How should Muslims respond when Islam is insulted?

Humayra Mogra

Irfan Makki

A global nasheed artist and songwriter, born in Pakistan and living in Canada. He offers vibrant imagery with the innocence of a child-like observer and the wisdom of an elderly man through his unique musical style.

As Muslims, we need to understand that there will always be some individuals or groups of people who intend to hurt Islam and try to instigate and harass Muslims and good people in general. It has always been this way in the history of humanity. We can look no further than our beloved prophet Muhammad (S). How did he respond when he was targeted and made the centre of ridicule and torture? Our prophet (S) always incorporated the peaceful element and only in matters where there was no other choice did he defend Islam and himself with force.

There were many incidences where he was persecuted and ridiculed but he responded with love and harmony. There was an incident when he noticed that a lady, who would usually throw rubbish at him whilst he would pass her residence, was absent and no longer carrying out her daily practice. A few days passed and so the Prophet (S) decided to visit her and found that she was ill and bedridden. He made Dua for her and she was astonished that a man whom she hated and harassed would care for her well-being and pray for her. This led to her embracing Islam.

On another occasion the prophet (S) helped an old lady transport her belongings out of the city of Madinah to a neighbouring city. She said that she wanted to get away from a man named Muhammad, who was leading the Arabs astray and away from their forefathers’ polytheism practices. He carried the weight of her belongings the entire distance and politely listened to her criticisms and harsh words for him. In the end she found out that he was the very same man who had helped her the entire distance and had not said a word in his defence. She was amazed at his patience and she too, accepted Islam after this experience.

If the man who was entrusted and chosen by Allah to spread the word of Islam to the entire world could be so bearing and forgiving, then that should be suffice for all of us, as Muslims. We should be patient and in turn we should educate people and their misconceptions with morality and with our own actions of peace and morality too. At Taif, the prophet (S) had the choice to have Taif destroyed by the will of Allah but he chose to have it protected and forgiven for maybe it would be a place where Islam would flourish and that is exactly what happened. We have numerous examples of how Allah and Muhammad (S) are merciful and show love and peace even though the transgressors are ruthless. 

We need to acknowledge the wrong done by whomever and then we need to act accordingly to that wrong. We do that with love, knowledge and fairness. I believe that is how the Prophet (S) and any personality that stood for justice, morality and peace dealt with difficult and testing times. In the end, Allah always comforted the matter with peace and the vibrant uprising of growth and understanding.

Shaykh Shady Al-Suleiman:

An Islamic scholar from a Palestinian family who is heavily active and involved with the Muslim youth in Australia, his country of residence. He obtained an Ijaza with Sanad (complete chain back to the Prophet (S)) in Pakistan and then spent 6 years in Damascus, Syria to continue his Islamic and Arabic studies.

Laws have been set, laid down and legislated under and against anyone who is Anti-Semitic. which means that you are not allowed to attack Jews or any Jewish beliefs because you would be inciting hatred towards 17 million Jews around the world. But what makes it ok for people to incite hatred to 1.5 billion Muslims around the world?

For people who commit such a criminal act, by attacking our beloved prophet (S) and by humiliating him, there are two messages which should be made clear. The first is that the Muslims are not going to remain silent. Rather, they will defend their beliefs.

The second is that the more insults and attacks the Muslims face, the more the Muslims will want to support one another as well as the prophet (S), increase their love for him, follow his teachings and imitate him. People are free to do whatever they wish, but we should also remember that Allah is watching their every move and there are 1.6 billion Muslims around the world who will not take insults so lightly and will most likely react in different ways.

Reacting in ways which break the laws of the country is wrong. We must remember that we are allowed to let our voices be heard and we do have the right to speak out and defend the prophet Muhammad (S).

Khalid Yasin:

An American convert from Christianity to Islam who spent the last thirty-five years of his life removing misconceptions and distortions about Islam and Muslims and illuminating the Earth with a message of truth.

There are many people who do not have the true knowledge to make the right estimations regarding Islam and Muslims because of their ignorance. They have no idea of the love that 1.6 billion Muslims have for Allah and his messenger. So how can we blame them and hold them responsible for their ignorance? Those Muslims who did not expound, who did not clarify and who did not indicate towards the teachings of Islam are those who should be held responsible. Had the rest of the world known, they would have gained a better insight and would not have such dislike or hatred instilled in their hearts. I encourage all young Muslims whether they are in school or working to talk to people in their neighbourhood about the Quran, but first start off by understanding what the Quran is. They should talk about the prophet (S) and Islam but should first learn more about who the prophet (S) is and what Islam is really about.

I would advise all the non-Muslims to look up the name Muhammad ibn Abdullah in their search engines and see if they can find a human being whose life has been more documented in detail than his. They will not to be able to find such a person. They can compare the prophet Muhammad (S)’s life with 100 great inventors, historians and leaders and they will find, without a doubt, irrefutable evidence that his behaviour was the most profound. He was an example through his many roles, as a father, husband, leader, brother and merchant. Take a look at the character of the prophet (S) during every aspect of his life; during war, oppression, starvation, leadership, legislation and adjudication.

