September 17, 2006

Le fureur du jour

So the issue of the day is the obscure quotation of Pope Benedict regarding the Prophet Muhammad salallaho'alayhi wa salam. Unlike the cartoon issue, these words came from a highly influential figure whose words carry much weight in world theology. For the most part, the response has been more civil and restrained than back in February, but there have been some unfortunate episodes of violence and at least one murder. Nice way to demonstrate that Islam isn't a violent religion, guys.

Since I don't believe that the Pope is a regular reader of Irrelevant Opinions, I'm not going to bother dwelling on the issue, as others have already written so much. And if, Mr. Ratzinger, you are reading, es tut mir Leid. Sorry.

Here are some worthwhile reads on the issue:

Pope criticises, Anjem embarrasses | Indigo Jo Blogs

Responding to Provocations | Musings of a Muslim Mouse

When You Just Don't Care Enough | Izzy Mo’s Blog

And if the Pope is reading this, here are two earlier posts that you might find educational:

Legacy | February 2006
Muhammad, the Last Prophet: Animated Film | August 2006


  1. Hi,
    I am a silent reader of your blog... It is so sad to see muslims' reactions go beyond the limits. Pope apoligized yesterday and let's see if this is enough to make muslims calm down!

  2. You know what I find astounding?

    How Muslims always whine and complain that people think since there are crazy so-called Muslims out there who do and say despicable things, all Muslims must be just as bad.

    But then, many Muslims do the exact same thing. Like one of those all-too-angry Muslims: "Gee, well...because the Pope said something stupid, I guess that means all Christians are evil. In fact, I see a nun right now...let's get her! Oh, and by the way, Jews are evil too. Just thought I'd get that in somewhere."

    It's so ridiculously frustrating.

  3. Ali: Not so silent anymore; thanks for visiting! I didn't realize I had a reader in Vietnam. :)

    To be fair, it's still only a small minority acting all silly, but it's still inappropriate.

    Asmaa: What can we do? It's very easy looking down at the Muslim world from our position of comfort. Allahu'alim...

  4. I'm not looking down on Muslims, I'm looking down on the incorrect actions of Muslims that give an incredibly bad name to Islam. I don't think that I'm faultless, quite the contrary. But because I have faults, doesn't make me ineligible to scrutinze the actions of others when I know they're wrong.

    You make it sound as though it's a hopeless matter. But it isn't. What we need to do is recognize the faults of Muslims (and our own faults as well), and then make sure we don't repeat them. And we teach our children what we know is the truth and what we know is right. And we raise them to be good Muslims and instill in them a concept of rationality and intelligence. That is what we do.

  5. Fair enough; sorry if my comment came off the wrong way. But I do think that we tend to think fairly high of ourselves in the West when we see what's going on in the rest of the world.

    You're right; it's not hopeless. But there's a lot of work that needs to be done. And as always, it starts internally.

  6. I was making a comment here yesterday when the electricity went out, as it has ben happing for so many days. It is frustrating, sitting in the dark, hearing the whirr of generators, fanning the mosquitoes away, perspiring the hot, humid air.

    Why did I tell you that? Well, it really is easy to speak on a lot of issues in a certain manner while the basic neccessities of life are provided for. I'm not saying what Asmaa said was wrong, but that a lot of the anger that is expressed by Muslims today is indeed explainable.

    There are just too many issues that people deal with all day. I see it all the time, especially when I travel back and forth between my home and the college, which is in a congested and old part of the city. Beggars, middle-class commuters on rundown public buses, motorcyclists, traffic policemen, taxi driver, motorists... look at their faces, their expressions!

    Poverty, unemployment, inflation, noise pollution, air pollution, traffic jams, heat, corruption... it's all there in each and every line etched on their faces. When they get home in the evening, driving on bumpy, dug-up roads, having argued with a dozen people already... and they turn on the TV, you think they're going to react sanely to sorry news?

    When you roam around in a dark apartment with a candle in your hand, having nothing to do because the light's been out for 18-20 hours already, and you know elsewhere in the city, the afflunetial people and the politicans have no wind of what's going on at your humble home... it's not pleasantries you'll say about them.

