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The Mockery of the Prophet Muhammad

(Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC, delivered this Friday speech on February10, 2006)

Most likely all of us have read the recent national and international headlines about insulting cartoons mocking our beloved Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). There are several important points that we must consider when reacting to such insults against our faith. As Muslims, we love and glorify our Prophet but we donít just believe and glorify him; we believe in all the Prophets sent to mankind. We believe that all Prophets sent by Allah (S.W.T.) were among the best of the people and if anyone disbelieves or disrespects any of them then it consequently implies disbelief or disrespect to all of them.

The first idea that should come to mind is that the Prophet has been ridiculed and disrespected many times throughout history. In fact, as many Qur'anic verses will show us, all the noble messengers of Allah, without exception, were badly mistreated by their own people. Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, "Indeed (many) Messengers were mocked before you (O Muhammad), but the scoffers (mockers) were surrounded by that, with which they used to mock (i.e. in Allah's torment)." [Surat Al_Anbiya', (verse 41)] All prophets were abused verbally and physically, and some were even killed.

Allah (S.W.T.) mentioned many of these accusations in the Qur'an and taught us how the prophets demonstrated patience and remained steadfast despite the abuse.

The people used to mock their prophets and accuse them of being liars, crazy, magicians, poets, and corrupt. Allah (S.W.T.) did not ignore these false accusations. Rather addressed the insults by responding to them objectively in a way that made the truth clear to all people.

Allah (S.W.T.) ordered the messengers to be firm and patient, and to remain focused on delivering the message with forgiveness for the ignorant. Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, "(O Muhammad) Therefore proclaim openly, that which you are commanded, and turn away from the polytheists. Truly! We will suffice you against the scoffers...Indeed, We know that your breast is distressed at what they say. So glorify the praises of your Lord and be of those who prostrate themselves (to Him) and worship your Lord until there comes unto you the death." [Surtu Al-Hijr, (Verses 94, 95, 97, 98&99)]

We should understand that this mockery of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) does not lessen him in anyway from his noble position in the eyes of Allah or the people. Allah (S.W.T.) is the One who raised him in his position and stature in this life and the Hereafter. Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, "And We raised high your fame (O Muhammad)." [Surat Ash-Sharh, (Verse 4)] Allah raised him in stature and fame because of the special qualities that He (S.W.T.) has given to him. Surely the one whose fame is raised high by Allah (S.W.T.) no one can lower it. Allah (S.W.T.) raised his Prophet's fame high when he combined His Prophet's name with His own name in the Shahaddah, "Ashadu Al La Ilaha Ila Allah, Wanna Muhammadar Rasullah." This statement has been repeated many times by those who deliver speeches, those who call for prayer, and those who pray. Allah (S.W.T.) raised high his Prophet's fame when Allah took oath on all the previous Prophets to believe in Muhammad and to order their followers to believe in him as well. Allah (S.W.T.) has raised high his Prophet's fame in many other ways. Some scholars count over fifty instances, but we do not have enough time today to mention them all.

We should understand that the mockery of the Prophet is a test from Allah (S.W.T.) for us. Allah is watching how we will react to this test. The decision of our actions is up to us. Will we react in the proper way by controlling our emotions and anger, or will we overreact and commit mistakes like the injuring and killing of people and damaging property? Allah (S.W.T.) and His Prophet (S.A.W.) would not be pleased with us if we tried to correct a mistake by committing other serious mistakes.

We should understand as Muslims that this mockery of the Prophet comes as a test to determine the type of relationship we truly have to the Prophet (S.A.W.). Is it a strong and correct relationship as Allah (S.W.T.) and His Prophet (S.A.W.) want it to be? Or is it a weak and incorrect relationship? To answer this we must ask ourselves the following questions:

1. Did we learn about the personality of the Prophet Muhammad through the study of his biography and teach it to our children, to the Muslims, and non-Muslims alike?
2. Did we learn about the personality of the Prophet Muhammad through the study of his sayings and actions and teach it to our children, to the Muslims, and non-Muslims alike?
3. Did we learn how to live our lives and make him our best example in all aspects of our religious and worldly lives through the study of his biography and traditions?
4. Do we truly believe in him and believe in what he conveyed to us from his Lord and obey him in all his commands?
5. Do we truly love him deeply from our hearts; a love that is more special and stronger than our love to our wealth, ourselves, our families, and all other people?
6. Do we truly carry his message and convey it to all of mankind until it becomes a mercy for them as Allah (S.W.T.) wants it to be? Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, "And We have sent (You O Muhammad) not but as a Mercy for the Alalamin (all that exists)." [Surat Al_Anbiya', (verse 107)]
7. Do we truly honor him by invoking our prayers, blessings, and salutations on him as Allah (S.W.T.) order us in what can be translated as, "O you who believe! Send your Salat on him (Muhammad) with the salutation." [Surat Al-Ahzab, (verse 56)]
8. Do we supplicate to him by repeating what the Muazzain says when calling to prayer and asking Allah (S.W.T.) to grant him Al-Wasillah, which is the highest degree in Paradise?
9. Do we truly respect him as we have been commanded by Allah (S.W.T.) by not calling him in the same way we call onto each other, and by not raising our voices in his place?

