by Hasan Hakeem, Zion Jama‘at President, Zion IL
The controversy surrounding the cartoon depiction of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) is an eye-opening example of our need to better understand Islam. It also underscores our need to be responsible in balancing our freedoms with the fragile sensitivities of the people of this nation, and the world at large.
Freedom should never be taken as an excuse to exploit the sensitivity of others, especially in matters of faith. Those cartoon images of the Prophet were insulting and forbidden in Islam. We believe this might not be widely known outside the Muslim world.
The Media is a powerful tool. It can be used to build harmonious relationships, be they interfaith, international, or interracial. However, much in the same way, it can destroy them…
Although we can disguise our prejudice as “freedom of speech”, responsible media challenges us to seek the facts in order to respect the sensitivities of all religions. We live in a multi-religious society, and as world citizens, it behooves us to understand and respect our neighbors, if we seek to live with them in peace and harmony.
We believe members of all faith-based communities should stand together and condemn this type of profanity in our midst. No Prophet of God should be depicted in such an insulting manner.
According to Muslims, there is only one acceptable designation of Muhammad, peace and blessings of God Almighty be upon him, which comes straight from the Holy Qur’an, “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets…” (3:41). This one sentence esteems him to the level most
deserving of review and honest resolution. Although he is not the physical father of any men who perpetuated his lineage, he is the spiritual father of well over a billion people. He is included among other holy recipients of Divine revelation and stands alone as their seal, attesting to the truth of all Prophets who were sent to various nations at various times, in accordance with the needs of those peoples.
Muslims revere him as the best example of the most noble attributes ranging from kindness and generosity, to bravery and justice. We believe he brought the last and final law from God Almighty while being the threshold through which the Living God continues to communicate and guide. I state this so that those who put forth such assaults, be they in the form of misinformation campaigns or cartoon caricatures, should realize who they are insulting. It is far more than a man who lived 1,500 years ago–it is a group of 1.5 billion people who recognize and respect the Truth of all Prophets of all Faiths, peace be upon them all.
The well-known response of Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him, to verbal and physical assaults was patience and forbearance. Despite a bitter thirteen year
persecution including economic boycotts, murderous plots, intrigues and cruelty against the weak and helpless; he remained firm on non-violent reprisals. He endured rejection,
oppression, death threats and eventual migration, as did other prophets. However, once war was declared against his community, it was his duty as their leader to protect them, and employ every moral stratagem to ensure victory. This included taking up the sword in battles, and attacking the enemy’s caravan supply routes. When it was all said and done, Muhammad victoriously returned to Mecca, his hometown, with 10,000 soldiers, many of whom were eagerly awaiting their opportunity to avenge their previous persecutions. However, to the surprise of the Meccans, Muhammad had forgiven his most bitter enemies and granted a general amnesty.
Now is the time to revisit such forgiving platforms for all observing these recent incidents. Now is the time for conference, not confrontation; dialogue instead of debate; for engaging rather than enraging. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, from its international headquarters in Rabwah Pakistan, to Jama‘ats around the world, recognizes the need for understanding and is ever-ready to support efforts towards tolerance and respect.
Love For All, Hatred For None