I have to admit, I haven’t seen the movie (well, actually trailer) of the offensive movie on YouTube that mocks the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) called Innocence of Muslims.*
The movie, or trailer at this point once again, has sparked a furor from some Muslims in a few countries that has even resulted in lives being lost, both of protestors and innocents like the US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, which is pretty insane.
It has to be said (and it has been) that the violent protestors in no way represents 1) everyone in their country and 2) all Muslims around the world. It should be pointed out though that although the protesting is taking place in a few countries, the number of people actually protesting are only miniscule percentages of a country’s population.
Even though I could just shrug my shoulders and say that they don’t represent me (and they don’t), I feel the need to condemn all of the violence that has stemmed from the protesting. So this is me, condemning the violence.
I attended an event the other night in Berkeley titled “Between Militarizm and Extremism: The Excluded Middle” with Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Hatem Bazian and a few other people. They talked about how the “Middle” (everyone beyond the few people protesting) are never included as part of the conversation.
“Now is a time for patience” is what Imam Zaid Shakir said. If we follow the ethical and moral teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), these violent acts have no place.
He told the crowd that some of the people that hated the Prophet (pbuh) the most became of the group that loved him. It would be easy to mock and insult all the people who are using this as a reason to hate Islam and Muslims and the guy who created the film (who in no way represents all Coptic Christians) for creating this but instead, we should be patient and pray for them.
In the end, it was a really good event.
There were a couple of side points that were brought up at the event that I thought were interesting-
Shaykh Hamza asked, as Americans, if we really should allow mockery of one’s religion. Although we do have free speech in this country, he brought up the point that we as a society have move passed the denigration of races. Meaning, you can’t say the “N”-word or any other derogerotry term for a number of other races and not expect there to be ramifications of some sort. Most of us know to not even use those types of words in the public space. Why can’t we get to that point with one’s religion?
Also, this trailer has been released some odd weeks before the election. Before the last presidential election in 2008, the anti-Islam movie Obsession was distributed to people for free in swing states to try to influence the minds of voters to vote a specific way. In 2010, the Park51 controversy erupted before mid-term elections as a ploy to sway the elections. The timing is all suspect. However, as Shaykh Hamza said, since Islamophobia isn’t a huge point of the election, (Americans are understandably more concerned with the economy) this won’t have the impact that some may have been banking on. In my opinion, it doesn’t take away from the fact that we Americans are really being played here.
Food for thought.
The bottom line is that this violence is not representative of mainstream Muslims, despite what some people think, assume, or are being told. To the Muslim folks – you don’t like it? Be civilized in the manner in which you protest. Be the kind of Muslim that looks to the Prophet (pbuh) as a proper example of how to act.
NOTE: The “Muslim Rage” part of the title came from the now infamous Newsweek cover article, complete with a pic of Muslims “raging”, that released on Monday. People all over Twitter took over the #MuslimRage hashtag and, instead of talking about the Newsweek article, made it into something humorous. That really is the only way to handle this kind of stuff :)
*Maybe I should see it before I comment on it but I don’t want to intentionally put myself in the position to feel insulted and let someone mock my religion. Also, the movie snob I am, I can’t subject myself to something with low production values either;)