Tag Archives: Prophet Muhammad ﷺ

In the Footsteps of the Prophet by Tariq Ramadan

Get it on Amazon.com

In the Footsteps of the Prophet is a long-needed biography of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ that focuses on his character, manners and experience, rather than narrating meaningless dates and facts.

Many classical Islamic books are somewhat out-of-touch to modern readers, so that while they may have been satisfactory to their original (often Middle Eastern) readers, when translated into English they end up being unapproachable, enigmatic and highly inadequate, often leading to more questions than answers. In the Footsteps of the Prophet, having been written by someone who lives and breathes the Western worldview, lacks these shortcomings, so that I can refer Europeans to it without having to make apologies for it.

On embracing faith

Ramadan writes:

From the outset, the Quran presents itself as the mirror of the universe. The term that the first Western translators rendered as “verse”-referring to biblical vocabulary-literally means, in Arabic, “sign” (ayah). Thus, the revealed Book, the written text, is made up of signs (ayat) just as the uni­verse, like a text spread out before our eyes, is teeming with signs. When the heart’s intelligence, and not only analytical intelligence, reads the Quran and the world, then the two texts address and echo each other, and each of them speaks of the other and of the One. The signs remind us of what it means to be born, to live, to think, to feel, and to die.

His writing style creates vague clouds of meanings and feelings, and it is often left as an exercise to the reader to make out anything concrete from what he says. This is very much unlike my own style, but perhaps there is a demographic that finds better meaning in his. What he is saying above is that the Quran provides various pointers (rather than conclusive proofs) of the Creator’s existence and presence, and the universe around us also provides its own pointers (rather than conclusive proofs). When you bring together the total of the Quran’s pointers and the universe’s pointers, your conscience (what he refers to as your heart’s intelligence) is offered the very difficult choice of accepting faith or rejecting it.

When you run into sufficient ayat in yourself, in the world around you, and in the Quran, you reach a point where non-submission to the Creator becomes a sin against your conscience. This is the sin of kufr (disbelief), of denying God’s signs and/or favors.

Throughout your life, your conscience is like a jury watching a trial that tries to decide whether God exists or not. Sign after sign is presented to your conscience, never sufficient to conclusively prove to your rational brain that God exists, but never so little that you can deny those signs in good conscience. Once you have seen sufficient signs, you will feel guilty to deny God, because you have done something that goes against your conscience. Even if you can rationally justify your rejection of God, the guilt may never leave.

As for someone who has never seen sufficient signs, that is a different matter.

The super-humanity or not of the Prophet ﷺ

Ramadan embraces the idea that there was something special (super-human) about the Prophet ﷺ, narrating a few stories like the angels visiting him when he was a child and performing surgery on him to remove a black piece of flesh from his heart, in this way purifying him from something bad that other human hearts supposedly contain. The Egyptian scholar Muhammad al-Ghazali in his Fiqh al-Seerah rejects this story, saying that good and evil are a matter of the spirit, not the flesh.

The story is problematic because it suggests there is some inherent evil within humans, embedded right in their flesh, reminiscent of the Christian idea of original sin. This story is just one example of the myriad stories in books of seerah (biographies of the Prophet ﷺ) suggesting that the Prophet ﷺ was special, something more than human. The Christians turned Jesus into God, and Muslims would probably have done the same, out of love and a desire for a human divinity that wasn’t so terrifying as God, if the Quran wasn’t so insistent that God has no associates and wasn’t so critical of the idea of Jesus as a Son of God.

In the Footsteps of the Prophet contains only a few such stories, which makes it greatly superior to other books of seerah. And while we may not be able to conclusively say that there is was nothing specially super-human about the Prophet ﷺ, a truly human Prophet is far more admirable than a super-human Prophet in reality. What’s so special about bearing a burden if you are given super-powers by God to bear it? And resisting evil while desiring it is a greater accomplishment than resisting it after God sends angels to perform surgery on you to make you a better person.

The beautiful story the Quran tells us is that the Prophet was a human just like any of us, and that he was given a terribly difficult mission that terrified him. He had to bear this burden with all of his fears and weaknesses, he had to face humiliation after humiliation among his relatives and tribe, and he had to face death on numerous occasions, not as a super-man who couldn’t be harmed, but as a fragile human who could suffer, who could fear, who could desire, who could be impatient, who could make terrible mistakes.

