It has happened again that a couple of our Muslim brothers have succumbed to the belligerent provocation of Islamophobes whose sole purpose was to get a rise out of us in order to demonstrate that all Muslims hate freedom in accordance with our faith, Islam. It was an expensive provocation costing them tens of thousands of dollars just to offend one religion. It worked better than Pamela Geller had anticipated.
The Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest was put on by Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a known hate group by authorities and pundits alike. An estimated 200 people attended the event which offered a $10,000 prize for the best cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The organizers masqueraded the purpose of the event under the guise of “free speech” but free speech was not their issue. Islam and provocation of it’s adherents was their sole agenda. In fact they went so far as to invite a well known anti-Islam speaker as their guest, anti-Muslim Dutch politician Geert Wilders, to back up their agenda of hate. In anticipation for a possible attack the organizers even spent thousands of dollars hiring private security staff at the event.
I’m not going to start on the issue of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) because I have already addressed that in a previous post. However, I want to address these senseless attacks in Texas, a state that is close to my heart.
Muslim communities in Texas knew of the event 3 months earlier according to Imam Zia Sheikh on CNN. Consequently, not a single Muslim showed up to protest against the right for these anti-Islam bigots to speak their inciting vitriol. The event was likely not to garner much attention or support and destined to pass without much media attention or local community support at all.
““So out of 100,000 Muslims who live in this great metropolitan area, not one came to the Garland Event Center and protested or participated in any type of protest. They just ignored this entire incident that itself also shows that amongst the Muslim community there is a great amount of respect for the freedom of speech,” said the President of Islamic Society of North America, Azhar Azeez.” ~Euronews
Yet, there had to be 2 among us that wanted to change all of that. Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, known for being good Samaritans by their non-Muslim neighbors, quietly withdrew from their community and plotted to insure that these Islamophobes not only had the credibility they had hoped for by having the event but also to insure it was front page on every news network in the world.
I might not agree with much of what Alan Dershowitz states about Islam in the above linked video, but he has one thing right. “In America, we don’t shoot speakers” and the authorities have the duty to protect speakers hateful or not. Muslims have the responsibility to win in the court of public opinion through discourse.
“Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” ~Qur’an 16:125
“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error” Qur’an 2:256
We Muslims cannot expect non-Muslims to like us or our religion. We cannot expect them to value our faith or abide by our rules, they are in jahiliyya (days of ignorance or not knowing). We cannot expect them to stop fearing us or inventing grand conspiracies involving us. And, haters are going to hate. It is up to us to show them a better path, educate them, ease their worries by our example and counter their hate with the same love and forbearance Allah has shown us. Railing at them, protesting them and shooting them will not stop or change them, enlighten them, or make them not fear us. We need to temper our reactions with our faith when in the face of adversity.
“Perhaps those who disbelieve will wish that they had been Muslims. Let them eat and enjoy themselves and be diverted by [false] hope, for they are going to know.” Qur’an 15:2-3
I realize that this statement doesn’t apply to most of us but to those whom it may apply, we have to get out of this self-destructive mentality! It seems like everytime we make progress someone comes along and does something so dramatic and over reactive to take us ten steps backwards.
People are saying this was an ISIS attack, but I beg to differ and I will tell you why. Yes, one of the attackers is said to have linked himself to ISIS in a tweet and ISIS is quick to solidify U.S. fears by claiming the attack. At best this was a “wannabe” (meaning “I wanna be ISIS”) copy cat attack and ISIS is being opportunist to claim an attack they haven’t had the means to carry out. ISIS plans are generally well thought out, planned and executed. These brothers donned kevlar vests and armed themselves with assault rifles, pulled up to an event with heavy security and got taken out by one officer with a “handgun”. It is very unlike ISIS to be so incompetent in an operation.
Thank Allah they were so stupid and got killed before anyone else was hurt. Add to this that they couldn’t be bothered to be on time, they showed up as the event was coming to a close during the last ten minutes of the event.
It is hard to say at this point who might have seen the warning signs. It is apparent that the greater Muslim community didn’t see the red flags but individuals who knew these brothers might have.
Still, I cannot stress enough about every Muslim taking a part in community prevention. As Muslims we have an obligation to ourselves, our Islamic communities and our local and national (non-Muslim) communities to actively be on the lookout, confront and subvert extremism from individuals and groups among us. Silence or inaction acquiesces these actions in the eyes of the public and can cause serious harm to us in both the short and long term. It is going to take action by all of us to cure this cancer among us.
The Council on American-Islamic (CAIR) rightfully issued a statement on these attacks:
“We condemn yesterday’s attack on an anti-Islam event in Garland, Texas, without reservation,” the Muslim civil rights organization said in a statement.
“We also reiterate our view that violence in response to anti-Islam programs like the one in Garland is more insulting to our faith than any cartoon, however defamatory. Bigoted speech can never be an excuse for violence,” the statement read.” ~Press TV
Violent acts against non-Muslims are also acts against Muslims that put our communities in danger.
“The Messenger of Allah said, “A (true) Muslim is one from whose tongue and hand the Muslims are safe; and a Muhajir (Emigrant) is he who leaves the deeds which Allah has prohibited.”” ~Sahih Bukhari and Muslim (The Book of Prohibited Actions, Book 18, Hadith 1565)
We have to learn that we must deal with adversity with wisdom and love for humanity not death and destruction.
“Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous, Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men;- for Allah loves those who do good…” Qur’an 3:133-134