Charlie Hebdo and The Prophet Muhammad SAW

It is safe to say that unless you have been living in a cave for the past week – everyone has heard about the attacks on the French Magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’ in their Paris office on Wednesday 7th January 2015.

Why did the gunmen target Charlie Hebdo?

In 2006, Charlie Hebdo had reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which were originally printed in a Danish daily – Jyllands-Posten.

Unlike other religions where there are sculptures and pictures of the various Gods (for Hindus) and of other religious figures such as Jesus (Christianity), Guru Nanak (Sikhism) or Buddha (Buddhism), it is not the case for Islam. Not only do we not have pictures or idols of our God but even the prophets who we believe were sent down from Allah.

In Islam, we believe that the final messenger of Allah – Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent from Allah to restore an unaltered, pure religion that the previous prophets who came before him, had tried to teach the people. As Muslims, if we are able to blindly trust the words and follow the footsteps of this great man that had once walked the earth, then it is disrespectful and completely unnecessary for people belonging to other faiths to then create cartoon images of the Prophet (peace be upon him). I genuinely cannot understand the reason behind why cartoon images of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was printed in the first place in Denmark let alone being reprinted in France. It is disgusting behaviour from both countries. If as Muslims, we have accepted the teachings of our religion without any imagery or cartoons of our Prophet then it is simple courtesy that as people belonging to other faiths that you respect this and do not publish offensive images.

It is because of this that these two terrorists: Cherif and Said Kouachi thought that they would take it upon themselves to get ‘revenge’ for what had happened in 2006. I hope you have noticed how I mentioned ‘terrorists’ and not ‘Muslims.’ Why? Because quite frankly after what they have done – it would be a disgrace to call them Muslims. I have mentioned this in my previous posts, but for those who haven’t read it – I’ll say it again: In verse 5:32 of the Qur’an, it states: ‘If anyone slays a person, it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.’ This is because as Muslims, we believe that no- one is permitted to take a life except for God himself, therefore killing another innocent is as if you’re almost taking the power of God into your own hands, which is a major sin in the religion. In our Holy Book. Our Holy Qu’ran. It tells Muslims not to kill other people. Therefore whatever justification these two men had, makes no difference. They might have thought they have done a ‘good deed’ by getting revenge for the Prophet but they’re wrong. There is no justification.

In fact it is because of these terrorists – my religion, my Prophet (peace be upon him) is once again going to be disrespected as the Charlie Hebdo magazine are publishing 3 million copies tomorrow (Wednesday 14th January) with a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on the front cover.

What makes this worse is that a columnist, Zineb El Rhazoui told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme “Our friends died because of small drawings, because of a joke… And they must accept humour also.”

The killings should not have happened. They were completely unacceptable and in any way am I not condoning what has happened.

But, to call cartoons of our Prophet (peace be upon him) ‘a joke’ is preposterous. If it was a ‘joke’ then many Muslims around the world would not have been horrified and disgusted as well as being deeply offended by this. This is essentially mocking and disrespecting our religion.

When at school, children are taught about ‘Freedom of Speech’ yet they are still punished if they make offensive remarks. If the children of this generation are being taught to respect other religions that may be different to their own then why is it such an alien concept some adults.

To conclude, I think that the murders that the two terrorists have committed is absolutely disgusting and completely against the peaceful religion of Islam. However, I strongly believe that the cartoons that have been published and that are yet to be published tomorrow by the Charlie Hebdo magazine, is absolutely disrespectful and unnecessary.

The Portrayal of Muslims in the Media

Since the September 2001 9/11 Terrorist attacks in America, Muslims have found themselves increasingly in the media for essentially all the wrong reasons. Although, this is partly the fault of the minority of the religion, it is also the fault of the media who have basically used this tragic incident as a reason to accentuate the portrayal of Muslims in a negative light.

Terrorism is one of the main reasons why Muslims are being presented in the way they are. However what people do not realise is that those terrorists who take it upon themselves to take the lives of hundreds and thousands of innocent people are not really following what their religion tells them to do, therefore it is debatable whether they can be classed as ‘Muslims.’

In verse 5:32 of the Qur’an, it states: ‘If anyone slays a person, it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.’ This is because as Muslims, we believe that no- one is permitted to take a life except for God himself, therefore killing another innocent is as if you’re almost taking the power of God into your own hands, which is a major sin in the religion.

However, in this day and age, people (especially the media) do not care about this and continue to paint Muslims as the ‘evil people.’ It’s as if indirectly the media is trying to show the world that because of what a few people who lost their way did, it really means that every other Muslim would follow in their footsteps and become terrorists. What people need to realise is that there is approximately 2 billion Muslims in this world and if you are to believe everything in the media, it is therefore saying that there are almost 2 billion suicide bombers in this world. How ignorant.

