By Sadaf Shah
Je ne suis pas Charlie. I am Muslim, and I am hurt
Dear terrorists, jihadists, extremists,
Assalamo Alaikum (Peace be upon you)
I greet you with the traditional Islamic greeting because the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of God be upon him) taught that I should address even my enemies with peace. Yes, we are enemies.
You and I both claim to be Muslim, and yet we are astonishingly divergent in our views.
I struggle on a daily basis to fulfill my obligations as a Muslim. To offer my prayers on time, to serve my local community, and to spread the message of Islam. But you make my life and my job so much more difficult with your reckless acts of violence. I am constantly having to defend my faith and my Prophet. I do not understand why you claim your violent acts in the name of Islam.
When the attackers of Charlie Hebdo claimed that they had ‘avenged the Prophet’, I was at first shocked, then distressed and saddened and finally outraged. I fail to understand how our beloved Prophet is ‘avenged’ by senseless killing.
Have you not read the Qur’an? Are you not familiar with the life of the Prophet? Did he not always respond to his critics and enemies with love, compassion, and benevolence? When did he ever ‘avenge’ his opponents for criticizing him or mocking him? You and I both know that the Qur’an is full of instances about prophets being mocked by their people. In fact, mockery is one of the distinguishing features of a true prophet!
The Qur’an tells us that all prophets have been mocked, from Adam, Noah, Abraham, to Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them all. You also know very well that the Qur’an does not record a single incident where an opponent of any prophet was ordered to be killed merely for mocking or disbelieving in the prophet. Not a single incident. This is what confuses me. You have no authority from the Qur’an, or from the life of the Prophet of Islam, I assume you must be following your ‘imam’ blindly.
You are being fooled. Your ‘imams’ or so-called ‘leaders’ are taking advantage of you. They are using you not for the advancement of Islam, but for the advancement of their own personal political agendas. You are being played as a pawn in a game of power. And you will be ‘sacrificed’ and tossed aside when the time comes.
As Muslims, we both believe the Qur’an to be the Word of God. Well, you should judge your imam’s orders against the Qur’an. If you are being told that you will enter paradise by killing someone, do not believe it. Get a grip. Nowhere does the Qur’an even remotely ‘command’ to kill our opponents. Read the passages carefully and within their context. Do not conveniently cherry pick verses to suit your preconceived ideas. Let the Qur’an guide you. Paradise is certainly not for killers and there is no such thing as eternal pleasures in paradise. These are all figments of your imam’s perverted imagination. The Qur’an’s description of paradise is metaphorical, and unfortunately your imam does not have the literary sophistication to understand it.
I urge you to get an education and study the Qur’an on your own, without the aid of your imam. Enough with the terror and violence in the name of Islam! Every time you kill in the name of our faith, you demonize Islam, not glorify it. Every time you kill innocent people, of whatever faith or creed, you kill your fellow Muslims as well. Yes you do. We Muslims suffer as well at the useless loss of life, and at the suffering you generate.
I am fed up with your violence. I will not let you malign the name of Islam with your self-serving ideology. Not in my name, and not in the name of my faith. Your violence has motivated me and many other Muslims to be an ever more active peace spreading Muslims. We will plant more trees, organize more charity events, plan more blood drives, and set up more conferences and Qur’an exhibitions. We will try harder to spread Islam’s message of universal love and brotherhood. This is the way to glorify Islam. Not your way.
Though I was hurt by the Charlie Hebdo caricatures of our beloved Prophet, I am much more offended by your response to them. I know Charlie Hebdo is a racist, sexist, and increasingly Islamophobic publication with double standards. Yet, I defend their right to live. They did not deserve to die for their views. As a Muslim, I would have defended them against you, just as that Muslim police officer, Ahmed Merabet did. This is Islam. Please go back through the pages of history and read the account of the Prophet’s entry into Mecca. When Mecca was conquered, did the Prophet not say to the disbelieving Meccans that all their excesses against him and the Muslims are now forgiven? He granted a general amnesty to all his persecutors. This is how he was able to win over the hearts of his enemies. And this is the example we need to follow as Muslims. Even if we are being provoked by the nonsensical cartoons of our beloved Prophet, let us take up the pen and write in defence of him. Let us mould our own behaviour in his likeness, and let our peaceful actions speak louder than guns.
I hope you’ll understand and contemplate upon your actions. Forget the jihad of the sword and take part in the jihad of the pen.