Common Word, Common Lord

Common Word, Common Lord

The Blasphemy of “Anti-Blasphemy” Laws

In the Name of God, the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful 

I first learned about the law – that passed the Kuwaiti parliament – on a ChicagoNow blog post entitled “Kuwait theocracy declares Islam is weak.” The law calls for the death penalty for insulting the Prophet Muhammad, his wives or relatives. Apparently, this was in response to the arrest of a Shi’ite Muslim who allegedly insulted the Prophet and his wife on Twitter (he denied doing so and claims his account was hacked). The law now goes before the Emir, who has to approve it for it to take effect.

This law is similar to other so-called “anti-blasphemy” laws that have passed in other Muslim countries. The irony of these laws is this: they are – in and of themselves – quite blasphemous.

If you pass a law that imposes the death penalty on those who insult God, or Islam, or the Prophet Muhammad, you imply that God is unable to defend Himself, that He needs us to defend His honor, or His dignity, or His majesty, or His magnificence.

How absurd.

Now, of course, I do not like it when God is cursed or mocked, or when the Prophet is maligned or attacked. Far from it. Having said that, however, I do not believe that anyone who does such a thing should be killed. God forbid!

The Quran talks about the mockery of God’s signs and messages, and nowhere does it say “kill those who engage in such behavior.” Nowhere:

And, indeed, He has enjoined upon you in this divine writ 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, verily, you will become like them. Behold, together with those who deny the truth, God will gather in hell the hypocrites (4:140)

Also read:

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

No death penalty; no killing; no taking of life. I mean, for God’s sake, Satan himself defied and rebelled against God, and the Lord gave him respite until Judgment Day. In fact, Satan’s discourse was quite disrespectful:

[Whereupon Satan] said: “Now that Thou hast thwarted me,” I shall most certainly lie in ambush for them all along Thy straight way (7:16).

What audacity to speak in this manner with the Lord Supreme. Still, He gave him respite. So, why – as awful as this is to me as a devout Muslim – are these Muslims so quick to condemn to death those that curse God, or the Prophet?

The Quran is full of verses that respond to the attacks and mockery leveled against the Prophet Muhammad, but none of these responses say, “Kill them”:

And yet, they [who deny the truth] say: “O thou unto whom this reminder has [allegedly] been bestowed from on high: verily, thou art mad! Why dost thou not bring before us angels, if thou art a man of truth? [Yet] We never send down angels otherwise than in accordance with the [demands of] truth; and [were the angels to appear now,] lo! they [who reject this divine writ] would have no further respite! (15:6-8)

Verily, thus shall We deal with all who were lost in sin: for, behold, whenever they were told, “There is no deity save God,” they would glory in their arrogance and would say, “Shall we, then, give up our deities at the bidding of a mad poet?” Nay, but he [whom you call a mad poet] has brought the truth; and he confirms the truth of [what the earlier of God’s] message-bearers [have taught] Behold, you will indeed taste grievous suffering [in the life to come] although you shall not be requited for aught but what you were wont to do. (37:34-39)

EXHORT, then, [O Prophet, all men:] for, by thy Sustainer’s grace, thou art neither a soothsayer nor a madman. Or do they say, “[He is but] a poet – let us wait what time will do unto him”? Say thou: “Wait, [then,] hopefully; behold, I, too, shall hopefully wait with you!” Is it their minds that bid them [to take] this [attitude] – or are they [simply] people filled with overweening arrogance? (52:29-32)

Thou art not, by thy Sustainer’s grace, a madman! (68:2)

For, this fellow-man of yours is not a madman: (81:22)

Yes, God may punish those who mock Him, or His messages, or His messengers on Judgment Day, but no where in these verses does it say “kill them now.” So, by what authority do these so-called “defenders of the faith” call for the murder of so-called “blasphemers.” They have none, and they distort the holy Word of God when they do thus.

