The 21st September


A day of love, but clearly no love for the Prophet (pbuh)

An affirmation of belief in Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the messenger of God is an integral part of the shahada, the basic declaration of faith for all Muslims, who also recite the durood five times a day as part of their daily prayers to confer salutations and blessings on their Prophet. Those who subscribe to milads organise and attend them to celebrate the birth of the Prophet. Clearly all this is insufficient as far as the powers that be were concerned, who felt an additional expression of devotion was required. And so the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has, as it were, been made to ‘join the club’.

There’s Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Secretary’s Day and St Valentine’s Day… and now… Ishq-e-Rasool Day mubarak to everyone. Did you have a happy Prophet’s Day?

It appears several people didn’t, certainly not a Haji sahib from Hyderabad, who refused to close shop on Friday in expression of devotion. He was accused and booked under the anti-blasphemy act, and his house was attacked by a mob. When he tried to defend himself he was also accused of attempted murder. Haji sahib is now on the run, and a certain Majlis-e-Tahfuz-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwat, already taking part in the protest against that stupid video, has threatened to launch another protest next week unless the Haji is found and brought to ‘justice’.

In fact it was generally not a good day for this entire impoverished country, for which this unplanned shut down spelt a (further) massive loss of revenue. To give some idea of the scale of loss, closure of business in a single area of Karachi alone on the 18th of September following the call for a strike by the Jamaat-i-Islami was calculated at approximately five billion rupees to the exchequer.

The human cost far outweighed the economic: scores of people died, hundreds were injured and as many arrested; the injured included members of the police and fire fighting authorities. Without doubt the Muslims of Pakistan bear a great love for the Prophet, but you have only to see the expressions on the faces of rioters photographed breaking and looting on the day to realise that this affair was about settling old scores for most protestors, and even a ‘fun day out’, and no expression of love, since violence and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) have nothing in common.

Most governments would be disturbed by such a drop in its economic figures, but in Pakistan such drivel originates from the government itself. Any doubts on that head should be dispelled by an announcement made by the Federal Minister for Railways, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, who offered a $100,000 reward for the capture or death of the maker of the offensive video. The minister issued a statement saying that although ‘he was aware that it was a crime to instigate murder, he was ready to commit that crime because there was no other way to instill fear among blasphemers.’

Ishq-e-Rasool Day henceforth joins the long list of things confused with the religion itself such as the anti-blasphemy laws of this country, and as some would add, milads. Interesting that people forever ranting against ‘bida’at’ (religious innovation) should not recognise a bida’at when it is flung so openly at them. Obviously they lack something essential in their understanding.

Which is a problem shared by those who have made It a punishable offence to deny the holocaust. You’d think they’d understand the sentiment aroused in the Muslim world when the Prophet of Islam is denied the courtesy and respect owed him, but, apart from packets of thinking individuals, that does not appear to be the case.

According to Robert Fisk writing in The Independent earlier this month, ‘A New Zealand editor once proudly told me how his own newspaper had re-published the cartoon of the Prophet with a bomb-filled turban. But when I asked him if he planned to publish a cartoon of a Rabbi with a bomb on his head next time Israel invaded Lebanon, he hastily agreed with me that this would be anti-Semitic.’

‘There’s the rub, of course,’ Fisk continued. ‘Some things are off limits, and rightly so. Others have no limits at all. Several radio presenters asked me yesterday if the unrest in Cairo and Benghazi may have been timed to “coincide with 9/11”. It simply never occurred to them to ask if the video-clip provocateurs had chosen their date-for-release to coincide with 9/11.’

Which leads to the question, of course, whether the declaration of an Ishq-e-Rasool Day has been as opportunely timed to coincide with the elections?

The writer is a freelance columnist. Read more by her at