Condemning the Condemnation

Category: Featured, World Affairs Topics: Islamophobia, Prophet Muhammad (S) Views: 7764

Under no circumstances does Islam tolerate a personal attack upon the Prophet . No Muslim can forgive the offender for such an attack, since such an attack is not against them. The Prophet in his life forgave the people who abused him, however, he had the right to do so, since the attacks were upon him personally. We have no right to forgive that person. Just as I have no right to forgive a person who has committed a wrong against you, no matter how merciful you might be. In fact, the better your character, the more offense I should take on a person who attacks you.

The Prophet of course demonstrated the absolute perfection of human character. Allah says about him, "Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct)" (Quran 33:21) Addressing the Prophet Allah says that He has "raised high the esteem (in which) thou (art held)" (Quran 94:4) Therefore, we have a moral obligation to object to anyone attempting to abuse the honor of our Holy Prophet .

Traditional Islamic civilization had been extremely tolerant of other faiths. Princeton University professor emeritus Bernard Lewis writes, "They were able to pass an even severer test by tolerating divergent forms of their own." Unbelievers and deviants were only punished when "the offence became public and scandalous."1 However, even in Islamic Spain, arguably, the most liberal of the Muslim territories insults against the Prophet were not tolerated. Yale professor Menacol writes, "although Islam was elastic in matters of doctrine, particularly when it had to do with Christians, they had zero-tolerance for disparagement of their Prophet." In 855, a radical group of Christians openly sought martyrdom as a symbol of their defiance to Muslim rule. These "would-be martyrs thus knew for certainty that they were forcing the hands of the authorities of the city by expressly choosing to vilify Muhammad." 2 Their virulent public attacks continued until it led to their desired end, execution.

The personality of Muhammad forms the very core of Muslim identity. Muslims believe in everything he said, follow his every word, emulate his every behavior and attempt to model their lives according to his blessed life. Without Muhammad there is no Islam as we know it. Insulting the Prophet would be like insulting someone very close to your heart, perhaps a mother or a daughter. The Quran teaches that the "Prophet is closer to the believer than their own selves" (Quran 33:6). The Prophet himself said, "That is, none of you is Momin (believer) unless I am dearer to him than his parents, his children and all other persons." (Sahih Bukhari). Allah states, "I have sent you as a blessing for the whole Universe" (Quran 21:107). The Prophet is a particular mercy to the believers, "Allah did confer a great favor on the believers when He sent among them an Apostle from among themselves." (Quran 33:56) Therefore, Muslims deeply love their Prophet . Getting upset when someone insults someone you love is a natural human reaction. It is not an academic issue regarding freedom of speech, it's a personal issue. Furthermore, this is not an issue on which Muslims disagree, all Muslims schools of thought agree on this. There is zero-tolerance for denigration of the holy Prophet .

Muhammad Iqbal, the famous early 20th century Muslim philosopher, in a poem entitled Satan's advice to the enemies of Islam, writes,

wo faqa kash kay mout say derta nahin zara
Rooh-e-Muhammad uss kay badan say nikal dou

The steadfast simple Muslim that does not fear death.
Take the soul of Muhammad out of his heart.

If people can make us compromise on our Prophet , then what else is left? If it is okay for his blessed person to be the subject of mockery in the name of "modern" values, then the West has truly won over the Muslims. It truly represents Muslims admitting complete defeat, and bowing in complete submission to the West.

If the abuse of the beloved of Allah, and the beloved of all Muslims (peace be upon him) can be tolerated, do we really have any other honor to defend?

Therefore, I respectfully argue that, Muslims intellectuals should be careful before jumping on the bandwagon the West would like us to jump on and condemning the condemnation of these cartoons.


1. Lewis, Bernard. What Went Wrong? (p. 114). New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
2. Menecol, Maria Rosa. The Ornament of the World. (p. 70). New York: Back Bay Books, 2002. 

Dr. Macksood A. Aftab, Masters of Liberal Arts (Candidate, Harvard University), Clinical Associate in Diagnostic Radiology (Tufts University School of Medicine).

  Category: Featured, World Affairs
  Topics: Islamophobia, Prophet Muhammad (S)
Views: 7764

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Older Comments:
To protest in a calm, dignified debate like way is one thing. To riot in the streets and kill several people is quite another.

It is not that non-Muslims want you to change your views. It is that non-Mulsims don't support the same views. Because people are different does not make them wrong. However, not seeing this and acting in violence to get your point across is counter productive to the "religion of peace".
The cartoons depicted what non-Muslims see everyday and that is Islam = violence.
It is the same as Osama wanting the west out of the middle-east. Because of what he has done, there more westerners there now than ever before. If you wish for Islam to be the only religion, you must stop the violence in it.

The whole world is watching what you do and don't do. Our opinions will be formed from it.

