Paris – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf – Postscript on Charlie Hebdo

Below is an article written by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, all about Charlie Hebdo and it’s aftermath…

Postscript on Charlie Hebdo

By Hamza Yusuf on January 19, 2015 –

An intriguing aspect of Muslim culture is that murders are rarely committed over wealth. While there may be theft in Muslim countries, theft that involves murder is almost unheard of. The idea of killing someone over something as ephemeral as a car or money or a cell phone is a rarity (except perhaps in war-torn countries where all civil society has broken down). Murder in Muslim societies tends to be motivated by political issues but more often by a misguided sense of honor. This was the case earlier this month in France, where clearly deluded and uneducated men from the ghettos of Paris, after rediscovering their faith, felt compelled to take their misperception of Islamic law into their own hands in order to “uphold the honor” of their prophet who, they believed, was being denigrated by the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo. Without a doubt, such murders are criminal and wrong, but they can be rationally understood within the context of a society that holds the sanctity of prophets, those men of God, above all else.

In classical Muslim law, any willful and knowing denigration of a prophet is a capital offense. Blasphemy laws have always been the prerogative of the government, implemented only after trial and sentencing, and limited to Muslim lands where it was understood that this law was applicable. Historically, however, Muslim rulers were loathe to execute these laws without attempting to find excuses for the accused. In the case of the “Martyrs of Cordoba,” for example, when fanatical Christians, distraught at Christian conversion to Islam, attempted to revive Christian zeal by entering into mosques and denigrating the Prophet, the Muslim rulers, troubled by the deaths of their Christian subjects, used the ruling of insanity to exempt them from the offense. Such pre-modern laws, while also found in Christianity and Judaism, are no longer considered valid in the West due to a long and complicated process of secularization that has not occurred to the same degree or even in the same fashion in the Muslim world. Hence, many Muslims still feel strongly about the sanctity of all the prophets but specifically of the Prophet Muhammad, God’s peace and blessings upon him, and while the vast majority of Muslims would not think of killing anyone for doing so, they will not find it hard to understand why some would. The prophets, such as Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, and their lives and what they stood for represent the Muslim world’s highest values.

What then, in the West, do we hold above all else? It seems wealth has now become the highest value, and murders are often attempts to take that away from another. People kill others to take their money, their cars, their cellphones, or their drugs. Some even engage in meaningless violence, simply going into a public place and killing innocent people, not for any misguided political sensibilities, nor for wealth, but simply because they feel an urge to do so (perhaps acting out Grand Theft Auto or some other pathologically violent video game in order to experience the thrill of the real deal). Undeniably, like the West, the Muslim world also has mentally disturbed people, but they don’t go into schools and kill little children for the thrill of it. In fact, the horrific assault last December on the school in Pakistan was done in classic Jahili retaliation for murders of their own youth. There was a method to that madness, as they did not indiscriminately kill anyone in sight but spared the young children and targeted only those who had passed the age of puberty, as they were considered adults. While it was a brutal assault, it had a type of misguided rationality that can be understood in the context of vengeful tribal cultures in a way that Western school shootings cannot, irrespective of their context.

While the “whole” world is mourning the cartoonists who made their livelihoods as equal opportunity denigrators, perceiving this as an attack on freedom of expression, there is an aspect of this that is disturbing. The West displayed no moral outrage over the countless lives of innocent and honorable people whose only crime was being at home when a drone, intentionally or not, bombed them out of existence. No one is shedding tears over the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Afghans, Palestinians, and many others in the Muslim world who were killed due to Western misadventures in the region. The Brookings Institution has noted that for every drone strike that has occurred, ten or so civilians have died. More people, many of them civilians, have been killed by U.S. drone strikes than were killed on 9-11. Take a look at the Wikipedia page that lists the drone strikes on Pakistan alone since 2004; and keep in mind that drone strikes are also waged against people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Algeria, Iran, Libya, and Somalia.

The murders of Charlie Hebdo’s staff were a crime; they were wrong, plain and simple. But lest we forget, the people at Charlie Hebdo knew exactly what they were doing. They acted much like Steve Irwin, the Australian crocodile hunter, who went around poking wild animals only to provoke a response from them. Eventually, he decided that the countless land and river animals were not enough and chose to dive into the vast ocean in search of sea creatures to provoke until a stingray, in apparent solidarity with its fellow land and sea creatures suffering at the hands of humans like Irwin, poked back and killed him. But, like the Charlie Hebdo staff, Irwin well knew the risks he was facing when provoking these wild animals and fell victim to the consequences. The editor of Charlie Hebdo knew the game he was playing and enlisted a guard to protect his staff given the many death threats they had received. He was cognizant of the real dangers of provoking those he deemed open game and sport for the paper’s “satire.”

