A Sedition Stemming from Ignorance

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mohammad Taghi Fazel Meybodi 

A Dutch parliamentarian has recently made a short film called “Fitna (Sedition)” which has aroused various reactions in the Netherlands and some Islamic countries which consider it an insult to Quran and Islam. The Dutch prime minister quickly moved to announce that the film has equated Islam to violence, but the Dutch government rejects that viewpoint. Also, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution through 21 ayes against 10 nays, banning governments from insulting religions. Finally, UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon condemned the film, whose screen was not allowed in the Netherlands and was soon removed from websites. It caused protests in some Islamic countries due to insults to Islam and Quran which the film contained. The author of this paper, as a Muslim, intends to remind the following points which are based on reports he has received about the film.

1.    The screenwriter has used Quranic verses on jihad and fighting without knowing anything about Quran and comments on it by major Muslim commentators. They have ignored the fact that Islam has proposed jihad and fighting as the last resort for Muslims to defend integrity of their countries and this tradition has never been considered unreasonable even in the modern civilized world. The main explanation offered by Western countries for war in Iraq and Afghanistan was that if they don’t fight terrorism within their own territory, they would be rendered vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Islam has prescribed jihad only for those cases when the enemy has started “sedition”. However, the modern world authorizes war even before sedition. More importantly, before proposing war, Quran has offered peace as the best solution (Chapter Nisa: 128).

2.    The uninformed screenwriter has used some acts or words of some executive officials in Muslim countries and has included scenes of hanging in the name of Islam to give a documentary air to his film. It should be noted that the words and deeds of officials of Muslim countries can never be taken to be equal to reality of Islam. During history, hundreds of governments have been established in the name of Islam and some of them have used illegitimate means to rule people who were against the teachings of Islam. Abbasids rose against Umayyad caliphs in the name of Islam and Al-e Bouyeh also withstood Abbasids in the name of Islam and Shiism while Safavids and Ottoman Turks fought each other in the name of Islam.

Even now, there are different understandings of Islam and occasional violence which breaks out in the name of Islam by official or unofficial persons has depicted a false picture of Islam. Hundreds of major Islamic thinkers throughout the world have frequently condemned all forms of terror, violence and hanging because Islam is based on mercy, love, peace, coexistence, social justice as well as freedom of conviction. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is known as the prophet of mercy and when he conquered the city of Mecca he was lenient even to such headstrong enemies like Abu Sufiyan who took refuge at his home. According to the teachings of Islam, anybody who believes in God and the day of Resurrection and does good in this world would be salved. (Chapter Maeda: 68)

3.    If the words and deeds of some clerical figures and executive officials are taken as criteria to assess a religion, it should be noted that Christianity has been the most violent religion of all times, because Christian clerics and rulers used the harshest means to persecute their theoretical and political opponents during the Middle Ages. They proposed two ways for a scientist like Galileo: either to recant or to be burned at stake. People like Giordano, the great Italian thinker and William Tyndale were killed because they were freethinkers. The screenwriter has ignored religious wars in France between Catholics and Protestants and forgets that Pope Gregory XIII thanked God after massacring thousands of Protestants. Can such bitter events in the name of Christianity and religion be blamed on Jesus Christ? Why we should not differentiate between religion and rulers? Why for the sake of political matters, we must question a sacred book which is revered by billions of Muslims? Before trying to produce a work of art, the screenwriter had better study the life of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) who has brought Quran.

Out of all prophets and reformists who have come to guide human beings, nobody else has a clearer historical record than the Prophet of Islam. The only thing which helped him influence people’s hearts in an environment where ignorance, violence and tribal tendencies prevailed was his moral virtues, patience and honesty. His main work was to encourage people to be reasonable, not prejudiced and to worship God instead of idols. He preached them that all tribes were like brothers and tribal wars should give way to peace and reconciliation. How such a peaceful prophet can be called a warmonger? He was assigned by God to tell people: “Enter peace all of you.” If his belligerent foes got ready for peace, the Prophet would have opted for peace. “If they incline to peace, incline to it also, and put your trust in Allah. Surely, he is the hearing, the knowing,” (Chapter Anfal: 60). If Quran was the book of war and violence, it could have been able to attract harsh Arab tribes in a short period of time. “Had you been harsh and hardhearted, they would have surely deserted you,” (Chapter Al-e Imran: 159). If Islam was the religion of war and belligerence, it would not have founded a major civilization in less than three centuries which, as admitted by scholars like Gustave Le Bon, Georgi Zeidan, and other Orientalists, influenced the whole Europe. It is surprising that producer of “Fitna” has not bothered about doing research on Islam and has sufficed to words and deeds of a couple of political and executive figures. If he had studied the Islamic encyclopedias which are available in the Netherlands, he would have known that Quran is not the book of war and would have differentiated between radical Muslims and followers of the Taliban and Bin Laden and other people who seek to wage war against other countries and other Muslims who consider Quran and Islam as the book and religion of peace, mercy, faith and brotherhood.

In short, Islam cannot be understood through the words and deeds of Muslim politicians just in the same way that Christianity cannot be considered equal to behavior of medieval priests.

Source: Etemaad Melli Newspaper 

طراحی و توسعه آگاه‌سیستم