Cartoon Controversy

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


14 thoughts on “Cartoon Controversy

  1. No dishonesty here. When you say that Islam was spread by the sword you infer that the religion was spread by force whereas it was not. The historians do not agree with you. Arnold, Watt, Lapidus, Hourani, Rosethal…… and the list goes on. These are the specialists of our time on the subject and they present a far more balanced view than you do. Again, no one says that everything was rosey, but they do not forward sweeping views as you would have us believe.

  2. “it is completely erroneous and uneducated for anyone to conclude that Islam was spread by the sword”

    Really? So how did Muslims get from the deserts of Arabia to Spain and India? Was it on a flying carpet? No, they CONQUERED other people’s countries by aggressive military expansion. This is an historical fact. Even your own literature and sources acknowledge the ‘glorious conquests’ of Muslim generals and their armies, so why such blatant dishonesty now?

  3. “If you want to talk about conquest, you should be mentioning British colonization of a good fraction of the world.
    That was brutal.
    Still no apology from the British.”

    Actually, there have been. And I take a pretty dim view of imperialism and colonialism period.

    Although it’s interesting that your founder (Mirza Ahmad) didn’t seem to share your view – he was rather fond of the British Raj, and even of Queen Victoria so I’ve read from your own literature.

    As for the hundreds of millions: if you total the casualties of the past 1400 years (beginning with the massacre of hundreds of Jews by your noble Prophet) and not forgetting the slaughter of millions of Hindus during the invasion and conquest of India, the enslavement of millions of Christians in the Balkans by the Ottomans, and the genocides of Christians in Armenia and Sudan (just to mention a few), you’ll soon find it adds up.

    Charlemagne was just as bad for the Christians mind. He killed 800,000 Saxons just for refusing to convert. Then there were the Crusades, the Inquisition and the witch hunts (the latter still ongoing in Africa).

    Terrible thing, religion.

  4. This much I do not understand; it is completely erroneous and uneducated for anyone to conclude that Islam was spread by the sword, that the Prophet Muhammad (saw) was barbaric, or that Islam’s contribution to the world is limited. White, western, non-Muslim scholars who are giants of intellect have written almost unanimously in opposition to these views. I am not saying that they say everything was perfect, but they present the best current scholarship based on the evidence available and present a far more optimistic picture.

  5. “Hundreds of millions butchered, enslaved and tortured.”

    Red Star, where DO you get your figures from? Were there ever hundreds of millions of people living in the areas Islam reached, even right up to the Middle Ages? How many thousands of millions must have existed for Muslims to have butchered, enslaved and tortured hundreds of millions of them?

    In essence, you have come here to expose your utter ignorance, and you have succeeded. You really think you know it all, but in fact you have come across as a silly youngster. But then, maybe you are just a misinformed youngster.

    As for your ideas on Muslim contributions to science, once again, you have managed to come across as a total ignoramus. Your ignorant jibes are an insult to the blessed memory of all those Muslim giants in the world of science, on the shoulders of the discoveries of whom Western nations laid the foundations of their Renaissance.

    My own piece of advice to you would be: Learn some humility, and go and increase your knowledge by reading what real intellectuals have written on Islamic contributions to science.

  6. If you want to talk about conquest, you should be mentioning British colonization of a good fraction of the world.
    That was brutal.
    Still no apology from the British.

  7. ‘Great contribution’ – what, murder, rape and brutal conquest. Hundreds of millions butchered, enslaved and tortured. And not a single ‘we were wrong’ or ‘we’re sorry’ along the way – that’s what distinguishes Islam from every other ideology, and religion from rationaility.

    What was this ‘great contribution’ in your eyes, then? I’ll give credit to the fact that Ancient Greek thinking was saved, reproduced, translated and disseminated – that’s true. But Muslims always seem to forget that it was GREEK THINKING, not ‘divine revelation’…

  8. “You may perhaps see the day within 100 years that first kings and prime ministers will accept Islam, and later on the rest of the world God Willing.”

    Unfortunately too many kings and prime ministers were born into Islam…and look at the mess they have made of their countries, their people and the world at large…

  9. My child is a student at UCL, She is proud of its herritage and support for free speach. It is a sad day when the union critisises a society that promotes the higher morality of a secuIar world view for using a cartoon that was not intended to offend. Your religeon is silly. Why believe in a magical god who does not exist and whose writings are imoral and cause harm and suffering. Thankfully the world is becoming a better place as these beliefs fail and religeous bigotry reduces its influence on society. Please don’t mutilate your children, treat your partners as equal and stop critising the behaviour of individuals who are causing no harm to others. Then the world will be a better place. One you stop doing these things then your beliefs will have my respect.

