Thursday, February 16

I was reading the latest post on a blog of my friend’s, whetstone, yesterday… she was talking about the whole cartoons issue, from a neutral point of view, she seemed to be against the rage of Muslims as a reaction to the issue, but also she was against the cartoons after realizing that Jylland-posten was not promoting for freedom of expression, since they had refused publishing cartoons about Jesus couple of years ago so as not to offend its readers.

I have a right to criticize the dress or lifestyle choices of my next-door neighbor, but[I’d] better have a damned good reason to do so beyond the desire to demonstrate my freedom of expression. If we’re going to violate the most deeply held sensitivities of a group of people, shouldn’t we be getting something of value out of it? Because after I've had my say, the next morning my neighbor is still going to be right next door.

This made me think of the two main points that caused this issue: the ‘freedom of expression’ label of the Danish newspaper, and the ‘uncivilized’ rage of the Muslim communities and minorities around the world as a reaction to that…now I am writing this as my personal opinion, but I am also quoting some parts from the Quran and some part from sayings of the prophet Mohammed, in order to base my argument on what all Muslims, at least, believe to be the indisputable truth.

To make the importance of this issue clearer, I must say. These two vague points might be the main reasons for the uprising of this issue. The first one is that an average Muslim (and in that I mean an Arab Muslim living in an Arab country all his/her life...) does not really understand what freedom of speech is. This is really not because it's not found in Islam or such. On the contrary, the prophet Mohammed always respected that right for everyone, and also many Muslim leaders who followed His path (however, that does not include any Arab or Muslim leader who ruled during the last 40 years, and that’s maybe the reason why Muslims were ‘made forget’ the meaning of freedom of expression), there had been always a certain respect for non-Muslim people in Islam, whether they were minorities in a Muslim state, or peoples of other states.

Islam commands Muslims to always act with good behavior and respond in a better way to everything; Quran taught Muslims to be merciful and forgiving before all:


“The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! He; between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend.”[Holy Quran, Fussilat: 34, Mohsin Khan Translation]



Islam asks for patience even when this freedom of expression reaches to extremist acts against Muslims. Although Islam allows Muslims to pay back if they were discriminated against or wronged, it still promotes forgiveness over revenge.

“Allah does not like that the evil should be uttered in public except by him who has been wronged. And Allah is Ever AllHearer, AllKnower. (148) Whether you (mankind) disclose (by good words of thanks) a good deed (done to you in the form of a favour by someone), or conceal it, or pardon an evil, verily! Allah is Ever OftPardoning, AllPowerful. (149)” [Holy Quran, An-nisaa’, Mohsin Khan Translation]



Like the story of the next-door Jew neighbor of the prophet who used throw his garbage everyday in front of the house of the prophet and the prophet would hop over it in his way in and out, until one day he did not find that garbage he went to visit his neighbor and check what happened [out of worry] and it turned out that the Jew was actually sick.

Islam respected freedom of belief of everyone, and set rules of treating people of different beliefs: for Christians and Jews there were so many rights for them in Islam –sometimes to the point that they are treated equally with Muslims in a Islamic community- for other peoples of different creeds, Islam had rules and regulations to give rights to those peoples too. The prophet Mohammed –May prayers be upon Him- says “He who hurt a follower of the scripture [Christian or Jew] is like he hurt me”. Also in Quran it is clearly stated:

“And insult not those whom they worship besides Allah, lest they insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge. Thus We have made fairseeming to each people its own doings; then to their Lord is their return and He shall then inform them of all that they used to do.” [Holy Quran, Al-an’aam: 108, Mohsin Khan Translation].



After the death of prophet, people started finding it hard to spread Islam to other peoples, for that they were not able to persuade like the prophet himself used to do. At that point, Islamic philosophy started to grow, people needed to learn the methods of argument in order to persuade the other, instead of learning how to use the sword. Many stories tell about such arguments between Jews and Muslim about Islam or between atheists and Muslims. In that aspect, Muslims did give rights of freedom of expression to others and always left the doors of invitation to Islam open to anyone, either by persuasive arguments or by good morals, behavior and treatment to non-Muslims.

