Why Are Muslims So Serious About Their Prophet?

Islamic_Wallpaper_Muhammad_002-1366x768One of the most bewildering things for non-Muslims, especially in the West, is the utter less than zero tolerance of Muslims for anything that could be deemed as disrespectful towards the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. What makes it more puzzling is the generally somber reaction a non-Muslim would receive if they made fun of a Muslim’s background or heritage when it is taken in relation to the reaction received when it is about the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. In a culture where nothing is sacred, and everything is open game to be ridiculed, the permissibility of all of which falls under the banner of freedom of expression, the “extreme” Muslim reaction to any derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is difficult to comprehend.

This Muslim reaction is typically attributed to either their supposed intolerant religious teachings towards the other, towards freedom, or towards the West. Their seriousness is considered to be unwarranted, and furthermore they are told they just have to accept that what they hold sacred will be ridiculed just like anything else. After all, if Jesus Christ can be made fun of in a Saturday Night Live skit, and if Moses can be shown foolishly in Family Guy, then Muslims should not be given any special treatment and the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ should be made fun of on South Park without having the Muslims get up in arms over it.

Rather than adopting the idiotic Bill Maher attitude of “let’s just not hold back and do it till these Muslims get used to it”, it would serve non-Muslims better to understand what is the big deal about the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ for Muslims. Moreover, for the non-Muslims to understand this, it is the duty of the Muslims to explain it to them. I am appealing to people’s good sense here and hoping that a respectful dialogue and a peaceful co-existence, not just tolerance, will come out of it.

Much has been written about rights, and freedom of expression, and defamation, etc. This short article is not about addressing any of these issues. You can easily find hundreds and may be thousands of articles dealing with these matters. What I want to share with you here is why many of us Muslims can handle just about anything, except talking about our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

It is all about love! As strange as this may sound to a non-Muslim, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, also referred to as the Beloved, is loved, not in the sense that love is viewed in the West, but in a much deeper way than you can imagine. In fact, every time I speak or write about the Beloved ﷺ I get goose bumps all over my body and my heart races and my eyes fill up with tears out of yearning to see him.

For most non-Muslims, and Muslims who are new converts, as well as those who are not devout or not practicing at all, this is very difficult to comprehend. This is not surprising. How can I expect anyone to comprehend a love towards someone they know nothing about? Worse yet, whatever they heard about him was inaccurate and defamatory. And to add insult to injury, many Muslims do not reflect his teachings and the Message he ﷺ was entrusted to bring to mankind. So I cannot place blame on those who do not get it.

The sad reality about us in the West is that we think we know what love is. Many of us have confused chemicals firing in our brains for a virtuous feeling of strong affection and attachment. If we just reflect upon everything around our culture, it quickly becomes obvious how everything is telling each one of us to be as narcissistic as possible. We are bombarded with messages everywhere that ourselves are the most important thing. Everything is about customizing what we want to get, so we can have it how we want it, exactly in the color we want it, the size we want it to be, in the amount we want, and at the time we want. The simplest example is just in ordering coffee. It used to be a Starbucks thing, but now it is everywhere: “can I get a large double foam part skim part regular 65 degrees Celsius single shot espresso cappuccino with a bit of cinnamon on top?”. If that is how we have become about something is insignificant as coffee, what does that say about our attitude towards things that really matter?

Love in our culture has gone from virtuous selfless and devoted love for the other into a perverse love of the self. We now live in what sociologists call a “Me culture”.

Even when we “fall in love” with a significant other, it turns out to not have been the type of love where each one completes the other. This is evidenced by the amazingly high divorce rates, which historically were never this way. As Erich Fromm puts it in his book “The Art of Loving“, getting married and divorced has become no different than getting a car and selling it to upgrade to a new model. I realize that not everyone is like that. But I am speaking about our society as a whole, while keeping in mind that there are exceptions.