In 2007 on the BBC News Website, one of the subheadings of an article: Muslims are being “demonised” by the British media, with 91% of reports being negative, research commissioned by the London Mayor has found.’ This clearly shows that even the people who aren’t Muslims themselves have realised that nearly all reports that have anything to do with Muslims are negative.

Thus meaning that when someone in the Muslim community does something wrong then they immediately get a lot of media coverage, however if the roles were reversed and that same person was doing something beneficial then it would be most likely that it would be overlooked. In 2012, Christopher Bail wrote an article about the negative portrayal of Muslims in the Media, below is a snippet of what he had to say after conducting thorough research into this:

‘When Muslim organizations put out many messages condemning terrorism, in response to nearly any incident, these press releases were usually dispassionate or mournful, and they received little media coverage.

However, when Muslim groups put out angry and emotional messages in response to various cases of discrimination against other Muslims; these messages got more media attention. To the newspaper-reading and TV-watching public, the impression is that Muslims care little about condemning terrorism and are over-sensitive to Islamophobia,’

Why is it that the world would rather see the negative side to Muslims than anything else?

Where is the ‘equality’ that the Western world seem to always encourage?

It just goes to show how biased the media can be when it benefits them most.

If you’re looking to stereotype – then look at the majority, not the minority.

Not all German people are supporters of Adolf Hitler.

Not all Irish people are supporters of the Irish Republic Army.

Just like that, not all Muslims are terrorists.

I’m a Muslim, not a terrorist!

Before I begin blogging, I am well aware that this is a very sensitive topic therefore if I offend you in any way, this is not my intention. I am simply blogging my opinions, therefore you do not have to agree with me by any means.

Terrorism.

Many people will automatically think of the September 11 attacks in New York City/Washington DC in 2001 or the July 7 attacks in London in 2005. On both occasions, it has been proved that the attacks were launched by Muslim extremists. The point of this blog is not to defend these extremists, but to show people that because of the foolish mistakes of a small minority of the religion, is it fair to blame every single Muslim?

In 2005, before the July 7 attacks took place in London, it was a normal Thursday morning for me as a 9 year old. I was near the end of Year 5 excited about the coming summer holidays like any child would and it started off as a perfectly normal day. To be perfectly honest, the teachers didn’t tell us exactly what happened afterwards, they just called all the parents of the children to send us all home. Obviously they had to be careful, as one of the bombs that were set off was on the Piccadilly Line in North London, and my primary school was situated between two stations and they did not want to take the risk. As parents came to pick up their children, they all had similar facial expressions, a sense of fear but at the same time a sense of relief that their son/daughter is perfectly okay. My mother was the same, when she saw me; she gave me the tightest hug ever. As I innocently asked my mother what had actually happened, she tried to explain as much as she could without scaring me, bearing in mind I was only 9 years old.

I can’t remember much about that day, but I do remember watching news channels and reading newspapers afterwards and being absolutely terrified. At that time I didn’t understand why people would do things like this, and to be honest, even now, at the age of 17, I still don’t understand why. But I guess that’s something that we will never know.

Anyway, we had a day off school the next day (Friday). When we returned on Monday, things had subtly changed and I didn’t realise this until a fellow classmate came up to me obviously noticing the colour of my skin (as my school wasn’t really multicultural so there were very few people with an obvious South Asian heritage), and asked me: ‘Are you a Muslim?’ I didn’t think that was a bad thing to ask as you can never know a person’s religion if they are not wearing the Hijab or Turban or any other religious garment. So, I replied with a ‘Yes.’ She then asked me innocently: ‘Does that mean you’re going to be a terrorist when you’re older?’ Surprised, I replied back with ‘Of course not!’ It was her next sentence which shocked me: ‘But you’re a Muslim! That means you’re going to be a terrorist!’ she exclaimed. I was so shocked. I had only recently learnt what that word meant after having heard the word on more than one occasion I had asked someone in my family who told me and here I was as a 9 year old being accused of potentially being a terrorist when I was older because of my faith.

It’s not right to do that to anyone, let alone a 9 year old. Thinking back now, no 9 year old could come up with something like that on her own, it must’ve been talked about in her family or by whoever was looking after her. Anyway, I didn’t tell anyone about this at the time, or anyone afterwards I don’t really know why but I just chose not to. As I grew older, I realised that this was a common thing in society and it is so sad because there is a minority of the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide (23% of the world’s population)* that take part in horrific terrorist attacks in the name of our god, Allah (swt) which is completely wrong but the rest of the people in the same faith have to put up with the wrath of it?

The one thing I would like to stress from this blog is that not all Muslims in this world are terrorists; therefore it isn’t fair to blame us all for the mistakes of the dim-witted minority.

 

 

* 2012 Global Religious Landscape report from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.