Thursday, February 09, 2006

On the offensive cartoons

This was sent to me by Tim Boyle, a missionary in Japan. It was written by the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

FEBRUARY 9, 2006
1:01 PM

CONTACT: Fellowship of Reconciliation
Virginia Wilber,, (845) 358-4601

Offensive Cartoons: Respecting What Is Sacred

NYACK, New York - February 9 - The response in parts of the Muslim world to publication of crude and deeply offensive cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad is shocking and distressing. Yet the pain felt by Muslims is real and understandable. By insulting the core of their religion, the cartoons constitute a vile attack on Muslims everywhere. But despite the egregious nature of the insult, it cannot not justify mass violence, arson and death threats.

The cartoons, which depict Muhammad as a violent, degenerate criminal, were first published in a Danish newspaper last September, in an act of extraordinary insensitivity and poor judgment. (Interestingly, the editor who commissioned them now admits to his own ignorance of Islam and of the way Muslims feel about the Prophet Muhammad.)

But ignorance is only part of it. There is clearly a certain malice involved, if not in the first Danish publication of the cartoons, then in their repeated publication in newspapers around the world. No longer can editors claim ignorance. The whole world now knows that the Prophet Muhammad is not supposed to be depicted at all, let alone in a disparaging manner.

Nor can offending newspapers claim that this is valid political or social satire, protected by free speech. These cartoons of the Prophet do nothing but ridicule the core idea of an entire religion. They attack what is sacred. And there is no deeper wound, no deeper fury, than that.

Many Muslims feel an intimate, personal connection to the Prophet Muhammad. When they think of divine mercy, kindness and integrity, they think of the Prophet. He is the embodiment of every virtuous ideal. In fact, the ideal of every Muslim is to become as much like the Prophet as possible. He is regarded as the best of human beings, the exemplar of humanity.

In short, the Prophet Muhammad is sacred to Muslims.

Westerners understand the concept of the sacred. Christians have been hurt and outraged by disrespectful and blasphemous depictions of Jesus. Jews feel pain when the holy Torah, the word of God, is ridiculed, vilified, or desecrated. In this country, burning of the flag – near-sacred to many – gives similar offense.

The emotional wound caused by the cartoons can’t be undone, but there is plenty that can be done. After 9/11, a great effort was made in the West to learn about Islam and to understand Muslims. That effort should be stepped up.

The incident also provides an opportunity for people of all faiths to recognize and acknowledge that which is sacred in other religions, even if it is not sacred to them personally.

For Muslims, this is an opportunity to examine the issue of how to respond to what offends them. Retaliating with a call for a Holocaust cartoon contest, as an Iranian newspaper has done, is to fall to the same level of ignorance, bigotry and malice that the original cartoons represent. Instead, Muslims should transform the incident into an opportunity for dialogue, education, and understanding.

There is a story in the Hadith (sayings and doings of the Prophet Muhammad) that Muhammad was with his companions in the simple mosque of Medina. The mosque had an earthen floor and was open on all sides. A Bedouin man walked in and began to urinate in the corner. Muhammad’s companions were incensed, yelling at him to stop and threatening to assault him. “No,” the Prophet told his followers. “Let him be. He does not know any better.” When the man had finished, Muhammad addressed him gently: “This place is not meant for urine, but only for prayer and the remembrance of Allah.” Then he told his followers to get water to wash the floor.

Burning embassies and demanding that editors be executed is not an Islamic response to insult. That response lies in the nonviolent actions of the Prophet Muhammad, as illustrated above. Educate those who have offended by violating what is sacred to you. Reach out to them. Teach them so they may know better.

This statement was written by a team of FOR staff representing the Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths.

Jennifer Hyman, Communications Coordinator
Ibrahim M. Abdil-Mu'id Ramey, Disarmament Coordinator
Rabia Harris, FOR Chaplain
Ethan Vesely-Flad, Editor, Fellowship magazine


Steven Carr said...

'The cartoons, which depict Muhammad as a violent, degenerate criminal,....'


Steven Carr said...

here is what Muhammad said, which explains why Muslims revere him so

Volume 1 Number 14 (Bukhari)

The Prophet said 'None of you will have faith till he loves me more than his father, his children and all mankind.'

As Muhammad said that everybody should love him more than anybody else, that is what Muslims do.

And another hadith tells Muslims what to do with poets

(Bukhari ,Volume 4, Number 270), showing how one was dealt with

The Prophet said, "Who is ready to kill Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf who has really hurt Allah and His Apostle?"

Muhammad bin Maslama said, "O Allah's Apostle! Do you like me to kill him?" He replied in the affirmative. So, Muhammad bin Maslama went to him (i.e. Ka'b) and said, "This person (i.e. the Prophet) has put us to task and asked us for charity."

Ka'b replied, "By Allah, you will get tired of him." Muhammad said to him, "We have followed him, so we dislike to leave him till we see the end of his affair."

Muhammad bin Maslama went on talking to him in this way till he got the chance to kill him.

Little wonder the cartoons depict a cartoonist cowering in fear as he makes a drawing of Muhammad.

Anonymous said...

Many of these MacDonald soving facist qoute the story of Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf but they forget to read futher about what this guy did!

Anonymous said...

