A Message to Muslims in Phoenix, Arizona

Salaamun alaikum / Peace be upon you,

Later today (Friday the 29th of May 2015), outside the Islamic Community Centre in your city, there will be an armed biker’s rally holding a ‘Draw Muhammad’ contest. This rally is obviously not intended to initiate a peaceful conversation between them and your congregation. Rather, it seems to be intended to provoke Muslims to commit a violent retaliation, thus further escalating a racial conflict.

Before we moan our fate as the perpetual victims of the racist Islamophobes, let us remember this – everything that happens is in the sight of God, even ‘bad things’. It is only our fragile egos which deem them to be ‘bad’ (The Quran, Chapter 4 Verses 78-79). What is about to happen today will be your test of faith and with His permission.

The key thing to remember is that Prophet Muhammad himself was told never to be an oppressor over anyone but rather to remind people of the truth (The Quran 50/45). The actions of the Muslim gunmen in Garland, Texas (Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi) were ironically against the Sunna of the Prophet. Yet, it was precisely what the racist Islamophobes wanted. Those gunmen may have felt that they were avenging the Prophet but what they were really doing was disparaging his legacy. Let no Islamofascist scholar tell you otherwise.

I understand completely your love of the Prophet. After all, from our earliest years, we were taught that he was the embodiment of human perfection. However, it is in these very stories that were told to us that we discovered his unending endurance and tolerance for insults and mockery. We must therefore follow suit and develop such a personality ourselves. Love for the Prophet must be in the following of his Sunna rather than the defense of his image. The image of the Prophet was never beyond depiction in the early years of Islam. It had been a part of Islamic art. Only Allah himself is beyond human visualization (The Quran 6/103). Let us not equate the Prophet with Allah.

The organizer or leader of this intended protest today as said that ‘true Muslims’ are terrorists as they follow what is written in the book (The Quran). Prove him wrong. The Quran is the opposite of what he says. It is a book which promotes peace between people and told even the Prophet to be patient with what his enemies say. Violence in the Quran is only in self-defence and the defence of those who experience violence. For people who ostensibly insult Islam, it is between them and Allah. Let their hatred consume them. We should only offer them peace.

Let us also remember that for over a millennium, Prophet Muhammad has been portrayed in the West as an intolerant warmonger among other negative traits. It does not help that Muslim empires had been at war with Western ones during this time either. This propaganda against the Prophet was political yet we have helped this image by also repeating these myths about him.The hatred for Prophet Muhammad, however erroneous, must be met with compassion, kindness and understanding. The Prophet himself would do this.

We should not forget that we have displaying arrogance in the West. For many decades now, we have levelled criticism against Western thought and religions. While it is our right and indeed duty to voice our disagreement, we had not done it in the best of ways. Often it had been more of an ego boosting contests between warring tribes. Bearing this in mind, we should be especially understanding if there is resentment against us. Remember, the Quran tells us that our situation will not change until we change what is within ourselves (The Quran 8/53 and 13/11).

Therefore if you receive this message before your attendance at the Islamic Community Centre today, I humbly ask you – please do not let yourself be taken with emotions. This is what the organizers want. Why not instead bring out some tea and samosas or even biryani rice and offer it to the protesters? If you can’t manage that, why not just say ‘salaam’ (peace) to them? Or even smile for as we are told, smiling is Sunnah. Be the best of Muslims by displaying a magnanimous personality. That is what Allah commands and what the Prophet demonstrated.

I wish you all the best today. Remember, God is with the patient.