Today, much of the Western world expresses its moral outrage in solidarity over the murder of twelve people who knew the risks of provoking angry extremists yet argued, “These people want to frighten us into respecting their religion; therefore we will not be frightened”; and so they continued to poke fun at that which Muslims hold most sacred. This was not done in the long-standing Western tradition of satire, which takes aim at the powerful to empower the powerless; these cartoonists engaged in mockery for the sake of mockery and had no higher purpose. They suffered the fate of a man who gratuitously calls another man’s mother a whore and is surprised when that man stabs him. Pope Francis said it well: If a close friend “says a swear word against my mother, then a punch awaits him,” he explained. “One cannot provoke; one cannot insult other people’s faith; one cannot make fun of faith.” This is a man who believes in “turning the other cheek,” yet true to his Argentinian roots, he displays classic Latin attitude toward the dishonoring of one’s mother. For Muslims, the Prophet reminded us, “None of you truly believes until I am more beloved to him than his own parents.” Hence, to slander our Prophet is a greater injury than an attack on our mothers. If the Pope will punch someone, even his close friend, should he insult his mother, then what are we to expect from uneducated and volatile street urchins with the same sense of honor?

Retaliatory murders for honor or otherwise are clearly wrong under Islamic law, or any other reasonable system of law, as they should be. But even the cofounder of Charlie Hebdo, Henri Roussel, blamed the editor for knowingly endangering the lives of his employees. “What made him feel the need to drag the team into overdoing it?” Roussel wrote in Nouvel Observateur. “He shouldn’t have done it, but Charb did it again a year later, in September 2012.” Roussel continued, “I believe that we [were] fools who took an unnecessary risk…. We think we are invulnerable. For years, decades even, it was a provocation, and then one day the provocation turns against us.” Addressing the slain editor, whom he referred to as a “blockhead,” Roussel said, “I really hold it against you.”

Just for a moment, let us imagine that this incident had been about twelve murdered black Nigerian cartoonists instead of white French ones: would world leaders have descended on Lagos to march lock-armed with President Goodluck Jonathan in solidarity? Can we imagine Netanyahu heading to the West Bank to hold hands with Abbas in solidarity for the dozens of Palestinian journalists who, in clear crimes against free speech, were targeted by Israeli forces for simply being witnesses to atrocities and reporting to the world about them? No, there will be no demonstrations or gathering of world leaders held for the untold numbers of innocent civilians, including women and children, who, without any provocation, have borne the brunt of bombings, drone strikes, and other nefarious means of modern warfare. It is at times like these when it seems as though we live in a cartoon world where millions are shedding tears or displaying moral outrage for twelve white people who, without denial, were brutally murdered, while too many of those same eyes remain blind and dry to the countless deaths and suffering of the world’s Muslims.


The best story about the Queen and King Abdullah you will read today

The following is a somewhat amusing article from the Independent…

The best story about the Queen and King Abdullah you will read today

23 Jan 2015 – Matthew Champion – Independent

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died yesterday aged 90, and there has been some controversy over the tributes paid by world leaders to the ruler of a repressive regime that carries out public beheadings and bans women from driving.

Amid debate over whether flags should be flying at half-mast from government buildings, and Westminster Abbey, out of respect for Abdullah, it turns out, however, that our very own Queen had nailed the best way to handle the Saudi ruler many years ago.

This story, taken from former Saudi ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles’s memoir Ever the Diplomat, was widely shared on social media on Friday; mainly because it’s amazing.

The scene is that Abdullah, then crown prince but in fact de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia with his brother the king having suffered a stroke, was visiting Balmoral for lunch in 1998:

 “You are not supposed to repeat what the Queen says in private conversation. But the story she told me on that occasion was one that I was also to hear later from its subject – Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia – and it is too funny not to repeat. Five years earlier, in September 1998, Abdullah had been invited up to Balmoral, for lunch with the Queen. Following his brother King Fahd’s stroke in 1995, Abdullah was already the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. After lunch, the Queen had asked her royal guest whether he would like a tour of the estate. Prompted by his Foreign Minister, the urbane Prince Saud, an initially hesitant Abdullah agreed. The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the front Land Rover, with his interpreter in the seat behind. To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off. Women are not – yet – allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen. His nervousness only increased as the Queen, an Army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead.”

