The whole Muslim world celebrated this week the anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. On that day, Egypt looks different. Streets are illuminated with colourful lights and shops selling specially produced sweets are decorated with lovely dolls that have become part of the traditional celebration.
However, the celebration is not limited to its folkloric aspect. The real message behind the Prophet’s birthday celebrations is seen in his merciful, just and humanly approach. Though Arabic is the language of the Quran, the Prophet’s message is meant for all humanity. The Prophet was thus the human reflection of what has been instructed by the Quran.
The Prophet was merciful and forgiving, even to his enemies and those who fiercely fought against him before migrating from Mecca to Al-Madina. When he came victoriously back home, they assumed that he would take revenge. Hiding in their homes, fearing his revenge and feeling horrified at what might happen to them, the Prophet Muhammad forgave them all and treated them well, and thus many embraced Islam.
The Prophet’s message is about justice and treating people equally. That is why freeing the slaves was seen as a way to get closer to God and an atonement of sins. Getting rid of slavery was realised at the end of the 19th century in the United States, which is some 13 centuries after Islam called upon its followers to free the slaves.
The good Muslim is seen through his deeds and not judged by the colour of his skin, ethnicity, nor his class. A good Muslim is the one who feels God in his heart, spread the word of peace and work hard to secure better life for all humans.
Yet, campaigns of hatred have never ended and the target has always been Islam and the Prophet. For lack of a better theme, many in the West felt the need to attack the Prophet, using the cover of “freedom of speech.” They might not know that Muslims believe, respect and cherish all prophets sent by God to help people lead a better life, and they would never dream of ridiculing any of them because of the code of ethics they have learned in the Quran and through the behaviour of the Prophet Muhammad.
The last incident that took place in France, when a young radical Muslim killed a teacher who used a caricature ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, was denounced on both the popular and official levels. Although some say that the teacher used his right to free speech, we all know that your freedom ends where “others’" freedom begins. Moreover, isn’t it the very same freedom of speech that is called anti-Semitic when someone talks about Jews?
Yet, we still have people playing with fire. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is looking to revive the dream of the Ottoman empire, found in that incident an occasion to enhance the radicals’ obsession against the West. Meanwhile, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi was keen to stress a word of wisdom. Talking to the hearts and minds of Muslims all over the world,
El-Sisi said that religions are all meant to benefit human lives, build and not destroy, and to secure the sacred lives that God created. For the world to realise the true meaning of Islam, Muslims should set an example that echoes the concepts of mercy, fairness and honour. This religion, he said, is the real victory for human freedom; the freedom to believe in a faith, freedom of intellect and freedom of speech. But that freedom should also be responsible and should never lead to chaos or destruction, and certainly ends at the borders of others’ freedoms.
Radicalism is not only about Islam, because all religions have their radicals who have been engulfing the world with wars and conflicts. El-Sisi said that the Prophet’s grand image is certainly greater than anyone who might try to hurt it, because he has been the messenger of God who came to fulfill the honourable morals of humanity.