By Quaid Safee
During our morning drive to school, my daughter and I discussed the recent YouTube video about the Prophet (s). This video has caused a lot of pain to Muslims all over the world but most unfortunately has caused violence, destruction of properties, and deaths of fellow human beings.
Four American diplomats and the same number of Yemeni citizens have died so far. My daughter asked me, â€œHave you seen this video?â€, I said â€œNoâ€ and â€œ I have no desire to see itâ€. I told her I avoid watching or reading anything which denigrates any religion or any figure the followers of that religion consider holy. I know my Prophet (s) well. God mentions him in the Quran as the â€œMercy to the worldsâ€. I have read so many of his biographies and I love him more than anything in this world (including my children and parents).
My daughter and I talked about how someone can post an offensive video like this which can hurt the feelings of 1.5 billion Muslims all over the world from Morocco to Indonesia. Is it OK to do that? What are boundaries of freedom of speech? Just while we were talking, NPR had a story on this as well. It talked about Google blocking this video in Egypt and Libya. It compared this to how all the Nazi related videos are banned in Germany.
We talked about freedom of expression. We talked about how the freedom of expression does not apply to somebody who wants to roam the streets stark naked or want to call out â€œfireâ€ in a dark movie theater, but how to apply this to other situations like this video which has similar effect if not worse. Honestly there are no good answers. Freedom comes with a lot of personal responsibilities and there are always going to be individuals who will take advantage of it and incite people by using their right to freely express. As the saying goes, freedom is not free, neither is the â€œfreedom to expressâ€. This cherished value of ours should not be used to hurt other human beings or their faith.
She and I also talked about how an Egyptian TV channel used their newly acquired â€œfreedom to expressâ€ and caused this ensuing violence. I think they are more responsible for this violence then the misguided person who produced this video (this person also misguided all the actors in the video by not telling them the real purpose behind this video).
We talked about how we cannot get incited by any Tom, Dick and Harry who is out there to outrage us. It is the responsibility of the leaders to educate the masses that the solution to every problem is not to riot or to destroy. In countries like Egypt, Libya, Yemen, etc. there are millions of uneducated, unemployed, and unmarried youth. This is a volatile combination which leaders of these countries need to address, rather than burning flags and throwing stones at the consulates of other nations (who are their guests). If we truly believe in God and his Prophet (s), then we need to show that in action. Words have no meaning if they are not translated into action.
One can quote numerous examples from the life of the Prophet (s), where he forgave his enemies and did not bother to respond to their criticism. He did not respond to hatred, with hate. In one of the narrated incidents in the life of prophet a person not only tried to verbally insult him but also physical injured him by throwing garbage at him and he not only refused to react, but when that person fell sick, he visited that person to give comfort. I can recall reading another incident from the life of the prophet where a Christian delegation (diplomats) visited him in Medina and they wanted a place to worship during their extended stay. He simply pitched a tent in the mosque and gave them space to pray and worship as they pleased. This is how one should treat diplomats.
The Prophet (s) continued on his mission despite facing insults, injuries and sometime even death threats from his enemies. He did not take anything personally. It is about time, Muslims need to adopt the prophetâ€™s way. We need to outperform everybody in being good, noble, and compassionate in our action & in our reaction to insults like this video.
We deliberated about the need to make sure that if somebody wants to learn about the Prophet (s) he/she is able to find the right information about him. When somebody Googles his name, he finds the objective information about this greatest of human beings. More importantly our day to day actions should reflect our belief in God (The Ultimate Judge of all actions), and all the prophets (including Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (s), who patiently endured insults from their enemies). Anybody with any common sense who really wants to learn about the life & mission of the Prophet (s) would ask somebody who follows his message, not look for answers in a perverted video.