In the beginning of the ChicagoNow blog post, it read: “Any belief that cannot withstand scrutiny isn’t worth having. Anyone who is secure in their beliefs does not run away from criticism, they welcome it.” The author, James Kirk Wall, could not have been more correct.

“Truth,” it has been said, “does not fear investigation.” God, Almighty and Powerful, is not threatened by the attacks and mockery of those who don’t believe in Him. God does not need us to defend Him. It is just as He said in a Sacred Prophetic Tradition of the Prophet Muhammad:

O My servants, you will not attain harming Me so as to harm Me, and will not attain benefitting Me so as to benefit Me. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, [both the human and spiritual beings of you] to be as pious as the most pious heart of any one man of you, that would not increase My kingdom in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, [both the human and spiritual beings of you] to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of any one man of you, that would not decrease My kingdom in anything.

No, I don’t like it when someone mocks God, or belief in Him, or when someone attacks the Prophet or his family. But, I will never call for their murder. God can take care of Himself.

Friday Sermon: The Test of the Beautiful

In the Name of God, the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful 

This is the first of several Friday sermons that I have given that I will write up and post here. 

 

The Test of the Beautiful 

In the seventh verse of the eighteenth chapter of the Quran, it states:

Behold, We have willed that all beauty on earth be a means by which we put humanity to a test, [showing] which of them are best in conduct.

Thus, everything that is beautiful on this earth is test for us, to see how we respond to this thing of beauty. If that thing of beauty is another human being, that is a test for us: do we respond to that beautiful person – man or woman – in the proper way? Do we lower our gaze when he or she walks by? Or, do we gawk and objectify said person?

If we want to pursue a relationship with that person, do we go about that in the proper manner? Do we pursue the path of marriage? Or, do we simply satisfy our lust with that person in a manner that the Lord does not want?

If that thing of beauty is a natural resource: a river, an ocean, a tree, a mountain, a stream, or a rain forest; do we do our utmost to protect said natural beauty? Do we respect the earth and try to preserve her as much as we can for all of posterity? Or, do we exploit without end and care less for those who come after us?

Indeed, the Lord says:

[And remember that] it is God who has created the heavens and the earth, and who sends down water from the sky and thereby brings forth [all manner] of fruits for your sustenance; and who has made ships subservient to. you, so that they may sail through the sea at His behest; and has made the rivers subservient [to His laws, so that they be of use] to you; and has made the sun and the moon, both of them constant upon their courses, subservient [to His laws, so that they be of use] to you; and has made the night and the day subservient [to His laws, so that they be of use] to you. (14:32-33)

Yet, we must learn how to benefit from the earth as much as we can, all the while protecting it from willful harm and neglect.

If that thing of beauty is a spouse, do we treat that spouse with love, mercy, and respect? Do we honor God by honoring that spouse? Or, do we abuse and neglect him or her? Do we cheat on that spouse, not caring about the damage such an action would cause? Do we see that spouse as a gift from God that should be cherished? Or, do we see that spouse as a slave to be worked for our benefit?

The Lord has answered such questions:

And among His wonders is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind so that you might incline towards them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you: in this, behold, there are messages indeed for people who think! (30:21)

Our spouses are “wonders” from God, and in them we find tranquility and peace, love and mercy. Treat them with kindness we must.

If that thing of beauty is a child, do we honor that child with a good home? A good upbringing? Or, do we neglect that child and abuse him or her? Do we love that child with all our hearts? Care for the child? Protect that child from harm and evil? Or, do we look the other when evil strikes? Indeed, there are few things that are more beautiful than a child, and if we are blessed to have one, then we must do our best to show our gratitude to the Lord by raising our children to be upright citizens of the world, who are both good to God and good to His people.

If that thing of beauty is family, or friends, or neighbors, do we treat them with kindness and respect? Or do we mistreat and abuse them? Do we help them in their times of need? Do we support them when they need us, even if it is helping them put away their groceries? Do we treat them as we would treat ourselves? Indeed, we must.

