(1) Important to promote Christian-Muslim heritage and values

Important to promote Christian-Muslim heritage and values

By:  Shaik Kadir

An anti-Islam movie made in the US has sparked angry protests across the Muslim world.

Pockets of demonstrations are still going on in the Middle East and Asia. Initially there was even news that the US Ambassador in Libya was attacked and killed due to the hate-Islam movie protests, although the motive may not be related.

The US ambassador to the United Nations says it was a reaction to the movie, while Libya’s president says the perpetrators were planning the attack from a long time ago, wire agencies reported.

Muslims seem to be always provoked by unscrupulous people in the name of freedom of speech.

These provokers, often highly educated and religious, know that the hearts and soul of Muslims are always with Islam and its final prophet, Prophet Muhammad, and that Muslims all over the world would react, so that becomes a plus point for their vested interest.

Such provocation goes on from time to time. In the last few years alone, two other serious provocations had resulted in violent reprisals.

One happened in September 2005 when Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. When Danish Muslims objected, newspapers all across Denmark and other European countries began reprinting the cartoons.

The other was In March 2011. Florida Christian preacher Terry Jones burned copies of the Quran in his dishonourable “Burn the Quran Day” performance.

The current controversy erupted when people were informed about the partial online video of the anti-Islam movie that denigrates Prophet Muhammad. It is now known that the movie-maker is a Coptic Christian residing in the US.

Muslims all over the world are indeed affected by such provocations. But patience and level-headedness is important.

Muslims need to restrain themselves. Indeed the vast majority are. The majority of Muslims condemn both scenarios – the killing of innocent people and also the protests that result in killings and destruction of properties.

MOB INSTINCT

But mob-instinct is not easy to control as can be seen from the rowdy scenes in the current China-Japan controversy over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands

In this latest controversy, Muslims are against the killing of the innocent US Ambassador in Libya for whatever reason. The 114-chapter Quran, in Chapter 5:32, says that killing of any innocent person is prohibited.

The recent attack has hurt all Muslims deeply at an emotional level, but violence is not the answer. It is unacceptable and is against Islam. Prophet Muhammad did not win over his enemies with violence but with compassion.

Muslims yearn to see Christians and Muslims coming together to promote love and compassion, but western interference in Islamic countries in the Middle East and Afghanistan, often with bomb-killings, poses a stumbling block to achieving such aspirations sooner than desired.

THINGS IN COMMON WITH CHRISTIANS

Christians and Muslims have so many things in common. Muslims adore Jesus Christ. In the Quran, he is mentioned by name 25 times in high esteem and respect, while Prophet Muhammad is mentioned only five times.

Chapter 19 of the Quran is named “Mary” in honour of the mother of Jesus Christ. The Quran speaks highly of her as a pious and virtuous person “above the women of all nations” (3:42).

The Prophet’s own mother, Aminah, though she too was pious and virtuous, is not even mentioned once in the Quran.

Muslims love all prophets of God, including Abraham, Moses and Jesus. In the name of freedom of speech, Jesus Christ had been ridiculed by western non-Muslims, but it is beyond the capacity of Muslims to react to that because Jesus and even Mary are depicted in movies and paintings in Christianity in the first place.

In Islam, God and prophets are not allowed to be depicted in images to prevent belittling them and idolatry. As such, there are no images of God or Prophet Muhammad in the homes of Muslims or in mosques. Instead, walls of mosques are typically decorated with floral and geometric motifs and calligraphy of verses from the Quran.

Muslims know that not everyone in the west is out to ridicule Islam and Prophet Muhammad. So, let these “People of the Book” (a Quranic reference to good Christians and Jews) counteract with mutual peace and love, and make movies about Christian-Islam harmony instead.

BOOSTING HARMONY

The 1977 Hollywood movie, “The Message”, starring Anthony Quinn as Hamzah, the uncle of Prophet Muhammad, was a good example of portraying the truth of Islam and the mission of Prophet Muhammad. In the movie, the persecuted followers of the Prophet were given protection by the neighbouring Christian King, boosting Christian-Muslim relationship. (In the movie, which was vetted by the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Prophet Muhammad was not role-played by any actor though his presence was felt.)

It is about time that Christians and Muslims make a concerted effort to come closer together to highlight their common heritage and values towards achieving peace and harmony, and voicing out against any association with hate motives.

Freedom of speech in the west has to have limits. As Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs, said in a statement on 14 September: “Freedom of expression does not mean that one has unfettered rights to insult and denigrate another’s religion or race. Rather, we safeguard this freedom only through mutual respect of the views and beliefs of others.”

And the Quran appeals: “Let there arise out of you (mankind), a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong:  they are the ones to attain felicity.” (3:104)

(The views and opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of insing.com and SingTel Digital Media Ptd Ltd.)

(From inSing.com, published on 17 September 2012)

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