This is what Islam is truly about. However this doesn’t mean that Muslim countries is ruled with; this is rarely practiced in today’s Muslim world since all Arab, Kurdish (!), and non-Arab leaders of Muslim Countries, serve not their people as Muslim rulers of Islamic Countries based on the Politics of Islam. But rather serve a world power (that is the USA) based on the benefits of that power over their people, using dictatorial regimes to impose their authority, eliminating any true freedom of expression. These dictatorships now for a fact -and has been proven over and over-, that if democracy is used to rule people, the right-winged Muslim extremists will be in power (read about elections in Algeria, Palestine, Iraq and Iran for more details.) and so, the solution for the current dictators to leave people in an illusion of democracy, like in Jordan, where you have completely no censorship over media nor internet, but if you happen to burn the flag of the United States of America in public, you will be sentenced for 3 years in jail. (While it’s your true freedom of expression to burn the flag of the USA inside the USA!)

Let’s move to the second vague point, why Muslims were so raged about the cartoons?!

No really, I mean… the prophet has been dead for 1416 years already, why would ALL Muslims– like if they had planned it out long time before or something- get so raged and go all mad about it?

I’m not asking the question because I don’t know the answer to it (because I am about to answer, or at least suggest an answer), I’m just trying to sound like an ‘outside’ observer; someone who’s got nothing to do with this, living in the Bahamas [hey Chantez!] and watching the news in his PDA as he’s walking by the beach…

The point is, the prophet Mohammed is not like a God for Muslims or anything close to that, he was just an illiterate good man, who ,unlike his tribe and all the tribes around him, never worshipped idols, and believed that there’s a One God who created everything, who deserves to be worshipped… his meditations for over 20 years searching for that God eventually ended with God sending him an angel (Gabriel, that is, same angel that came down on Jesus, Mosses, and all the messengers before) and teaching him the Quran; which is a part of the scripture (just like the Torah and the Bible) and commanding him to deliver it to the entire humanity.

Through Quran, God taught Muslims the value of the prophet Mohammed, in so many different ways. One of the most important and relevant is the verse

“Say (O Mohammed, to the believers): If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwellings in which you delight, are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and striving hard and fighting in His Cause, then wait until Allah brings about His Decision (torment). And Allah guides not the people who are Al-Fasiqoon (the rebellious, disobedient to Allah).” [Holy Quran, At-tawbah: 24, Mohsin Khan Translation]



With that, it became a command on all Muslims, that loving the prophet is more precious than any of those, in saying and acting. Hence,offending the prophet is more offending to every and each Muslim, more than offending their own mothers, fathers, sons, family, homes, wealth and everything they posses…Imagine how

insulting that is!

In Arab countries, insulting one’s mother, sister, family, tribe, etc… is often referred to as ‘honor crime’. Even the constitutional law can’t solve these crimes. Even to the point that, for instance, a person kills someone for insulting his mother, will get a reduced sentence than of a person who just kills. And I mean reduced, as in, get 5 years instead of a lifer!

From the other hand, as Christians believe that Jesus sacrificed himself to hold the sins of Christians, and how this creates this ‘love’ or this ‘gratitude’ to Jesus for doing that for their sake. Muslims too are very ‘grateful’ to the prophet (albeit in a different way) and they have that ‘appreciation’ to him that he showed them the path to Islam [of course, the main gratitude goes to God himself for sending
Mohammed, and then to Mohammed because he was loyal to God and he delivered the message as requested.] this is due to realizing and acting upon what God said,

“Verily, there has come unto you a Messenger (Muhammad, may prayers and peace be upon him) from amongst yourselves (i.e. whom you know well). It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He (Muhammad, may prayers and peace be upon him) is anxious over you (to be rightly guided, to repent to Allah, and beg Him to pardon and forgive your sins, in order that you may enter Paradise and be saved from the punishment of the Hell-fire), for the believers (he, may prayers be upon him is) full of pity, kind, and merciful.” [Holy Quran, Al-Tawbah: 128, Mohsin Khan Translation]


this pity, kindness and mercy of the prophet exceeded the Muslim Nation, so he said “every monotheist will enter paradise, except he who would refuse” and his companions asked him “who would refuse, O apostle of Allah?” and He said “who follows my path [having known it] enters the paradise, and who does not follow my path [having known it] is the one who refuses [to go to paradise]”.

It’s an essential part of creed of a Muslim then, to follow, respect, and love, as well as cherish the prophet Mohammed more than any thing else in life. And sacrificing one’s soul for the protection of the prophet [from being offended, insulted or so] is just one thing a Muslim would do to pay back that gratitude.

13 comments:

whetstone said...

hey majed! i just wanted to clarify that it is not muslim rage i am against: it is violent rage that bothers me. boycott? amen! torched buildings and death threats? come on, now.

thanks for the mention on your blog, and for your friendship.

