The Rage Game, Putting On The brakes
Anyone who hasn't capitalized on the recent malicious caricature portrayal of the Prophet to express their outrage, promote their organization, get their name in the paper, pontificate the loftiness of Islamic ideals, start a membership drive, do a little political posturing, or to open dialogue, or defend the Prophet has missed their opportunity. The issue has now officially become a non-issue. There was no fatwa or official sounding consensus of scholars declaring cessation of protest. On the contrary, the media puppeteers, knowing what motivates Muslims to action, simply turned off the cameras and directed them to another venue. Muslims are well trained to tailor their activity on the basis of subliminal media directives, and it looks like we were duped again. In other words ladies and gentlemen, we've been had. Or as al-Hajj Malik Shabaaz (Malcolm X) used to say, bamboozled, hoodwinked, flimflammed.
Of course there are those in denial and that's to be expected. After all, Islam is our universal adapter. All we need to do is preface an action with; "this is for the sake of Allah" or, "this is for Islam", or, "this is in defense of Islam" and it assumes immediate legitimacy irregardless of whether it's fair, Islamic, prudent, or in agreement with the shariah. Since as Muslims, everything we do is ostensibly in the name of Islam, for Islam, for the Muslims, for Allah, in defense of Islam etc., we are never wrong about anything, ever. Perhaps this is how we justify suicide bombings where the innocent (including women and children) are casualties. If the world was unaware how sensitive Muslims are about our Prophet , then our recent response not only erased any ambiguity, it showed how malleable the global Muslim community has become.
By even the most conservative accounts, we've shown that we are unpredictable, volatile, rage driven, and that a little name calling and scribbling on a piece of paper can stir us into frenzy. People have been attempting to demean and ridicule the Prophet ever since he became a Prophet. When does that warrant a full scale campaign? What are we going to do the next time someone demeans the prophet of Allah? Why was this incident singled out for response when there are numerous incidents of negative references to the Prophet Muhammad all over the place? A couple of years ago a well known television evangelist from California did a whole series of lectures in which he vilified the Prophet much more insidiously than this unknown cartoonist (who we now made famous and probably wealthy from his future book deals). Why wasn't there an outpour of condemnation and rage then?
Since this issue surfaced, the demeaning images of the Prophet have been reprinted in at least 143 newspapers in 56 countries. In defiance of Muslims umbrage, many media publications have stepped up their parody of not only the Prophet himself but the hypersensitive way that we have responded to the issue. There will always be persons an institutions who will do, say, or write something that we can consider an affront to the dignity of the Prophet especially since we are so adept at interpreting words and events as anti-Islamic. Should Muslims therefore assume a perpetual state of protest? On second thought, that might not be the most efficient use of labor. How about we just appoint a group of people whose job will be to hunt down and protest every insult to the Prophet . That way the rest of the Muslim world can concentrate on other matters.
Whether we care to admit it or not, we're slowly evolving into a people so consumed with self righteousness; rage, indiscipline, and intolerance, we cannot admit that we also make mistakes. Let's grow up folks. Even Adam admitted his mistake and performed a healthy self assessment. To say that we overreacted to the cartoons is not only an understatement, it also raises questions about who we are and what we stand for. Let me see if I got this right. A three month old negative caricature of the Prophet and we take to the streets by the thousands, protest, throw rocks, issue death threats, tear down buildings, blame whole nations and make our angriest and most menacing facial expressions for the cameras. In the process, scores of Muslims are killed, hundreds more injured, countless man hours are expended, and after the dust settles, there is no measurable tangible gain we can claim from the experience.
Ironically, when Muslims bomb Masaajid while people are worshipping in Iraq, or when 400 Muslims killed in the last week alone, there's hardly a whimper! We claim that we must protect and defend the honor of the Prophet . Meanwhile in America alone, Muslims contribute upwards of twenty million dollars per year towards cable and satellite TV industry which broadcasts every imaginable abomination opposed by the Prophet ; homosexuality, pornography, blasphemy, gambling, infidelity, deception, gluttony, you name it, cable's got it. I don't see any mass rush to cancel our cable subscriptions. Bridges TV a Muslim orientated cable station had to almost beg for the marginal support it receives from the Muslim community.
