The recent Paris attacks on Charlie Hebdo has again brought up a much-debated topic; why can’t the Muslims take a joke? Over the years, caricatures and satire mocking the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ have been received by heated outcries from the Muslim world, a reaction misunderstood by the West. Do the Muslims think they’re ‘untouchable’?
The truth is, we are a community of 1.6 billion people who are in love. With our Prophet. A type of love which sets your vision free, empowers your heart and gives you the strength to respect, appreciate and help others because you have a light within you which is indescribable. That Light is the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
In today’s society, a “modern civilization”, we are expected to accept the idea that nothing is to be deemed sacred and therefore nothing is safe from insult in the name of free speech. And Muslims challenge this. If we didn’t, our love would be flawed. Because there is no love which sits silently when the beloved is insulted. That is human.
Do the Muslims think they’re special? No. We are human, and we are lovers, and we are not monsters as the media wants you to think.
Those who cause harm and terror to innocent life in the name of Islam are not representative of us. Every horrific act perpetrated in the name of Islam has been met with a loud outcry of condemnation from the Muslim community as a whole – on TV, by Imams, by scholars, by ordinary Muslim individuals, on social media, in schools, workplaces and so on. ‘Not in our name’. Unfortunately, the media doesn’t give these people the same exposure it gives to criminals acting in our name – but we are here, patiently enduring.
And dare we even touch on the myth of free speech? It seems to only apply when trying to justify Islamophobia.
The Charlie Hebdo cartoons represent the misplaced malice and xenophobia Muslims face on a daily basis. We are not an angry community, we are provoked and framed in a way no other community is. We don’t expect every Israeli Jew to answer for the ongoing Zionist crimes against Palestinians, nor do we take every Buddhist to account for Rohingya Muslims tortured and killed in Burma – let alone make a mockery of religious figures. How low and reprehensible it would be, alienating an entire community and causing an inevitable outcry because of the crimes of a condemned few.
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ himself taught us to respond peacefully and non-violently to offense and hatred, and he himself set perfect examples of it. The Conquest of Makkah is one of those moments in history which is unparalleled; those who had previously persecuted him and his family were expecting his full power of revenge when he returned to conquer the city. They were now powerless and he had the complete upper hand. Instead, his words were of ground-breaking forgiveness and mercy: “Go, you are all free.”
As Muslims, we are on the receiving end of a daily surge of bigotry, discrimination and xenophobia, but we choose to instead focus on peace. How to build bridges, and how to blur the imaginary line which indicates ‘us’ and ‘them’. Over recent years, incentives such as Mawlid.co.uk have been set up to reflect the sincere everyday Muslim outlook on life, both in the West and worldwide, focusing on feel-good community spirit – and it has also served as a proactive, positive response to Islamophobia. Incentives like this serve a very powerful heart-to-heart purpose; we are not, and never have been, your enemy.