Innocence of Muslims: No, I will not ‘get over it’
So, this morning I read this piece on Slate.com which advises Muslims to just ‘get over it’, when we see movies denigrating our religion or our Prophet (pbuh) on the Internet. It’s a sensible piece, urging us Muslims not to resort to violence because of a stupid, amateur movie made by a bunch of charlatans.
“God is too great to be troubled by the insults of fools. Follow Him.”
Well, thanks very much for that advice. I’ll have to put down my Molotov cocktail now and put my feet up. I’ve been told I can just ignore insults to the thing I hold the most dear in the world.
While I appreciate the sentiment and the message contained in this article, I can’t help but feel just a little bit patronised by it. First off, anyone who’s reading Slate on the internet is probably not likely to go climb the walls of the US Embassy or loot an American school. Chances are the people that are most likely to do that haven’t even seen the offending video - they’ve just been told about it or have read that it exists. YouTube has been blocked in the places where they live, although YouTube refuses to take down the clip itself.
So an internet article advising us Muslims to just calm down and not, you know, blow stuff up is – how should I say this? – perhaps somewhat misdirected. And also stating the obvious. We’re not all that dumb, you know. But thanks for assuming that we needed your words of wisdom to show us the error of our ways. Because we’re all sheep that can’t think for ourselves. And I really wanted to go run amuck in the streets today.
I must have missed the circular that came my way telling me
“Hey, you guys! God is dead. Sincerely, Nietzsche.”
This isn’t literal, but a philosophical observation that the Western world was losing its dependence on religion as a “moral compass and source of meaning”.
But guess what! I’m a practicing Muslim. Yes, I get down on my knees five times a day and pray, I give charity, read the Quran and all the rest of it. I walk under a Quran before I get on a plane. I say my prayers before job interviews. I know it may seem a little weird, but that’s just the way it is. Lots of my prayers involve sending blessings to the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), his family and companions.
Oops, is that regressive?
Not only that, but I grew up learning about the Prophet (pbuh) and his life. I was taught that he was the best example of humanity, that he was sent as a ‘mercy to all the worlds’, that his demeanour and actions and behaviour were so awesome that my religion bases half of its belief system on what he did and said.
We call it the Sunnah if you want to get, you know, technical about it. My middle name is the name of his most beloved wife.
One more thing (and don’t tell anyone, but I’ll share it with you): my family claims lineage that goes all the way back to the Prophet (pbuh) – we’re his direct descendants (supposedly). So he and his family are my ancestors. Just one more reason for me to care about what he did and how he conducted his life. Not that it gives me a premium on defending the Prophet’s (pbuh) honour, because all Muslims are taught to revere his personage and respect his teachings.
So when a ridiculous, amateur movie pops up on the internet, defaming my beloved Prophet (pbuh) please excuse me if I don’t just “get over it”. I’m sorry I’m not evolved enough to not feel anger, humiliation, or shame at the idea that my beloved Prophet (pbuh), who taught us the difference between right and wrong, who gave up his life for his people, who suffered endless taunts, threats to his life, temptation, open hostility and hidden plots because of his role as messenger and leader, should be mocked and demonised today by a group of people whose clear intention is to hurt, harass, incite, and eliminate Muslims.
I can’t believe the duplicity of those who would tell me that a film against the Prophet (pbuh) is not hate speech, but “freedom of expression”.
How stupid do you think I am? Do you think I don’t know world history or modern law?
There are laws against hate speech in every Western country (except the US). But what, it doesn’t apply to anti-Islamic propaganda? Right. Check. Got that.
I want to add that I’m impressed with how my country, Pakistan, has reacted to the film.
On Thursday night, television anchors discussed it in their evening talk shows. They all echoed the feeling that while the film was hideously insulting to Muslims all over the world, we had to be careful to protest it in a way that did not involve violence or destruction of property or harm to human life. They gave examples of how the Prophet (pbuh) himself dealt with ridicule and insult – by refusing to react, by being patient, and by winning over his enemies with his goodness and character.
I’m a Muslim. I’m proud to be a Muslim. I’m proud of my Prophet (pbuh) and I will respect his tradition, honour his person, and fight for what he stood for. So my weapons are words, not guns or bombs. That’s my choice. That’s what Mohammad (pbuh) taught me - to use the phrase that Lupe Fiasco’s been hashtagging on Twitter ever since this all started.
Don’t you dare tell me I should just “get over it” or not get angry or just stay cool.
You get over yourself.
Don’t impose your values on me.
Some things are still sacred: this is one of them.
This post originally appeared here.
Read more by Bina here.
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The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.