We clamor for tolerance yet we are notoriously intolerant. Discriminate against a Muslim and there is immediate outrage, yet we unabashedly champion nepotism and discrimination within our own organizations, boards, masaajid and Muslim controlled lands. We want inclusion in the world arena yet we cannot stop fighting each other long enough to be create our own alternative industries. We protest the killing of Muslims by the Americans, the British, the French, the Israelis, or any other so-called infidel. However, we are curiously silent about Muslims killing each other. It's like we are saying; hey, don't kill Muslims! Let us kill each other! Don't hate Muslims! We have enough hate not only to hate you, but plenty left over to hate ourselves. Don't disrespect the Prophet ! We can do that ourselves by ignoring the standards of civility, fairness justice to which he commanded us.
The Muslim motto is becoming; 'you disagree with me, therefore you are my enemy'. Some of us take the mantra it a bit further; 'you disagree with me, therefore I must kill you and your children'. The internet is full of one or another Muslim group, leader or imam condemning the other. Have we simply lost our minds? Somebody turn on the lights! Does it occur to anyone that the Muslims in the world are in a weakened state? There is no doubt that there are many forces confronting the Muslim peoples in this new millennium. Is there some law somewhere that says we have to contribute to our own malaise? Can we call a moratorium on inter-religious conflict between Muslims? Do you think that we can come up with better stratagem our usual blame and complain? We're turning into complainaholics (okay I made the word up). The world's crybabies.
Holding the western democracies accountable to standards of law, fairness, civil liberty, and inclusion, has merit. Self serving as it may be, there is some merit there. After all, printing the cartoons in the first place was a criminal offence under sections 140 and 266b of the Danish Criminal Code. However, what is the Muslim standard? Do we have one? Of course the unanimous response to this question is; Islam is our standard! This ladies and gentlemen, is my point. If Islamic law, ethics, protocol or to put is bluntly, Quran and Sunna is the standard by which Muslims must be held accountable, are we then obligated to address errant behavior of Muslims done in the name of Islam? I'm not referring to contentious issues about which there is legitimate scholarly disagreement, or even the triangulated fatwas cloaked in ambiguity. What I'm referring to are the incontrovertible standards of behavior, law, civility, honesty, good character which all Muslims or most of us agree are the foundations of our faith. Does corruption, nepotism, racism, bribery, fratricide, inter-religious sectarianism, spousal abuse, issues which as Muslims we are obligated to address? You darn right they are! Does our failure to collectively enforce the Prophetic standard of conduct in government, community, business, and politic, and lifestyles effect our overall condition and standing in the world? What do you think!
90% of Muslims in the West get their news from commercial broadcast networks. We only know what the media tells us, and it seems like our collective responses are so scripted and choreographed, we might as well get paid for it and become members of the screen actors guild. We have threatened boycotts of western products for years, yet our own division and intolerance of each other, prevents us from up with viable alternatives. Every six months or so, some Muslim scholar, organization or politician calls for a boycott of American, British, Israeli or another western countries products. . A recent fatwa from a well known Muslim scholar demanded that Muslims boycott all American Products. I guess that means Chinese products too since a lot of the product sold in American are made in china. While we're at it, lets add Dubai to the list since they will now have a hand in managing several US ports. And aren't we still supposed to be boycotting the French because of the Hijaab ban? I guess we might as well boycott Turkey too since they also ban hijaab. Boycotting Sweden may be tough. I mean, who can compete with IKEA's prices and ingenuity? By the way, who's keeping track of the boycott targets? Where is the list? Can they email Muslim enemy of the week list to my Treo handset? Like to keep track of such things you know.
