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Ali is an economist and political analyst, working at a private UK-based company. He worked previously at the World Health Organisation and has an MSc in Development Studies from SOAS. You can follow him on Twitter (@alialsaffar).

Living in a topsy-turvy world

It really is a sign of just how skewed our priorities are when a couple of Twitter postings about the Prophet (PBUH) cause more of a stir than the killing of innocent people. Or, as a friend of mine Tweeted “killing an innocent in the name of my religion is 1000 times more offensive than Hamza Kashgari’s tweets”

For those who missed it, tens of thousands of people are calling for the head of a 23 year old Saudi journalist, Hamza Kasghari, who on the Prophet’s birthday, wrote a series of messages that were partly disparaging. As well as saying that there were certain things he loved and hated about the Prophet, he said that he would like to meet him and shake his hand ”as an equal”.

It is not easy for a Muslim to stomach anything that is remotely insolent towards the Prophet, but I have two problems with the reaction of the baying crowds calling for Kasghari to be “brought to justice” (including the Sheikh who in a YouTube video was so overwhelmed with sorrow at the crime that he started crying). Firstly, we saw far less frothing at the mouth with anger and indignation at the tens of thousands of innocent people (most of them Muslims no less), murdered in markets and mosques (!) inIraq by crazed terrorists. Fine, they want to protect the sanctity of the religion, but what about the sanctity of a human life? It’s all about getting the priorities straight, and it seems to me that when it comes down to priorities, Muslims are living in a topsy-turvy world.

The second reason I disagree with the reaction is because I think, to a certain extent, Kasghari raises an important point. Muslims need to revisit their relationship with the Prophet and start thinking of him as a man. Deifying him does him an injustice. I am far more comfortable thinking of the Prophet as a great man who made incredible sacrifices to better himself and pass on the message than to regard him as someone who has been granted infallibility by God. I know this is bordering on the sacrilegious for many, but if the Prophet’s message is universal for humanity, relating to the bearer of that message is hugely important. And can we, the fallible, really relate to the trials and tribulations of a man who, by virtue of a God-given gift, is infallible?


11 Comments on “Living in a topsy-turvy world”

  1. British-Iraqi February 10, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    Ali – Stick with Politics and economics and leave religion to its people.

    Better to keep your opinions to yourself.

    Otherwise you will look like Jack of all trades…and religion is the worst trade to pretend to know something about because it will make people look pretty foolish.

  2. Ali Al-Saffar February 10, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    Hi, thanks for the advice. Who are “it’s people”? And do I take it to mean that the rest of us can’t have an opinion on something we follow?

    • British-Iraqi February 27, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

      Simple! Like every other field, those who are qualified. Holding a qualification by a recognised institution. Having your house built doesn’t make you a Skyscraper architect.

      I don’t disagree with your prioritisation, I totally disagree with your view of the Prophet.

      Infallible, God-given, fallible, Human – These would need some study and much more in-depth understanding.

      It is absolutely for the Prophet himself to decide his own reactions (at a personal level), but as a public figure, leader and a symbol to many, any disrespect MUST NOT be tolerated.

      People aim for perfect house, perfect car, perfect lifestyle (they can’t get them but they make an effort), why can you not try to follow the most perfect role model ever existed.

  3. Ali Al-Saffar February 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    I wrote “its” with an apostrophe. Very embarrassing. Sorry!

    • Lion of Babylone February 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

      🙂 Happens to me always.

      • Don Cox February 15, 2012 at 10:59 am #

        When it’s nearly time for tea,
        It’s time for the apostrophe.
        When the dog has got its bone,
        Leave the apostrophe alone.

  4. Lion of Babylone February 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    Salaam Ali. As Muslims we believe that he was infallible.This is one of the fixed things about Islamic believe, because the task of bringing over a great message to all humanity needs that.

    However a great and infallible man like Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h), if he would be here today, would he have called to kill that person who tweeted something against him? No, I don’t think so. He would have said something that would had made Hamza the tweeter probably think of him as a great man, not equal to any man in history.

    We love the Prophet, but shouldn’t we learn from him if we love him? Shouldn’t we have learned form him how to do deal with verbal attacks and differences in opinion? History is full of incidents where a person insulted him openly, and his companion got angry and wanted to harm him, but he prevented that and said a few nice words that made that person regret what he said and apologize?

    As a Muslim I disagree with Hamza, but I also disagree, as a Muslim, with the reaction of those who called to kill him.

    Thanks you.

  5. Ammar February 10, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    Your understanding of infallible is not quite right. Only angels are ‘infallible’, humans have free choice that includes prophets and imams. The belief is that they chose from their free will to be not commit sins making them ‘infallible’. Apart from that a fantastic piece of writing.

    • Ali Al-Saffar February 10, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

      Ammar, you raise excellent points. I think I was clumsy in my writing, what I was intending to get across is that the Prophet’s excellence was a result of his effort, what you call free will. Thanks for bringing it up.

      LoB, absolutely agree.

  6. jabeer February 13, 2012 at 12:49 am #

    ammar, well said.

  7. Hanan Al-Noor February 14, 2012 at 3:12 am #

    This is exactly what I was thinking. Thanks for writing this, finally someone said something!

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