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Poor Danes. I bummed a Prince cigarette off some Norweigans (someone else’s relapse) and we laughed about the probable boycott on that Danish good. The Danes are some of the nicest and most mild-mannered people I know and it’s odd that they’re getting their embassies torched. It’s even more ironic that the pictures of Mohammed (peace be upon him) with a bomb in his turban are being protested as by, er, burning stuff, beating up Dutch journalists, and killing people. I read half of the Koran in the Dubai airport and, aside from scaring the shit out of me, I was impressed by how adequately small it made me feel. If I remember correctly, the concept of the greater Jihad (jihad al-akbar) was getting yourself in order, while the lesser Jihad dealt with other people. I’d say that those who inflict and call for violence against a nation for a set of cartoons are losing the greater Jihad to insecurity, fear, and hatred. I know quite a few people who Islam has made stronger, kinder, and wiser, but the people torching buildings just look like jobless jokers to me.
Sitting Nut brings up the broader issue of free speech, which I’m all for. Ahmadinejad of Iran sees fit to deny the reality of the Holocaust, Hamas promotes the fabricated ‘Elders of the Protocols of Zion’ and all and sundry preach hatred against Americans, but then they’re quick to anger at any perceived slight on them. I guess the work of stirring up hatred against a culture is easier than putting your head down 5 times a day and realizing that you’re really rather insignificant. My experience with faith is that its very easy to think it is something you have, rather than something that you work for every day. God is a good guy to know, but the relationship is very high-maintainence and he needs at least a phone call every day. Its easy to say your a Muslim or say you’re a Buddhist and act as if that word will somehow protect you. In fact, it becomes a part of your identity like Sri Lankan or Arab and you start to lose sight of the moment, where God lives. Faith is not a settled fact and it’s not a product you can keep or print. It’s a practice and anyone actually practicing is liable to be humble because the act is so god damn hard.
I think that the hard work of faith is not defending the symbols and icons of your belief, which is important house-keeping, but actually getting your heart right with God. Loving and fearing God is a full-time job last I remember, with precious little time for acting like a savage and trashing buildings. Muslims, especially, have a responsibility for Faith, Prayer, Charity, Fasting and Pilgrimage which should really take up most of your time if you’re doing it right.
Jihad Al-Akbar is the noble and honorable drive to know the oneness of God and the humility of yourself, and I think it’s great. There are lesser Jihad’s like Jihad of the tongue (speech, writing) and finally Jihad of the hand, but I think the people causing and inciting violence have the order all backwards. I mean, I’m no scholar, but shouldn’t you have your house right before you go burning down other peoples? Have Syria and Afghanistan addressed the corruption and suffering in their midst, or are they just taking the easy way out and unleashing hatred by their hands and calling it Jihad? I don’t advocate violence for any reason, but I think there is at least an order to things
Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid, imam of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem, NY, defines three levels of jihad — personal, verbal and physical. Considering each in turn:
Personal Jihad: This is the most important form. This type of jihad, called the Jihadun-Nafs, is the intimate struggle to purify one’s soul of evil influences — both subtle and overt. It is the struggle to cleanse one’s spirit of sin. Putting “Allah ahead of our loved ones, our wealth, our worldly ambitions and our own lives.” Resisting pressure of parents, peers and society; strive against “the rejecters of faith…” (Qur’an 25:52) “…strive and struggle to live as true Muslims…” “Striving for righteous deeds.”Spreading the message of Islam. “The (true) believers are only those who believe in Allah and his messenger and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their selves for the cause of Allah. Such are the truthful.” (Qur’an, 49:15)
Verbal Jihad: To strive for justice through words and non-violent actions. Muhammad encouraged Muslims to demand justice in the name of Allah. When asked: “‘What kind of jihad is better?’ Muhammad replied, ‘A word of truth in front of an oppressive ruler(Nisai). According to M. Amir Ali, Jihad explained
The life of the Prophet Muhammad was full of striving to gain the freedom to inform and convey the message of Islam. During his stay in Makkah [Mecca] he used non-violent methods and after the establishment of his government in Madinah [Medina], by the permission of Allah, he used armed struggle against his enemies whenever he found it inevitable.
Physical Jihad: This relates to the use of physical force in defense of Muslims against oppression and transgression by the enemies of Allah, Islam and Muslims. Allah commands that Muslims lead peaceful lives and not transgress against anyone. If they are persecuted and oppressed, the Qur’an recommends that they migrate to a more peaceful and tolerant land: “Lo! Those who believe, and those who emigrate (to escape persecution) and strive (Jahadu) in the way of Allah, these have hope of Allah’s mercy…” (Qur’an, 2:218). If relocation is not possible, then Allah also requires Muslims to defend themselves against oppression by “fighting against those who fight against us.” 2 The Qur’an states: “To those against whom war is made, permission is given [to defend themselves], because they are wronged – and verily, Allah is Most Powerful to give them victory.” (22:39) – via Wikipedia
You have to question whether you’re acting out of faith and righteousness or fear, insecurity and wounded pride. What face are you showing the world? That of a petulant child, or of someone mature and strong in their hard-earned faith, confronting a wrong? A child will react with violence and tantrums, and it is childlike to burn those embassies and lash out at the Danish people. Someone who has fought the Greater Jihad would be more secure in themselves, and able to show personal strength, restraint, and wisdom in their words. Any chimpanzee or soccer hooligan can trash property if you threaten their space, but I believe that Islam is something much higher.
In fact, the first pillar of Islam is the profession of faith and the acknowledgement of Allah and Mohammed as his messenger. Now, protestors say it is wrong for Dutch cartoonists to portray Mohammed as inciting violence, and then they go and do violence in his name. Which faith are they professing? Those who profess and incite hatred and violence against Jews, Europeans or anyone are hypocrites and idolators and are not people of true, deep and hard-earned faith. They act as if all the fire and brimstone in this world could somehow cover the emptiness and insecurity inside when, in fact, they are losing the Greater Jihad against themselves.