Cartoons and Comics – A Call to Maturity and Self-Determination


28801_108891862489215_108161372562264_69112_2261591_nNotes on the Cartoon Controversy
A Call To Maturity and Self-Determination

So it’s happened again. They decided to republish the cartoons. Perhaps it is because they want to re-emphasize their opinions on the character and personality of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Maybe because they wish to provoke more reactionary Muslims into random acts of violence or demonstration. Maybe…just to show the world that they can, and stand proud in the gleaming light of free speech.

Anyone with a sense of justice can see that the apathetic Western reaction to these cartoons – full of hate and vitriolic sentiment targeted against the heritage, culture, and beliefs of over a fifth of humanity, is unjust – when compared to the resistance such cartoons would be met with if they were targeted at other groups.

The Muslims wonder why our community can be insulted, and threatened with deportation, our holy cities threatened with nuclear weapons by a U.S. Presidential candidate (Tom Tancredo), and our most sacred figures reviled? But if a whisper is raised against any other community – if a comedian goes off on a racist tirade using the N-word, or an award winning actor and director makes anti-semitic comments in a state of drunkenness – the entire Western world rises to say: “We will not tolerate your intolerance. We are better than your hate.” But when Muslims are lambasted across the country on conservative radio shows, urging violence against them, deportation, whole-scale attacks against their countries and forced conversion to Christianity……we hear no civilized response against the unholy right-wing war talk. When a mosque is burned down by a white-supremacist group in Columbia, TN, it does not even make the news. When the enlightened West is met with comments which declare “The Other” as inferior…..there is a complicit silence.

Muslims need to realize three things:

1. Do not be surprised or shocked, emotionally, or intellectually, that this is happening.

2:120

“…And never will the Jews or the Christians approve of you until you follow their religion. Say, “Indeed, the guidance of Allah is the [only] guidance.” If you were to follow their desires after what has come to you of knowledge, you would have against Allah no protector or helper.” (Qur’an, 2:120)

When your Lord tells you that a group will NEVER be pleased with you, satisfied with you, or happy with you, until you follow their way, it behooves the Muslim to accept it as a fact. The continuous begging and pleading Muslims who yell: “Please don’t make fun of us! Please don’t ridicule us! We are people just like you! Please be impressed with our history!” is nothing short of pathetic – when you consider how sometimes the street mob goes to burn and attack their own streets in protest, as has happened in Pakistan, and a few other places in the Muslim world. A political cartoon painting Islam as violent – is given seeming credence when in reality, only a tiny speck of Muslims even think of reacting win such ways.

It is time for the Muslim to realize that the actions of a person who makes fun of the Prophet ﷺ, or even goes so far as to insult or ridicule God himself, is responsible for his or her own deeds. He or she will be held responsible for what they draw, say, or write on the Day of Judgment. It is not up to us to legislate against them in this world when they are living in their own countries, nor to beg powerlessly that they cease and desist their activities.

Should we defend our Prophet ﷺ? Yes. Through teaching people who he was and spreading the Truth. But, it is time for us to stop being so emotionally surprised when Islamophobes insult Islam. They don’t believe in your Prophet. Or your religion. And they don’t like either of them, or you. We should grow up and deal with it. The Quran is preparing us for this reality with the verse above.

So let us be prepared.

2. If you are going to respond, respond in the manner of the Prophetic Sunnah (Tradition) which we are claiming to defend.

25:63

“And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace…” [Qur'an, 25:63]

Realize that the Islamophobes have the right to say or write whatever they want. They do. And no one will stop them. Your complaints will make them happier. They are not in a Muslim country. Our response should be a response fitting the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) which we claim to defend so staunchly.

When some enemies of Islam once walked by the Prophet ﷺ in Madinah, they said to him, “As-Sa’mu Alaikum” (Death be upon you), trying to slyly make it sound like “Assalamu-Alaikum” (Peace be upon you). They didn’t write against him, draw against him – they spoke directly to him. He, with the calm demeanor of prophethood, simply responded – “Wa alaikum”, and upon you. He did not escalate or insult – he responded by reflecting their greeting, without mentioning anything negative himself or lowering his noble speech.

68:4

“And you [Oh Prophet] are upon the noblest of character.” (Qur’an, 68:4)

His wife `Aisha, who out of her love for him, acted in a way many Muslims today do and yelled: “May the curse of Allah be upon you, and his punishment, and his…!”

The Prophet ﷺ stopped her saying: Calm down oh `Aisha, calm down. There is not gentleness in anything, except that it becomes more beautiful, and there is not harshness in anything except that it makes it ugly. So be calm oh Aisha.

This exemplifies the Prophetic response. Calmness. Tranquility. Humility. He was active in spreading the message with “wisdom and beautiful preaching” with enthusiasm, vigor and strength, but he did not let insults take over his greatness. He engaged with those around him to teach them about God, and teach them about how to live their lives to the fullest. A model citizen. A good neighbor. A fortress of justice. An honest friend. A helper of the needy. A Messenger of God. This was his response. More than that, this was his driving mission.

16:125

“Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching.” (Qur’an, 16:125)

Also, that we engage those people who do believe in God, in working acts of righteousness and benefit for humanity.

3. It is time to stop being dependent on others to present a good image of us. They have not and will never do so reliably, save a few fair-minded individuals. Self-determination in our message, our image, and our work, is the only answer.

Yet another incident, when the Makkans used to try to make fun of the Prophet ﷺ by twisting his name because of its meaning being “The one deserving of praise,” and calling him Mudhammam (belittled one) – he simply smiled and said, They are making fun of a man named Mudhammam, but I am Muhammad!

Rather than worrying about these insults, he spent his time propagating his message. He spent his time building his community and ensuring that every man, woman, and child could hear about what he had to say and how to worship God and come close to Him. So rather than focusing on what they produce, draw, write, and say – what has each of us done to paint the proper picture of the Messenger ﷺ? Robert Spencer and Daniel Pipes are making millions painting a picture of a warlord and a “Prophet of Doom.” Why are we surprised when Allah (swt) told us it would happen, and more importantly, what have we done to spread a positive image of the Prophet ﷺ actively?

Perhaps we are arguing about whether or not praying behind someone who eats McDonalds is allowed. Or whether wiping over our leather socks is permissible. Or if music with more than a duff is makruh or haram. Or maybe our mufti “saab” teaches that I shouldn’t talk about Islam, Quran, or the Prophet without being in his presence or even read a book without his stamp of approval, turning us to intellectual zombies, far from the example of the Sahabah and the righteous predecessors. Maybe we are busy arguing about tariqahs, madhabs, manhaj, `aqeedah, and other things which we have no understanding of beyond a few pamphlets and classes in our neighborhoods, and of course, the Internet.

It is time for the Muslim to be a self-determined, educated, citizen of humanity and of Islam. Someone whose character aims to mirror the Prophetic character. It is time for the sisters to put down their mascara and their foundation, and the brothers to put down the Nintendo Wii and XBOX controllers, and stand up and become men and women, and stop being boys and girls. It is time for them to become self-determined individuals, who understand that the honor of this Deen and its Ummah, can only be given by Allah, but they must work for it. Allah says:

13:11

“…God will not change the condition of a people, until they change what is within themselves.” Qur’an, 13:11)

It is time to stop burning flags, and start burning desires.

Stop yelling in the streets against people who are overjoyed at your anger, and whisper to Allah who will become overjoyed at your prayer.

Stop breaking, burning, and screaming.
Start building, learning, and calling.

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78 Comments

  1. I’m glad this understanding of the situation is becoming more widespread. Nice, Abdul – wanna go get dinner this weekend insha Allah? :-)

    P.S. http://workingforone.wordpress.com/2008/02/15/thanks-allah/
    check out the latest post, Imam Suhaib

    • Abbas says:

      “…when the Mongols sacked Baghdad in 1258, the `ulema and the their students were discussing whether or not it was permissible to eat crows.” I’d laugh, but it’s all too sad.

