Every time Shaytan succeeds in conning some kafir moron into publicly exposing their spite and venom, there is invariably a fall-out of a wide spectrum of emotions ranging from ‘righteous anger’ and rational appeals for calm and restraint to outright blind, indiscriminate violence. And along with these reactions controversies unfold among the Muslims over the issue of what is justified to do ‘out of love’ for Islam, or in defence of its honour, and what is not compatible with the concept of it being the ‘Religion of Peace’, or what is irreconcilable with the noble character of its Prophet – ﷺ – and, Bingo! the enemy got a good bunch of more or less honest Mussulmans exactly at the spot, where he aimed at in the first place.
What attacks and insults, directed at God are concerned, He – Holy and Exalted is He – is hardly in need of His creation (over which He wields absolute and total control and unassailable authority) defending Him, and He has made it quite clear that He is sufficient as a witness and reckoned thereof, and the attitude we are advised to adopt can be summarised in the two commands: Say: ‘to you your din, and to me my din’ and ‘leave their company…’. It is no human being’s business to interfere with somebody else’s relationship and transaction with their Creator and Sustainer Lord in any manner beyond counselling.
The comportment and transaction with the creation, on the other hand, is quite a different matter, and the Noble Prophet – ﷺ – in his virtual reality as a human being is certainly included therein.
To begin with, we have to be very careful about insisting on the unfailing correctness of the concepts that we have created of him in our minds on the basis of the little knowledge – or rather the petty information – we have about him, which is but from hearsay, books or the spill of Google beans; that, which we deem to know about him is hardly ever the result of direct witnessing through spiritual experience.
The roles that he was given to play during his sojourn in this world by the Great Playwright and Director of the Divina Comedia are, in spite of being the ‘Uswat-ul-Hasanah’ at large, not unaffected by the stage set, i.e. the cultural and social conditions of his time and place of living, and of course by his position as the spiritual and political head of his community. Most contemporary Muslims are hardly in a position to truly relate to these conditions and their bearing on his personal conduct as a human being, and instead selectively ‘dissect’ his character and attributes, and project them onto the idol of a fantastic ubermensch created by their own wishful imagination, and then try to bring that ideal somehow into relation with the scenario and conditions of our here and now, as it were.
Well, let me tell you, he was far better than anything we could possibly concoct: he was real – ﷺ – rather, he is real, because his concern, and indeed actual involvement in the affairs of his ummah has not been cut-off, just because he is not physically walking this earth anymore.
Allah – subhanahu wa ta’ala – has commanded him:
قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ …
Say: “I am but a man like you, inspired … [ 18:110 – Surah Kahf]
And this is the core and essence of his being the ‘Uswat-ul-Hasanah’ – the role model par excellence,
‘ana basharun mithlukum’ – I am a man like you – meaning: ‘My constitution, inwardly and outwardly, is that of a normal human being like you; my humanity is what you can relate to.’
‘yuha ilaya’ – inspired in me – meaning: ‘In my actions and conduct I do not follow the whims of my self, I do not pursue my own agenda and interests, but I am guided by divine inspiration.’
This is not a limitation – quite to the contrary, it is sheer perfection!
If we unconditionally believe in the veracity of Allah’s Word, and fully comprehend the weightiness of this divine statement, then there is no room for moral, rational, or emotional judgement of his actions, even though they might not fit the profile, which our fancies have imposed on him.
The nafs (egocentric soul) is very cunning, and even if you should succeed in compelling your rational mind to accept the above mentioned position of the Noble Prophet – ﷺ – the nafs will come up with another while to assert its intrinsically non-submissive and revolting attitude. Thus we find, especially nowadays in our ‘enlightened’ era of progressiveness and informedness, that people, calling themselves Muslims, resort to undermining the Prophet’s God-given authority by questioning the veracity of the channels of transmission and methods of verification of those relatively few traditions that have reached us (after being subjected to the most rigorous sifting process and the most scrupulous examinations that can stand up to any standard of empiricism).
The plea for admissibility of human error, which nobody really denies, has been perverted into the main premise of the discussion.
Subhana_llah – which side are you on anyway?!
The crux of the matter is simply the attempt to undermine the Prophet’s authority, because the nafs abhors any authority other than its own; the supposed ‘genuine quest for the actual truth’ is nothing but a deceptive pretext and just hogwash.
The continuous attempts from outside the ummah that are being waged in varying degrees of insolence to denigrate and insult the person of the Noble Prophet – ﷺ – and the stubborn insistence on their legitimacy that accompanies them, claiming freedom of speech or whatever means of expression otherwise, hail ultimately from the same source: the egocentric human self. Whether one defines them as intolerance. religious bigotry or fanaticism, they all boil down to being the reaction of the self’s perceived threat of its perverted, or totally immature notion of freedom and liberty.
The only mature, responsible and correct exercise of freedom is very simply not to overstep the threshold, beyond which one curtails or imposes on the freedom of the other (within the framework of an agreed upon legal system of justice).
