Moulana Yusuf Patel (Secretary-General of the United Ulama Council of South Africa)
All praise is due to Allah and may His choicest salutations continue to descend upon our Master and Leader Mohammed Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam.
Respected Brothers and Sisters in Islam
“O You who Believe! Let not some among you laugh at others; it may be that they are better than them, nor let some women laugh at other; it may be that they are better than them. Nor defame yourselves, nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by offensive nicknames….” (Quran Surah 49, Verse 11)
The deadly shootings at the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo have once again put the spotlight on Islam and Muslim. There are several theories behind the killings:
1. This was an Islamic State operation in response to the US led offensive against IS in Iraq. France has played a leading role and stands as one of the strongest ally of the US in its fight against the IS.
2. This was an Al Qaida backed attack which goes back to its 2013 fatwa of ‘wanted dead or alive for crimes against Islam’ against the editors of the newspaper.
3. This was a false flag operation carried out in the name of Islam and Muslims to set the stage for more draconian 9/11 type of laws to deal with perceived terrorist activity. Or it may be that Paris is being punished for its pro- Palestinian vote? One month ago the lower house voted to recognize Palestine as a state. The fact that Muslims have been blamed for the killings based on one person chanting the takbeer and another saying that the Prophet has been avenged is hardly evidence enough to lay the blame of the Muslims.
4. This is but a response to the growing marginalization of the Muslims in France.
- Muslims constitute approximately 6 million out of a total population of 61 million. 85% of France is Roman Catholic. Muslims make up just fewer than 10%.
- France has banned the hijab and has disallowed the building of minarets
- 60% of prison inmates in France are Muslim.
- Muslims live in ghetto like areas in abject poverty.
- Muslims have been continually humiliated in the press by the likes Charlie Hebdo. It is one of the most offensive, racist and malicious publication which makes its money by jeering, mocking, vilifying Islam and Muslims. It had published a naked caricature of Nabi Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam the publication has been deliberately provocative and challenging 1.6 billion Muslims.
What is our response?
1. As Muslims we do not endorse, sanction or encourage extra judicial killings. We do not believe in kangaroo court justice. No individual should take the law into his hands.
2. We do not shed tears for the racist, hateful staff of Charlie Hebdo who took such pleasure in spitting at 1.6 billion Muslims. We do feel pity for them…pity that they chose to live a life of hate and die a death of hate. We pity them for being consumed and blinded by such racist aversion
3. The West has to re- interrogate its stubborn adherence to the principle of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech has legitimised slander, insults, vilification, rumour mongering and disgrace which is more consistent with the dark ages of indiscriminate brutality.
4. In Islam freedom of speech is underpinned by the protection of honour and dignity. Freedom of speech in not absolute! Every right comes with a corresponding responsibility. “O You who Believe! Let not some among you laugh at others; it may be that they are better than them, nor let some women laugh at other; it may be that they are better than them. Nor defame yourselves, nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by offensive nicknames….” (Quran Surah 49, Verse 11)
5. The Quran describes Nabi Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam as a ‘mercy unto mankind’ Charlie Hebdo portrays him to be a monster and curse to mankind. Will we ever take up the cudgels to show how exactly Nabi Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam served as a mercy to mankind?
“It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel whenever I re-read them, a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher.” [Annie Besant, The Life and Teachings of Muhammad]