A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ignorant Armies, Continued

Nor can goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: Then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate!
—Holy Qur'an Sura 41:34
 Returning to the subject of my earlier post, "When Ignorant Armies Clash," the growing waves of rage throughout the Muslim world seem increasingly remote from the specific presumed provocation: a poorly made, overdubbed, ignorant amateurish film attacking the Prophet of Islam. Clearly organizers of demonstrations are channeling ill-informed popular rage not just at symbols of the United States, but at the West generally. Besides US Embassies and targets such as the American School in Tunis, rioters are going after Western targets of all sorts. Though Germany had no connection, even remotely, to the film that allegedly provoked the violence, the German Embassy in Khartoum has been burned. The photo above shows a KFC and a Hardee's in Tripoli, Lebanon, aflame, though since these are franchised chains, I'm wagering the owners are Lebanese and (in Tripoli) quite probably Muslim.

Since the perpetrator of all this is turning out to be a small-time operator with multiple pseudonyms and a conviction on drug charges, this clearly isn't about the film anymore, but it already has become another outburst of rage, on the pattern of the Satanic Verses or the Danish cartoons, to be directed by organizers towards symbolic targets, but with real people dying in the process.

All this in defense of a Prophet who preached mercy and returning evil with good (see above), and of whom there is a hadith to this effect:
[The Prophet said] So I departed, overwhelmed with excessive sorrow, and proceeded on, and could not relax till I found myself at Qarnath-Tha-alib where I lifted my head towards the sky to see a cloud shading me unexpectedly. I looked up and saw Gabriel in it. He called me saying, 'Allah has heard your people's saying to you, and what they have replied back to you, Allah has sent the Angel of the Mountains to you so that you may order him to do whatever you wish to these people.' The Angel of the Mountains called and greeted me, and then said, "O Muhammad! Order what you wish. If you like, I will let Al-Akh-Shabain (i.e. two mountains) fall on them." The Prophet said, "No but I hope that Allah will let them beget children who will worship Allah Alone, and will worship none besides Him."
There is also the ominous fact that the perpetrator seems to  be a Copt, which could lead to new sectarian violence, especially in Egypt. I will have more to say on that a bit later.

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