Yet, as with everything on this earth, these things of beauty will not be here forever. The Lord says in the next verse:

And, verily, [in time] We shall reduce all that is on [the earth] to barren dust! (18:8)

What is the implication of this? Should our response be, “Why bother, if all will become ‘dust in the wind'”? No. Since our time is limited, we must do the best we can to make the best of all the things of beauty with which we are blessed. We should try to spend every day to the fullest in doing good on earth: doing good by our family, our friends, our neighbors, our spouses, our children, and our planet.

And you know what the best thing is? When we do these things, we are necessarily doing good by the Lord, Who is the Most Beautiful of all that is beautiful in the heavens and the earth. The only difference is: this Thing of Beauty will endure and never go away. And that can only be a beautiful thing.

Wow! They Called It “Terrorism”

In the Name of the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful Precious Beloved

On the one year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, news surfaced of the arrest of 5 men accused of plotting to blow up a bridge over the Cuyahoga river in Ohio. When I heard on the radio that there was “no link to international terrorism,” I immediately thought to myself: they must be non-Muslims. Sure enough, I was right: they were five white guys who were self-described “anarchists.”

Further, since these guys were not Muslim, I wondered whether anyone, either in law enforcement or the media, would call them what they really were: terrorists. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.

U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach, who announced the indictments, said: “This indictment in this case alleges that the defendants took specific and defined actions to further a terrorist plot.”

The head of the FBI in northern Ohio, Stephen D. Anthony, said that the work of law enforcement showed them “to be vigilant in its efforts to detect and disrupt any terrorism threat, domestic or international.”

Several news reports had “terror” in their headlines:

Chicago Tribune: 5 arrested in alleged terrorist plot to blow up Cleveland-area bridge.

ONNtv: Informant revealed in alleged bridge terror plot.

NECN.com: 5 men charged in Cleveland terror plot.

Cleveland Plain-Dealer: A homegrown terror plot foiled.

This is quite heartening to see, because it signals – I hope – an increasing understanding that terrorism has no faith, no ethnicity, no language, no culture. All terrorists – no matter what their faith or motivation – are our enemies, not just the ones who claim to be Muslim.

As Marquette University (my alma mater) political science professor Risa Brooks wrote:

focusing our attention on domestic terrorism of all types and not just that generated by Muslim Americans can help heal the social rifts generated by 9/11. Singling out Muslim militants when we talk about terrorism in the U.S. adds to the mutual alienation of Muslims and Americans of other backgrounds. By unifying in opposition to extremism of all types, we demonstrate to ourselves and to our terrorist adversaries abroad that we remain true to American values and principles.

Amen to that.

Sharia in Action: Sisters Stepping Up for Children

In the Name of the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful Precious Beloved

There has been so much hysteria, of late, around the issue of Sharia law and its supposed “threat” to the United States. Now that the general election contest is more in focus, the talk of Sharia will only intensify. Yet, as I have written previously, the “threat” of Sharia law is really nonexistent. Muslims in America are not conspiring to replace the Constitution with Sharia law.

Yet, let me show you where true Sharia law is being practiced: the campaign of “Sisters Steppin’ Up” (SSU) to build a children’s library in Palestine. SSU is made up of young Muslim women who, as their website says,

empower young girls with confidence and leadership skills by using creative ways to strengthen mind, body, and faith.  We strive to form a stronger relationship with Allah, build bonds of sisterhood, and positively impact the community.

They are currently raising funds to build a children’s library in the Palestinian territories. They plan to have a fundraiser in the Chicago area April 20. 

Here is Sharia law: young Muslim women coming together to try to help children in war-torn areas live a better life by building a library for them. No amputations; no stonings; no horrific things that some Muslims have done or currently do in the name of Sharia. These things are horrific misinterpretation of Islamic law.

These children in SSU are practicing true Sharia law, seeking to help others in need. I pray their efforts are successful.

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