      Islam has always been a clear faith of temperate followers. The great Islamic civilizations were marked by freedom of religion and a libertarian tolerance for the things our religion forbids.

      The puritans have always been the death of us. Aurangzeb of the Mughals sparked rebellions when he massacred Hindus and Sikhs; the puritan Saladin usurped the (Shia) Fatimid throne; and puritan Arab invasions helped end the Ottoman empire.

      Nitpickers, puritan and radicals have always undermined the stability and prosperity of the Islamic world.

      A wonderful article.

      • B.B. says:

        Since when did being a puritan have anything to do with it?

        Also you also seem to make quite a few allegations that are both historically inaccurate and quite offensive subhanAllaah.

        Aurangzeb (rah) never massacred any Hindus and Sikhs. As for Salahuddin (rah) “usurping” the Fatimid throne, well if he hadn’t taken control then Jerusalem would have remained in Crusader hands (the Fatimids were of course too busy fighting other muslims and signing peace treaties with the Crusaders so it’s understandable that they couldn’t have recaptured Jersualem).

        Finally, I’m pretty sure that the Arab rebellions against the Ottoman empire were as a result of greed, disunity and the promise of their own private land to graze their shameless camels and sheep. The assertion that somehow, these bedouins in the desert were driven by some spontaneous religious wahhabi fervor is a completely ludicrous and not only is it a naive intepretation of what happened, but it is also a dangerous one. Don’t twist historical facts to suit your own personal outlook of the world insha’Allaah.

        Puritans in fact were responsible for many of the revivals in the last 18th, 19th and 20th Century and if it wasn’t for them, you and I would most likely not be muslim today. So to summarise, rather than puritans being the one who smashed the islamic world into a million different fragments, they are actually the ones who are helping pick up the pieces.

        • Abbas says:

          If you read the article, you’ll note that it attempts to deliver two messages: 1) As Muslims, we need to learn to protest more peacefully and 2) Historically, an obsession with orthodoxy has not done the Muslim world much good, and it does little good today.

          I’m glad you found my feedback so stimulating. I thought I’d address some of the points you raised:

          1) Aurangzeb was known to have killed Hindus, Sikhs as well as Muslims in his expansions. I understand that it is difficult to prove that the deaths of so many non-Muslims was due to his orthodoxy (Indeed, it could very well be mere warfare against empires that happened to be Hindus). But this much is clear: the king destroyed temples and gurdwaras, which implies inherent bigotry. Such acts were instrumental in widening the chasm between the Muslims and non-Muslims of S. Asia, a chasm that continues to haunt Muslims more than anyone else.

          2) Perhaps usurped is a strong word. And certainly, Saladin (RAH) was not the only person responsible for Fatimid demise, although it was his family that carried out an actual coup of the Kingdom. But His is symbolic of Muslim rulers (Zirids, Turkic peoples) that decided to undermine Fatimid rule just because of minute ideological differences.

          3) Wahabi rulers in Arabia were directly at idelogical odds with the Ottomans. Their contention was Intercession. They were also a very organized and united group and eventually founded the first Saudi state. Wahabi chiefs fought an actual organized war (known as the Saudi-Ottoman war: 1812-1818). This coincided with Balkan rebellions. The Ottomans found themselves at war in the West and East and never stood a chance.

          4) You speak of puritanical-based “revivals” in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. I doubt very much the effectiveness or utility of these revivals, since the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries were when Muslims lost their kingdoms and were colonized.

          Please don’t misconstrue my case as slanted or motivated by ideology. I am merely a (soi-disant) historian that sees little value in interal fighting in the Muslims world due to puritan nit-picking.

      • Mohammad says:

        Assalamo alaykum.

        Abbas: Please be careful with your choice of words here. You are using words like ‘radical’ or ‘puritan’ with little explanation and a heavy baggage of assumptions, which can easily be misconstrued. Furthermore, if you are a sincere student of history and specifically Islamic history, you will realize that the root cause of the demise of the Muslim empries e.g. Ottoman, Andalus/Spain was the corruption and hypocrisy and going away from the deen of Islam, and NOT puritanism! If people had clung onto the Quran and Sunnah, such corruption and downfall wouldn’t have happened. With our state being as abject and humiliated as it is today, the only way for the Muslims to regain their position in the world today is by going back to the Quran and Sunnah, and implementing it in our lives and we will be successful again in sha Allah.

        What shocked me further was how dismissive you are of the Islamic revivals that have happened in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries – you are mixing too many things together and oversimplifying. By merely stating that ‘puritanic-based revivals’ led to the demise of the Muslim empires is utterly ludicrous and an over-simlification, and ofcourse absolutely incorrect. This ignores the politico-socio-economic enviroment of the time. Regarding the Islamic revivalists that you seem to be so dismissive about, you just have to read their works and see for yourself how things were at the time and how Allah sent these scholars as a mercy to muslims to remind them to follow As-Siraat Al-Mustaqeem which we had left. May Allah guide us all to and along the straight path always. Amen.

        And Allah knows best.
        wasalam.

        • Abbas says:

          Wa Allaikum Salam, Mohammad.

          Certainly, there is seldom a single factor in the demise of empires and kingdoms, and so I agree with you that there were other factors, including corruption in government.

          But I also believe that in-fighting between Muslims peoples only helped catalyse the demise of once strong Islamic empires. Of course, at no point did I assert that this was the only factor in the demise.

          As for Islamic revivals, could be more specific as to which revivals you are talking about?

    • Abu Ibrahim says:

      I agree, it is a very good and balanced article with logic and proof from the Quran and Sunnah to back it up.

      And I echo your sentiments that Muslims should work harder on projecting the true image of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by exemplifying his character and eschewing our own wasteful and useless habits.

      If we do not, or react in the wrong way, Facebook’s draw Muhammad day will only worsen to something even more sickening.

  2. admin says:

    Asalamu alaykum,

    AbdelRahman I need you to contact me.

    SDW

  3. SrAnonymous says:

    Alhamdulillah that was inspiring. Who is Ustadh Abdul Sattar?

  4. Ammar says:

    WOW.

    I could not have said it better myself Brother. Preach on.

    Its time people understand that Free Speech is a good thing. Its gets conversation going.
    Afterall, the Prophet Muhammad could not have preached if he were not allowed to speak. The enemies of Islam have been trying since the begining of time to silence Islam’s TRUE message. We need to be proponents of free speech, even if that means people will have different opinions than us.

    Let Allah deal with them.

  5. Voyageur says:

    ma sha Allaah. I really liked this!

  6. Ruh says:

    Amazing mashaAllah!

    Excellent advice, very inspirational.

  7. I am deeply offended at this post and not for what you might think. You are simply reiterating the stereotype that Muslims are some kind of violent mob.

    I agree with you as to the manner in which Muslims should handle these situations however what is the real percentage of Muslims engaging in the acts that you describe above? Much less than one percent I’d wager. The media is what pumps up the coverage of these extraordinary events and makes it look like the entire Muslim world is inflamed with barbarism while ignoring all the positive work and measured responses of influential Muslims around the world.

    For us to say the same things about Muslims is to simply reinforce the prominent media stereotypes out there about us. Yes some Muslims overreact, but the vast majority don’t and neither your advice nor anyone else’s will convince those who do overreact not to that’s just how they are. If anything I would say that in general Muslims are too passive, they shake their heads, “see, they hate Islam” they say and go about their business for the most part.

    If you want to see real hooliganism check out what happens in some cities when their favorite soccor team loses or when their concert is over too early and they are all drunk or when the lights go out. That is pure criminality but it is not associated with Western culture. Apparently the same standards dont apply to Muslims.

