In the past few weeks, we have witnessed many sad events, chief amongst them being the printing and subsequent re-printing of the distasteful, rude, provocative, disrespectful cartoons of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

I, along with the overwhelming majority of Muslims, have been appalled and offended by the printing and re-printing of these cartoons. Yes, we are for freedom of speech, and God knows we need it in many parts of the world, but freedom of speech entails sound judgement and responsibility.

For Muslims, loving Muhammad (peace be upon him) is an act of worship. Indeed, we strive to love our Prophet more than our parents and even ourselves. If you ask any Muslim anywhere in the world, 'What do you think of Muhammad?' you will find that all Muslims will express their unconditional love and reverence for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and will feel deeply offended by anything disrespectful or slanderous said about him.

Accepting or denying God is one thing (which is a matter of personal belief and choice) but any attack on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a direct attack on all Muslims.

I must also add that I have been deeply saddened and shocked by the manner in which some Muslims have reacted to this issue. Using violence and arson, inciting hatred, and glorifying the killing of innocent civilians do not only go against the essential teachings of our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), but are also unacceptable to all human beings.

Though we may get emotional by such offensive depictions of our beloved Prophet, this can never justify reacting in such a manner. We must intelligently and wisely express our indignation in peaceful but effective ways.I commend the mature way this issue has been handled so far in the UK by the government and the majority of the British media. We should work hard to see social cohesion, co-existence, and harmony reign in societies.

Finally, I believe that the anger we all have is justified and understandable. However, let's channel our anger towards educating and removing mis-conceptions, towards becoming more proactive and really showing our friends, neighbours, colleagues, and society at large who our Prophet (peace be upon him) really was. We need to show the beauty of his message and teachings - a message of mutual respect and tolerance, love and compassion, truth and justice, human brotherhood and equality.

Sami Yusuf



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