Using violence, destroying public property is unislamic uncivilized. Sunnah teaches us to be tolerant. Protest should be done in the frame of law and FISAA should not be created. Allah knows best and He asks us to use our common sense.

ASA. I think reflecting on 16:94-99 helps keep the perspective.

I fully agree with this article, and for those who talking about tolerant, don't you see the Christians ( the go go tolerant people) and their prophets, being humiliated every now and then left, right and center. I can never see that happening to my Prophet.
And regarding the forgiveness, its not our job to forgive some one who insult the prophet, All the Muslims must know that if you offend someone even Allah can not forgive you. It's only the victim who can forgive.


I am against the action for dealing with this situation as the harshest way as possible. We refuse to use our minds and read and learn as an ummah. As a famous scholar said, becoming angry and insulting back is a sign of weak Iman cause' we should know that whats loved by God will be dealt by God. If we truly have Yaqeen (Conviction of the Judgment) than why do we get so angry although the Prophet (Pbuh) said 'Do not angry'. and why do we feel like being harsh towards the parties, but we fail to realize whats Gods will be protected by God, just like the Quran. We should realize that acting like this will only give people an incentive to state their hatred in a deeper sense for the Prophet (pbuh). Remember Day of Judgment is NO joke, so why do we take it that acting like this will help Cultivate the Earth and get people closer to God...

I agree with the sentiments given in the article "Condemning the Condemnation", but am also in favor of peaceful protests and boycotts. Restraint & tolerance in Islam are for individual level not if they indulge in derogatory acts to lower the image of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) - Muslims wherever they are, should protest but yes in a peaceful manner I agree - we should remember, that we are Muslims because one man who was the last and greatest Prophet (amongst 124,000 Prophets) delivered God's final message. We have to take a stand for his image if we truly love him - he who helped the poor, forgave his enemies like not even taking revenge on the killers of his Uncle Hazrat Hamza when he conquered Makkah etc. There is a difference between Freedom of expression and deliberate & callous provocation. The West claims itself to be more civilized than the Muslim States then how could all those European countries act so nave in patronizing this extremely blasphemous action of their newspapers. We muslims all over the world are right in feeling seriously offended and should demand an apology from all those countries and newspapers which have published the caricatures. The thing to worry about is that in the wake of 9/11, spiritual enlightenment has been confused with so-called fanaticism. We have to develop Imaan (faith) in ourselves and evolve as true muslims. Only then can Allah's Help be on our side. Ameen and Inshallah!

Well said.

This article contradicts itself. On the one hand the writer states that our beloved and blessed Prophet (PBUH)forgave those who vilified him and that every Muslim should strive to behave in the manner of the Prophet (PBUH). On the other hand, the writer states that we should not forgive those who denigrate and between the lines seems to support and advocate the violent protests that have been ongoing. Therefore, the message of his article appears to be: Even though the Prophet (PBUH) would not have behaved in a violent manner, and by implication would not have wanted his followers to do so, go ahead with the violent protests anyway in order to defend his honor. I believe this is truly an example of convoluted logic.


I fully agree.

The the Prophet(PBOH) is now not an earthly being. He lives through the actions of his followers(as does Jesus) If his followers are intolerant and murderous then the Danish cartoons reflect in part the current persona of the Prophet. If his name is used by terrorist in pursuit of their aims they are despoiling and changing his memory.Don't react against people who are seeing Islam as violent and murderous, do your best to stop the real violators of your religion, the terrorists and fanatics.

ROCKY said:
Well stated! The Prophet (pbuh) was the most beloved creation of Allah. He was sent as a mercy to all mankind. Therefore, anyone slandering the Prophet (pbuh) should be dealt with in the harshest way possible to deter future would-be miscreants. Those who act as apologists for the evil ones by seeking to minimize the gravity of their insult to Allah's beloved will surely have a share of the greivious punishment awaiting the perpetrators. The only thing that the Western mind values and fights for is the freedom to descend to new levels of depravity.

When the Jyllands-Posten in Denmark ran the cartoons mocking the Prophet (pbuh), the publisher maintained that their purpose was to promote freedom of speech rather than to antagonize the Muslim world. In actual fact the man behind the cartoons insulting the Prophet (pbuh) and Islam was none other than Flemming Rose, a Jewish extremist supporter of Israel and close friend of Neocon Jewish extremist Daniel Pipes.

The Iranian President and press argued that the Denmark paper is not really concerned with freedom of speech. He said that major dailies across the Western world would never allow a cartoon that questions even the smallest detail of "The Holocaust." He also insisted that Jewish extremism would never be satirized in the paper. Immediately, the editor of the Danish Daily responded that he would prove it was truly a free speech issue by publishing some Holocaust cartoons in conjunction with the Iranian paper Hamshahrari.

Now it turns out that the Iranians were completely correct about Western free speech hypocrisy. Not only did the paper issue a statement that on no account would the paper print any cartoons questioning the Holocaust, but also canceled planned cartoons simply critical of Israel. Freedom of thought and speech is claimed as a cornerstone of Western values. What the cartoon controversy has really proven is that there is no true freedom of speech in the West.

Yes, there is a lot of truth in what you say. At the same time, there are many ways of honoring the love for Muhammad, s.a.s, and one of them is to understand that our beloved and beloved of Allah is beyond and untouched by the insults and the ignorance of the pepetrators of such irresponsable provocations. Islam is untouched as well as a sacred tradition, no matter how vicious the insults of the ignorant. If you see them as a provocation, everything changes because the truth is that no european journalist that have publish the cartoons know our beloved Prophet. If you receive them as a provocation, you don't get personally ofended because the offender does not even know what is it that he is offending!

The article is very vague. It does not say how you can protest in an apppropriate and also respect the laws of a county

iam totally against this kind of palaspheny on our Prophet Mahamed and infact he is beyond what they claimed to be now and then for ever
ii's there a shame to insult a prophet while making him what he isnot (also used not) in his living time
let the terrorists be known and the terrorists are quitely known and there are those who made these cartoons and those who supported to or backed them up?

I am fully in agreement with the views expressed by Dr. Aftab in his article. Freedom of expression has moral bindings, somewhere a line is drawn where someone is not disregarded and insulted in a manner happened in a newspaper that to to the most sacred person and the Prophet (SAW) who's most nearest and dearest to the Musilm masses allover the world.

Every product when manufactured has tolerance limit - on the same line any article, cartoon, comment or criticism has its limit. I pray to Allah that there is a peace in the whole world as this is the message of Islam.


I think that this article is clarifying where Islam stands on this subject. Most Muslims would agree with the idea discussed in the article but they don't have solid verses from the Koran to back them up. Most Muslims follow conjecture and not the actual teachings of the Koran. That, in combination with popular western media saying all sorts of untruths about the religion may confuse Muslims and definitely non-Muslims. This article shows Islam's stance on the subject and it gets the point across. Thanks for providing the verses and educating us. I do agree that Bernard Lewis should not be referenced though, he is known to be an orientalist.

Assalamualekum, I fully agree with the author. Those who disparage the Prophet of Allah (SAWS) should be handed over to a Muslim court for trial.At this rate, tomorrow only Allah SWT knows what all they would try to justify in the name of freedom of expression - we have already seen how Western forces are expressing their freedom in Abu Ghraib, their expressions otherwise in their civil society are also crossing the limits of morality in the guise of freedom. We must not sit back and allow Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to be disparaged in this manner.

What if a cartoon portrayed George Washington as a slave driver, or Martin Luther King as a gay, or Abraham Lincoln as child molester? Many a white or black American would become furious and react severely. Jesus Christ is a common theme now in Hollywood sex scenes thanks to complete silence in the name of free speech on the part of Christians. People revere their respective leaders. That is respectable. Nobody should be given the right to insult those people hold as heros and great leaders under the disguise of free speach or freedom of press. Prophet Muhammad is respected and loved by Muslims. To portray him as a terrorist, especially in current context, is a grave error in judgement and should not be condoned or tolerated. What is next? As MLK once said, riots are the poor people's way of protesting. Publishers and cartoonists will think twice before they attempt to insult the Muslims or their holy prophet in the same manner again.

I am in agreement with the non forgiveness towards one who speaks against the Prophet (PBUH) but do not condone the violence and destruction of the property of others. This sends the non Islamic world the message that we are barbaric and backwards: we need to stop that perception of Islam! How are we going to biri g others to Islam?

Thomas, I have doubts about your wisdom...

The ummah should not react in a weak-sauce manner to this whole cartoon incident.

I totally agree with your views. Freedom of expression doesnot mean Freedom of Libel. These are our limits as muslims and regardless of living in a western society or not, there are certain limits that we cannot let anyone cross. They also have limits in their "Free" Societies, For example you cannot call a black man Nigger, or you cannot hurt a jews feelings by asking about Holocaust or you cannot call an oriential Yellow etc. Why is that when it comes to most sacred of our beleifs they are attacked and labaled to be able to attack under freedom of speech ?


THOMAS said:
To Kazi, if it wasn't for Danish Iman's making a stink over it, the readership of the Danish paper is around 150,000. Thanks to these Imans they have now been seen by millions, if not hundreds of millions of people. I think those Imans made an insignificant situation a much bigger one, and in a way "helped" prolifirate those cartoons more then the newspaper ever could of done by itself! So congrats to those "wise" Imans. I think they are more like ___ disturbers, not very intelligent or judicious.

