There is a movement of people online that are seeking to have as many drawings and likenesses of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, rendered on May 20th, 2010 as possible. This is in response to the recent alteration of a South Park episode depicting their prophet, as well as to the fatwa (religious edict) mandating the death of the Danish cartoonists who made the Jyllands-Posten depictions of Muhammad. In Islam, an likeness of the Prophet Muhammad is expressly forbidden.
Although I certainly do not approve of the edict rendered or the political pressure exerted by Islamists to redact an adult-oriented cartoon, I cannot condone this movement to deliberately offend the Islamic culture and religion.
I claim worship to Christ. His name is frequently used in my culture by people of various faiths as an exclamation or expletive. I do find it offensive, but not enough to murder anyone. However, just because others choose to use the name of my deity for swearing does not automatically entitle me to do the same to others.
There’s a higher road: choosing not to deliberately offend.
I DON’T have to smear Siddhartha Gautama. I DON’T have to curse Vishnu. I DON’T have to spite Pope Benedict XVI. Doing these things only inflames an already infected wound. Offense doesn’t cure offense. It would only serve to make the current situation worse.
I counter Draw Muhammad Day with Don’t Draw Muhammad Day.
This article is not in response to a deep-felt love for Islam. To the contrary, my family has been directly abused by many people of the Islamic faith. Some of you may remember 5 years ago when this very site was maliciously hacked by islamic fundamentalists in response to the Danish cartoon. Skinyourscreen.com was essentially a bystander casualty, malevolent, offended human beings attempting to damage whatever they could, even if it had nothing whatsoever to do with the Danish cartoon. I have had egyptian neighbors who made our neighborhood hell every single day for the other 70+ families that lived here with their offensive challenges to all and their complete lack of regard for anyone. They particularly singled out my dear wife with their piteous and constant nagging, draining tens of hours every week just to deal with them. These people were, to me, examples of the very basest existence for humanity. If Islam wants to show the world how primitive it is by its dramatically exaggerated penalties for perceived minor infractions, so be it. I choose the better way: not returning offense for offense.
A counter-example exists for every example. I have had several angelic friends of the Islamic faith. My dear friend Nerio, of the Islamic faith in Nigeria, has been a solace to me through many years. He is an example of exceptional faith, grace, and serenity, particularly when life becomes unbearable in its challenges. He is a superlative example of endurance and faith, recovering from a car accident which should have killed him, pushing steadfastly through years of physical and psychological therapy to help him relearn everything afresh. Locally, I helped the bad egyptian neighbors move out due to pure gratitude they wouldn’t be our neighbors anymore. As a community we were rewarded with a young Islamic Pakistani couple. Faithful and friendly, they are the complete counterpoint to the other family. They are a beloved and integral part of our community.
By not participating in Draw Muhammad Day I deliberately decide NOT to be like the poor examples, the hackers and spiteful neighbors. By not participating in Draw Muhammad Day I honor current friends and demonstrate good will, hopefully gaining more.
The take-home message: It’s not about Islam.
It’s about respect. It’s about choosing a better way. It’s about building meaningful, understanding relationships with real people.
Don’t ruin this opportunity by spreading spite.
Choose to build a bridge today and refuse to participate in Draw Muhammad Day 2010.