If you're a Muslim in America whose been tuning in to the counsel of our country's religious leadership lately, you probably don't know whether to sit down, stand up or go to sleep in response to the recent film maligning Prophet Muhammad (S).
While the brunt of the reaction by mosques and Muslim organizations focused on condemning (rightfully) violence linked with anti-film demonstrators, the guidance they did offer on how Muslims should respond to insults thrown at our Prophet (S) was all over the place.
Here are some excerpts:
Accept the film as free speech: "We are committed to upholding the right to freedom of expression, and we unconditionally condemn any use of violence as a means to protest offensive or hateful speech. In the United States, this fundamental, inalienable right is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."
Protest it: "We invite all to peacefully voice their opposition to this disrespect, obscenity, hate-mongering and yet another incident of Islamophobia in a growing list of bigoted acts."
Ignore it: “We call on all Muslims around the world to ignore the irresponsible and deliberate anti-Islam films and clips that have been circulating on the web. We urge that these attempts to provoke the religious feelings of Muslims be ignored and that their extremist producers not be given the cheap publicity they so desperately seek."
For starters, we can learn from Prophet Muhammad (S) when his late wife Khadija, one of the four perfect women of all times upon whom God and Angel Gabriel sent salutations, was insulted.
The Prophet (S) used to praise Khadija abundantly after her death and repeatedly ask God to have Mercy on her. One day someone objected and told the Prophet (S) that God had now given him better than her.
"The Holy Prophet got furious," according to scholar Usama Abdul Ghani.
The person who mocked Khadija then prayed: "O God! If you take away the anger of the Prophet (S), I will never mention her name in a bad way again for as long as I live."
Anger (not acceptance or indifference), then, is the natural and appropriate reaction to offenses against holy personalities.
The real question is: How do we channel this "Muslim (& non-Muslim) Rage" so we can strive steadfastly and, in the peaceful, intellectual and all-encompassing manner taught by our Prophet (S), create a world free of all types of oppression, including the ridiculing of sacred religions and their personalities?
It is our duty, after all, to pioneer such an environment of peaceful coexistence:
"And do not abuse those whom they call upon besides God, lest exceeding the limits they should abuse God out of ignorance. Thus have We made fair seeming to every people their deeds; then to their Lord shall be their return, so He will inform them of what they did. (Quran 6:108)