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                                                    by Ajibola Aries

 By the time you finish reading this article you will see why the claim made by some people that they are fighting for Prophet Muhammed through violence and killings, is laughable and ultimately unIslamic.
I am not a religious cleric but as a former long-time M.S.S.(Muslim Students Society) President who has so far peacefully converted 3 non-Muslims to Islam, I am a sincere, practising Muslim with an appreciable level of Islamic education and exposure - at least to an extent that my views, observations and advice can hopefully provoke some thoughts.
 To start with, looking back at what we learnt from the beginnings of our Islamic education, I can still recall a couple or so interesting recorded instances in the life of Prophet Muhammed which show that the Holy Prophet himself would never have permitted Muslims to start killing, maiming people or destroying property and infrastructure had it been that he was still alive when all these insults, cartoon illustrations and films were published against him. 
The Holy Prophet endured and tolerated worse insults and acts of aggression from his enemies and detractors during his life time without ever being known to have embarked upon any act of vendetta even when the opportunity came for him to revenge or hurt his enemies back.
I recall a tradition in which there was a woman who hated the Prophet so much that she  had the habit of harrassing him by pouring water on him whenever he passed through the front of her house. This harassment the Holy Prophet was said to have endured with equanimity, despite the fact that the oppressor was a woman who he could have easily repelled. However, one day, the Holy Prophet observed that the woman did not come out to pour water on him when he passed in the front of her house. Curious, Muhammed asked people about why the woman did not come out to harrass him on that particular day, and was told that it's because she was down with illness. Thereupon the Holy Prophet paid her a visit to comfort her (some literatures said he even went to her with gifts). The woman was so impressed by the magnanimity of the Holy Prophet that when she recovered, she decided to accept Islam. Thus, Muhammed demonstrated, by example, how the soul of an unbelieving enemy could be won to the cause of Islam through the show of kindness to hostile people who do not believe. 
The other instance was the incident at Taif, a city where the Prophet went to preach, thinking that he could get a better reception and possibly, converts there. However, he met a huge dissappointment in Taif, as all kinds of insults were uttered against him and he was stoned and driven away. He practically left Taif with a bleeding mouth. The Holy Prophet did not curse them, rather, he sought refuge in God and said, '"O Allah! I make my complaint unto You regarding the feebleness of my strength, the insignificance of my devices, and my humiliation in the sight of people. O You, the Most Merciful One! You are the Lord of the oppressed, You are my Lord. To whom would You entrust my affairs? To a stranger who would scowl at me? Or to an enemy who would control me? If you are not displeased with me, then I do not care (about any hardship), but an ease bestowed by You will be more accommodating to me. I seek refuge in the light of Your countenance (by which all darkness is dispersed and all affairs of this world and the hereafter are kept straight) from pouncing of Your anger or the coming of Your wrath. I seek your pardon in order that you may be pleased with me. There is no power nor strength except in You" It was in this condition of grief and pains that he returned to Mecca.
In the later years of the struggle of the Holy Prophet, he did certain other things which showed tha he did not wish death or injury to those who had oppressed him. A good example was the manner he reacted to the sudden visit of Abu Sufyan (a key leader of the enemies of Islam) into the Prophet's camp on the night prior to the victorious entry of the Muslim army into Mecca. When other Muslims, such as Umar discovered that Abu Sufyan had visited, they wanted to kill him but the Holy Prophet refrained them and instead took Abu Sufyan in, housing him in a tent. During the next meeting with the Prophet, Abu Sufyan was made to understand that Muhammed had no intention to harm him in any way, despite all the atrocities Abu Sufyan had commited against the Muslims in the previous years. Abu Sufyan was so impressed by the kindness shown to him that he decided to accept Islam and he immediately recited the Kalima. Muhammed went on to even make him a man of honour and the ambassador of the Muslims among the Meccans, so that upon Abu Sufyan's return to Mecca, it was Abu Sufyan that was reading the manifesto of the prophet when he addressed the people.
The most remarkable act of forgiveness and kindness shown by the Prophet was when he victoriously entered Mecca with an army of 10,000 soldiers - a number that was so large that the enemies of Islam in Mecca dared not confront it. Moreover, it was a surprise move by the Muslim army and the enemies were taken completely off-guard. But it was a completely peaceful entry and not an attack. Under this circumstance, Muhammed, in full command of an army of 10,000 soldiers, was in a position to slaughter the entire population but instead, he granted a general amnesty on the people of the city. In his speech on that day of victory, he said, 'Allah made Mecca holy the day He created heaven and earth and it is the Holy of Holies until the Resurrection day. It is not lawful for anyone who believes in Allah and the Last day to shed blood therein, nor to cut down tress therein...' My dear readers, please contrast this to the manner the ISIS and Boko Haram of our time do when they take over towns, cities or villages, whereby they go haywire and unleash orgies of bloodlettings, lootings and destructions on entire populations, not even sparing non-combatants, the sick, the elderly and babies against whom they gleefully commit the most horrendous acts of cruelty (and you wonder how the same men claiming to be 'fighting for God' could still have the courage to do ablution and stand in a mosque in worship to the same God?!). If they claim to be following the practices and traditions of the Holy Prophet, why not follow the merciful and compassionate examples of the same prophet with regards to the manner he treated conquered territories and peoples? If Christians and other non-Muslims later on allege that Islam was spread by the sword, it is a fact that examples like this, as well as a lot of others that have taken place earlier in world history, are things that reinforce such beliefs.
It is a fact that the meek and compassionate character of Muhammed, exemplified by the peaceful manner he entered Mecca, and the way he treated his former enemies with forgiveness and kindness, was a thing that impressed vast numbers of people to begin to accept Islam at that time throughout Mecca and the Arabian peninsulla. The people of Mecca were not forced to accept Islam under the force of the sword. The Holy Prophet, who was now in a position to visit vengeance on the city of Taif, where he was once upon a time brutalised, did not go there on a punitive mission to unleash bloodshed. The city of Taif exists till date and is now a Muslim populated, Islamic city.
The city of Taif, the same place where Muhammed was once disgraced and brutalised when he tried to preach Islam there. It is now a fully Islamic modern city.
This picture was taken on April 14, 2011.

