Ramadan 2023 Appeal
Cartoons and Lampoons
Channel: Jonathan Brown
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Defining the Boundaries of Political Satire
Episode Transcript ©
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I couldn't fit his title, big font
choices so that, you know,
I didn't expect him to sort of question. So
the point is he's defers to
me, thank you very much for letting me be here, always happy to visit new places in Florida. My wife's
come to a few times. So one of these days
is to visit samples.
So unfortunately, I'm leaving on this insanely early.
thanks very much.
I managed not to get arrested while working on this presentation.
So either people weren't looking at my screen or the Americans.
So I was thinking a lot about this topic, creative expression was a tradition. As you might imagine, you can spend the news, although I have to say, no matter how many times I talk about, this always takes a lot of time to prepare a presentation. So
when we talk about this issue is
in American context, the western context, we always talk about freedom of speech, we talk about issues of blasphemy. This is a actually a billboard that was outside of Memphis, Tennessee, we recently was taken down, it's a it's a reproduction of the winning Cartoon for the draw Mohammed cartoon competition, put together by Pamela Geller and her act,
in defense of democracy
in Garland, Texas last spring, and so it's a it's an image of the Prophet which the newspaper that I got the salad was nice and
secure. And these angrily said, You can't draw me in the artists hand. That's why I draw you're going to have to draw because you're saying I can't. So this is very much portrayed as a issue of principle. And the Western media fairly consistent principle of freedom of speech has to be upheld. And it's so important that such as your enlightenment, an important value of many Western countries and states, that it has to be a firm regarding competence. That's how pretty much how this
issue is framed. In the Western context, in when we talk about this, let's say issue of blasphemy or insulting the Prophet, the prophet, when you look at it from the perspective or perspective of Korea, because
they have lost
their views on this issue. Let's think about it from the perspective of Islamic law.
How does how does our Muslim legal scholars
and there's not really an Islamic tradition, there's not a single church, there's not a category of blasphemy. In fact, Muslim countries, let's say, like Malaysia and Pakistan, that actually have blasphemy laws, those are actually British common law. Common Law laws that remain part of the legal systems in this country. Islamic law doesn't have a category. When we talk about protection and Rahman insulting the prophet, saying things you're not supposed to say.
in this industry conceptualization, there's basically three kind of rubric to fit this up. The first is the question of depicting living things, specifically thinking of souls. As a bit of a question there whether or not you can make animals but definitely human being to the souls. There's a big this is a very programmatic isn't the traditional steps on that.
The second thing
that it depends who's doing the depiction or let's say we're doing insulting so moving from the issue of depicting let's just go to St assaulted
a non Muslim living in this entire polity and salsa, profit, or maybe even a non Muslim living outside in Hong Kong, it's a very different issue. And if a Muslim
discuss these in the talk, I'm just giving you the kind of overall layout.
one of the Muslims.
That's a very different shoe. And in fact, it's relatively simple Muslim themselves. It probably also has, at least in theory, exited to religion,
committed apostasy or done
after that, which is pretty serious, but we'll discuss this
the theme that I want you to keep in mind, they don't try and remind you as much as I can. Is that it all of these issues context is great. I don't just mean context. What's the exact circumstances? Somebody says something, but the general surroundings have an issue? What are the political surrounding what is the intention or the political meaning behind the statement behind? What's going on in the society? These are much more important in understanding how not only how Muslims react to things, but also how they, at least in theory, suddenly they go through this dictates what the response should be.
So looking at the question depicting
creatures of souls,
the there's no, there's nothing in the format about this, obviously, the poor and the Muslim, kind of foundational scripture is condemned graven images, much like the testament, so you can't have a golden calf sort of the golden calf is in the forehead as well.
But the actual condemnation, or let's just say discouragement, depicting creatures of souls comes from Hades reports from the Prophet Muhammad. And you have two main ones, one in which lions would admit I get two letter to look like to us via
sutra, right? The angels don't enter houses or a house that have
an image in them for dog. And there's other there's different versions that have been that have more details, but that's the main part. This is a decrease in the to me luxuries, most respected question, but he did. So. The second one is that another report in which the Prophet says that,
man, so what if it is someone who creates an image in the world, he will be asked on the day of judgment to breathe life into that image, and he will not be
and then presumably, feel bad or something, you know, that's not good. You don't want to don't want to be asked to do something on the day of judgment and not be able to do
as soon as a common disease or not, there's not explicit statements saying to never draw anything that has a soul. It's inferred from the condemned natori statement about
based on this evidence from the prophets.