I fully AGREE!

I am 100% not clear what this writer really want. I don't see any muslim disagreeing on the value ,love and respect for the prophet. However, disagreeing on the methods to protest is a different thing. I am sure love and respect for the prophet does not expect from muslims to murder innocents, burn someone's property and take revenge from someone not involved.
The problem with muslims is the trigger happy emotions and total lack of any strategic thought. Keep history in prospective, prophet Mohammad was insulted and humiliated by Meccans at the time but he didn't allow for the revenge. Not even from people city of Ta'if. The reason because Prophet Mohammad was thinking long term when next generations of Ta'if and Mecca will be muslim.
As a follower of prophet Mohammad, I felt same pain in my heart when Iraqis were killed by smart bombs and human bombs, I felt same pain when earthquake wipe out the next generation of northern Pakistan. I felt same pain when someone insults prophet Mohammad or any other prophet we dearly believe in. I felt same pain when muslims are oppressing their brothers in faith.
Rather than calling for a day to protects the cartoon and burn and destroy someone property why not call for a day to celebrate the Sunnah and show the world that how much we love prophet Mohammad by following his sunnah just for a day at least.
A thought for the writer to remember as he didn't like the muslims intellectuals to condemn the condemnation method (a correction for the writer) no muslim intellectual endorse the cartoon.
The thought is "Watch your words as they become actions, watch your actions as they become character , watch your character as it become you for rest of your life". Please don't quote my Lewis Bernard he is not my teacher in life.

I am a Muslim, and it does offend me when I see anything that devalues Islam or the Prophet of Islam; and one's opinions showed be made peacefully, i.e. peaceful demonstrations, peaceful boycotts, etc. Torching, shooting innocent civilians, etc.. should not be a means of protest. However, it portrays a negative image of Muslims.

Not sure how this article made it here. But the argument is unsound. To say that we can never forgive insults of the Prophet is not true, but it's also not the issue. The matter is not to lose our dignity when we speak out. Makers of cartoons are not our teachers. And to say that the Prophet forgave people for insulting him is only because he had the unique right to do so is also a weak point. When does the Prophet the exemplar begin and the Prophet the personal man begin. Well, not there. Because when the Prophet forgave, he help back his companions to wanted to take the matter into their own hands. Therefore, it was not a "personal" matter at all. He was simply focused on his mission and saw that these petty and ignorant insult would not effect the mission. We must learn the same thing. Never in history has a cartoon or any kind of satire hamstrung a people. Seriously, this article is weak all around.

Thank you brother. You have spoken the truth. May Allah reward you.

Excellent article. may Allah bless you. All muslims should object firmly to these fascist anti muslim forces all over the world

firstly by equating 'muslim intellictuals' with western ideology the writer has closed all avenues for alternative thought. a sort of bush ideology of 'you are either with us or with the terrorists'

secondly: if you confess that prophet mohammad pbuh actually forgave his abusers, then shouldn't we follow his conduct?

do we worship mohammad or Allah? we know by following his teaching we follow Allah and thus we worship Allah. that does not diminish our respect for mohammad pbuh. indeed it shows his enemies that this man is far above in respect than such menial jokes. thus to the contrary, i feel our respect stays higher if we choose to totally ignore such silly behaviour. instead we should be out on the streets in drones peacefully objecting to any invasion of any muslim country. we should show our disgust against abuse of innocent civilians. from gitmu to fallujah to chechnya and now syria and iran. we must never tolerate abuse of our brothers. i strongly believe that is what the prophet pbuh would have wanted from us by saying that 'a muslim is a brother unto another muslim' yet we seem to remain silence when our brothers are physically abused. not only that: has any of our governments brought any action against america for illegally invading iraq?? no, we even offer them our land for their military barracks. but are happy to go out burning property that belongs to people who had nothing to do with these cartoons. is that what prophet mohammad pbuh would have done?

Your condemnations only encourage them to print the offensive cartoons that many more times. The Prophet (saw) would ignore it. Maybe that is what we should do.

Finally, somebody said what I sincerely believe.
"It is not an academic issue regarding freedom of speech, its a personal issue." Wah! So academics and those trying to look nice and those in the business of projecting a good image, should see it through a different lens. By the way, the Danish newspaper chose the event of publishing the cartoons. It had to have different outcomes in the sample space. The condemnation in the form of physical outrage was one of outcomes. The probability of a physical outrage from amongst the billion+ Muslims had to be expected. That was a little probability 101 for the editors of the newspapers. They got their math wrong. They miscalculated. So all this talk ,after the fact, about how wrong it was to stage an unruly physical protest seems a bit hollow. Maybe it was a trial ballon sent out to see how far the Muslims were willing to defend the honor of their beloved Prophet!. And they got varied answers!