This CNN report on the veiled threat made by an obscure, fringe American Muslim website against the creators of the South Park cartoon shows an extremist saying something completely untrue:
“Yunus Muhammad” says in the interview that the Qur’an instructs Muslims to ‘terrorize the disbelievers.’ It does no such thing. The Qur’an instructs Muslims to live at peace with non-Muslims who are at peace with them. (It turns at that this minor, fringe group is led by converts from Judaism, one of them a former settler in Israel. It is not clear whether they have sincerely exchanged one fanaticism for another or whether this is a false flag operation, perhaps of an intelligence agency. In any case, it is no accident that they are ignorant of the Qur’an. (For a mainstream Muslim response, see The American Muslim.)
The verse to which this individual referred was in the chapter of the Spoils (al-Anfal), 8:60:
Wa a`iddu lahum ma istata`tum min quwwatin wamin ribati ‘lkhayli turhibuna bihi `aduwwa Allahi wa`aduwwakum
Which means, “Prepare against them all the power, and all the war horses that you can, whereby to strike fear into the enemies of God and your enemies.”
The context of this verse is the Battle of Badr on March 17, 624 of the Common Era. In the 610s, the pagan Meccans had persecuted the new religion of Islam and ultimately chased Muhammad and the Muslims out of Mecca for preaching the one God. They took refuge in the nearby city of Yathrib, which became known as Medina (i.e. the City [of the Prophet]). The wealthy Meccan polytheists hoped to wipe Islam and the Muslims out, and fought skirmishes with them. The early Muslims riposted by raiding Meccan trading caravans, in hopes of weakening their foe economically. That March in 624, the Meccans sent out their best fighters to protect a caravan. A Muslim force more or less stumbled onto this expedition. Badr, named after a well south of Medina, was the first major battle between the two sides, and the Muslims won it, thus saving themselves from genocide.
So what the Qur’an is saying in 8:60 is that the Muslims should keep a stable of fighting steeds at the ready and let the Meccans know about it, to strike fear into the hearts of an enemy trying to wipe out them and their religion.
The verse does not command any act of ‘terrorism.’ It commands that Muslims attempt to forestall irrational violence against a Muslim state through deterrence. It is defensive in intent.
The verse does not say anything about mere ‘disbelievers’ or non-Muslims. It is warning of the designs of ‘enemies of God,’ i.e. militant and violent anti-Muslims. Moreover, there is no implication that Muslims should act as individuals or vigilantes. Medina was a city-state that the Prophet Muhammad ruled, and he gave the orders. Muslims could not just run off and attack whomever they pleased whenever they pleased. A duly constituted Muslim state was in charge of defense of the community.
So unless Yunus Muhammad can find a group of armed individuals who aim at violently attacking Muslims en masse and trying to wipe out them and their religion, he should stuff a sock in it and go home.
In fact, trying to import terrorism into the Qur’an is an infinitely greater blasphemy than that of any Western cartoonist, and one would hope Muslim groups would get more upset about Yunus Muhammad and ‘Revolution Muslim’ than about an irreverent American tv program.
Unfortunately, along with people with genuinely hurt feelings, there will be some cynical political forces that manipulate Muslim fundamentalists and will try to advance their agendas by taking advantage of this South Park controversy (the show depicted the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit to avoid showing him– which is about as close as South Park gets to deference to religious feelings).
The USG Open Source Center translated the following item from Bahasa Indonesian about the reaction of the Forum Ummat Islam or the Community Forum of Islam, a coalition of fundamentalists formed in 2005 to repress the Ahmadiya movement. (The Ahmadiya is a form of modernist millenarianism that posits a minor prophet (nabi) after Muhammad; most Muslims believe that there is no prophet after Muhammad). The fundamentalist FUI, which includes cults like Hizb ut-Tahrir, the caliphate nuts, is relatively small in Indonesia, where secular parties have done far, far better in recent elections.
‘Indonesia: FUI Seeks Clarification From US Mission on Film ‘Desecrating’ Prophet
Report by Dadan Muhammad: “US Embassy Must Give Clarification on Film Desecrating Prophet”
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Document Type: OSC Translated Text …
Jakarta — Lodging protest against an animation movie showing Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit, the Islamic Followers Forum (FUI [Forum Ummat Islam]) sought a clarification from the US Embassy in Jakarta. “The US Embassy in Indonesia must give a clarification that its government will take strict action against the creator of this animation movie and apologize to all Muslims in the world,” FUI Secretary General Muhammad al-Khaththath told Okezone.com.
According to him, any attempt to portray Prophet Muhammad, including showing him in a bear suit in the animation, is prohibited in Islam. He terms this “desecration against the nobility of Prophet Muhammad.” Followers of Islam all over the world must be hurt by this. “The followers Islamic must protest and the creator has to be punished because it is a humiliation,” he stressed.
The FUI secretary general said that this humiliation might give rise to hostility. “The United States, which glorifies democracy and human rights, has actually been acting racist and violating the dignity of other groups. The followers of Muhammad will not allow this to continue,” he said.
When asked about a possible protest in front of the US Embassy, Al-Khaththath said that he was still watching the situation. “We will see the situation,” he said. He said that the desecration of Prophet Muhammad had taken places many times earlier also. According to him, it had been caused by hatred against the Islamic teaching. “It is the Islamic teaching that has become their enemy, not Muslims. Muslims who have poor Islamic knowledge are not their enemies,” he said.
According to Al-Khaththath, the other factor operating behind such happenings is a secular law, which did not give severe punishment to the citizen who commit desecration against a religion or a group.
In the 200th episode of South Park broadcast last week, a program created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, an animated prophet Muhammad was shown wearing a bear suit. It has riveted protests from many groups so far.
(Description of Source: Jakarta okezone.com in Indonesian — Website owned by Media Nusantara Citra (MNC), the owner of Indonesian Education Television (TPI), Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia (RCTI), and Global TV Indonesia (GlobalTV). Provides on-line news and information; URL: http://www.okezone.com) ‘