someone else’s actions. Is it consistent with the principles of justice in Islam?

    What should we do-- Muslims ask? -----Well! What We need is a coordinated effort to teach peace to everyone and tradition of Prophet to enraged Muslims in particular.
    Many people would consider me blasphemous if I tell them Prophet would smile and dismiss all the protest against the cartoonist. As I am finishing my post I do have support from what is just published in today's Washington post. Sheik Abdul-Aziz Arafa, a Muslim scholar who teaches in Mecca at the Grand Mosque and at the Sawlatia School, a religious institute that is 125 years old says:

    "What most people don't understand," he said, "is the strong bond, the powerful link that connects Muslims and their prophet, God's prayers and peace upon him. He is sitting with us right now. When we talk about him, he is present, listening, and when we send him greetings, he sends them right back."
    Samir Barqah who hosted Shiekh's lecture is amazingly quoting the same story from prophet of Islam that I have quoted above.

    At the end of the lesson, Barqah mentioned the torching of the Danish Embassy in Syria. "Just this week I was telling my young students to take advantage of the situation and educate the West about the prophet, God's prayers and blessings upon him. But now, instead of getting an apology, it is us who are apologizing for the actions of some emotional, inflamed young people."

    Barqah shook his head in dismay and recounted an anecdote. Muhammad lay bleeding and injured after being stoned by young men in the mountain city of Taif. But he never exacted revenge on them and turned it down when the angels offered it. "We have only to go back to his examples to see that he never returned an insult with an insult. He remained balanced and steady. He would not have been happy about the turn of events," Barqah said wistfully.
    I am sure more and more Muslims will speak up against the reaction that is shown by the ignorant masses in the Muslim world and teach the tradition of Prophet to their fellow beings. As Barqah says that Muslims should apologize to Danes for burning their embassies, I suggest you go and check this website by Muslim youth http://www.sorrynorwaydenmark.com/ to show support to Danes and Norwegians.

    So JMJ this is finally my response. For a while I was thinking that this issue does not affect me in anyway so why do I care? In fact, whatever, is going on in the Muslim world is an attack on my freedom and liberty as well; the liberty that I enjoyed in this country. The liberty and freedom that I did not have back home in Pakistan. In Pakistan I was afraid to go for a prayer that I might get killed in an attack on the mosque by another Muslim sect. In a Muslim state I was more distant from my religion and Allah.

    Is that Islam all about that people are forced to stay away from their belief? While Allah himself says there is no compulsion in religion!


    • e mullah:
      Very nicely done!! :)

      Your post brought a smile to my face because of the courage and wisdom you have shown in demonstrating that dialogue is indeed the answer. You have taught me much in the short time we have been interacting and I can see a change already in my views.

      But unfortunately, as you noted, much still needs to be done.

      But this is a very good start indeed!

      I especially liked your comment about one needing to learn first about freedom and democracy before one can truely understand freedom of speech. With slightly different wording, Pastorius and I were just talking about that very thing tonight.

      The question is how do we do that? Especially before the world explodes in a rage of anger and disrespect?

      Thank you so much for the significant effort and (extremely valuable) time that you have put into your post!

      You being a teacher, I would give your effort an A+ and a "Good Job"!

      I will comment further tomorrow.

      Take care my friend! :)

      By Blogger JMJ, at Wednesday, February 08, 2006 11:34:00 PM  

    • This is a great post. I really don't have words for it.


      By Blogger Viks, at Thursday, February 09, 2006 8:43:00 PM  

    • e mullah,
      I hope you don't mind but I stole some of this from you.

      I think there are two Islams and two Mohammed's.

      Forget history. Start with today.

      New Islam (non-violence,peace)- greatly influenced by God or Allah

      Old Islam (violence,war)- greatly influenced by man and his quest for power (in God's or Allah's name)

      By Blogger JMJ, at Friday, February 10, 2006 1:51:00 AM  

    • Not really!

      I have quoted historical accounts to show how prophet tried to propogate peace. Recently Watan Dost guy has posted an article publised in a Jewsih newspaper that pays tribute to prophet of Islam and is worth reading.

      For more reading I would suggest you to read that terror thing III by chapati mystery.

      You have come up with an intellectual debate, I wish I have time for this to write more but I just went to delve into my dissertation.

