Khutba Summaries

On Freedom of Speech and Standing Up for Prophet Muhammed ﷺ

Ahmed Merabet

The Friday sermon this week was ‘Defending Free Speech or the Prophetﷺ ‘:

What happened?

  • On Wednesday 7th January 2015 three gunmen opened fire at a French weekly newspaper that had a history of making satirical cartoons of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
  • First person the attackers killed (in picture above) was a Muslim policeman in line of duty!

Was the Prophet ﷺ mocked in his lifetime?

  • Throughout his life, he ﷺ was ridiculed and attacked by opponents. but he ﷺ prayed for their guidance.
  • Surah 93 was revealed when a woman said to him, ‘I think your shaytan (devil) has abandoned you!’ (Tafsir Ibn Kathir)
  • Allah ordered him ﷺ to be patient in the Quran (20:130, 50:39, 73:10)
  • He ﷺ was commanded to forgive people’s bad character (Abu Dawud)
  • “Indeed, I was not sent to invoke curses, but rather I was only sent as mercy” (Muslim)

How should we feel when our Prophet ﷺ is mocked?

  • Belief in him ﷺ is the second part of our testimony of faith
  • Allah describes the believers as those who respect and honor him (48:8-9)
  • Naturally, Muslims are deeply hurt not by mere criticism, but when their Prophet ﷺ is portrayed in degrading manner for corporate profit

How should we respond to mockery?

  • Quran’s answer: react with dawa, not terror (16:125)
  • Examples of appropriate response: dialogue and discussion, civil argument, even art
  • Those who react with violence didn’t read 114 chapters from Quran, and if they did, they didn’t understand, and if they understood, they didn’t follow it
  • When someone insults our religion, we remove their ignorance with education and make them love Islam by dealing with them with the manners of the Nabi ﷺ
  • What if dawa does not work? Dismiss and ignore (4:140)

How has the corporate media framed the events of Wed?

  • An attack on free speech, a clash between Islam and a cherished value

Facts about freedom of speech:

  • Does not mean unregulated speech
  • No society has ever existed where speech has not been limited to some extent
  • Main advocate of the idea was 19th century British philosopher, John Stuart Mill (On Liberty)
  • Mill acknowledged it must be limited by ‘the harm principle’
  • Hate speech (racist slurs and antisemitism) are not covered under freedom of speech
  • 57 Muslim countries in 2013 under the banner of OIC came with a 97 page document to extend existing laws to Islamophobia
  • Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN: ‘Islamophobia has to be treated in law and practice equal to the treatment given to antisemitism’

Argument of those who say that freedom of speech is selective when it comes to Muslims:

  • Newspaper which made cartoons of the Prophet ﷺ fired a cartoonist who published an anti-Semitic article in 2008
  • President of France who called it an attack on freedom last year supported banning a French comedian who was considered anti-Semitic
  • Last summer, France banned pro-Palestinian demonstrations
  • Twitter #killAllMuslims, a similar call against another minority group won’t be tolerated
  • 30,000 Germans recently allowed to march against Islam in Germany where denying the Holocaust is a crime like most other European countries
  • 3 mosques attacked in Sweden in the last three weeks, one was set on fire

Argument of those who say cartoons are form of hate speech:

  • In 1930s when blacks were being burned on trees, they were also depicted in cartoons as zoo animals
  • Nazi Germany did the same with Jews
  • Muslims in France today are a powerless underclass (like blacks in 30s and Jews in Nazi Germany) mostly made of immigrant North Africans moved to live in slums, unequal job opportunities, and banning of hijab in public sphere
  • Such cartoons are hateful because they target an underclass minority

Defending Free Speech or Defending the Prophet ﷺ Image Credit: Twitter