Life not worth looking up from your phone for

I hate mobile phones. I hate people constantly taking pictures of their kids, and their food, and their kids eating food, and their kids looking at the pictures they just took of their kids eating food, and selfies of their own faces smiling at the fact that they just took six pictures of their kids eating food. And people are doing this constantly. You know who you are. Stop doing this, you time wasting cretins. Do you not know what your own face looks like? In the vain hope of trying to get you to stop doing this, I kindly present some stuff below: for starters there are some tantalising quotes related to this phenomenon of always taking photos, followed by the scrumptious main course of a relevant article from the Daily Mash, and for dessert there is a Nemi cartoon. Bon appetit!

  • Selfies in Arabic are called nafsies. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
  • Here you are at 30, suffering peer pressure [to have kids]. And it’s worse than ever, mostly, I think, because of digital technologies. Because all my friends had cool little digital cameras, cos they’re so cheap and accessible these days, and they’re very proud, it takes many photos, and they’re [takes pictures] “Oh, look! There’s absolutely no limit to the number of photos I can take!” And I have broad-band internet, you know, digital technology. And so, every morning, I wake up and, there, sure enough, attached to an e-mail, is another 10×8-high resolution-colour photograph of another f*cking miracle, you know…And, eventually, it wears you down. It breaks you, these photos. You know? And you find yourself having this…inevitable conversation that you thought you’d never have. You know the one. “What are we waiting for? It’s never gonna be the right time. It’s always gonna be tough, it’s always gonna be financially difficult, but, why don’t we just do it? Why don’t we just buy a digital camera?” So, we did. We did, we bought one! And, soon after, almost, it seems, as a result, we had a child. – Tim Minchin, comedian
  • Smartphones are an addiction. With cigarettes, you knew each one was 10 minutes off your life, but it was off the end of your life. With these, it takes the 10 minutes while you’re in them. If your phone was literally charged directly off your lifespan –– would you give a sh*t? How many cat videos would you still watch? – Charlie Brooker,, Dec 2014
  • Try putting your iPhones down every once in a while and look at people’s faces. People’s faces will tell you amazing things. Like if they are angry or nauseous, or asleep. – Amy Poehler
  • The Egyptians have a nice saying: ‘Khalli bariq min nafsiq’. ‘Take care of yourself’. But if you translate it literally it means ‘empty your mind of your ego’. There’s too much ego. Nafsi nafsi. This is Shaytaan. Now everyone is taking selfies. Narcissistic people. In the Emirates they’ve had several mortal fatalities, car accidents from people taking selfies. They kill themselves driving. We had it in America, people taking selfies. One girl was listening to the happy song, this stupid song about ‘happy like a house without a roof’. Who the hell is going to be happy in a house without a roof? And she is listening to this song, and she tweets to her friend ‘Oh I am so happy listening to the happy song’, and she goes into the other lane and has a head on collision. That was the last thing she tweeted. Now where is she? Not so happy. All these cameras, I’m so sick of cameras. I don’t take pictures. This is my camera [points to his heart]. I can see all of you. If I close my eyes, I see my teachers. Wallahi, I see them in my heart. I don’t need a camera. I never take pictures. People say “Can I take a picture?” I don’t want to take a picture. Take a picture right here. Just be here! Be present! Don’t think about tomorrow. You might not see tomorrow. Be present. This camera is destroying us. Really. All these stupid selfies. People putting ‘Oh I had spinach and quiche for lunch, look’. And they put it online and show everybody what they had for lunch. Next, why don’t you take a picture of what goes into the toilet? ‘Oh look how it came out the other end’. Seriously, what’s happened to us? – adapted from a speech by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, speaking at the Global Tawbah event in Malaysia in 2014
  • I think our whole culture…we have to settle down with the picture taking…I took so many pictures at Disney. That’s all we do, right, as a society? It’s like, “Hey, instead of enjoying this moment, let’s take pictures!” We take pictures of everyday life and act like we’re capturing history. “Unbelievable! The cat’s asleep. Post that on my twitter.” It’s because we have the cameras on our phones. Do we need that? It’s not like ten years ago we were like, “I wish I could take a low-quality photo of my dessert. Text it to someone that’s not interested. But I can’t, so I guess I’ll just eat it.” As a result, we all have so many photos. All these pictures, and sure, we all want our computers to run slow. But what are we supposed to do with all these photos? I mean, I have more pictures of my children than my father ever looked at me. And I just keep taking them. Like, “click, click, click.” We all do. You click, click, click. Download all of ’em. We don’t even weed through ’em. “Ah, I’ll just get another computer. That’ll be my Disney trip computer.” We used to have boxes of photos in our closets. Now it’s just old computers. “Heh, there’s our wedding computer. That’s my computer when I was single. I should probably destroy that one.” It’s sad. We have all these photos. Everyone has thousands of photos, and besides us, no one else cares, ’cause really any photo you’re not in is not that interesting. You might act interested, right? You’re like, “Oh, you went to Mexico. How long is this gonna take? Because I can fake it for, like, a minute.” I don’t even like pictures that I’m in. You ever see a photo of yourself and it kinda ruins your day? For a second, you don’t even recognize yourself. You’re like, “Who’s that fat guy?…Oh, no! Ugh, I should call my wife and tell her I love her…I can’t believe I’m allowed to wear that color!” I’m wearing all black tonight, ’cause, uh, that’s easier than working out, right? By the way, these aren’t skinny jeans, I’m just fat. – Jim Gaffigan
  • We are all addicted to our phones…I genuinely worry where the younger generation, where our artists, screenwriters, authors, are going to come from, because the ‘yoot’ of today are just constantly on screens. A journey now is, “Let’s check my emails”. There’s no dreaming, looking out the window. We’re not going for walks anymore. We’re not going on journeys any more. We’re not communicating. We’re in this sort of world of just looking at a screen, so I worry what’s happening to people’s imaginations. – Miranda Hart, comedian, on BBC’s Room 101, Jan 2013
  • Facebook has made us all celebrities in our own little world. We’re constantly documenting ourselves, taking photos of our food, our shoes, ourselves, and letting people know where we are all the time. We’ve become self–obsessed and I do worry about my own narcissism. – Monique Roffey

