Mad World

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and believe that a blog-post is well overdue. Not that I feel necessarily compelled to write one, I guess the ‘better angel of [my] nature’ urged me (yet again) to speak my mind out on Islam as it is being practiced in modern society.

Not that I believe in mandatory bashing of Islam, it is rather unfortunate that Muslims end up acting in ways that give non-Muslims all the more reason to criticize Islam. I am talking about the not-so-long-ago shooting that took place at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.

According to Time, the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) accepted responsibility for this attack saying that its motive was ‘revenge for the honor’ of Prophet Muhammad.

A lot has already been said about this incident and I believe I may not have much to say. However, I think the overall reaction elicited by this attack deserves some discussion as it is, in my opinion, a problem greater than the attack itself.

I believe the world is greatly polarized at the moment and, much to my dismay, is continuing to be polarized between the Muslims and non-Muslims. A quick and short survey of the comments I saw on Facebook seems to suggest this fact.

One of my non-Muslim friends in UK shared an article about the “Moroccan-born mayor of Rotterdam who told fellow Muslims who do not appreciate the ‘freedoms’ of living in the West to ‘pack your bags and f*** off’ on live TV” and put up the following as his status:

Call me or him what you want but I think, we need more Muslim leaders like him, to prevent this issue from escalating.. What a great man!

Another non-Muslim friend in India posted the following on Facebook:

“Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.” – Salman Rushdie



On the other extreme, a typical fanatic Muslim from Pakistan, who, by the way, is NOT my friend, wrote the following on the Charlie Hebdo page of Facebook:

If I will degrade my self up to these cursed creatures of earth, I can say Fuck YOU all bastards. You mother fuckers are only know the cowards and stupid rulers of Muslim world, but you don’t have even a slight idea of Love and affection of Muslims towards PROPHET MUHAMMAD S.A.W. and HIS LOVE AND AFFECTION towards all MUSLIM UMMAH. to live according to his SUNNAH and to die for HIS NAME SAKE is the solid foundation of our faith so stay away you swines

And, last but not the least, a well-educated Muslim cousin of mine living in Canada shared an article that condemned the killings in Paris but did not endorse the mockery of Islam and updated her status:

“I condemn the terrorist attacks, but I am not Charlie.” True indeed!

Although the statistician in me cringes at the rather small sample size of these Facebook comments, polarization is more than evident. On one hand are Muslims, who believe it is unacceptable to make fun of Islam. And at the other end are non-Muslims, who believe no religion should be immune to satire and mockery.

I have already blogged about how intolerant the Muslims are with respect to Islamic satire. As long as the non-Muslims continue not to care about the religious sentiments of Muslims, the Muslims will continue to react emotionally. And as long as Muslims will continue to get angry and aggressive, the non-Muslims will continue in making a mockery of Islam. It seems like a never-ending, vicious cycle. One on end, there is extreme callousness. On the other, there is extreme emotionality.

Reaching a genuine compromise between these two extremes appears to be the only solution wherein the non-Muslims learn to show a little respect towards Islamic beliefs and the Muslims develop a little tolerance towards Islamic satire. However, if the polarization continues, then, as Joe Sacco rightly put it, it is going to be far easier for the non-Muslims to drive the Muslims from their homes into the sea (and vice versa) than sorting out how we fit in each other’s world.