Behind the violence by Muslim mobs in several countries are traditions that reach to the roots of the religion: a reaction against any images of Muhammad.
"He said, `I am not like the kings, who wish to be worshiped or glorified,'" said Sofian Abdelaziz, director of the Miami-based American Muslim Association of North America. "In movies and TV shows in the Middle East, they won't post even nice pictures of the prophet."
Having said that, religious leaders say, the cartoons in European newspapers were doubly offensive for portraying Muhammad as a bomb-toting terrorist. Yet although they understood motivations for the burnings, stonings and vandalism sweeping several countries, they said nothing in the faith would justify it.
"Am I deeply offended? Yes. Would I torch something? No," said Areeb Naseer, general counsel for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Florida. "When the prophet started spreading his message, he was personally attacked by his own family and neighbors. And he never reacted with violence."
The anti-image attitude is rooted partly in the Islamic tradition against carved idols, said Imam Sayed Mohammad Jawad Al Qazwini of Boca Raton.
"The prophet wanted to eliminate all the roots of idol worship," said the spiritual leader of the Assadiq Islamic Educational Center.
And in that pre-photographic era, no one recorded Muhammad's appearance. So any attempts to depict him would be inaccurate, Al Qazwini said.
The Muslim leaders even suspected the Europeans of purposely offending Muslims via the cartoons.
"It showed disrespect for everyone who believes in a monotheistic religion," Al Qazwini said. "If they disrespect Muhammad today, they'll disrespect Jesus tomorrow. Everyone should stand up and say no to this."
Abdelaziz said the American Muslim Association today would send to several states a call for protests against the offensive cartoon. The message also will condemn violence against individuals, embassies and worship centers, he said.
Naseer said the Florida council is putting together a program on the importance of Muhammad in everyday Muslim life. "There are more constructive and educational responses than violence."
James D. Davis can be reached at email@example.com or 954-356-4730.
DECLARATION ON BEHALF OF MUSLIM RELIGIOUS LEADERS (Official English Translation)
|"The events in Denmark concerning the Messenger of God represent an entirely|
unacceptable crime of aggression that has violated the highest sanctities of the
Muslim people. Moreover it is devastating to the ideal of convivial dialogue
between peoples, as enjoined in the Quranic verse, which reads, 'And We created
you as nations and tribes that you might know one another'...."
The following is a declaration of some of the most renowned Muslim Religious
Scholars from across the globe.
For the original Arabic text, please visit: http://www.alhabibali.org/
|Declaration of Scholars|
|File Type: PDF File|