Eschew Violence, Embrace Peace

Opinion — By on October 1, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Mehvash Khan, 1 Oct 2012

I’ve written this article about the actions of the extremist Muslim community not to condone it, but to express my deepest disappointment and opinion about it. I write this knowing that I’m not the only person who feels this way, and I would like to take this opportunity to share with you the prerogative of an average liberal Muslim youth, of an average human being who has to suffer
the consequences of others’ selfish actions. I write this to convey to you my aspirations for humanity as a whole, and not as divided sectors of the same race.

The past few days I’ve been flipping through the regular mainstream news channels and no matter what channel I land upon, I’m faced with gut wrenching video clips of violent protests, explosions, mass killings, etc., with the words ‘Anti-Islam video provokes Muslims’ blinking on every channel. Pages of the local newspapers are littered with photographs of the injured and deceased, in predominantly Muslim countries. Buildings and cars are engulfed in hideous flames whilst hoards of merciless protesters swamp the streets. I couldn’t for the life of me understand what kind of video could evoke such extreme outbursts of violence.

After further reading and research, I learnt that an independent film maker in the US produced a short film called ‘The Innocence of Muslims’ which was uploaded on YouTube in July, then broadcasted on an Islamist television channel in Egypt on sept 8th, dubbed in Arabic. The video basically degrades the Prophet Muhammad, depicting him as an atrocious man, and takes many blasphemous jabs at Islam in general. The film was designed to enrage and provoke, and it has accomplished just that. As horrible and offensive as the video may be, I am appalled at the response from the Muslim extremists in the Arab gulf; the ‘rage’ has now even spread to liberal Muslims in western parts of the world as well as Asia. I myself am a Muslim, born and raised in Muslim countries, yet my first instinct upon news of this video is not to destroy the nearest US embassy- what good will that do?

My head just cannot wrap around the narrow-minded outlook of most of these extremists- WHAT does the US Government have to do with the making of the video? The government, and YouTube itself do not have the liberty to screen every single video that is uploaded on the video-sharing platform. If you really do find it that offensive, take it up in a decent, civil manner. It is disgusting to see so many innocents dying at the hands of enraged extremists, who will take up any given opportunity to cause a riot and endanger US interests, as well as their own, all over the world.

In Peshawar, Pakistan, locals set fire to police cars, fast food joints, malls, cinemas- technically, they are killing their own people.
“Riot police block an intersection leading to the US embassy at Sana’a”
“A demonstrator throws a tear gas shell at riot police in Islamabad, Pakistan”
“Indonesians burn the US flag in Makassar”
“Protestors hold placards and shout slogans during a protest in the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur”
(source: Reuters, AFP)
What sickens me is knowing that probably half these people may not even be aware of what is actually going on, who made the video, what it’s about- they are blindly jumping onto the bandwagon of protests and violent demonstrations, giving the film maker exactly what he wanted. Do they even realise that the producer, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, using the alias Sam Biley, is an Egypt-born Christian? Why must we foolishly fall into the traps laid by disrespectful, spiteful humans who want nothing more than to provoke and enrage us? How difficult is it to deliver a peaceful protest, or better yet, ignore the video altogether? These people claim to be defending the Prophet Muhammad’s honour, yet they execute their faith in a grotesque manner that the prophet would never condone. Islam in itself is a peaceful religion- but the actions of our men and women are deeply scarring the faith, adding fuel to the worldwide stereotype of violence in Muslims that was sparked just over a decade ago. Islam teaches us to forgive, to respect, to be kind, but our ignorant brothers and sisters fail to embrace that. It is not the lowly group of men in Peshawar who set fires to police cars who will be affected in the long-run; it will be us, the new generation who walk this earth representing the same faith of these men, who
will be judged by the actions of this clueless minority; it will be us, who must do everything we possibly can to salvage the remaining dignity and honour left to our faith; and it will be us, as a whole, who will promote the fundamental human rights of opinion, tolerance and respect.

I recently came across Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed’s opinion about the controversy: “The best thing would have been to just ignore it, just completely refuse to acknowledge it. But if that could not be done, then a reasonable response would have been for a few Muslims to get together and make a beautiful documentary (remaining within Islamic bounds) about Sayyedna Eesa (a.s) and Sayyedna Moosa (a.s) and put that up on YouTube to tell the world that ‘this’ is how you tell a story about someone’s Prophet”.

Mr. Ahmed is a speaker on Islamic spirituality, who was born and raised in Manhattan, NY. I wholeheartedly agree with his assertion. Rather than create such a controversial reaction to a mere YouTube video, the logical thing to do would be to ignore it, or just create another video depicting Islamic faith the correct way.

So much energy and time is wasted fighting useless battles. It must be understood that the Internet and its contents are vast and uncontrollable. It just so happens that one anti-Islam made it ‘viral’ and was broadcasted to its intended viewers. What would happen if every faith and religion reacted the same way to the 1000s of videos and articles existing that condemn and mock their faiths?

Tolerance, patience, and understanding are the key to a peaceful, functional society. It is moments like this that mould who we are as humans, as a species. The decisions we make now will forever be etched into the veins of history, coursing through the blood of humanity’s future. We have the chance to define ourselves as the compassionate, visionary, and mature race that we are, and move past petty issues that are beneath us. We have the courage and capability to go above and beyond anyone’s expectations, so why not do just that?



  1. Tannya says:

    What an excellent write up! I agree with every word of it, Mehvash.

  2. Nicola Clarke says:

    A very balanced and well thought out opinion Mahvesh, beautifully written – I can’t wait to read your articles in the New York Times or the Sunday Times someday!

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