Those Who Erupt
At the time of writing these lines, protests against Danish cartoons are still raging. Muslims are dying. Their response had been calculated by their adversaries. But its intensity had not been predicted. As we protest, it is necessary to understand the issue and the reaction from different angles. A proper understanding of all the issues will help us determine our ways of response.
Why the cartoons? The first reason, and strong enough to be taken into account, is sheer mischief. This is the second generation of Europeans enjoying fruits of material progress as a result of prevalence of peaceful conditions, technological developments, exploitation of the Eastern natural resources at low cost, etc. People are well fed, dirty work is done by immigrants, European Union promising further well-being has emerged, and support against adversities guarantees manageable suffering. A people devoid of morals, tired of all sorts of pastimes – from the innocent to exotic to the weird – must resort to mischief. The Qur’an has said (83: 29-32),
“Lo, those that committed crimes used to laugh at the believers. They winked at one another as they passed by them. And when they went back to their people, they went back wallowing. When they saw them they (would) remark, ‘Surely, these are a misguided lot’.”
Another reason is that Western Civilization is in fast decline. During the course of its two century existence, it has been continually losing the values it had inherited from Christianity, which itself was in a decadent state when the modern Civilization and Industrial culture pushed it aside and took over. There has been another problem with the Western Civilization from the outset: refusal to accept anything from outside, renew and regenerate. It has been “the white man’s civilization,” and so, nothing could be incorporated from other racial genera. Also, its material success led its adherents through Darwinian route to believe that they are a superior people. This made them proud and arrogant. (In October, Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark refused to meet with the ambassadors of eleven predominantly Muslim countries who had requested a meeting to discuss their objections to the cartoons). Arrogance explains the appearance of the same cartoons in leading European newspapers. That was muscle-flexing. The challenge was “come on, face us.” Pride would not allow that they take anything foreign into their system. Without fresh input, it had to slide to decay. This Civilization has now entered into a state of perversion. It is no more in a position to contribute to other civilizations, which, in fact, despite their own decadence, are much better suited to human needs than it is.
Now, perversion always increases. It is like bacterial decomposition in dead matter. You must toss away the decomposed stuff. The longer you keep, the more it putrefies. Said Flemming Rose the cultural editor of the Danish Jyllands-Posten which published the cartoons last September, to AP when asked about whether he would have published the cartoons in light of the subsequent protests: “I do not regret having commissioned those cartoons and I think asking me that question is like asking a rape victim if she regrets wearing a short skirt Friday night at the discotheque.” The simile drawn should tell us something about the culture of the cultural milieu in which the editor who commissioned the cartons lives. (Last September, the newspaper in question asked forty cartoonists to dig into their creativity and draw images of the Prophet Muhammad. The twelve that were selected were the best). A cartoon insulting the Benefactor of humanity is, to the elites of this culture, no more than a joke. We know the quality of jokes. Some can be narrated in assemblies of the decent. Others amuse the vulgar. When you say, “Let us respect all Prophets”, you are talking pre-Chaucerian language. They do not know what a Prophet is, nor do they know the exact connotation of the word “respect.”
Yet another reason behind the publication of the vulgar caricatures is dogmatic adherence to atheism whose central canon is liberalism. (Dogmatic? Listen to this: Edward F. Mooney a professor of religion and philosophy at Syracuse University writes in an article that appeared in Counterpunch: “The Danish fiasco prompts Fish [another writer] to rehearse a witty polemic against a degenerate Religion posing as a respectable political tradition. As Fish would have it, Liberalism is not a hard won set of institutions that, among other things, tames religious zealotry. It’s just another sort of zealotry”). The West suffered terribly under Christianity. According to some, it suffered above 50 million casualties during the Middle Ages, perpetrated on it by the Church. (“It was only a few hundred years ago that Catherine de Medici started the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in France, ending with the murder of perhaps 20,000 innocent people in a few days. In thanks for the deaths of Protestants, the Pope in Rome issued a gold medal commemorating what he regarded as heroic service to God and offered many special masses”: John Chuckman, Cartoons and Bombs, Counterpunch). The European elites have developed an allergy for Christianity. They disapprove every religion, since, according to them, all religions are false. If there was any religion that could be true, it is Christianity. But this is how Christianity behaved. How can they have any respect for Islam them? If they can make fun of Jesus Christ, write defaming books on him, deprecate him through films and cartoons, what right Islam has not to be treated in a worse manner? When the recent furor over wide-spread Churchmen’s involvement in child molestation was raging, a man in Holland spit in the face of a Nun: a simple woman devoted to a God of her understanding – what was her fault? So, do not ask what is Muhammad’s fault (peace be upon him).
