‘The strongest among you…’ | Pakistan Today

‘The strongest among you…’

  • In an age of political correctness, how do such things happen?

…is the one who controls his anger.”─ The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

There are certain roads down which we are told it is best not to go. Certain others we have learnt to abandon ourselves. An example of the latter is that ever since some segments around the world became more conscious about how people ought or ought not to be treated, certain words have become ‘haram’, so to speak. It is because these words refer to people who have been severely discriminated against, and therefore the terms carry much distressing baggage. You do not say ‘handicapped’ now for example; that is a word that brings back memories of a time when persons unable to do this or that were considered lacking. Now, since it is recognized that we are each of us unable to do something or the other the word has been abandoned for an adjective with less overtones, such as disabled or differently abled.

Similarly since the 1970s, the word ‘negro,’ associated with generations of slavery, discrimination and cruelty, is not used. It has been replaced by ‘black’ or ‘African American,’ words that are acceptable to the people referred to.

Certain attitudes too have become unacceptable, more in some countries than other, attitudes such as invading another person’s personal space, or gender bias.

Commendable as this is, in this matter– as in many others– people seem to have gone too far due to their inability or unwillingness to think about these matters, and understand what makes them important.

The BBC reported last month that ‘Professor Greg Patton at the University of Southern California (USC) was telling students in a Communications lecture last month about filler or pause words, such as ‘err’, ‘umm’ or ‘you know’ in English.

He said: “In China, the common pause word is ‘that, that, that’, which in Chinese would be na-ge, na-ge, na-ge.’

We do not like the image of our beloved Prophet (PBUH) to be made or displayed. Aside from anything else, no image can accurately depict the towering personality he was. But is murder going to prove either of those points or betray them?

Enunciated, na-ge sounds like the English word ‘negro’ which as mentioned above is no longer an acceptable word. It led several of the professor’s students to complain to the university, following which the dean of the university told the students that Professor Patton would no longer be teaching the course.

A supreme example of political correctness pushed to the extreme. Not only was it based on a fallacy since the professor was not saying the N-word at all, but even if someone did, as part of a lecture on the subject of racism for example, how would he broach the issue without using words such as this?

Surely that is an objection born of people’s failure to think.

Roads down which we have been asked not to go are those leading to idolatry.

Muslims believe that the foundations of Islam were laid with Adam, but the religion was completed as we know in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), when the practice of idol worship was at its peak. It is for this reason that the Prophet (PBUH) himself forbade his followers from making images of his person because there was a good chance that this would lead to an over-veneration of his person, and perhaps even its worship. Even with this prohibition, as we know, people tend to bow down at his tomb, a practice strictly forbidden in Islam. Whether or not someone else wishes to draw him is their headache. There are already many pictures in existence purporting to represent Muhammad (PBUH). We Muslims do not do this. Yet to kill a person for doing this therefore is insanity. Even more so since the killing is done in the name of a man who was peace personified, who brought us a religion the very name of which means ‘peace’. A religion that allows war only in self-defense, that asked its followers during that war not to harm even the plants and trees growing around them and to treat prisoners of war with kindness. So wherefore the beheading of the French teacher Samuel Paty?

Yes, Paty should have had the sensitivity not to display drawings of the Prophet (PBUH), particularly given that, at 10 percent, France’s Muslim population is the largest in Europe. But Paty was not Muslim, and France is a secular country. We cannot expect the world to follow exactly the same customs as we do, because yes, not making images of the Prophet is a custom─ our custom, not a law.

French President Emanuel Macron proved himself to be divisive and lacking in diplomacy in his subsequent statements, but how does our own Prime Minister come off in the matter?

Pakistan’s record in matters concerning its minorities is hardly spotless. There is little need to go into detail at this point, but the fact remains that the country has not treated its minorities well, and has been in the past home ground for extremists and continues to be so in the present. For a representative of any government of Pakistan to object to someone else’s insensitivity, is laughable.

In which case of course Macron’s statements too lacked a sense of history, given France’s colonial past in Algeria, and its treatment of its Algerian minorities.

The fact remains that Islam is a religion of peace, it will always be a religion of peace, a rational religion. Nothing can change that, not an army of extremists or any number of mindless politicians. It is the perception of Islam through other eyes that will ‘be in crisis’ until Muslims fix their own image of extremism and violence, an image that taints the whole even though it is created by the very few. To magnify that image and use it for their own ends will be something politicians do, because that is what politicians do. To moan and whine about the fact is an exercise in futility, and stupidity.

Yes we do not like the image of our beloved Prophet (PBUH) to be made or displayed. Aside from anything else, no image can accurately depict the towering personality he was. But is murder going to prove either of those points or betray them?

Rabia Ahmed

The writer is a freelance columnist. Read more by her at http://rabia-ahmed.blogspot.com/

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