Source: Open Salon
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.