An inadvertent acknowledgement by Charlie Hebdo

Kaaba: The very First House of God (Al Quran 3:97), where the  prophet Muhammad showed himself to be a paragon of forgiveness

Kaaba: The very First House of God (Al Quran 3:97), where the prophet Muhammad showed himself to be a paragon of forgiveness

Source: Open Salon

By Muhammad Zafrullah

My first reaction to seeing a caricature of a crying Prophet Muhammad, saying “I am Charlie” was an unhappy one. The unhappiness was partly brought on by the thought that it would irritate a lot of Muslims and a lot of them would want to get even with the magazine. That of course would start another round of threats and hatred against all Muslims in response to those threats. Then I had a chance of looking at the cartoon again.

As I do not know how to extract the cartoon and if I can do so without crossing the copyright boundaries, I have chosen to include the link here, for everyone to see, to an article that tries to explain the cover of Charlie Hebo’s first publication after the attack, but misses the hidden message.

As you see, and it is mentioned in the above link, at the top of the page there is an inscription that means “All is forgiven” and the Cartoon holds a sheet that says “I am Charlie”.

Of these “I am Charlie” is just the junk that has been plastered all over the media for days, but the first inscription took me back some fourteen hundred years when in the year 8 of Hijrah the Prophet re-entered Makkah and said: “No blame shall lie on you this day” (La tathriba alaikumulyom) to the frightened faces of Makkans who had persecuted him and his followers.Remarkable and remarkably close to “All is forgiven”.

Now what makes me so excited about this? For this you will have to look into the history, yourself. I will give you some description of it but as you might think it propaganda I will provide you a reference to an article by a non-Muslim author as a support for my description of the background to “All is forgiven”.

Muhammad’s message that there is only one God and that idol worship is futile and of kindness to fellow humans was seen as a hostile act to their way of life and to their authority by the influential folks in Makkah. So they had not only taken a hostile stance towards Muhammad and his followers they had persecuted them hoping that this way they could bring them back into the fold. (It was a lot like what some folks are doing to “persuade” Muslims to “realise” that Islam is bad.)

Of course, as it happens, with persecution the steadfastness increased and it brought more converts, and with more converts the persecution increased. Injuring and beating Muslims, who were often poor, was common but some were killed too. Some description of the persecution can be found here:

The style of the presentation in the link immediately above is belligerent, mainly because it is designed to refute some claims of Islamophobes. For me it is fine as it gives an idea of the persecution and names some of the characters and their methods of persecution. In any case most of the serious historians do agree that Muhammad and his followers were persecuted enough that they sought refuge at other places and in other countries. Finally after enduring persecution for nearly 13 years Muhammad himself left for Medinah in 622.

The Quraish, the ruling tribe of Makkah, did not let Muslims rest in peace and there were attacks after attacks to “undo the damage” Muhammad’s new religion was causing to their way of life. But Muslims not only survived but thanks to Muhammad’s leadership grew in numbers. So much so that when he decided to put an end to the Makkan intrigue, he was able to amass an army of 10.000 volunteers.

In November  of 630 AD, just after eight years of having to leave Makkah Muhammad was in front of Makkah, with a plan to capture Makkah with a minimum or no bloodshed. He entered Makkah in such a manner that the Makkans felt inundated and did not put up any fight, except for a few skirmishes here and there.  A general amnesty was already in place, with a few exceptions but, as if to set their minds at rest, Muhammad himself told a gathering of the Makkans that “All is forgiven”.

This event is mentioned in Hadith and mentioned in a Wikipedia article:

“Then Muhammad turning to the people said:

“O Quraish, what do you think of the treatment that I should accord you?”

And they said, “Mercy, O Prophet of Allah. We expect nothing but good from you.”

Thereupon Muhammad declared:

“I speak to you in the same words as Yusuf spoke to his brothers. This day there is no reproof against you; Go your way, for you are free.”

When I looked at the cartoon, from this angle, I first thought that perhaps the mischievous caricaturist was trying to remind Muslims of how Muhammad forgave the worst of his enemies and persecutors. But as the interview indicates the cartoonist had no inkling of what he had accomplished.

The message is as clear as a clarion call: Islam is peace and promotes kindness and forgiving your tormentors for all insults, taunts, caricatures, injuries and deaths especially when you are in a position to avenge yourself. For Muhammad did it and set a glorious example for his followers to follow. Let’s hope the call is heeded.


Additional Reading

Where are the bodies of the thousands that have been butchered?

