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Why Muslims Need to Show Patience & Practice Restraint?

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By: Mohmad Saleem Shiekh

The recent Paris beheading incident has triggered a debate about Islam’s or Prophet’s compatibility with the modern-day lifestyle heavily monitored under the parameters of individualism, liberal progressive approach and democratic values like freedom of expression, speech and choice. Though everyone agrees upon the distinctive nature of religion, Islam and its public manifestation, but when it comes to the acceptance of the difference reservations begin to sprout out. And we hear an number of arguments squeezing down Islam to nothing more than an equivalent to barbarism and traditionalism. However, there are a few who agree upon Islam’s fundamental message of peace, brotherhood and harmony. Nevertheless, this message of peace and tranquillity succumbs to the rampant anti-Islam discourse. Thanks to the rise of islamophobia, misappropriation of Jihad, chaos in the Muslim world and the constant media campaigning in portraying Islam as antithetical to peace and democratic order.

The drawing of the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the casting of defamatory and derogatory speeches about his character and personality are intimidating and provocative of counter-reactions. It must be made clear that such derogations and provocations will continue to happen, and Muslims need to deal with them more tolerably and must not behave the way adversaries want them to behave. Muslims must understand that such derogations do not in any sense downgrade the exalted and venerable position of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Neither they necessitate any uncivil counter-reaction because such derogations are part of the propaganda and the narrative- the narrative of proving Muslims unfitting with modernity and secularism.

However, derogations of this sort were a daily happening in the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) – once he declared prophet-hood and began to spread the word of God. His character reflects an embodiment of grace, compassion, forbearance and ethics. Therefore, he responded most nobly to every rising situation and established him as an embodiment of the “message”- practising what was revealed to him. The holy Quran mentions that –

“Good and evil are not alike. Respond to evil with what is best, then the one who is in a feud will turn into a close friend” {Surat Fussilat (41):34}

This is a consistent message that Muslims follow and should educate people of other faiths about it. There are plenty of other verses upholding the same theme to which every Muslim is obliged to practice in his daily dealings. Having said that, the decapitation of Paris teacher or any other violent reaction of this sort are not justified in the light of the Quran and the Prophet’s teachings.

It must be categorically recognised that if anybody responds with violence to incidents like showcasing caricatures, he does it in his personal capacity. Moreover, that individual does not necessarily represent Islam or for that matter, the Muslim community. Having said that, it is not in any sense justified that the normalisation of the anti-Muslim discourse, in the name of freedoms, be celebrated and pushed through, instead requires a check so that islamophobia, deprivation, subjugation and constant surveillance does not compromise social existence and religious freedom of Muslims.

  • The writer is a PhD Fellow, JMI.

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