Blasphemy against Islam or Prophet Mohammad has led to blood-spilling on the streets. It raises a serious question whether such killing is permissible under the tenets of Islam? The answer is ‘no’ writes ZOYA RASUL
“Prophet avenged!” are the words which the two killers reportedly screamed as they stormed out of Charlie Hebdo office after mercilessly killing about dozen people. With their words, world attention once again drew to the rise of radical Islam. Once again the debate on whether Islam is an intolerant and violent religion is ignited.
There have been many instances in the past when blasphemy against Islam or Prophet Mohammad has led to blood-spilling on the streets. It raises a serious question: Is this permissible under the tenets of Islam? The answer is simple. No.
As Mohammad attained Prophethood, the course of his life, which was dedicated to spreading the message of Allah, was inflicted with sufferings. But he never resorted to violence. In one of the instances quoted in the Hadith, the Prophet went to some powerful people of Ta’if(a city in Mecca province of Saudi Arabia) to spread the word of God and asked for their submission to Allah.
They rejected it vehemently and started mocking him. The street boys even stoned him, so much so, that his shoes were filled with dripping blood. But he did not retaliate, instead, he prayed for them. For him, their actions spoke of their ignorance. For him, the need was to enlighten them to the teachings of Islam and not to hit back. For any Muslim, the Prophet’s life is the only example to go by and it undoubtedly, in all circumstances, advocates peace.
Down the ages, prophets have been mocked and abused by their contemporaries. Some of the epithets cited in Quran include “a liar” (40:24), “possessed” (15:6), “a fabricator” (16:10), “a foolish man” (7:66). However, nowhere does the holy book prescribe any violent punishment for the same. The matter rather demands peaceful admonishment – sound arguments which clarify the allegations. Violent resort to such provocations, in turn, puts Islam and its teachings under a question mark – a condition never preferred by a true believer.
The treaty of Huddaibiya, a very crucial incident in the history of Islam further advocates the practice of benevolence and endurance for a true follower. Because of the hostilities from the Quraish, Prophet and his Companions had to leave Mecca and move to Madina. With time, Islam gained power and acceptance but, for Quraish, they were still their ardent enemies.
A year before Mecca was won over, the Prophet and his Companions on the way to Mecca were stopped from entering the place. To proceed further on the pilgrimage, they were asked to sign a treaty, whose terms were clearly unjust. But, for the sake of peace, the Prophet agreed.
Ali bin AbiTalib, who was documenting the treaty, addressed the Prophet as‘Mohammad, the Prophet of Allah’ to which Quraish objected. They wanted Ali to strike out the Prophet part to which he refused. Consequently, the Prophet himself took the sheet in his hands and stroked those words off. The incident clearly indicates how strongly the Prophet preached and practiced peace, despite all the odds.
Muslims need to interpret Islam in the light of the Quran and as per the life of the Prophet. Quran’s first verse reads: In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the most Compassionate. This verse is repeated 114 times and clearly stresses how Allah is the God of Mercy and Compassion which is hence expected of the believers as well. A verse of Quran Innallaha Ma’ As Sabirinthat means ‘Allah is with the patient,’substantiates that Islam is a religion of tolerance and advocates patience and peace. Whenever a verse of the Quran is quoted which suggests otherwise, it is to be noted that its interpretation has to be done in context. Many a time, verses are quoted out of context to incite Muslims to resort to violence. The responsibility, however, rests with them to be wise enough to interpret the Quran and its verses the way it is meant to be.
To absolve the tag of aggressors and extremists, Muslims need to set and lead by example. Restricting themselves from playing into the hands of people working for vested interests, they should strive to become the face of real Islam – the religion as preached by the Prophet and as preferred by Allah. This is the only way to save themselves from the negative bias and establish that their faith is one of peace, justice and love.
And that their Prophet doesn’t require them to avenge things or words against him. To follow his teachings and way of life is the greatest gesture of respect for him.
(Zoya Rasul is a graduate from AJK MCRC, JMI. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)