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Common Word, Common Lord

Common Word, Common Lord

“Je Suis Charlie”: The Paris Attackers Did Not ‘Avenge’ The Prophet Muhammad…They Spat In His Face

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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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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She Would Have Been Eighteen Today

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

She would have been eighteen-years-old today. Eighteen. It is hard for me to even fathom what that would have been like. Today would have been her first day of adulthood; the first day of the rest of her life; her first day of being the woman she always wanted to be, the woman I had always hoped she would be.

Yet, sadly, it will never come to pass.

I always wonder what kind of woman she would have been. What kind of adult would she have been? Would she have wanted to become a doctor like me? An interior designer like her mother? A lawyer? A writer? An artist? What would she have done to make her mother and me so very proud?

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Sadly, we will never come to know.

There is one thing, however, I do know: she would have been a most beautiful eighteen-year-old. Not only did the Lord grace her with physical beauty, but she also had a profound beauty of her soul. There was not a person who interacted with her that did not immediately love her; did not immediately fall in love with her beautiful spirit; did not immediately fall in love with her gorgeous smile.

She was something truly special, and although I am so very grateful for every waking moment we had with her, it is killing me that I will never know what kind of woman she would have become. It is killing me that I will never watch her graduate from high school or college; never walk her down the aisle at her wedding; never see the beautiful grandchildren she would have had. I know that her passing was the will of my Beloved, but it does not cease to hurt all the same.

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She would have been eighteen today, and although my heart cries out that I can’t celebrate her birthday with her here on earth, I know that they are throwing her an amazing party in Heaven: with Angels all decked out in pink like she loves.

Lord, Beloved Lord, please tell my Booboo that I wish her — with all my heart — a very Happy Eighteenth Birthday. Lord, Beloved Lord, please tell my Booboo to have an extra piece of heavenly cake for her father who loves her so very much. Lord, Beloved Lord, please tell my Booboo that her Baba misses her…so very much.

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“Christmas in the Qur’an”

In the Name of God: The Infinitely Merciful and Compassionate Beloved Lord

In my last post, we discussed how Jesus Christ is part of my life, even if I am not celebrating the religious festival marking his birth.  Yet, the verses in the Qur’an regarding the birth of Jesus Christ were only quickly mentioned. Here they are in detail.

Chapter 3, verses 45-49:

Lo! The angels said: “O Mary! Behold, God sends thee the glad tiding, through a word from Him, [of a son] who shall become known as the Christ Jesus, son of Mary, of great honor in this world and in the life to come, and [shall be] of those who are drawn near unto God. And he shall speak unto men in his cradle, and as a grown man, and shall be of the righteous.

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Said she: “O my Sustainer! How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?” [The angel] answered: “Thus it is: God creates what He wills when He wills a thing to be, He but says unto it, ‘Be’ – and it is. And he will impart unto thy son revelation, and wisdom, and the Torah, and the Gospel, and [will make him] an apostle unto the children of Israel .”

Yet, by far, the most eloquent verses regarding Jesus’ birth come in Chapter 19, verses 16-33:

AND CALL to mind, through this divine writ, Mary. Lo! She withdrew from her family to an eastern place and kept herself in seclusion from them,  whereupon We sent unto her Our angel of revelation, who appeared to her in the shape of a well-made human being. She exclaimed: “Verily, ‘I seek refuge from thee with the Most Gracious! [Approach me not] if thou art conscious of Him!” [The angel] answered: “I’ am but a messenger of thy Lord, [who says,] `I shall bestow upon thee the gift of a son endowed with purity.'” Said she: “How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me? – for, never have I been unchaste?” [The angel] answered: “Thus it is; [but] thy Sustainer says, `This is easy for Me; and [thou shalt have a son,] so that We might make him a symbol unto mankind and an act of grace from US. And it was a thing decreed [by God]:

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and in time she conceived him, and then she withdrew with him to a far-off place. And [when] the throes of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree, she exclaimed: “Oh, would that I had died before this, and had become a thing forgotten, utterly forgotten!” Thereupon [a voice] called out to her from beneath that [palm-tree]: “Grieve not! Thy Sustainer has provided a rivulet [running] beneath thee; and shake the trunk of the palm-tree towards thee: it will drop fresh, ripe dates upon thee. Eat, then, and drink, and let thine eye be gladdened! And if thou should see any human being, convey this unto him: `Behold, abstinence from speech have I vowed unto the Most Gracious; hence, I may not speak today to any mortal.

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And in time she returned to her people, carrying the child with her. They said: “O Mary! Thou hast indeed done an amazing thing! O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man, nor was thy mother unchaste!” Thereupon she pointed to him. They exclaimed: “How can we talk to one who [as yet] is a little boy in the cradle?”

