Written for The Muslim Times by Dr. Abdul Alim
Two gunmen who stormed the French magazine Charlie Hebdo tonight in Paris were heard saying that the Prophet’s honour has been avenged after they had shot and killed twelve employees.
I am completely at loss to try and find out what part of his life or teachings from the Qur’an did they use to justify and perpetrate such an inhuman and barbaric act.
The Qur’an, a revelation to Holy Prophet of Islam is full of verses which teach and promote compassion (see 200 verses from the Quran). It mentions unequivocally that killing even one person is killing the whole of humanity. The Qur’an prescribes no punishment for blasphemy and stands clearly on defence of freedom of speech, conscience and choice (see here).
The life of the Holy Prophet himself was an epitome of empathic understanding of those who differed with him and went well beyond mere tolerance. His personal example was of a man who prayed for his worst enemies who not only ridiculed him, but persecuted him and even tried to kill him. He stood for the best of all that we call secular humanism and more that sprung from his deep love and compassion for humanity.
We, the Ahmadiyya Muslims are deeply aggrieved at this loss of life and our prayers go to their loved ones who have died and to their families for patience and forbearance at this deep loss.
Let us be clear that the greatest victim of this atrocity is not those who have died but the very person whose honour was supposed to have been avenged, the Holy Prophet of Islam and the religion that was revealed to him as God’s final message to humanity, Islam. A greater tragedy is that the same person was the first target of ridicule by Charlie Hebdo when it published the satirical cartoons. The magazine crossed all limits of journalistic decency and violated all noble values that are at the basis for freedom of speech.
Absolute freedom does not exist. All freedoms come with responsibility. While under no circumstances retaliation for indecent, hate mongering speech can be used to justify to kill someone, those who do such vile acts should be approached with logic and actual compassionate examples of how the Prophet lived his life.
The current leader of Ahmadiyya Community in Islam has consistently showed the way to Muslims on how the Prophet’s honour can be truly avenged and that is by highlighting his true, noble and peace loving character and rebutting the vile abuse hurled at him by those who are ignorant or prejudiced, with clear logic and personal example.
The killings at Paris are not the first, and unfortunately perhaps not the last, given that ISIL has very powerful supporters among well developed and prosperous nations from both East and the West. Governments that are fomenting violence as a matter of foreign policy should not think that the genie that is being bred in the Middle East will not come back to haunt them. This genie can only be exterminated through forging real and deep understanding of religious differences and respect for their founders and not using it as a means to achieve political victory. Inculcating true empathy and not just mere tolerance is the only way forward, where all ambitions, economic, political or social must be disciplined through submission to God and love for humanity as His creation.