      By Blogger E Mullah الیکٹرونک مُلا, at Friday, February 10, 2006 10:43:00 AM  

    • I will keep it short so as not to tempt you away form your Phd work.

      The part I stole from you is the two Mohammeds.

      And that was not done very well because I then referred to the two Islams. My fault.

      It was not meant to be dismissive of history or Mohammed. In fact, I saved your excellent post for future reference.

      What I was trying to do was find simplicity and truth.

      I frequently interact with a fair number of muslims on the forums and there does seem to be some differences of opinions about history. Just like the bible.

      People go round and round with the details of history, frequently finding no common denominator.

      Simplicity (the older I get, the harder it is to find), I feel, holds much value in communicating and understandig concepts.

      You might google (during your breaks) the "Newspaper Index" forum (started by the Danish journalist hans) to see how the debates go round and round in arguing the details of scripture.

      I place much validity in your post and will read your suggested sources later.


      PS: Would you rather me post my thoughts at one of your friends blogs so I do not bother you and your PhD work? i feel like I am being a pest. Good people and their blogs are hard to find.

      By Blogger JMJ, at Friday, February 10, 2006 5:40:00 PM  

    • e mullah,
      In fact, I just posted a comment on Watan Dost's site yesterday. I learned about him from you. He seems very good and knowledgable. I look forward to reading him some more.

      I asked Watan for verses from the quran regarding depicting Mohammed. I think this is a very important point that no one seems to be asking.

      Because if there is not a verse(s), but just an Islamic principle then the debate changes all together.

      By Blogger JMJ, at Friday, February 10, 2006 5:48:00 PM  

    • BTW, last night on Charlie Rose, Hihad Awad from CAIR made reference to your story about Mohammed and the lady with the trash. I loved it!! This speaks volumes!

      But then why are there so many different opinions and references to violence in the quran?
      Sorry. I will leave you alone now and go hang out at Watan's site and leave you alone so you can do your work. :)

      By Blogger JMJ, at Friday, February 10, 2006 5:52:00 PM  

    • e mullah,

      Applying the facts of your post, I think I reversed the "simplistic" concepts that I was trying to introduce into the debate.

      I think maybe there are two Islams.

      Old Islam (non-violence,peace)- greatly influenced by God or Allah
      New Islam (violence,war)- greatly influenced by man and his quest for power (in God's or Allah's name)
      I see this in Christianity as well.
      We will discuss this later after your work is done. I will be at Watan's site.

      Good luck with your work!

      By Blogger JMJ, at Friday, February 10, 2006 7:54:00 PM  

    • Don't try to pull me in argument. I am already getting lot of heat at Chowk; the South Asian forum. You may be able to provoke and engage people are Chowk. Tonight I will watch Pink Panther and then for two days have a marthon research session.

      By Anonymous emullah, at Friday, February 10, 2006 9:09:00 PM  

    • Very good. No more. My apologies. :)

      By Blogger JMJ, at Friday, February 10, 2006 10:00:00 PM  

    • engage people at Chowk

      By Anonymous emullah, at Saturday, February 11, 2006 1:20:00 AM  

    • The burning of embassies, churches, harming ambassadors and citizens of Western countries should be considered a punishable act in Islam.

      The burning of embassies, churches, harming ambassadors and citizens of Western countries should be considered a punishable act under Western laws. In fact, they are against our laws.

      Under our laws, a protest like the one in Britain where threats of violence and terrorism are made are also illegal. Not that this matters. You may have noticed that we rarely enforce our laws in these cases, which is one reason why this violence continues. Wouldn't you agree?

      By Blogger maryatexitzero, at Saturday, February 11, 2006 8:32:00 AM  

    • sigh!..complicated world

      By Anonymous emullah, at Saturday, February 11, 2006 11:06:00 AM  

    • E Mullah,

      Outstanding work.

      I can only thank you for the time you took away from your own life to post such a fantastic piece.

      I have used part of it on a new post at Fu2rman.


      In our correspondence, I was eager to rattle cages, but as I admitted in my latest post, I see how that may be misguided.

      Anyway, good luck with the disertation, and I'll talk to you again soon...

      The Fu2rman

      By Blogger Fu2rman, at Sunday, February 12, 2006 3:55:00 AM  

    • thanks every one for sharing your thoughts and at the sametime educating me a lot.

      By Blogger E Mullah الیکٹرونک مُلا, at Tuesday, February 21, 2006 2:21:00 PM  

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