Life not worth looking up from your phone for

23-01-15 – Daily Mash

The people, places, objects and locations that make up the physical world are not as good as smartphones, it has emerged.

Scientists studying the brain’s pleasure centres have concluded that true happiness can only be found when shutting out everything around you and focusing on your phone instead.

Dr Henry Brubaker of the Institute for Studies said: “We wanted to prove that everyone should put their phones down and engage with the world more deeply, but discovered the exact opposite is true.

“That vague feeling of irritation when someone’s talking to you isn’t gadget addiction, it’s because what they’re saying just isn’t as interesting as a notification that somebody you’ve never met has retweeted your retweet.

“Life is nothing more than an overly complex support system for the real deal which is happening right there in your hand.”

Carolyn Ryan of Hebden Bridge said: “We obviously need life to provide content for our phones, but other than that it’s not really important.

“Sunsets, friends and the joyful smile of a small child are alright, I suppose, but they’re much better once they’ve been Instagrammed.”

nemi social media

Nemi Social Media 2


When you attack black people, they call it “racism”.

When you attack Jewish people, they call it “anti-Semitism”.

When you attack women, they call it “gender discrimination” or “sexism”.

When you attack homosexuality, they call it “intolerance” or “homophobia”.

When you attack your own country, they call it “terrorism”.

When you attack any other country, they call it “xenophobia”.

When you attack a religious sect, they call it “hate speech”.

But when they attack the dignity of the Prophet Muhammad (S) they call it “freedom of expression”. – Anon

1) All his children died during his life, with the exception of his daughter Fatima (R).

2) Many of his companions were persecuted.

3) Some of his family members were murdered.

4) Boycotts were sanctioned against him.

5) Bounties were offered for his assassination.

6) Magic was cast upon him.

7) His enemies united to fight him.

8) He was driven out of his homeland.

9) He faced countless other trials.

Yet his companions said that he, the Prophet Muhammad (S), was the most smiling and joyful of people. – Muhammad Al-Bizry

I never saw anyone smile more than the Prophet (S). – Hadith (Tirmidhi)

If you let the media educate you about Islam, the only thing you will learn is hate. – Anon

When Allah blesses you financially, don’t raise your standard of living, raise your standard of giving. – Anon

Paris – two funny articles…

Many articles have been written recently regarding the situation in Paris, Charlie Hebdo, Islam, free speech, etc. Most are very serious in tone and content. The following 2, however, I thought were very funny and also made some very pertinent points…

It Sadly Unclear Whether This Article Will Put Lives At Risk

Jan 7, 2015 –

PARIS—Following the fatal terrorist attack Wednesday at the offices of French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, sources confirmed this afternoon that it is sadly not yet clear whether this very article will ultimately put human lives at risk.

