Cartoon Controversy- The Man Behind the Message

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A draft article written for the Rochdale committee for Islamic Affairs (RCIA) for submission to the Rochdale Observer Newspaper

What started off as a little local difficulty about community integration in Denmark following the publication of the famously controversial cartoons has now escalated into a worldwide chasm. It would be naive to suggest that the journalists involved did not know what they were getting themselves into. On the contrary, they knew that it would spark off some form of controversy, as the man who was in the spotlight was none other than the bearer of the Message of Islam, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). A man, whose influence covers over 1.3 billion people in the world today.

 

News stations have beamed in images to our living rooms of protests in the Muslim world; venting utter disgust at the freedom which allowed such an act to take place. The UK saw mass mobilisation of people, addressing the matter at hand in local communities, newspapers, media and organised demonstrations.

 

It may seem surprising for everyone. What’s the big deal? Don’t celebrities get ridiculed in the press at their antics, their love and sex lives exposed on the front sheets of the tabloids, footballers wives spilling out their venom against their husbands, politicians getting caught in sleazy deals. This is the way the world works doesn’t it? So why make an exception when Cartoons of the Prophet of Islam are published in Europe. Its as the Editor of the newspaper put it, “Caricatures are part of European Culture”. Britain’s own newspapers can testify to that too.

 

 

However, Muhammad is no ordinary man. His sacredness to the Muslim people is difficult to describe to people of other beliefs ands persuasions, as it is hard to draw parallels to any existing personality. So what exactly does this man mean to over a fifth of the worlds population today? Let us draw our attention to him.

Muhammad (pbuh) was born in Arabia in 570 CE, and when he died at the age of 63, the whole of the Arabian Peninsula had changes from paganism and idol worship to the worship of One God; from tribal quarrels and wars to national solidarity and cohesion; from drunkenness and debauchery to sobriety and piety; from lawlessness and anarchy to disciplined living; from utter moral bankruptcy to the highest standards of moral excellence.

Human history has never known such a complete transformation of a people or a place before or since.Annie Besant, writes in her book “The life and Teachings of Muhammad” “It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel whenever I re-read them, a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher.”

Great men that existed throughout history were qualified as such due to a certain trait in their characters.  Gandhi for example, was a great politician, Shakespeare a great dramatist, Voltaire a great writer, Napoleon a great military leader and so on.  They were all great in one aspect or the other, while the Prophet (pbuh) was great in every aspect of his life.  Unlike that of other great human figures in history, the Prophet’s greatness is lasting throughout the generations.

He was always called ‘the truthful and honest one’ before bearing the message of Islam, and after becoming a prophet, the values and principles of the Qur’an were the model for his behavior.  He was so morally great that he never hit or humiliated a soul, never beat a woman, never betrayed or lied, never went back on his word or avenged himself.  His enemies were never able to slander him due to any bad trait.  He lived with them for 40 years before the divine message and another 13 years after it, and never were they able to smear him with a single bad trait that marred his character, or doubt his outstanding abilities.  They even testified that he had never lied in his life.  When the people of Makkah made things difficult for him, persecuted him and his companions and injured his face, he could still be heard saying while wiping blood off his face, “O Allah! Forgive my people for they know not what they are doing.”

His message captivated the hearts of the poor and rich, Black and white, Arab and non-Arab, men and women and the old and young. Never had the world witnessed such uniqueness in the way of life he was conveying; a world which at the time was marred in slavery, exploitation, adultery, racism, class, political corruption and petty wars. His message was not restricted to one geographical location. He communicated with the kings and rulers of different lands, inviting them to the call of Islam. He sent them all messages to introduce himself, “From Muhammad, Messenger of Allah to Khusrau, Great Leader of Persia, to Caesar, Great Leader of Rome, and so on. To the King of Egypt to the King of Ghassasan, to the King of Bahrain, he sent messages to the East, to the West. He sent messages to the whole world to introduce himself and his message to them. He was open to dialogue, discussion and debate, always making himself accessible to the people. He heard that there was a contingent of Christians from Yemen, therefore he hosted them in his mosque and opened a dialogue with them in order to communicate with them.  He did the same for his tribe, the Quraysh, with Christians, Jews and with people stretching to many parts of the whole world. The quran depicts his role beautifully. Allah says, what can be translated as, “And in no way have we sent you except as a mercy to the worlds” (TMQ, 21:107).  

His message from God bought humanness to the hearts of those who adopted it. It taught them how to make sense of the mortal world and the role of mankind on Earth. It set a vision for the moulding of society on noble values and it defined the objective of life, its meaning, its purpose and what is to come after it. He was the last messenger sent by God to deliver the Final Message.

His companions loved him more than they loved their own lives, as he was Gods beloved and the best of creation. Loving him and adopting his path was in fact loving God and following him. In one incident one of the companions of the Prophet, Omar, was with him. He says ‘O Allah’s Messenger! You are dearer to me than everything except my own self.’ The Prophet said, ‘No, by Him in Whose Hand my soul is, (you will not have complete faith) till I am dearer to you than your own self.’ Then Omar said to him, ‘However, now, by Allah, you are dearer to me than my own self.’ The Prophet said, ‘Now, O Omar, (now you are a believer).

He was by far the most remarkable man that ever set foot on this earth. He preached a religion, founded a state, built a nation, laid down a moral code, initiated numberless social and political reforms, established a dynamic and powerful society to practice and represent his teachings, and he revolutionized the worlds of human thought and human action for all time.

 

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