    If anything our brand of hooliganism is superior. Heard about those rioting lawyers who protested the illegality of Musharraf’s finagling? Well, when Mr. Danger here in the US shreds the constitution the best we can do is a 30 second spot on the Crappiest Cable News (CNN) Network. Where are the lawyer? That was a small group of professionals. Not much of a mob. See, Muslims ARE too passive. If they weren’t they wouldnt have the problem they do with all those brutal dictators running around.

    (Im sorry I dont know how this became a rant.)

  8. Asim says:

    You can find more out about Ust. Abdul here: http://abdulsattar.wordpress.com/about/

    He’s from YM Chicago too :P

  9. Abdul Sattar says:

    ManofFewWords,

    assalamu alaikum,

    I am sorry that you were offended. It was not meant to be so.

    1. The post spends very few sentences (actually 2 i think) focusing on the “hooliganism” of Muslims. I may have worded them too strongly, and they have taken more weight when you read them than the rest of the article. For that, I apologize.

    2. I don’t like comparing any other nation’s negative acts/hooliganism/idiocy against ours in order to say that we are in any way better. Our only standard of akhlaq is the Sunnah. Even if the whole world was barbaric, we should not be proud that we are better; we should only be proud if we can match the Sunnah to the best of our ability.

    3. Part of this article is written against the shock/anger that exists even amongst those civilized Muslims who do nothing crazy, but allow this shock/anger to consume their thoughts. I’m asking us to just chill out. We are all offended by the cartoons, but they don’t care. Allah told us this was going to happen. Lets roll with the punches and figure out what we need to do to spread this message and do our job.

    4. The remaining subject of the article, is that it’s time to stop spending so much time on these issues at all and spend our time focusing on the priorities of this Deen, in da’wah and in building our communities.

    5. It should be remembered that the reason they republished….was because a Muslim made a death threat against the cartoonist, and they published as a show of solidarity.

    6. I don’t hesitate in criticizing Muslim’s practices, even if they are a minority of Muslims, because we have a higher standard of conduct. If doesn’t apply to someone, clearly the criticism was not meant for them and there is no need to be offended.

    InshAllah I may reword that burning things sentence so that it doesn’t sound so blanket statement.

    jazakAllah khair and keep me in your duas akhi,
    wa salaam
    Abdul Sattar

  10. Assalaamu Alaykum

    1. It is the title that most incensed me. Though I did agree with the content of your article the title seems to reinforce what the media is saying about Muslims.

    2. Agreed, though that was not the reason I brought it up. It was simply to expose the double standard in the media.

    3. That should have been made clearer.

    4. Agreed, mashallah it was good stuff.

    5. Big deal. Honestly, these fools should really just be ignored. Who cares why they did it. They are just trying to rile us up and promote themselves.

    6. Agreed, its a good approach, however, it appears that you are admonishing Muslims in general with your title as opposed to a very tiny minority.

    May ALLAH grant you success in the Dunya and Akhira inshallah. And please keep me in your du’a as well, inshallah.

  11. Asim says:

    Ya shaykh,

    You should really check out this article (and maybe post it? :P) entitled ‘Dreams Stifled, Egypt’s Young Turn to Islamic Fervor’: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/17/world/middleeast/17youth.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp

    Also check out the video there too.

  12. Umm M says:

    MANSHALLAH!

    May Allah swt reward you for such a beautiful reminder.May our whispers to Allah swt increase.May we get rescued from this dark shorts cuts we made for ourselves.

    May Allah swt make its easy for us to see thee straight path set for us and May Allah also make it easy (I quote you )

    the Muslim to be a self-determined, educated, citizen of humanity and of Islam. Someone who’s character aims to mirror the Prophetic character. It is time for the sisters to put down their mascara and their foundation, and the brothers to put down the Nintendo Wii and XBOX controllers, and stand up and become men and women, and stop being boys and girls. It is time for for them to become self-determined individuals, who understand that the honor of this Deen and its Ummah, can only be given by Allah, but they must work for it. Allah says:
    “God will not change the condition of a people, until they change what is within themselves.” (13:1

    Ameen

  13. Sis Zabrina says:

    Bismillaah

    As Salaamu ‘alaykum and peace to all,

    SubhanAllaah, i was just thinking and researching these past few days on what would be the right way to respond to this issue. JazakAllaah Imam for bringing to light the incidences during the Prophet’s (pbuh) time.

    Salaam
    Sis Zabrina
    ~ Life Storyteller ~

  14. Abu Maryam says:

    Asalamualaikum wrt,

    Much speech is evil and Islam does not encourage that evil things should be freely said.

    Furthermore, no one is asking to arrest people who say things against Islam, all we are asking are that people in responsible positions (such as the Danish government) distance themselves from such hatred and calumny. By not speaking out about the evil they see, in the country they rule, they are tacitly supporting it, which means they have a hidden agenda. Isn’t it their moral responsibility to speak out against hatred and racism?

    In any case, as Muslims we must repel evil with what is better, but we should do it collectively. If half the Muslims buy Danish butter cookies, and the other half don’t, it just shows how divided our hearts are. The real point is for us to stick together in these times of tribulation and combat evil as one united Ummah. Whether we succeed or not, Allah will reward us for our efforts.

    And Allah knows best.

  15. Abdullah says:

    Asalamu Alakum

    Excellent article. Ustadh Abdul Satar, would you agree that the article eludes to a more deeper problem, i.e. that of “Adab & Akhlaq”, which in general is one of the major problems for Muslims living in this day and age.

    What I mean is that we see Muslims burning flags, and doing crazy things out of rage (in which this anger can be justified). Whilst anger is apart of being human, directing it towards a productive would be more fruithful for the Ummah

    BUT would you say that we have failed to teach our fellow Muslims the metaphysics of deen and guide to them to noble virtues beyond a reactionary mode—hence does this all relate back to Tazkiyah, or Ihsaan.

    More importantly, what ca we do to raise the ethics for Muslims at a higher discourse. I think if this website hosts articles / lectures in reforming Akhlaq, a practical step would be very positive in brining about change.

    Wasalam

  16. Christine says:

    Um…I am a Christian, and it appears that I am the first non-Muslim to respond to the article above. Apparently the experience of being maligned for ones religious beliefs is not isolated to any one faith, as I can assure you that I experience ridicule and disrespect daily – through the media, at university, and among people in society at large – and I am from Canada – a supposedly Christian nation!!! The difference as it seems to me, is that this type of oppression is allowed here under the tenets of free speech. I will not claim that I have any clue what the laws actually allow in Muslim nations, but it seems that there is no room for a defective voice whatsoever. Am I correct?
    It is nice to read something written by a Muslim who is rational and articulate. It is true that our media representations of Muslims here are sensational and negative. There is no other view – so all that people hear about are people rioting and killing each other on account of a cartoon or a teddy bear’s name, which does lead to stereotyped notions.

  17. h sofia says:

    It’s not enough for Muslims to say “we didn’t do this.” The only reason these kinds of things (threats, etc) keep happening is because Muslims stand by and let others do it. They won’t speak out against it. Muslims too often see themselves as victims (do you think black Americans don’t say the same things about themselves – “the Jews won’t allow people say anything about them, but a person can be racist against a black person every day of the week,” etc.). Everyone thinks they are more persecuted than the next person. Muslims need to stop this mess and police themselves.

    • aisha says:

      How are the majority of Muslims in any way responsible for the actions of a small minority of them?? And how do you expect us to police the few raving lunatics that are among us exactly? Since 9/11 Muslims have both individually and collectively condemned acts of terror, violence, and ignorance committed in the name of their faith time and time again…our organizations and community leaders have also condemned evil any time it has been committed by a Muslim.

      How exactly can Muslims stop “these kinds of things” that you allude to from happening? Can White Christians do more to stop the KKK from preaching hatred and violence? Can Israelis do more to stop the IDF from its massacre of Palestinians? The answer is NO. So why are we holding unrealistic expectations of Muslims then? Crazy people do crazy things without warning…it isn’t up to any of us to predict and control this behavior.

      Many Muslims do see themselves as victims, but the popular media’s stereotyping and demonizing of us surely doesn’t help us feel welcome in the West either.

  18. Nick says:

    I am a member of no religion though deeply interested in understanding both Islam and the perspectives and discourse of its adherents. I share your view that the non Muslim world defines and debases a vast, intricate and profound religion and culture by its concentration on the wilder fringes of Islam. I also share the perspective of most Muslims that the so-called war on terror is in many of its manifestations a persecution of Muslims.
    I applaud your analysis of the cartoons issue and was moved by it. However, I differ in one important respect. Both without your article and the contributions which follow it, there are far too many “theys”. The non Muslim world is treated as uniformly and aggressively hostile to you. The response to the stereotyping of Muslims is the stereotyping of non muslims.
    Like you I do not want to see the criminal law being used to prevent insults to your religion. I have campaigned also for the the removal of the special protection given to Christianity by the offence of Blasphemy. That does not mean I support insults to Islam or any other religion.Discourtesy to others should normally be avoided but not banned. If I am backed into a corner on the point, I would have to defend the right to publish the cartoons.
    Back to the “they”. It is the everyday experience of most Muslims that they have good friends in school, work, their communities who are not of their Faith yet are decent, moral human beings. One of my central criticisms of all religions, including Islam, is their mindset of an elect, superior group of believers separate from an inferior and doomed majority of unbelievers. Is it anti-Islamic to believe in a community of different beliefs which both tolerate and seek to understand and engage with each other? The very fact that your blog is public makes me hope that your answer is no.

    • Br. Corey says:

      Hey Nick,

      To address one thing you mentioned:

      “One of my central criticisms of all religions, including Islam, is their mindset of an elect, superior group of believers separate from an inferior and doomed majority of unbelievers.”

      My personal response [not a response on behalf of this blog, for I am a visitor like yourself] would be:

      Islam and Muslims are two different things… Though CERTAIN Muslims may claim superiority over ‘unbelievers’, there is nothing in Islam that tells its followers that they are inherently superior to their fellow Adamic brothers and sisters[non-muslims]. We believe that Islam is the Truth, obviously, but that is no license to be boastful or arrogant with other human beings, or to consider oneself ‘better’. Islam tells us that one is only superior to another, by his or her level of sincereness with and obedience to, the Creator.

      Islam is a gift. And as easily as it was given, it may be taken away; by God, if He so willed. I was formerly nonMuslim and I became Muslim, so this is something I’ve come to appreciate. I can relate to your observance of the term “they.” And like you, I see how it is something that occurs on both sides.

      My interest in Islam was not at all to become part of a group. I wanted only to align myself with what I believe to be the way God intended me to know Him. So, although I am a member of this community, and am happy to be one, my committment is to the Truth, which to the best of my understanding after years of searching, is Islam.

      Any world religion that makes a claim on Truth, deserves to have that claim taken into serious consideration by anyone with an unbiased, open mind. It is then up to the individual seeker to weigh the evidence of said claim(s) for themselves. The only real Truth, is the one that is encumbent upon EVERYone. They cannot all be right at the same time, by the very nature of the individual claims within each tradition, so which message is the correct one? That is for the individual seeker to decide…

      My point in mentioning this to you, is that I personally, as a Muslim do not share the “us/them” mentality that is so prominent amongst religious voices today. I endeavoured, to the best of my ability, to drop my biases and look at ALL religions with an open-mind. I respect and appreciate all faiths that call human beings to their highest principles and chararacter. After studying Islam however, I simply could find no contestant, and ultimately embraced the Faith. With that decision, I did not abandon who I was or where I came from, which is why I still easily relate to, and share friendships with people who would be deemed ‘non-Muslims.’ I am not better than ‘them’, and to be honest in a lot of ways ‘they’ are better than me.

      So it saddens me to hear about the superiority complex that can sometimes run rampant in religious communities, this one included. Islam is about instilling humilty before God in the human being, and thinking oneself better than another is counter-intuitive to that process.

      At the end of the day, we should be much less concerned with other people…what they think of us, or what we think of them. The core of Islam, for me at least, is “what does God think of me?” Our fellow human beings are only an oppotunity for us to grow closer to God. And we as individuals are that same opportunity for others. Because in the end, nothing else matters except where I stand in the eyes of my Creator.

      I don’t know if my response adequately addresses any of your points, but I hope it helps to at least dispel the stereotype. I apologize if any of my words carried a malignant tone. If so, it definitely was not my intention…Any faults and mistakes are my own

      -C

  19. Jassim says:

    Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatu brothers and sisters,

    Please read the OTHER side of how the Prophet (saw) dealt with people who insulted him and then make your decision:

    http://www.kalamullah.com/Books/The%20Dust%20Wi

    I will post an excerpt from the article….

    … “when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) opened
    (conquered) Makkah.

    The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) wanted it to be a nonviolent
    conquer of the Holy town, he wanted it to be a procession of peace. He did not want any blood
    shed. And he entered with humility, making Sujood to Allah Almighty and thanking Him. There
    was no parade there was no singing there was no bloodshed and killing- there was peace!

    “Go you are free!”.

    However, there was a black list. This was a list of names that were to be killed .even if you found
    them hanging to the cloths of the Ka.bah..

    There was a saying that the holiest place in the world was Makkah and the holiest of the holy was
    al.Haram, and if someone is touching the cloths of the Ka.bah and hanging to it, leave him alone.

    That was even the rule of the Mushrikeen

    But the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,

    “Kill them even if you see them hanging to the cloth of al Ka'bah.”

    “Abdullah ibn Khatal had these two slave girls who used to sing against the Messenger of Allah
    (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), they would hold concerts in Makkah singing against
    the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). These two slave girls were
    on that list along with another slave girl that belonged to Abu Lahab.

    First of all let’s talk about Abdullah ibn Khatal, he actually was hanging to the cloths of the Ka.bah
    and one of the companions rushed towards him and killed him!

    Lets look at the interesting case of these women.

    Number one, dear brothers and sisters you all know that women are not to be killed! The
    Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has prohibited the killing of
    women yet these were specifically mentioned in this list to be killed.

    Number two, we know that women, if they join in the fighting against Muslims they can be killed,
    but these women were not fighting and did not participate in any fighting. In fact, they were in a
    state of complete surrender!

    Number three, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had given
    peace and security to all the people of Makkah and he singled them out!

    Also add this issue that they were not free women but they were slaves, and the issue of freewill
    plays an important part in the rules and legislations of punishment in Islam, as the slave does not
    have freewill the punishment are reduced. These women were not free in choosing to sing
    against the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) but they were ordered
    to do so by their masters, Abu Lahab and Abdullah bin Khatal, and yet they were singled out and
    told to be killed!

    Ibn Taymiyah talks about this .It.s a clear and strong evidence that the greatest crime of all is
    blasphemy against the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) because
    with all of these factors -the fact that he gave security to the people of Makkah, and the fact that
    they are women, and the fact that they did not fight, and the fact that they were slaves- they were
    singled out for capital punishment! This tells you that this is a great crime!.

    Then we have another man who was on this black list his name is Al Huairith bin Nuqaydh. He
    used to also harm the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) with his
    tongue. He was hiding in his house; Ali bin Abi Talib came to his house asking about him, so they
    said he was not there and that he left to Badiyah-to outside Makkah. And they told Huairith that
    Ali bin Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) came looking for you.