According to totally and utterly depressing early reports, given the tragic deaths of 12 people, it is impossible to say with absolute certainty that this 500-word article will not make those involved in its writing—and potentially even those not involved—the targets of brutal and unconscionable violence.

“The heartbreaking tragedy that unfolded in Paris today is the result of a perverted, hateful ideology that has no place in the civilized world,” is a quote that someone or some group of people might be reading at this very moment and, in what unfortunately serves to illustrate the horrifying state of modern society, interpreting as an unforgivable insult against their beliefs that must be met with the cold-blooded murder of innocent people. “It’s just so terrible and senseless. I mean, how can something like this even happen?”

“I’m at a loss for words, to be perfectly honest,” is a further quote that would hopefully not enrage anyone to the point of actually taking another human being’s life, but which, for the love of God, conceivably could.

Those familiar with the situation told reporters that if someone were to read the very words written here and be offended by them, it would be reasonable to expect them to be upset and—at worst—write an angry letter to this publication expressing their ire in a relatively calm and composed fashion. Reports further confirmed that to somehow use this article—or indeed any article or any piece of self-expression—as a pretext to violence, let alone deadly violence, is simply impossible to justify and should never, ever transpire in human civilization.

Then again, sources added, that’s what actually happened today.

Sickened, distraught, and profoundly sad sources further added it was fully within the realm of possibility that it could happen again.

“Today’s horrific events only reinforce the idea that we cannot and will not let extremist zealots dictate what we can and cannot say,” is a comment that we will quote, but one that we do with a legitimate sense of uncertainty over whether it could incite an attack against the speaker or their loved ones, a sense of uncertainty that feels awful, grotesque, and wholly unnecessary in this day and age. “We live in a society in which every person is entitled to his or her own opinions, and every person is entitled to express those opinions without fear of harm. And that isn’t changing, whether a small minority of psychotic, murderous degenerates like it or not.”

At press time, although the consequences of this article are reportedly still unclear and actual human lives may hang in the balance, sources confirmed that the best thing to do—really the only thing to do—is to simply put it out there and just hope that it does some good.

The Daily Mash Guide To Satire For Jihadists


ARE you locked in a holy war against the West because you never get any of the jokes on Mock the Week? End that misery with our handy guide to understanding satire.

1) Make sure you are in an atmosphere conducive to humour, like a packed comedy club or in your own home with like-minded friends. If you are unable to hear the satire over the gunfire and explosions of a terrorism training camp, it is unlikely to make you laugh.

2) Look for nuances in the satirist’s statements. Do they really mean it when they say that the Iraq war was Britain’s greatest foreign policy triumph since the Suez Crisis, or could they be using irony?

3) Irony and sarcasm are ways the satirist implies meanings that they do not state outright. They are rarely used at gunpoint, however, so continue to take anyone pleading for their life at face value.

4) If you do not laugh at a joke, do not immediately resolve to hunt down and kill the satirist involved. It may simply not have been particularly funny.

5) You may encounter jokes directed at you or your colleagues in Islamic extremism. Before picking up your AK-47, ask yourself honestly if there might be something amusing about balaclavas. If so, why not join in the fun?

Paris – I’m just making a few points

The following is all personal opinion. Not science. Not fact. Just my own personal opinion. No more. No less. So put those pitch forks away please, keep calm and read on…

I was speaking on the phone today to a Muslim friend of mine in sunny Glasgow, and inevitably we started talking about Paris, free speech, Charlie Hebdo, etc. The conversation was long and many points were raised. Here, in no logical order whatsoever, are some of them:

  • Some people say that some Muslims live in poverty in parts of France, and this leads to extremism. Sorry, not an excuse. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was poor for much of his life, at one point he lived on the outskirts of Mecca, exiled for his beliefs. That was the council estate of the time, but he did not use this as an excuse to commit heinous acts of barbarism or revenge. Also, my parents came to this country and lived in meagre conditions, but they worked hard, obeyed the laws of the land and achieved a better standard of living LEGALLY. Plus, where does it say in Islam that if your income falls below a certain threshold the rules no longer apply to you?
  • Shaykh Zahir Mahmood, a Birmingham based Muslim scholar, said in a talk shortly after 11th Sep 2001, that we Muslims blame MI5, MI6, Mossad, CIA, FBI, Dajjal, the media, Freemasons, New World Order, jinn, jaddoo, nazar, the evil eye, and the rest. The truth is we Muslims are the ones to blame, for we are not following the faith as we should be following it. Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RA) said: “We were lowly and weak then Allah made us mighty with Islam. So when we seek mightiness in other than Islam, Allah humiliates us and brings us low.” In other words, when we stray from the path and we are brought down a notch or two. Look around, we have indeed strayed from the path, from sira-tul-mustaqeem. This is why we are in the condition we are in. Shaykh Zahir said recently: “What would the basis of a decent society be? The freedom to insult or the responsibility to respect? I know which one I would prefer.”
  • I would suggest that there are other more important things going on around the world, more important than some people in an office in France drawing some cartoons. For example, on Monday 15th Dec 2014 a Muslim holds hostages in a siege in a cafe in Sydney that ends up with 2 dead. The very next day, the Pakistan Taliban kill 141 kids and school staff in Peshawar. Thousands have died and continue to die in Syria, we have Muslim taxi drivers grooming girls in various part of the UK, bombs are going off all the time in various Muslim countries (10th Jan 2015 bomb goes off outside a Shia mosque in Rawalpindi killing 5, as they were celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (PBUH)). We also have Boko Haram, we have ISIS, continuing clashes in Kashmir, Palestine, and the rest. We have Muslims conning Muslims with fake Hajj visas. And what’s the most talked about topic in the Muslim community over the past few weeks? Imran Khan the cricketer got married again, to a weather girl!…There is a hadith of the Prophet that states: ‘One of the signs of Allah’s abandoning a servant is His making him preoccupied with what does not concern him.’ (Al-Hasan, as narrated by Abu Ubaydah). So let be preoccupied with that which does concern us (salah, anyone?) rather than worrying about a bunch of crudely drawn cartoons.
  • With regards to what the Pakistan Taliban did in Peshawar in Dec 2014, the Afghan Taliban condemned the mass murder by its Pakistan counterpart as un–Islamic. The Afghan Taliban, which calls itself the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, said it was “shocked at the incident and shares the pain of the families of children killed in the attack”. Likewise, in Jan 2015 the Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah condemned the killing of over a dozen people by further Islamist terrorists in France. He said, in a televised speech: “The behaviour of the takfiri [jihadi] groups that claim to follow Islam have distorted Islam, the Quran, and the Muslim nation more than Islam’s enemies…who insulted the prophet in films…or drew cartoons of the prophet.” Now, I’m no expert, but if you have Hezbollah AND the Afghan Taliban telling you you’re wrong, then you REALLY have crossed a line, have you not?
  • They, the enemies of Islam, try to dishonour the prophet (PBUH). But that’s their job, that’s what they are supposed to do. The Qur’an tells us this, of the plots, plans, and schemes that Muslims will face continually. Let them dishonour him, we will honour him. Whatever effort they put into their dishonouring him, we should put double into honouring him. But the problem is we know so little about Islam, about the sunnah, the way of the Prophet, that we are unable to honour him properly. So instead we resort to just getting angry, we end up as empty vessels making much noise. Call me old fashioned, but there’s something immoral about abandoning your own judgement. As a scholar once said: ‘Until you get the measure of your own soul, don’t be too quick to condemn others.’
  • The honour given to the Prophet has been given to him by Allah, and it is only Allah who can take it away, so should we be too worried about these cartoons?
  • Towards the end of the life of the Prophet (PBUH), his wife Aisha (RA) asked him what the lowest point was in his life, the point at which he felt the most despair. He answered by speaking about his visit to Taif, where he tried to preach the message of Islam, but was hounded out by the towns people, who swore at him, laughed and jeered at him, chased him out of town by throwing stones at him, to the point where he had blood dripping down into his sandals. Angels were waiting on either side of the mountains surrounding Taif, waiting ever so patiently for the prophetic command to destroy the town. How did the Prophet, at a humiliatingly low point in his life, how did he react? He reacted with mercy, he even blamed himself for not being able to convey the message of Islam better. Should we not today react with such compassion, understanding, patience, and intellect?
  • I am totally for free speech, perhaps with a pinch of respect. As I have said several times over the past few days, it is free speech and freedom of expression that allows us Muslims, in the west, to build mosques, have marches, demonstrations, set up blogs and websites, have halal food everywhere, etc. So you can’t pick and choose bits of freedom. It is okay for me but not you. I don’t think so.
  • Just a thought…you have this thing called Islam, this religion that is supposed to be awesome, amazing, THE religion of peace, we have the miracle that is the unaltered word of God – the Qur’an, our final Prophet is the best of all of creation – the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), we have had the golden age of Islamic civilisation that gave us monumental advances in science, algebra, art, literature, medicine, and much more, we have Muslim scholars who can explain to you life, the universe, and everything, we have over 2 billion followers all over the face of the globe. And all of this vast greatness crumbles into obscurity because some people, maybe sitting at home in their underpants, draw some cartoons? Really? And how do some Muslims react? How do they demonstrate the awesome peacefulness of Islam? They kill anyone they can fire a bullet at, be you Muslim or not.
  • I have heard some Muslims say that “they” keep pushing us and provoking us and eventually you have to say enough is enough. Really? Who decides when it is enough? Is 10 cartoons OK, but an 11th one is one too far?
  • Plus it would be nice for some Muslims to not be so stupid (snowmen and brothels)

