“This is a message from Muhammad, . . , as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. . . because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. . . .Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to . . . oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. . . .Their churches are to be respected. . . . No one of the nation of (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”
This was a promise of protection from the Prophet of Islam to the Christians belonging to the monastery of Mount Sinai (Egypt) but also to those who might be living in a Muslim state till the end of time. So, the news of Muslim mob burning 100 homes of Pakistani Christians as a response to alleged act of blasphemy from one Christian brings a feeling of sheer sadness and disappointment. Their justification of such actions: to uphold the honor of Islam or its founder. But, in actuality they are bringing shame to both by going against the teachings of mercy, kindness and tolerance taught by their faith put in practice by their beloved Muhammad (PBUH). This is why Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam), a famous pop singer who converted to Islam in 1973,once said, “It will be wrong to judge Islam in light of the behavior of some bad Muslims who are always shown on the media. It is like judging a car as a bad one if the driver of the car is drunk and he bangs it in the wall.”
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) presented a model of Islamic society where people help each other in doing good and avoiding sin and transgression (Quran 5:3) and also where people are free to choose and practice their faith of choice. So, the blasphemy laws being practiced in various Muslim countries today have no place in a truly Islamic state. The fact is that historically things were never as bad as they are in recent history. According to Uri Avnery, an Israeli Journalist and humanitarian, “Muslim Spain was a paradise for the Jews and there has never been a Jewish Holocaust in the Muslim world.” He further added that, “The Muslims never imposed their religion by force on Jews and Christians, as shown by the fact that almost all the Jews expelled from Catholic Spain settled in the Muslim countries and flourished there.”
There is no way violence and peace could co-exist and since Islam means “Peace”, its founder Prophet was sent for nothing but to unify humanity through peaceful ways. It was his commitment to peace that “League of Nations” was established. According to Christian Anouck Hrgronja, a Dutch scholar, this set the standards of “international unity and brotherhood” for other nations to follow. Lesley Hazelton, a renowned author, in a recent interview with NPR stated that the most common misconception about the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that she would like to be dispelled from her recent book, “Muhammad – The First Muslim” is that he was a “ sword –wielding” and “militant fighter”. Hence, it is really astonishing for its followers to adopt ways that are disruptive of peace in any manner.
If the Muslims really love their Prophet, then the only way to make him proud would be to go back to his beautiful teachings and practices and to be tolerant, kind and merciful to people of other faiths and those who are weak or in need. The Government of Pakistan needs to take charge and stop this violence against all religious minorities and put those responsible for these attacks behind bars.