The fierce media campaign against the Prophet is actually a single incident in a series of measures that have been practiced on a wide scale by some people in the West whose influential positions cause their voices to become heard in the world media. It is not actually a common case in the European context, as such campaigns are backed by some members, not the whole European family.
The role of all Muslims worldwide is to take all legal and constitutional channels to champion their rights and repel the aggression done against the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), using all peaceful means to disseminate the true teachings of Islam. Muslims should seize this incident to shed more light on the great nature and enlightenment of the Prophet Muhammad in an attempt to educate those who ignore many aspects of his great character and how he can be a model to follow in today's world.
Responding to the question, Sheikh Hussain Halawa, secretary general of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, and imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of Ireland, states the following:
First of all, I would like to stress that the caricatures, which have caused anger across the Muslim world since they were published in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten last September and were reprinted in many European capitals, are one of the single measures within a systematic media campaign that aims at tarnishing the image of Islam. This media campaign is led by the people whose keen interest is to deteriorate the relations between Muslims and people of other religions. That is why we see them, from time to time, publishing provocative statements, books, laws, and lately cartoons that are no more than an extra measure within a larger context.
In addition, the above systematic trend is not fully adopted by all people in the West, but it is only led by SOME people who have much influence on international media, and hence their voices are widely heard.
In this context, Muslims should try their best to —
- Declare before the whole world their complete condemnation of and dissatisfaction with what is happening against the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)
- Stage peaceful demonstrations and protests here and there in order to pressurize the public opinion in order for such media campaign to stop what it is doing
- Make use of such events to present the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as a role model in the modern world, as there is no doubt that the West and those who are attacking the Prophet know nothing about him.
- Avoid hurling insults against the people of other religions as a result of publishing those provocative cartoons against the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). There is a direct prohibition to this retaliatory behavior, as Allah Almighty says: [Revile not those unto whom they pray beside Allah lest they wrongfully revile Allah through ignorance. Thus unto every nation have We made their deed seem fair. Then unto their Lord is their return, and He will tell them what they used to do] (Al-An`am 6:108).
- Boycott the products of the countries that have published those provocative cartoons or that are still publishing them, as the boycott is a universal weapon that is by Muslims and non-Muslims as well.
In addition to the above, I call upon all mosque imams, especially those living in the West, to start shedding more light on the great aspects of the Prophet's personality and his rich morals that today's world is in need of. With this, imams will be educating their respective communities about the great personality of the Prophet Muhammad and they will be forwarding an indirect message to those who are ignorantly attacking him to derive lessons from his life and character.
One last message to those who chant about democracy and freedom of expression. Why do they say that Muslims have no right to condemn the publishing of those cartoons, claiming that Muslims are against democracy and the freedom of expression, while they fight tooth and nail against those who even talk negatively about the Holocaust? Why do they put them on trial? Why does freedom of expression appear in their dictionary here and disappears only when the Prophet of Islam is attacked? And why do they deny Muslims the right to freedom of expression? This is really against the very basic norms of human rights, which call for respecting man's religion, creed, and keeping his religious affiliations untouched.
I urge all concerned Muslim authorities in the West and the Muslim World to raise the issue before the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) as well as other influential organizations to take the necessary measures in this regard, as the issue is very serious.
Moreover, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, A Senior Lecturer and an Islamic Scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, adds:
It is unfortunate that some elements with vested interests in the modern Western societies are driven by Islamophobia. They are stirring up hatred against Islam and Muslims in every possible way. It has now become a fashion with others as well. In this context, Muslims must think deeply before acting emotionally and erratically. For overreacting to such campaigns will only make things worse. Overreacting includes using other than the lawful, peaceful means. Resorting to violence should never be an option. Let me list a few steps we can take:
1. The best way to deal with the situation is to resort to peaceful ways of protest.
2. We should use all legal channels to stop this campaign of hatred against Islam and Muslims. For Muslims, every prophet is worthy of utmost respect, and the Prophet Muhammad, being the final one, is dearer to Muslims than their own parents, children, and all people.
3. It is the duty of those Muslims who are legal experts to do everything possible to bring the perpetrators of hatred to justice so that they are forced to pay dearly for the harm they are doing.
4. Muslims should use this opportunity to take the message of mercy as conveyed by the beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to everyone who is desirous of knowing the truth about the Prophet. An excellent book that I recommend to every Muslim is the Messenger of God Muhammad by Fethullah Gulen. It should be read by every Muslim and given to those who wish to know the truth about the message of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
5. As all Muslims should consider themselves an ambassador of Islam, it behooves them to educate themselves in their religion.
6. Finally, I advise all Muslims not to react emotionally, but to follow the decisions of the responsible leadership in their own country. We must always be disciplined, peaceful, and organized in our approaches to such crucial issues.
May Allah grant us true love of Allah and His Messenger, and may He grant us the grace to be gathered under his noble banner on the Day of Resurrection. Ameen.