There is a very strong, very, very, very large majority of Muslim scholars, a lot of things we'll talk about as a consensus of Muslim scholars, that you're not allowed to depict digital source. And this would include painting, this would include sculptures that include you know, Bob, ball relief, or in the African franchise,
your old, anything get.
What's very interesting, however, is that this is not a complete consensus. A lot of people think this.
But there's actually some interesting dissenting voices from within the Islamic tradition, a one figure from the 900, dead 947 common Pharisees, a scholar devoted.
And in a friend of a story, which did the Prophet King Solomon has the has the, these gin these spirits are actually made. They're they're made his service, and they perform these wonders task. One thing they do is they create sculptures.
story in the end, Jesus breathed life into sculpting quaver.
So a lot of the fantasy says, Wait a second, if you're not allowed to create any sculptures whatsoever, any images of a living thing, then why is Jesus have a word? Why does Why is placed Solomon a prophet of God, Jesus, prophets of God can't sin cannot commit sins, why are they engaging in this activity? So what he argues is that you can you can create images as long as they're not images of gods or images that are part of idols, because that's the, that's the ultimate evil that is
you seek to avoid yours that people would, would,
as part of kind of avoiding that slippery slope, and you see this in those deeds that I mentioned earlier, the reports the fear is that
Human beings will become arrogant in their act in your active artistic creation. And they'll think that this makes them like God. So the person who creates an image or a statue in this world that idea judgment is asked to breathe life into it. The message is being delivered by this by this report is that God is the only creator, human beings do not have creative capacity, in the Islamic tradition, always a very, very strong emphasis of the division between God and creation.
And creation doesn't share any of God's powers,
at least not to any degree that is.
So you kind of have you can imagine sort of a slippery slope, the bottom of which the
whole the bottom of the end of which is idolatry. But that's not the only thing Muslims are trying to avoid. It's also this sense that if you as you slide down towards that you pass another danger, which is that you human beings think that they are creators. And that that act of creation of artistic creation, is a sort of arrogance is an arrogance.
So what he's saying, there's nothing wrong with with creating things because Solomon had things Great, great. Jesus had this quick bird's eye view, where he can say, Don't give me statues, and it works.
So you say the real message behind shouldn't create images that are going to be venerated.
There's a very interesting figure named Benny, he's a scholar from the 15th century in Cairo and Damascus, and he wrote a book on
market inspections called his book
in Arabic, basically, going around the market is a public order policing. And he talks about one of the duties Geary of someone doing this task, his vote would be to go and you know, Oh, so you're selling this entire tray of Pharaoh statues, I don't think superhuman pounding users are preventing this from happening. What he says is there's no problem. However, if someone has images that are drawn on saddles, or on carpets and things like that, because you're stepping up, you're sitting on the set, so there's no way you're going to go in and venerate these images.
Similarly, by the way, another exception in one of the well known, unfortunately, profit on this issue, but one of the companions of the Prophet says the Prophet exempted images done, glitter on cloth. So even in these original reports coming from the fraud monitor attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, you have already 70 blurring lines about some exemptions, or however, when you look at the majority of Muslim scholars, though, in a classical period, up until the modern period, they'll all say, any NBA images, especially human beings are competing.
In the 20th century, early 20th century, there are some Muslim scholars, granted, these are modernists, right. So these are people who really try to believe that Islam as a religion and religious system needs to be greatly
reformed in order to meet what they consider the very
valid expectations of the modern world. A lot of Muslim scholars don't share those views. They don't want to they don't think they should engage in that kind of change to their religion issue. But some scholars like the Egyptian scholar, Muhammad Abdul, he died in 1905, as a famous
legal opinion in which he argues again, like some early scholars like a fantasy that the the purpose of this research prohibition is to avoid idolatry of people in Egypt in 1900, are not going to worship a statue of Pharaoh that some guy is made to sell to British tourists, is obviously tourists. If no one's going to worship this, no one is going to get confused. So he kind of says we should forget about what appears to be the sort of letter of the law which has been taken so seriously until this time, and look more at the objective, the last event in worship. Okay.
