An Idiot’s Guide to Offensive Cartoons

Qadeeb al-Ban Harris

Posted Feb 17, 2006      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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An Idiot’s Guide to Offensive Cartoons

Well I couldn’t resist weighing in on the ongoing cartoon saga. The first thing I want to say is: the violent, idiotic and un-Islamic behavior has got to stop. The following Qur’anic verse says about all that needs to be said in regards to how God-fearing Muslims should react when in a situation like we’re currently facing. Unfortunately, it seems that far too many hot-headed Muslims out there seemingly haven’t even heard, much less reflected on, this noble ayah:

“You will certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your souls;
and you will certainly hear much that will grieve you,
from those who received the Book before you (i.e. Jews and Christians)
and from the pagan idolaters.
But if you persevere patiently, and guard against evil,
then that will be a determining factor in all affairs.”
- Qur’an 3:186

So even though Muslims are certainly allowed to speak out, protest and boycott, all such actions should be well within the guidelines of Islamic law and the highest standards of etiquette (adab). Maintaining self-restraint in the face of the disgusting bigotry, hatred and blasphemy that we’re facing today is what it means to “perservere patiently”, which is what the Prophet-salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa salam-did when he was mocked, ridiculed and spat upon by the pagan opposition. In regards to the call to “guard against evil”, well I think avoiding killing and arson certainly fall well within that category. Insha’llah, this is all clear to those who reflect.

To be sure, patience doesn’t mean adopting a quietist approach in which we do nothing, but neither does it mean having an angry and violent knee-jerk reaction that amounts to violating Islam in order to defend it. The key here, as usual, is balance and moderation…and Islam places a very high value on moderation—and that will remain true until the Day of Judgment in spite of the actions (ignorant or otherwise) of some misguided Muslims. Likewise, as I’ve emphasized before, Islam is not a “Monkey See, Monkey Do” religion, thus we don’t engage in Bolshevik-style protests as some non-Muslims do whenever something occurs that offends their secularized sensibilities.

Notice: Muslims must break out of this modern legacy of being their own worst enemy. It seems that whenever Islam is maligned or attacked, some Muslims react in ways that, in the minds of most non-Muslims, only confirm the negative stereotypes that many non-Muslims already have. There’s no doubt that this is very true in regards to the current controversy. Sure, these acts are being done by an idiotic minority of Muslims, but they get a lot of coverage in the media which in turn spawns more ill-will towards our entire Ummah. I’m quite sure that some of these angry Muslim protesters complain about media bias, but then they go out and fan the flames themselves and thus enforce the stereotypes by their own misguided actions. This results in more hostility towards Muslims, which eventually leads to more provocative actions by ethically-challenged and Sunnah-ignorant Muslims…so essentially what we end up with is a vicious circle.

Well it’s time for this cycle of un-Islamic behavior and stupidity to stop. Since seeing angry mobs of Muslims, like the ones shown today in Beirut, Pakistan, Afghanistan, London and elsewhere, irks all decent and level-headed Muslims to no end, I suggest letting these frustrations motivate you to spread the authentic Nur-based knowledge of this Deen and help some of these angry people break out of the trap they’re in. Make up your mind to do something…NOW! If you don’t know what to do, then just be a good example for the Ummah.

Our religion is beautiful and merciful in spite of the fact that many Muslims today are severely confused about what Islam stands for. Likewise, even though many non-Muslims today might not realize it—and the actions of some Muslims are certainly to blame for this—our Prophet Muhammad-salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa salam- was a mercy to humanity and a supreme example of magnanimity, compassion and patience. Thus the question arises of how he would react to being satired and lampooned in cartoons or having his teachings besmirched by the foolhardy example of some of his latter-day followers?

Plenty of examples could be put forth, including the fact that he forgave all those who had persecuted him for years when he finally conquered Mecca. However, even more analogous to what’s going on today is what he-salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa salam-did after being insulted, beaten and attacked by the people of Ta’if when he went to preach to them. After fleeing from an angry stone-throwing mob, with open wounds on his body and his shoes full of blood, he made the following supplication (du’a):

“O God! I complain to You of my weakness, my scarcity of resources
and my humiliation before the people. O Most Merciful of those who
show mercy. O Lord of the weak and my Lord too. To whom have you
entrusted me? To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or
to an enemy to whom you have granted authority over my affair? So
long as You are not angry with me, I do not care. Your favour is of
more abundance to me. I seek refuge in the light of Your Face by
which all darkness is dispelled and every affair of this world and
the next is set right, lest Your anger or your displeasure descend
upon me. I desire Your pleasure and satisfaction until You are
pleased. There is no power and no might except by You.”

So if any Muslim out there is wondering how to react to the current tribulations, well there you have it. Pray the above prayer, reflect on the noble character that it took to pray such a humble supplication in such a situation and then ask other Muslims to do the same . As I said before, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take action in other ways, but just make sure you try to be an upright, polite and shining example for this Ummah when you do so. All Muslims just need to realize that history is in good hands, thus patience and wisdom are the first things that are really called for, not stupid, angry, counterproductive and violent protests.

Patiently Deen On…

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