Muslims together condemn the arrest and imprisonment of a Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, in Pakistan on blasphemy charges.
The New York Times reported on Aug. 20:
The police jailed the girl, Rimsha Masih, and her mother on Friday after hundreds of Muslim protesters surrounded the police station here where they were being held, demanding that Ms. Masih face charges under Pakistan's blasphemy laws. A local cleric had said Ms. Masih had burned pages of the Noorani Qaida, a religious textbook used to teach the Koran to children.
(Noorani Qaida has nothing to do with Al-Qaida, it is simply means principles.)
We urge Muslims in Pakistan and around the world to focus on this particular topic and seek to abolish the blasphemy laws.
There is a way out to find lasting solutions to rid of the abusive practices by a few in the clergy group. These men, literate or illiterate, at least claim to follow Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) life examples; however, they don't, and it is our immediate responsibility to pass on Prophet Muhammad's practices to some of these men who pass judgments without any reference to the life of the Prophet. Screaming at them or pushing them to the corner is neither Jesus' way nor Muhammad's way.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is considered a blessing to the humanity and rightfully known as Rahmutul Aalameen, the mercy to mankind. It behooves Muslims to protect the integrity of that title and never commit an unmerciful act invoking his name.
There are innumerable examples of forbearance, forgiveness and kindness of the prophet (pbuh) toward those who insulted and even tried to harm him.
One of the most famous stories, often repeated, is about an old lady who threw trash on the prophet every time he passed in front of her door. One day, the trash was not thrown. Concerned, he asked the neighbors and found out that she was sick. He knocked on her door and offered help. Overwhelmed with kindness and love, she honored him by believing in his mission.
Once on a way to the city of Taif, the Prophet was pelted with rocks by miscreants, his associates wanted to retaliate and go beat up the bad boys. Even the arch angel Gabriel offered to crush them and bring relief to the situation. The prophet said no, and instead asked them to join him in forgiving and asked God to bless them with good will. The Prophet preached that the dearest human act to God is forgiveness.
He enjoined us that, "if any one eats a full meal when his neighbor is hungry or starving, then he is not from among us." He never said "Muslim neighbor." He loved humanity and asked Muslims to be role models of charity, kindness, concern and love to all.
What was the need for the Prophet to have endured such painful experiences? It was to guide humanity toward kindness and shape long term solutions for peaceful communities and the greater good of the society at large. He was committed to mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill. Indeed, he was the ultimate peace maker, the mercy to mankind.
As Muslims we need to keep his message of kindness alive and bring to fruition what he was all about: Rahmutul Aalameen. Let the mercy and kindness he taught become a blessing to the universe and continue to shower on humanity.
We appeal to the Ulema, thoughtful people and the Government of Pakistan to give life to the examples of the Prophet. Blasphemy has become a source of harassment and to a few who have nothing better to do than create chaos.
We ask the people of Pakistan to seriously debate the blasphemy laws. Islam is about free will and as Muslims we need to stand against any oppression towards any human being following in the footsteps of the prophet.
Mike Ghouse is president of the World Muslim Congress, a think tank and a forum of Muslims together building cohesive societies.