Any questions about this so far?
So that's the law. What about reality? Again, I want to emphasize here, context is very important.
In fact, saying, and so does culture. So in this culture, I'm going to engage in some really crude, cultural kind of
generalizations here. I would be more apologetic about it, except that they they're so accurate in this case, really. I'll explain that.
One of the theories of when when scholars look back on the period of the development of Islamic law is that they say this prohibition on images is a later development. It's unclear. There's no clear answer to that. Obviously, you know, Muslim scholars believe this originates with the problem.
Ahmed, many Western scholars are skeptical that one of the reason I'm skeptical is because
if you look at some of the earliest surviving Islamic art just happens to be palatial or in the palaces and bath house. So the mighty dynasty, which ran in Syria, from 660 to 750, the common error, you see images like this is from a, it's now I think, unfortunately, we've been actually this has been restored, there's actually an image of the restoration, all blacked out by five, this isn't the place but we'll say at home, Amara, in Jordan, is where Jordan and Syria and
there's this image of, I think it's four kings, there's the Byzantine emperor, the Persian Emperor, the Ethiopian Emperor, and I can't read the other person is I think, maybe they might Kayla himself. And there are just completely you can see this is a person depicted in an artistic style. It's very reminiscent of Byzantine art. And in fact, early, who made art really borrows on Byzantine style. And in fact, they actually hired Byzantine artists to fill things like the decorations that you might mask into NASA. So you see things like that. You say, what,
if there's this prohibition on imagery? Why do we have these images? There's a couple of potential explanations. One of them is that rich and powerful people don't care about what Muslim scholars say. This is definitely true. I mean, few and far between or the Muslim ruler who is personally pious in every way, most of the time, they're, they tried the good Muslim, but they love drinking, for example, and they try to be a good Muslim, but they love chili.
That sounds bad.
Turkey, Turkic warlord Turkey, this is expected. So
maybe it's just, again, a lot of only really wealthy people or upper middle class people can even imagine that existed, we're gonna have the money to, to engage in this kind of creation in order to perceive or maybe just the rich and powerful Don't,
don't really feel the need to follow this law with
another. I mean, it's, it's unfortunately, just an undeniable fact is that when you look at the Muslim world, the persianate world, the world that is, was created in the form by Persian artistic literary court political sensibilities. And this is really kind of begins after the 1200s of the Common Era, with the Mongol conquest at the Congress data channel lane and his successor states. And the successor states at the tail end of this period are things like the Ottoman Empire, the global empire in South Asia, the sap Empire, if you look at the Muslim world, from Turkey, all the way through South Asia to sorry, Central Asia to Iran, down into India, you see the same kind of
artistic styles, really up until the early modern period. And one of the things you see fairly consistently is they do not care about portraying not only human beings, they don't care what portraying the Prophet. So this is a image of the Prophet mom, probably one of the earliest images. It's known from the 13th century from a Persian manuscript, and this is the problem on the preaching. Of course, he doesn't look like an arrow. He said to me, what does he look like anybody?
He looks like he's eastasia, because that was the artistic self. So either way, this isn't going to decisions are realistic. This is not an emetic depiction of the problem. Here's another very early image from the world history of a famous scholar. He's a scholar, he was a Vizier. He was the Grand Vizier of the hill times. He was an author of the first or the compiler, the First World History guy named Rashida Dean. And this is the image of the Prophet Muhammad who's helping before he's a prophet. He's actually helped me to put the final stone in a story from his life before he came.