    Ali went and hid behind the house. When Huairith wanted to run away to another house, Ali bin
    Abi Talib cut him off and killed him. (Ibn Hisham -pg 819)

    Another example is Ka.b ibn Zuhair. Ka.b ibn Zuhair was a poet, his brother was a poet and his
    father Zuhair bin Abi Salma, was one of the greatest poets, he was one of those who had the
    Mua.laqaat. The Arabs used to honor the best pieces of poetry by hanging them on the Ka.bah;
    this was to express the beauty of this piece of work. Zuhair bin Abi Salma was one of these who
    had his poems hanging on the Ka'bah, his sons Ka.b and Bujair were both poets. But Bujair was
    a Muslim and Ka.b was a non-Muslim and used to make poetry against the Messenger of Allah
    (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

    So when the Muslims entered into Makkah, Bujair wrote a letter to his brother and he told him that
    the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is killing the men of Makkah
    who had poetry against him. Ka.b was not in Makkah at that time, but his brother sent him a letter
    beforehand warning him that, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
    is killing all of the people who spoke against him and that the ones who are left like Abdullah ibn
    Zabariyyah and Mughirah ibn Abi Wahb, are trying to flee and run away because the Prophet has
    issued his orders to kill anybody who speaks against him!

    So this is another example of the greatness of this crime!

    The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was merciful and used to forgive his enemies, but with this particular crime things were different.”

  20. Jassim says:

    (60:8) “Allah does NOT forbid you to treat kindly and act equitably towards those who have neither fought you in the matter of religion nor driven you out of your homes. Indeed Allah loves the just.”

    (60:9) “He only forbids you to take for friends those who fought you in the matter of religion, and drove you out of your homes, and cooperated with others in your expulsion. Those who take them for friends are indeed the wrongdoers.”

  21. jassim says:

    Ibn Taymiyah says, “”Whoever curses the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be
    upon him) -a Muslim or a non Muslim- then he must be killed!””
    And he says,” “and this is the opinion of the general body of scholars”.”

    And Ibn Munzir says, “”It is the consensus of our scholars that the one who curses the Messenger
    of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) should be executed!”

    And this is the opinion of Malik, alLaith, Ahmed, Ishaq, Shafi’i and Numan Abu Hanifah.

    The opinion of Abu Hanifa is that the Muslim speaking against the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) should be executed and if it is a non-Muslim who doesn’t have a contract he should also be executed.

    He only excludes the Zimmi, the non-believer who is Zimmi -who pays Jizyah. The reasoning of Imam Abu Hanifah is that, they are Kuffar to start with so the crime of Kufr is greater than this.

    So all of the scholars agree in the situation of the Muslim and the Muharib, there is only a
    difference of opinion and it is a minority view with the case of the Zimmi.

    Ibn Taymiyah goes into elaborate details to also prove that a Zimmi -the one who is
    paying Jizyah- when he speaks against the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) his covenant is nullified and therefore he should also be executed!

    In Asshifa’ Qadi I’yaad says “It is the Mazhab of Malik that who ever says something that belittles
    the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) should be executed without any warning!”

    And even Ibn Ataab says that, “The Book, Quran and Sunnah, imply that who ever seeks to harm the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) or belittle him should be killed even if it is a very small thing!”

    In fact Imam Malik said, “If someone says that the button of the Messenger of Allah (peace and
    blessings of Allah be upon him) is dirty, then he should be executed!”
    Even if it is as small as saying that, then this person should be executed!

  22. jassima says:

    When some enemies of Islam once walked by the Prophet (saw) in Madinah, they said to him, “As-Sa’mu Alaikum” (Death be upon you), trying to slyly make it sound like “Assalamu-Alaikum” (Peace be upon you). They didn’t write against him, draw against him – they spoke directly to him. He, with the calm demeanor of prophethood, simply responded – “Wa alaikum”, and upon you. He did not escalate or insult – he responded by reflecting their greeting, without mentioning anything negative himself or lowering his noble speech.
    —————————————————————————

    Qadi Iyaad said, “This hadith, and others similar to it, were in the beginning of Islam, but after that the Huqm of Sharia is that they should not be forgiven”. So he said this is a Huqm that is
    Mansookh- is abrogated.

    Ibn Taymiyah says “Number one this is not an outwardly clear cursing of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) because that is something that is not apparent foreveryone.”

    And then he also says that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) can forgive but we cannot! This is the Haq (right) of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), it is something that belongs to him -to forgive or not to forgive- because it is a harm done to him, so he has the right to forgive!

    But we don’t have that right, it is a Haq of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah
    be upon him) and therefore he is the one who can forgive!

    For example, somebody steals money from me and then you forgive him! It is none of your
    business! How could you forgive him? I am the one who needs to forgive him!

    So it is up to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to forgive or not.

    Ibn Taymiyyah says, “After the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) passed away, we cannot forgive anyone. We can forgive people when they harm us, but not when they harm the Messenger of Allah (pbuh)!”

    • Abdul Sattar says:

      salam Jassima,

      You’ve quoted much, and though we do not have time address each quote and how in fact, each one is inapplicable in the Islamic legal system to situation at hand, I will leave you from a quote which I heard from Imam Suhaib, which he heard from his teacher:

      “Remember that the blood that you read from (books of law) is black and cold.
      But the blood that you give rulings to (people) is red and warm.”

      You offer many quotes, but what is the solution in your time, place, and circumstance?

      wa salam
      AS

  23. Qas says:

    The foam of the sea will never influence the flow of its water.

  24. J says:

    The only proof you bring is from the classical scholars. There is no statement of the Prophet [s] which says to kill the one who mocks him. In fact, the Prophet [s] advises the opposite, i.e. patience. Where is the explicit proof that such patience is abrogated? Proof from the Prophet [s] himself.

  25. Hayaah says:

    Brilliant Fabulous share of words!!!

    JazakAllah Khayr!!!!

  26. Hayaah says:

    Just to clarify… i meant the article and sadly not all the commentators below it …

  27. Dr. Madiha says:

    The article was brilliant. There is no doubt in this that we have to stand for our religion our values, and especially what is right. And I believe it is high time we decide how we have to stand for it. First, we have to analyze ourselves, and to know that what are our priorities and it is time that we should grow up and become stronger in our faith and our actions. By these acts they are only forcing us to act with violence so that they can prove to the whole world and especially the non-believers that our religion is teaching nothing besides violence and we are stereotypes. It is our duty not to let them succeed in this. We not only have to defend our religion, but also have to show everyone that we stand for the truth. Brothers and sisters! We have to admit that we are living in an era where most of the people have either forgotten the true teachings of Islam or have a very limited knowledge. This is again an era of non-believers and the believers who have forgotten their original teachings of Islam just like when our Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) started preaching Islam. And our Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and his followers showed patience at that time and spend that time in strengthening their faith and making their actions in accordance to teachings of Islam, and when they become strong not only in numbers, but most importantly in their faith and actions, they showed everyone that Islam is a true religion and what Muslims are capable of. The truth is that most of us spend our days and nights in the worldly luxuries or running to achieve them, even offering our prayers as robots. They want us to flare up and keep on doing that till we surrender to them. And until and unless we improve ourselves, and learn how to deal with situations like this, so people won’t point fingers to our religion we are making them successful in their agendas. Yes brother, I completely agree with your article that we should stop being nonsense boys and girls as well as stereotypes and focus more on becoming good muslims, so we can again rise to prove everyone that despite their dirty attempts, Our religion was, is, and always be right and true. Dr

  28. Mohammad Ashour says:

    I liked this article. I agree with much and disagree with some. Where I agree especially is that we need to be self-determined, making our own choices and learning from them instead of being driftwood in the global whirlpool. We need this step so that later we can then (re)enter the global stream and be a positive, engaging part of it. Self-determination, and realizing that we are responsible for our own reactions and suffering is the one of the first step towards enlightenment. There I agree.

    Where I disagree, or am cautious I should say, is the quotation of the Qur’an without presenting its historical context. We tend to do this a lot in with scripture. A direct command or instruction to the Prophet was just that. To understand what this means to us today, we must understand what it meant at the time of its revelation, and that entails knowing the history, culture, global atmosphere, and specifics of what was going around the revelation.

    I won’t go into the specifics of this article’s quotations, but a great example of this kind of treatment of revelation is the word كافرون “Kafirun”. It seems that many of us today translate this word to simply “disbeliever”. If you don’t believe in Allah and His Messenger, you are a Kafir. Some make an amendment and say that the People of the Book can be excluded from this group, and some don’t.

