It has been a long time now, since Rushdie affair, that Western media continues to pinch the Muslims in their sides, teasing them like a naughty boy and then enjoy their outcry. The sad part of the story is that the Muslims have neither shown their reaction according to the true Islamic teachings nor have they learned from recent incidents as well as the past history.
In the history of religions, without any exception, the founders and the followers of a religion have to endure scathing opposition in different forms. Hurling epithets on Islam and accusing the fundamentals and sacred personalities of Islam is not a new phenomenon. It has been a constant endeavor of the opponents of Islam to accuse it.
God Almighty comforted the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.) by saying that you are not the first prophet to receive such hostile reaction. All the previous prophets have been facing such criticism and allegations.
Nothing is said in opposition to thee but what was said to the Messengers before thee. [HA-MIM AL-SAJDA 41:44]
NEW FORM OF ATTACKS
As mentioned above, attacking Islam is not a new phenomenon, but in this modern age it has taken new forms. In comparison to the earlier physical attacks on Islam such as the crusades, modern attacks through print and electronic media are more fierce and hostile. Allah Almighty has already informed that many of such incidences shall occur when the Muslims shall hear painful utterances from our opponents.
And you shall surely hear many hurtful things from those who were given the Book before you, and from those who set up equals to Allah. [A’L-E-IMRAN 3:187]
We were also informed that this criticism against Islam shall be produced through pen and shall be rebutted through pen.
By the inkstand and the pen and by that which they write;
Thou art not, by the grace of thy Lord, a madman.
[AL-QALAM 68: 2,3]
EFFECT OF THIS OPPOSITION ON THE BELIEVERS
The prophets and their followers, as human beings, become depressed by being constantly victimized and targeted of this ridicule and criticism.
And, indeed, We know that thy bosom becomes constricted because of what they say. [AL-HIJR 15: 98]
When our religion is termed as barbaric, our book is called contradictory and ambiguous and our Prophet is depicted as power hungry lustful person, the sentiments of rage, insult and anger are but natural to rise in our minds and hearts.
HOW SHOULD WE REACT?
The Muslims are advised not to retaliate in a harsh manner, but to respond to such profanity with dignity and honor, without resorting to frenzy and violence. Confucius, a great Chinese philosopher and reformer advised his followers that
“Condemn the offence and pity the offender”.
The Holy Qur’an teaches us three different ways to deal with the opponents of Islam.
(1) HAVE PATIENCE & SUPPRESS YOUR ANGER
Allah has advised the Muslims to endure the criticism patiently with no response but peace and stay away from them in a dignified manner.
And bear patiently all that they say; and withdraw from them in a decent manner. [AL-MUZZAMMIL 73:11]
So turn aside from them, and say, ‘Peace;’ and soon shall they know. [AL-ZUKHRUF 43:90]
(2) DISCOURSE IN BEST MANNER
Those Muslims, who have some religious knowledge and have ability to defend their faith, are allowed to enter not into fist-banging violent debates but peaceful discourses and argumentations with those who adopt intellectual confrontation, both written and oral.
And argue not with the people of the Book except with what is best as an argument’ [AL-ANKABOOT 29:47]
In this verse Allah has advised us to use the arguments of the Holy Qur’an against the people of the book, i.e., the Jews and the Christians, in a kind and dignified manner. We are also advised to wage the greatest “JIHAD” through the Holy Qur’an and not with weapons and arms.
So obey not the disbelievers and strive against them by means of the Qur’an with a mighty striving. [AL-FURQAN 25:53]
(3) RSPOND IN SIMILAR MANNER
To argue with those who use excessive and abusive language against Islam and the Holy Prophet (s.a.), the Muslim scholars are allowed to enter into full-fledged debate and are permitted to reciprocate their harshness using the same tone and words.
Allah likes not the uttering of unseemly speech in public, except on the part of one who is being wronged. Verily, Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. [AL-NISA 4:149]
Remember that the recompense of an injury is an injury the like thereof; [AL-SHURA 42:41]
However, while retorting the respect and honor of their prophets and sacred personalities has to be kept in mind as the Muslims are required to revere and honor them.
And abuse not those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they, out of spite, abuse Allah in their ignorance.
THE PROMISED MESSIAH’S SUGGESTIONS
The Promised Messiah, the founder of Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (a.s.) has provided, in the light of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah, the best solution of how to respond to allegations against Islam. He suggested that it is unwise that each person should begin to issue a retort against blasphemy. Instead, he recommended in his book, AlBalagh or Faryad-e-Dard, Ruhani Khazain Vol-13, pp. 370-375, that the person who responds should possess such qualities, which are paraphrased very briefly as follows:
1) The person should command such expertise in the Arabic language that in any confrontation, he should put to shame his opponent. He must be superior to his opponent in the understanding of God’s words and preferably should be acknowledged as an expert in Arabic in his country. When he enters into a debate with an opponent, the audience would at once recognize which of the two speaks with authority and who commands respect.
2) The person should not merely know a few Hadith (traditions), Fiqh (jurisprudence) and tafseer (commentary) or be known as a Maulwi (priest) but he should be equipped with the God-given qualities of research, deliberation, sharp-wittedness, prompt response and adducing indisputable proofs. He should be a wise and pious person.
3) He should have reasonable knowledge of science, medicine, astronomy and geography because when presenting wonders of nature, such knowledge is indispensable.
4) He should be able to quote in Hebrew from that part of the Bible which deals with prophecies etc. A person who is conversant with Arabic should not find it too difficult to learn Hebrew.
5) The fifth condition is that the person should have a real contact with God and be sincere and loyal, and should be the beloved of God with sincerity, outward purity, high morals and wholly devoted to God because knowledge of the religion is from on-high and it is closely associated with righteousness, cleanliness and the love of God (5:80)
6) The sixth condition is knowledge of history because this knowledge is very helpful in a debate. For instance, very few Muslims would know that Jesus had five brothers born from the same mother, yet they did not believe in Jesus and on the contrary had severe reservations about his truth.
7) He should have sound ability in logic and be eloquent in the art of debating because by their combination, the mind is sharpened.
8) The eighth prerequisite for written and oral debate is that the person should possess or have access to a vast treasure of books that are reliable and generally accepted for their authenticity and can shut the mouth of any clever and deceiving opponent.
9) The person should be free from other pursuits and be devoted to the service of his religion because it is difficult for one person to handle two things at the same time.
10) Finally, the tenth condition is that he should possess miraculous power because in pursuit of true light and complete satisfaction a person is hungry for seeing miracles, e.g., through the acceptance of his prayers, these represent the final decision manifested in the presence of God Almighty.
These Qur’anic principles and the suggestions of the Promised Messiah (a.s.) based on these principles can assure a healthy debate and discussion in any multi-cultural and multi-religious society without provoking hatred, unrest and chaos.