“The Innocence of Muslims” Anti-Islam film: What Muslims can learn from this

5 Oct

I hadn’t heard of this film until US Ambassador- Chris Stevens, was murdered in Libya (Send a message of condolence here– ‘Celebrate Mercy’ initiative). After watching its trailer, I was sickened. Not only by the cheap sets and bad acting, but by the way Islam and Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, were portrayed. As a Muslim, I was insulted and hurt that a man who we hold so dear to our hearts could be so misunderstood, how our beliefs could be ridiculed in such a way. And not only as a Muslim, but as a human, I was appalled at how someone can mock another person’s beliefs. As much as I may disagree with someone, I could never, ever mock them or ridicule them. That is not the way of our Prophet, peace be upon him, or of Islam.

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is someone that Muslims follow (not worship). We believe that he received revelation from God and we try our best to, or should try our best to, emulate his actions, the way he lived, and the way he treated others. We believe he was sent as a mercy to mankind.

Many have said that this film is a form of freedom of speech. Well, plain and simple, it is not. It is hateful. Provocative. Hurtful.  There is a fine line between criticism and / or opinion- which is free speech- and mockery. This film crossed that line.

Because of this, I can more than understand the anger we are seeing across the world. I feel the same anger. When protests started in the Middle East, there was almost a ‘here we go again- typical Arabs’ type of reaction from the media. But now, the protests have spread to Australia. Ugly pictures on the news of anger and violence nearly made me cry.

The antagonism from some Muslims is a reflection of the passion and hurt that people are feeling. But I am not condoning violence. I don’t think that protesting in this manner will help the situation. In fact, I think that this behaviour reinforces what people already think of Muslims. Sometimes, Muslims themselves help to promote anti-Islam propaganda. I can’t help but wonder how many more people have been made aware of this film because of the protests. Ofcourse, as Muslims, we have to defend our religion. Everyone has the right to defend themselves and their beliefs. But we have to use wisdom. There was not one action of the Prophet, peace be upon him, that was not shrouded in wisdom. We have been blessed with intellect, we should use it. We should not defend ourselves in the way some think we will. The stereotypes some hold of us are false, so we should not live up to them.  Once again, all eyes are on us. We should use this opportunity to show people that we are positive, contributing members of our communities, to educate people about the true Islam.

The best way to defend our religion is to represent it in the best way possible, by standing up for any injustice, not only injustice that affects us or ‘our people’. We don’t seem to fuss as much when other Prophets of Islam are mocked, such as Moses or Jesus, peace be upon them. We don’t protest when the beliefs of others are mocked, such as in the South Park musical about Mormons. By staying silent, we justify the mockery of others. No-one takes notice of us when we protest about being ridiculed, because we do not stand up for others who are ridiculed.

The reaction to the film, as well as the film itself, has sparked much discussion. From people saying that in the West, we now have no sense of decency towards one another, that we cross the boundaries and feel nothing about mocking others. As for the reaction, some are of the opinion that some protests have a political backdrop. When we look at the violent protests and killings, they are in countries where there has recently been upheaval and unrest, where the government is unjust. Violent protests in the West have, supposedly, been led by certain political groups which are usually equated with violence, and so these protests could have underlying political stances and are not solely a stand against this film.

Amongst all the discussion, we as Muslims need to look internally, within ourselves and within our Muslim communities. We simply need to remember who and what we follow, and the basic fundamentals of our religion; the importance of community and helping others. We need to look at how we can move on and educate people about our beliefs, instead of letting people who don’t even believe in Islam educate the world about it. We need to look at productive ways of bringing about positive change for us and others, instead of screaming and burning flags. No cheap film or comedy sketch can change the actions of those we believe in, how they encouraged change and bettered their communities, essentially making history. We have so much inspiration- examples of strength, perseverance, trust in God, spirituality, intellect, wisdom, standing for equality and fairness. We can take lessons from the lives of so many, from Mariam (Mary), mother of Jesus, may God be pleased with her, to Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Isa (Jesus) and Muhammed, peace be upon them all.

We can take inspiration from the companions of the last Prophet. Men and women who were scholars, who worked hard to spread the truth, who defended their religion and the Prophet, peace be upon him, the way he taught them to. Their actions of defence were a reflection of what was happening at that time. They knew when to be peaceful, and when they had to defend themselves in the battlefield. They fought weapon with weapon. They did not fight air. Nowadays, we fight air. We punch at nothing when we have not been physically threatened.  We reply to actions of psychological mockery with violence, when we should use the things that are affected by this mockery to react to it- our intellect, our hearts. We lack wisdom in using our context. In thinking ‘is it the right time to do this? Is there another way to handle this?’

We stand on the shoulders of giants. Let us represent those giants in the proper way.

~ Zara

Click here to read more about Zara

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