I have done my own humble readings on the life and character of the man called Muhammed and from my own humble, objective researches, with the exception of a few quite controversial acts and incidents, he could be described as a good-natured man who would be less likely to have authorized the type of vindictiveness and violence that is seen in the Muslims who claim to be fighting for him (and Islam) today. He lived by an example, a lot of which, if followed by Muslims of today, would have ensured that the world becomes a better place to live in. Most of the instances he fought was when he was clearly under attack - or when an attack was pre-empted, in which case he had no choice but to defend himself or otherwise allow himself to be killed. For example, the first battle in which Muhammed was forced to fight, the Battle of Badr, was clearly a defensive measure against the army of 1,000 soldiers commanded by Abu Jahl which was deployed to attack Muhammed in Medina. Muhammed was not a fool; the only option before him was to make arrangement for his own defences when he got the information that a well armed army was on its way to attack him. That is perfectly normal and even in our modern laws defensive warfare is lawful. There is no country in the world that does not have one form of defence arrangement or the other, usually of military nature - all in line with the survival instinct of any normal, rational human being or society.

This picture shows that people of western cultures also oppose attacks against Islam. This shows that it is wrong to generalise that all western peoples are anti-Muslim.
Another lesson from this is that protests could be done in peaceful ways.

There are many verses and texts in the Quran and Hadith which forbid Muslims from acts of violence and cruelty, but I have deliberately refrained from quoting them in this particular article for a simple reason: THE EXAMPLE OF THE LIFE OF THE HOLY PROPHET IS ENOUGH TO SHOW PEOPLE THAT MUHAMMED, WHO SOME CLAIM THEY ARE FIGHTING FOR, WAS NOT THE TYPE OF PERSON WHO WOULD HAVE PERMITTED SUCH ANTI-SOCIAL ACTS. And when you act in a way that is contrary to what the Holy Prophet would have done, you are simply un-Islamic. You are not representing Muhammed - a man that was known for his compassion and tolerance; neither are you representing the religion of Islam - a religion in which the killing of other human beings is forbidden. The diplomatic staff in the US embassy in Benghazi who were killed, as well as other westerners who have been attacked  or harassed in other parts of the world in the wake of the anti Islam film protests, are innocent people who knew nothing about the film that was produced by a reclusive, highly discredited personality who they did not even have anything to do with. In fairness to the attacked westerners, there is nothing to show that they would have endorsed or produced anything like such film if they had the power to do so. They had absolutely nothing to do with the film yet they were attacked and some killed, including the US ambassador Chris Stevens. One of the things that baffle me, even as a Muslim, is the ease and the rapidity with which many Muslims take to aggression and start wrecking havoc on fellow human beings and infrastructure in their own locality for something offensive that was done by someone in a land several thousands of miles away.   
It may also interest readers of this article to know that facts have emerged to show that the actors and actresses in the anti-Muhammed film might not even be deliberately complicit in the anti-Muhammed projection which the film eventually became. Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress in the anti-Muhammed film has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles claiming that she was duped by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (his real legal name is Mark Basseley Youssef) , the man behind the film entitled 'The Innocence of Muslims'. Specifically, Cindy said she was unaware of the film's anti-Islam content and that the script she received made no mention of Muhammed. Garcia's lawsuit stated that the actress actually responded to an advertisement with the impression that she was appearing in an ancient Egyptian adventure film but that the film was altered to give it an anti-Islamic message. Garcia has now sued Google, in an effort to get the trailer of 'The Innocence of Muslims' removed online.
This brings another dimension to the matter, because Garcia's lawsuit against the film's producer and her efforts to get the film removed from the Internet suggests that Nakoula might have executed a hidden agenda using people who did not even know what he was actually using them for. In fairness to the actress, those who know about film making will attest to the fact that it is quite possible for such thing to happen. If an actress in the controversial film could boldly come out with this type of lawsuit and claims of innocence, how much more possible that westerners in other lands, who did not even know anything about the film, are innocent. Yet many Muslims went haywire shedding innocent blood and destroying property and infrastructure all in the name of defending Muhammed. Those Muslims who committed these dastardly acts of cruelty against innocent people should go and ask for God's forgiveness and sin no more.
