I started City of Brass in March 2002 at Blogspot, and moved to Beliefnet in August 2008. Over a thousand posts and a million page views later, it is time to end this chapter and start a new one. However, I am not technically going anywhere – Beliefnet recently acquired Patheos, where I am going […]
One of my erudite commentors, Arnold (who I know quite well from other internet venues and have met personally), asked the following question in the thread to my last post:
Irrespective of my well-known unbeliefs, I always have avoided showering believers with disrespect regarding their great historical personages. That goes for Avraham, Yeshua, Muhammad, Gautama Buddha, whomever founded the religious faiths of India, China and Japan, and the Baha’i offshoot of Islam that developed in Iran. After all, who is to say that my visions merit believability any more than theirs?
Having said that, I wonder why believers in general and Moslems in particular get as pugnacious as they do over perceived slights to their prophets? Having been born and raised in this land, you know as well as I do about the spirit of bored and uncaring skepticism toward religion that has overtaken western civilization. In the consciousness of large numbers of people of this era, studied insults heaped on great men such as Muhammad reflect nothing more than the way they treat their current national leaders.
So instead of retreating before this kind of barrage in shock and anger, why don’t make a better effort to understand their social psychology?
As for individual western Muslims or groups of them muttering threats of assassination, don’t you think these are matters best left to the police authorities?
I did not know that a statue of Muhammad had been built into the US Capitol. I’m not certain how the sculptor knew what he looked like. At least from my understanding that graven images purportedly are forbidden under koranic law. Or am I wrong about that?
Anyway, western Moslems ought to consider what I have written here. You make more headway treating people who defile you as mindless and grossly impolite idiots than you ever can accomplish by threatening them with bodily harm or death.
By the way. I still think american Islam some time in the future will wind up resembling some sort of mild protestant christian church group or reform jewish synagogue group, with watered-down observance standards even if the orthodoxy of original Islam remains unchanged. That’s the nature of cultural and civilizational assimilation. Let me know what you think of that.
My response to Arnold:
Let me point out that American muslims do not as a rule get “pugnacious” about their faith. In fact you have one dude, on one website, making a stink. That guy gets a lot of attention from the media because he is the exception, not the rule.
I refer you to the link in my post at the end about the muslim women lawyers’ visit to the Supreme Court (the KARAMAH organization). Read their report and note their respectful approach to the issue, how they discussed their concerns and acknowledged the intentions of the sculptor. Is that “pugnacious” ?
In fact, refer to everything I have ever written, and tell me what cause you have to believe that I am not representative of my community. I remind you that the purveyors of violence in this country are overwhelmingly non-muslim. Such a man flew a plane into a federal building in Austin, another destroyed a federal building in Oklahoma, another murdered a doctor in cold blood. None of these men, unlike the shooter at Fort Hood, could be characterized as having “snapped” but acted out of deep conviction and resolve. So, I ask you, where is the threat? Who is being pugnacious?
And I will say simply that things that are sacred must be defended – in words, and reasoned argument, and dissent, and protest – and that is what muslims, American or worldwide, do as a general rule. We revere our Prophet; we don’t expect you to revere him, but just like my mother and my daughters, I won’t suffer insults to them without an answer, a statement.
South Park insulted our loved one in this way – but not as maliciously as other insults elsewhere, as I acknowledge. In response, one nut, on one website, went too far – and the American muslim community *shut him out* and said unambiguously, “you are not us”.
I’m sorry Arnold, but I disagree with you. We aren’t your problem. In fact, we are already the solution.
Let me also add to my response above, I agree that when anyone, muslim or otherwise, makes a threat it should be left to the authorities. The two idiots running their puny website have brought greater and well-deserved scrutiny upon themselves.
I just want to reiterate here that the American muslim response to insult to the Prophet was mostly indifference and wounded silence. Ony one lone nut on one lone website made any threat – the rest of us have behaved as anyone would to an impolite fool slandering our loved ones: by ignoring them. Instead, we’ve saved our critique for the real idiots in this silly tale – the ones who think Islam and the Prophet SAW actcually need defending from mere cartoons.
Related: Manas at Ijtemaa.net makes a similar argument, asking “why report the radical voices first?” I think it’s truly because they are the exception that make them so alluring, to our media-entertainment complex.