As a Muslim I am outraged at this nonsense going on in Sudan and Saudi Arabia.When Prophet Muhammad’s cartoons were published, few Muslims around the world were outraged to the point of becoming destructive. They burned the embassy in Syria and destroyed property elsewhere. Their contention was that the Prophet cannot be contained in an image, they were right about it, but were dead wrong on destroying property, it went against the very principles taught by the Prophet “to forgive the wrong doers”. Not enough of us were outraged against those criminals to make a difference.
On the top of that, the shameless Government of Sudan takes pride in reducing her sentence to 15 days in Jail with no lashes! For God's sake she did not even commit a crime to be punished or the sentence to be reduced. She did not insult the prophet either. As as Muslim, I admire her gesture. However, out of reverence, Muslims do not name any one but humans with a name like that. It is a time honored tradition.Prophet Muhammad would be saddened with the behavior of this insane mob. Some of them came out waving swords and demanding the death of Ms. Gibbons. They forgot that their prophet had inculcated values of treating one's guest with full dignity and honor. Where is the Muslim outrage on going against the traditions of prophet?
I urge the media to give voice to the Muslims who speak up. It gives hopes to the mankind, whether we are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists or Zoroastrians, we face the common enemy – ignorance. Ignorance displayed by super literate people as well as illiterate.
Articles condemning the bad judgements
of Sudan and Saudi Clerics.
Travesty of Justice - Sudanese Caricature of the Islamic Law
Mirza A. Beg, Friday, November 30, 2007
Sadly a majority of people practice double standards. They tend to judge others more harshly, but find excuses for their own failings. Collectively, other races, countries and religions are judged harshly, while we turn a blind eye to whatever we construe as our own.
I suffer from a reverse malady. I am sad at injustice to anyone anywhere, but it offends much more when it is done in the name of my country, society or religion. That is why abjuring popular sentiments, I am more critical of injustices done in the name of Islam, the United States and India.
When others condemn, some times genuinely, and some times maliciously, the knee-jerk reaction is to criticize the critic that they are equally bad or worse. I hear this often, when I write about the immoral war in Iraq, based on lies; the Pogrom by the state government of Gujarat in India or the horrible things that the Talibanist mentality has done in the name of Islam.
Recently, a woman in Saudi Arabia was gang-raped. She was seen in a car with a person not of her family. She was also found guilty along with the rapists and recommended punishment under the Saudi Law. That is bad enough, but to call it Islamic is travesty of truth and reason.
In Sudan, a British teacher was arrested for the "sin" of helping her class of seven year olds to name a cuddly teddy bear, Muhammad. Yesterday, after a court trial, she was sentenced to 15 days in jail, and it is reported that a crowd was clamoring for a death sentence. In a closed dictatorial country a crowd does not gather, it is allowed or urged to gather.
The problem springs from a misunderstanding of cultural norms. In the West people often name their pets after the people they love, including their parents, friends, and even prophets. In the East people give their pets loving precious names, but not the names of people they love and respect. It is considered an insult, akin to calling one's best friend or a prophet a dog or a cat.
All Muslims consider Islam to be a just and humane religion. The most popular stories that children grow up with are about the kindness, humanity and mercy of the Prophet.
One of the most popular stories is that the Prophet was reviled and cursed by many Meccans, just after his call to Islam. There was a woman who routinely threw garbage on him, when he passed through her street. For a couple of days she did not. He inquired and learned that she had been sick. His reaction was to go to her house to console her.
A well recorded fact of history is that after conquering Mecca he forgave all, including some who had said and done vile things, including a woman, Hinda, who desecrated the corpse of the Prophet's uncle. There are many other such stories and recorded historical events.
An average person may be forgiven for being impetuous, emotional and blinded by the love for the Prophet, but the Sudanese judge and the government ought to know better. This is complete ignorance and disregard of the primary sources of Islamic jurisprudence. It is an insult to Islam, humanity and justice.
All Islamic scholars would agree that the Islamic laws are based on four principles, in the following order of importance, with a strong caveat that the act is punishable based on intent, and when in doubt mercy over-rides the blind word of the law.
1. The edicts of Quran.
2. Not finding in Quran, the actions or sayings of the Prophet, compiled as sets of Hadeeth by a few scholars about 150 years after his passing.
3. Qiyas – analogy from similar rulings emanating from the first two.
4. Ijma – the consensus of the scholars.
In view of the above, as reported, the British teacher was in Sudan serving the populace. 1-Though the Quran condemns harming or insulting the Prophet, it does not recommend a temporal punishment. 2- The Prophet was the best interpreter of Quran. The life history of the Prophet illustrate that he was kind to even those who insulted or injured him. 3-The teacher was clearly serving the people and her intent was not to insult. 4 - Most scholars in the Islamic world would be at variance with the Saudi and Sudanese interpretation, because not only they violate the intent and mercy clause, but also the 2 nd principle.