Majed Jarrar said...

hey whetstone,

yes i understand your point, also the point you mentioned in your email. Don't worry, i lived in Canada for a while and i had been brainwashed, so i no longer make judgements on people .. haha.

yeah the points i was trying to clarify are a general answer to so many emails i received regarding the cartoons issue, those two points were the main arguments that were included in these emails ... and most people seemed not to understand them clearly.


Peace.

Nadia said...

Majed!

I personally think there is also hidden in all this for some the anger and frustration of many years of abuse under unelected leaders who have been supported by the west military and financially and all other things the west have done in these counties the last 150 years. Add to that the last year’s discrimination against Muslims in many ways. This was the thing that made the cup flow over, and in someway they could not take it any longer.

thoughtcr1m1nal said...

I'm so glad to have found your blog, through a link from a link from dailyKos. I've learned a lot reading through your posts, and I'm grateful for what you've written--the thing I regret most about where I live is that people here have such a difficult time seeing things from others' points of view.

Thanks for taking the time to post, and opening a window on a world I know far too little about!

Majed Jarrar said...

Nadia,

it is possible that this rage has deep roots which goes back into history, but what i'm trying to say is that people should not underestimate the effect of these cartoons. "oh they were just a bunch of pointless cartoons", "oh we've seen worse cartoons against christianity and judaism", "don't you muslims have a sense of humor?" all this kind of comments won't help solving this issue, people got to understand... people must understand that this issue is extremely critical to Muslims. it's not an opinion that Muslims are trying to express, it's their creed that they're defending!
it doesn't matter here if jews or christians were not offended by cartoons against their religions... Muslims are more conservative about religion, they are offended by cartoons against Islam, they are even offended by cartoons against christianity and judaism (maybe more than christians and jews themselves), because both religions are related to Islam, and believing in them is one of the five pillars of Islam.

Even if Muslims hadn't been feeling discriminated against for the past centuries, they would have still got raged to such cartoons.

Majed Jarrar said...

thought criminal,

you're most welcome :)

peace,

p.s: 1984 is the book that pursuaded me to take English literature as one of my majors!

Cat said...

Majed,

I stumbled upon your blog and I am so glad I did.

I have studied religion for many years, mostly the three major ones-Islam, Judism, and Christianity... but you have summed up many points in one entry, that took me years to learn.

I appreciate everything you have written here and I will return.

Thank you :)

Haveaquestion said...

I have a couple of questions that hopefully you can address. First of all, I have the perception that two critical tenets of Islam are that idolatry is absolutely prohibited in all forms and that the beauty of God is everywhere. I guess I am confused about how placing Mohammed above everyone else is not idolatry. To me at least, people commit idolatry even when worshipping the idea of God instead of God himself. I find the majority of people in all religions worship what they think God is and what their society tells them God is, instead of using their religion to "receive" His messages. When I read about "Allah and His Messenger" I read that not as elevating Mohammed the man, but instead as a command to honor the path Allah sent down through Mohammed and a warning to not confuse that with a man-made twisting of the path.

I have read that some branches of Islam [and Christianity and anicent Judiasm] prohibit the depiction of any humans (and I assume other animals/plants/etc) based on their reading of the Second Commandment. The reasoning seems to be that since everything is a creation of God, then our mere feeble attempt to depict it is idolatrous because we'll be appreciating the picture instead of His creation. I find it hard to reconcile this the notion that Mohammed is to be revered as the man instead of an ideal example of delivering/living Allah's wishes. Why is this not the case -- either through traditional or Koranic justifications?

My second question is a lot easier. I am wondering if you perceived the cartoons as insulting to Mohammed in the first place. I have seen the cartoons and they were very much in the "editorial cartoon" style where [in the cartoons where he actually was in them] Mohammed is merely a placeholder for the day's current political climate. There were no cartoons that denied he was a prophet or that Islam was a false religion or anything of that sort. Obsenstibly the worst offender was the bomb-as-turban cartoon, but in the context of an editorial cartoon even that is unclear whether the cartoonist believes that Mohammed is responsible for violence or whether people use him as a rationalization for their self-serving means.

Thank you

Majed Jarrar said...

Haveaquestion,

Thank you so much for bringing up these two important questions,


For the first question, Islam begins with ‘testifying [in heart, tongue and hand; in belief, saying and doing] that there is no deity to be worshipped [or deserves worshipping] except Allah, and that Mohammed is A messenger of Allah”

Muslim’s love and respect to the prophet Mohammed [May prayers and peace be upon him] is not part of worshipping him. A true love to the prophet Mohammed (may prayers be upon him) is a love interpreted to action, through imitating the prophet’s manners and doings, because Allah says in Quran addressing the prophet

“And verily, you (O Muhammad [May prayers be upon him]) are on an exalted standard of character.”