Interestingly, there are cases where people fall head over heals in love with someone due to some effect they had on their lives, which is when taken into consideration many find ridiculous. A quick example is someone like Michael Jackson. It is not that hard to pull up YouTube videos of fans collapsing, crying, and going crazy over Michael. The sole influence he had on these fans was through his music. Those who were down, found that he brought their moods up. Some talk about how one of his songs “spoke to them”. This is obviously combined with an obsession that drove these fans to know everything there is to know about Michael, and without having any direct interactions with him they feel like he is in their lives. They bought the jacket and the gloves and they would try and dance like he did and attempt the moonwalk everywhere they had slippery floors. They loved Michael.

I am not using Michael Jackson as a basis for comparison, because there is nothing in the Creation that compares to the Beloved ﷺ as far as a Muslim is concerned. There are really no words to properly describe the influence I as a Muslim feel on a daily basis as a result of the Beloved ﷺ. And I am not alone in this feeling. This was a man whose companions would jump up in battle exposing their chests to take arrows that were being shot at him. They did that without any of the training modern day Secret Service personnel receive to subvert their instincts for self-preservation. Their instinct was to sacrifice themselves in order to keep the Beloved ﷺ safe.

When it is used in reference to the Beloved ﷺ, the name Muhammad alone is enough to send a quiver through a devout Muslim’s soul. The lines of poetry written to praise him are countless. There were people that are known in history to have literally died from their yearning for the Beloved ﷺ. One of his companions received the news of his passing just outside of Medina, and this was after he had just seen him, and he immediately made a prayer to go blind so that the last person he would have ever seen would have been the Beloved ﷺ. His prayer was answered! The most powerful of the companions around him was Omar Ibn Al Khattab. To give you an idea of his size, think of someone like Shaquille O’Neal. Omar used to get on a horse and his feet would drag on the ground because he was so tall. Upon hearing the news of the passing of the Beloved ﷺ, this giant powerful man collapsed onto his knees and cried with heavy tears.

To most people, their parents and children are the dearest and most beloved to them. If anyone was to try and harm any of them, it is expected, and justifiably so, that they would get extremely upset and immediately jump to the defense of their honor. For us Muslims, the Beloved ﷺ is more dear than our parents, our spouses, our children, and even ourselves. In fact, there are people nowadays that would trade everything just to see him visit them in their dreams. He is the one who we believe was sent as a Mercy. He is the one who we are indebted to for the Message of love and peace that he came with. He is the one who brought the teaching that resulted in the whole Muslim civilization of the past, which the current Western civilization is indebted to for all their scientific discoveries and preservation and dissemination of the Greek literary works.

More is known about the Beloved ﷺ than anyone else in history. We know his genealogy. We know all the events that took place right before his birth. We know how he was born and even the manner of how he landed onto the ground as a newborn during his delivery. We know about his younger days. We know about his travels. We know about his mannerisms. We know about his growing up. We know about his marriage. We know about his children. We know about his family. We know about what people used to say about him. We know about his interactions. We know his exact Arabic accent. We know about his companions. We can describe his way of speech and how he sat, stood, and walked. We know his skin tone and we know his physique to the most intricate of details. We even know how many gray hairs he had and how his eyebrows were and even his eyes to the details of his eyelashes. We know his favorite food and how he ate it. Many of us try to emulate him in our daily actions, to the point of how to enter the bathroom and how to exit it. We all conduct our acts of worship in exactly the same manner that he did. We can sit down for hours, days, and even months talking about the Beloved ﷺ and we would not be done.

This level of love is quite uncommon in modern times and comes across as odd. But it is real, and it is what Muslims feel towards the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. However, for this love to be authentic, it must manifest in the form of mercy to the world. Anyone who claims to be upholding the honour of the Beloved ﷺ through acts of violent nihilism and senseless violence is in fact dishonouring the very teachings of the Beloved ﷺ. What we Muslims have recently failed to do is to relay this message of love to non-Muslims. It is something that should be done in action and not simply in words. But I hope that at least at the theoretical level it can be comprehended why when it comes to our Beloved ﷺ, Muslims are in too deep of love to accept anything viewed as disrespect towards our most dearly Beloved of all Creation.