So one of the arguments is that there's just the person a tradition somehow just has indifference to this restriction. Why? Well, the the famous Mughal Emperor Akbar, the great who died in 1605, he actually gives a justification for not only portraying images from a training problem. So he says, when you're returning, when you're returning an image, you're not thinking you're like God. In fact, when you're an artist drawing a picture, you're just you're actually reminded of how, how insufficient your ability to create it. It's it doesn't have to be an act of Aries to be an act of actually reminding yourself if you're low steps can be a humbling experience. And then, not the
Emperor Akbar, with many other Muslim supporters, especially in the courts of greatness and rulers would say drawing pictures of Mahatma Gandhi
Muhammad can be a useful tool of worship because it allows you to focus his character on emulating. And, again, these are explanations that are not going to convince Muslim jurists. But the great thing about being an emperor is you don't
consider the most powerful person. What's fascinating is that in, in the Arab world,
these don't see this, as far as I know, I don't know, any incidence of instances of depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, and certainly very, very
rare is a depiction of a living thing and ours. So just example of this in the 1830s and 40s, when the Ottoman Empire was going through a process of modernization, all the tenants in that period, reorganization period, one of the things they did is they sort of auto consultants wanting to have emulates the practices of European monarchs. So the Ottomans often said, Okay, I want to take a picture of portrait of the Sultan put in every government office, and the the religious scholars and Muslim scholars in the Ottoman heartland of Istanbul contents and oval head totally at the Balkans. They said, that's great, we have no problem with it. When they tried to implement this in the Arab
provinces of the Ottoman Empire, there was tremendous reaction and refusal, or at least
disapproval by the religious scholars in their promises.
Anybody have any questions?
I know there's q&a. But sometimes, I'm going to talk about different things that can't survive unless I have this question. Responsible right.
Now, so that that's the issue of the picture, the problem. Now, the issue of the picture of the profit and salted profit are linked.
But certainly, you know, none of these images I showed you before were just normal subjects. So I really, this becomes an issue when you get to the 20th century. And when so many Muslim scholars, majority of Muslim scholars, let's say, approved of photography, and approved of film. So you can take a photo with the majority of Muslim scholars since the introduction of photography, ladies, any introduction, moving pictures,
majority was to talk about food of this wine because there's no creative action involved, you're basically capturing light, some very conservative was in charge, don't even accept that the vast majority. But even those who support
proof of steak movies,
there is there has generally been very strong rejection by Muslim scholars of the possibility of having someone portraying the property. So you don't want to you know, first of all, it's a lot of pressure on whatever actor you know, even if it's a pro Caprio gets picked up for a play the problem is a lot of pressure, because for Muslims, the problem is the most perfect of all creation. So doesn't matter how good even Benedict Cumberbatch
my wife was
someone who all Ryan Gosling there, even Ryan Gosling cannot live up to the expectations that Muslims have in the province of perfection. So it's sort of a one, you have a person for training this almost inevitably reducing his status disappearing. And then of course, the majority of people you can imagine a world today one or many people want to make movies about the Prophet Muhammad are not going to portray a positive. So it's sort of there's a very clear sense of there's a slippery slope, is it an invitation that we will exalted.
So that's why even if you've seen this movie from the 1970s, called the message, which has Anthony Quinn as Hamza in it.
Yeah, it's a it's a very weird movie because you don't see the main protagonists or even the first four killers
are not portrayed to these they're referenced off screen, but it's a movie to watch.
Okay, when it comes to the Muslims inside the Prophet, this is actually very simple.
Muslims, we have solved the Prophet.
Don't insult the problem. It's a bad thing. Because if you according to the consensus, and here you really have, I don't know.
Anyone who doesn't witness throughout history, there's really strong consensus that if a Muslim belittles or insults God, little or insults, the brand belittles or insults the Prophet Muhammad, then this person sees that is an act that removes a person from the pail of Islam and unless they repent,
then this is a topic for another lecture.
declared the for apostasy for Muslims as a death penalty. So this is not a good thing to do, because this is a very serious punch. And just to show you how clearly Muslim scholars want to mark this as a red line don't even want to get anywhere near there is launch interface. For example, what happens if you
It turns out that person's mother is a descendant of the Prophet.
So most Muslims, hard to say, okay, didn't know she was seven profit. So that's fine. I mean, it's not a good thing to do. But, but some Muslim scholars, for example, called the Jada 12 century scholar from further by, he said, even if you don't know,
the person's incentive, the profit This is a human solid profit is a death. And in fact, in the 13th, in, I think, was
14 1314 Khan Academy the exact year
3040 hundreds of Christian No, sorry, yeah, sorry, there's a Muslim gets accused of he calls and other person basically says, You're
in hell good son of a donor.
