Civilized Response to Affront to Islam

  • 2 April 2008

Despite the affront to Islam and its religious sanctities that has justifiably outraged Muslims around the world, the response to such abuses should remain compatible with the spirit of Islam, which calls for good conduct and patient dialogue with the offenders. This was the behavior of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who displayed the finest example of tolerance and forgiveness toward his enemies.

The civilized and mature response by Muslims to the highly provocative Dutch film, released recently on the Internet, demonstrated Islam's sterling moral values to the whole world. Its civilized conduct forced the rest of the world to decry the film, with denunciations coming from the highest levels.

The most recent condemnation has come from the General Secretary of UNESCO, who called the film an expression of hate and an incitement to violence. Earlier, the Secretary General of the United Nations had denounced the film and underscored the need for ending the insult to religious sanctities and beliefs. Meanwhile, statements of condemnations from the Islamic world called for dialogue among religions and cultures. Instead of taking recourse to violence and disorder-as had happened over the matter of abusive caricatures-these statements called for initiating projects aimed at introducing the teachings of Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to the West through specialized religious channels and in Western languages. Through their new approach to confronting these insults, Muslims have been able to transform their rage into constructive expressions that project the real and forgiving nature of Islam, extolling humane qualities that eschew violence and terrorism, unlike the distorted representation of Islam which is projected for malicious motives.

The rising instances of affronts to Islam in the name of freedom of opinion and expression is part of a plot to provoke Muslims into inflaming their relations with the rest of the world. For this reason, the most civilized response to these insults is to handle them intelligently and not allow the enemy to promote false claims.

Undoubtedly, the highly critical international response to the Dutch film provides an important opportunity to develop a universal position against those who abuse religious sanctities and seek to provoke conflicts and religious hatred. There should be clear and effective international measures to punish such deviant behavior that could well-nigh threaten global security.