Say, “I am nothing more than a human being like you, being inspired that your god is One God. Whoever hopes to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and never associate anyone with the service of his Lord.” (The Quran 18:110)

God did not tell the Prophet to say, “All humans are equal, but I am more equal than you.” He is told to say “I am nothing more than a human being”. That’s it. There is no need to turn him into a super-man and in this way take away from his achievements.

Activist Islam

Throughout the book, he advocates for the spiritual/activist Islam that I advocate for, but he does not, at least not in this book, provide the crucial algorithms for reaching this form of Islam; preferring the Quran’s authority over hadith, teaching everyone to treat the Quran as if it was revealed to them personally.

This type of Islam, which I call Quran-focused Islam, is almost exactly Tariq Ramadan’s kind of Islam. In this book, at least, he shows what this Islam looks like, without showing how it is arrived at and why it is so different from classical Islam. Perhaps he himself does not see his Islam as the result of a small set of algorithms but rather the result of a lifelong search for meaning. This is also the case with many other admirable personas within contemporary Islamic history, who call for a modern and extremely civilized form of Islam without clearly stating the crucial differences between their Islam and classical Islam. They show the results of a lifelong process they have arrived it, they do not, or are unable to, explain the process itself, explaining the algorithm that if applied by anyone of sufficient intelligence and knowledge always leads to their type of Islam.

This makes them easy prey to Salafis who always come with their highly simple and elegant-sounding algorithms, in this way in a statement or two appearing to demolish all of Tariq Ramadan’s thinking. The Salafi algorithm is that one must follow the Quran and the Sunnah as  accurately as possible, and who can argue with that? Tariq Ramadan, at least in this book and in his Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, does not offer a clear alternative algorithm that leads to his type of Islam and shows why the Salafis are wrong.

That alternative algorithm is that one must use all available tools to reach as accurate an understanding of the Quran as possible, and once that is reached, this understanding of the Quran is taken as a program that must lived and breathed by every person, with hadith acting as a helper. This alternative algorithm’s biggest proof of superiority is in its intellectual conclusions (solving the problem of slavery, stoning adulterers, punishing apostasy, the free will paradox) and in the lives of its greatest followers (Sayyid Qutb, Ahmad Moftizadeh).

Aisha

Sufficient evidence is not presented to show why the relationship between Aisha and the Prophet was special and exemplary, a claim that the book makes in multiple places. The issue of Aisha’s age is not addressed, and for someone who has this in mind while reading the relevant passages, nothing presented sufficiently justifies things. He mentions that the Prophet ﷺ “stayed away” from Aisha for a month after she was accused of adultery, then mentions that this event “reinforced their love and trust”. But this claim is not convincing when no evidence is presented for it, and in fact evidence is provided that it harmed their relationship.

The very important spiritual side of this matter is not mentioned. This was an intensely difficult lesson for the Prophet ﷺ, for he had not received guidance on what to do in the case of someone being accused without evidence being presented. Since the person accused was his own wife, and since he had no specific guidance on the matter, he could do nothing but suffer. He did not dare interact with his wife, not knowing whether her status as his wife was valid anymore.

Mentioning these facts would have shown that his abandoning her for a month was not an act of him throwing away his wife until she was proven innocent, as it would appear to a critical reader. Both in this book and Karen Armstrong’s  Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time, the focus on the Prophet’s persona and his sociopolitical status sometimes causes the fact of his utter servitude toward God to be neglected. In the issue of Aisha’s accusation, he was a helpless servant of God, not knowing what to do to please Him.

Later it is mentioned that Aisha remained upset with the fact that the Prophet had doubted her chastity. Her mother asks her to thank the Prophet ﷺ for forgiving her and taking her back, but she says she will only thank God, since the Prophet ﷺ had doubted her. This, while seemingly a negative fact, is a good illustration of the fact that she maintained her independence of will and did not act as an intellectual slave to her husband, but considered him a human that could be challenged. This proves Islam’s detractors wrong in considering Muslim women the toys of their men, and it also proves Salafis wrong in considering women the toys of men.

Sufficient justification for the war on Khaybar is not mentioned: the fact that it continuously sought to pay Arab tribes to go to war with the Muslims, hoping to remain the supreme Jewish power over the gentiles of Arabia, the way Israel today hopes to remain the supreme Jewish power over the gentiles of the Middle East, and using one group of gentiles to do their dirty work for them against another group while they themselves remained safe in their fortresses, the way today they get Christians to fund and fight Israel’s wars for them.