    Turns out, this wasn’t the “jist” of the word at the time of the Prophet (saw). The word meant a people who are haughty, arrogant, who were given a great gift and refused it. This has nothing to do with a closed religious orthodoxy, and much more to do with an outlook on life based on contemplation of one’s self and the natural order of things. So what does this mean to us today?

    Anyways, I don’t mean to start polemics and arguments. I do agree with the article in spirit, but I did have that reservation :)

  29. Noor bint Ali says:

    MashAllah i quite liked the article. as we all know Allah is with those who are patient however we can protest in non violent ways i guess not necessarliy burning flags and acting wild thats my opinion anyway. may Allah guide us all towards sirat e mustaqeem ameen.

  30. Ali says:

    the honor of the Muslims is being attacked. at least at least at least, i wish the author would have made the minimum suggestion for Muslims to get off the facebook permanently.

    there is fundamental difference beween what Rasool-ul-Allah did when he was degraded, and what the responsiblity for the Muslims is, when their Prophet sallala-ho-alaihi-wassalam is being degraded. its troubling to see that author does not understand such fundamentals of fiqh.

    very troubling.

    • Abdul Sattar says:

      assalamu Alaikum Br. Ali,

      JazakAllahu khair for your reflections. I’d have to make the following points:

      1. This article was written before the Facebook controversey, in light of the danish cartoons. I would have addressed facebook, but getting off of it wouldn’t neccessarily be my solution, not sure what that would achieve.

      I suggest utilizing facebook to spread news, and information about the Prophet, call to events in your communities, masaajid, and partner with others to bring about a “Muhammad Awareness” campaign.

      2. Which one of the fundamentals of Fiqh calls for getting off of facebook? Is that wajib upon us? Mustahab? Mubah? What is the legal basis that orders Muslims to do this?

      We should be careful when invoking Fiqh unless we are planning to support it with evidence and a proper process of legal reasoning.

      3. I think there is a misconception that Facebook created this group or is somehow responsible for it. Why just boycott Facebook? Why don’t you boycott every Internet Service Provider that allows access to Facebook and thus, access to that page?

      Facebook has nothing to do with this. It is simply a user-generated content system. It is essentially, a small internet. People are responsible. The cure is to teach, educate, and remove misconceptions from the people who are ignorant of our Messenger (saw).

      wa alaikum assalam
      AS

  31. Radad says:

    there is no such thing as freedom of speech
    unless your white ,blond,with colored eyes

  32. al-suyuufi says:

    Muhammad Ashour, care to bring some evidence about the usage of the term Kafir?

    • Mohammad Ashour says:

      Sure. Just give me some time to prepare it. I’ll have the sources for you by this time next week. Salaam :)

      • Mohammad Ashour says:

        Alright Suyuufi, I found the best proof for the usage of the term Kafir in the Quran itself. In Al-Baqara (Verse 34), the Quran says the following:

        وإذ قلنا للملئكة اسجدوا لأدم فسجدوا إلا إبليس أبى و استكبر و كان من الكافرين

        The Yusufali translation is:

        And behold, We said to the angels: “Bow down to Adam” and they bowed down. Not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: He was of those who reject Faith (Kafirin).

        Iblis, the devil in Islam, refused to bow to Adam. The connection of the word Kafir to arrogance and haughtiness is obvious in the Aya. Moreover, Iblis was one of the angels, and God was talking to Iblis directly. So what did Iblis actually do wrong? What didn’t he believe?

        Wa Salaam

  33. Asim K says:

    For those of you interested, Ust. Abdul Sattar will be speaking at “Iron Iman”, a YM Chicago event in IFS, Villa Park, IL on Friday June 4th inshaAllah. For more info, check out: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1279784&o=all&op=1&view=all&subj=125014820857883&aid=-1&id=1170307569

  34. Fuseina says:

    Salaam alaikum,

    I think this is an excellent article. IMHO, as Muslims we need to spend more time taking a hard look at ourselves. We’re moved to violent protests, calls to ban websites and hurt feelings because a non-Muslim insults the Prophet(s).

    However, don’t we insult the Prophet(s) every day when we don’t follow his magnificent Sunnah? When we don’t pray or fast or give charity. When we turn a blind eye to the extremely corrupt and oppressive governments in some Muslim countries. How come Muslims, even a small minority, don’t kick up a fuss when a Muslim woman can’t get a divorce from her abusive husband? Why aren’t we appalled when women in America are prevented from going to the Masjid? Why don’t we take to the streets en masse when an orphan’s property is seized? Especially knowing that our own Prophet(s) was an orphan. Isn’t this a worse insult to the Prophet(s) because we’re Muslim?

    Yes, the cartoons are insulting. But every day somewhere in the Muslim world we insult the Prophet(s) by our actions. This is far worse because the majority of the time we’re hurting other Muslims. We’re hurting each other.

    I suggest that we get our priorities straight. Let’s fix our own homes, neighborhoods and communities and the way we treat each other before we start worrying about how others treat us. If Muslims would actually act right (hmmm maybe like the Prophet(s) ) then these cartoonists wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.

    Just my $0.02. Of course Allah (SWT) knows best.

  35. Omar E says:

    Simply AMAZING! This article is genius…..

  36. Saif Q says:

    Someone commented avove: ”The puritans have always been the death of us. Aurangzeb of the Mughals sparked rebellions when he massacred Hindus and Sikhs; the puritan Saladin usurped the (Shia) Fatimid throne; and puritan Arab invasions helped end the Ottoman empire.”

    We seek refuge in Allah! Saladin (Rahimullah) was a brilliant embodiment of Islamic chivalry and justice. If it weren’t for him, only Allah knows how far the kuffar Crusaders would have penetrated into Muslim lands. It doesn’t behove us to use words like ”nitpickers, puritans, radicals” for one of Islam’s brightest stars, May Allah shower His mercy on him and enable us to follow his example. I sincerely ask the person who made the comment to read more about Saladin before making such offensive statements ( I found it to be so).

    Asslamu Alaikum

  37. Muslimun says:

    Jazakallah khair!

    Yet another Khutbah!

  38. Abdullah says:

    First of all, you’re using a story your dad told you which you have no proof for to support the popular mentality these days that the ulema are useless in the face of aggression. Then, you elude that people who follow “mufti saabs” as you put it, are just intellectual zombies. I can’t believe Shaykh Suhaib Webb approved these words which show a complete lack of adab. Don’t just say things like this to get props from people. I think you know better.

    • Abdul Sattar says:

      Brother Abdullah, Assalamu Alaikum,

      1. The story is not a “proof” for a mentality of the “uselessness” of ‘ulama, astghfirullah. It is just a story about how sometimes Muslims’ have the wrong priorities at the wrong time. We seek refuge in Allah (swt) from insulting the ‘ulama. We know they are the inheritors of the Prophet (saw) and that their guidance is to be sought in our affairs. Using the word ” ‘ulama” and referring to an instance that is negative, is not insulting the entire class of people. Please read in context.

      2. You may want to read the “mufti saab” comment once more. You have misquoted.

      3. Overall, you seem to be defending the scholars from an attack that never occurred. Relax my brother, I mean no harm against the scholars – after all, this forum is a forum where we regularly post the pearls of wisdom from the scholars and enjoin following them.

      There seems to be some baggage and you are reading in your own meanings into what has been written. I’ve removed the reference to Baghdad, as it is not crucial in the argument I am presenting, and if it causes confusion or sidetracks from the issue, I’d rather it not be there.

      wa salam
      AS

  39. NAS says:

    May Allah make us have the character that you described so well!

    May Allah reward you, such a inspiring article (hopefully, inshAllah, revolutionary)

  40. aiai says:

    I like this article. It is an alternative way to handle this issue. Some might want to choose other ways but there is always a choice. So choose wisely on how ones wants to react. Surely, Allah SWT will protect our Beloved Prophet and staying strong to our belief that Allah is the most Great and the most Knowing and making sure we uphold good values that is asked from us by Allah SWT and our Beloved Prophet. This article reminds me the power of saying selawat.

