We at the Sailanmuslim Editorial are deeply saddened by the cold-blooded massacre of journalists working for French Publication Charlie Hebdo. Here we publish a brief article on the topic of terrorism in the name of religion by editor Asiff Hussein.
The recent attacks on French publication Charlie Hebdo and the related carnage that took place in Paris is a cause for concern of all right-thinking Muslims. True the satirical publication had depicted Islam and our beloved Prophet in a bad light but this does not mean that Muslims should take to arms over it. What these extremist acts do is give Muslims a bad image, which is not at all good for our faith.
In fact these extremists play right into the hands of the Zionist lobby who are hell bent on denigrating Islam by whatever means they can. Here’s why. Because they fear that the growing Muslim population in these countries is shifting Europe’s long-standing political allegiance to Israel towards Palestinian statehood. Even Hollywood stars are now speaking in favour of the Palestinians and France’s growing Muslim population is only complicating the picture for the Zionists, as French politicians are bound to meet the aspirations of their large Muslim electorates and recognize Palestinian sovereignty. Thus every act that brings discredit to Islam in the eyes of the French or other Europeans is in fact a credit to the Zionists. What happens when such acts takes place is that the Far Right in these countries mobilize public support to stem Muslim immigration and higher birth rates and place legal checks on Islamic practices. This has already happened to some extent and it is only Muslims who will suffer – God forbid!
Rather, there are Islamic means to counter such satirical works, and it is these that the Muslim communities in these countries should resort to. A well known principle Islam teaches us is like for like, that retribution should be proportionate to the offence. This is not to say that one should take the law into one’s hands, but rather deduce a principle from it – that to counter such malicious cartoons, the media could be used for the purpose. France is a democratic country with unbridled freedom of speech and anybody is free to express his or her opinion. Thus one could easily counter such lampoons directed at Islam or its Prophet. The Centre for Islamic Studies here in Sri Lanka for instance has produced a set of posters about human rights and women’s rights in Islam (See Poster Section on this Homepage) which could be used to pre-empt or even counter such Islamophobic literature. The idea here is to respond properly in an Islamic manner, not react like madmen with arms or hate speeches. Even public protests are not necessary for this purpose. When violent protests of this nature take place, what people in these countries think is that Islam is weak and that Muslims are insecure, so that such reactions are in fact counter-productive. Rather what needs to be done is to utilize the media intelligently – and especially social media which reaches many young people – to explain Islam in its true perspective, that it is a religion of peace, not of war, that it promotes tolerance, not bigotry and that it gives people and especially women their due rights.
In fact, we Muslims should look at these blasphemous works in a positive way, because it gives us the opportunity to reach out to people and enlighten them about the true teachings of Islam. If not for these irreverent elements, how else could we reach out to the Non-Muslim public of these countries? Thus these are opportunities we should make use of. At a time where Muslims are shirking their duty in conveying the beautiful message of Islam to those of others faiths, we should look upon these French humorists as a Godsend. Why, because they give us a good excuse to talk about our religion and explain the truth to them and the larger public!
Besides resorting to the principle of like for like, there’s another piece of great advice God gives us in the Qur’an. He tells us:
The good and evil are not alike. Repel (the evil) with that which is better. Then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, will become as though he was a bosom friend. (Surah Al-Fussilat, Verse 34)
Did any of these gun-totting extremists ever read this piece of sagely advice given us by God Himself. Nay, very unlikely. Why, because they have taken as their gods extremist preachers like Anwar Al Awlaki who teach them to kill all those who insult Islam without even giving them the chance to repent. That one of the killers had in fact met Awlaki shows the Satanic influences these men have come under.
Did any of these extremists ever think of posting the lampoonists some nice books about Islam, explaining its true position with regard to tolerance of others, human rights, women’s rights and even animal rights? Nay, certainly not. Did they ever bother to learn that some of Islam’s foremost critics, like the Swiss Ultra-Right Nationalist Daniel Streich have become Muslims after studying the Qur’an ? Streich, a frontliner of the Swiss People's Party which campaigned heavily for a ban on minarets, is now a better Muslim than many Muslims that strut the world today and shout hate slogans against others. He reads the Qur'an, prays five times a day and goes to the local mosque regularly. "Islam offers me logical answers to important life questions, which, in the end, I never found in Christianity" he said after revealing his decision to convert to Islam.
Did these extremists who kill in the Name of Islam ever bother to spread a video clipping posted on the Internet where Russia’s Orthodox arch priest Dmitri Smirnov says that Muslims are closer to the teachings of Jesus than Christians. That’s not all, the church father went further. He told his congregation that the future belongs to Muslims after comparing them to Russian Christians. It was just one incident that sparked him to say it. He recalled an elderly woman in his congregation who mentioned that Muslim drivers never took money when taking her to church, whereas Russian drivers were only interested in making money. “A child doesn't take money from his mother, especially if she is going to pray”, the Arch-priest said, quoting Muslim drivers, adding that Russian drivers would say 'This is my job.'
So there you are – a little gesture of kindness is enough to change a person’s heart and that is what God requires of us. Finally, it is winning people’s hearts that will win the day for Islam, not embarking on a misplaced Jihad that only kills innocents and gives us such a bad name.