Monday, February 13, 2006

Excuses with a Capital E

My, my. It's been a while. So much for all that talk about keeping resolutions.

But before you turn away in exasperation ("that girl's gonna try to keep us reading?"), lemme revert to the one thing we all do in times like this: excuses.

On coming home from two wonderful weeks in LA, i was bombarded with projects and tests and the SAT. All the good stuff we lucky high school seniors have to deal with. My school works on a trimester system, and instead of having finals at the end of the second term, we have to turn in projects. Easy, you think? It's not. Imagine, 8 projects to turn in. Eight. Ai yai yai. Not fun. And they're all due when? In the first week of March. Which is in two weeks.

So you see, i haven't just been bailing out on this blog. I had reasons. Today, i took an environmental science test and presented my history project to the class. When i came home, i realized that, shockingly enough, i had no homework of any type to do. (Minus the three math problems i'll be doing on the bus tomorrow.) So, i went online and started typing this thing up.

Okay, now that my excuses are out of the way, i can get to writing about what i want to write about. This whole Denmark issue.

The Muslim world basically went berserk when news spread about how a Danish newspaper published offensive pictures of Prophet Muhammad. After hearing about all the trouble they'd caused, i looked them up online to see just how "bad" they were.

Let's just say i was a bit disappointed. Although some of the cartoons were what i, as a Muslim, would consider offensive, 7 out of the 12 cartoons (over half) were very witty, insightful, or just plain pretty to look at. The Muslim outrage over these pictures seemed completely overblown. Now, Islamically, Muslims do not portray pictures of Prophet Muhammad. This is a precaution, because over time, humans have a tendency to deify anything of importance to them; and artistic rendition of that "important thing" can be passed on from generation to generation until it becomes idolized. I believe that if the Danish paper had known this, they might have approached the subject differently.

Speaking of "the subject", the whole point of the Muhammad cartoons was to break away the bonds of "self-censorship". The Jyllands-Posten (the name of the Danish newspaper that published the cartoons) believed that people were becoming too afraid of Muslims to say what they really thought of Islam, and therefore inhibiting their right of free speech. The paper "invited members of the Danish editorial cartoonists union to draw Muhammad as they see him." Many Muslims outside the West already thought that Westerners were anti-Islam, so the 5 negative cartoons of the Prophet shouldn't have been surprising. It would have been nice though, if the Muslims had at least acknowledged the other, more perceptive pictures.

Had they seen them at all. I discussed the Muhammad cartoons with many people here in the Middle East, and very few had actually seen the cartoons themselves. The governments here banned the pictures from the local media, and many Muslims don't want to look them up on the internet because they believe they shouldn't see visual depictions of the Prophet's face. (For the record, i'm just stating a fact, not implying an opinion about it.)

Then there are those Muslims who are too lazy to look the cartoons up, but have the ability to go around yelling about how the West is against Islam. Many of these particular Muslims tend to be very "Westernized"; dressing, eating, talking, and acting like "the West". Speaking out against the West in this situation makes them feel that they haven't wholly betrayed their religion, language, and culture.

Protecting the moral and humanitarian values taught by the Prophet is a huge undertaking. Especially when the majority of the world is busy violating them. Instead, the Muslim world chooses to pick on a few, scattered details in an attempt to soothe its aching conscious. That way, when the question of why the Muslim world is in such a sorry situation comes up, Muslims can say "Hey, we let the West know it's bad to show the Prophet's picture. We're trying!" Excuses, Excuses. And yes, with a capital E. Wasting all this energy on a bunch of cartoons when people all over the world are dying from poverty, occupation, and natural disasters.

A cartoon hits closer to the true spirit of the Prophet than it's artisan may have realized. Two red faced "Arabs" running with swords in hand are checked by "the Prophet", who says, "Relax guys, its just a drawing made by some infidel South Jutlander." Let's not let the aforementioned Excuses get any more out of hand, shall we?

Below are some links for further reading:

1. (An in-depth look at the "Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy", along with a description of each of the cartoons.)

2. (An article describing what each of the Muhammad cartoons display. Kudos to the BBC's professional and mature portrayal of the issue.)

3. (WARNING! This is a link to actual images of the Muhammad cartoons. They are not censured in any way, so for those of you who would not like to view the cartoons, please read a description of them at one of the above sites.)


Here are links to some sites that were published as a result of the "Muhammad cartoon" controversy:


Mathew said...

hey noor, its mathew from sais..

im so glad i found someone else whose into this whole blogging thing. and i must say...ur writing style is exemplary..ever considered taking up journalism?

hmm regarding the whole cartoon issue, well honestly i think its time we just all learn to appreciate other people's customs and values..whether its islamic sensitivies or danish opinions...
but then again thats just my opinion

anyhow...noor please check out my blog!

a&m said...