  41. ANMB says:

    ASA. I surprisingly found myself correcting more Muslims yesterday on Facebook, than non-Muslims, by using the wisdom of Dr. Jamal Badawi, from an excerpt of a three part article found below. JAK. ASA.

    * * *

    Every Word Counts*
    Part 2

    Sticks and Stones… and Words

    Speech, as has been mentioned before, can either be used properly and within the limits God has set, or it may be abused, with no regard to any limits.

    The question remains: What happens when speech is abused? How does Islam deal with situations in which Muslims find themselves the subject of verbal abuse?

    The Qur’an’s basic rule with regards to these kinds of situations is: treat abuse with goodness. This, as Islam sees it, is an encouragement for people to strive to win the hearts of their enemies, and to resist hostility. Just as two wrongs do not make a right, the Qur’an points to the transformative and healing powers of kindness:

    [Nor can goodness and evil be equal. Repel (evil) with what is better: Then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy close friend!] (Fussilat 41:34)

    This verse makes it clear that Islam does not advocate the concept of “tit for tat”. Evil, the verse says, can not be replied to in like. In fact, when a person resists the temptation of retaliation, the power of a good deed is such that it can turn enemies into friends.

    This transformation, however, depends largely on the sincerity of the person who initiates this kindness. Sincere kindness turns the tables on the cycle of enmity by presenting a situation where the hostility is not mutual, and therefore, has nothing to feed upon.

    The same meaning is also given by the Prophet Muhammad who said that although people may not be able to win the hearts of everyone through money (whether it is presented in the form of gifts or charity), but they can through two things: cheerfulness of the face, and decency of conduct.

    When All Else Fails

    However, there are cases where argument and discussions are, by their very nature, futile. These situations, Islam teaches, are best dealt with by avoidance. For example, the Qur’an, in describing the characteristics of true believers, says what means:

    [And the (true) worshippers of (Allah) the Most Merciful are those who walk on the earth in humbleness, and when the ignorant address them, they say, "Peace!"] (Al-Furqan 25:63)

    It is important to note that the word “ignorant” used in the translation given above is not precise. In Arabic, “jahiloon” can mean either “ignorance” or “people who can not control their emotions and aggression”.

    The reply “Peace” signifies both an end to the situation through a refusal to take part in it, and a kindness. Another verse builds on this:

    [And when they (true believers) hear vain talk, they turn away from it and say: "To us our deeds and to you yours; peace be to you: we seek not the ignorant."] (Al-Qasas 28:55)

    Although some people may think that not responding is an acceptance of the abuse or a humiliation, but in fact, this reaction is in keeping with the general Islamic manners of humbleness, gentleness, and dignity.

    Islamic virtues connect and support each other without conflict. Therefore, humbleness is not contradictory to dignity, and vice versa. In addition, the Qur’an does not ask people to humiliate themselves, but encourages them to be humble.

    Responding to anger with anger and to abuse with abuse causes an escalation of the situation and also leads to pettiness and indignity. Therefore, Islam calls for a realistic assessment of each situation on its own and suggests two different types of reactions: kindness, and not responding to abuse.

    An example of this theory in practice can be seen in the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Once, a man who was the Prophet’s relative, but had a disreputable character met the Prophet. The Prophet sat with him and greeted him with a cheerful face and was courteous and kind.
    After the man left, the Prophet’s wife `A’ishah asked him about his gracious behavior towards the man with the bad character. The Prophet then asked his wife, “`A’ishah, when did you know me as an obscene person? The worst person in the sight of God on the Day of Judgment is he whom people avoid because of his bad manners.” (Al-Bukhari)

    The Prophet also once pointed out that a believer is not one who injures others unduly, or one who curses others, or who is obscene.

    Arguing with Decency

    However, it is important to point out that these Qur’anic injunctions and this prophetic example does not mean that Muslims are not supposed to defend themselves if attacked unfairly.

    Defending oneself can only be constructive, however, if it is carefully handled and does not increase enmity. It can not be undertaken in a spirit of revenge.

    Islam distinguishes between different types of argumentation. Arguing for the sake of arguing is called laghw. Laghw is a term that appears in the Qur’an that refers to “vain talk”. Jadal, on the other hand, is the Qur’anic term for the broader concept of argumentation.

    Unlike the term laghw, which is consistently negative, the Qur’an refers to jadal in both positive and negative contexts. For example, God addresses the Prophet saying what means:

    [Call to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way. Lo! Thy Lord is Best Aware of him who strayeth from His way, and He is Best Aware of those who go aright.] (An-Nahl 16:125)

    In this context, arguing is a more positive “reasoning”, as it is governed by decency and courteousness.

    Elsewhere, the same term is used in the sense of arguing for the sake of arguing. Those who engage in this kind of arguing are usually close-minded and are not interested in communication. They argue and debate insincerely, in that they do not listen to the other. This is discouraged in Islam.

    The Prophet Muhammad said that no one would be misguided after having received guidance, or stray off the path, except for those who engage in vain or senseless argumentation (At-Tirmidhi). The Prophet also said that people who leave vain argumentation even when they are right will be rewarded in Paradise (Abu Dawud).

    Therefore, whether an argument or discussion is vain or not, does not depend on the rightness and validity of the argument or its lack thereof. Instead, the intention behind communication is what determines its quality and acceptability.

    * Adapted from a lecture in Dr. Jamal Badawi’s Islamic Teachings series.

    **Dr. Jamal Badawi is a professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada, where he teaches in the areas of management and religious studies. He is the author of several works on various aspects of Islam.

    [previously posted on IslamOnline]

  42. ANMB says:

    Another nice response by Nihad Awad, of CAIR:

    * * *

    CAIR: A Muslim Response to ‘Draw Muhammad Day’

    WASHINGTON, May 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today offered what the Washington-based civil rights and advocacy group called “A Muslim Response to ‘Draw Muhammad Day.’”

    In an ISLAM-OPED commentary that is available for publication on request, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad (nawad@cair.com) wrote: (Word Count: 932)

    I will be the first to defend anyone’s right to express their opinion, no matter how offensive it may be to me. Our nation has prospered because Americans value and respect diversity.
    But freedom of expression does not create an obligation to offend or to show disrespect to the religious beliefs or revered figures of others.

    In reaction to the recent controversy over a depiction of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in an episode of Comedy Central’s “South Park,” a Seattle cartoonist apparently declared May 20th to be “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.”

    I say “apparently,” because cartoonist Molly Norris — the creator of the cartoon showing many objects claiming to be a likeness of the prophet — now says she never intended to launch “Draw Muhammad Day.”

    On her web site, she has since posted a statement that reads in part: “I did NOT ‘declare’ May 20 to be ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day’…The cartoon-poster, with a fake ‘group’ behind it, went viral and was taken seriously…The vitriol this ‘day’ has brought out, of people who only want to draw obscene images, is offensive to the Muslims who did nothing to endanger our right to expression in the first place…I apologize to people of Muslim faith and ask that this ‘day’ be called off.”

    Norris even visited a mosque at the invitation of the local Muslim community.

    The creator of a Facebook page dedicated to the day also repudiated the “inflammatory posts” it inspired. He said, “I am aghast that so many people are posting deeply offensive pictures of the Prophet…Y’all go ahead if that’s your bag, but count me out.”

    Despite the cartoonist’s and the Facebook page creator’s seemingly sincere attempts to distance themselves from the fake event, Muslim-bashers and Islamophobes made sure the call to “draw Muhammad” went viral on the Internet. They are hoping to offend Muslims, who are generally sensitive to created images of the Prophet Muhammad or any prophet.

    [The majority of Muslims believe visual representations of all prophets are inappropriate in that they distract from God's message and could lead to a kind of idol worship, something forbidden in Islam.]

