Islamophobia and religious intolerance has been on the rise for some time now. The proliferation of hateful acts against Muslims in the West is quite shocking because it is the very Western nations that stand out for their high moral and ethical standards. These countries are famous for valuing life and securing peace in society, irrespective of their citizens’ religion, class, colour or creed.
Hateful actions carried out to harm or abuse any religion across the globe are condemn-able and unacceptable in any just society. Whether it be letters sent to Muslims carrying the title “Punish a Muslim Day” or the heinous incident which involved the beating of a heavily pregnant Muslim lady by a man who belonged to Sydney, Australia, every kind of religious violence should be taken seriously and measures should be taken to prevent such inhuman acts in the future.
Recently, another incident of religious prejudice and hatred has surfaced in a largely Muslim populated city of Norway, Kristiansand. A man who belonged to the anti-Islamic group called SIAN (Stop the Islamisation of Norway) intentionally burnt the sacred book of Muslims, the Holy Quran. Provoked by the blasphemous act, a young Muslim man launched an attack and kicked the man performing the hateful crime.
Thereafter, law enforcement came into action and neutralised the situation. Some people are praising and hailing the man who launched the attack as the “Muslim Hero” because he saved the Holy Book from being desecrated. On the other hand, several persons believe that the so-called defender of Islam, instead of drawing the attention of authorities to stop that blasphemous act, took the law into his own hands and behaved as an irresponsible citizen.
The above discussion gives rise to two significant questions:
“How should a government respond towards such blasphemous acts?” and “How should a Muslim react in these circumstances?”
Responding to the first question, the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih Vaa says:
“We tell the world that any kind of vulgar expression about any sacred person of any religion does not constitute freedom in any way at all.
“You apparently champion democracy and freedom of expression, yet you play with the sentiments of others; this is neither democracy, nor freedom of expression. Everything has a limit and some code of conduct. Just as there are codes of conduct in all professions, there is also a code of conduct in journalism.
“No matter what kind of government, there are rules and regulations. Freedom of expression certainly does not mean that sentiments are trifled with or are caused hurt. If this is the freedom that the West is proud of, then this freedom does not lead to advancement, rather it leads to decline.” (Friday Sermon, 17 February 2006)
Underlining the reaction of an Ahmadi Muslim towards such blasphemous acts, Huzooraa said:
“Our response always is, and always should be, one that is lucid in conveying the blessed model and teachings of the Holy Prophetsa as well as in presenting the teachings of the Holy Quran. Rather than getting involved in subversive activities when faced with attacks on the blessed person of the Holy Prophetsa, we turn to Allah and seek His help. …
“Our reaction should be this, as opposed to causing damage and destruction. Our attention should be drawn towards self-reflection, analysing what our deeds are, how much fear of God we have, how much attention we pay towards His worship, how much attention we pay to abiding by religious commandments and how much attention we pay to deliver the message of Allah the Exalted to others. …
“It is our obligation to inform the world. We will have to communicate to the world that Allah the Exalted has the power, even today, to punish the pain and torment you cause.
“Therefore, desist from hurting Allah and His Prophetsa. However, while we have to impart the teachings of Islam and the blessed model of the Holy Prophetsa to the world, we also need to reform our deeds. It will be our deeds alone that shall silence the world and will play the most significant role in silencing the world.” (Friday Sermon, 10 February 2006)
There is a dire need for nations across the globe to take ample steps in tackling and countering rising religious intolerance. On the other hand, it is necessary for every Muslim to follow the true teachings of Islam, because a wrong reaction paves way to an erroneous proclamation and the culprits eventually become the victims.