Giving without reserve

It is with reticence that I write this. I do not wish to place myself on the moral high ground, or to sermonise anyone. This chapter tries to show the truth and importance of dreaming of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger). These words seek to confirm that ours is a Prophet of Mercy, a Witness, and a Bearer of Good Tidings. It also aims to portray the consequence of du’aa in the Masjid al-Haram. It is moreover meant as a method of encouragement for our children to some day continue with the Prophetic Tradition of raising an orphan for the sake of Allah, The One of Unbounded Grace. So that they may by this means know that there is more to life than just prayer and fasting. And that they should give of themselves unreservedly. That they might through it also, temper their adhkaar with compassion.

We were asleep at the Mashrabiyya Hotel in Khalid bin Walid Street in Shubayka, Makkah al-Mukarramah when, by the Mercy of Allah, I had the most beautiful dream. I saw myself standing in the holy presence of our Truthful Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet). Our Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) was spotlessly dressed in white robes and a white turban. I stared aghast. Our Prophet stood about two meters away and faced me directly. I do not have the words with which to suitably portray this most wonderful man, the Seal of the Prophets. I have never seen anyone so unimaginably holy, so indescribably handsome. I reached for my turban, embarrassed for not wearing it. “Leave it,” I said to myself. “You are in the Company of the Prize of creation.” A brilliance shone from our Guided Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet). Our Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet) smiled at me. The smile radiated light. I stood alert, too humbled to speak. I wished that the dream would last forever. The heavenly smile lasted between ten and fifteen minutes, it felt like.

Alhamdu-lillaah. I had never considered myself deserving of such an enormous honour. This was a spiritual experience of the first magnitude. “What does that smile mean?” I asked myself over and over again.

Part of my da'waat in the Holy Mosque in Mecca, was to ask Allah, The One Who Makes Clear to us His signs so that we may be grateful, to Grant to ourselves the opportunity and blessings of raising an orphan for His sake.

My wife and I had, over a number of years, tried to adopt a baby by applying at several local agencies, and were given all sorts of excuses which disqualified, and sometimes discouraged us. Reasons given were that we were not married according to South African law, that few babies from local Muslim parents came up for adoption, and the fact that we have children of our own. We were also faced with, what was to my mind, the worse aspect of the South African race laws. These regulations and those administering it, in this case, the social workers, prescribed that a ‘brown’ orphaned child had to be matched with ‘brown’ adoptive parents. A ‘yellow’ baby could only be placed with prospective ‘yellow’ adoptive parents, a ‘white’ orphan could not be raised by ‘black’ adoptive parents, and so on. They played dominoes with human lives. Some social workers were more ready to read the ‘race act’ than others. In an interview and in response to a question on whether we would mind adopting a child from a 'lower rung' of the colour scale, I told them that “a nice green one would do.” A jab to my ribs from my wife quickly halted the acid flow down the sides of my mouth. Stirring the ire of our then masters by criticising their political beliefs would not help, she meant. “When the white boss tells a joke, and regardless of its lack of humour – laugh!” she chided me later. Race inequalities existing at the time ensured that hundreds of black orphans went begging in more ways than one. It virtually excluded us from adopting a child. No orphans that matched our race and blood mix were on offer and they weren’t likely to easily present themselves for adoption, we were told. My wife is of Indian (as in “Indian” from India, as opposed to “American” Indian) stock and I am of (well) mixed blood.

On the morning of Wednesday, 1st June 1994, just three days after arriving back home from Haj, we received a telephone call from Melanie Van Emmenes of the Child Welfare Society. She explained that a five-month old girl had come up for adoption. The baby had earlier undergone successful abdominal surgery and she asked whether we would adopt the child. We jumped at the chance.

A rush of adrenaline replaced the after-effects of travel. We were rejuvenated. Capetonians usually visit local pilgrims before departure and also on their arrival back home. We excused ourselves from the few visitors and asked my mother-in-law to host them in our absence. My wife and I immediately went to the Adoption Centre in Eden Road, Claremont. We signed the necessary papers.

Afterwards, we told our children that we were about to receive an addition to the family. We plodded through a maze of red tape in order to legalise the process. (My wife and I had to marry in court because Muslim marriages were not recognised then, believe it or not). A few days later, my wife, brother and I collected the petite infant from a foster-mother in Newfields Estate. I shall never forget the joyous feeling when I first carried the frail waif past the front door. Her name is Makkia. We named her after the great city from which we had just returned.

Taking her into our home is one of the better things that we have done. Makkia has added a marvellous dimension to our lives. She is part of our life’s work. I shall always be grateful to the people who had assisted us with the adoption.

The meaning behind the glowing smile from our Trustworthy Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet) had played itself out in the most delightful way. In our Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet) we have a beautiful pattern of conduct. Like a lamp that spreads light, the Messenger of Allah invites to the Grace of Allah by His leave. Our Divinely-inspired Prophet is the first of the God-fearing. No person is better than him. Our Prophet Muhammad is the leader of the prophets. He is without sin. Our Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) is faultless and the foremost of those who submit to the Will of Allah. An exemplar to those who worship God, our Kind-hearted Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet) is the beacon of the pious. He is an inspiration to those who are thankful to God and the leader of those who remember Allah. How should I express gratitude to the Holy Messenger of Allah for his kind intervention? I am unworthy of untying the laces of our Prophet’s sandals.

Allah, The One Who Is Sufficient For those who put their trust in Him, Had Granted our want through the barakah of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet).

I’ve been fairly constant about wearing a turban during ’ibaadah since.