The Prophet’s manners

As mentioned, the book approaches the Prophet ﷺ as a human to be understood and emulated, and many examples are shown of his immense kindness, tolerance and civility toward both his followers and his sworn enemies. While on the whole the image of the Prophet ﷺ presented by the book is believable, there are also passages like the following which appear to attach too much of the author’s own reading to the Prophet ﷺ:

The Messenger, moreover, drew from children his sense of play and innocence; from them he learned to look at people and the world around him with wonder. From watching children experience beauty he also more fully developed his sense of aesthetics: in front of beauty, he wept, he was moved, he sometimes sobbed, and he was often filled with well-being by the poetic musicality of a phrase or by the spiritual call of a verse offered by the Most Generous, the Infinitely Beautiful.

It would have helped if these characteristics were backed by concrete examples.

Conclusion

In the Footsteps of the Prophet is a book I would recommend to anyone wishing to get something of an accurate view of Islam’s founder, a view that is neither harshly critical or fawningly uncritical piece of marketing. It shows the Prophet ﷺ as those who know the most about him see him, and I cannot give it a higher praise than this.

A non-Muslim may naturally be skeptical of a book, written by a Muslim, that offers such a seemingly charitable glimpse of the Prophet. Muslims have everything to gain if non-Muslims see the founder of their religion in a more friendly light. To that I will say that this is the Prophet ﷺ as Muslims see him. There are no dark secrets. If someone says he said or did something horrible, we reject it. The Prophet’s character, as his wife Aisha said, “was the Quran”. We think of the Prophet as a follower of the Quran, someone who did his utmost to embody its teachings, and if someone makes a claim about the Prophet that is highly out of character for him as a person who lived and breathed the Quran, then we reject that claim regardless of where it comes from.

Our only entirely reliable source about the Prophet is the Quran, therefore the Quranic worldview and its view of the Prophet takes priority over everything else (including hadith narrations), the Quran is the criterion by which we judge all other claims about the Prophet. As Abu Hanifah says, the Prophet of God cannot do anything that goes against the Book of God, therefore if someone says the Prophet did something that is out of character for him as bearer of the Quran, then that is automatically rejected.

Therefore if someone tells you the Prophet did this horrible thing, and that horrible thing is not mentioned in the Quran and goes against the Quran’s principles, then the rational thing to do is to distrust that saying. Saying the Prophet broke a Quranic principle is an extraordinary claim and requires extraordinary evidence.

Skeptics of Islam who say this book gives an overly friendly view of the Prophet have misunderstood Islam. The view of the Prophet ﷺ presented in this book is the most Quranic view of him that we have, and therefore by definition it is the most accurate and believable for Muslims, and thus it should also be considered the most accurate and believable view by non-Muslims.

As rational humans, we believe in Islam because we have read the Quran and consider the likelihood of it being from God greater than the likelihood of it being a forgery, its evidence has overwhelmed us and we have gone with our conscience, which is to accept it. Different people, of course, arrive at Islam via different roads, but the place of the Quran is central. If it wasn’t a miraculous text that could prove its own truth, it wouldn’t be worth believing in. Our Islam starts with the Quran, not with the Prophet. To a Muslim, the Quran has center stage, and once you have accepted the truth of the Quran using your rational brain, what people say about the Prophet ﷺ is only of secondary importance. To you, the Prophet ﷺ is merely the Quran’s messenger, and therefore you judge him as a messenger. If someone mentions that he did something unfitting of the Quran, that is automatically rejected, since the Quran is your living, day-to-day guide, who cares what is written in some ancient history book that has no guarantee of being 100% true, even if it is generally reliable?

A skeptic who finds random narrations mentioning horrible things about the Prophet, thinking this somehow proves him to not be a very nice person, has totally misunderstood Islam. We judge the Prophet not by those narrations, but by the Quran, and if those narrations go against the Quran’s principles or the fact that the Prophet’s mission was to embody this book, then those narrations are automatically highly suspect and not worth talking about to a Muslim.

The Quran gives us a specific view of the Prophet ﷺ, and this is the unquestionable, unchallenged view. This is the canonical Prophet ﷺ that we love and follow. If you find something in an authentic hadith collection that goes against this canonical Prophet ﷺ, then say that the canonical Prophet is inaccurate, that this hadith takes precedence, then you are simply showing that you have not understood Islam. Our only 100% reliable source of evidence regarding the Prophet ﷺ is the Quran, therefore this is the canonical view. Everything else is less reliable by definition, and therefore should be judged according to the Quran’s canonical view.

