Tuesday, 25 May 2010

the best response

whew, had quite a bit more of a break than i intended. the trouble with not blogging regularly is that it's hard to get back into when you stop. and i've been distracted by a little obsession which will hopefully be over soon.

in the meantime, they had this thing called "draw Muhammad day" - well i'm assuming it's happened already. can't really be bothered to find out. this is supposed to be some great message about freedom of speech or something, i guess. more like the freedom to be offensive and expecting that the people you are being offensive to should shut up and take it instead of using their freedom of expression to express their displeasure.

ok, i know i'm being deliberately obtuse. the day was supposedly directed at that lunatic fringe that decides to make death threats when someone says something offensive. i also think it's stupid to make death threats when someone says (or draws or writes) something offensive. not only because you've just made a martyr of the person who was being offensive and thereby encouraged people to be more offensive to you, but more because it's bad morals. unethical if you will. and pretty much goes against what Muhammad stood for.

if we look at the life of Muhammad, he was subjected to various and quite severe insults once he started preaching the message of islam. for example having the guts of a camel (or some such) thrown over him while he was bowed down in prostration, praying. one lovely person would be sure to scatter thorns on the path that he normally took home. another person made a habit of throwing rubbish out her window at him, every time he walked past her place. in other words, pretty much every day.

now let's look at his response to these rather extreme forms of hatred. in regards to the rubbish-thrower, it so happened that for a couple of days, when he walked passed her home, no rubbish was thrown. so he went to visit her, saying that he was concerned for her health. it turned out that she was indeed ill, and his concern immediately won her over.

in regards to the other stuff, Muhammad was pretty much hounded out of mecca, narrowly escaping an assassination attempt and with a price on his head. a number of his followers had been tortured and killed, and all had suffered from a trade boycott lasting three years. as many fled the city to save their lives, their property had been stolen. it so happened that about 8 years later, he was in a position to lead an army into the city and take it over. he did so with virtually no bloodshed. he had the opportunity at that time to take revenge on the people who had behaved so badly towards him and his followers. but he didn't do that. instead he provided protection for all people in the city.

and of course this is the example that muslims should use to inspire their response to this particular day. CAIR put it nicely:

Instead of reacting negatively to the bigoted call to support "Draw Muhammad Day," American Muslims -- and Muslims worldwide -- should use that and every other day as an opportunity to reach out to people of other faiths and beliefs to build bridges of understanding and respect.

The best and most productive response to bigoted campaigns like "Draw Muhammad Day" is more communication, not less communication -- including not restricting the free flow of ideas with measure like banning Facebook.

Research has shown that anti-Islam prejudice goes down when people interact with ordinary Muslims and have greater knowledge of Islam.

Therefore, the best reaction to those who would mock the Prophet Muhammad (or the religious symbols of any faith) might be a mosque open house for the local interfaith community, a community service activity organized by Muslims and involving people of other faiths, or a newspaper commentary describing the life, legacy and personal character of the prophet, which is the opposite of the calumny some people fabricate about him. This should be of concern to all decent and objective people.

We will all benefit if each of us -- whether Muslim, Jew, Christian, Buddhist, or Hindu -- exhibits the common human decency required by our respective faiths.

very nicely put, and by far the best way to deal with it all.

but i do have one thing to say to those who participated. i don't get it. you're annoyed at a small group of people who behave stupidly when you use your right to freedom of expression. so your response is to insult every single member, all 1.4 billion, of that group, just to show that you can. the vast majority of whom have done you no harm, have made no complaint about your drawings and who are quite happy to ignore you. that's really the best response you can think of? nope, still don't get it.

back to the spirit of the CAIR piece, here is the wiki link to michael hart's book on the top 100 most influential people in history, wherein you'll find the wiki link to the life of Muhammad.

No comments: