In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate
“Messenger of God! Let me cut off this man’s neck, for he is truly a hypocrite!”
This is what Umar ibn Al Khattab (r) used to say to the Prophet (pbuh) whenever someone would do something that would anger him. The Prophet (pbuh), however, would always restrain him, sometimes saying: “I do not want people to say that ‘Muhammad kills his companions.'”
Yet, this was not because the Prophet (pbuh) was worried about his image or bad “public relations.” The Prophet’s (pbuh) mission was to bring as many people into the fold of faith as possible. He was sent as a “mercy unto humanity,” and thus, it is unbecoming of that mercy to wantonly kill and murder. Yes, he fought battles, but whenever someone would wrong him, the Prophet (pbuh) would forgive.
After he was shamelessly expelled from the city of Ta’if, when its children stoned his feet to bloodiness, he asked God to forgive them, rather than crush them under the mountains as was offered to him by Angel Gabriel. After the battle of Uhud, he forgave those companions who directly disobeyed his order, even though that disobedience almost led to the murder of the Prophet (pbuh). A few years later, when he entered Mecca victorious, he gave the city a general amnesty, despite their bitter enmity towards him. He even forgave Hind bint ‘Utbah, the woman who mutilated his uncle Hamza’s body and tore out his liver after the battle of Uhud. The Qur’an says it best: “And it was by God’s grace that you dealt gently with your followers: for if you had been harsh and hard-hearted, they would have broken away from you.” (3:159)
This should set an example for us today, the followers of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the ones who claim we love him more than any other human being on earth. As “Teddygate” raged in Sudan, and Muslims were calling for the head of Gillian Gibbons, I was discussing the situation with some acquaintances, and one of them seemed to explain away the call for violence by saying: “This just goes to show that, even in the Muslims who do not pray, love for the Prophet (pbuh) runs strong and deep in the hearts of the people.”
This made me quite upset. If, truly, the Muslim loves the Prophet (pbuh), then he or she would make sure they would pray, fast, give charity, and the like (rather than kill), so as to honor the Prophet’s (pbuh) enormous sacrifice to bring us Islam. Any Muslim, whether he prays or not, who shouts out death threats “defending the Prophet (pbuh)” is actually insulting the Prophet (pbuh) and all that he held dear throughout his life. If you truly love the Prophet (pbuh), then you should be like the Prophet (pbuh).
Yet, too many of us have abandoned the way of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), so much so that now, people all across the world are indeed saying: “Muhammad kills his companions.” Or “kills the infidels”; or “kills the apostate”; or “kills the girl who ‘shames the family honor'”; or – as recently happened in Canada – “kills the girl who does not wear her hijab.”
Now, anyone with even an inkling of rational understanding, realizes that the violence done in Islam’s name is not because of Islam, but rather in spite of Islam. Even the laughable incident of the teddy bear in Sudan had a context that was not well-explained in the Western press, although it does not excuse – in any way, shape, or form – the ridiculous reaction to the incident on the part of some Muslims.
In addition, there is a concerted effort by a small number of people to smear and malign the religion of Islam, to accentuate and highlight the sins of a tiny number of Muslims in order to tar the entire faith and its community across the world. It it these people who say, time and time again, that “Whenever a bomb explodes around the world, there is a Muslim behind it.” Yes, many times that is true, but these people never try to explain why said Muslim decided to detonate that bomb.
Virtually no one, in fact, tries to explain the context of “Islamic terror,” like the media tried to explain the context of the December 5 Omaha mall shooting, although, again, it does not excuse it. No, whenever a Muslim commits an act of violence, it is automatically assumed to be an act of terrorism, whose justification is to be found in Islam itself. Moreover, these critics neglect to mention that the overwhelming majority of the victims of “Islamic terrorism” are not “the infidels,” but Muslims themselves. These terrorist criminals are not only the enemies of the West, but the enemies of Muslims as well.
Still, having said all of that, Muslims should not shy away from reminding themselves – and the world around them – how abhorrent violence against the innocent truly is in their religion; how Islam holds all human life – not just that of Muslims – as sacred, that all human beings have an inherent dignity that should never easily be violated; how the Prophet (pbuh) hated violence, and he only fought when he had absolutely no other choice; how Islam’s sacred text continually reminds them to “never let the hatred of a people toward you move you to commit injustice.”
As Muslims, we all know that the statement “Muhammad kills his companions” is a complete and utter falsehood, a vicious lie that is spread to poison the image of Islam across the globe. We all know that the television camera lens is much more attracted to the Muslims shouting “Death to Gillian Gibbons!” than to those Muslims who reached out in sympathy to her. We all know that 15-second sound bytes and flashes of angry Muslims marching in the street will never be able to tell the whole story in a 30-second news segment.
Nevertheless, the Prophet (pbuh) told us to “spread the message on my behalf, even if it is one verse.” An enormous amount of ignorance about Islam is still quite prevalent, even among Muslims themselves, in our world today. The maligners of Islam (and the neo-Kharijite murderers) capitalize on this ignorance, trying to “distinguish the light of God with their mouths.” We must do our part to dry these swamps of that ignorance. And even though it may seem to be a daunting task, let none of us despair. For, truly, “God will perfect His light, even if those who reject the truth may hate it.”