Tuesday 8 March 2011

California Protests and the Muslim Response.

Kari Ansari, writer and co-founder of America's Muslim Family Magazine writes for the Huffington Post on the recent protests outside of a Muslim-run charity event in Orange County, California:

Families who had given up a relaxing Sunday evening at home to attend their community's chicken dinner fundraiser were forced to walk past an angry mob that had gathered hours earlier in protest of their banquet. Shouts of "We don't want you here! Go back home! Go back home! Go back home!" and awful insults to the Prophet Muhammad were yelled as Muslim parents and their children entered the community center. Local news covered the protest, and a video was made of the ugly scene.

Many have commented on the poise and dignity displayed by the Muslims at the Yorba Linda event. They marvel at how those children and teenagers walked through that line of screaming maniacs without responding in kind. I think I know why they were able to do it so gracefully.

Muslims have the Quran and the example of the life and words of the Blessed Prophet Muhammad. Like all of God's Prophets, he suffered greatly while delivering God's Word to the people in the early days of being a Messenger of God. The Quraish of Makkah, Muhammad's own friends and relatives, turned on him after he began to receive divine revelations of monotheism. Muhammad had been a well-respected member of one of the society's most prestigious tribal families, but when he declared that God forbade idol worship his place in society disappeared. Many people in the city turned on him with spite and malice. People threw rotting offal onto his back while he was prostrated in prayer; they threatened his life and those lives of his followers. He eventually had to flee from his oppressors in the night to save his life.

His early companions suffered greatly as well. One well-known example is of Bilal, a young Abyssinian (from modern day Ethiopia), who was tortured and dragged through the streets and then laid out on the hot sands while heavy rocks were piled on his chest in the effort to get him to renounce his belief in One God. It didn't work. Bilal was a constant companion to Muhammad thereafter, and he was Islam's first muezzin, the one who calls the faithful to prayer. The early Muslims remained strong, and did not compromise their beliefs, nor did they respond to the hate from the lowest depths of their character. Instead, they held strong to the words of God and drew their resolve from His message, and His Messenger. The accounts of persecution are many; we relate them to our children as they learn about Islam.

We teach our children that if those early Companions of the Blessed Prophet Muhammad could withstand physical torture, exile from their homes, and severe condemnation from family and neighbors, we can withstand a few idiots with signs and a bullhorn. We talk about how the early Muslims were a small minority among a majority of people who didn't understand them, and who often hated them. We celebrate the stories of those faithful who stood firm in their belief in One God.

You can read the full article and view a video of the protest here.

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