Depicting the Prophet Muhammad
A few days ago, we witnessed the terrorist attack against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which possesses an atrocious record through its cartoons in provoking the feelings not only of the Muslims but of other religious groups too. The question here, whether bloodshed and terrifying people should be the punishment for this magazine? Does the methodology adopted by those terrorists match with that of the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) in addressing those harming him? The answer is definitely, no The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never took revenge from those who hurt and satirized him with the worst poetry, he rather pardoned and forgave them; he even did not retaliate against those who attempted to kill him. He is the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) who pardoned the entire tribe of Quraysh who caused him great harm, expelled the Messenger of God from his home, waged war against him and further stirred the whole Arabs against him. At the conquest of Mecca, the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) pardoned the people of Makkah by saying his famous phrase, “You are all free to go.” Among those who were pardoned were Wahshi Ibn Harb, the one who killed the Prophet’s uncle Hamzah and Hind bint ‘Utbah who chewed Hamzah’s liver and Habar Ibn al-Aswad who attacked the mother of believers Zainab bint Jahsh who was pregnant and caused her an abortion and she died afterwards. In addition, the Prophet pardoned al-Huwairth ibn Naqiz who attacked Fatima and Umm Kulthum and caused them to fall off their camels. He also forgave the female singers who used to satirize him frequently. All those were pardoned by Prophet Muhammad on the day of Mecca conquest after he was granted a peaceful victory. Garbage was thrown at the honorable head of the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) but he did not draw his sword against the perpetrator or stir the Muslims against him. On the contrary, the Messenger of God said: “Oh God, Guide my people, for they do not know”. He did not retaliate when the people of Taif violently rejected his call to Islam and sent their children to throw him with stones and shed his blood. Instead the Prophet complained of his weakness to his Lord. And when the angel of mountains came to the Prophet and said to him: “If you wish, I can crush them between the two mountains of Mecca”, the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Rather, I hope that God will bring forth from their loins those who will worship God alone and not associate anything with Him.” The tolerance of our master Prophet Muhammad is evident when a Bedouin came to him and grabbed him roughly to the extent that the cloak he was wearing left a mark on his neck and the man said to him: “O Muhammad, give me from the wealth of God that you have”. The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) turned to the Bedouin, smiled and ordered that he would be given until he is pleased. Furthermore, it is he, Prophet Muhammad, who pardoned the Jewish woman who had laced the sheep he was going to eat with poison. God the Almighty caused the sheep to talk and informed the Messenger of God about the poison and when the woman was brought to him, he refused to have her killed. Moreover, the divine message in the Holy Quran has firmly established the manner of pardoning which the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) embodied. Even while suffering from the highest degree of insults and offense against the Muslims which is ridiculing the verses of the holy Quran, God the Almighty never commanded his Messenger to take revenge or kill those ridiculers. Rather, our Lord the Almighty has commanded the Prophet to turn away from them until they enter into another conversation. God the Almighty says: “And when you see those who engage in [offensive] discourse concerning Our verses, then turn away from them until they enter into another conversion. And if Satan should cause you to forget, then do not remain after the reminder with the wrongdoing people” (Quran 6: 68). Our Lord the Almighty did not encourage the Prophet to take revenge on those who ridiculed His holy verses. Rather, the Exalted is He commanded His Messenger to turn away from them to avoid provoking the Muslims and causing a conflict between them. The divine commandment to turn away from those ridiculers is found in many places in the Holy Quran: “Take what is given freely, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant.” (7: 199), and, “And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. But none is granted it except those who are patient, and none is granted it except one having a great portion [of good].” (41: 34-35) and, “And whoever is patient and forgives - indeed, that is of the matters [requiring] determination” (42: 43). Then, what should we do in order to confront this provocation? We should frequently call for activating an international law which deals with hate crimes committed on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, gender or physical disability. From my point of view, this is the ideal solution for confrontation because hatred cannot be reciprocated. Furthermore, we need the media –especially western media- to tackle this issue objectively in order to lay the foundation for promoting coexistence, cooperation and to shun hatred and disunity. It is equally important to abandon hate speech which lays full blame on both Islam and Muslims, a matter which engulfs the western communities and further provokes them against Muslims which leads to violence and triggers more counter-violence As a matter of fact, there are laws incriminating the spread of hatred in USA, Denmark, Britain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Portugal, Holland and many other western countries. However, unfortunately, these laws are seemingly deactivated in cases related to Islam; the law is implemented in an unusual manner which helps to spread dissension in communities. We as Muslims are obliged to apply self-discipline and follow the Prophetic guidance in dealing with those insulting us in order to reflect the civilized aspect of Islam and gain the respect of the entire world. Furthermore, we must endeavor to introduce and implement laws which protect the rights of different religious minorities and at the same time incriminate the spread of hatred and the ridiculing of other religions. We deeply believe in the freedom of expression, but at the same time, we do not believe in the freedom of spreading hatred through provocative acts which lead to dissension and creates disunity among peoples.