English Translation by
Shahzad Ahmad and Tariq Malik
Here, The Review of Religions presents the response given at the time by the worldwide leader of tens of millions of Ahmadi Muslims, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
At 11:30am on the morning of 7th January 2015, two masked gunmen armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles entered the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices in France, killing 11 people, including the Editor and several prominent staff. A short while later the gunmen killed a police officer nearby. The following day a gunman shot dead a policewoman and injured a man before fleeing. In another turn of events a gunman took several people hostage at kosher supermarket in East Paris where the police recovered the bodies of four hostages. There has been worldwide condemnation of the brutal murders with people gathering in huge numbers in cities and towns to show their support for the magazine.
In his Friday Sermon of 9th January 2015, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad spoke briefly regarding the Charlie Hebdo Attack.
We should pray for Muslims living in the world and in Europe as an atrocity and grave injustice has taken place in France in the name of Islam and the Holy Prophetsa, despite it not having anything even remotely to do with teachings of Islam. We always maintain and prove that to take the law into one’s own hands and to kill and murder someone in this manner has nothing to do with Islam’s teachings. Yet so-called Muslims and Muslim organisations do not desist from their transgression and wrong doings. Consequently, Muslims living here in Europe and Western countries could face an inappropriate backlash from the local population, and even more so the publication, whose editor along with others were brutally murdered, could react alongside other individuals and members of the Press, and wrongly attack the person of the Holy Prophetsa. May God enable the governments here to successfully contain people from reacting wrongly and apprehend and punish the perpetrators according to the law. If there is a backlash, Muslims who have no one to guide them will also react erroneously and thus disorder and strife will continue to grow and there is a danger that it may escalate. Today, it is the duty of members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to pray for both sides to desist from excesses and cruelties. Similarly during these days, focus on reciting Durud Shareef [invoking blessings and salutations upon the Holy Prophetsa] abundantly. Those who can help to create a peaceful environment within their spheres of influence should make efforts towards doing so. May Allah the Almighty save the world from a state of anarchy and may the disorder and strife rapidly transform into a state of peace.
The following week Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba in his Friday Sermon of 16th January 2015 discussed the Charlie Hebdo attacks in more detail
In the last Friday Sermon I briefly spoke about the recent incident in Paris, in which people calling themselves Muslims attacked the office of a magazine and killed 12 people. I drew the attention of the members of the Community to invoke Durud. The victory of Islam will not be through murder and destruction, rather we will succeed in our objectives by invoking Durud on the Holy Prophetsa. I also expressed my concern that in response to the attack there could be a wrong reaction and this was to be expected of such people. By reacting wrongly the [magazine] have again published caricatures [of the Holy Prophetsa]. These have caused us great pain yet again, and indeed they would hurt the sentiments of any true Muslim.
What was achieved by these acts of extremism? The wrongful act that the magazine committed 2-3 years ago, which had been forgotten, has once again resurfaced because of the erroneous actions of those calling themselves Muslims. Whatever this magazine has done in the past met with a strong reaction from Western leaders who condemned it. Many governments said that they would never allow their newspapers to act in the same manner. However, after last week’s incident many leaders and people, who seemed to be intellectual and sensible, have announced their support for this appalling magazine, which is now being financially helped with millions of dollars from various sources. The magazine which published only sixty thousand copies and was said to be on the verge of shutting down and dying out, has now exceeded more than five million copies in its publication within weeks and days, as a result of the wrong actions of those who falsely call themselves Muslims. Now, some observers estimate that the publication has been given a new lease of life of a further ten to twelve years, whereas before it may not have lasted six months.
Therefore, this atrocity has not only fanned a wrongful image of the Islamic teachings in many countries of the word, but has also resurrected a dying enemy. If only the Muslim organisations that commit mayhem in the name of Islam could understand that Islam’s teachings of love and affection can bring the world into the fold of Islam so much quicker. The teaching Islam gives on patience and forbearance cannot be matched by any other religion. Materialistic people are blind to faith and do not even refrain from mocking God Almighty, let alone the prophets. If we respond to the actions of the ignorant with ignorance also, it will only lead them to persist further in their actions. Therefore, God Almighty states that instead of responding to them you should pass by and distance yourself from such people who commit vain acts. Not only does socialising with such people or concurring with them make us sinful, but if we respond to the wrongdoer and in return they mock or abuse God Almighty or speak or express anything against the Holy Prophetsa in degrading terms, then we too partake of their sin.
