Picture a person you reverently admire. For some, this may be a grandparent who brims with wisdom or a legendary hero from the pages of human history.
Now imagine this person is maligned and disrespected in the most grotesque manner, ranging from accusations of pedophilia to tyranny.
Heartbreaking, isn’t it? Well, this is how Muslims felt about the production of “Innocence of Muslims,” an inflammatory film that portrays the Prophet Muhammad – a man whose life was the pinnacle of love and kindness – as a heinous human.
Ignoring the sensitivities of Muslims, some would argue this film is simply a result of our cherished democratic value of free speech. Clearly this line of argument disregards the value of civility. How productive is a screaming match between two parties? This is the standard of free speech and freedom to assemble we witness in this case: a grossly inaccurate and offensive film to which some Muslims responded with undue violence.
And it seems one offense to rattle Muslim sensitivities wasn’t enough: notorious Islamophobe Pamela Gellar recently won rights to plaster anti-Islamic advertisements throughout New York City subway stations. The ads read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
Gellar’s legal right to post discriminatory advertisements does not validate the moral and ethical boundaries she has crossed. You may ask, what does it matter if racist media like Gellar’s ads ruffle a few feathers? The answer is simple: disruption of peace.
The glaring irony of Gellar’s advertisements is that while she attempts to paint a violent image of Islam, the Quran has taught Muslims for the last 1,400 years how to deal with the Gellars of the world: “And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, ‘Peace!’”
Such should be the response of Muslims – and any decent human being – to ignorant claims and actions that merely perpetuate the cycle of hatred and intolerance.
For the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, stopping this disastrous cycle has taken several forms, one of which occurred the weekend of September 29th and 30th. Walk for Humanity fundraised over $90,000 for the service of Americans in need in conjunction with charities such as Humanity First, Why Hunger, and Boys & Girls Club of Lake County. This year three walks had been organized in the Chicago, New York, and D.C. metro areas.
But this isn’t the first time the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has personified the Quranic verse above. As the oldest organized Muslim community in the United States, peace and kindness are part of its foundation. For the second time, the Community hosted the Muslims for Life Campaign from August 11 to September 11, an annual blood drive honoring the lives lost on September 11, 2001.
This has become the tradition of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community: when hate-mongers call for blood and murder, Ahmadi Muslims strive harder in their service of humanity. For more information, visit www.alislam.org