A fourth reason could be Saudi King Abdullah’s successful visit to the Asian and Far-eastern regions. Business is shifting, influences are growing, oil-power is working. Could it be one of those long list of events that promise to shift wealth, power, technology, and civilization back to the East? Are the days of easy access to resources of the third world at their end? Has the era of exorbitantly high price for second-hand technology come to an end? Will the deficits be ever wiped out? The Quraysh are disturbed, restive, and apprehensive. Apprehension leads to fear. Fear to unreasonable reactions. In this case, cartoons.
Another reason is Islam. To many in the West it is a distasteful religion in a special sense. It is foreign, Arab, Eastern, non-white, non-democratic, anti-Western, extremist (terrorist), belongs to the third-world, of our enemies out to destroy our economies through the wealth of oil, and, finally, comprehensible in parts but mostly incomprehensible, and the comprehensible too tough, too other-worldly to accept. These are the ideas of the elite. But, according to this class, the masses, those with little cerebral content, do not seem to understand. There are 200,000 Muslims in Denmark alone. Local conversion is on the rise. (Some 50 Danes embraced Islam as a result of protests over the cartoons). The masses could be unduly influenced by a pamphlet here, a Muslimah in Hijab there. So, the true picture of Islam should be depicted in cartoons: “Islam is militant; save your children O Danes, O Europeans, O Caucasians.” In April last year the queen of Denmark was quoted by the Telegraph newspaper as saying that we (Denmark) “should show our opposition to Islam.” She said: “We are being challenged by Islam these years – globally as well as locally. It is a challenge we have to take seriously. We have let this issue float about for too long because we are tolerant and lazy.” We have to show our opposition to Islam and we have to, at times, run the risk of having unflattering labels placed on us because there are some things for which we should display no tolerance” (Tarek Mishkhas, Arab News). That was from the Queen of Denmark, the so-called most tolerant nation in the West. How about the Dick-Bush-Pat Robertson class?
A fifth reason could be to provoke and humiliate. The Muslim world is asserting itself. It is opposed to Western hegemony, is critical of its culture, does not accept Israel, is developing nuclear bombs, awards contracts to non-Western competitors, and yet its individuals show up in thousands at its borders seeking asylum, jobs, better opportunities, and create little colonies right amidst them. If you can’t do much about it, then, do not suppress your frustration. Demonstrate to them what you think of these creepers. The intolerance is wide-spread in the West, which explains, why, despite initial protests, most European and North American newspapers supported the editor of Jyllands-Posten. We may note at this point that it is the same Danish Jyllands-Posten, which, according to British press, refused in 2003 to run cartoons that ridiculed Jesus. So much for the right to exercise freedom of expression. Hypocrisy is an integral part of what is known as the Western Civilization. Little wonder it has to clash with a Civilization which cares for values.
Another reason could be to gauge and asses Muslim adherence to Islam. Politically, materially, militarily, they are down and under. But when invaded, those committed to Islam come to fore in defense. What is the depth of their commitment now? What is their inner strength? Can we count on the regimes planted, to control them when action is mounted against one of their countries? Protests over such provocations help assess. The stories of Qur’an desecration, well-reported by the Western press gave them an encouraging message. There was protest, but weak. So, let us deliver another slap and see what happens.