As children we laughed at a collection of jokes under the loosely translated ditty:
Strange land - Stupid ruler - they sell - Cow for a dollar - Hay for a dollar.
One of the jokes was - a very fat man was condemned to hang. The rope was not strong enough for his weight. So they found a thin man and hanged him, to satisfy the letter of the law.
That was a joke, but this is an insult to all sense of justice Islam and humanity.
Mirza A, Beg can be contacted at email@example.com or http://mirzasmusings.blogspot.com/
WHAT WOULD MUHAMMAD DO?
[Ibrahim Hooper is national communications director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties group. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org ]
During last year’s protests over publication of the Danish cartoons designed to insult the Prophet Muhammad, I wrote a commentary called “What Would Muhammad Do?”
Given the ongoing controversy over the jailing of British teacher Gillian Gibbons in the Sudan for “insulting Islam,” perhaps it is time to remind us all how the Prophet himself reacted to insults, both real and perceived.
Even if Ms. Gibbons had the intent to cause insult, which does not seem to be the case, Islamic traditions include a number of instances in which the Prophet had the opportunity to retaliate against those who abused him, but refrained from doing so.
“You do not do evil to those who do evil to you, but you deal with them with forgiveness and kindness.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari) That description of the Prophet Muhammad is a summary of how he reacted to personal attacks and abuse.
Muslims are taught the tradition of the woman who would regularly throw trash on the prophet as he walked down a particular path. The prophet never responded in kind to the woman’s abuse. Instead, when she one day failed to attack him, he went to her home to inquire about her condition.
In another tradition, the prophet was offered the opportunity to have God punish the people of a town near Mecca who refused the message of Islam and attacked him with stones. Again, the prophet did not choose to respond in kind to the abuse.
A companion of the prophet noted his forgiving disposition. He said: “I served the prophet for ten years, and he never said ‘uf’ (a word indicating impatience) to me and never blamed me by saying, ‘Why did you do so or why didn't you do so?’” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
Even when the prophet was in a position of power, he chose the path of kindness and reconciliation.
When he returned to Mecca after years of exile and personal attacks, he did not take revenge on the people of the city, but instead offered a general amnesty.
In the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, God states: “When (the righteous) hear vain talk, they withdraw from it saying: ‘Our deeds are for us and yours for you; peace be on to you. We do not desire the way of the ignorant’. . .O Prophet (Muhammad), you cannot give guidance to whom you wish, it is God Who gives guidance to whom He pleases, and He is quite aware of those who are guided.” (28:55-56)
The Quran also says: “Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knows best who have strayed from His Path and who receive guidance.” (16:125)
Another verse tells the prophet to “show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant.” (7:199)
These are the examples that Muslims should follow as they express concern at the publication of insulting cartoons or at misperceived actions of a well-meaning teacher.
After the Danish cartoon controversy and allegations of Quran desecration at Guantanamo Bay, CAIR initiated educational campaigns as a peaceful, constructive response. This is an approach that people of all faiths can appreciate, as it helps us move toward respect and religious tolerance.
SEE: http://cair.com/explorethequran/ and http://cair.com/muhammad/
This most recent episode can be used as a learning opportunity for people of all faiths who wish to promote mutual understanding. It can also be viewed as a “teaching moment” for Muslims who want to emulate the Prophet through the example of their good character and dignified behavior.
As the Quran states: “It may well be that God will bring about love (and friendship) between you and those with whom you are now at odds.” (60:7)
This week’s unfortunate incident in the Sudan points to the need for an increased level of dialogue between ordinary people in the Muslim world and the West.
The complaint brought against Gillian Gibbons was an inappropriate use of Sudan’s legal system to deal with what was in essence a disagreement between parents and a teacher. Ms. Gibbons should never have been charged. She should be released immediately.
Qur'aan on Sudan situation
[1:1] In the name of GOD, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
[5:8] O you who believe, you shall be absolutely equitable, and observe GOD, when you serve as witnesses. Do not be provoked by your conflicts with some people into committing injustice. You shall be absolutely equitable, for it is more righteous. You shall observe GOD. GOD is fully Cognizant of everything you do.
Peace be upon you.
British teacher Gillian Gibbons was convicted of insulting Islam for letting her pupils name a teddy bear Muhammad and sentenced to 15 days in prison and deportation from Sudan, one of her defense lawyers said Thursday, 11/29/07.