Darn it! I wanted to be the first person to comment on Noor's blog. Hehe! Oh well! Well, Noor, congratulations on achieving one of your new year's resolutions. Hope you're successful in your other goals. Except for one…Don't think I didn't notice the part about losing calories… But you already know how I feel about that!

Well, my comment seems a little late…the whole Danish issue has really cooled down, but still…might as well add my two cents. The thing is, I think one of the major reasons people acted so passionately and aggressively was because the timing of the whole incident. It really seemed like "the straw that broke the camel's back". I mean as much as Westerners hear about Muslim terrorist attacks, Muslims hear about Western abuses and attacks. The result -their anger just keeps building up. I mean, a mountain begins with a pebble…and just like a bridge can hold only so much so can people. Muslims and Arabs just keep hearing about:
-the Abu Ghuraib prison scandal and inhumane abuses
- Guantanamo (Muslims being held somewhere near Cuba without actually being trialed or told why for years)
- what many consider the Iraqi invasion
- Israel's continued occupation and the refusal of the UN to enforce its laws
- and other "minor" everyday incidents…(Like the British soldiers recently just caught beating up the Iraqi teenagers) What happens- they feel humiliated and bullied. Like the whole world is conspiring against them and then what happens…somebody actually publishes what they consider offensive cartoons. (Not just because of their content but because they actually dared to portray the Prophet- something we don't do. And let's not forget the Muslims who don’t even approve of drawing humans.)
And at the same time, Denmark didn't just print cartoons…Remember, how I sent you that article from BBC about how it's acceptable to fire a muhajaba there and the Queen's comment about how people who dedicate their lives to God are terrorists…I'm sorry but do you think she considers nuns and priests terrorists? (And it's not like they haven't discovered many "embarrassing" actions by priests lately…Yet, people don't discriminate them as a whole and stereotype them. You said it yourself- they found that out every 3 people, one is Muslim. How many of them are terrorists?) The thing is Muslims make up the second largest religion in Denmark- don't you think before they printed the cartoons they could have thought about that for a bit…and about the fact this was the third thing "against Muslims". Three strikes means you're in trouble.

So does that mean I support bombing the embassies and what not? Nope! However, I don't have a problem with the boycott and PEACEFUL protests. I mean, let's be serious…sure, their economy is seriously being affected, but what about ours…Personally, I think it’s great we're not relying on another country and finally supporting other Arab countries. If we don't, then who will? It's kinda like how you were telling me to look for Turkish chocolate…the idea is the same. And even if it sprouted from a "diplomatic nightmare" at least it did…I mean remember: when France refused to enter the war on Iraq, the US refused to call French fries French…Instead, they actually called them "freedom fries". That's just for politics…we're doing something because of religion!

I mean: a lot of people keep saying Muslims should just respect the Danes' value of free speech…But what about them respecting our values? We would never have caused this outrage, in the first place, if they had respected our beliefs…I mean, how many people actually respect somebody's disrespect for them? Wouldn't that mean they should be able to respect our disrespect for their disrespect?
The thing is: Remember how our previous English teacher asked us, would we accept it if our boss made fun of us? No, wait…she asked us when would we stand up for ourselves. And almost every single one of said if we felt our religious beliefs were attacked in anyway. Personally, I wouldn't be that accepting of caricatures of my dad…or of definitely, I'm going to stick up for our Prophet. I don't think it was blown way out of proportion in the sense that if we didn't stand united on that, when would we? What would they have to do to us for us to actually protest? To actually care…this incident taught me one thing: we still feel. Yes, so many of us are obsessed with the latest video clip, coolest song, and whatever but no matter what we haven't forgotten our Prophet. Because if they can take that away from us, our love for him and our reverence and our protectiveness, then they can take everything away.

Oh and to Mathew:
Congrats on your blog!

Matt said...

Hi, I just found your blog via SaudiJeans. Yeah, I have mathew's name, but am not a blogger, so if you want me to ID myself so as no to confuse you between him and me, be sure to tell me. Why do you have the one photo of yourself surrounded by all the shoes and the other of your legs crossed as your profile photo? As far as your claims of a revolution via the 'net and blogs, I must say that's a bold statement that I'd agree with. It might happen faster than either of us could imagine. By the way, your command of English is quite good!

Anonymous said...

All i have to say is: touché to a&m. they sed exactly wut i wuz thinking and i cudn't have done a better job. thank you. and by the way...about freedom of speech. wen in a certain program they were talking bout Scary Movie 4 which had a couple of parts of an actor making fun of Bush. And then a hollywood director or producer sed that hollywood shud really be careful with certain comments or jokes bout the president. and then they tell us to calm down because we're defending our Prophet and religion with the Excuse (with a capital e) of freedom of speech. puh leeez...i mean im not up for the whole bombing crap...but seriously...its the Excuse that they come up with is wut drives me crazy.