This is a simple matter of giving weight to more reliable evidence (the Quran) over less reliable evidence (hadith). If the more reliable evidence gives you one view of the Prophet, and the less reliable evidence gives you another one, if you are a rational human, you will prefer the view arrived at through the more reliable evidence, and this is what we Muslims do, and this is what In the Footsteps of the Prophet does. Those who have an ax to grind against Islam ignore the reliable evidence and waste their time building an alternate-reality version of the Prophet ﷺ based on less reliable evidence, a version of the Prophet that goes entirely against the Quranic view. What they say about the Prophet, therefore, is automatically rejected, since they intentionally ignore the most important evidence (the Quran) and instead focus on secondary evidence that confirm their preconceived biases.

A fair-minded person should therefore see that what In the Footsteps of the Prophet does is exactly what we Muslims do in trying to arrive at an accurate understanding of the Prophet ﷺ; we use the canonical, Quranic view to make sense of a world of secondary evidence of varying authenticity to reach a good enough understanding of the Prophet’s mind and career.

How and From Where Do We Begin? By Ahmad Moftizadeh

Chon u La Kwewa Dast Pe Bkain (“How and From Where Do We Begin?”) is a 170-page Kurdish book based on interviews with Ahmad Moftizadeh done after he was released from prison (and soon before his death) and perhaps some of his writings.

It provides an overview of his thinking processes regarding various matters, especially the proper form of conduct for those who want to emulate his way. The information is often scattered and no formal approach program or vision is presented. Moftizadeh’s approach has generally been like the Prophet’s ﷺ, offering guidance as situations presented themselves, rather than sitting down to build systems for people to follow.

On the question of political work, he offers some guidance on the issues that his own movement had, without doing a formal analysis, and saying that different people at different times and places can reach their own conclusions regarding the best modes of action when doing Islamic political work. He strongly criticizes the political partisanship practiced by so many Islamist groups. In his view (and mine, too) matters of the heart take precedence, so that a Muslim who uses partisan thinking to attack another Muslim has automatically lost the way of wisdom. He also mentions that a key source of corruption within Islamic movements is when individuals seek power within the movement.

My key discovery regarding political Islam has been that Islamic movements must never seek power. His ideas are close to this, and his movement (Maktab Quran) does not seek power, but he does not clearly state it. In his thinking, it is apparent that he hasn’t arrived at this conclusion, thinking that at certain times and places, once a certain stage of growth has been reached, groups of Muslim can engage in political partying and do more good than harm.

He mentions that one of the biggest proofs the truth of Prophet Muhammad’s prophethood ﷺ is that his wife believed in him immediately. A wife knows her husband of many years better than most people. She knows his weaknesses and flaws. If she had known him to be untrustworthy, or known him to have significant flaws, she wouldn’t have supported him in bringing about a new ideology that totally opposed her culture.

And after her, his closest friends also believed in him quickly, even though he didn’t have any proof to offer them except a few verses of the Quran. Again, this shows the immense amount of trust these people had in him.

Sayyid Qutb

He is asked about his opinion on certain luminaries of the 20th century Islamic revival, such as Maududi and Qutb, and is asked why he does not refer to them often, and is asked whether he somehow disapproves of them or dislikes them like some people have suggested.

He says that loves Qutb’s message and considers him far greater than himself, and mentions a few lines of poetry he had written in which the word “Qutb” is used both metaphorically and as a reference to Sayyid Qutb.

He says that he does not have a very good memory for crediting ideas and sayings to their authors, so that he uses what he has learned from these men without saying it is from them. He also says that due to his business with social and political work throughout his active (pre-prison) life, that he did not have time to read too much, often taking ideas from other people.

Tazkiyah

A large part of the book is dedicated to clarifying the concept of tazkiyah (which could be translated as “spiritual cultivation”), which in Moftizadeh’s view takes precedence over instruction. Instruction is merely the the transfer of information from a person to another, while in Moftizadeh’s view, Islamic education should focus on tazkiyah, imparting on people a subconscious appreciation for Islamic manners and ways of thinking. Instruction is the transfer of information, tazkiyah is the transfer of character, and far more important.