Gibbons was teaching her pupils, who are around age 7, about animals and asked one of them to bring in her teddy bear, said Robert Boulos, a spokesman for Unity High School in Khartoum. She asked the students to pick names for it and they proposed Abdullah, Hassan and Muhammad, and in September, the pupils voted to name it Muhammad, he said.
Each child was allowed to take the bear home on weekends and write a diary about what they did with it. The diary entries were collected in a book with the bear's picture on the cover, labeled, "My Name is Muhammad," he said. The bear itself was never labeled with the name, he added.
The country's top Muslim clerics pressed the government to ensure that the teacher, Gillian Gibbons, is punished, comparing her action to author Salman Rushdie's “blasphemies” against the Prophet Muhammad.
Thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and knives, rallied Friday in a central square and demanded the execution of the British teacher.
I simply failed to understand how did the teacher insult the Prophet?!
Anyway, assume that the teacher insulted the Prophet. In that case, what the Sudanese should have done as Muslims with this teacher?! Put her in the prison and deport her?! Execute her?! Absolutely not! According to the Quran, God does not give them permission to punish her for her "action". It is God Who will put her in hell, if she really insulted the Prophet!
[4:140] He has instructed you in the scripture that: if you hear GOD's revelations being mocked and ridiculed, you shall not sit with them, unless they delve into another subject. Otherwise, you will be as guilty as they are. GOD will gather the hypocrites and the disbelievers together in Hell.
[5:57] O you who believe, do not befriend those among the recipients of previous scripture who mock and ridicule your religion, nor shall you befriend the disbelievers. You shall reverence GOD, if you are really believers.
[6:68] If you see those who mock our revelations, you shall avoid them until they delve into another subject. If the devil causes you to forget, then, as soon as you remember, do not sit with such evil people.
[18:106] Their just requital is Hell, in return for their disbelief, and for mocking My revelations and My messengers.
[39:48] The sinful works they had earned will be shown to them, and the very things they used to mock will come back to haunt them.
[45:33] The evils of their works will become evident to them, and the very things they mocked will come back and haunt them.
The Quran guarantees freedom of choice to all the people on earth:
[2:256] There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in GOD has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. GOD is Hearer, Omniscient.
[18:29] Proclaim: "This is the truth from your Lord," then whoever wills let him believe, and whoever wills let him disbelieve....
[6:104] Enlightenments have come to you from your Lord. As for those who can see, they do so for their own good, and those who turn blind, do so to their own detriment. I am not your guardian.
[10:99] Had your Lord willed, all the people on earth would have believed. Do you want to force the people to become believers?
[2:148] Each of you chooses the direction to follow; you shall race towards righteousness. Wherever you may be, GOD will summon you all. GOD is Omnipotent.
[73:19] This is a reminder; whoever wills, let him choose the path to his Lord.
Undoubtedly, the muslim masses insult the Prophet by rejecting his message.
[25:30] The messenger said, "My Lord, my people have deserted this Quran."
Thank you and may God guide us,
Fri 30th November 2007
In the name of God, the most Compassionate, the most Merciful
Press Release: Protest outside Sudanese Embassy: Free Gillian Gibbons Now!
In regards to the current situation MPACUK and Emel magazine are organising a protest calling for a stop to the outrageous decision by a Sudanese Court to jail British teacher, Gillian Gibbons, for allowing her class of seven-year-olds name a teddy bear Muhammad.
54 year old Ms Gibbons has been jailed for 15 days, having already served 5 of those 10 days. Now hundreds of Sudanese protesters have called for the death of the poor woman in Capital Khartoum, proving just how out of control this situation has become.
The British government and Sudanese Government need to be working harder and faster at making sure that Ms Gibbons returns home safe and sound.
We invite you to voice your anger and concerns at the protest taking place outside the Sudanese embassy in London Tomorrow, 1st December at 2 pm.
Embassy of the Republic of Sudan
3 Cleveland Row
Calls in Sudan for execution of Briton
By MOHAMED OSMAN, Associated Press Writer 50 minutes ago
Thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and knives, rallied Friday in a central square and demanded the execution of a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam for allowing her students to name a teddy bear "Muhammad."
The protesters streamed out of mosques after Friday sermons, as pickup trucks with loudspeakers blared messages against Gillian Gibbons, the teacher who was sentenced Thursday to 15 days in prison and deportation. She avoided the more serious punishment of 40 lashes.
They massed in central Martyrs Square outside the presidential palace, where hundreds of riot police were deployed. They did not try to stop the rally, which lasted about an hour.
"Shame, shame on the U.K.," protesters chanted.
They called for Gibbons' execution, saying, "No tolerance: Execution," and "Kill her, kill her by firing squad."
The women's prison where Gibbons is being held is far from the square.
Several hundred protesters, not openly carrying weapons, marched about a mile away to Unity High School, where Gibbons worked. They chanted slogans outside the school, which is closed and under heavy security, then marched toward the nearby British Embassy. They were stopped by security forces two blocks away from the embassy.
The protest arose despite vows by Sudanese security officials the day before, during Gibbons' trial, that threatened demonstrations after Friday prayers would not take place. Some of the protesters carried green banners with the name of the Society for Support of the Prophet Muhammad, a previously unknown group.
Many protesters carried clubs, knives and axes — but not automatic weapons, which some have brandished at past government-condoned demonstrations. That suggested Friday's rally was not organized by the government.
A Muslim cleric at Khartoum's main Martyrs Mosque denounced Gibbons during one sermon, saying she intentionally insulted Islam. He did not call for protests, however.
"Imprisoning this lady does not satisfy the thirst of Muslims in Sudan. But we welcome imprisonment and expulsion," the cleric, Abdul-Jalil Nazeer al-Karouri, a well-known hard-liner, told worshippers.
"This an arrogant woman who came to our country, cashing her salary in dollars, teaching our children hatred of our Prophet Muhammad," he said.
Britain, meanwhile, pursued diplomatic moves to free Gibbons. Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke with a member of her family to convey his regret, his spokeswoman said.
"He set out his concern and the fact that we were doing all we could to secure her release," spokeswoman Emily Hands told reporters.
Most Britons expressed shock at the verdict by a court in Khartoum, alongside hope it would not raise tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims in Britain.
"One of the good things is the U.K. Muslims who've condemned the charge as completely out of proportion," said Paul Wishart, 37, a student in London.
"In the past, people have been a bit upset when different atrocities have happened and there hasn't been much voice in the U.K. Islamic population, whereas with this, they've quickly condemned it."
Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, accused the Sudanese authorities of "gross overreaction."
"This case should have required only simple common sense to resolve. It is unfortunate that the Sudanese authorities were found wanting in this most basic of qualities," he said.
The Muslim Public Affairs Committee, a political advocacy group, said the prosecution was "abominable and defies common sense."
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, said Gibbons' prosecution and conviction was "an absurdly disproportionate response to what is at worst a cultural faux pas."
Foreign Secretary David Miliband summoned the Sudanese ambassador late Thursday to express Britain's disappointment with the verdict. The Foreign Office said Britain would continue diplomatic efforts to achieve "a swift resolution" to the crisis.
Gibbons was arrested Sunday after another staff member at the school complained that she had allowed her 7-year-old students to name a teddy bear Muhammad. Giving the name of the Muslim prophet to an animal or a toy could be considered insulting.
The case put Sudan's government in an embarrassing position — facing the anger of Britain on one side and potential trouble from powerful Islamic hard-liners on the other. Many saw the 15-day sentence as an attempt to appease both sides.
In The Times, columnist Bronwen Maddox said the verdict was "something of a fudge ... designed to give a nod to British reproof but also to appease the street."
Britain's response — applying diplomatic pressure while extolling ties with Sudan and affirming respect for Islam — had produced mixed results, British commentators concluded.
In an editorial, The Daily Telegraph said Miliband "has tiptoed around the case, avoiding a threat to cut aid and asserting that respect for Islam runs deep in Britain. Given that much of the government's financial support goes to the wretched refugees in Darfur and neighboring Chad, Mr. Miliband's caution is understandable."
Now, however, the newspaper said, Britain should recall its ambassador in Khartoum and impose sanctions on the Sudanese regime.
Associated Press writers Jill Lawless, David Stringer and Kate Schuman in London contributed to this report.
'Mohammed' teddy bear row: UK puts pressure on Sudan
29 Nov 2007, 2006 hrs IST , Rashmee Roshan Lall , TNN
Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher accused of insulting Islam by naming a teddy bear Mohammed (AFP Photo)
LONDON: An outraged Britain piled the diplomatic pressure on Khartoum over the case of a Liverpudlian teacher accused by conservative Sudanese Muslims of insulting Islam by allowing her class to name a teddy bear 'Mohammed'.
Even as the British teacher, Gillian Gibbons, appeared in a Khartoum court with the threat of punishment ranging from 40 lashes, a prison sentence and a fine hanging over her head, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Thursday the UK wanted to make clear to the Sudanese authorities that she had not shown any lack of respect for Islam.
Gibbons is charged with insulting religion, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs has arrived at court.
Commentators expressed fears the row might snowball into an international clash-of-civilisations crisis similar to the controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet of Islam.
Miliband, who summoned the Sudanese ambassador, Omer Mohammed Ahmed Siddig, to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, piled on the pressure even as Prime Minister Gordon Brown got personally involved in the affair by speaking to a member of the teacher's family.
Even as a horrified British media continued a second day of angry front-page coverage of the so-called "teddy row teacher" affair, Miliband firmly declared that he hoped "common sense would prevail" on Khartoum and its hardline leader President Omar Bashir.
While allegedly sensationalist reports continued to pour into Britain that Sudan's top clerics are calling for the full measure of the law to be used against Gibbons because her actions were part of a Western plot against Islam, the UK government reiterated its "highest respect for Islam".
But sections of even Sudanese academia insisted the British teacher had been wrong to name the bear Mohammed because the animal does not exist in Sudanese folklore "if you call someone a bear they will be angry".
As the potentially explosive diplomatic row escalated and angry Sudanese promised large street protests after Friday prayers to call for the Briton to be lashed in public or even hanged, Miliband insisted, "We want to see her freed as soon as possible. This is a human story, no malice is involved. Her security and welfare are absolutely at the forefront of our concerns...this is not a political dispute".
Gibbons, a 54-year-old former deputy head teacher in Britain, taught at an elite British-run school in Khartoum.
On Thursday, four days after her arrest, photographs of her round, pudding-like face continued to be plastered across the British press, alongside anguished reports of her plight "locked in a cell in a police station...her toilet is a hole in the ground, her window a small, barred opening high in the wall".
By Ibrahim Abdil-Mu'id Ramey
MAS Freedom Civil and Human Rights Director
As the world knows by now, a British secondary school teacher in Khartoum, Sudan was arrested by Sudanese authorities for allegedly defaming the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Unto Him) when, as part of a class project at the Unity School, a stuffed toy bear was named Muhammad. The name was voted on by the entire class, apparently not to refer to the Prophet of Islam, but in honor of a male classmate.
The teacher, Gillian Gibbons, was then reported to authorities by another faculty member and subsequently charged with blasphemy and promoting religious hatred. The initial, possible penalty faced by Gibbons was one year imprisonment and 50 lashes; which was, at the time of this writing, reduced to 15-days jail time and deportation.
News sources report that some 600 demonstrators congregated in Khartoum to protest the alleged defamation of Prophet Muhammad. Some were reported to have called for the execution of the teacher.
Lets review: the naming of a stuffed, toy bear after a boy in a classroom in Sudan has been transformed into a major international incident; a teacher has been incarcerated; a few zealots have called for her severe punishment; and the governments of the United Kingdom and Sudan are now embroiled in a major spat.
This incident is perfect for fueling the rhetoric of Islamophobes and Islamic extremists alike, and selling tabloid newspapers.
But it's also a matter that has serious repercussions, not only for Muslims in Sudan, but for the global Muslim community as well.
Why should we be concerned about a single teacher and a Teddy Bear? The emerging truth of the matter is that the school children themselves, and not their teacher, chose to name the toy bear. That alone should have been enough to exonerate Ms. Gibbons, and bring the matter to a swift (and innocuous) conclusion, however, the current climate of mutual distrust and animosity between many people in the "West" and the Muslim world, has grown into something so pervasive that an 'incident' such as this has erupted into a major incident.
There are people in the Muslim world - particularly in the aftermath of last year's Danish cartoon incident - who believe that Muslims should vigilantly defend their faith and Prophet against defamation. And we should. But we should be collectively judicious in judging if, and when, the defamation of our faith actually occurs.
I seriously doubt that Ms. Gibbons acted in an intentionally disrespectful way toward Islam and Prophet Muhammad. She should not have been punished, and she is owed a serious apology by the state and people of Sudan.
Then, there is the issue of what the people of Sudan should really be concerned about.
Given the ongoing crisis in Darfur, the disintegration of the North-South unity government, armed insurrection in eastern Sudan, and the Herculean task of rebuilding the nation after a horrific 20-year civil war, I would humbly submit that the Sudanese government, and its people, might want to invest their energy in responding to issues much more important than the naming of a toy.
I trust that Ms. Gibbons will be freed by the authorities in Khartoum, although I expect that her teaching experience in Sudan will come to an abrupt, and unhappy, conclusion given the news of her pending deportation.
It is my sincere hope that responsible parties on both sides of the issue will use this incident as an opportunity to examine the danger of over-reaction, on the part of some Muslims, to unintentional offenses. Likewise, people in the Christian world should not use such events to mischaracterize or stereotype all Muslims as extremists.
It's all too much for the Muslim world to bear.