And that person is sent to the Prophet, and this person is
the Prophet. And eventually he's acquitted. Because there's not a judge term, there was enough evidence. But the point is, was it actually wasn't just the theoretical.
the evidence for this is primarily from the brain
and not from the sayings of the Prophet. So it's not, it's not sort of stated explicitly in the brand, but the brand over and over again talks about how the unbelievers during the life of the prophet
in previous communities who rejected God met Gods messages, they all marked the profits of games. So like now, you may have seen him in the in the war in Canada will be in the ascendancy, right? No Prophet came to me, except that they used to mock
believers are always characterized by this mocking. And so you see this so often the prime become very clear that mocking God mocking the problem mocking Gods messages is, is one of the actions of characters along the way.
But interesting is in the actual Sunnah of the Prophet I didn't define that I should have which is the authoritative precedents for profit on it, which is one of the major strokes of law firms.
There's not there's almost no evidence in the life of the prophet of him killing muslims for insulting.
So there's a very famous episode when the Prophet Mohammed 15 622 of the Common Era.
And the Muslims who moved to the city are actually a minority of the majority are polytheist, Arabs and Jews, Jews Jewish.
A number of the slowly the leading polytheists are converting to Islam. But many of them, especially the proper ones, are not sincere convert. So they continue to try to undermine the prophets, new leadership on the city. And they actually consistently insult him. Sometimes we stay sometimes behind his back. And in one instance, one of the leading, they're called hypocrites, one of these hypocrites. I've done a bit of a, he's insulting the Prophet behind the prophets back, one of the prophets close friends and the second Kalos, salaam, Omar Bilal. The Pope says, first the prophets is the messenger of God, let me kill we strike it out. And the Messenger of God says,
leave him I don't want people to
Hama kills his companions.
So what's interesting about this, is that his his, he doesn't. He doesn't bring up a principle. It doesn't say, Mr. Kevin equals Omar, freedom of speech. He doesn't say he says, the reaction to the job you're going to say is that they're going to say I kill members of money.
And it's saying that in the right after that, the narrator of his report says that the Muslims were the Muslims were immigrants who came from Mecca, tongue or minority in the city. And the majority of Muslims in the city were actually in the native Muslims of Medina, of which this person was one of the leaders. So there's almost this understanding that in the context was such that it would have been destructive, highly destructive. If the Prophet had punished or let's say had this person
What's interesting is it's not just Muslims, in the polity of Medina, who go on punished for insulting the Prophet. It's also the non Muslims. So you have is an example when some of the Jews were living in the Prophet could have lost some of his candles. And they came to him and they mocked and said, You know, you're supposed to be a prophet of God who knows unseen, you don't even know where you're
at you had lots of instances where either people who are hypocritical Muslims or non Muslims living in Medina with assault the Prophet, and he never punished.
As far as we know, he never punished anybody inside the polity of Medina, even non Muslims. And I think it was because of the students are concerned that as the Constitution, Dina said, this is one omo one community they make work together then in PCs, even if they're not Muslim, some of them are at the quality and some of them are Christian, or Jewish. They probably didn't want to have a negative impact of killing other people in that community.
That's a great question. Good thing, it's in this slide.
I'll answer your question. You're
following the flow?
Okay. Actually, the evidence from for the death penalty, I should actually rephrase it. There are some reports that are not in the main for the collections. But in for example, if you're interested in books like this one, and they have a diet tensity 60, Common Era? Do you have some later deflections that include reports with companion pass, saying that
killing the Prophet saying, a man came to the prophet and said, my wife cursed you? So I killed her and says,
gem demola her blood was lit, she her blood was listed, it's okay to be killed. The reason I didn't mention these are these is that they're even Muslim scholars don't actually consider them very reliable. I'm not talking about Western scholars liability. Muslim scholars this these studies don't get added in as the main piece of evidence for the death penalty management for insulting the Prophet. They're like Sawsan gravy on top of
the main evidence comes from the way that the Prophet interact with people outside this world. What about non Muslim subjects of Muslim polity, or even non Muslim subjects who are outside that policy, maybe even an enemy policies?