    I'm not supporting that attitude, because I, too, try to be patient when this happens but I'm trying to explain the attitude. And what I've mentioned is what's seen in the areas that are better-off in Karachi. Otherwise, the poorer sectors have it more tough... no water for days.

    Yes, no one else came in to create these problems for us but they do exist and the common Muslim cannot be blamed directly for this. It is a very messy situation, and the finger of blame can be pointed at anyone.

    People already trapped under a mountain of boulders are helpless, and when fellow Muslims die abroad in so-called suicide blasts (in Iraq) or due to bombs (in Lebanon and Afghanistan)... you can't really blame them for becoming all-too-angry.

    And thus, as we try to educate people, try to make things better in a worsening situation, while praying to Allah and strengthening our Iman, we must remember, it's not something that can be settled in a day.

    While I was in Saudi Arabia and learned about the electricity outages in Karachi during the summer, I knew how it was for the people there... but my opinion at that time, I feel today, lacked true feeling that can only come with being there. I could say a lot about being patient, but the person facing the situation would just turn around and say, 'Yeah, you've got air-conditioners running round the clock, what do you know how it's like when it's past 40 degrees Celsius, and no electricity for two days?!'

    Coming to the point of the story... what the Pope said wasn't something unexpected of Non-Muslims. Many have already written about Islam being spread by the sword, etc. etc. As for me, I'm not bothered by what he says. Say what you want, it won't make any difference to the fact that Islam is and will continue to be, inshAllah, the fastest growing religion in the world. That hurts people, and their natural response is to grab at opportunities to bring people back to their own religions.

    The attack on the nun is to be condemned in fullness, that is where we should respond. In fact, decent Muslims should guard the other nuns in these troubled times, lest that thing is repeated.

    I'm glad you understand how complicated the matter is. Ofcourse, that doesn't mean nothing can be done. Knowing the scale and root of the problem is of foremost importance if you actually wish to do something about it.

  7. Assalamu'alaykum Ameera,

    Wow, thanks for that detailed perspective. You're right, that we really can't quite understand what the rest of the world is going through. I remember eight years ago when we lost electricity for a few weeks in the dead of winter, how difficult things were... but even then, we had many luxuries that others simply have no access to even in the best of times.

    Another sister wrote something along the same lines which affected my feelings on this; you can read it here.

  8. Assalaamu'alaykum

    Jazak'Allah khayr Ameera... I appreciated having the chance to read that. It was very enlightening. Allahu akbar!

    One note though, you said that it doesn't bother you what the Pope said because it's not unexpected and it doesn't make a difference to the existence of Islam, which by Allah's command will exist. I couldn't agree more.. but, I think it is important to express, in the least, dismay to a comment like that coming out of the Pope's mouth. After all, he is major leading figure in the world. The power that Allah has allowed him to posses puts him, and all leaders really, in a position where they must be careful what they say because their words have consequences and affect the minds of others, whether they realize it not. So if what they say is false, we are duty bound to correct it. But of course, there are proper and improper ways of achieving this.

    Ultimately, Allah's plan will prevail. This is a given, but I just wonder where our responsibility lies. What would the Prophet, oh beloved one, salAllahu 'alayhi wa salam do?

  9. Faraz bh: I worried my not-so-sweet words would spark anger here, especially when we all shouldn't ne arguing amongst ourselves anyway.

    Jazak-Allah for the link to Farzeen's blog. I've commented there in detail. Link below.

    Farzeen: Jazak-Allah! Yes, you're right. The Pope is a figure of authority so his words carry weight in the world, and thus he needs to exercise responsiblity for what he says. And when he says something wrong, he should apologize... well, atleast he was sensible and did apologize, in some way.

    Still, there is another way of looking at it: (Target Theory: Taking Aim), which makes a lot of sense.

    Is there any point in replying when the Vatican has itself been waging a silent war (or resistance) against Islam through missionaries and hate literature?

    My detailed reply to this topic is posted here.