Shaban / Ramadan 1423 H
Volume 15-11 No : 191
Camps \ Workshops
We have to inform them that Islam is a religion of peace and Muslims have an opportunity to show it.
By Dr. Abidullah Ghazi
Jerry Falwell, a Christian priest’s remarks about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a terrorist would definitely hurt Muslims and infuriate their passions against Christianity and the West. If that was Falwell’s purpose, he succeeds along with others of his like-minded adversaries of Islam and Muslims as Robertson, Grahams, Pipes and Emerson. Muslims in the world are facing the unholy alliance of Christian and Hindu right (Hindutva) and Zionists, who for there own specific reasons, find in Islam and Muslims a common enemy.
For them, no act of violence against Muslims is unjustified and no word of vulgarity is harsh. There are three apparent reasons for this onslaught that we must understand, a) covering up their own injustices to their own society and to humanity, b) winning public opinion with disinformation and c) infuriate Muslims to incite them to acts of violence. We have no control over the first two, but we, as Muslims must make sure that our love of the Prophet should not overwhelm us to play the game of our adversaries. Also we must understand that each challenge of this information age opens new doors for us to inform, educate and enhance ideals of peace and justice. There is no better Islamic response to all the attack Muslims are subjected to than turning to our book of guidance and the teaching of our Prophet and our checkered history of tolerance, peace and justice. Islam spread by tolerance and reason and not by force and injustice. Here we are concerned primarily with Falwell, who represents Christian right and his remark, which would no doubt end up in trash bin of vulgarities, but it will certainly leave scars that would be hard to heal. His vulgar remark goes in the category of hate crimes, but since it is against Islam and Muslims, so it finds place (if no endorsement) in media and could be an interesting subject of discourse for media. It is part of the new crusade and it is destined to fail, as have all the crusades of history against Islam failed. We must ask ourselves what does Falwell and his Christian right want by this attack?
The Christian right is certainly increasing hatred against Islam without realising its consequences for other Christians and communal harmony. The world Muslim community feels wary of American policies towards Muslim countries and may not distinguish between Falwell and Bush or Christian right and normative Christianity. Islam is practised by one fifth of humanity, is a dominant religion in almost 56 countries of the world and a minority in almost every human society. It is a living reality in North America. The hatred that the Christian right is generating is extremely dangerous for the peace of the world and our efforts to fight terrorism. It strengthens the claims of Muslim extremism for an alliance of religion, political and economic interest to destroy Muslim world. It weakens liberal Muslims who are struggling to wrest the leadership of their societies from both extremism and totalitarianism and establish modern humanistic society and are partners in the fight of terrorism as well. Terrorism to most Muslims is not only lethal attack on the innocent, but also economic, political and religious onslaught against their religion, culture and way of life. Falwell, of course, has crossed all limits of human decency. The Christian right, at present an ally of Zionism, is in fact a Christian fundamentalist movement who believe in the Bible as the literal word of God. They believe, like most believing Christians (and even Muslims) of the second coming of the Messiah, (the Christ), but unlike other Christians they want to expedite his coming by paving the way by supporting Israel and opposing Palestinian rights.
Muslim extremism goes contrary to the teachings of the Quran, the tradition of Prophet Muhammad and the ethos of Islamic history. It is important for Muslims to isolate this extremist fringe and let it not destroy the great opportunities that modern society has opened for dialogue, Dawah and development.
The Falwell attack is the foulest, but not the last attack on the Prophet and Muslims. Such attacks have a long history in Christianity and the west. God has His own way of opening the doors. This opposition of Islam was part of the divine plan for its propagation.
Today we are living in an exciting age of information and reason. Not every Christian supports Falwell, majority of them are on our side. Let us strengthen that bond. Not everyone would accept Falwell’s attack, and would like to know about Prophet Muhammad. We have to inform them. Islam is a religion of peace; we have an opportunity to show it.
On Sunday, the 6th of October at 6 p.m, we sat to listen to Falwell for 60 minutes, his attack was one liner, with no evidence, no reason and no logic. An American white plumber was working in our bathroom; he heard the remark and came out and said: “Don’t know who you are but I am a Christian and believe in Jesus. This man is out of his mind, he may be claiming to be a Christian, but he is no Christian. He is not an American either. I don’t know this man Muhammad, but if one-fifth of humanity believes in him, he must be heck of a guy, now I want to know more about him”. In my office machine, I recovered messages from my non-Muslim friends; a Jewish friend is worth quoting: “I hope Muslims don’t thing Farwell as a Jew. He is an enemy of both Jews and Muslims”.
Let Muslims not disappoint this plumber and the Jewish friend and millions of decent human beings who are engaged in building bridges of understanding and want peace for them and for others.
The writer is Executive Director
Iqra International Educational Foundation, Chicago.
The views expressed here are his own.
By Farrukh. S
On the morning of Friday, October 11, 2002, I was in Sholapur. Some local Muslim organisations of Sholapur including Al-Shabban and Muslim Vikas Sangh had called for a strike in protest over the blasphemous remarks against Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) made by a Christian priest, Jerry Falwell. When we passed through Sakarpet, a downtown Muslim dominated area, the bandh call was written in Marathi, Urdu and English on the black boards outside the local Mosque. A large posse of policemen was also deployed in the area, but their strength or the posture did not suggest that they were anticipating any big trouble. The situation in the other parts of the city including Saat Rasta, the main commercial area of the city looked deceptively calm and normal. But this was just a calm before a devastating storm of communal hatred and organised mob violence against an unsuspecting community. Soon after the Friday prayers, when Muslims took out a protest rally,the violence broke out with incidents of stone throwing on the procession. It was quickly followed by attacks on the shops and houses of the minority community almost all over the city by armed mobs. The mobs comprising Shiv Sena and RSS activists raising the slogans “Jai Mata Ki” barged into houses, dragged people outside and attacked them brutally.
But their major targets were the shops and business establishments of Muslims. But as the local people and the eyewitnesses said, the police, instead of controlling the mob, opened fire at the minority community. At the last count, nine people were killed and 34 were injured. While two of the injured were Hindus, all the remaining were Muslims. The economy of the Muslims in this major textile town of Maharashtra has suffered a devastating blow as more than 200 showrooms, factories, shops and business establishments ranging from a timber depot to wholesale shops were reduced to ashes. The fact that the police had given the mob a free hand was obvious from the fact that many of the shops were looted and torched in the immediate vicinity of the police stations. At least 500 to 600 Muslims were arrested and taken to Pune and Kolhapur jails. The Muslims in this important city, located at the confluence of two national highways are living in fear and terror with nobody to turn to. This has left the Muslims of Sholapur disappointed and disgusted with the state’s Congress-NCP government.
However the gravity of the situation and intensity of violence has largely gone unnoticed outside Sholapur even within Maharashtra, leave alone the other states. The pathetic condition came to light only after a delegation of leaders of different organisations led by the Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind, General Secretary, Mehmood Madni visited the city when the curfew was still on.