One of the lines of thought or one of the schools of thought you've seen as an Islamic tradition is, goes back to the great scholars of southern Iraq, Abu hanifa, founder of one of the major schools of law died 767, Common Era, what he says is that,
okay, if a if Christians and Jews and Zoroastrians, and Hindus and everybody else who live under Muslim rule are allowed to cheat their religion.
So if you're a Christian,
you're allowed to practice a Christian. Now, if you're a Christian, you know about Islam, it's only the Muslims all around you, either by definition, either you don't believe the claims of the Prophet Muhammad, or you think your mom was a crazy person or a liar or something like that. But you certainly there's, there's no, you're not accepting his claim as a prophet. So by definition, you're insulting.
What I believe is said is, if Muslims, if non Muslims are allowed to preserve their religion, which inherently include the insult to the Prophet Muhammad, then how can we punish them by death, for example, coming out and telling them something that they're very religious existence is already installed, so we're not going to punish them for that, if they're allowed to keep their religion. Nobody, everybody agreed almost as long as we basically keep their religious, they continue to practice their religion and to live in a religious community. Some rule by definition, that we can't punish them by even
we can't punish them by something as severe as death. So what he said is that you can
punish, let's say, a Christian who solves a problem and other way you can imprison him and you can you can do something that you can't execute. So that's one, one position. But the majority position of the Muslim School of Law is that it's up to the ruler to decide.
This is not something where Muslim scholar is going to come and give you a clear rule. If a Christian or say non Muslim living under Muslim rule is all problem and x has to be done. There's a this issue is we defer to the political judgment of the ruling on this
And what was their?
How did they arrive at this conclusion? Precisely because the decisions that the Prophet made regarding this were political decisions.
So one of the most famous the most piece of evidence they were most considered most reliable by Muslim scholars are the killing of someone in cabin
cabin. Ashraf is a ton of crazy to a polytheist Arab or he's a Jewish Arab. He moves to Medina to join the Muslim community to become a Muslim. Then he has disliking Muslim he likes to say and salted things about the Prophet, he leaves. Medina he goes to Mecca where the enemies of the Prophet worth the time. And he actually, according to some reports, he goes to the Kaaba out and he calls any of the enemies of the Prophet, they're the leaders of Aquarius tribe, and he says, I want you to take an oath that you're going to continue to fight, profit until as long as so not only is he insulting the Prophet, he's writing insulting poetry about the Prophet, in some reports, even
getting, you know, seen girls to come and sing the insulting poetry. Well, actually, that was another guy you've been hooked on, I'm sorry, another guy who
seemingly recruiting people to fight against them. So the Prophet orders to his companions live in southern LA and Holly muslimah. He basically sends a team to assessment and assessment.
This is the most famous and well authenticated reporting Islamic tradition that has the Prophet killings on having someone assassinated for it seems insulting. Now, what you see and even what some scholars discuss this, as they say, it wasn't that he was insulting that he was, as one scholar in the 15th century, even hunter says he was Mohammed he was actively fighting, and he was only recruiting people to fight.
And so you can see there's a very clear political element here, especially because the Jews living in Medina weren't
punished for it. So only the speaker who's actually out there working with the enemy against this is another thing, we have to be careful about the sources you read, because there's a story of
the Prophet ordering a woman named Benjamin Juan, who's a poet. She's an airport from another tribe ordering her assassinated for insulting. That's one of the few instances where you see the story, say the Prophet had this person assassinated because they assaulted him.
But this report, you find it in
the Sierra Club in his heart, which is a lot of unreliable material in it, but it doesn't appear in any head, each collection
only appears in some early historical sources, which are considered by Muslim scholars to be highly highly unreliable. Is that a piece of evidence? Is it use a piece of evidence on Muslim scholars because it's, they don't consider it to be reliable.