If the sum of what we are saying is, 'do not portray Islam in a negative way'. Are we not then responsible for ensuring that we as Muslims do not portray Islam in a negative way? If the answer is no, then we've abdicated responsibility for our own behavior, which to do so is unislamic. If the answer is yes, then the negative portrayals of Islam which we ourselves exhibit, i.e. the killing of innocents and non combatants, collective blaming for individual acts, racism within the Muslim community, rampant corruption, Muslim on Muslim killings, the proliferation of Muslim owned liquor stores, the absence of Muslims in the social services arena, inter-religious intolerance, public mudslinging, and unbridled rage are all issues for which we bear responsibility. In other words, if Joe Abdullah straps a bomb to his shoulder, walks into a grocery store, calls out the name of Allah (Allahu Akbar) and indiscriminately blows himself up along with twenty innocent bystanders who were just out doing a little shopping, and the Muslim community says and does nothing about it, any outsider could reasonably conclude that Joe Abdullah's actions represent Islam. After all, he did it in the name of Islam, and the Muslims didn't do anything about it. In Islamic law, the acquiescence (iqraar) of the Prophet towards an action, essentially sanctions it. Doesn't this rule apply to the rest of us?
No matter how much we try to avoid taking responsibility for our collective actions and behavior, the issue moral responsibility will always come back to bite us, erode any moral capital we have left, and invoke divine consequences upon us, unless we face up to it. We do after all; have a higher authority (Allah) to answer to. Oh yeah, remember Him? Well He's got going anywhere, and guess what? He has standards, and rules that govern behavior. We can't have our cake and eat it too. If we are going to use Islam as our raison de'tre, we must then also accept Islamic standards as governing criteria for our actions.
When was the last time that Muslims came out and apologized for anything, or admitted that we might be wrong about some of our methods, or choice of priorities, or assumed any responsibility for our condition? I know, even hinting that Muslims could be wrong about anything is risky, and possibly hazardous to one's health. But hey, I'm feeling a little adventurous today. Besides, somebody's gotta say it. No one besides Allah's Prophets (ASA) is immune from occasional lapses in judgment, blunders, mistakes, sins or outright stupidity. If the practices of the Prophet Muhammad serve as any standard for Muslims, as Imam Zaid Shakir adeptly elucidated in a recent article, .hatred, anger, revenge, rage, and puritanical oppression, are not always the best catalysts for action. Anger has its place. However, it wasn't something the Prophet prioritized. On the contrary, he emphasized the contrary. A man came to the Prophet and asked for advice. The Prophet replied: "Do not get angry". The man returned repeatedly and each time the Prophet replied: "do not get angry".
Negative emotions tend to take on a life of their own. We have become so accustomed to employing anger as an organizing staple, that many Muslims leaders are now finding that the only platform upon which they can motivate masses of Muslims is by tapping into their reservoir of fury. Find a common enemy, or common target of anger, you've got yourself thousands in the streets. Make an appeal for Muslims unity or curbing sectarianism and you get lip service, and photo-ops. Perhaps we're suffering from post traumatic stress disorder at the loss of the caliphate, or maybe we're still a little lightheaded from fasting during the month of Ramadan or who knows, maybe we're bored. I' m certain that with a billion Muslims on the planet, we can come up with some issues on our own, or sustainable, practical agendas to better our condition with Allah's help. I guess until that happens, we'll just have to wait and see what the next issue of the week is going to be. As a parting note, I do have one humble request; next time, can we schedule our response closer to the actual time of the occurrence? I like my issues fresh. And hold the mustard please.
