Update: This post explains a little more of the “Why”… where as the below are more personal thoughts on the matter.
Where to begin…
I am sure by now, you have heard about a 13 min film trailer named The Innocence of Muslims that has caused riots, death and violence throughout the world, peaceful Down Under included.
I had been trying to avoid the clip for peace of mind, but finally relented and looked up the video this morning.
Golly. I couldn’t watch more than 5 minutes. Yes, it is offensive, but thousands of Muslims are rioting around the world over such a poorly made production? Have we sunk so low?
Ah, this is clearly not an issue to be belittled. The film does insult the Prophet Mohammed (Peace and Blessing be Upon Him*) and his followers (and by extension Arabs and Muslims), depicting them as barbarian, savages and really quite Neanderthal…and because we Muslims see the Prophet (PBuH) as the greatest and purest example of a man who ever lived, I can understand why Muslims are insulted by it.
Just because one is insulted does not give one the right to needlessly riot, act violent and kill innocent people.
(and guys, seriously? Getting insulted by a budget film that’s on youtube? /sigh. We should have slightly thicker skins).
There are two elements to my frustration here:
All the rioting does is further prove and support claims that Muslims are barbaric and backwards. Yes, we can be insulted, however that does not give us permission to run riot. It makes us seem truly uneducated and ignorant, and makes me embarrassed (Allah Yastur) to call myself a member of the Muslim Ummah**. How shameful is that?!There are Christian and Jewish based satires on the internet galore, but I don’t remember the last time I saw hordes of angry Jewish or Christian people on the streets. Why must the Muslim community be the uncivilised one?
- The second thing is that this shows that Muslims around the world are willing to rise up in anger over a video made by an ignorant and hateful individual, but are not willing to show the same passion and anger towards issues that actually matter and that affect the lives of their fellow Muslims and humans. Things like:
The death of hundreds of innocents in Syria and the truly abhorrent acts of the Shabiha
The millions of asylum seekers around the world that are displaced with no where to go and no place to call home;
The exploitation of women and children around the world and the disgraceful way in which many are treated in our own Muslim countries;
The barbaric corruption and torture that occurs again, throughout Muslim nations around the world…
My mother told me as a child to ignore rude people, to brush off insults and to “be the bigger person”. Those are essentially Islam’s teachings as well – there are many examples of the Prophet (PbuH) being insulted and denigrated, only to have him treat the perpetrators with kindness and mercy. That is the example that we Muslims are to emulate. That is what Islam (which comes from the word Salam, meaning PEACE!) is all about. We are told in the Qura’an:
“Obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and disregard their hurtful talk.” (33:48)
Disregard their hurtful talk!
Did someone miss that line?
If we truly wanted to make our Prophet (PBuH) proud, we would not shame ourselves and our religion in this way.
I have to make one thing very clear, so as there is no confusion among Muslims as to what I mean.
Speaking out against the violence is not the same as agreeing with the insult. Just because I disagree with the violent protests does not mean I have decided to “serve the interests of the West”.
The world isn’t black and white, and issues are rarely a case of if you are not with us, then you are against us.
Yes, the video was insulting to the Prophet (PBuH).
But no, this does not give us an excuse to act like uneducated cult-like individuals and wreck havoc. Why are we, like a weak tempered town buffoon, so quick to anger?
It should instead be a time for us, as Muslims, to live the example of the Prophet (PBuH), to show kindness and understanding in the face of anger and to truly practice the teachings of our peaceful way of life.
"The sad thing is . . . it's a deceptive film, designed to provoke Muslims, which it has unfortunately done. For us to fall into the trap unfortunately shows that we have a long way to go in terms of practising what the prophet taught." Silma Ihram, The Sydney Morning Herald
* Whenever Muslims say the name of the Prophet (PBuH), as a sign of respect we say “Peace and Blessings be upon Him” afterwards, which is why you will see (PBuH) after every mention. Sometimes (SAW) is used, and that is simply the Arabic version
** Ummah is just the Arabic word for “community” or “group of people”, and when we refer to the Muslim people we refer to the “Muslim Ummah”.