Dealing with the Danish cartoons [Archives:2008/1133/Viewpoint]

February 28 2008


Once again, drawings depicting the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) have caused uproar in the Muslim world. This time, the reaction is confused because the issue was thought to be resolved until three angry Muslims in Denmark decided to take matters into their own hands.

Although the plot to kill one of the cartoonists failed because of alert security – or so it was reported – the Danish community, especially the media, was shaken by the news, remembering that when you push the buttons of some fanatics, they resort to violence, regardless of their religion.

Other than plotting the murder of the cartoonist, another reaction is to boycott Danish products. Many Muslims still are protesting everything that upsets them and immediately taking to the streets and burning the flags of those countries where such upsetting events occur.

As a reaction to this, more Danish media – and others will follow – have republished the controversial caricatures.

So, what next? I asked several Yemenis what they thought the solution to this conflict is; some suggested boycotting them forever, while others said to explain how this has hurt the Muslim community and have more dialogue. However, the most ridiculous response was to find something in Danish culture that's significant to them and then ridicule it to hurt them just as they hurt us.

To me, the whole issue is quite sad and somewhat pathetic. If we really loved our prophet and wanted to stand up for him, then we should've studied his actions in similar situations and used it as a reference for self-conduct. He was never a violent man, always displaying compassion and flexibility, even toward his enemies.

Islamic Sharia explains what to do when such insults occur. In this particular situation, where the offense comes from a non-Muslim, the measure stipulated in Sharia law is to ignore and let go.

The idea behind this is that because non-Muslims aren't within Islamic jurisdiction, we shouldn't impose our beliefs on them, which means that what's precious and sacred to us doesn't necessarily hold the same significance for them.

Thus, the most we can do is complain to their heads of state that this has offended us, but since Danish law frees the media from state control, I don't see how much good this will do.

The point here is that Muslims neither understand nor practice their religion, which has created misunderstandings among non-Muslims as to the essence of Islam and its position against violence.

Personally, I like many Danish products, so I'm not interested in boycotting them. Until the Muslim world starts producing products just as good, I'll buy the available better-quality products – from wherever they originate.

There's no point in protesting when our youth are unemployed, when we hardly have any industry and when freedoms are oppressed in our countries.

The way I see it, only by developing ourselves and empowering our youth will we be able to prove to the world that Islam is a religion of logic and peace. Until then, I suggest we work on the problems we already have and not create additional ones by making more enemies.