What was this young man’s crime? Hamza Kashgari tweeted an imaginary and creative conversation with what he considered as his long dead prophet. A literary parade through a fantasy derived discussion about frustrations he might just feel living in a perversion of this established religion. From what strength do you stifle freedom of expression? Your faith and message should be impervious to our criticisms and wit. With untestable celestial authority, it is proclaimed that blasphemy and apostasy, of which some were born and brought up into only to turn away once reaching adulthood and independence, should be met with blood and death when shared in the public sphere.
The time period termed the Enlightenment that ignited the Europeans has not been appreciated or shared thoroughly by our Arab populations. A prophet drove a spike into the cloth of his worldview that does not allow his followers to escape from an intellectual burning building. Bedda or innovation is considered the work of the devil. Moses and Jesus are said to be followers of Islam; twisting their lack of the same message that was draped over Mecca and Medina. In the case of Moses, we are fed those people were not ready for the message yet. Praying five times a day? There would have been a revolt, I assume. Jesus’ teachings were twisted, the tale goes, and Christianity was a perverted faith that was born from men tainting its teaching and making a man the son of god.
Violence or the threat of violence is not the response of peaceful thinkers and open hearts. The four Caliphs that proceeded after the prophet are held in very high regard for having fought and been alive during the proclaimed divine revelations. Abu Bakr established the tradition of delivering death to apostates. The history of that incident is revealing and followers should head the liberal dimension that says they should move fast away from that erroneous judgment. In the name of authority powered by money, the tax or tribute paid to Mecca was threatened when the prophet passed away. When tribes refused and asked for a heavenly reason, they were put to the sword and called heretics for not recognizing their transgression.
“Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.” – Ayaan Hirsi Ali
For what reasons fear a pen? Totalitarianism is the only avenue where it is suppressed. Seeds of knowledge, doubt, skepticism, and sympathy should swim within culture and human interaction unimpeded. Any society that proclaims itself righteous beyond recourse is sitting in a pit of absolute incestuous ignorance. Like a captive that was born into a cell, they struggle to comprehend anything outside their experience or stifled views. It gets compounded further when charitable people with no gain desired provide pictures and stories and are treated with abject horror and spit on with contempt for challenging the prisoner’s assumption that their life might have been wasting in this dark moral cellar. The pen is mightier than the sword; it has changed worldviews and allowed for collective knowledge to be debated and put to the test of scrutiny down through generations. In its most insidious use, though, the pen can cast shadows that paralyze minds to classify, separate, and cut apart our shared humanity.
Disinformation circles and feeds these cultural living corpses. Sectarian zombies attack any slight or perceived dishonor to glance their peripheral perceptions. Uncontrollable ideas are labeled corruption and pose the most dangerous threat. Pillared dogma bequeaths moral outrage like a cancer to human psyche that threatens to kill the host or literary surgeon trying to alleviate the tumor of blind adherence. What separates tragedy from farce when an all knowing, enigmatic source of divinity should not touch upon the proven and cement entrenched dangers of dogma in his books or in his prophet’s attributed sayings?
“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful” – Seneca the Younger
Any living spirit has the unalienable right to challenge or even mock any claim that crosses his or her path. We are looking for Muslims to de-fang and de-claw their religion in the same cultural context that occurred with Judaism and Christianity. That is enlightenment. It will not be given to you by those who adhere closest to established standards; those religious, theocratic colleges of Medina or Cairo. No school of thought with authority will break the chains when it serves so well in political hands. Violence should not be an institutional switch to keep your young in line. Your institutions suffer as you buckle under the weight of this self-imposed morass while portraying the victimhood of imperialism. The bloodlust heard by the free world when you feel slighted curdles our blood as you demand respect and equal rights.
Silent submission shall not be given by those of us with open hearts and minds. Our speech and writing instruments will continue to follow our moral compasses established by human decency. Moderates will be asked with whose camp they sit. Those that stifle our endeavors lash with bladed whips people that rise up or calculatingly play with imagination to doors that can open collective conscious to new ways. The egos involved with literal interpretation of Bronze Age texts and customs is astonishing. The gifts of technology are then raped to enslave and render opposition mute. If your misunderstanding and action on cold pages demand death cult behavior, there are those of us who represent the pinnacle of human thought in our history; the right to express ourselves in any way we dream of without resorting to barbaric, infantile, or murderous tactics.
How can you watch hate, dressed in delusional love and compassion, work across our lives like a crack in a chipped winter windshield while knowing you have the tools to stop it?
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Where is the sweetness alluded to in the title? Few events have the merit inherent to galvanize moderates and challenge long held revered beliefs. This is a rare litmus test to see how corrosive and impotent silence can be; how much it allows others to represent, taint, and desecrate their world. Why seek shallow compromise in the face of fanatics, rabid by petrified tradition and absolute literalism. Events like these demand character and integrity. We stand for justice and compassion allowing the human spirit to express itself as long as no one is harmed. There is no insult that one can utter; no challenge of narrative broadcast that should be greeted with violence or death. Ever. Not in this century. And especially at the hands of theocratic despots, braying victimization, all the while oblivious to the stench of a still born ideology that was spread by sword and tax.