Categories: Free speach, Free Speech, Freedom, Highlight, Muhammad

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7 replies

  1. “Of these “I am Charlie” is just the junk that has been plastered all over the media for days…”

    What an outrageous and deeply offensive statement (although in the spirit of free speech, I’ll defend your right to express it). It’s not “just junk”; it’s a show of solidarity with 12 murdered, innocent people and the fundamental values of a free society. What an utterly dismissive and appalling comment.

  2. بسم اللہ الرحمن الرحیم
    Whereas disgrace of Holy Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) and for that matter any prophet of God is unacceptable, with the same token, the punishment for blasphemy by human hand is not at all Islamic act,however its base is in Holy Bible, and its harms are much greater than imaginations. Look at the person concerned had not only begged apology, but also wrote the article enhancing the Grace of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). He repented and was thinking he was for given, but what a set back done to the Global Society, because of this foolish notion of blasphemy. Besides property damage at large scale, so many precious lives were perished in the Name of that Prophet who was and is Universal Mercy.
    Blasphemy Law needs to be repealed forth with and not any individual or even some group of person should be permitted to take this law or to play with this law by their own hands.
    Zarif Ahmad

  3. AL: Solidarity with a bunch of slanderers who tried to cash in on the fact that Europe is a seething bubbling cauldron of hate and paid for it. I recall saying somewhere that I am OK with cartoonists and satirists, as long as they don’t start mooning. The Charlie Hebdo folks didn’t indulge in exposing the flaws they indulged in indecent exposure of their own filthy perceptions.
    I’m all for freedom of speech but with freedom must come responsible behavior or the society will be in chaos. (I think you agree with that, in your heart.) So, I feel within my rights to call junk a slogan of solidarity with folks who forgot their duty and indulged in creating chaos for profit.

  4. In the first place , the Charlie Hubdo should have repented and and should have refrained from doing same provocative action of printing the the images again taking , this time revengeful advantage of , so called freedom of speech. It should have held itself back thereby honoring the sentiments of billion of Muslims across the globe. Instead it took the other path. His Holiness the Pope also disagrees the exploitaation of the rihgt of freedom of speach and has has advised to respect the religious sentiments of people of faith. The way Charlie Hubdo acted this time cannot be said as journalism. There is not only one type of terrorism. Injuring the sacred feelings of others is much more than gun bullets. Liberty does have limits and aught to have. Otherwise it will be transgression beyond humanity.

  5. @MZ
    The first part of your response is nothing more than an ignorant, irrational rant about something of which you clearly have no real understanding or knowledge. Don’t underestimate the importance of such fundamental freedoms to the western world, particularly after centuries of trying to break away from the oppressive control of the church. Freedom of speech does have limitations already – the prohibition of causing offence isn’t one of them – if it was, organised religion would be in real trouble. And your definition of “responsible behaviour” is no doubt a subjective, biased one.

    “I feel within my rights to call junk a slogan of solidarity with folks who forgot their duty and indulged in creating chaos for profit.” – You are within your rights – that’s because you benefit from free speech as much as the rest of us. As for “their duty” – who are you to decide “their duty”?! And the only chaos creators are the terrorists – to suggest anything else is to blame the victims, who were entirely innocent.

  6. AL: It is so easy to call someone ignorant. Just close your eyes and let ignorance stupidity and prejudice reign and go boast about killing an old Jew who was reading a book titled humanite. (I am sort of misusing a line from a story from “the Wall” a translation of Sartre’s collection. The story that I’m mutilating a line from was titled “The Childhood of a Leader”. The upshot of the story was that ninnys find hate an easy base to operate from.)
    I know all about how free speech and free thought have helped Europe in assimilating the Muslim thought scientific, philosophical, social and political and add to it tremendously. But that free speech or free thought had limits set by decency. It still does, in special cases, for instance you could be held liable for anti-Semitic remarks. So if “responsible” behavior is demanded and ensured for the “Semite”, why not for Muslims? (Talk about double standards!)
    About the Church’s oppressive control. If I know my history Church’s control over Europe mostly was diminished by military might, though ideology could have helped.
    Coming back to your rant about my earlier remarks, I wrote an analysis of the causes of the deplorable killings at Hebdo offices under the title: “Why France? Why Charlie Hebdo?” It is available at the Muslim Times. If you read it you would know that I had a good basis for my “ignorant rant”. For your part, you probably thought that your lofty position was enough to justify your diatribe.


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