Yasir Qadhi:

An influential cleric who completed his primary and secondary education in Saudi Arabia. He is currently the Dean of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib Institute and his expertise lies in Theology.

When the prophet Muhammad (S) was ridiculed and mocked by his own people, Allah comforted him by reminding him of the prophets who had come before him who had also faced such difficulty and struggles in spreading the word of Islam.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf:

A prominent American scholar who travelled the Muslim world and studied for ten years in UAE, Saudi Arabia and Africa. He is the co-founder of Zaytuna College which has established an international reputation for presenting a classical picture of Islam in the West.

During the prophet (S)’s life, the rulers and the people of the desert areas were rude to him and showed him bad manners. But he (S) never returned their rudeness with rudeness. He returned their bad manners with good character and this is what he has taught us to do. When we see people who are not following the religion of Islam, we should pray that they are guided. The prophet (S) said: ‘None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself’. (Bukhari). This love encompasses the Jews and the Christians and we shouldn’t hate those who haven’t come into the fold of Islam and neither should we desire their destruction. The prophet (S) also said: ‘He who does not show mercy (to others) will not be shown mercy (by Allah)’. Hence, as Muslims we should have compassion for those who do not have hope in Allah.

Shaykh Habib Ali Al Jifri:

Born in the city of Jeddah from parents who are both descendants of Imam Hussein, the son of Ali (R). He has strong connections with many centres and academies involved with international dialogue in religions and civilisations.

Let’s learn how to look with the eye of mercy to the people who hurt us the most. Even when blood was pouring from the blessed body of the messenger of Allah (S), he wanted Allah to guide those who hadn’t been guided even though they harmed him and his people. Despite the damage and aggression they showed him, his heart pounded with mercy whilst dealing with them. 

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad:

A British Muslim thinker, professor and translator who has written about the interaction between Islam and secular issues. A former student and at present, a lecturer at Cambridge University.

The response of some young, untrained souls is to jump up and down, mouthing nonsense about Islam being in danger. The message of Islam was the final message of Allah, so how can it be in danger? Allah would never let this happen. In the past, Islam has been persecuted in many ways and through the will of Allah it has always prevailed. Muslims should be brave and not yell on the streets. We should abide by the Quranic principle of ‘push with something better’. If we did this, then the enmity between Muslims and non-Muslims would lessen to a great degree. If we are to push the ugliness with something beautiful, then we need to have patience in order to succeed. Yelling and screaming and giving the media the reaction and image that they want to associate with Islam is simply playing into their hands and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to get into their hands.

Ibrahim Hooper:

A convert to Islam who is the National Communications Director and spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation.

I think the best way to respond to controversy between Muslims and non-Muslims is to step up efforts to promote mutual understanding between faiths and to boost interfaith dialogue. People want to create divisions so the best response would be to create unity between faiths. 

Nouman Ali Khan:

He has dedicated himself to a seven-year-long project of conducting a linguistic and literary focus Quranic Tafseer series in English. He is also the founder of Bayyinah Institute.

Many times Allah has mentioned that all of us, without a doubt will be tested in our wealth and our own selves. Sometimes our wealth and our worldly possessions will be in danger and sometimes we will be in danger. We will feel threatened, a loss of people and the trials will be felt, financially and socially. We’ll also hear many painful words from those who do not believe.

Ask yourself if this is happening today? Are we hearing painful things from those lost communities? Are they saying horrendous things about the book of Allah, the messenger of Allah and the Muslims in general?

They’ll come out to say that all Muslims are terrorists. But as Muslims we do not believe in crimes against innocent people, so how can all Muslims be terrorists? They’ll say unbearable things about Allah’s messenger (S) and they’ll make us listen to what they say.

Now that we have heard the things that the non-Muslims have said, how should we respond? This is when we need to be harsh and tough upon ourselves. We have become emotional puppets and the non-Muslims know exactly how we are going to respond and they do certain things to provoke us. Some Muslims burn a couple of cars, take part in protests and scream and yell. However, we should be acting in a calm, collected and calculated fashion, just like the messenger (S) did.

Allah Almighty says that being patient by controlling our emotions, holding back ourselves and fearing Allah are some of the noblest of acts that we can do. Our patience speaks volumes and our yelling and screaming is more detrimental. In addition to being patient we should have Taqwa in Allah (God-consciousness).

We talk about how important it is for our Masaajid to represent the teachings of our religion and to educate the local community, but it is also the responsibility of every Muslim to represent the teachings of Islam in their vicinity, amongst their co-workers, business partners, friends, and neighbours. We need to educate the people and remove the fear that Shaytan has placed inside them of our religion.

Shaytan also did this during the life of the messenger (S). The people of Quraysh would say – don’t listen to this man, you’ll go crazy if you do, if you listen to his words, your family will be destroyed, and he’ll do magic on you. So, the people who haven’t embraced Islam will continue to fear Islam. We can’t blame the population for this because this is the work of Shaytan. We need to do a better job and clarify our religion and the message which was sent to us.