    So how should Muslims and other Americans react to this latest attempt by hate-mongers to exploit the precious right of free speech and turn May 20 into a celebration of degradation and xenophobia?

    Before I answer that question, it must first be made clear that American Muslims value freedom of speech and have no desire to inhibit the creative instincts of cartoonists, comedians or anyone else.

    The mainstream American Muslim community, including my own organization, has also strongly repudiated the few members of an extremist fringe group who appeared to threaten the creators of “South Park.” That group, the origins and makeup of which has been questioned by many Muslims, has absolutely no credibility within the American Muslim community.
    I, like many Muslims, was astonished to see media outlets broadcasting the views of a few marginal individuals, while ignoring the hundreds of mosques and Muslim institutions that have representatives who could have offered a mainstream perspective.

    Next, one must examine how the Prophet Muhammad himself reacted to personal insults.
    Islamic traditions include a number of instances in which the Prophet had the opportunity to retaliate against those who abused him, but refrained from doing so. He said, “You do not do evil to those who do evil to you, but you deal with them with forgiveness and kindness.”

    Even when the prophet was in a position of power, he chose the path of kindness and mercy. When he returned to Mecca after years of exile and personal attacks, he did not take revenge on the people who had reviled him and abused and tortured his followers, but instead offered a general amnesty.

    In the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, God states: “Invite (all) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for your Lord knows best who have strayed from His Path and who receive guidance.” (16:125)

    Another verse tells the prophet to “show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant.” (7:199)

    This is the guidance Muslims should follow as they express concern about an insulting depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, or of any other prophet of God.

    Instead of reacting negatively to the bigoted call to support “Draw Muhammad Day,” American Muslims — and Muslims worldwide — should use that and every other day as an opportunity to reach out to people of other faiths and beliefs to build bridges of understanding and respect.

    The best and most productive response to bigoted campaigns like “Draw Muhammad Day” is more communication, not less communication — including not restricting the free flow of ideas with measures like banning Facebook.

    Research has shown that anti-Islam prejudice goes down when people interact with ordinary Muslims and have greater knowledge of Islam.

    Therefore, the best reaction to those who would mock the Prophet Muhammad (or the religious symbols of any faith) might be a mosque open house for the local interfaith community, a community service activity organized by Muslims and involving people of other faiths, or a newspaper commentary describing the life, legacy and personal character of the Prophet Muhammad, which is the opposite of the calumny some people fabricate about him. This should
    be of concern to all decent and objective people.

    We will all benefit if each of us — whether Muslim, Jew, Christian, Buddhist, or Hindu — exhibits the common human decency required by our respective faiths.

    ISLAM-OPED is a syndication service of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) designed to offer an American Muslim perspective on current political, social and religious issues.

    ISLAM-OPED commentaries are offered free-of-charge to one media outlet in each market area. Permission for publication will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis.
    Please consider the following commentary for publication.

    CONTACT: Amina Rubin, arubin@cair.com, Tel: 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171 (c)

    CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
    CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: arubin@cair.com
    SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations

  43. Captain A says:

    Asalamu Alaykum,
    Great article, although we as Muslims have a right to be upset when someone defames, or depicts the Prophet Muhammad( peace be upon him) why don’t we show the same emotion when Jesus, Moses, or even God is is insulted or put is a cartoon?

  44. SI says:

    Assalamulykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu,

    MashAllah,beautiful words by Shaykh sahab db,as always.may Allah bless you and raise your status higher in His eyes.ameen

    Yes,WE ,the muslims,really need to change.

    please make dua for us weak muslims.

    JazakAllah khair,

    wassalamulykum

  45. sals says:

    as much as I stress the importance of fatwas(verdicts) by eminent scholars regarding the prohibition of music, I do agree with the article that there are more important things to focus and build on…..

    we need to wake up and start LIVING Islam…

  46. muslim says:

    “When u attack Black people, they call it Racism. When u attack Jewish people, they call it anti-Semitism. When u attack Women, they call it Sexism. When you attack Homosexuality, they call it Intolerance. When you attack your Country, they call it Treason. When you attack a Religious Sect, they call it Hate Speech…But when you attack the Prophet (PBUH), they want to call it Freedom of Speech!!??”

  47. Javeriyah says:

    Masha’Allah, great article (Y)

  48. yousuf says:

    Excellent article, agree with almost all of what it says. Though it has to be asked, how does one go about “uniting” or showing unity with people who call you a graver worshipper or a polytheist?

  49. Luqmanalandalusi says:

    @ Abbas, please be careful for saying what you said are dangerous,

    Salahudin {Rh} being a puritan who usurped the throne, this is not true, he was a Sunni Muslim who loved and protected Islam! You can love the article but dont put others down while doing it. People must learn these basic principles, Imam!
    We believe in the struggle of him and others who loved his deen,

    Ustadh Luqman

    • Saif Q says:

      Alhamulillah someone else noticed! Jazak Allah Khair Sheikh!

    • al-suyuufi says:

      My guess is that the dude is a rafidhee based on his comments.

      I mean sure, Salahuddeen had his errors but he had a good character and benefited the Muslim Ummah against many enemies.

  50. Asfiya says:

    Brother Abdul Sattar, jazakAllahu khairan for your insight and Qur’anic references alhamdulilah. I just wanted to add that the notorious comments and slanderous pictures were very much real and a result of years of ignorance that has heaped up on the minds of many Europeans and North Americans. Many Westerners do not have direct insight into Islam. Their opinions about our religion are based merely on the handful of cliches and distorted notions that are repeated on the media. The Graeco-Roman mode of through which divides the world into Greeks and Romans on one side and barbarians on the other side is so thoroughly ingrained in the Western mind that they are unable to concede even theoretically, positive value to anything that lay outside their own cultural orbit. Naturally, such narrow understanding is bound to produce misconceptions and subsequently hatred.

    It may seem naive to say that in the end all we really need is education, and that education alone is capable of ending the misconceptions people have against Islam. The only saving power is education, educating Muslims and educating the non-Muslims. Educating the Muslims about their own religion is amiable. The first revelation which was sent to the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was “Read” and henceforth seeking knowledge has become a religious obligation upon every Muslim, men and women alike so much so that the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said, “The best amongst you are those who learn Qur’an and teach it.” (Bukhari). The Equally important is educating the non-Muslims. Educating the non-Muslims may not free us from pain and conflict caused by hate speech and slanderous artistry. Education may not abolish racism and hostile secularism from their end. But education will find mutual and common grounds in midst of opposition. Education will raise peoples’ consciousness and change attitudes.

    When Pharaoh reached the pinnacle of his tyranny and evildoing. Allah didn’t leave him for self-destruction rather He sent Musa (a.s) and Harun saying, “Go both of you, to Pharaoh. Indeed, he has transgressed. And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allah]” (Qur’an, 20:42-43).

    When the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) turned away from Abdullah bin Abi Makhtum with a frown, Allah revealed, “But what would make you perceive, that perhaps he might be purified. Or be reminded and the remembrance would benefit him?” [Qur’an, 80:3-4]. Traditionally all the Prophet (a.s) communicated and clarified the message of Islam as much as they were able. Nuh (a.s) is said to have called his people to Islam day and night, publically and secretly [Qur’an, 71:5, 8-9]. Even at the time of battle, of Khaibar Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) did not cease his invitation to Islam. He sent Ali (r.a) to the Jews saying, “By Allah even if a single person is guided by Allah through you surely it is better for you than a whole lot of red camels.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

    Therefore, gentle Da’wah or education will help clear many misconceptions people have against the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). By May 21, 2010, “Draw Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) page had over 3000 pictures. If only 300 Muslims responded to 10 of those pictures each with a verse from the Qur’an or hadith or passage of seerah, the message of Islam would have been conveyed. But alas, the West grows in its ignorance of Islam and leads many more astray.

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