Judeo-Christian neo-con’s role cannot be ruled out. They are at work since fifty years trying to place Muslims as the natural target of anti-Semitism. Israel’s existence demands Arab destruction. The West must treat them as enemy no.1. Israel must build a wall between West and Muslims. On the one hand they prevent anything that is anti-Semitic, in however infinitesimally small measure, to appear anywhere in the Western media, and, on the other, encourage others (Christians) to revile Islam and persecute Muslims. They are pretty successful: a crack has appeared which is developing into a chasm. A crack in nation-to-nation relationship is like a crack in glass. It is hard to repair. It does not look like Muslims will be able to repair. What are the credentials of Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of the Danish newspaper? He is a close confederate of arch-Islamophobe Daniel Pipes. Who is Daniel Pipes? He has been advocating in no unclear terms “utter military obliteration of the Palestinians”. And Rose had gone to America to commune with Pipes in 2004” (John Sugg, The Cartoons and the Neocon – Counterpunch).
As for the position adopted by the Western press viz,, “we have the right to exercise our freedom of expression,” sadly, this is as much of a farce as Saddam Hussain’s trial staged by the Americans and their European allies. In actual fact, European countries have laws against anti-Semitism. But they do not protect other cultures from racial attacks. The media there can insult the prophet of Islam with offensive cartoon messages that deface his image, to create an atmosphere of hatred for Muslims. But, in some of these countries, if, in reference to the Holocaust, you state the figure 5.8 million (instead of 6 million propagated by the Jews), you could land in jail. The other day a British historian was served 3 year prison term for denying Holocaust. Interestingly, hundreds of thousands of non-Jews that were eliminated in cold blood by the Nazis such as gypsies, gays, mentally retarded, the handicapped, and a few other categories, considered “debris of humanity” by the law-makers in Europe do not matter. One can deny their slaughter without fear of prosecution or a tear shed from any quarter of the civilized world.
The above explains the past performances: Allah’s name in shoe-soles, prostitute wrapped in a cloth carrying the Kalimah, and so on. And the message we might get is that we should expect periodical, but steady acts of desecration in future also. We will be spared no respite. The pressure will mount, chasm will increase, and we must be ready not for one but several displays of perversion. When protests erupted, then, in the words of John Chuckman, “Condoleezza Rice – Secretary of State, fundamentalist Christian, and apologist for torture and bombing – told the world that Iran and Syria were stoking the fires of these protests. At first pass, this sounds like the days when Moscow was held responsible for every change of weather in Pretoria.” So, more invasions are likely to follow, which will have approval of their masses, if they can be organized without shedding the white man’s blood. We need, therefore, a long term strategy to defend our lands, our culture, our resources and hour honor, as we move forward responding to the “back-door crusades.”
Yet, Muslim effort should not lead to widening of the chasm. A world united on some values, is better than a disunited world. Communication channels between the two: Islam and the West, should remain open. Inter-faith dialogues are almost a farce. Exchange of ideas is a monstrous idea: isn’t this an ideological war? More important for us is the access to the masses. Let them be the judge. Any influence is only possible, if we can reach them. They must be told: “Far from burning an embassy, or a nation’s flag, our Prophet has prohibited that an ant be burnt. He has told us about one of your own Prophet – Judeo-Christian – that he rested under a tree. An ant’s bite woke him up. He ordered that the ant-hill be burnt. He was reprimanded, ‘Was that because of a single ant?’” He has also told us beautiful stories of your pious men: of the Monk for instance, who was alleged fornication but God saved him for his devotions. This is the message of Islam that has to reach the masses. The rustic does not have a heart as rusted as the heart of his leadership. Colorful, well-illustrated, high quality low cost children’s books, without pointed reference to Islam, inundated into their lands, will undo what their elites do, and do more than free distribution of a million pamphlets, or a few hundred internet sites boasting articles that few read.
If we react violently, then, this is what those trying to create the chasm are wishing. They – the Orientalists, Christian Missionaries, racist politicians, and fanatics of all sorts – jump in: “Is this not what we have been telling you about Islam and Muslims? Is their religion, which is coming back strongly, a civilizing force? Such emotional outburst at the exercise of our right of freedom of expression, within our own borders, our own press? Can we co-exist with them? Should Islamic influence be fought against or welcomed? Do you think those of them living within us, pose any threat to us or not?”
