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Charlie Hebdo & Muslims: Free Speech or Provocation?

Charlie Hebdo & Muslims: Free Speech or Provocation? - About Islam

Aamna Khokar, Life Coach

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the best of men. His legacy stands the test of time and that is testimony to who he was and how he spread his message through love and his character

Making a mockery out of Prophet Muhammad makes no difference to him. In his lifetime he was mocked endlessly. He did not respond with aggression.

If we draw a black man as a thief, then that’s illegal and it should be dealt with through legal channels. In the same way, if we draw Prophet Muhammad (an Arab) as a terrorist, then it should be dealt with through legal channels.

The fight is about the long game – being educated and defending what we hold sacred in a smart way, not through aggressive means. This might give us quick results, but it does not change hearts and minds. It does not change the narrative. 

I think it’s highly embarrassing that they have nothing else to focus on amidst a global pandemic. It’s best to ignore such foolishness. We have better things to be getting on with than to be meeting fire with fire.

Charlie Hebdo & Muslims: Free Speech or Provocation? - About Islam

Labina Basit, Computer Scientist

Islam teaches us not to respond with anger to those trying to injure us. In practice, this is not always easy.

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I think Charlie Hebdo editors know this when they decided to republish cartoons that Muslims have found offensive. They also know the importance of the Prophet as Muslims. That he is as important as Jesus is to Christians.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would also extol kindness. In a hadith, he said, “Verily Allah is gentle, and He loves gentleness. He grants reward for gentleness that He does not grant for harshness”.

In a time when we realize how vital it is for us as human beings to be kind, I find it disturbing that Islam and what Muslims hold dear can be held to a different – unkinder – standard.

Charlie Hebdo & Muslims: Free Speech or Provocation? - About Islam

How should we respond?

We know that Prophet Muhammad was mocked repeatedly during the prophetic part of his life. In his age, this took the shape of vocal poetry, the cartoons of his time.

These incidents, however, did not stop him, deter him, or distract him from living a good life and setting a good example. Nor did he resort to violence as a response.

We also know that Prophet Muhammad was physically attacked with stones at Taif, so much so that he bled, his shoes, and his feet were bonded together with dried blood. But did he return with weapons? Did he attack the people of Taif? No. He forgave them, and he prayed for them.

If a person, therefore, says he believes in Prophet Muhammad but responds to insults to Prophet Muhammad with violence, it is clear that they do not understand Prophet Muhammad. They end up insulting his legacy by harming people in his name. 

To follow the Prophet example, when someone insults him, we should say a prayer for them. God may answer your prayers, and you may be the reason why the person improves their life. 

God says in the Qur’an, 3:110, “You are meant to be the best nation, the best example to humankind.”

So next time someone insults Prophet Muhammad, why not be the better person, say a prayer for the insulting person, and in doing so, help them improve their life?

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About Farrukh Younus
Farrukh I Younus has a background in mobile phone strategy across Europe and Asia, and has visited China on more than 25 occasions. Dedicated to understanding and delivering solutions based on new technology, Younus has spoken on the subject to the EU in Brussels, and regularly attends industry-leading conferences. He currently runs a video platform, Implausibleblog, delivering lifestyle content via social media; where his focus is on understanding consumer behaviour with regards to digital content and digital advertising. His interests include travel, nouvelle cuisine, and chocolate.