Friday, February 03, 2006

Freedom of Speech Vs. Respect.

I remember crying during my school years after listening to my ustazah about how our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW died. Before he died, he was crying in the presence of his friends and family. He cried neither because he was afraid of the pain of dying, nor because he had to leave his closest loved ones around him.

He cried because he was worried about his followers, the Muslims. He was worried that without him around, who will guide us to live our life as Muslims. He was afraid that we will be deviated from the teachings of Islam and go against our religion. His love for us is infinite. He prayed every day and night for Allah to forgive our sins. He pleaded to God that our lives as Muslims could be made easier.

Prophet Muhammad SAW is our messenger from Allah. Other than believing in Allah and the holy Quran, we have to believe in his teachings in order for us to be a Muslim. After love for Allah, a true Muslim should love His messenger more than everything else in this world. If you love someone so much, you will not want anything to hurt him/her, let alone allowing someone to be humiliated in front of others. Just imagine your mother being humiliated in public. Can you feel the rage, anger and disappointment growing in you? Now try to put our beloved Prophet in your mother’s place. He is not the person who gave birth to you but he loves you more than a mother can love a child.

Reading the news today regarding the insensitive caricatures of Prophet Muhammad SAW in many of the European newspapers, has made me question myself, what will he feel if he was still alive? What have we done as Muslims to allow such humiliation to be freely made on him? Not only the one insulting Danish publication by Jyllands-Posten in the autumn of last year, the situation was then further inflamed when France, Germany and Norway published the same caricatures on their own local newspapers. Despite the anger and disappointment expressed by Muslims, the insensitive Germans ran it again yesterday in one of their newspapers, Die Welt.

People talk about freedom of speech. I totally understand the need to speak your mind when necessary. However, this has to be done carefully and not to offend others, especially when it comes to religious matters. The Danish has used their freedom of speech as an excuse to provoke the Muslims. The cartoon of Prophet Muhammad wearing a turban with a bomb, clearly tells you what their perspective of our religion is. It was imprudent of the Danish media to associate terrorism with the true teachings of Islam.

Our Prophet did not found a terrorist religion. What is happening with terrorism currently is the misinterpretation of our religion. Those terrorists expressed their rage and angst not solely because of religion. They did it as payback, albeit misled, to the Western world who allowed the invasion of their home and the killing of their family. Islam doesn’t teach its followers to kill civilians in the rules of war. During the time of the Prophet, women, children and slaves were prohibited from going to war. Clearly, terrorism is not the way Muslims should follow. I wonder how these terrorists, who claim that they fight in the name of Islam, feel when our great Prophet is pictured as a model of their actions. I can appreciate if the table is turned and if I was to be in their shoes, I would consider extreme measures to protect my people, especially my family. You see people being raped, abused and killed in front of you by the invaders and you are helpless. How much tears can you shed? How much pain can you bear?

However, bombing these countries by the Muslims is not the answer. The western world is trying to associate our religion with terrorism. Bombing their countries will clearly prove their point. What would Prophet Muhammad SAW do if he was still alive? Will he put the life of other civilians at stake? Think about the anger and rage growing in us. Will the same wrath grows in him?

To make matters worse, the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Germany went further, calling for the caricatures to be published in as many newspapers as possible. They even published a cartoon showing a line of ragged suicide bombers arriving in heaven, only to hear the Prophet telling them: “Stop, stop, we’re out of virgins”.

They say that we cannot differentiate between satire and blasphemy. They say Muslims are like a cancer in Denmark. I didn’t know that they can bring themselves so low that they can’t even differentiate between respect and hatred. Is this what they call being civilised?

I feel really sad to see all of this and not to be able to do anything. If they were fighting with the Muslims, I can understand why, but to start humiliating our God and Prophet, these people have certainly crossed the line. How can they be such idiots to not realise this and yet struggling hard to defend themselves? They might not care as much if Jesus, Moses, Buddha or Krishna being presented as caricatures but we Muslims care when it comes to our religion. Have they tried asking people of other religions what they would feel if they were to caricature other religious figures as such?

I’m glad that Allah has clearly stated in the holy Quran what our destiny would be hereafter. They might make us suffer a tormented life now but in the hereafter, where life will be eternal, He will show all of them what clearly need to be showed.