Introducing “Draw Muhammad”: Hussein Rashid


Today is Draw Muhammad Day. Created in response to two idiots who reacted to a South Park episode, the event signifies that the right to do something should be seen as a license to do something. The South Park episode focused on the failure of censorship. Comedy Central, like the two buffoons from Revolution Muslim, missed the point and focused on the non-representation of Muhammad, causing the episode to be censored.  The response of the supporters of Draw Muhammad Day (DMD) is not to focus on the question of censorship, but on the depiction of Muhammad. In other words, they have chosen to support the two idiots of Revolution Muslim and talk about the depiction of Muhammad that did not actually appear in the episode. The result is that they have, as Shahed Amanullah points out in The Huffington Post, decided to actively insult the millions of Muslims who do not agree with Revolution Muslim and/or who actually understood the point of the South Park episode.

Molly Norris, who initially floated the idea of DMD, has stepped backed from the idea. Now, we have people who refuse to identify themselves leading a charge to depict Muhammad. In other words, it is not about free speech and standing up for rights, but about defaming a religion. If it were really about free speech, they would identify themselves, and they would, as Juan Cole has done, go after all religions to show the absurdity of Revolution Muslim’s position in a global world where there are no sacred cows.

Both RM and the folks behind DMD miss the depth of feeling many Muslims have for their religion and Prophet Muhammad. I think that Eboo Patel has it right in his article in Inside Higher Education; we need to do a better job about talking about religion on college campuses. I do not hold that any depiction of Muhammad is blasphemous, but to treat him as a political tool misses the point of what his life was about.

Andrew Sullivan posts a reflection on why one should remain Catholic despite the emerging child abuse scandal. It is because the papacy is not necessarily the people of God. By analogy, RM is not Islam, nor is it even close to representing all Muslims. Islam, like any other religious tradition, offers a revolutionary way of seeing and acting in the world, not a reactionary one. Arsalan Iftikhar, writing in On Faith, tells one of my favorite stories of the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet forgave, he never angered, he did not meet kind with kind, but with kindness.

Today is the day after what would have been Malcolm X’s 85th birthday. One does not need to look any further than him to see the continuing relevance and revolutionary qualities of the faith in the modern period. One of the most famous political figures in America was a Muslim; one of the greatest athletes in American history, Muhammad Ali, is a Muslim; one of the funniest people in America, Dave Chappelle, is a Muslim. I wonder if any of the cartoonists intent to insult on DMD would show these cartoons to any of these individuals in person. I wonder if the cartoonists could see the hurt and pain in the eyes of another person and say it’s about free speech. Just because you have the right to do something does not mean that you have to do it. Our rights come with responsibilities.

No religion should be above criticism. It is a mistake for groups like RM to threaten others. The response to speech should always be more speech. My issue here is that DMD does not address the key question raised by the South Park episode, or the stupidity of RM, instead they are using free speech as a slogan to attack a third group of people, Muslims. And just to prove that I do not believe any representation of Muhammad is problematic, below is an image of the Angel Gabriel talking to Muhammad from a Persian miniature.



3 thoughts on “Introducing “Draw Muhammad”: Hussein Rashid

  1. There are umpteen representations of Mohammed(PBUH) – many in Museums accross the world. It would be nice if the brothers of the ummah reflect on why the ban came about and what was the purpose. We should not keep depictions of or worship the Prophet(PBUH) – that is a rule of prudence lest it descend to veneration – as is human nature. It does not apply to non-muslims. So let them do whatever they want. It is when the muslims are too touchy that others can provoke them. You hold on to your belief and go on. Let others do whatever.
    The most funny thing is the call to violence that came forth following the issue.
    We have to reflect on why the “Religion of Peace” turns violent at the drop of a hat!!
    It is that psyche that has to be exorcised. Unless it is exorcised, the Religion of Peace will be destroyed sooner or later.

  2. I think Muslims should look at the Hindus and learn. Their religion and beliefs were attacked violently and otherwise by Isalam and Christianity for a long long time. They were ridiculed, they were ostarcised and demonised.
    Islam’s attacks on Hindus are well documented. The muslim rule lasted from 1556 to 1707. A mere 151 years – that Muslims tend to exaggerate as 1000 years. Thereafter Mughal emperors became mere pensioners of Marathas.
    Thereafter the assault from Christianity started. There were assaults open and covert. The British Intelligence engaged Max Muller to translate Vedas at the unheard of price of 5 ounds per page – translate and distort.
    What happened with all that? Hinduism survived and is as vibrant as it was before. They did not go on jihad against the Mulim rulers nor against the christians. -Thrue there were isolated instances of violence. But by and large they did not resist. What happens when there is no resistance, the hits will be against thin air with no effect. Thats what happened. Now there are magnifiscent Hindu temples in the west. They are quietly spreading. Spreading violently will result in a violent downfall. That is the lesson of history. If we are not careful, we too will be absorbed by the soft religion that is appealing to the west and thinking people. Of course it will require use of grey matter – thats one thing thats NOT there in to-day’s islam.

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