  10. It does come across as prejudice being disguised as ‘freedom of speech’. What next…..does this mean that everyone can start swearing, abusing and insulting each other, and one’s parents and even one’s children? Is it okay for someone to make an indecent cartoon about someone else’s little child for example? As far as these people are concerned, all is acceptable under their confused interpretation of ‘freedom of speech’. There’s nothing stopping me from doing my worst in finding what is dear to them and then attacking and mocking it to hurt them. The difference is that I choose not to, out of respect for them, even though they are hurting me through what is dear to me. In some countries in Europe and elsewhere, it is considered rude to put one’s foot up and show the sole of the foot to another, so out of mutual consideration, one would try to avoid this when meeting a person from such a country. If someone does not eat meat, then one would try to make vegetarian dishes and avoid making meat dishes altogether the day they invite such a person over for dinner. Such consideration only promotes and increases mutual love and respect, which is the basis for overall peace and harmony in the world. Any other approach is only counter-productive to this noble cause. And we should also be realistic in our views and not get carried away by coming up with petty examples such as ‘what if someone may get offended if another wears a blue shirt or does not like someone else’s hairstyle?’. This is only being silly and is not of a mature mind, and such silly and immature examples cannot be compared to mocking another’s faith or belief. The atheists do not agree with religion and some say that they find religion offensive, and so they openly attack religion without consideration of the respective followers. I believe in religion and I don’t like to hear someone deny the existence of God, but you don’t see me mocking and attacking atheists. Everyone has the right to agree or disagree as well as the right to believe or not to believe. As the Quran says, ‘There is no compulsion in religion.’ But if we are to live together harmoniously, then mutual consideration is the only way. Pain is still pain, whether it is through words or through fists. There have been very unfortunate cases of young children having committed suicide due to cyber bullying. I would be very shocked if these same people say that cyber bullying is okay under ‘freedom of speech’? But according to their interpretation of ‘freedom of speech’, it is okay because the victim (i.e. those poor young children) simply should not have got offended by the bullies. Or what about sexual harassment or racial hatred, are these appalling things okay under ‘freedom of expression’? Can now an employer defend his sexual harassment by stating that he has a right under ‘freedom of speech’ to express his lust for an employee? Can a racist claim he has a right under ‘freedom of speech’ to racially abuse whomever he pleases? Certainly not and I am sure that every atheist will also agree with me here. When it is not okay to attack someone’s race or harass someone sexually with words, then why is it okay to attack someone’s faith? It too, is not okay. If people hurt each other today by words, then tomorrow it will escalate to fists, then guns and so on and so on. Simply put, there’s no need to cause offense and the atheist society simply DO NOT NEED to create a cartoon of any Prophet, as they can operate and function just as well without such cartoons. Unless of course, the whole purpose of being an atheist is to mock, ridicule and cause offense? If not, then please kindly stop these unnecessary cartoons (or any other form of mocking) and instead offer your hand of friendship, and let’s work together to making this world a better place. The notion held by many atheists that every religious person is evil is just wrong and if this was the case then 90% of the world’s population would be evil, which we all know is not so. I hope that we can all put this behind us and start afresh with the mutual understanding and agreement that even though we may not agree with one another, we will still always remain courteous to one another as any civilised person would be. May it be so and I am the first person to offer my hand of friendship and of peace. LOVE FOR ALL, HATRED FOR NONE.

  11. An Excellent Article Hasan sb

    As the world spirals in what is referred to as progression we sit back and study the difference of the present world we live in and that of 50 years ago. As we have needed more and more our basis morals and principles have altered with this change.

    The present society has moulded the present generation into one where basic respect for another persons faith has been quashed into the statement of “Right of Free Speech “ . This has been nutured through repeated mochary of Christianity on many main stream programmes and Hollywood films. It is seen to be in aid of comedy and expressing ourselves.

    Any subscriber to ANY faith which one holds dear to him or herself should not be allowed to be trashed out in the gutter and there needs to be consideration for a ring of protection which not only safeguards unwanted and ill timed confrontation but also complete waste of resources and manpower wasted on a need for comedy.

    Society as a whole sees it common practice where the religious doctrines are seen to be amusement and complete disregard is given to the insultive nature that this can cause to those whom hold it close to there hearts.

    Journalism needs to know its bounds and without these boundaries we continue to build a society whose nucleus is “freedom of Speech” be that whatever damage it can cause between relations of faiths and people.

    We as muslims whom hold the Holy Prophet and founder of our faith dear to our hearts , as we do the bible, the torah and the Quran amd all the prophets sent to mankind by God.

    Muslims need to show respect to these faiths and all faiths around the globe and likewise Society needs to refrain from provocative uneducated material which aims to insult or defame and cause distress. There is unfortunately a void which we as Ahmadis need to fill in potrayal of the correct Islam and not the Islam which is given front page coverage in the media which displays hate and violence as its core.

    For those who follow the teaching of a faith we must during these times ensure that our focus is on the main tool we employ which is prayer. During these occasions hate and confrontation leads to violence which is the wrong road and not what is taught by all the faiths of this world. Peace needs to prevail over anger . Through our actions only can we instill change in these peoples ideas and thoughts .

Join the Discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s