When we look at Islamic civilization in Islamic history,
you see that the way again, context matters. It's all from political considerations. I don't mean political considerations, like you know,
I'm republican and my friends Democrat, but I'm gonna pretend to be angry that because of the presidential election, I don't mean that kind of political situation, I mean, that these decisions are often about the environment and people's perceptions of power, and their relationship to one another majority Aryan politic minoritarian world is communal. These are really seem to define
the way that Muslims and Islamic law functions regarding the ultimate Prophet Muhammad and blasphemy in general, just saying that say
rejected things in general, in situations in which Muslims are in cultural and civilizational positions of cultural and civilizational confidence, there tends to be complete disregard for
So there's a one example there's a British traveler in mobile India, in I think, between 1612 and 1619. His name is Thomas carats, c a r y t.
shirts. So he travels in mobile, Indiana, and literally hundreds, and he learns enough Arabic He says, he goes around saying, There's no god but God and Jesus is the Son of God.
And then he said, Muhammad is an imposter.
And people are just thinking, what do you have to do is that you're crazy.
People just said I was crazy into doing nothing happened to
a lot of the books that we have written by Muslim scholars on the issue of non Muslims insulting the Prophet are written because that Muslim scholar is extremely annoyed or objects the fact that a non Muslim hasn't solved the problem and has not been punished. So one of the most famous books called the sacred my school, the drawn sword against those people who insult the Prophet the Messenger of God, and vice scholar for Damascus, he is Sookie who died in 1356. He starts the book out saying and the book is this cute, right? He starts out saying I've written this book because a Christian came and felt the Prophet until time didn't do anything.
And although as a sharpie scholar, I defer to the to the ruler on his decision on it, tell you why this is the wrong decision. So the books that have become the references in Islamic Islamic kind of library, for the issue of people insulting the Prophet are oftentimes at least in the case of sukin, even taymiyah, written by people who are writing, which rebuttals of what they see is an overly tolerant, overly accommodating ruler.
This chicken I'm sorry.
This changes in situations in which there is communitarian tension or communal tension. So for example, in
Egypt remains a Muslim, a Christian majority region, through the 1100s. And even today, there is anywhere between 10 and 15% of the Jewish population, especially so until the 1100s. majority, Christian people
remember this, that
Muslims are a very small minority, in the places they conquer for many centuries.
In the 1300s, especially in Cairo give a lot of rights between Christians and Muslims. It's also time when the black plague is striking. So 1348 really serious cases of black play to devastating effect on the economy and competition. And so you have a lot of social tension in that period, you see a number of Christians who are brought, I think, five or six cases of Christian to abroad, to Sharia courts and punished for it's also the
opposite of situations of civilizational cultural competence or situations of civilizational marginalization being dominated, unoccupied, being killed by let's say, American soldiers.
In those situations, you see that this is when you see tremendous sensitivity, in most situations towards the present.
So Muslim minority living in France is
not in a position of power, not religion of conference. And there's there you see a lot, a lot more sensitivity towards the figure
in the opposite of the Muslims in position.
This is the picture of
Prophet Muhammad, a 16th century book, and he's seeing his face here is covered. They don't want to depict him. And he was pointing at the moon, which is split is a miraculous sign.
I know I've gone 40 minutes, but I'm going to I want to take 10 more minutes. It's okay. I have more more pictures, don't worry.
direction of our analysis here. Look at the Western Division. First thing to keep in mind is despite despite the whole history, surely and, you know, sacrifice on the altar of freedom of expression. There's no such thing as absolute truth. There's no society that is absolutely if
you want to test that go and you know, make a porno movie, or go yell fire in a crowded theater, or go
say, Tom question, Tom Cruise's sexual orientation.
You know, we're in a,
you know, you're talking about soccer or magazine or there's defamation, there's pornography, there's notions of causing imminent threat of a lawless act or clear and present danger in the case of a legal tradition. So there's all sorts of
speech that even the United States which has the most robust
protection free expression, there's still expression that is illegal, those criminals will have consequences legal consequences.
in European law, you have much, much more restriction.
