“Islam Rahmatan lil ‘Alamin: Challenges in the Globalized World”: Anwar Ibrahim - ABIM
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“Islam Rahmatan lil ‘Alamin: Challenges in the Globalized World”: Anwar Ibrahim

Islam has survived for almost 1500 years without these self-righteous self-proclaimed defenders of the faith. It can certainly go on for another thousand years and more without them. The Prophet was sent unto mankind as a blessing and guidance, not a preacher of terrorism.

“And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.” Al-anbiyaa: 107 We know that during his early mission, all kinds of insult, led by Musaylima, were hurled at the Prophet and his Companions urged him to fight back.

The Prophet merely said: ‘Let him be. He is just a liar. Ignore him.’ When the enemies of Islam stepped up their ridicule and persecution, the Companions again asked the Prophet to curse them.

At this, the Prophet replied, “I have not been sent to lay a curse upon men but to be a blessing to them.” When the Prophet went to Ta’if, he attempted to call the community there to Islam. In response, they set the street urchins to hound, harass and then stone him. When he was utterly exhausted and bleeding from head to foot, did he curse his tormentors or seek help for revenge?

On the contrary, as all Muslims know or should know, what issued from the Prophet’s lips was and remains indeed one of the most moving and beautiful du’a in Islam:

“O Allah, To Thee I complain of my weakness, my lack of resources and my lowliness before men. “O most Merciful! Thou art the Lord of the weak and Thou art my Lord. To whom wilt Thou entrust me? To one who will misuse me? Or to an enemy to whom Thou hast given power over me? If Thou art not angry with me then I care not what happens to me. Thy favour is all that counts for me. “I take refuge in the light of Thy countenance, by which all darkness is illuminated. And the things of this world and next are rightly ordered. I wish to please Thee until Thou art pleased. There is no power and no might save in Thee.”

So, where is the textual authority to establish that Muslims should avenge the Prophet by embarking on a killing spree? The Prophet’s heart was always filled with love and compassion for human kind regardless of creed or colour.

The hearts of these self-appointed avengers are filled with hatred and hostility. The Prophet taught us tolerance and understanding. These avengers preach intolerance and animosity. The Qur’an tells us to reach out and get to know one another.

These killers sow discord and division. Of 9/11 back then, I had denounced it thus: “The attacks must be condemned, and the condemnation must be without reservation. The foremost religious authorities are outraged and have issued statements denouncing the monstrous murders.

All efforts to punish the perpetrators must be supported.” Likewise, the response to the killings in Paris must also be unequivocal condemnation. It is cold blooded massacre, plain and simple. There’s nothing to justify or rationalise. It is also not the time for moralizing over U.S., French or European foreign policy. As stated earlier, these acts of barbarism are tragically not new.

We would recall the reaction of Muslims to the Danish cartoons. Innocent lives were lost and buildings were set on fire as angry mobs in various parts of the Muslim world went on a rampage to demonstrate their anger. Was that following the example of the Prophet?

 Nevertheless, much as we must defend our fundamental liberties, the fact is that there is no such thing as absolute freedom of expression, not even in Europe and certainly not in France.

When the comic book on the life of the Prophet was first published in France two years ago, I had deplored it as sacrilege against Islam. Indeed, I had called for calm and rationality in response even as we should denounce the cartoons as vile and contemptible.

To my mind, the Danish cartoons, Charlie Hebdo caricatures and the rest of the tasteless and insensitive publications ridiculing Islam and the Prophet are mere manifestations of Islamophobia in all its varied guises.

They appear to betray a deep-seated Freudian prejudice or animosity harking back to the Crusades. This is most disappointing considering the strong tradition of scholarship and interest on Islam in Europe that has yielded scholars such as William Muir, Richard Burton, Reynold Nicholson, Max Muller, Theodor Noldeke, Ignaz Goldziher, Ernest Renan, Louis Massignon and Henri Pirenne, to name but a few.

Inspired by Hafez (1325-89), Goethe (1749-1832) wrote West-östlicher Divan (West-Eastern Diwan). It symbolizes, not a clash, but interaction between the West and the East, between Greek and Persian civilizations and between Christendom and the Muslim world.

Goethe’s Diwan in turn inspired other works by European writers. In 1924, Iqbal (1877-1938) himself was moved to publish Payam-e-Mashriq (The Message of the East) underscoring the role of religion and spirituality in civilisation.

As we moved into the 21st century, instead of great works of literature celebrating intellectual convivencia between the Muslim world and the West, we are instead inundated with trashy and worthless writings and cartoons clearly aimed at provoking Muslims and causing unrest. For full speech please click the following video below.