In recent history, headlines like “Woman charged with pushing a man in front of train hated Hindus and Muslims”, “Shooting at Sikh temple in Wisconsin leaves at least 7 dead, including gunman” or “Missouri mosque destroyed in second fire in a month” are examples of an alarming trend of hate taking root in America. Some might say that this rise in anti-Muslim sentiment is the result of “Islamic extremists” disrupting peace and taking innocent lives around the world. There is no doubt that this seems one probable reason but, a study last year also indicates that this rise in “Islamophobia” could also be traced to the millions of dollars spent on mainstream media by several organizations to fan “the flames of anti-Muslim hate in America” in the decade after 9/11.
In this diverse nation where one in five chooses to disassociate with any religion or where religious knowledge is lacking, there is greater need for people to stop living in fear of the less than one percent population of this country who call themselves Muslims.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community U.S.A is giving Americans of all faiths and ethnicities a unique opportunity to learn about the founder of Islam, Muhammad (Peace be Upon him) by having “Muhammad, Messenger of Peace” conferences to be held by all of its 73 chapters across the nation. While Muslims believe that he was sent as mercy for mankind (Quran 21:108), Muhammad (PBUH) is still a very misunderstood leader in today’s world. In words of Mahatma Gandhi, “I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place of Islam….It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for pledges…his absolute trust in God and his own mission”
There is no question about the love Muslims have for their Prophet or their desire to uphold his honor at all times. But, the willingness of some to take their own lives or of others who might have insulted him is in fact un-Islamic. The current head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, his Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad explained that the right way to show love for Prophet Muhammad is to “make their actions a practical model of Islamic teachings”. He further added that, “it is futile to react by burning or setting fire to properties and possessions…or by killing…Mockery [does] not …affect the honor and dignity of prophet Muhammad (PBUH).”
In the modern world people of other faiths go on with their daily lives whenever their religious founders are disrespected, but in the interest of preserving peace and to reduce animosity between people of different belief systems, mocking, insulting or ridiculing any religious founder should be avoided at all times. This is essential since such actions go beyond the values of compassion and kindness that most world religions share.
While it is important to promote interfaith dialogue and education, it is equally important for Muslims to put a stop to their irrational reaction every time a religious bigot disrespects the prophet of Islam with a cartoon or a movie. Having conferences to present the true character of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by American Ahmadi Muslims is an educational and civil response and an opportunity to build bridges of understanding. Visit www.muslimsforpeace/events to find out more about this effort and to find an event close by.