So it’s a love of imitating not a love of worshipping, because all Muslims and even non-Muslims, who knew him, admitted that the prophet [May prayers be upon him] was the best person in manners and attitude and he worshipped God in the most perfect way. And since Islam is about teaching people ethics before (and as important as) it is about teaching people to worship the One True God, then imitating the messenger Mohammed is the way to achieve that goal.

[However, some doctrines that are different from the mainstream Islam (like Shi’aa) don’t agree in that matter. For that they worship the offspring of the prophet instead of loving him and them]

As evidence that Muslims do not worship Mohammed like Christians worship Jesus, is the clear statement of God,

“Muhammad (may prayers and peace be upon him) is no more than a Messenger, and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels (as disbelievers)? And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah, and Allah will give reward to those who are grateful.”[Holy Quran, Aal-Imran 144, Mohsin Khan Translation]

When the news came that the prophet died, people gathered in front of his house and they couldn’t believe the news; some said he went to meet God like Mosses went to meet God, others thought that if Mohammed dies then Islam dies, and some wanted to kill themselves because they loved the prophet too much. Just then, Abu-Bakr [the closest companion to the prophet Mohammed – May prayers be upon him- and the most knowledge person about the teachings of the prophet] stood before everyone and said “O people, those who worshipped Mohammed, Mohammed is now dead. And those who worship God, God is alive and will never die.”



As for the second question which is important as well. The cartoons were not insulting to the prophet Mohammed (May prayers be upon him). There were many people who tried to make fun of the prophet or mock the prophet when he was alive, but God told the prophet

Truly! We will suffice you against the scoffers, who set up along with Allah another deity (god). They will come to know. Indeed, we know that your breast is straitened at what they say. So glorify the praises of your Lord and be of those who prostrate themselves (to Him). And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty (i.e. death). [Holy Quran, Al-Hijr 95-99, Mohsin Khan Translation]

The reaction of Muslims throughout the world was not because they were defending the prophet; he’s dead already and is in God’s protection anyway, so all of this would not harm him albeit a bit. The rage was because 1) they felt humiliated in themselves to see their beloved prophet being made fun of 2) They wanted to make a point (to the Danish newspaper and anyone else onward) that this line is red; no one has the right to mock or make fun of religions or messengers of God. If the cartoons were published about Mosses, Muslims would still have the same reaction (maybe not with the same rage in the streets because the ‘general’ Muslims are more attached to the prophet Mohammed [may prayers be upon him] than the previous messengers. Islam nevertheless stresses on love of respect of all messengers of God with no exception.)

Hope this answers your questions…

Peace.

A Person said...

Hi Majid - I'm commenting on an old post, but I find it absolutely necessary to say that your answer above was quite thorough and intelligent and so I was impressed that you were willing to give such an explanation when being questioned.

One thing I wanted to say was that you mentioned that you do not worship your prophet the way that Christians (like myself) worship Jesus - the difference here is that as true Christians, we are to believe that Jesus Christ was not simply a human being, but the son of God himself which of course, is something quite difficult to fathom without faith. Therefore, we are not simply worshipping a human being, but God himself. We justify this belief in His divinity through His actions and words during His life as recorded in the New Testament of the Bible which to us and many in the world, appear quite inspired and completely out of the ordinary for any time in history as they spoke only of love, compassion and forgiveness providing evidence that He was divine. Besides that, His life was lived quite purely as we are told, free from humanely sin and desire.

So, here comes my controversial question: Jesus in his life as we are told it, appears to have been moreso one whom we should seek to emulate as He spoke of love, compassion, forgiveness - those things that make a world peaceful and pleases God (because the truth be it that in His preaching, violence and mistreatment were not part of the picture what so ever, and this cannot be honestly said of your prophet). So, why do you need your prophet to tell you something that was already told to you by Jesus Christ whether or not you believe Him to be divine??

What I'm saying, is that the good things you gained from your prophet were already taught be someone else, so why not just go to the original source? Is it a matter of tradition because being Iraqi myself, I know this to be very important in the Mid East.

I realize that my words may sound as preaching which in some Muslim countries would be grounds for my jailing and/or execution, but I think I'm safe from that (this is a joke which you may remove from the comment if you wish.