As for the people who want to hurt the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) by their mockery we warn them of what Allah (S.W.T.) says in what can be translated as, "Verily, those who annoy Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad) Allah has cursed them in this world and in the Hereafter. And has prepared for them a humiliating torment." [Surat Al-Ahzab, (verse 57)]

We should ask ourselves the question, "If Prophet Muhammad was alive today how would he respond to these insults?" We will find the answer to this question if we study his biography.

When the Quraysh in Mecca persecuted the prophet he decided to seek assistance from the tribe of Thaqif. He (S.A.W) was hopeful that they would accept Islam. When he (S.A.W.) arrived in At-Ta'if, he approached a group of the leaders from the tribe of Thaqif. He sat down with them, and called them to Islam. However, they received him in a very disrespectful manner. In fact, their harshness and ugly words took him utterly by surprise.

The Messenger then asked them, at very least, not to inform the Quraysh of his visit, but they refused. They then stirred up their slaves and children against him, and ordered them to curse and shout at him. They threw stones at him until his feet bled. He (S.A.W.) eventually reached a garden and after resting under a shade of a tree supplicated to Allah (S.W.T.) with great humility: "O Allah it is to You that I bring my weakness, my helplessness, and my humiliation. O Most Merciful of the merciful, You are the Sustainer of those who are deemed weak, and You are my Sustainer. On whom but You shall I rely? On some distant personage who regards me with displeasure? Or on a foe to whom I have surrendered? So long as You are not displeased with me, then I have no cause for dismay. I take refuge in the light of Your face by which the darkness is illuminated, and in which both this world and the next are set aright. The well-being which You bestow upon me is too all encompassing for You to pour out Your wrath or displeasure upon me. To You I shall continue to turn until I have won Your favor, and there is no power or strength except in You."

In another incident, A'isha (R.A.) asked the Messenger of Allah, "Have you ever gone through any experience harsher than the battle of Uhud?" He (S.A.W.) replied, "The most difficult thing that I ever suffered at the hands of your people was on the day of Al-Aqabah, when I presented myself to on of their leaders, and he did not respond as I had hoped. I departed, feeling anxious and lost, and I remained in this state until I reached an area outside of Mecca. Then I looked up, and what I found was that I was in the midst of a cloud which had overshadowed me. When I looked to see what was happening, I saw Gabriel in the cloud, calling to me and saying, "Allah Almighty has heard the words spoken to you by your people and the manner in which they responded to you. Moreover, He has sent you the angel of the mountains, for you to give him whatever command you so desire." Then the angel of the mountains called out to me with a greeting of peace, saying, "O Muhammad, Allah has heard the words spoken to you by your people, and I am the angel of the mountains. You Lord has sent me to you, for you to give me whatever command you wish. What then do you command? If you want me to bring the two great mountains of Mecca down upon them, I will do so." But I said, "All I wish is for Allah to bring forth from their offspring those who worship Allah alone and associate no partners with Him." [Reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim]

The Prophet Muhammad always used to supplicate to Allah (S.W.T.) by saying, "O' Allah forgive my people because they do not know." [Reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim]

Also after the battle of Uhud some of his companions asked him to curse the Quraysh because of what they have done to him and he responded, "O' Allah guide them and bring them into Islam." Allah later accepted his supplication and they became Muslims.

In another occasion, when the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) conquered Mecca, while his soldiers were around him, he gathered all Meccan people in the Masjid yard and then prayed in the Ka'bah and then came out and said to the people, "What do you think I will do with you?" They said you are a noble brother and the son of a noble brother. The Prophet (S.A.W.) then replied, "Today I will tell you what Prophet Joseph (Yusuf) told his brothers, (which is) no harm on you today and may Allah forgive you for all that you have done. Go! You are all free."

After hearing all these stories from the Prophet's Life, we come to the conclusion that if Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) was alive today he would not respond to these allegations except in the same manner that he responded in the past. This is because of his great and noble personality. Surely the Prophet (S.A.W.) would not accept the reaction of many Muslims around the world, who attempt to defend his honor, by causing the injury and killing of many innocent people and the damage of property.

Today and in the future, let's respond to these and similar allegations by educating ourselves, our children, Muslims, and non-Muslims about Islam and the life of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). This way we will please Allah (S.W.T.) and His Messenger Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessing be upon him) and it will be a great benefit to all mankind.

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