The fact that this comic is about the most beloved to Islam and the Muslims is not a coincidence
The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has just published a comic book of the life of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). This is Charlie Hebdo’s latest in a string of satirical depictions of the Prophet; the last being shortly after widespread protests against the film-trailer Innocence Of Muslims produced in the USA.
Charlie Hebdo wants to pick a fight with Islam and Muslims by attacking the greatest human who ever lived. The question is why.
The answer is not that these secular fundamentalists have a blind and unthinking hatred of Islam. That is too simplistic. Instead, they and others like them oppose Islam because they see it is an alternative way of life to their own secular, liberal, democratic, capitalist system. Islam is a viable alternative because it offers a complete and consistent framework to run a civilisation – political, intellectual, philosophical, social, ruling, economic, religious, legal etc. Islam is therefore in ideological competition with the Western framework.
By ideology, I mean this is not just a struggle of military or economic powers. This is a struggle based on the most central ideas about the meaning and purpose of life that we want to implement, defend and spread. This is a struggle of the most important ideas we live by and live for. So this is a clash of ideologies in action; the West vs. Islam.
This clash means both sides want to portray the other as intellectually or morally flawed, inconsistent, oppressive and worth laughing at in order to turn entire populations towards them and against the other. The West wants to prevent Islam returning to authority with an Islamic State embodying it internationally. This is the meaning of the war on terror which is the war on non-state actors to prevent them taking control of states. The aware Muslims are trying to wake up their populations to reject Western solutions, liberate themselves from colonial interference, refer only to Islam whenever they face a problem, re-establish Islam in the form of a caliphate and unify politically. Both sides are in direct conflict.
Therefore any intellectual or material attack from either side must be viewed from this perspective. This conflict ranges from Charlie Hebdo comics on the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and French hijab bans to British attempts to force assimilation upon Muslim citizens
If we fail to view this conflict from the angle that Western secular fundamentalists view Islam as ideological competition and therefore want to attack it in public then we won’t understand what any of these insults are trying to achieve and we won’t progress.
This helps us view the latest attack on Islam by Charlie Hebdo. The fact that this comic is about the most beloved to Islam and the Muslims is not a coincidence. It is well-known that the Muslim ummah has a depth of love for the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and a willingness to defend his honour that the West simply cannot comprehend, because the highest love in the individualistic West is for oneself while the Muslims love the Prophet (PEACE BE UPON HIM) more than their own eternal souls. This comic is a deliberate and calculated provocation designed to elicit a response from the Muslims.
Charlie Hebdo, like other secular fundamentalists, want to provoke confrontation between Islam and the West on issues that highlight the key differences between the two alternative ways of life. The secularists want to insult sacred symbols of Islam and then promote free speech. They want to ban hijab and then say we must live together in a gender-equal, pluralist society. They want to set the EDL and other right-wing thugs on the Muslims to provoke riots so they can argue Muslims are a security threat and need to be integrated. They want to highlight hudood punishments like cutting the hand of the thief and then praise their own legal system. They want to threaten countries that do not play by their rules and then bully them to subscribe to international law, free-market economics and secular, liberal democracy.
They want to highlight the differences between Islam and the West in bitter, drawn-out public battles so they can turn their populations against Islam and weaken the confidence of Muslims to bring Islam back.
They do so in arrogance because they genuinely believe Muslims cannot defend Islam against them. They feel super-confident and secure that they can win the public, intellectual debate. Whether they argue for atheism, secularism, human rights, individualism, freedom, international law, free speech, gender equality, gay rights, capitalist economic principles, democracy etc. they have an armoury of ideas and values to push and view Islam as backwards because it differs with every one of their core values
Furthermore, while the Muslim ummah is reviving and becoming more aware of the need to return to Islam as the source of its thoughts and civilisation, the lack of an Islamic State or caliphate means the competition between Islam and the West is lopsided. The West has multiple states that embody its values with the support of their populations while Islam does not have a single state anywhere in the world that embodies it today or has done for almost 90 years. The West can show they have a viable working system while the Muslims can only point to history and principles. This means the West looks practical while Islam appears impractical. This is why the secularists are so arrogant. They know the Muslims have a difficult task to win. Of course, the Muslims don’t care because victory is promised and they’re only responsible for their efforts.
Now the ideological context is clear and we see the place of secular fundamentalists such as Charlie Hebdo within it, we can see what is required from us.
We cannot stop insults and attacks on Islam without having a state of our own threatening action against other states and we have no Islamic State today. Therefore we have to deal with this issue as individuals without a state, while working to bring the caliphate back.
Islam does not allow us to be silent about insults to our honour, despite the cowardly and defeatist answers we’ve all heard recently from various Islamic personalities. Silence is not wisdom in this situation since it simply demonstrates that we are unable or unwilling to respond in the middle of the most important conflict the world has ever seen. Islam also does not permit us to act violently, especially since this plays directly into the hands of the secular fundamentalists. We cannot compromise or distort Islam either, no matter how much pressure we’re placed under.
Therefore, Muslims have to engage intellectually with the ideas behind the ideological conflict with the West with wisdom and boldness and without falling for the traps set by such provocation.
We can win the public debate because Islam is the truth and because Allah SWT is with us.
However, we have to make the decision to engage in this as a community. We must all carry da’wah to the wider population ourselves. An excellent initiative called Know Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has just begun to support Muslims to do just that. We must also support those who defend Islam intellectually and ideologically. We must secure them platforms to speak, promote them, support them on social media (retweet on Twitter, like and share on Facebook and YouTube etc.). We have to learn their arguments and messages and keep pushing them. Together we can build mass support for Islam and weaken support for the ideas of the West.
If you wonder why this is necessary, let me leave you with this question: if no one is calling for Islam and if no one is confident enough to defend Islam as a complete, ideological way of life in public and if the West keep attacking our ideas in public and we don’t respond and we leave the agent rulers in our countries to lie that they have no choice but to implement Western solutions on us because there is no alternative because Islam is only spiritual then how do you think we will ever achieve change?