by Zafar Bangash (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 43, No. 12, Rabi' al-Thani, 1436)
The west’s vile propaganda against the Messenger of Allah (saws) cannot do any damage to his noble personality who was sent as a mercy to all the worlds. Muslims will continue to love him more than their own selves.
And thus [O Messenger], We have sent you as a mercy to all the worlds,” (21:107), declares Allah (swt) in the glorious Qur’an while describing His beloved Messenger (pbuh). In these troubled times, mercy and compassion seem to be absent from people’s thinking; wars and bloodshed are the order of the day. Hatred, especially of Muslims (aka Islamophobia) has intensified so much that there is a deliberate policy to denigrate even the Prophet of Allah (pbuh).
Crude caricatures of the Prophet (pbuh) are published in Western magazines under the rubric of freedom of expression. There is no regard for Muslim sensitivities; if Muslims complain, they are told to get used to “Western values.” No other group is vilified in such a manner. If there are no legal restrictions on the negative depiction of others, there are certainly political and social constraints. Yet Muslims are fair game. Why is this the case?
The war on Islam and Muslims has a long history but even if we take 9/11 as the starting point, terrible harm has been inflicted on millions of innocent people. US Vice President Dick Cheney candidly admitted that the “war on terror” would last 50 years or more. The “war on terror” is mere semantics. After all, torture is described as “enhanced interrogation techniques,” kidnapping as “extraordinary rendition,” and the mass murder of civilians as “collateral damage.” Since 9/11, it has become amply clear that the so-called war on terror is actually a war of terror waged against Muslims. In Western societies where Muslims live as peaceful law-abiding citizens, paid informants are used to entrap them into criminal activities that are then presented as “proof” of their violence nature.
It is not difficult to see why Muslims are depicted in such a manner. The plan to wage endless, multiple wars was spelled out as early as 1997 in the Project for the New American Century. Together with waging wars through cruise missiles and drones, a cultural and psychological war is also underway. The Muslims’ attachment to Islam and their deep love for the noble Messenger (pbuh) have also been targeted. There is a long series of provocations from burning copies of the Qur’an to publishing insulting cartoons of the Prophet (pbuh). These are part of a policy to provoke Muslims into reacting and then blaming them for the ensuing violence.
But what kind of a personality did the Prophet (pbuh) have? His life history is better known than any other prophet of Allah (swt), and fully documented. He led a simple and clean life. He was honest and gentle and people longed to be in his company. We will narrate only two episodes from his blessed life to illustrate this.
Even in his deeply distraught state, he prayed for the people hoping that from their progeny might emerge people that would help the cause of Islam.
After delivering the message of Islam in Makkah for 10 years and finding few adherents to the new din, he went to al-Ta’if, a city 40 miles north, in hoping people there might accept his message. Far from doing so, the town’s chiefs set upon him hooligans who pelted him with stones. Bleeding profusely, he sought refuge behind a wall and made his famous lament to Allah (swt) about his helplessness. The angel Gibrail (a) appeared to him informing him that Allah (swt) had heard his lament and sent the angel that could turn the mountains upside down over the residents of al-Ta’if, if he so wished. Even in his deeply distraught state, he prayed for the people hoping that from their progeny might emerge people that would help the cause of Islam.
The 13 years that the Prophet (pbuh) spent in Makkah delivering the message of Islam were marked by extreme hardships and suffering. His companions were tortured, some to death, and they even had to endure three years of social and economic boycott. Ultimately, the noble Messenger (pbuh) was forced to flee because the Makkan power elites had plotted to kill him. Under the cover of darkness, he was forced to abandon the city of his birth. But escaping to Madinah did not end his travails. The Makkan chiefs pursued him there and waged numerous wars against him that ultimately culminated in the Treaty of Hudaybiyah.
The 10-year peace treaty was violated by the Makkan mushriks within two years. This forced the Prophet (pbuh) to come to the aid of his allies, one of whom was killed by the mushriks. When the Prophet (pbuh) marched into Makkah at the head of a 10,000-strong army, he did not do so with his chest out but with his head bowed. And he gave orders that there would be no wholesale killings or destruction. He announced a general amnesty for his vanquished foes, the Makkan elite who had fought him tooth and nail for over two decades.
Contrast this with what the victorious allied powers did after the Second World War. They summarily executed the Nazi leaders after a farsical set of show trials to assuage their own prattle about fairness, the rights of prisoners and the rule of law. More than 1,400 years ago, the noble Messenger (pbuh) forgave his tormentors. People making ugly caricatures of the noble Messenger (pbuh) should keep his forgiving and merciful nature in mind.
Zafar Bangash is Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought