Blasphemous Cartoons and Responsibilities of Ummah
By Zeeshan Rasool Khan
Allah Almighty has bestowed Messenger of Islam (pbuh) with an indescribable grandeur. Many Quranic verses are a testament to the eminence of Muhammad (pbuh). One of these verses is the verse of Surah Inshirah, in which Allah says ‘WaRafaana La kazikrak’, meaning ‘And raised high your fame’ (94:4). Allama Iqbal beautifully interprets this verse and states;
Dasht Mein, Daman-e-Kuhsar Mein, Maidan Mein Hai
Behr Mein, Mouj Ki Aagosh Mein, Toofan Mein Hai
(It is in the forests, the hills, and on the tranquil plains: on the seas, in the arms of waves, in the roar of hurricanes)
CheenKeShehr, MaraqashKeByaban Mein Hai
AurPoshidaMusalmanKeIman Mein Hai
(A music heard in China’s town, Morroco’s desert song: And hid within each believer’s heart, it makes his faith grow strong.)
Chashm-e-Aqwam Ye Nazara Abad TakDekhe
Riffat’e Shan e Raffaana La KaZikrakDekhe’
(Let all the peoples of the world see up to the end of time: How I have made this glorious name beyond all thought sublime) (Jawaab-e-Shikwa).
It is, in fact, the spiritual impact of aforementioned verse that throughout the history, people, irrespective of their religion, have shown enthusiastic interest in researching about Prophet (pbuh), which led many non-Muslims to put forth their view about him. Like Philip K Hitti in his book History of Arabs write; ‘ Each and every aspect, not only what he said but also what was his posture when he said that is also available to us today, even after 14 centuries. No one till date is able to point a better person than him to follow”. Even after 1400 years, Prophet’s (pbuh) name is recited by millions across the globe; conferences in his love are organized worldwide incessantly. Hundreds of non-Muslims revert to Islam after learning about the Prophet (pbuh) and his message of truthfulness.
However, Islamophobics- people harboring hatred for Islam have been utilizing all their machinery to mislead people vis-à-vis Islam and its Prophet (pbuh) for a long time. The world witnessed the false claimants of Prophethood like MirzaQadiyani, books like satanic verses hit the stalls, but their dream remained unfulfilled as statistical reports continue to indicate Islam as a fast-growing religion. These people –prejudiced against Islam, however; do not feel any sort of ignominy in repeating the unavailing tactics. Publication of blasphemous books and claims of the false-prophethood has stopped to a fare thee well, but unfortunately, through other means like songs, movies, and cartoons, deliberate attempts of insulting Islam and Prophet (pbuh) are made. Over the last several years, there has been a rise in such acts. It started from Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten’s cartoon in 2005, followed by 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 incidents with Charlie Hebdo and Kurt Westergaard as the protagonist in these indecent and spiteful acts. Today again, this issue caught the attention of Muslims as Dutch anti-Islamic lawmaker Geert Wilders had planned to organize anti-Islamic caricature competition.
The question arises why they resort to such actions. Reasons behind it are many. And here one of the reasons is to score a political point by polarizing people on the basis of religion. The above-mentioned lawmaker namely Wilders is known for criticism of Islam and is infamous for invoking religion for political gains. This earns him support from non-Muslim communities, helping him in gaining power in a canter.
Next is the failure of Islamophobics to cease the flourishing of Islam. Their malign campaign against Muslims has petered out. Their venom has been ineffective in affecting the people around the globe, their irrational attribution of terrorism to Islam has been repudiated by masses, and they have miserably failed in hindering the propagation of Islam. Thus, only the way out is to hurt the sentiments of Muslims, incite their emotions, and create disorder among them. Being mindful of the fact that Muslims love Prophet (pbuh) more than anything else and any slightest disrespect towards him will create a wave of dissent, they intentionally provoke Muslims to react violently so that they can justify their false opinion that Muslims are extremists and intolerants. Not only this, they derive pleasure in creating chaos in Muslim dominated states – as over these acts, protest and demonstration become natural reaction- which results into law and order problem and also impact the country’s economy.
The Muslims too cannot escape the criticism for not accentuating the true message of Islam. Instead, we waste our energies in declaring one another ‘misbeliever’ and waging verbal war against every peaceful voice, which only distorts the image of Islam and generates negative perception about it.
What needs to be done? Should we become indifferent to blasphemy? No is the answer, but we also must not act like their puppets. Our protesting, resorting to vandalism, harming own property, and creating a mess in our own countries/states cannot influence those sitting in Holland or in other parts of Europe rather it serves their purpose. Instead, in a peaceful manner, we need to press authorities to use diplomacy for stopping such acts. It was encouraging to learn about the way the Pakistani and Turkish governments handled the case. Nevertheless, it is not the responsibility of a single country to express concern, but all Muslim countries need to join hands against these acts aimed at vilification and disrespecting Islam. As assured by the Prime minister of Pakistan that issue would be raised in UNO through OIC, this would be the best option to put an end to this contemptuous and disregarding behavior towards sacred personalities. Because it may not be possible for people in future to hold their nerves on recurring acts of insolence and may lead interfaith conflicts of greater magnitude.
Moreover, one more strategy that could make difference would be the boycotting of products manufactured in these countries whose citizens engage in blasphemy; this can be effective to a large extent. Also, to counter the hurtful tactics we need to intensify glorification of Prophet (pbuh). We must highlight his magnanimousness, adopt his message in such a manner that our faith would rejuvenate and our younger generation would realize the significance of Prophet (pbuh) that could prevent them from victimization. Plus, our religious leaders need to convey true message of religion with the intent that more and more would convert to Islam.
As far as Prophet’s (pbuh) status is concerned, the stupid actions of these individuals, insensitive to sentiments of billions of Muslims in no way can inflict any damage to the honor of Beloved Prophet (pbuh). Because Allah himself has taken responsibility of Prophet’s (pbuh) repute and says; “Verily, those who malign Allah and His Messenger — Allah has cursed them in this world and In the Hereafter and has prepared for them an abasing punishment (33:57) . Regarding Muslims, billions of believers would continue to believe him; they would continue to remember him and follow him strictly up to the day of resurrection.
(The writer tweets @zeeshan_rk and can be mailed at: [email protected])