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad is an Imam and freelance writer on the East Coast USA. He can be reached at [email protected]
IT IS TRUE THAT BY PROTESTING AGAINST THE CARICATURES OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (PBUH), MUSLIMS HAVE DRIVEN ATTENTION TO THE PERSON WHO HAS DRAWN THEM. HE MIGHT HAVE MADE WEALTH OUT OF THE OCCASSION. IF THE FATWA OF IMAM KHOMAINEI HAS BEEN EXECUTED, NO ONE WOULD HAVE THE COURAGE TO ATTACK THE PROPHET ANYMORE. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A LESSON FOR HUMANITY IN GENERAL. THEY ARE GOING TO SAY THAT MUSLIMS ARE TERRORISTS AND DO NOT BELIEVE IN FREEDOM OF SPEECH. IT IS BETTER THAN THEM BEING USED AS ADVERTISING AGENTS FOR THEIR ENEMIES, TO MAKE MONEY OUT OF THEIR SERIOUS RAGE.
I LOVE MY RELIGION I M BORN IN MADINA MUNAWARAH BUT SAID I LIVE IN PAK BUT I PRAY 2 ALLHA in QIYAMAT I LIVE IN JANAT ,THANX
a muslim of today is faced with lots of situations like u mentioned that he sees pornography which is wrong but here the question is does he harms religious personalities of other communities?? then why should he just take the cartoons as a simple incident. u can abuse the prophet in privacy but not in front of a muslim. i am in support of voilence against the people who has commited the sin...and let me tell u this madness will stop when the other people start respecting our religion and not insulting the prophet. i have always said the muslims must get united soon we have divided ourself enough and take on the demon called America it should be destroyed, for this we need to prepare by accumulating as many weapons as we can and going ahead for a nuclear weapon also...
You need to get this column distributed to other medias or you have just succumbed to your own, message.
Thanks for your insight. It brings me hope.
"I'm certain that with a billion Muslims on the planet, we can come up with some issues on our own,"
I am one of the billion and your invitation has prompted me to suggest that you left out in your otherwise excellent article, with which I agree whole heartedly, the crucial issue of the part played by the Muslim clergy, who with the title of "Imam" instil a reverence for themselves way beyond what they deserve in terms of their knowledge of Deen, in the young virgin (no pun intended) minds.
The deplorable reaction Muslim-world wide was not from the Muslims you address but from the blind (who don't think for themselves), followers of the religious brigade.
I dropped the title of Imam for you, believing that one who wrote such a passionate and logical article can not be a member of that brigade.
Perhaps you being closer to the coal-face may give us an idea how first to put the brakes on the problem of brainwashing of our young ones, by the profession.
If it was not for the knowledge that Jaland refused to print a Christ Cartoon three years ago, I thought the Muhammad Singh cartoon even mildly funny!- Salaams.
There is no better summary I think of the current state of mind among us.
To the loss of the caliphate followed a divergent and oppposing 2 main leaderships, the political and the religious one, both sides felt apart themselves, then, the crowd is lost and abundoned to emotional reactions.
The necessary "taqwa" to see an agreed upon religious authority seem difficult, but remains the key and cornerstone issue of the moment, it's supposed to be powerful enough to get the discipline of the peolpes and offer the consensual jurisprudence background to every organizational effort framing executive actions on the ground, but more important than that, is to, basically, setting trends of the Islamic speech according to the specific conditions relating to raised issues, countries, cultural condititons for any further work or statements.
Example, the media you're referring to might be different of mine I have access to, because the arabic language, with different thinking template and don't read necessary same. The benefit of the last protest at least, is to show and convince that the sense of the "sacred" for the muslims is much more fundamental and important, it is also fair to say that many muslims scholars stood up for every other religion, not only Islam. I think the rest of the world was in need to understand that, which was clearly stated and convinced many people in the West and root for a dialog about the free speech and relating issues.
My humble understanding is that the Islamic community through different danish and arab diplomatic and civil organisations tried to "fix things" from the beggining but the danish authorities does nothing and not evening listening, but became more listening with the anger tide, and even calling for dialog, which was the call of all those muslims trying to get in touch with the danish authorities at the very beggining of the crisis.
