Submitted by Ikram.
Should I (–Muslim) Apologize?
The recent massacre in Paris has brought to front dichotomy of faith and democracy. It raises more question than it answers. If faith is served by killing others in the name of faith, then it is not faith but barbarism. If democracy is to protect freedom of speech then let every expression be allowed in the market place of ideas no matter how painful it maybe to some. Let N-word, K-word and H-Denial and the Hate-Speech be brought out of their protection in the open and be at par with caricature fad that hurts a billion, and there be no suppression of any hate or angry speech. Let anti-Semitism laws be equally applied to protect Muhammad (PBUH) who was a Semite. Let the ideas fight it out. Let freedom of speech define itself and standup to its very definition rather than its selective usage. Will democracies allow it so? Will the political expediency permit it? Haven’t we lost freedom in the name of freedom?
Should a Muslim apologize for lunatic act of another Muslim? Answer is plain no. Let the lunatic suffer the consequence of his or her depravity, the ignominy, both here and in the hereafter. Yes, such an act does create a sense of shame because those of us who have read Muhammad (PBUH) can rightfully believe that neither he, nor Quran permits it. To the victims we offer condolences and heartfelt prayers.
Should I grieve as a human? Yes, because every life is irreplaceable. Victim or a Villain of one side might be hero of another, but it is more of history that judges right from the wrong, than the moment when it occurred. Colonization and Colonial wars, Slavery wars, World Wars, Korean war, Vietnam war, Iraq wars, Afghan wars etc. all started by claiming self-righteousness but history tells us otherwise only after millions perished. Have we learnt our lesson? Irrespective of winner or loser, has any side apologized to the other? Has Catholic Church, Church of England or Dutch Reformed Church apologized to those whom they colonized?
Do the believers of freedoms endorse the fundamental human rights, both in their domestic and foreign policies, starting with: And (all) people are but a single nation (10:19); whoever kills a person, unless it is for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he had killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved the lives of all mankind (5:32); O you who believe, do not let a people laugh at (another) people, perhaps they may be better than they; nor let women (laugh) at women, perhaps they may be better than they. Neither find fault with one another, nor call one another by (offensive) nick-names. Evil is a bad name after faith; and whoever does not repent, these it is that are the wrongdoers (49:11)?
Muslims who feel hurt by disrespectful speech in the name of freedom of press, or otherwise, for them Quran gives guidance:
4:148. Allah does not love the public utterance of hurtful speech, except by one who has been wronged.* And Allah is ever Hearing, Knowing.
* The use of defamatory speech of every kind regarding others is strictly forbidden, but justification for it may exist in case a person has in some way been wronged.
4:149. If you do good openly or keep it secret or pardon an evil, Allah surely is ever Pardoning, Powerful.*
*If you pardon the evil which anyone has done to you, Allah will pardon your evils, and grant you even good reward; He is not only Pardoning, but also Powerful to grant good reward.
The Muslim experience in days of the Prophet may not be different than the modern world, though the modalities have changed. Quran tells us how to endure it:
3:186. You will certainly be tried in your property and your persons. And you will certainly hear from those who have been given the Book before you and from the idolaters much abuse. And if you are patient and keep your duty, surely this is an affair of great resolution.*
*This verse speaks of the future, in fact the distant future. The abuses which have been heaped on Islam in the past two centuries are without a parallel in the whole history of religion. The scurrilous language of Western publications, political as well as Christian, and the vituperations of their imitators elsewhere have exceeded all moral bounds. But Muslims are taught in this verse to bear all such abuse only with patience. (Editor’s Note: Hence it is not at allrequired or even allowed in Islam that Muslims should respond by killing or physically attacking those who vilify Islam and its Holy Prophet. See also 20:130, 33:48, 73:10, 4:140 and 6:68 which lead to the same conclusion.)
20:130. So bear patiently what they say, and celebrate the praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting, and glorify (Him) during the hours of the night and parts of the day, that you may be well pleased.*
*The Holy Prophet, while told to bear persecutions patiently for a time, is also told to seek comfort in prayer. And he did find comfort in prayer under the severest persecutions. “The coolness of my eyes is in prayer,” he is reported to have said (Mishkat, 25)…
33:48. And do not obey the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and disregard their annoying talk,* and rely on Allah. And Allah is sufficient as having charge of affairs.
* In the mention of annoying talk there is a clear reference to the carpings of his petty-minded critics, who try to misrepresent the greatest source of righteousness which the world has ever witnessed, as an evil. The Prophet is told to disregard this annoying talk, as the time would come when the question would be asked: how is it that the Prophet illumined the world and opened the floodgates of light to a benighted world, if it was darkness that reigned supreme in his own mind? (Editor’s Note: “Disregard their annoying talk” also shows that a Muslim must not become inflamed by verbal abuse of his religion, and if his reply has no effect on the abuser then he should simply ignore the hurtful comments.)
73:10. And bear patiently what they say and turn away from them with a dignified withdrawal.
4:140. And indeed He has revealed to you in the Book that when you hear Allah’s messages disbelieved in and mocked at, do not sit with them until they enter into some other discourse, for then indeed you would be like them.*
*See 6:68 which was revealed at Makkah. Muslims are told to leave the assembly where truth is derided. Criticism is quite a different thing and a Muslim should always be ready to meet any criticism of his religion. (Editor’s Note: Thus the response when faced with mere ridicule of Islam is to withdraw, temporarily, from that company of people and rejoin them later when they stop their mocking. It is therefore entirely wrong to believe that Muslims are required to attack physically, still less kill, those who deride their religion.)
6:68. And when you see those who talk nonsense about Our messages, withdraw from them until they enter into some other discourse. And if the devil cause you to forget, then do not sit after recollection with the unjust people.
I must also admit that I am writing this all because of democracy, but democracy has still a long way to go.
Reference: The Holy Quran, Translation and Commentary by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Edited by Dr. Zahid Aziz.