The problematics that arise when an individual or a group of individuals assume the role of a proxy in the defence of the sacrosanct in a predominantly agnostic arena, is rooted in the dilemma that they are operating in a realm, where the very thing that they are championing is not considered to have a legitimate existence, in the sense that it does not enjoy legal protection by a secular system of justice that is founded on a materialistic Weltanschauung. Tangible, material existence is the precondition to claim legal protection. A living person may claim it, if insulted, but an immaterial idea or belief does not enjoy this right. Hence, until and unless fundamental changes are effected in the system, there are only two options: hijrah or jihad – migration or fighting in the Way of Allah. The first option is simple and straightforward, at least on the level of the intention, but even on the level of execution, otherwise the Real’s response in the Hereafter to those who complain of having been oppressed in this life would not be: ‘…was not Allah’s earth vast enough?’
The latter option of not migrating, but instead fighting, particularly the clause ‘in the Way of Allah’ on the other hand entails a lot of conditions, which, if they are not fulfilled reverses the ‘fighting in the Way of Allah’ to ‘fighting in the Way of the taghut’ (the false god; Satan).
In the pluralistic world in which we are living, the fulfilment of these conditions is virtually impossible to find anywhere (except perhaps in very few places, where Muslims are actually persecuted on account of their belief and not permitted to practice their religion).
In other words, if you chose to live among non-Muslims, whose laws do not prevent you from practising your religion, you have no right to take up arms against them and fight their system by unconstitutional or violent means, irrespective of how much insult they heap on what is sacred to you, and of how much harassment they are subjecting you to. This is the position of shari’ah by a major consensus of the ‘ulama.
But let us finally return to the core issue, namely to what extent it is justified, and in accordance with the sunnah for individuals to avenge assaults on the honour of the Messenger of Allah – ﷺ.
We have the testimony of the people who were most intimately acquainted with the character and comportment of the Prophet, like Hadrat Aishah – may Allah be pleased with them – that he never sought revenge for personal injury or the violation of his own personal rights, but that he was adamant and fierce in avenging violations of Allah’s Rights; this must be understood in the context of his position and office of the Rasul.
And then there is also evidence through trustworthy ahadith that he did not reprimand or censor the killing of some people by some of the companions in revenge for constantly insulting him, after those incidents were reported to or brought before him.
There is also a report that he appealed to his companions to rid him of Ka’b bin al-Ashraf an influential Jew of Madinah, who had been instigating the Quraysh against the Messenger of Allah after their defeat at Badar, and had also been composing/reciting defaming, amatory poetry about the Muslim women.
It must be noted, however, that such killings were never indiscriminate, but very directly targeted only the individual perpetrators.
The quest, for finding the appropriate response to insults, hurled against the Best of Creation from his own sunnah is impossible, because he seems not to have reacted, unless, that is, the ‘Rights of Allah’ were violated as well. This poses a very intricate situation, because Allah instituted him as His Messenger, which in itself is the greatest honour any human being can possibly be granted, and to assault this divinely bestowed honour is surely a violation of Allah’s Right’s, yet he – ﷺ – considered Allah’s Right to his own ‘abdiyyah, self-abnegation and humility greater and more acute, and thus did not take revenge where only his personal honour came under attack.
There is a difference, however, between forgiving someone, who hurts you and forgiving someone who hurts of the one you love, and if we want to explore the sunnah, we cannot exclude the relevant, actions of the Rasul’s companions and his reactions in this context.
There we find that in several instances he did not allow his companions to avenge him for personal insults by others, if they asked his permission to do so beforehand, but if they did not ask him, but instead acted spontaneously on their own, he did not reprimand them, or condemn their action, but even absolved them from paying the blood money, which would otherwise have been due to be paid to the nearest of kin of the slain person (if they belonged to a people with whom the Muslims were not at war).
This seeming discrepancy can perhaps be understood as him accepting the revenge taken, as taken by Allah at the hands of whoever carried it out, and thus it is just another example for the utter perfection of his submission – wa_llahu ‘Alim.
If we apply this particular principle to our present-day sociocultural context, despite all the logically and rationally prohibitory conditions, we nevertheless have to admit the possibility there still are Muslims, who feel such love and dedication towards the Noble Prophet – ﷺ – that would compel them to cast aside all considerations of logic, reason and legality, and just comply with the dictates of their ‘righteous anger’. If they act in true honesty to themselves,their condemnation by society and its codes of justice is of little importance to them, and so is their conviction and punishment, in case of their apprehension.
If we give allowance to the possibility of such motivation and degree of personal dedication – and I do not see, how it can be denied absolutely and categorically for the ummah at large – we may, on account of our above detailed obligations toward the secular judicial system of the nation in which we are living, condemn the violation of their law, and condone their punishment for that, but we are not obliged to morally condemn an act of avenging a violation of our Prophet’s honour and dignity, provided it is not executed in a reckless manner by which innocent people are harmed.
If we want to talk sunnah, then the refusal to morally condemn such an act of righteous anger, is what comes closest to the sunnah.
The demand for an unqualified and expressed moral condemnation by a society, which has perverted almost all standards of true morality and freedom, and fails to protect the freedom of having ‘religious sentiments and sensitivities’ and of upholding traditional standards of morality, is outright frivolous – wa_llahu ‘alim.