This actually brings up another matter - God gave us free will to chose for ourselves, and we can assume that the consequences for our failure to chose the right way, whatever that may be, will come to us in the next life. Keeping this in mind, how is the harsh punishment of apostasy in Islam justifiable? Why can't the apostate just be left alone to face the wrath of God, if that is the case, in the next life when his time comes?? I would really like your answers. So thanks in advance.


Moi

A Person said...

PS: I'm sorry Majid - there is one more comment I had to make. You said that Islam stresses respect of all messengers of God with no exception but, can you really deny that there are contradictions in your book with versus specifically saying that you are not to trust Christians, Jews, not to take them on and to actually kill them?? Is a holy book, that is supposed to be preaching love and attainment of closeness to God, really the place to express such ideas? This is the reason that I question the true intentions of your prophet ie. that originally, he may have truly wanted to be a man of God, but that somewhere along the way, he lost his way, due to humanely error which is quite okay and forgiveable, but not something to base an entire religion on. Please do not be offended with me because I only want to discuss this issue. I don't deny that there was some good preached, only that there's been some bad as well that needs to be acknowledged. Go ahead and tell me your doubts about Christianity, I'm sure I know them all! Thanks,

Moi

pacifists said...

As a gentle man, I have constantly made excuses for Islam and Muslims. I look for good where ever I can find it in their ways and manners. There are none, simply they have very few kind words, but have been fighting for so long they are accustomed to meet fire with fire, hate with hate and war with war, when they can not find these challenges, they seek them out amongst their own tribes, and make mole hills into mountains and when they offend that mountain becomes a mole hill (razed).

Goodness has been disregarded and met with suspicion in Islam; it exists in no other form. Love likewise and hope is but a dream, this is why they invite Armageddon to the World or conversion, the choice is yours, they have officially informed the Pope of such a discussion and 138 clerics, imams, sheiks and muftis have made a declaration to the Pope, of we “demand Peace” and we demand “you” work with us to achieve Peace? We have only ever known peace and Muslims misconception when they come to our countries, is that they believe our society has functioned like their dysfunctional world of Islam. It has not! We are confused by these people suspicious of peace and seeking opportunity to make war from their perversion of peace in our countries. We have only had peace in Australia since colonization; we know nothing else but peace and are met with a mass immigration of Muslims? Assuming? Oh my God!!

There have been so many centuries of meeting fire with fire and encroaching all borders in all countries especially Africa, that Muslims don’t know where to find peace or how to recognize peace any more. They constantly refer to words of peace in the Koran, but have no understanding or appreciation of those words, no past experiences to draw upon with peace to expand on peace; they are just drawn back to violence, vendettas, and vengeance and blood feuds/blood lust.

Nothing we can do will help them, they think their lives of 1400 years of oppression and abuse, wars and destruction, killing, genocide and mass murder is "normal". We can just let this matter run it course. No matter if they were ruled by dictators who were not elected, but were supported by their enemies, if they are real people and kind people and worthy people, they would have something deep down to draw upon and "not participate", but they do and have willingly participated in the biggest atrocities and destruction of human life on the planet.

We can only sit back and wait for Armageddon, in fact pray for the speedy reply of Armageddon, this struggle called life is too much to bear, and death becomes a welcome friend!! Only Muslims and their neighbors have experienced such defeatism and such resolve of martyrdom and death is a welcome friend that is the saddest indictment of Islam and Muslims. A faith supposedly born out of love and friendship, has become the biggest blight on the planet and the biggest horror of the planet, like bacteria, it is relentless in its growth and welcomed now by both Muslim and non Muslim who just want to see and end, an end to Islam or an end to life with martyrs willing daily to give up on Islam and die, rather than fight for a peace, Islam has not known for over 1400 years.

Majed Jarrar said...

pacifists, (not much of your name is related to your thinking)

The most peaceful and bright moments of humanity were when the world was ruled by the Muslim empire. It was the only time when Christian and Jewish minorities in the world were treated not only as humans, but as first class citizens. It was the most prosperous period of scientific discovery and freedom of art and literature...

You know yourself to the deepest part of your heart that your entire hate-post is full of lies and is only based on your hate and rage against the current uneducated extreme violent Muslims you've encountered on American television.

Keep that hate to yourself, and know that Muslims are merciful and compassionate even to blind haters like you. There are no stereotypes or prejudgment in Islam, and anyone who repents and does good and contribute to the Muslim community is and will always be welcomed.