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Not by violence

Muslims should counter hate speech by using the internet to educate and inform about Islam

Written by Shahid Siddiqui | Published: September 24, 2012 2:10:18 am

Muslims should counter hate speech by using the internet to educate and inform about Islam

After the film,we now have the nude cartoons of the prophet. There is no end to the provocation. It seems that the easiest route to world fame is to condemn Islam,the Quran and the prophet of Islam. Charlie Hebdo,a satirical French magazine,which was fast losing circulation,found a cheap and simple method of overcoming its financial problems by lampooning Islam and all that it believes to be sacred. The film Innocence of Muslims,which could not attract even five people to its premiere,today has many hits on the Net,thanks to the reaction of a handful of violent and irresponsible Muslims in Libya.

It is time that Muslims understood that reacting violently to any insult to Islam is not the right response to all those suffering from Islamophobia or those who take Muslim-hating to be an easy path to financial and professional success. If there was no fatwa on Salman Rushdie,he would have been regarded a mediocre writer,long forgotten. Muslims should learn to ignore the insults to the prophet and the Quran. The objective of Islam haters is to provoke a violent reaction from the Muslims and by reacting predictably,they play into the hands of their opponents. Critics of Islam say that it is an intolerant and violent religion that has no place in a civilised society. By reacting the way some Muslims have,they have proved their critics right.

This is not the way the Quran or the prophet expects Muslims to behave. The Quran asks its followers to behave in a peaceful and civilised manner when faced with insults and mockery of their faith.

“When you hear God’s revelations disbelieved in and mocked at,do not sit with them until they enter into some other discourse; surely then you would be like them” (4:140).

The Quran is clear about not getting into arguments with those who mock your religion,but it also makes it clear that once the discourse changes you may remain in talks and other social interactions with those who are insulting you. So the Quran is asking Muslims to ignore and move away from those who insult and provoke. There are innumerable examples in the prophet’s life (Hadis),when he won over his worst enemies,critics and opponents by his love and affection in response to their insults.

Our anger about this blasphemy and mocking of the sacred symbols of Islam should be positive and constructive. In this age of Facebook and Twitter you cannot stop some mad or ill-informed people from insulting your prophet,but you could very well use the same medium to spread positive and correct messages about Islam. Every Muslim on Facebook or Twitter should write one Hadis of the prophet every day. Show your anger by publishing small booklets in all languages and distribute them free of cost to as many non-Muslims as possible. If today there is propaganda and misleading information about Islam,Muslims are equally responsible for it by not countering this propaganda. They show their love of Islam and the prophet by reacting violently to any insult,but not by taking the teachings of their religion to others.

Muslim ulemas,intellectuals and leaders should boldly stand up to all those who propagate violence and intolerance in the name of Islam. They are doing more damage to the fair name of this great religion of peace by their actions than the enemies of Islam or those suffering from Islamophobia. They should tell common Muslims that this is a deliberate act to bring anarchy into Muslim societies and to present Islam and Muslims in a bad light before the people of the world. Muslims should not fall into this trap. They should concentrate their energies in building a better world both for themselves and for humanity. The Western world’s right to blaspheme can be countered by the right to positive and correct information about Islam and other great religions of the world.

The writer,a former Rajya Sabha MP,is editor,‘Nai Duniya’

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