YOu are certainly right about Muslims making this Danish cartoonist popular and that is what he wanted I assume, breaking the traditions gives them fame eh? Salman Rusdie's similar case!
that was by far one of the best articles i came across. I loved the satirical references made.
We have -as Muslims-no right to protest an attack on our joint faith simply because we have so many flaws in ourselves.
He misses the point that family members may have an infighting-but when the honor or the deeprooted values of the family are attacked most members of that family will feel the hurt and react-in different ways.
Much of what you write about current affairs needs to be said and more often. While it is important to expose the dangerous self-serving illusions of many Muslims, I can not overlook the problems with your own perceptions either. Here are two you might want to consider.
First, I take strong issue with the casual, broad brush use of the category 'Muslims,' as in "Muslims are this or Muslims are that!" NO ONE I am aware of has the sanction to speak for or about ALL Muslims. You are responding as the mass produced media wants you to- generalizing and self-stereotyping! Just replace Jews for Muslims in much of your writing and you will see what I mean. You use an unqualified "Muslims" way too often!
Second, while many of your accusations against 'Muslims' such as the supposed sectarian violence in Iraq contain elements of truth, you go too far when you deny the deathly, destructive colonialist agenda. Take this case of supposed sectarian violence in Iraq. For 1500 years Shia and Sunni have lived and prospered in Iraq. Now you and W want us to swallow the sectarian story hook, line and sinker! You are completely ignoring the Black Operations that are being carried out by White Western Judeo/Christian state sponsored terrorists against the men, women and children of Iraq. You are ignoring their atrocities that are no different from what they did to the people of Viet Nam. But then again, writing about that would need real courage because your audience would not be just 'Muslims!'
well, what can i say, in an ideal world, muslims will conduct their affairs so well that the rest of the world will come running to muslim countries wanting to learn our ways and beliefs, language, justice system, education, science and technology, manufacturing, arts, and all those things that make people's lives better. they'd want to imitate us and would want to migrate to countries like saudi arabia, iran, iraq, pakistan and the like. we'd set the world standards in fair play, tolerance, honesty, accountability, and the like. and the rest of the world will look to the muslim world for global leadership (the'll even respect us). and of course people will come to the religion of Allah in masses because the'll see how wonderful our religion make the world prosper and in peace.
but unfortunately the muslims have miserably failed to make use of the inteligence Allah has bestowed us, and here we are, so messed up.
So, who will be the courageous Muslim who will loudly speak for us and risk to live behind bars for the rest of their lives? I hope this Imam has the guts to go to major media outlets and travel around the country to talk about Islam. I have been hoping for so long that someone who is knowledgable about Islamic teachings and eloquent enough to get his or her message out clearly. I would have talked more loudly if only I had the knowledge to back me up.
If the Prophet prayed for those who mocked him, what drives the actions of those reacting with violence... ignorance?
I personally try to point these out to media orgs, cant seem to pass it thru the gatekeepers. e.g., Muslims organized and volunteered nationwide last Sept. 11, ( Katrina) but did you see any TV coverage. I saw media cameras covering our work, but unfortunately it didnt even pass the local news gatekeepers.
It is very likely that somebody other than muslims bomed the mosque.So, don't asume and go along with the media tells us.
Ten points to the author and strenght. I quess he has stepped on some toes with this article. Peace.
"In other words, if Joe Abdullah straps a bomb to his shoulder, walks into a grocery store, calls out the name of Allah (Allahu Akbar) and indiscriminately blows himself up along with twenty innocent bystanders who were just out doing a little shopping, and the Muslim community says and does nothing about it, any outsider could reasonably conclude that Joe Abdullah's actions represent Islam. After all, he did it in the name of Islam, and the Muslims didn't do anything about it."
You've hit the nail on the head here. The major Christian community sees this everyday and begins to develop an idea that the so called peaceful majority of Muslims are silently in favor of actions like this because the leaders aren't denouncing it loudly.