Muslims all over the world are deeply hurt when caricatures of our beloved Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) were published in Danish and several other media outlets.
Every now and then, some Western media outlets provoke Muslims by insulting the Prophet of Islam, Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam). The baiting often succeeds in eliciting Muslims’ outrage and sporadic violence.
Crossing all the limits of sanity, a Danish newspaper’s caricature tried to portray the Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) as a terrorist. Joining hands to these culprits and adding insult to injury, Norwegian, French, German and a few other newspapers reprinted the defamatory caricatures to "defend” — they claimed — the freedom of expression.
The real issue is not the freedom of expression. Free speech is not and was never meant to be absolute. There are laws in the West that ban certain kinds of speech, including those that incite anti-Semitism, racism and violence. Moreover, some countries have laws against blasphemy and defamation. To Muslims, banning blasphemy against Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and the Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) has a higher priority.
For the European newspapers to reprint the offensive caricatures to show solidarity against Islam and Muslims, with their Danish counterpart, seems akin to the plot the leaders of Quraish had hatched to assassinate Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam).
The Quraish masterminds had figured that including representatives from major tribes of Makkah al Mukarramah in the heinous plot would make it impossible for the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam)’s clan, Banu Hashim, to avenge. But Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) willed that the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) would migrate to Madinah al Munawwarah unscathed while the plotters laid siege to his house.
The West often underestimates the Muslims’ reverence for their beloved Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) and is, therefore, startled by the fierce Islamic reaction to insulting actions against him. Few in the West know that for Muslims, loving their Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) more than themselves is a matter of faith, not choice.
Further, the depiction of the Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) as a terrorist is a falsification of history. He was considered "Al-Ameen,” the trustworthy, by his people even before he was asked to proclaim his status of the Prophethood.
Once, when asked by some of his followers to invoke Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s wrath on the enemies, he refused saying he had been sent as a mercy unto mankind.
Objective Western intellectuals have acknowledged the superior character of the Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam). In his “The 100, a Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History,” Michael H. Hart ranked Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) No. 1 because "He was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels.”
Alphonse de Lamartine, a renowned 19th Century French writer, had this to say about the Prophet Muhammad: "As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than him?”
Voltaire, a famous French philosopher and writer who laid the foundations of the French Revolution. He in 1736, wrote a play about the Prophet of Islam, Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam), which was blasphemous. Later, as reports Malise Walter Maitland Knox Hore-Ruthven, an Anglo-Irish academic and writer, himself a staunch critic of Islam, “as Voltaire learned more about Islam his opinion of the faith became more positive. It is said that his book, "Voltaire’s Fanaticism, or Mahomet the Prophet: A New Translation”, inspired Goethe as well, who was attracted towards Islam.
Though much blasphemous material was written in France, Germany and other parts of West, the light of Islam continued to spread throughout the world.
A Muslim, new or old, can be non-practicing, with no Salaah (Prayers) no Sawm (Fasting) in his life, but even then, he cannot tolerate blasphemy. The love of the Prophet is, in fact, the oxygen of Muslim faith.
Unfortunately, some Muslims forget that loving their Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam), primarily, means following him. Burning embassies or cars, as they did in few cities, to avenge the insult to the Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) is not a service to Islam. Violent reactions are manipulated to reinforce the negative stereotypes about Muslims in the minds of those who never came across the real face of Islam.
On the other hand, it is also regrettable that instead of expressing any remorse for this shameful act and apologizing for it, various tricks are being used to justify this act, it is being said that no action will be taken against these evil minded people as “Freedom of Expression” is our principle.
The people of the West have coined some beautiful words and declared them as the foundation of their social values. For example, democracy, human rights and peaceful coexistence are all the words that are sung day and night, but if you look at the reality, their political and personal interests take precedence, as in the case of genocide they committed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, etc.
The West has coined these beautiful words to deceive the world. This freedom of expression is also being proclaimed and used to justify their shameful insolence.
The level of arrogance of West based on malicious intentions against Islam and Muslims in this case can be well imagined that same West do not allow anyone who wants to do historical research against the Jewish "Holocaust”. Their law does not permit to investigate how many Jews were killed when they were deported from Germany, and how many were not killed, if one were to carry out this historical research on a scientific basis. It is a legal crime. Where goes the freedom of expression in that case.
As for the West, there really is a need to re-examine the notion of free speech. Without limits and boundaries, the exercise of this freedom can be lethal, as we have seen.
One may ask, is it morally defensible to provoke violence, cause death, and create a civilizational conflict for one cartoonist’s freedom of expression?
The West already has laws to protect religious freedom, which they do not invoke in case of Islam and its Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam). What it now needs to do is protect this freedom from being trampled by unbridled free speech. No one should have used it to insult the prophets.
However, we can turn these negative, malicious caricatures into something positive by learning about the Prophet (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) by following him, and educating others about his teachings. So the Muslims should turn these extremely painful incidents into something positive, by teaching the world what the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) means to us and what his life was like.
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) described the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) in the Aayah (Verse):
وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَى خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ [القلم: 4]
“And you are surely on an excellent standard of character” (Al-Qalam 68:4)
And Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) also says:
لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا [الأحزاب: 21]
“There is indeed a good model for you in the Messenger of Allah — for the one who has hope in Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah profusely.” (Al-Ahzaab 33:21)
By a divine decision, the status of Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) was raised forever:
وَرَفَعْنَا لَكَ ذِكْرَكَ [الشرح: 4]
"And (has Allah not) raised high your mention (remembrance)?” (Al-InshiraahQuran 94:4)
Muslims were commanded even to lower their voices low in the presence of the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) out of respect:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَرْفَعُوا أَصْوَاتَكُمْ فَوْقَ صَوْتِ النَّبِيِّ وَلَا تَجْهَرُوا لَهُ بِالْقَوْلِ كَجَهْرِ بَعْضِكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ أَنْ تَحْبَطَ أَعْمَالُكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تَشْعُرُونَ • إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَغُضُّونَ أَصْوَاتَهُمْ عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ امْتَحَنَ اللَّهُ قُلُوبَهُمْ لِلتَّقْوَى لَهُمْ مَغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ [الحجرات: 2-3]
“O you who believe! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet, and be not loud when speaking to him, as you are loud when speaking to one another, lest your good deeds should become void while you are not aware. Surely, those who lower their voices before Allah‘s Messenger are the ones whose hearts Allah has tested for piety; for them there is forgiveness, and a great reward.” (Al-Hujuraat 49:2-3)
While other prophets were sent to their own people, Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) was appointed as the Messenger to all mankind. And such he was asked to declare:
قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ [الأعراف: 158]
“(O Prophet Muhammad) Say: O people! I am a messenger of Allah (sent) to you from the One to whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth.” (Al-A’raaf 7:158)
On the Day of Qiyaamah (Resurrection), he will be the only Messenger to intercede with Allah (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) to seek forgiveness for the wrongdoers.
As blasphemous as the drawings are, we believe that behind all events there is Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s pre-decree and wisdom that mortal beings fully understand only in hindsight. In the end, these deeply hurtful incidents would be seen as benefiting the image of the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam).
A case in point is the Aayah:
إِنَّا فَتَحْنَا لَكَ فَتْحًا مُبِينًا [الفتح: 1]
“Surely, We have granted you an open victory.” (Al-Fath 48:1)
When this Aayah was revealed, even some of the most exemplary Muslims could not understand how being prevented from performing pilgrimage by the enemies could be a manifest victory.
Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) had just signed a treaty with non-Muslims of Makkah al Mukarramah that imposed unfair restrictions on Muslims.
The Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) swore by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) that no matter how restrictive this treaty seemed, it was a clear victory for Muslims. Within a few years, the victory became abundantly clear when Muslims marched into Makkah al Mukarramah, not just as pilgrims but as victors.
Our love for the Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) cannot be expressed except by following him. If we did that, we will see how Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) can change this painful incident into a great opportunity for the Islamic cause.