Common Word, Common Lord

In The Name Of God: The Infinitely Merciful And Compassionate Beloved Lord

When I heard the news of the horrific attack on the offices of satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, my heart sank in terrible grief. Two masked gunmen, in a military-style attack, burst into the editorial offices and murdered 12 people in cold blood. And what made it worse for me is the fact that they did it in the name of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), shouting “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad!” Charlie Hebdo was well known for publishing unflattering cartoons and other pieces mocking the Prophet Muhammad specifically and religious extremists in general, often bringing upon it and its journalists death threats.

Apart from the revulsion I have to the murder of any innocent life, the fact that this act of terror was committed in the name of God and His Prophet is doubly painful. And what I still cannot understand is how people like this can even think that our religion gives sanction to do something like this. Of course, an insult to the Prophet Muhammad is painful for most – if not all – Muslims across the globe. Yet, no matter the attack on the Prophet, nothing justifies such a terrible crime that was seen in Paris yesterday.

Moreover, in the Qur’an, it specifically states what should be done when people mock God and His Prophet:

And, indeed, He has enjoined upon you in this divine write that, whenever you hear people deny the truth of God’s messages and mock at them, you shall avoid their company until they begin to talk of other things  – or else, you will become like them. Behold, God will gather together those who deny the truth and the hypocrites in Hell. (4:140)

The Qur’an also says:

Now, whenever you meet such as indulge in [blasphemous] talk about Our messages, turn your back upon them until they begin to talk of other things, and if Satan should ever cause you to forget [yourself], remain not, after recollection, in the company of such evildoing folk. (6:68)

Nowhere does it say that you have the right or even permission to kill such people. Nowhere does it say that you can threaten anyone who insults the Prophet Muhammad, however painful such an insult may be to hear. That anyone can justify such heinous acts of barbarity – such as that seen in Paris – is beyond my comprehension.

In addition, since childhood, Muslims have been taught that – throughout the Prophet’s life – he was the subject of countless insults and ridicule, and he never ordered anyone to kill those who insulted him. Since childhood, I was taught the story of how the Prophet’s neighbor threw trash on his front door every day, and he did nothing to that person. In fact, when that neighbor stopped placing trash, he visited her to see what was the matter. Time and time again, the Prophet forgave those who personally attacked and maligned him.

That is the example we ought to follow. That is what Islam teaches. There are so many other ways that Muslims – who truly love the Prophet – can speak out against those who mock him: they could write a letter to the editor; they can hold a candle light vigil in front of the office, speaking about all the wonderful things the Prophet has done; they can meet with the editorial board and teach them how important the Prophet is to the lives of ordinary Muslims. Anything but violence and murder.

The gunmen in Paris did not “avenge” the Prophet Muhammad; they spat in his face.

I pray that the gunmen are caught and brought to justice. I pray that, if convicted, these murderers are punished in the severest manner possible. I pray for the families of the victims and all the people of Paris: may our Lord be with you, and may He comfort you in this time of terrible grief and sadness.

Je Suis Charlie. I am indeed Charlie. I do not support the mocking of the Prophet Muhammad – any more than I support the mocking of Jesus Christ, or Moses, or Abraham – may God’s peace be upon them all. Yet, I also condemn and revile – in the severest manner possible – this barbaric act of murder supposedly carried out in his name. In no way, shape, or form is this a way to show love for the Prophet Muhammad. No way.

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