17 thoughts on “Why Are Muslims So Serious About Their Prophet?

  1. I enjoyed this article, although I wish you would have mentioned that despite this love it is not an excuse for Muslims to become violent over defamatory speech. I don’t think we have done enough to denounce the violence perpetrated over a cartoon.

  2. So what is your take on the bestiality and opportunistic turn-coat nature of most of Muhammad’s diktats ? Muhammad was a very mortal man who killed others, he was no miracle worker. So, like everything mortal, including the concept of Creator God(s) it is open to being questioned, ridiculed and if need be discarded.

    Also you forget that whatever the non-Muslim world chooses to love/hate, like/dislike or worship/blaspheme is none of your (Muslims’) business. They will do it as they deem fit. It is the nature of Islam and its followers to denigrate others and their beliefs, but be unable to stomach it when it is done to them. This has been Islam’s history since it’s inception.

    You got to answer the question and also explain that why among a whole bunch of prophets/founders of major religions, Muhammad was the only violent and murderous fellow. Methinks it is because he was a politician rather than a spiritual guide. And it is his and his followers inculcated rigidity in face of all available rational ideas/observations that is the reason that 1.6+ billion Muslims are actually very badly off. They are poor, unhappy, living in filth and violence. The more they learn to tolerate other ideas and views, the better they are. For example Muslims in the West are better off (economically and socially) than in the Middle East, why ? Because they put up with others’ views (even if unwillingly). The Muslims in the Islamic heartland on the other hand are spoon-fed on ideas, activities, abilities and all life-style choices by their dictatorial/theocratic/autocratic governments.

    When Muslims have nothing to wage violent jihad on in form of infidels (Middle East, North Africa, Iran, Pakistan) they turn upon themselves. All through Islamic history this has been the case. The only exceptions to date have been Bangladesh & Indonesia, but even those are not stable with Jihadists looking for trouble to remove the pre-Islamic syncretism that religious life have inculcated in those societies.

    At least Christian Europe/America has gotten out of God induced stupor and violence is not within them, and is mostly economic condition driven rather than religious driven. Let us take this to the next level.

    • Before speaking on any subject you must first study it and understand it properly. Only then will others be able to question you and have a discussion about it. Unfortunately, and I don’t mean to be offensive by saying this, you have shown yourself to be quite religiously, culturally, sociologically, politically, and historically illiterate. In doing so you haven’t set up a starting point for discussion as much as you have set one up for you to be ridiculed before being ignored. Your knowledge of Islam is embarrassingly shallow and inaccurate, your assessment of why Muslims are in the state that they’re in is the most non-academic that I’ve ever come across, and your general approach as a whole is not that of one who is genuine or wants to understand. Hence, this is where my response to you ends.

  3. THANK YOU for sharing your Knowledge with us; as a reader, i deeply and honestly apprecaited your effort you put in this article. i couldn’t agreed more on how you explained the love of the our prophet mohammad peace be upon him. may the almighty ‘allah’ reward you for this……amin

  4. The comparison with Michael Jackson is more apt than you may have intended. Usually the extreme “love” you cite for MJ is found amongst adloescent girls. If an adult were to behave that way, I suspect most other people would be, at the least, surprised, and likely prone to question the person’s emotional development.

    Let’s take this further: leave god and Mohammed and everyone else out of it: let’s just look at the behavior in isolation: “Many of us try to emulate him in our daily actions, to the point of how to enter the bathroom and how to exit it.” You also mention numerous other examples of knowing and mimicing Mohammed down to the last miniutia. Were you to sit down with a copy of the DSM and look up that type of behavior, regardless of who the object of the behavior is, you would probably find it under “obsession” or “fetish.” Neither of those constitute “love” in any sense that would be considered healthy.