[But] he [Jesus] said: “Behold, I am a servant of God. He has vouchsafed unto me revelation and made me a prophet, and made me blessed wherever I may be; and He has enjoined upon me prayer and charity as long as I live, and [has endowed me with] piety towards my mother; and He has not made me haughty or bereft of grace. “Hence, peace was upon me on the day when I was born, and [will be upon me] on the day of my death, and on the day when I shall be raised to life [again]!”

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These are the verses about Jesus with which I was raised. These are the verses I have read countless times, in all parts of the year. Theses are the verses which, along with other Prophetic traditions, have made me love, revere, and honor Jesus Christ in my life. They are indeed beautiful, recounting a beautiful and special event in the history of humanity, for both Christians and Muslims alike.

And just as Jesus Christ himself said – “Peace was upon me on the day when I was born, and [will be upon me] on the day of my death and on the day when I shall be raised to life [again]!” – thus, O Lord, I pray that this very same peace reign over our world and over all of us who live on it. Amen.

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Though Not Technically Celebrating Christmas, Jesus Is Still On My Mind As A Muslim

In the Name of God: the Infinitely Compassionate and Merciful Beloved Lord

I must admit: at this time of year, sometimes it feels lonely. Practically the whole country is gearing up for the Christmas holiday, which is less than two weeks away. And while technically I do not celebrate the religious festival that is Christmas, it would be nice to feel included. I mean, some people are even afraid of saying, “Merry Christmas,” fearing that it would “offend” me. Nothing is farther from the truth. What is more nice than wishing me a happy day on December 25?

Still, as a Muslim, the religious celebration of Christmas is not one of my religious holidays. Yet, that does not mean that Jesus Christ is not on my mind. Far from it. Christ, in fact, is all over my Scripture. There are dozens of verses in the Quran that speak about Jesus, including his birth (3:45-49), his miracles (5:110), the Last Supper (5:113-115), among many others. Chapter 19 of the Quran is named “Mary,” after his mother, who I revere and honor just the same.

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Jesus, as the Quran says, “shall be of the righteous” (3:46). “Peace be upon me the day I was born,” says Jesus in the Quran, “and [will be upon me] on the day of my death, and on the day when I shall be raised to life [again]!” (19:33). The Quran also calls upon its readers to remember “she who guarded her chastity, whereupon We breathed into her of Our spirit and caused her, together with her son, to become a symbol [of Our grace] unto all people” (21:91), referring to Mary and Jesus. Many will be surprised to know that Jesus Christ is mentioned by name in the Qur’an many more times than the Prophet Muhammad himself, peace and blessings be upon them both.

Yet, more than Jesus (and Muhammad, of course), many of the Prophets of God are part and parcel of my daily life.

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Every day I utter the prayer of Moses, as recounted in the Quran, when he was charged by God to take the Children of Israel out of slavery:

O my Lord! Open up my heart to [Thy Light]; And make my task easy for me; And loosen the knot from my tongue, so that they might fully understand my speech. (20:25-28)

It brings me comfort as I start my day at the hospital.

I utter the same prayer as Joseph, after he was reunited with his family in Egypt after all those years:

Originator of the heavens and the earth! You are near to me in this world and in the life to come. Let me die as one who has surrendered himself to You, and make me one with the righteous. (12:101)

I even turn the praise of God by Jesus Christ, as mentioned in the Quran, into a prayer:

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Behold, I am a servant of God. He has vouchsafed unto me revelation and made me a Prophet. And [He has] made me blessed wherever I may be…” (19:30-31).

Thus, there is hardly a day that goes by that I do not ask the Lord: “Make me blessed wherever I may be.”

This is one of the most beautiful things, as far as I am concerned, about being a Muslim: not only am I directly connected to the Lord our God, my Creator and Sustainer, but also to His many Prophets that He sent throughout the millennia, including Jesus Christ. I follow their footsteps as I take this journey back towards to the Lord our God, hoping and praying that I do as good a job as possible. I follow a tradition, starting with my Creator, that dates back to the very beginning of history itself.

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That is why I am so utterly outraged at the rabid barbarians – “extremists” is too kind a word – of groups such as Boko Haram, the Taliban, and KIL (a.k.a., “ISIS”). They have resurrected centuries old barbarism – one that Islam came to eradicate – and cloak it with the garbs of faith and righteousness. In the process, they defile Islam with their filth. I hate them, and I pray that they be destroyed once and for all.

But, as far as Christmas Day is concerned, it is likely that I will not be exchanging gifts with my friends and family or having a formal Christmas dinner. Yet, do not think for one second that Jesus Christ will not be on my mind.

A very Merry Christmas to one and all!

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