Paris – a few things…

Here are a few quotes and links related to Paris and Charlie Hebdo…

  • Fanaticism is a monster that pretends to be the child of religion. – Voltaire (1694–1778)
  • I think we’d all agree 2014 was not a great year for…people [laughter]. But I think the hope was that 2015 would bring sort of a respite from the kinds of terrible events that have become all too familiar for us. But our hearts are with the staff of Charlie Hebdo and their families tonight. I know very few people go into comedy, you know, as an act of courage, mainly because it shouldn’t have to be that, it shouldn’t be an act of courage, it should be taken as established law. Those guys at Hebdo had it, and they were killed for their “cartoons”. Stark reminder that for the most part the legislators and journalists and institutions that we jab and ridicule are not, in any way, the enemy. For however frustrating or outraged the back–and–forth can become, it’s still a back–and–forth, a conversation amongst those on, let’s call it, Team Civilization. And this type of violence only clarifies that reality. But, of course, of course, our goal tonight is not to make sense of this, because there is no sense to be made of this. Our goal, as it is always, is to keep going. ‘Keep calm and carry on’, or whatever version of that saying is in your dorm room [laughter]. – Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, 08th Jan 2015
  • If anyone says we Muslims must apologise then please refer them to this excellent article by Mark Steel in the Independent, or to this searing analysis by radio host James O’Brien
  • Finally, another excellent article to read is by Mehdi Hasan in the New Statesman

Hero of heroes

In light of recent events in Paris, Sydney, Peshawar, and the rest, I thought it appropriate to say something positive about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The two extracts below are taken from the book ‘The Prophet Muhammad: A Biography’ by Barnaby Rogerson, published by ‘Little, Brown’ (2003). The first extract is taken from the chapter ‘Preface: Dreaming of the Prophet’, whilst the second extract is taken from the chapter ‘Epilogue: The Successor’

Preface: Dreaming of the Prophet

The life of the Prophet Muhammad is a story of overpowering pathos and beauty. It is history, tragedy and enlightenment compressed into one tale. It is also a story virtually unknown to the West. Compare this ignorance with our enthusiasm for Father Christmas or the Three Kings: love them or loathe them, they stand only on the very outer fringes as spiritual teachers or historical characters, yet they are surrounded by a mythology of contrary ideas, perpetuated by recurrent images and historical novels. Set against even such peripheral mythical figures of Western belief as these, the Prophet Muhammad simply does not feature. To be brutally honest, he has a negative rating. Nor are the associated images particularly good. Try drawing a picture of a man wrapped in a cloak and lost in thought and introducing it to a classroom of schoolchildren or at a pub quiz night. Ask who it is meant to be, and what do you get? Dracula, Darth Vader or a Dark Rider from The Lord of the Rings. If you add a turban, the picture will most probably be taken for that of a wicked vizier or a Barbary pirate.

