Topic: The defamation of the Prophet of Islam by a Danish and a Norwegian newspaper
The purpose of this letter is to address the moral duty that people of faith have towards the prophets. This is a duty that has yet to be carried out by the leaders of these churches with respect to this issue.
Spiritual leaders of the Christian world:
God has not willed it for all people to share the same faith. The Qur’an states: “Had your Lord willed it, he would have made all humanity of a single faith. Yet, they will remain in disagreement except for whom God shows mercy. And for this He created you.”
They will remain in disagreement regarding their beliefs, dogmas, and methodologies. Had God willed, He could have brought an end to their disagreements. However, this has not been His will. On this basis, for various religious groups to seek to uproot, wipe out, or drive each other away is to act in opposition to God’s will and to the dictates of His wisdom. This divine wisdom has a rational corollary, which is: that the attempts of religious groups to uproot one another or do away with one another are exercises in futility. This fact is attested to by the wars that were carried out between the Christian and Muslim worlds under one banner or another. They did not succeed in uprooting either side. It is still a fact that there are many Muslims and many Christians living in every continent of the Earth.
In light of these facts, Muslims and Christians have no other option in front of them except that of living together in this world in peaceful coexistence. God created this world for all humanity without exception. No one has any more right than anyone else to live on it.
The central pillar of this coexistence is the mutual recognition of both parties’ right to exist. This recognition entails, first and foremost, mutual respect for the symbols and institutions that each religion holds sacred. Without doubt, the prophets and messengers of God are among the most revered and sacred of all symbols of faith.
You surely know that Muslims believe in Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) and acknowledge him as a Prophet and Messenger of God. Therefore, it is forbidden for the Muslims to even entertain the notion of responding in kind to the recent slanders. This is a moral responsibility that you as people of faith no doubt respect.
An expression of this respect is to respond to the Muslims who believe in Christ and who revere him and his chaste mother Mary (peace be upon them both) with what upholds the dignity of their prophet – in consideration of him being a person worthy of respect and in consideration of the feelings of those who believe in him. However, we are not saying that this respect requires belief in his prophethood, since no person can be required to believe. Faith, according to the teachings of Islam, is a matter of personal conviction and has to be a matter of free choice.
The Muslim world has been shocked and startled by the by the insulting cartoons that have been published in Denmark, Norway, France, Germany, Spain, and other countries that belittle Muhammad, Jesus, or other prophets of God (peace be upon them all).
This use of the media to attack what Muslims hold sacred will doubtless cause an increase religious tensions around the world. Such tensions make a strained climate for coexistence and undermine the foundations of peace that Christ lived for. They feed fuel to the fire of those who are advancing the idea of a conflict of civilizations.
It is your right to know the feelings viewpoints and concerns that the Muslims have about this matter and our duty to communicate these matters to you.
The Muslims are deeply offended by the insults that have been heaped upon their beloved prophet. Average Muslims, as well as Muslim intellectuals, are wondering why this has happened. Some of them are saying that it is because the leadership of those countries are pleased with it. Of course, this conclusion has no evidence to back it up. Others who have a more positive outlook are saying that this issue needs to be considered and studied more carefully. Then others object to this and say that the matter is clear and there has been enough time, so there is no need for any long research.
In consideration of how serious the insult has been and how deeply it has injured the Muslims’ feelings, and in consideration to the serious negative implications that this incident has for interfaith relations, we hope that you will speak out as Christ had done and not remain silent. Speaking out in truth is an act of justice, fairness, intelligence, and magnanimity. Such virtues are not fulfilled by a stance of silence. Moreover, silence will embolden other newspapers to repeat what Denmark and the other countries have done, under the assumption that such abusiveness meets with the approval of the leadership of the major Christian churches.
This possible continuation of such abusive behavior could precipitate reactions from the Muslim masses and foster religious strife around the world. We cannot consider it prudent for anyone to contribute to such strife knowing that all of us will be touched by it.
Please speak out. Do not remain silent. Speak out in service of the teachings of Christ, to protect the fabric of the relationship between our two faiths, and to strengthen world peace, which is always our ardent desire. The Qur’an raises the call to peace on the tongue of Christ, where it quotes him as saying: “Peace be upon me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I will be resurrected.”