Muhammad would ask for tolerance
Now that the brouhaha has passed regarding Pastor Terry Jones’ proposed Quran burning stunt and a few instances of angry protests overseas and death threats that accompanied, I’ve asked myself the question of what would Prophet Muhammad do today if alive and confronted with such expressions of intolerance.
In his lifetime, Prophet Muhammad endured with forbearance similar challenges such as Pastor Jones’ saying “Islam is evil.” Prophet Muhammad was routinely called a fraud by his tribesmen in Mecca, who wrote poetry vilifying him and even attempted to assassinate him in his bedroom.
Upon fleeing Mecca for his life then returning about a decade later with his followers, he pardoned those who cursed him and offered them peace and security.
The Quran, the last of the divinely revealed books according to Islam, after the Torah, Psalms and Gospels, states, “Oh you who believe! Be upright for God, witnesses for justice, and do not let the enmity of a people move you to deviate from justice. Be just; it is closest to piety, and fear God for He is all aware of what you do.”
Prophet Muhammad preached that extreme provocations are not to be met with extreme responses but with moderation.
For the miniscule element within 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide who act out of anger by threatening to harm those who desecrated the Quran and draw caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, I say that there is no place for enraged responses and unjust vigilantism among the followers of Islam.
Acting with civility in the face of repugnance is the middle way within faith.
And I can also state with the utmost certitude that Prophet Muhammad would not condone the worldwide tactics of Al-Qaida.
During our current socio-political climate where demagogs seek to marginalize others, it is time for people of faith to act upon the best from within our faith traditions.
Moses taught, “Love your fellow man as yourself.” Jesus Christ proclaimed, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
And Prophet Muhammad instructed, “None of you believes until he loves for his brother or his neighbor what he loves for himself.”
If we wish to be respected, we must respect others.
And if we wish to express our opinions without fear of physical harm, we must also allow others to do the same.
I pray that in times such as these, we pause and ask ourselves, “What would Moses do… What would Jesus do… What would Muhammad do?”
Dawud Walid is assistant Imam of Masjid Wali Muhammad in Detroit and CAIR-MI executive director. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.