If we can organize organized protests, we should. Our protests should not be of the kind the Dutch staged when a Muslim murdered Theo Van Gogh. They burnt Muslim schools and mosques. They directed opprobrium at Muslims in their midst, calling on them “to go home” though many had been born in the Netherlands. On our part we must remember that a silent assembly of a few thousand – no slogans, no fiery speeches, no stone throwing – would take the ground off the feet of our adversaries in the West. If protests get out of hand, the organizers should address the media to express their disapproval; where damages occur, they should raise funds to offer in compensation; and, where flags are burnt, send apologies to the respective governments and the people. Would there be a message in such demonstrations? It would be stronger than pamphlets bearing witnesses to the Prophet’s greatness – although their usefulness in other times cannot be denied. Muslims say, “Their masses are ignorant of Islam. Danes are the most tolerant of all nations.” That could be true. But you do not educate through pamphlets. Distributed free, they will be flung into waste boxes. And you do not do it through resort to violence. That shuts the doors.
An Indian scholar Sayyid Sulayman Nadwi once wrote: “The most successful way of communicating a message is to live it.” We claim we love our Prophet. But what is the nature of this love? Is it nationalistic, racial, or simply symbolical? Are we going to impress with speeches, while our behavior in everyday life is so horribly unIslamic? When we react against people, does the reaction go with a tinge of concern: for them, their future, their Hereafter? The Prophet said to those opposed to him, “My example is like that of someone lighting a fire. When it had illuminated area around it, started to fall into it. He began to prevent them from falling into it. But they overcome his efforts and go right in. That is my and your example. You are falling into the fire. I am trying to hold you by your waists: ‘(Allah’s slaves), away from the fire, away from the fire.’ But you overcome me and fall plunge straight into it. Is there concern in it for the people? Are we concerned too? Is there the concern to save, or to send packing to Hell? Do we ever say to them, “Look! We are both under trial. I bear witness to the truth of the message. You have just been communicated it. My trial is: whether I will live the message. Your trial is, whether you will accept it. Our respective responses will determine whether we enter Paradise or ushered into Hellfire: I fear for myself. I do not know how I will be treated.” Do we believe in this? Do we appear to be saying this? Or, are we ever ready to condemn people to the fire?
Nothing gives us the courage to claim Paradise exclusively for ourselves, but temerity combined with ignorance. It is said, although the authenticity is not established, that one of the Helagu’s family was strolling in the street. He encountered a Faqeer. He taunted him, “Are you better or my dog.” The Faqeer knew he was condemned both ways. But, “He who fears Allah, He places for him a way out.” The Faqeer replied, “If I am delivered of the Fire on the Day of Judgment, then I am better than this dog. If not, the dog is better than me.” Was there a message in it? Do sincere words work? They do. The man began to ponder, inquire, and became a Muslim. The concern was there, and it makes the difference.
Demonstrate we must. For, the pervert accepts no restraints, knows no limits. Every now and then he is bound to get bolder. In his society, an artist presents his master-pieces: a naked sculptural work, with a pencil in his anus. In his culture, his lady Prime Minister in office is depicted stark naked in a series of cartoons. He and his ilk need to be disciplined. Protests might remind of decency.
Boycott their goods we must. But, should we not produce scientists, technologists, inventors, doctors and engineers who – in the love of ‘their’ Prophet – not migrate to dollar-rich countries, but stay back and serve Islam and Muslims? Should not our rich invest in their own regions – even at low returns – creating employment to those streaming out to the (hateful) West? Should our industries not produce cheap but quality goods to reduce poverty at home, and enrich the world at large? Should not that Muslim leadership which erupts with the eruption of protests, not work in ordinary times a few scientific research centers? Is there any shame in the endless march of Muslim students seeking higher studies in our enemy’s lands? Should not the leadership, instead of erupting on occasions, set up institutions where free, short and long-term Islamic courses are offered to Western non-Muslim students? Is it not the requirement of love that there be a thousand of them in the Islamic world? Is there one now?
“Say, ‘Work.’ Allah, His Messenger and the believers will observe your deeds” (The Qur’an, 9: 105).