 I want to warn that Islam is beginning to have a serious image problem in the contemporary world; an image problem which only the Muslims themselves can solve. Muslims should encourage more restraint and more tolerance, and efforts should be made to enlighten the uneducated and overzealous ones among Muslims who are usually the ones who easily take to violence as a result of being largely ignorant of the true teachings of Islam.
The solution does not lie in arguing with Christians whenever they say that 'Islam is not peaceful'; rather, Muslims should work on the minds of their own unenlightened and overzealous members whose socially unacceptable actions give non-Muslims the cause to have wrong impressions about the nature of Islam. As long as Muslims have not succeeded in curbing the excesses of their unenlightened and overzealous members, non-Muslims, especially Christians and peoples from Western societies, should not be entirely blamed for many of the misconceptions they have of Islam.
It is interesting to note that most of the Muslims who participated in the latest violence did not even watch the said anti-Muhammed film. If Muslims do not begin to do serious in-house re-orientation of their members to be more tolerant of whatever is said about Islam or the Holy Prophet, I am afraid a time will come when a Muslim will be considered a huge joke if he says 'Islam is a religion of peace'. Already a lot of non-Muslims are doubting and challenging this notion - even many have already dismissed as nonsense, the idea of Islam being a religion of peace.
It is true that the position of those who see Islam as a religion of violence or bloodshed is based on a lot misunderstandings, but Muslims are not helping matters when they engage in the kind of widespread anti-social behaviours that the world witnessed following the anti-Islam film.
Whenever Muslims embark on violence for things which members of some other religions might have tolerated even though it hurts them, those violent Muslims should have it in mind that they are also wrecking havoc on the reputation of the religion which they claim to be defending.
The life of the Holy Prophet Muhammed has demonstrated to us that the best way to preach a religion is through good example. No Muslim in the world today can claim to be holier than Muhammed. The use of violence and bloodshed to prove a religious point is counterproductive and will not help Islam to win people's sympathy. Neither does a Muslim necessarily have to have all the knowledge of the religion or all the verses of the Quran in his head before he can win souls for Islam. The easiest way to win sympathy and respect for the religion is through what Muhammed had already done: by laying a good example through a good lifestyle. If your behaviour and lifestyle is beyond reproach and it impresses people, people will see the religion you practice in a positive light and will most likely have the interest to listen. If people like you they will like your dog.
 Finally, in fairness to Islam and Muslims and in the interest of religious harmony, it is very important that I advise non-Muslims against utterances and behaviours which they know will definitely provoke adverse reaction from Muslims. Blasphemy is a big sin in Islam and in Islam it is a very big offence to make any pictorial illustration of Muhammed. Islamic tradition does not allow this. Nothing can change this. It is not Christians or Westerners who can set standards for Muslims as to what should be considered right for Islam or not. Non-Muslims have to understand and respect this. Just as Wajid-Akter said in his 5 Examples of Outstanding Muslim Tolerance, 'just because the West tolerates blasphemy on a grand scale, this does not mean that people who condemn blasphemy are necessarily intolerant'. In some cultures that I chose not to mention, a boy can refer to his father as being 'silly' and get away with it, but in some other cultures a child that tries that will receive several lashes of cane on his buttocks. The fact that you can call your own father 'silly' and get away with it does not mean that you can call another man's father 'silly' and still expect him to be happy with you. If we respect the laws of other people's cultures and religions we won't make mockery of such laws or flaunt the violation of such laws in the face of those who hold it sacred.
 Admittedly my article was emphatic on condemnation of the behaviour of Muslims who reacted violently to the anti-Muhammed film. This should not at all be misconstrued as opposition to the right of Muslims to protest against this offensive film. I have watched the film and I agree that it is truly offensive. The issue is how Muslims protest against the film and my argument is that it doesn't have to be violent or bloody.
There's nothing wrong with peacful protest, especially in this kind of situation. My grouse is simply against the actions of those who take to violence and bloodshed, thereby giving Islam a bad name which it does not deserve.  

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