On the same day that stage musical fans celebrate one of their more notable roles, Muslims seek to educate others about their Prophet dryly.
My 2nd cousin grew up in Berkeley, CA spending her Sundays free. I never asked, exactly how (that should be a good story, too) but eventually Jessica heard the call of The Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H.) and became Sumaya. She is a wife, mother and and graduate student of middle eastern languages. She wrote the following last week.
The day is today. Here is a little background information about the origin of this day for those who haven’t been following the controversy: A cartoon show called “South Park” was going to have an episode with some depictions of the Prophet and so a Muslim blogger that night posted kind of a death threat warning online along with the home addresses of every one of the show’s producers and artists. Because of that, in the name of security, the show was withdrawn and did not air. Then, consequently, there was a huge backlash by all of the proponents of “Freedom of Speech” and so there has been this day invented, which is today May 20, called “International Draw the Prophet Day” where everyone who believes in Freedom of Speech is supposed to draw offensive pictures of the Prophet.
I believe this was a way for Conservative Right-Wing America to break-up the strong coalition between liberals of this country and Muslims (as they have been banded together in the recent years because of their similar opinion on various issues such as immigration, wars, health care, education, public programs and human rights) If the conservatives could break the union by appealing to the Liberal sensitivity to “freedom of speech” then the Muslims would be that much weaker, because they would no longer be backed by Liberals. But I digress.
Firstly, I would like to address some questions that were raised to me recently
- Why do Muslims get so offended? Furthermore, why do Muslims get more upset when people attack Muhammad, then they do God, or other highly respected Prophets and role models, such as Jesus and Mary.
This is a great question that should be addressed to the Muslim community. But, I think that Muhammad is the sole person who can be linked directly with Islam and so while Muslims would still be offended at a negative depiction of Jesus, they take an attack on Muhammad as a direct attack against Islam. Muslims feel very strongly about depicting any Prophet for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, if portraits are drawn, people may hang them in their houses or places of worship, and over time may come to worship the figures, instead of God. Muslims believe this is what happened with the Prophet Jesus. That overtime, people began to worship the figure of Jesus and the belief that he is a Messenger of God became distorted to he is God. The fundamental belief in Islam is tawhid, or a strict monotheism, and the biggest sin one can commit in Islam is to associate partners with God. For this reason, no depictions of holy figures are drawn so as to protect future generations from becoming confused and worshiping that person, instead of God. Furthermore, drawing a prophet or drawing God is a big problem because we don’t know what they look like. If we draw a depiction then we use our own biases and imaginations of how we think they might have looked. This will influence other people who see that depiction and they will then imagine the person to look like that. Again, with the Prophet Jesus, was he white with blue eyes and blond hair, as most Christian churches depict him today? Well he might have been, but I highly doubt it, as he hailed from “that part of the world, which we now call the Middle East.”
- But are the death threats justifiable?
Never. There are rules of war laid out quite clearly in the Quran, which are: You may only fight if you yourself are being attacked, your family is being attacked, or your property is being taken from you. And even then, you can not even kill an unarmed person, a woman, a child, an elderly person, or even a tree or an animal in the process. You can not even damage a building. And no suicide, ever.
The Prophet has been a figure that has been ridiculed and attacked throughout history and even during his lifetime and this will always be the case. Although it does hurt because he is a figure highly respected, beloved and emulated by the Muslim community (but not worshiped), Muslims should still take the Prophetic example and patiently persevere. There are instances recorded from the Prophet’s life, such as being thrown rocks at by the Quraysh in Mecca and again by the people of Al-Ta’if. The Prophet was bleeding from head to toe, at which point the Prophet simply prayed for their guidance in an ultimate act of “Jihad” (which means “stuggling,” in this case, struggling not to act out in violence against them). Or another example was when someone threw sheep intestines at the Prophet while he was praying, and so he prayed for justice. Or when a lady every day threw her trash onto his front lawn, and he just cleaned it up without a word. Or when a lady sent him poisoned lamb, and his companions called for her murder, but the Prophet stopped them.
In following my Prophet’s example, I will be praying for these people who have such hatred in their hearts for Muslims. Because, yes, you CAN draw the Prophet because you have freedom of speech, but why? Why insult and upset 1.3 billion people on this earth, for no better reason except because you can? To me, it shows an arrogance and lack of human empathy.
Additionally, if Muslims want to show our deep love for the Prophet and consequent outrage over these cartoons, we should show our love by following the best example, HIS example. And not threaten with violence, but pray for their guidance and for the guidance of us all, as we are the humans to inhabit this earth, together, for the rest of time that God allots us here.
May the peace and blessings of God be upon all of the Prophets and Messengers, their families, and also all of you :)