Why can't Islam and sarcasm mix?

Published: Tuesday | September 18, 2012 Comments 0
Muslim protesters burn a United States flag in Jakarta, Indonesia, during a demonstration against an American-made film, 'Innocence of Muslims', which ridicules Islam and depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womaniser and madman. AP
Muslim protesters burn a United States flag in Jakarta, Indonesia, during a demonstration against an American-made film, 'Innocence of Muslims', which ridicules Islam and depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womaniser and madman. AP

Michael Dingwall, Contributor

I remember watching an episode of Family Guy that had a time traveller telling the "very mature" gun-toting baby that those miracles credited to Jesus did not happen. The truth, according to this time traveller, is that Jesus used simple tricks to fool the people.

While we, in societies like ours, can have a good laugh at sarcastic jokes like that, I cannot help but wonder what would have happened to the producers of Family Guy, had they done the same thing with Islam's Muhammad?

The widespread unrest in much of the Islamic world about an Internet jab at the Prophet Muhammad has raised several issues about this religion. Islam is one of the world's major religions. Yet, over the years, it has demonstrated a high level of intolerance to criticism and sarcasm. I cannot help but wonder why.

WHY FEAR CRITICISM?

If Muslims are as secure in their faith as many of them like to preach, why should they be so disturbed about criticisms and sarcasms - especially those that target Muhammad? If I were a Muslim and very sure of my faith, the strength of my faith would allow me to ignore jabs at the prophet.

Many Muslims don't seem to understand that all religions, and especially major ones like theirs, will always attract criticism and the butt of jokes. Why then are so many of them so angry when their religion is targeted?

I have read where, in many Islamic societies, dropping the faith could lead to very serious consequences. You know, I always tell people that I will always be thankful for the historical processes that caused me to be one this side of the Atlantic - and not that side.

I remember, before I 'saw the light' and became an atheist, I was a devout Christian years ago. For all of its imperfections, my Westernised society allows me to use my brain fully and to think freely. In this society, not only can I boast about my atheism, I can even criticise and be sarcastic about Christianity.

Why then, based on what is happening in much of the Islamic world, do I have the strongest feeling that if I were living in a Muslim country people like me wouldn't even last a week?

Christianity used to be like that in the past - very intolerant of criticism. The Spanish Inquisition readily comes to mind here. However, and this may seem odd for an atheist to say, the strength of the faith of Christians has allowed the religion to mature past that.

Maybe Islam will one day realise that it is much stronger than any form of criticism or sarcasm, and the strength of the faith of its believers is powerful enough to allow it to simply ignore jabs at the prophet.

Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and michael_a_dingwall@hotmail.com.


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