by Tahir Mahmoud (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 43, No. 12, Rabi' al-Thani, 1436)
Bypassing their political leaders, the Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei sent a message to the youth of Europe and North America advising them to think for themselves and study Islam from authentic sources. He asked whether they knew anything about Islam beyond what the corporate media had told them.
At a time when the Western world and its puppets in the Muslim world are gripped by a frenzy of grief over the deaths of 12 journalists of the pro-Zionist Islamophobic magazine, Charlie Hebdo, there is virtual silence from the Muslim world against the insulting cartoons about the Prophet (pbuh). True, the Muslim masses have protested against the scandalous cartoons but most rulers in the Muslim have remained either silent or have even become complicit in the West’s crimes. One is forced to ask whether these rulers have any regard for the noble Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and his honour?
There is one outstanding exception to this depressing situation: the leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei. He issued a message to the youth of Europe and North America on January 21 advising them to think for themselves and not be swayed by what they read or hear in the media. He put his finger on the issue by asking the youth whether apart from the media, they have been able to get information about Islam from any authentic sources. This is an important question that needs to be addressed properly.
First, however, let us consider the reaction of Muslims. There have been protest rallies against the cartoons in many countries: Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza, Somalia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Niger, Nigeria, Malaysia, Indonesia and even Chechnya. The largest rallies were held in Iran, the only truly independent Islamic state, where these were not confined to the capital Tehran alone but were held in several other cities simultaneously. In Mogadishu, the Somali capital, people held signs that read, “Je suis Muslim, et j’taims mon Prophets: I am a Muslim, and I love my Prophet.” In Pakistan, even the small Christian community joined Muslims in protesting the insulting cartoons. And in North Caucasus, thousands of people gathered in the capital of Chechnya, Grozny, for a peaceful protest. People held signs and shouted slogans expressing love for the Prophet (pbuh). Apart from Niger, where there was some violence, all other protest rallies were generally peaceful.
Contrast this with the conduct of people in Europe. A number of masjids were attacked in France as well as elsewhere in Europe, such as Germany where neo-Nazi groups have joined hands with the Zionists to attack Muslims. While this may appear ironic to some observers, the reality is that there is little to differentiate the neo-Nazis from the Zionists. They are cut from the same cloth. These violent groups maintain close links in places like Britain and Canada. There have been a series of neo-Nazi rallies against Muslims and immigrants in the German city of Dresden in recent weeks.
While other Muslim rulers have been kowtowing to their Western masters and eagerly joined the rally in Paris on January 11, the Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei sent a message to the youth of Europe and North America. This was the only message delivered by a Muslim leader to the youth inviting them to study Islam from authentic sources. He also reminded them that the image of Islam projected in the media is not the correct one. The takfiris and other terrorist groups that indulge in violent acts are not doing so because Islam permits such action but that these individuals are infected by a demonic ideology that has more to do with the satanic geo-strategic objectives of their sponsors than with Islam.
It is also pertinent to note that Western regimes have for decades indulged in horrible crimes against innocent Muslims in many parts of the world. When Muslims think of the West and its “values,” they immediately remember places like Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and a host of ghost blackholes where Muslims have been horribly tortured. The industrial scale killing of Muslims through cruise missiles, 1,000-lb pounds, and the now ubiquitous drones are what create anger among Muslims and force some of them to react in misguided ways.
The importance of the Rahbar’s message cannot be over-emphasized. We are reproducing it in full (next page) so that all readers will have an authentic record of it.
In the name of Allah, the Mercy-Giving, the Merciful.
Recent events in France and similar ones in some other Western countries have convinced me to talk to you directly about them. I am addressing you [the youth], not because I overlook your parents; rather it is because the future of your nations and countries will be in your hands, and also I find that the sense of quest for truth is more vigorous and attentive in your hearts. I don’t address your politicians and statesmen in this message because I believe they have consciously separated the route of politics from the path of righteousness and truth.
I would like to talk to you about Islam, particularly the image that is presented to you as Islam. Many attempts have been made over the past two decades, almost since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, to place this great din in the seat of a horrifying enemy. The provocation of a feeling of horror and hatred and its utilization [to service a phobic agenda] has unfortunately a long record in the political history of the West.
Here, I don’t want to deal with the different phobias with which Western nations have thus far been indoctrinated. A cursory review of recent critical studies of history would bring home to you the fact that the Western governments’ insincere and hypocritical treatment of other nations and cultures has been censured in new historiographies.
The histories of the United States and Europe are today full of shame for practicing slavery, embarrassed by the colonial period and the oppression of people of color and non-Christians.
The histories of the United States and Europe are today full of shame for practicing slavery, embarrassed by the colonial period and the oppression of people of color and non-Christians. Your researchers and historians are deeply ashamed of the bloodshed wrought in the name of religion between Catholics and Protestants or in the name of nationality and ethnicity during the First and Second World Wars. This approach is admirable.
By mentioning a fraction of this long list, I don’t want to reproach history; rather I would like you to ask your intellectuals as to why the public conscience in the West awakens and comes to its senses after a delay of several decades or centuries. Why should the revision of collective conscience apply to the distant past but not to current problems? Why is it that attempts are made to prevent public awareness regarding an important issue such as the treatment of Islamic culture and thought?
You know well that humiliation and spreading hatred and illusionary fear of the “other” have been the common base of all those oppressive profiteers. I would like you to ask yourselves why the old policy of spreading “phobia” and hatred has targeted Islam and Muslims with unprecedented intensity. Why does the power structure in the world want Islamic thought to be marginalized and remain latent? What concepts and values in Islam disturb the programs of the superpowers and what interests are safeguarded in the shadow of distorting the image of Islam?
Hence, my first request is [for you to] study and research the incentives behind this widespread tarnishing of the image of Islam. My second request is that in reaction to the flood of prejudgments and disinformation campaigns, try to gain a direct and firsthand knowledge of this din. The right approach requires that you understand the nature and essence of what they are scaring you about and want you to keep away from.
I don’t insist that you accept my reading or any other reading of Islam. What I want to say is: don’t allow this dynamic and effective reality in today’s world to be introduced to you through resentments and prejudices. Don’t allow them to hypocritically introduce their own recruited terrorists as representatives of Islam.
Receive knowledge of Islam from its primary and original sources. Gain information about Islam through the Qur’an and the life of its great Prophet. I would like to ask you whether you have directly read the Qur’an that Muslims follow. Have you studied the teachings of the Prophet of Islam and his humane, ethical doctrines? Have you ever received the message of Islam from any sources other than the media?
Have you ever asked yourself how and on the basis of which values has Islam established the greatest scientific and intellectual civilization of the world and raised the most distinguished scientists and intellectuals throughout many centuries?
I would like you not to allow this derogatory and offensive image-building to create an emotional gulf between you and the reality, taking away the possibility of an impartial judgment from you. Today, the communication media have done away with geographical borders. Hence, don’t allow them to besiege you with fabricated and mental borders.
Although no one can individually fill the gaps thus created, each one of you can construct a bridge of thought and fairness over these gaps to illuminate yourself and your surrounding environment. While this preplanned challenge between Islam and you — the youth — is undesirable, it can raise new questions in your curious and inquiring minds. Attempts to find answers to these questions will provide you with an appropriate opportunity to discover new truths.
Therefore, don’t miss the opportunity to gain the proper, correct and unbiased understanding of Islam so that hopefully, due to your sense of responsibility toward the truth, future generations would write the history of this current interaction between Islam and the West with a clearer conscience and lesser resentment.
Seyyed Ali Khamenei
Tehran, January 21, 2015