a Question of Love, Newsnight, not Fear!
Shaykh Riyad Nadwi, PhD
03 February 2006
Muslims across the world voice their displeasure at
cartoons in Europe depicting the Prophet of Islam (on
whom be peace) as a terrorist, and journalists repeat
the well-worn mantras of "wake-up call",
"freedom-of-speech in danger", "Muslims
must conform to our norms", and "secularist
traditions under threat", many are still wondering,
"What is all the fuss about?"
night on the BBC Newsnight programme, Mr Stephen Green
of "Christian Voice", who had earlier led
the campaign against the staging of "Jerry Springer
the Opera", supported the cartoons by arguing
that Islam is different. As he puts it, "Christians
do not blow up bombs on the London Underground".
I urge Mr Green to reflect on the fact that as a Muslim
who loves and respects Jesus (on whom be peace) I was
also deeply offended by the clips I saw of the Jerry
Springer show, and the fact that a devout Christian
like Mr Bush had invaded Muslim countries and probably
caused the deaths of 150,000 Muslims in less than five
years did not prevent me from writing a strong letter
of protest against that opera.
cartoons are being hailed as a barometer of freedom
and European tradition and many Western commentators
have begun to swallow this "spin" hook,
line and sinker. A prime example of this was Mr Tim
Whewell's report on Newsnight yesterday, in which
the newspaper editor who engineered this controversy,
Flemming Rose, called for a debate about how much the
"receiving country" and "migrant community"
have to compromise. For good measure, Mr Whewell included
in his report a scroll through several anti-Zionist
cartoons from Arab newspapers, without pointing out
that nowhere in the Muslim world will you find a disparaging
cartoon of the Prophet Moses (on whom be peace). Nor
did Mr Whewell bother to look for the numerous examples
of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim cartoons in the Israeli
press. Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian followed this
declaring, with an air of authority, "Of course,
it looks a bit rich".
first point that seems to have eluded these journalists,
and also happens to be very convenient for a certain
interest group, is that Muslims still love and respect
their Prophet, genuine love that is, as usual, hard
to express in words.
it is difficult to find comparisons in today's
Britain to convey the intensity of this sentiment to
a Western audience. Perhaps the public emotion for Princes
Diana upon her death and the respect for the Queen mother
can help to elaborate the point. These were people who
had relatively little impact on the daily lives of those
who adored them and yet I doubt that there would be
any newspaper in Britain today that would publish a
derogatory cartoon of either of these women. To grasp
a glimpse of the attachment Muslims have to their Prophet,
one would need to combine the feelings of respect and
love for these two women in the British consciousness
and multiply it a hundred times over. The Prophet's
words and deeds impact the lives of Muslims around the
world every day in countless ways, from the way they
greet each other in the morning to the last words they
pray at night. He is for them the perfect example of
guidance and compassion, and is dearer to a Muslim than
his own family.
second point that appears to evade journalists is that
these cartoons, whilst undoubtedly very effective tools
for creating tension between Palestinians and Europeans
in Palestine, and between Muslims and Christians worldwide,
were produced with the full knowledge of the impact
they would have on the Muslim heart. When someone takes
a conscious decision to offend 1.5 billion people across
the world, "good journalism" requires a
search to discover the underlying motives. What we were
offered in Mr Whewell's report, however, was superficial
gloss and inaccurate comparisons.
need to ask the real question: if Muslims are forced
to leave Europe, the Arab world stops trading with the
West and the Palestinians sever links with European
aid institutions, all because they are unable to accept
the disparaging portrayal of their beloved Prophet,
which country in the world will that benefit most?
time has come for the editors of programmes such as
Newsnight to stop furthering the agenda of others by
scaring people into believing that they are about to
be imprisoned by a Muslim army. Instead, they should
start asking intelligent questions. Shouldn't "free
speech" also provide the freedom to ask why there
are so many pro-Israel journalists campaigning to promote
Anthony Browe's "Triumph of the East"
and Giselle Littman's "Eurabia" theories
of scaremongering (http://www.occri.org.uk/articles/TriumphoftheEast.htm)?
Muslims I say in expressing your feelings on this matter,
please do not play into the hands of those who have
orchestrated this campaign. We need to bear in mind
that their objective is not simply to denigrate the
Prophet (S.W.S) but to create fitna (strife in our world)
between Muslims and the rest of the World. They study
our history; they know that this technique has been
employed successfully in the past. In Muslim Spain,
there was a coordinated campaign of sending people to
stand outside Mosques after Juma to curse the Prophet.
The aim was to provoke excessive reaction and create
friction with the non-Muslims, and sadly it worked.
This campaign was the beginning of a long process that
eventually culminated in the forced removal of Muslims
from Spain altogether.
as it may be to control the eruption of feelings and
anger in the face of such provocation, it is absolutely
imperative that we maintain focus on the real source
of this problem and not get entangled in the traps they
have set for us.
the story of Abu Bakr, the first Caliph (R.A.) who was
sitting with the Prophet Muhammad (S.W.S) while someone
cursed him repeatedly from across the road. Eventually
Abu Bakr's patience was spent and he responded to the
curses. The Prophet thereupon got up and walked away.
When Abu Bakr asked "O Prophet of God, why did
you walk away when I replied to his curses?" the
Prophet said: "As he began cursing , God appointed
an Angel to respond, but as soon as you responded to
him the angel went away".
responses must be both measured and wise so that our
impulsive reactions do not become a source of celebration
for our antagonists. Our love for the Prophet (S.W.S)
should manifest itself in our words and our actions.
Our claim to love Him will appear hollow if our actions
violate the standard of conduct he has set for us.
course, we must let people know how we feel and the
injustice done by this act of spiteful mockery, but
for those of us who may feel that they must respond
with equally spiteful generalisations and calls for
extreme actions, in contravention of the teachings of
the very Prophet that we are supposed to be defending,
they must realise that they would be doing exactly what
was expected of them by those who have instigated this
problem in the first place.
(O Muhammad): "If ye do love God, follow me and
God will love you and forgive you your sins: For God
is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Al-Quran