He does his best to clarify what he has in mind regarding the difference between tazkiyah and mere instruction, using the example of Prophet Muhammad. To perform tazkiyah is to provide for people the subtle guidance and encouragement for them to become spiritually uplifted. To merely instruct people, the way it is done in various Islamic education systems, without focusing on imparting character, is going to do little good and has little affinity to the Prophet’s method of instruction.

Discrediting the madrasa

A large part of Moftizadeh’s thinking regarding Islamic education is to discredit the classical system that taught various technical topics without giving a thought to the cultivation of character, creating insincere clerics who did their Islamic work as a job without their hearts and souls being in it, and causing people to consider Islam something irrelevant to their daily lives, similar to government.

He is also equally critical of Sufis who cut themselves off from society and allowed Islam’s highly dynamic, highly activist message to be lost.

Moftizadeh and I agree on considering Islam an activist movement rather than just a religion, and I think he would agree with this principle of mine:

No Muslim’s faith is complete if he or she is not an anti-poverty activist.

To me any Muslim leader who is not seriously worrying about and planning against poverty is either a hypocrite or a highly ignorant person, and in both cases is not worth following (he may, of course, have useful technical knowledge.)

Love and dawa

One of Moftizadeh’s key teachings is that a crucial part of spiritually uplifting others (whether those others are religious or not) is to treat everyone with kindness (mehrabani) and love, and to joke with people and talk to them in a way that reaches them (one would call it “building rapport” today).

Talking about “reaching people” is quickly misinterpreted by many (Muslims and non-Muslims) as a way for advocating for clever manipulation tactics for converting people to Islam.

There are two types of dawa (“inviting people to Islam”). One of them spends time and money on increasing the number of Muslims, and creates semi-missionaries who encourage people to embrace Islam using various tactics. The other type of dawa is to embody Islam, to live the Quran.

To me religion is a very personal thing, and any effort to connect with the hearts of other people with an aim in mind (to make them Muslim) is automatically dishonest.

To me, and more or less to Sayyid Qutb, Moftizadeh, and Tariq Ramadan , our mission is to love and to be kind, to do good in this world, to help people find a better way when they are stuck one way or another, without ever having the goal of turning them into one thing or another, treating their dignity and privacy with the utmost respect.

Religion and spirituality is a very personal matter, and it is highly disrespectful (not to mention awkward, and futile) to barge into people’s lives and try to convert them.

Proper dawa is goal-less. You do not make someone your “project” and try to finish this project by converting them. You, instead, treat everyone with love, kindness and empathy, while also embodying the rest of Islam in your daily life. Our interactions with non-Muslims must never be on the basis of hopefully one day converting them to Islam, this always leads to short-term minded, power-seeking behavior. Any kindness and empathy we show them must be given freely, selflessly, without expecting anything in return, and this means without expecting any return of the favor, or any added friendliness from them toward us and our religion.

We practice Islam and in this way show people what it is. They can take it or leave it.

I also feel that any money spent on converting non-Muslims to Islam is far better spent on eliminating poverty and educating those who are already Muslim, and especially new converts. In my view anyone who converts to Islam should automatically be given a monthly zakat stipend by their local mosque (if they are not wealthy), to make them feel like they belong to a community that cares about their well-being.

 

What’s a good modern biography of Prophet Muhammad?

Can you recommend a good bibliography of the prophet Muhammad pbuh. I’ve read one so far but I didn’t like it. The style of the author was too heavy.

I just read Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet and it is extremely good. I think it should be required reading for every Muslim. It focuses on the personality and spiritual teachings of the Prophet, peace be upon him, rather than focusing on unnecessary technical details.

Karen Armstrong’s Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time is also good.

(I assumed you meant biography)

How do Muslims justify their Prophet supposedly marrying a 9-year-old girl?

So, I am someone who likes using logic and I have defended Islam and my Muslim-ness many times from criticisms, some well-founded, others not so much. How can I defend Mohammad’s marriage to a young girl? He was old at the time. I can’t imagine being a child and being given away to an older man. Why did he think that was okay? How do you defend that without sounding like a pedophile apologist? -It is an honest question. How do other Muslims deal with this and remain moral?