Thus, a true Muslim should try to refrain from this and leave the matter with God Almighty, Who has stated that when every individual will return to Him, he will bear the consequences of his actions. Ultimately, we are to return to God Almighty and then He shall reveal to us our deeds. In this age, the enemy of Islam does not want to harm Islam, the teachings of Islam and the Holy Prophetsa with the use of the sword but instead through such petty ploys. By stating that God Almighty and His angels send blessings on the Holy Prophetsa, a fundamental principal has been explained by God Almighty. These actions cannot do any harm to the status of the Holy Prophetsa. Instead of indulging in such vain actions and responding in the same ignorant manner, we should invoke the Durud and blessings on the Holy Prophetsa – this is the duty of a true Muslim. Fulfil the rights [of this duty] and you will have fulfilled this obligation.
As I mentioned before, that after this incident, those people who were initially against this vulgar magazine are now supporting it in the name of free speech. However, in spite of this, there are some fair-minded people and intellectuals who have disliked the crude depictions of the Holy Prophetsa and have also held the management of the magazine responsible. For instance, Henri Roussel, one of the founders of this magazine, Charlie Hebdo, has said that the images published by the magazine were provocative and because of this irresponsible act the Editor has dragged his team to death. He also stated that these activities which had been on-going over the past few years were against their basic policies.
Similarly, the Pope has given a very good statement expressing that freedom of speech should have limits, and it does not mean that one should be given complete freedom. He stated that every religion has an honour and it is important to respect that and no religion’s repute should be attacked. Illustrating his point, he cited the example of his close friend who organises his tours. He said that if this individual ever cursed his mother or said something abusive about her, the Pope’s reaction would be to punch him in the face and that indeed his friend should expect this reaction from him; it is wrong to provoke someone’s sentiments and that is what they (the editors) have done. Hence, the blame lies on them. The Pope has indeed given a very realistic statement. The Muslims also need to come to their senses and should not react wrongly after this.
In this age, the media has great influence in the world and can play a huge role in igniting [a situation] or diffusing it, and causing disorder or preventing it. It is the first time that the UK and other media outlets of the world have asked the Community (i.e. the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community) for its reaction and viewpoint. In terms of the murders, we have stated that it was an un-Islamic act and expressed our commiseration and also maintained that freedom of speech should have limitations otherwise those people who inflame others’ sentiments, will be responsible for causing disorder in the world. Many other details were also discussed and in the UK [media] it was covered by ‘SKY News’, ‘News 5’, ‘BBC Radio’, ‘LBC’, ‘BBC Leeds’ and ‘London Live’. Outside of [UK], there was ‘Fox TV’, ‘CNN’, Canadian newspapers and similarly various other newspapers in Greece, Ireland, France and the USA that also covered our Community’s viewpoint.
Some of these interviews took place in the TV studios and through this the true Islamic stance and teaching was conveyed to millions of people. Here in the UK, Amir Sahib (National President Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK) and Imam Sahib, Attaul Mujeeb Rashed (Missionary In-Charge of Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK), were interviewed by TV channels, as were the members of our press teams in the USA and France. Our press teams were invited to various studios and interviewed and the newspapers also published our articles. Throughout the world, the press teams in the UK, USA, and Canada, have done well in discharging their duties of conveying the true [Islamic] teaching. A Canadian journalist, who is in contact with the press team in Canada, wrote and asked why is it that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has had the most coverage in the media and conveyed the real teaching of Islam, although it is a very small sect among the Muslims?
It is indeed God’s decree that the Community of the true and ardent devotee of the Holy Prophetsa (i.e. the Promised Messiahas), is to convey the true teachings of Islam to the world, which he learnt from the Holy Prophetsa of Islam. Therefore, as I mentioned in the previous Friday Sermon, it is our responsibility to convey the message within our own sphere and explain that wrong reactions only produce disorder and nothing else. And the current situation of the world will be further inflamed and then this fire will engulf the world from all four corners, which the world will then be unable to withstand.
Therefore, neither should people’s sentiments be incited by reacting wrongly, nor should calls be made for God Almighty’s chastisement. May God Almighty bring the world to its senses… May Allah the Almighty enable us to recite Durud in the true manner. Through this Durud, while we will be the recipients of Allah’s nearness, we will also be those who continuously enhance our love of the Holy Prophetsa and who employ their abilities for the work of spreading his Law, and who, according to the teachings of the Holy Prophet’ssa teachings, will play their role in terminating mischief and disorder from the world. May Allah grant us the ability to do so.