This post is not intended to justify violence in any way, not even in the name of “defending the dignity of our beloved Prophet s.a.w.” when it comes to reacting towards the Danish cartoon problem. Certainly, Islam does not justify violence in any way other than proportionate self defense (which may be in form of preemptive self defense). Even if an insult towards the Prophet s.a.w. calls for retaliation, the worst form of retaliation justified would be a counter-insult. Not to mention, falling in into one’s anger is something Islam highly emphasizes on, as well as its counterpartner “patience”.
What I intend to express here is so that people understand why lots of Muslims go violent over the matter. The reason being that not everyone seems to understand, as in, really understand the gravity of the matter.
A while ago, I came across an article titled ‘how to suck at your religion’, and it basically says “if it makes you a worse person, then that religion is bad for you or you suck at understanding it”. Well, that is an acceptable proposition. However, the post pointed at a few attitude of different religions, and one of them was Islam-specific. It was a small empty picture frame, with a text that says something like ‘can I not draw your prophet without fearing for my life?’, an obvious reference to the Danish cartoon of The Prophet Muhammad s.a.w..
As if it was something THAT stupid.
Well, as I mentioned before, Islam never condones acts of violence. But it seems that not many people really understand why it is THAT much of a problem. We see people making fun pictures of Jesus (Peace Be Upon Him), even fellow Christians, and they dont take a big deal out of it. Even, people make fun of everyone, like, all the time. Therefore, at this end, I personally understand why non-Muslims might not fully understand why Muslims are making a big deal out of this (although insulting is something naturally prone to a feel of offense, but lets give them the benefit of doubt).
Now, let us think of our own mother. Maybe some of you dont love your own mother, I dont know. Maybe others would say that they love their mother just because it would feel wrong to say otherwise. However, I love my mother, really. I am sure that a majority of you would also feel the same. This feeling is something that all of us see to be natural, because of what mothers have done to our lives, since before our conscious memory until today (some mothers suck, I know, but my momom is the best <3).
Islam emphasizes this so much. A very famous authentic hadith mentions that “paradise lies on our mother’s feet”. A less famous authentic hadith, with an equally powerful meaning, is a qudsi hadith that says: “I am Ar-Rahman (The Merciful). I created the raham (womb), and derived a name for it from My Name. Hence, whoever keeps it, I will keep ties to him, and whoever severs it, I will sever ties with him”. When participating in a legitimate jihad may be an obligation to all able bodied Muslim men, there are a few exceptions, which from an authentic hadith we know that the absence of one’s mother’s permission is one of them.
Now this may be quite universal even to non-Muslims. How would a normal person, who loves her/his mother, react when their mother is subject to insult (I know you know where Im going with this, but whatever, just wait till I finish hahaha). A person reacts in many different kinds of ways, depending on how much they love their mother and the particular situation they are in.
In my days, kids start to insult each other’s fathers and mothers in second grade of junior highschool. Insults and responses were various. Most insults were simply in form of calling a kid’s name by their father’s name. My dad’s name was Amirullah, so they started to call me Amirullah. To begin with, there is a reluctance to even insult too badly. Whats more is that kids insult each other since kindergarten, but it took them until second grade junior highschool to start making insult on parents. What is even more is that they were more reluctant to tease the mothers than the fathers. In my case, it may be partially because they figured out our fathers names in a school list much earlier before they figured out our mothers names. But even when they figured out our mother’s names, kids prefered to tease fathers.
And even then, they would usually prefer to insult their own friends whom they know well, and try their best to make it a friendly-joking kind of environment. Yes, its a very bad kind of joke, I agree, but my point is that there are efforts to mitigate harm because they know its a sensitive matter. Some kids, though, were objects of bully. This is somewhat irrelevant, as it responds to an entirely different dimention of problem (generally it is the bully victim that is degraded in all ways possible).
Responses were various as well. Some did not take it seriously, because it was just a joke (or was a little bit insulted but, hey, its school life, nobody takes a big deal out of it anyway). Others feel insulted but cant do anything about it, because they are bully victims. Personally, at the time I was very ill-tempered, I beat up anyone who even mentioned my dad’s name, and I got suspended once because of it and I did not regret it at all at the time. And that was not yet a tease to the mother.
On a larger scale, as in not in my environment, you see all sorts of emotional responses from people when their parents. Maybe around our neighborhood, we have seen fights break out because of insults towards mothers. People have gone to jail because they beat up or even kill people for insulting their mother.
Witnessing these events, what do the bystanders say? We will see a variety of responses, ranging from:
– “oh, come on, it wasnt serious”,
– “wow, that was a pretty bad insult, but I think the response was too violent”,
– “If it were me, I would have better self control. But I understand if he lost it.”
– “I would have done the same if it were my mother”, or even
– “He beat the guy up? I would have killed the guy!”.
Generally, it is somewhat acceptable (or at least understandable) to respond violently when our mother is insulted.
What I am trying to say is this. It is (generally) socially acceptable and understandable for one to loose their temper when a certain person is insulted, provided that there is such a close emotional closeness between this person and the insulted person. Whether this person acts upon their temper or not would be another question. While one would prefer others to have better self-refraint, one would understand how hard it is to actually practice that self-refrain.
For Muslims, many of us love our Prophet s.a.w. so much, that it is even considered a disrespect to say his name without adding some form of ‘may peace be upon him’ afterwards. Dont even think of making an insulting picture of him, even making any sort of imagery of him is considered as disrespect in Islam! Well, of course other cultures would not understand or at least know this. Due to cultural relativity, I wont hold “making imageries of The Prophet s.a.w.” against them per se. The US Supreme Court building has a figure of The Prophet s.a.w. as a symbol of justice. This is not substantially an act of disrespect, and infat it is otherwise.
While our mothers brought us life to this earth, Muslims believe that this world is just a game and the real deal is the afterlife. We wish to enter paradise, not hell, which is why we always pray for guidance at least 17 times a day (in Surah Al Faatiha). This guidance was delivered from Allah through His prophets, all of them including Abraham, Moses, Jesus (peace be upon them all), and perfected by Muhammad s.a.w. Therefore, for one who really are Muslims, how can we not love him? Like, THAT much?
This love may come in various degrees, and is not always obvious. Some hate their mothers for not letting them date a certain boyfriend/girlfriend, but will cry like a baby at her funeral. Many people claim they hate Indonesia, but suddenly become nationalists when Indonesia is at the finals of Thomas Cup or when Malaysia decides to become an arse more than they usually are.
I do not care when other say “well, Christians dont mind when its Jesus being insulted”. First, that only means that those particular Christians dont love Jesus (peace be upon him) that much. Second, I am sure that there are many devout Christians that actually do feel insulted by such jokes!
PS: Dont even start with “Even atheists dont mind if Richard Dawkins is insulted” LoL
So, to conclude this riddiculously long post (although not the longest hahaha), I just want to remind everyone a few things:
- Yes, lots of Muslims really should practice better self refrain in expressing their anger, but
- If you still feel insulted when your mother is insulted, or if you think its normal for someone to be angry when their mother is insulted, then actually the Muslims who are violent are no worse than you.