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  Why do Muslims protest violently?  


By: Prabhat Varun
April 11, 2006
iews expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer is at the bottom.


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More than a month has passed since the Muslims started agitating over the caricatures of Prophet published in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten and several other European and American newspapers. The world over Muslims are not calming down and are still engaged in hooliganism, in the destruction of life and property in virtually every corner of the world. Many say that this is justified, as the West is always busy in denigrating Islam. Many say that though the West is guilty of offending the all to tender sentiments of Islam, but Muslims are not justified in protesting in the way they are doing. But things have become hard for the apologists of Islam by the issuing of various fatwas of beheading the cartoonists by various Muftis in various corners of the world including Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. 

Some Islamic apologists have got busy in proving that Islam does not sanction this kind of violence and that even if someone slanders Islam, it preaches peace. Nothing is farthest from the truth, as we shall see. 

The ongoing turmoil in the world is a very organized and concentrated effort of Muslims to censor the criticism of Islam. They take their inspiration from the life of Prophet himself. There are several cases in Prophet’s life when he punished the critics of Islam with death. Islam has managed to hold its sway over such large part of the inhabited world all these centuries only because of the censorship it has imposed on everyone. Here are some cases from Prophet’s life, which illustrate the kind of liberty he allowed to those who criticized him and his beliefs. 

Assassination of Asma             

The first blood shed at Medina with the approval of Muhammad was a woman’s. Asma, daughter of Marwan, belonged to a family, which had not as yet thrown off their ancestral pagan faith. She had five sons. Being a poetess, she composed some couplets, after the battle of Badr, criticizing her people of receiving and trusting a stranger, who had risen against his own pagan people, and had slain the chief of them in battle.             

The verses quickly spread from mouth to mouth, and at last reached the ears of Muslims. They were offended by this open and frank criticism of Islam and Prophet Muhammad. Verses were reported to the Prophet, who said aloud: ‘will no one rid me of this daughter of Marwan?’ One ‘Umar Ibn Adi’  in order to show his zeal for Islam and the Prophet vowed that he would kill the poetess.             

That very night, he went to the poetess’s house. She was sleeping with her children the youngest, still at the breast. Stealthily, he removed her suckling babe, and plunged his sword into her breast with such force that it transfixed her to the couch.             

Next morning, in the Mosque at prayer Muhammad said to the killer: ‘Have you slain the daughter of Marwan?’ ‘Yes’, he answered. ‘Is there cause of apprehension?’ asked the killer.  ‘None,’ said Muhammad and commented; ‘ a couple of goats will hardly knock their heads together for it.’ [See, The Life of Mahomet / Sir William Muir / page239] 

There is yet another case when Prophet did not tolerate his criticism and silenced yet another poet, or the journalists of those days. 

Assassination of Abu Afak                                                                   

Another murder was committed by the express authority of Muhammad. The victim was a Jewish poet Abu Afak. He was above a hundred years of age. He had composed some verses, which annoyed the Muslims. ‘Who will rid me of this petilent fellow?’ said Muhammad to his followers. A convert, Salim Ibn Umayr took charge of the assassination, and falling unawares upon the aged Jew, while he slept in the courtyard outside his house, killed him with the sword. The death shriek drew his neighbours to the spot, but the killer escaped unrecognized, after committing the  treacherous murder.             

These lawless and sanguinary acts alarmed Medina, and above all terror crept over the hearts of the Jews. [See, The Life of Mahomet / Sir William Muir / page,240] 

There is yet another episode when Prophet smothered the freedom of speech by getting a poet (read journalist) murdered in much a similar way, the Muslims of today are trying to. 

Assassination of Kab                                                                                  

The poet Kab Ib al-Ashraf was assassinated in July, 624 A.D. As we have seen, Muhammad could not endure poets; so he indicated that the man should be assassinated. ‘Who will ease me of the son of Al-Ashraf?’ Muhammad asked. ‘Here am I; I will slay him’ said son of Maslama and explained to the Prophet that it would be necessary to resort to cunning, trickery and lies. Muhammad saw no objection in deceit and treachery, if objective could be achieved by these means. The next move was to recruit accomplices, one of whom was a foster-brother of the poet Kab.              

On a night of bright moonlight they went to his house on the pretext of holding a meeting, Muhammad himself going with the gang of assassins, for the part of the way and giving them his blessings. They called him out, posing as unhappy followers of the Prophet. Then they lured Kab from his refuge. His bride warned him not to go. But Kab went out with them for friendly discussions. They wandered along. Suddenly the traitor seized his hair, and dragging him to the ground and Shouted, “Slay him! Slay the enemy of God!” Drawing their swords, they fell upon the victim.             

Assassins shouted, the well known ‘Takbir’, ‘Allah-O-Akbar’. Muhammad hearing from a distance knew that their work had been successfully accomplished. At the gate of the Mosque he met them saying: ‘Welcome’              

The assassins put the ghastly head of poet Kab at the Prophet Muhammad’s feet. Then Muhammad praised God for what had been accomplished. [See, The Life of Mahomet / Sir William Muir / page,248] 

So, we get enough proofs from Prophet’s own life, which illustrate how tolerant he himself was of the criticism of himself and his beliefs.  

Muslims have been especially vigilant of poets, journalists, historians, artists and writers, because these are the persons who are best equipped to perceive and express the truth. Muslims have always been involved in suppressing any voice of dissent and every type of freedom of expression by whatever means available. The reason that any type of painting, sculpture and music is explicitly forbidden in Islam is that the art is superbly capable of taking out the innermost and suppressed thoughts to the fore and Islam has never been afraid more of anything other than rational enquiry and freedom of speech and expression.  

Islamic apologists say that this is just a stray and modern phenomenon and is not approved by Islam. But as is shown above, it is an integral part of the strategy of Islam. As terrorism is not a stray phenomenon, but the mainstream of Islamic ideology, and as the terrorists are not some misguided youth but the representatives of the majority of Muslims, so the censorship of freedom of expression is not a modern phenomenon but an age old strategy of Islam, invented by Prophet himself, existent from the very beginning of Islam and continuous throughout the Islamic history. 

Islam and its armed propagators, Jehadis have been continuously involved in censoring the freedom of speech and assassinating all those who criticize Islam. It happened during the life of Prophet and was sanctioned by him. It happened in Iran, when some Sufis and scholars like Ali Sina and Ibn Warraq rose against the non-spirituality and tyranny of Islam. All those Iranian Sufis and scholars were brutally massacred by the zealous Muslims and their movement was ruthlessly suppressed. The very word ‘assassin’ had its origin in the history of suppression by Islam of freedom of speech and expression. 

Arabic Hashishin, member of Nizari Ismailites, was a religio-political Islamic sect dating from the 11th to the 13th century and known, for murdering its enemies as a religious duty. The Arabic name means “hashish-smoker” refers to the Assassins’ alleged practice of taking hashish to induce ecstatic visions of paradise before setting out to face martyrdom. Thus the nexus between drugs and Islamic terrorism is not a modern phenomenon, but its roots are deep and historical.             

After the death of Fatimid Caliph al-Mustanisr (1094), Hasan-e-Sabbahand some Iranian allies captured the hill fortress Ala-mut near Kazvin, Iran. From this center, by the end of 11th century, Hasan as grandmaster or leader of the sect, commanded the network of strongholds all over Iran and Iraq, a corps of devoted terrorists, and an unknown number of agents in enemy camps and cities, who claimed many victims among the generals and statesmen of the Abbasid caliphate, as well some caliphs. At the beginning of 12th century Assassin activities were extended to Syria.             

Assassin power came to an end as the Mongols under Hulegu captured Assassin castles in Iran one by one until in1256 Alamut itself fell.             

Henceforth the sect stagnated as a minor heresy. Its followers are still to be found in Syria, Iran and Central Asia, with the largest group in India and Pakistan, where they are known as Khojas and owe allegiance to Agha Khan. The term “assassin” was brought by the crusaders from Syria to Europe, where it acquired its present meaning of one who murders a politically important person either from hire or from fanatical motives. [The New Encyclopaedia Britannica/ Vol. 1, Micropaedia/ page 640, 15th edition –1997] 

This phenomenon was not limited to Persia. It has been happening all along in every part of the world, only if we keep our eyes open to see it. Swami Dayanand was poisoned by his own Muslim servant, because of former’s criticism of Islam. Swami Shraddhananda was murdered in his bed by a devout Muslim, also because he was critical of Islam and was brave enough to voice his criticism publicly. Pandit Lekhram was murdered because he had allegedly made mockery of Prophet. Do we see any link between this murder and the call of the UP Minister, Haji Yaqoob Qureishi of giving 51 crore to the person who will behead the Danish cartoons? 

This event is not new for Europe. More recently the Dutch filmmaker Van Gogh was brutally beheaded in public for making a film critical of the position of women in Islam. With his assassination the bell was rung that Islam with its terror tactics has arrived in Europe and Americas, and after Asia and Africa it is now the turn of Europe and America of being deprived of freedom of speech and expression by the brutal terror tactics of Islam. And what was the fault of Van Gogh? The scriptwriter of his film was an ex-Muslim woman, who was critical of the deplorable position of women in Islam. The message was clear. Islam is ready to execute anybody who is even remotely critical of its ideology and practices. And Muslims responding to this call of Jehad are not few. 

So the ongoing crisis about Prophet’s caricatures is not an isolated and modern phenomenon but has deep roots in Quran, the life of Prophet and Islamic history. It is a continuous and ongoing process of the imposition of censorship on any criticism of Islam. And as we have seen, the examples which illustrate this point of view are not few. 

If we do not identify this terror tactics of Muslims as the integral strategy of Islam and work for its prevention then soon we will lose every kind of freedom, including that of expression and whole world will be plunged in the barbarity and savagery of the Dark Middle Ages.

Prabhat Varun

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