Within Islam, however, he represents almost everything of human value. Muhammad, Prophet of God, the last and greatest of that long line of men, from Adam through to Abraham, Moses and Jesus, who have struggled to bring the word of God to mankind. Even when viewed in an entirely secular perspective he remains a superhero. He was founder of the Caliphate, one of the greatest empires of the world; creator of classical Arabic, a new literature and world language; founder of a new national identity, the Arab; and creator of Islam, a worldwide culture that is now 1,200 million strong and growing more rapidly than you can count. Only by marrying the best qualities of certain characters from European civilization — a combination, say, of Alexander the Great, Diogenes and Aristotle, or the Emperor Constantine, St Paul and St Francis — can you begin to understand the measure of the man.

Of course, his historical achievements were mere accidental spin-offs. His only purpose was to forge a new relationship between God and mankind. To those billions of believers who follow in his spiritual path he is omnipresent within the individual world of imagination, prayer and petition. He is perceived in many ways. He is the ultimate stern patriarch, that man of men who stands at the forefront of all the saints, heroes and good rulers from centuries of proud Muslim history. He is the implacable lawgiver, the guide who has clearly pointed out the roads of destiny: this way leads to heaven, this way to hell. He is the loving grandfather, leading the prayers in the mosque while his infant grandson clambers upon his shoulders. He is the sacrificial hero who goes into the testing fire of the spiritual world for the benefit of mankind, shaken to the core of his very being by the terror of being addressed by God through the angels — and all the while persecuted and reviled by his own people. He is the great lover of women — he required no other luxuries, no possessions, so complete was his joy and satisfaction in the company of his wives. He is the wise sage who despised the luxurious trappings of royalty, the halls, guards, courtiers, silks and gold that hitherto had always been associated with power. He is also the savant of the mystics, the guide who has led generations of dervishes, sufis, poets and lovers of God on their quests. He is the only man to have journeyed to heaven and back. He is the Hero of Heroes…

Epilogue: The Successor

As the sun rises over each successive longitude of the globe, the dawn prayer ripples out from the throats of the faithful, so that the whole world is now encircled in a continuous wave of praise. Muhammad’s greatest gift to the world is revealed every time a Muslim stands alone to pray directly to God. This revolution in spiritual attitude, the direct communion between believer and deity, is Muhammad’s triumphant achievement. He himself always possessed an extraordinarily close relationship with the divine, revealed in that haunting revelation that ‘God is closer to you than your jugular vein’. This intimacy had it’s own personal price, for he was overwhelmed by the sense of the omnipotence of the deity and the insignificance of mankind, leading to a fear that the end of the world was but a breath away. This heavy sense of foreboding helps explain the decisiveness with which he acted in the last years of his life.

Muhammad was enormously proud to stand in a line of succession with the prophets of old. Islam freely drew from the great reservoir of religious experience: the ethical teachings of Christ were combined with the family and community centred religious life of the Jews. An intellectually elegant and conceptually sturdy monotheism was combined with a passionate awareness of a Day of Judgement. But Muhammad was also the Prophet of the Arabs. His Islam quarried the noble traditions of the Arabs. It took the loyalty and strong sense of community that had been hitherto focused on the clan and tribe, and extended it to embrace the whole society of believers. It elevated the fine qualities of the successful caravan merchants (their hilm – self control – and aql – rational judgement) but directed it away from personal ambition to the communal care of the weak and the poor. Islam suppressed the blood feud and replaced it with a community that collectively enforced public justice, defended itself and took responsibility for education and social welfare. The old traditions of tribal raiding were replaced by the jihad, the struggle against unbelievers on the frontiers of Islam and in the hearts of the hypocrites.

A Muslim must believe that the Qur’an comes from God. Muhammad’s role was to shape this divine inspiration into a language that could not only be understood but could inspire his fellow Arabs. This was his genius; to transform his own religious experience, which was by its very nature highly individual, and create from it something of relevance to a whole society and indeed to succeeding generations. There is an unearthly, timeless magic about the Qur’an. There are verses in it that must have seemed mysterious and indecipherable for centuries, but which suddenly glow with an acute relevance in later ages whose outlook has been changed by scientific discoveries and an expanding understanding of the world. In the farewell sermon, the Prophet had declared to his people, ‘I leave behind me two things, the Qur’an and my example, the Sunnah, and if you follow these you will never go astray’.

It has been a challenge that many societies have grappled with but very few have managed to meet. Within Islam all that is of merit in mankind is embodied by the Prophet Muhammad. As Rumi, the great mystic medieval poet, declared, ‘He is the evidence of God’s existence’, while Muhammad said of himself, ‘I, too, am a man like you.’

Peace be upon you, Prophet of God.