Source: Belfast Telegraph
By Waqar Ahmad Ahmedi
Tuesday, 2 October 2012
I will never forget my first visit to Hyde Park. I was then an A level student, accompanied by a cousin who introduced me to some of London’s famous spots.
This included Speakers’ Corner, described as the spiritual home of British soapbox oratory, where we heard impassioned preachers and activists shouting out their views, mainly about God and governments. It was all quite fascinating and seemingly harmless – until I got a real shock.
“Muhammad was evil!” screamed a towering, dishevelled man before a handful of listeners. With his deep Irish accent, he launched into a scathing attack on the Prophet, describing him as an anti-Christ and impostor possessed by demons.
As a Muslim raised with a great love for the Messenger of God, I could not let this go. Young and inexperienced as I was in public debate, I still plucked up the courage to confront and lock horns with this menacing figure. It was not an attempt to impress the crowd with any knowledge or eloquence, but a genuine urge to prove the speaker wrong. The exchanges lasted just a few minutes, by which time the audience had also multiplied, but since the ignorant fellow had only abuse to offer me, there was little purpose in engaging him further. I decided to walk away.
The experience left me with mixed emotions – aggrieved that such false and repulsive things could be said about the Prophet, but also grateful that I was able to defend him.
That pain, though, returns each and every time the Prophet is maligned – so you can imagine my feelings when ‘Innocence of Muslims’ was released. Just as in Geert Wilders’ film ‘Fitna’ and the various cartoons printed in European newspapers, Muhammad has been depicted as, among other things, a terrorist and womaniser.
The filmmakers have succeeded only on two fronts – provoking a violent reaction in the Muslim world that was their clear intent, and exposing their own agenda of misrepresenting Islam. Through a cocktail of mistranslations of the Qur’an, de-contextualised passages and complete fiction, they have painted a horrifying picture of the early Muslims as a barbaric, bloodthirsty mob rather than the peaceful and God-fearing believers they actually were.
The movie fails to acknowledge the 13 years the Prophet and his followers were persecuted so ruthlessly, when they did not retaliate once, before matters reached such an extreme that self-defence became essential. Had the Muslims not done so, an end would have been put to the faith.
It also ignores the extraordinary spiritual, moral and intellectual reformation Muhammad wrought among the Arabs – the eradication of female infanticide, abstention from intoxicants and zeal for learning, that even inspired Europe’s renaissance era. The Prophet replaced ignorance with enlightenment, converting savages into saints – an unparalleled revolution that has led many a thinker to regard Muhammad as the most influential person in history.