The current theory is that Aisha’s young age was invented to defend her against the claims of the hypocrites and some of the Shia that she was an adulteress or unworthy of the Prophet, peace be upon him. By saying she was 9, they wanted to exaggerate her quality as a virgin. From Wikipedia:

Some traditional sources disagree. Ibn Hisham wrote in his biography of Muhammad that she may have been ten years old at the consummation. Ibn Khallikan, as well as Ibn Sa’d al-Baghdadi citing Hisham ibn Urwah, record that she was nine years old at marriage, and twelve at consummation. Modern author and journalist Sadakat Kadri points out that the recording of Aisha’s age by Ibn Sa’d and Bukhari (though the hadith was Sahih) came a couple of centuries after the Prophet’s death. Child marriage was not uncommon in many places at the time, Arabia included. It often served political purposes, and Aisha’s marriage to Muhammad would have had a political connotation.

Muslim authors who calculate Aisha’s age based on the more detailed information available about her sister Asma estimate that she was over thirteen and perhaps between seventeen and nineteen at the time of her marriage. Muhammad Niknam Arabshahi, an Iranian Islamic scholar and historian, has considered six different approaches to determining Aisha’s age and concluded that she was engaged in her late teens. Using the age of Fatimah as a reference point, the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement scholar Muhammad Ali has estimated that Aisha was over ten years old at the time of marriage and over fifteen at the time of its consummation.

From a historical perspective, it seems highly unlikely for Aisha to have consummated her marriage at the age of 9. Given the immense incentive for later Muslims to reduce her age at the time of marriage (to prove her virginity), the “9″ figure is extremely doubtful and almost certainly a fabrication.

For a deep discussion of this topic, please see professor Jonathan Brown’s Misquoting Muhammad. He says:

Several prominent Sunni ulama today, like Ali Gomaa1 and Taha Jabir Alwani, have concluded that Aisha was in her late teens based on arguments similar to ‘Aqqad’s.

While some Muslims live under the mistaken assumption that Sahih Bukhari and Muslim are 100% reliable, recent research continues to poke holes into this view. Nothing in Sahih Bukhari and Muslim is guaranteed to be 100% correct, only the Quran has this guarantee. The status of Sahih Bukhari and Muslim as unquestionable texts only came about in the past few centuries as scholars tried to defend Islam against Western attacks. The scholars before them have had a more balanced approach to Bukhari and Muslim, as is explained in Misquoting Muhammad.

Everything in Sahih Bukhari (and other collections) must be judged by the Quran, by common sense and by our historical knowledge. Since what it says regarding Aisha’s age is questionable, we are fully entitled to doubt it.

In general, Saudi-based Salafis reject that we can use the Quran to judge hadith, even though this is a command from the Prophet himself in an authentic narration:

There will be after me narrators of hadith. Expose their narrations to the Quran; any of them that agree with the Quran, then follow those, and those that do not agree with it, then do not follow them.

And they also reject that our rational brains and our conscience can be used at all to judge anything questionable within Islamic thought. For Salafis, therefore, any questioning of Aisha’s age is actually a sign of rejecting the Islamic texts and bending to Western liberal ideals. For an in-depth discussion of why I and mainstream scholars reject the Salafi worldview, see my essay Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism.

My comments on media outlets refusing to publish the Prophet Muhammad cartoons

As a Muslim myself, I see the refusal of NYT and other sources to show the cartoon not as a kindly act of sensitivity, but as a typically pretentious and sly method of portraying Islam as dangerous and threatening. It’s Fox News all over again, except they do it in a subtle way, and has the following advantages (for them):

  • Pretending that Muslims are a lot more powerful than they actually are. NYT has no qualms or fears about being a zealous supporter of Israel’s crimes, often serving as Israel’s mouthpiece in the US. But publishing a few cartoons puts it in a more dangerous position?
  • Pretending that all Muslims share the same intolerance toward anti-Islamic speech and that all Muslim communities contain at least a few terrorists ready to become violent on demand. To a Muslim like myself, anti-Islamic speech is part and parcel of daily life and I honestly couldn’t care less about the cartoons.
  • Causing moral indignation in those who respect these corrupt newspapers, giving them a reason to fear and dislike Muslims (“Now the Muslims can decide what I can and cannot view in my local newspaper?”).
  • Creating an artificial controversy where some media outlets get to be the brave supporters of free speech by publishing the cartoons, or good and honest people too scared of Islam to publish them. Either way, Muslims lose.

Meanwhile, the media ignore the glaring fact that Charlie Hebdo fired one of its cartoonists for making a jibe at a person’s Jewish background. Since when did this anti-free speech organization become the moral capital of free speech?