Part One of two parts: By Shaykh Luqman Ahmad Given the constitutional guarantees of free speech in America, it is not likely any time soon that Americans will simply give up, criticizing or making fun of Islam, the Prophet (SAWS) or Muslims. The national campaign by some Muslim organizations to silence our critics and instill reverence for Islam in every American has not met with the success that people envisioned. In fact, we are now seeing the signs of backlash and pushback from civil libertarians, media, and others free speakers who are questioning why, in an age where every religion is poked fun of and even vilified by some, Islam is off limits. Well our answer to that is simple; Islam is the only true religion of God, Muslims are the best people on earth, and we are all above criticism. The problem is, everyone does not accept that answer, and, there is no indication at all that everyone will. The statement itself is not even entirely true. Although it is our belief that Islam is a perfect religion; we would be fools if we think for a moment that we are perfect people. Perfection and freedom from error or blemish is the exclusive domain of Allah be He Exalted and Glorified. Thus we have to make some hard choices here. Either we can continue to work ourselves up into frenzy every time someone criticizes or makes fun of Islam or Muslims, and keep pretending that this is the proper method to defend Islam, and the Prophet (SAW), or we can opt to follow our own scripture on the matter (Quran and Prophetic tradition), and save ourselves a lot of anxiety, frustration and misdirection. Who knows, public opinion of Islam and Muslims may even improve in the process. Generally speaking, a Muslim cannot reasonably expect that every non-muslim will believe in our faith, or share our reverence for our Lord, and His Prophets (AS). When the Prophet (SAWS) was negotiating the famed treaty of Hudaibiyyah, the Meccan delegate Suhail ibn Amr did not accept the Prophet’s title (Muhammad Messenger of Allah) to be written on the contract and only agreed to the Prophet’s name; Muhammad ibn Abdullah, on the document. Suhail justified the slight by saying; “If we actually thought that you were indeed the messenger of Allah in the first place, we would not be fighting you”. Fast forward to 21st century America; the fact that Islam garners a great deal of respect from non-Muslims in United States is itself a testament to Allah’s mercy and the higher ideals of a still largely civil society. The persecution suffered by the Prophet (SAWS) and the early Muslims in Mecca at the hands of the non-Muslims was measurably worse than what American Muslims deal with in the United States. 1400 years ago people were literally rounded up, kicked out of their homes, tortured and even put to death simply for saying that there is no god except Allah. Today, the chanting of laa ilaaha illa Allah Muhammadarr Rasoolillah (There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet (SAWS), resonates from coast to coast, five times a day, seven days a week. So let’s not get too carried away in self victimization. That’s not to say that some of this does not still occur in other parts of the world outside of the United States; the massacre of Bosnians, Palestinians, Kashmiris, and others for simply being Muslim is still fresh in many of our minds. Notwithstanding that there are Muslims being massacred by other Muslims, simply for being a certain ethnicity, sect or type of Muslim. However, there are more than a billion Muslims on the planet, and we cannot address the entire condition and modality of Muslim peoples across the globe with a one size fits all answer. Such methods contradict the principle of Islamic problem solving. In the meantime, since the topic is not likely to go away, let’s start first by looking at the issue of criticism and parody of Islam from a purely Islamic perspective without the emotional and psychological baggage. Imam Luqman Ahmad Luqman Ahmad is a freelance writer and the Imam of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in California. He is also an executive committee member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and a General Council member of the Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA). He can be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org Next: Part Two: Apparently, no one’s paying too much attention to our condemnation
A Muslim Response to Criticism and Parody of Islam
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