    That, I think, is one of the reasons why there’s a segment of the Muslim populace that responds the way it does to the petty provocations of stupid people. For those Muslims (a few? many? most? I don’t know) who have more of a Mohammed-fetish than a god-love, Mohammed ceases to be a conduit to the devine and becomes, de facto, himself devine. However, he was only the messanger, not the message; the map, not the map maker. I’m sure you know the saying, “Don’t shoot me, I’m only the messenger.” I suspect a good companion would be, “Don’t deify him, he was only the messanger.”

    Two other quickies:

    1. You have to understand how head-scratching it is to non-Muslims to see reports of all this violence over something we consider so trivial, with enraged Muslim masses yelling, in essence, “Islam is a religion of peace! And we’re going to keep killing and destroying until you believe us!”

    2. It might profit someone to point out that Arabian Islam is a confluence of religion and culture. Indonesia, Turkey and the U.S. each practice Islam in a different way because of their different cultural backgrounds (eg, to bur qua or not to bur qua? That is the question!). I think many people in the U.S. confuse Arabic cultural practices with what is inherently Islamic. Then again, I think many Arabic people do, too.

    • Hey Mark,

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read and write a comment.

      If you look at the overall article in how I explained what “love” has become in our modern times, and especially in our western environment, I’m showing that it’s not really love at all. So the Michael Jackson example was not intended as a comparison, but rather as a contrast and I’m definitely questioning its validity and health status.

      Now, to take your reference to the DSM, I’d have to first question the validity of using it as a reference in the first place given its non-scientific design and how different diagnoses make it into it as well as get removed from it. But I’ll leave that for you and the readers to investigate further. Having said that, let us expound on your misdiagnosis of “obsession” or “fetish” with our Prophet peace be upon him. I’d have to disagree with your use of terms, because in spite of the different definitions regarding fixation, occupation of the mind, and extreme reverence that go with these words, it is the unfortunate case that pop culture has restricted these words to unhealthy and sexual contexts. Therefore, it might be best to speak in terms of the extreme reverence we Muslims have for our Prophet peace be upon him. This is unless of course you mean to drive the reader into a conclusion you have in mind about how Muslims uphold the status of the Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him, for which I’ll assume you don’t actually mean and I’ll have a better opinion of you.

      Given your reference to the DSM, I’ll have to say that you’ve basically approached this whole subject in a classic DSM-style: you looked at the outward and classified it based on the cognitive frame that you’re looking at it through, which is prejudiced by nature even if you don’t personally mean to be so. This in turn resulted in your confusing the contrast I made for a comparison, and confused love for an unhealthy attachment. For example, you haven’t considered the fact that if you go to any average Muslim and asked him whether they deify the Prophet peace be upon him, you will get without any hesitation a fervent negation as their answer. In fact, your proposed “don’t deify him, he was only the Messenger”, was already asserted in more than one authentic narration from the Prophet peace upon him who not only warned Muslims against doing such an act, but he also used the Christians deifying Jesus Christ peace be upon him as an example of what NOT to do. Also, he didn’t only stop at warning the Muslims. He actually made a prayer to God, which we have recorded in our tradition, for his grave and his person NOT to be a deity worshipped after his passing. (You might want to watch this 2 minute clip

      )

      I will agree with you about the irony in seeing people scream in anger about how their religion is one of peace. This action is actually against Islamic teachings and is a negative reflection against Islam. But if you looked further than what you see in the media, and followed the more numerous average Muslims and just about 99% of Muslim scholars, you’ll see the beautiful approach they have towards the denigration of our Prophet peace be upon him’s character.

      You’re also absolutely right about the confluence of religion and culture. But this is an issue that requires further details that digress from the topic we have at hand over here.

      Thanks again!

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