Jerry have noticed in public order,
which you don't really find very often in United States, they're in many European countries hate speech criminalized in France and the Netherlands and Belgium and Germany in Denmark, not sure about Norway but
producing Nazi propaganda. Distributing Nazi paraphernalia is legal denying Holocaust questioning that number of people were killed, the Holocaust is illegal. But you can find significant amounts of money for this
interesting level of public order in the United States where public order is mentioned. Despite defenses made in the name of freedom of expression, women cannot and almost all municipalities, women cannot walk around topless. I think in New York, you're allowed to almost nowhere in United States when you walk down when you walk around.
And some consistently over the last 30 years, some women have challenged us in the court saying this is what we want to engage with freedom of expression, artistic expression, by removing our talks with being discriminated against our expressions be
prevented, restricted, and courts, the United States have consistently rejected this argument, you know, our, our, our morality in this country said this would be a violation.
So what you see because there's no such thing as absolute exposure, when people when you look at what are the restrictions, what are certain there are these restrictions are really statements about who belongs and who doesn't belong? what is acceptable and what isn't acceptable, what is acceptable for a citizen or a member of a community in a way that it defines the notion of civility in society. It said, What is it says what, what is okay? And what is not okay, and who gets to define what those things are. So these this is an act of power is an act of domination, domination by the majority of minority.
And these situations, we are all one by our paths. Just Just an example. This is from 2005. In France, there was an advertisement in I think it was a billboard, and
the French court, it was upheld about, for instance, banning this advertisement that had a depiction of the Last Supper attempt was a fashion. And if you look at the French courts argument and said this insults are religious feelings of
the same country where people can you know, freedom of expression, a magazine from Charlie Hebdo was allowed to publish to horribly insulting edition, Muslims on the Prophet Muhammad egregiously, and this was defended by members of society and by the government saying this is freedom of expression sin country's legal system said they're going to ban this ad because salts of allusively Catholics in the UK in 2010. This advertisement, UK advertising authority forced the magazine to remove this ad that had a pregnant non eating ice cream, because it said this causes serious offence to readers, particularly particularly Roman Catholics.
This just two days after the Charlie Hebdo attack about one year ago, pretty much just two days the French comedian Judo named Bala Bala, his performance is banned. And the ban on it was upheld by the highest French administrative board. He was not allowed to perform his command because he he has jokes some jokes are some people's they're anti semitic. And he does this sign yet he's doing it here. And so the dislike inverted and see Kyle sign. And what the French court said is, it's banned because of the reality and gravity of the risk to trouble the risk of trouble the public.
So French court banned this comedian from before because of the risk, it goes to public order. But it did ban or prevents Charlie Hebdo from publishing even though it had already been demonstrated here two years prior has it already been an attack on the Charlie Hebdo?
week, the French courts already knew that this was a threat to public order.
And in the two weeks after the Charlie Hebdo attack over 50 people in France, some of them as young as children were arrested and detained for
statements that were seen as supportive tears. Again, accidents question.
Just to again, just to stress content is so important.
Even the United States which has a very promising extremely strong regime of discord, freedom expression in it
14 is a famous Supreme Court case called miners bill Crisco bias it to go bias family, children. They didn't they wanted to remain silent during the Pledge of Allegiance school and the school first
scolded them, then it suspended them.
So the question was, does the school have a right to make you say public school, right to make a pledge of allegiance, and to remain silent isn't isn't our expression. So what the Supreme Court says an authority is yes, the school has a right to make use of Allegiance. Just three years later, the Supreme Court have many of the same justices reverses the decision completely another case, Virginia versus Barnett? 1943. It says, nope. School cannot make a mistake.
Does anybody think why that might be? That's how the Pledge of Allegiance used to be said. Now he said this.
Baby, I don't know. 1940 1943? Is it going on that time? Right. 21 us at 22. And the last thing you want to do is say the school is fake. You do the CIO, basically.
So look how much this report completely changes opinion.
Nothing can change except the context.
And just to give you one last example,
in 2000, in August of 2012, in the Jewish publication the foreword and see it, I mean, I even checked them to make sure today when I was in airport,
they they said to that as well, the court has this great article, it says it's free. The article is kind of rejoicing that Facebook or YouTube have taken down, have several 100 anti semitic videos that have been uploaded.
August 2012. YouTube in
September 2010 11 2012, what happens? There's this Innocence of Muslims, the innocence of Muslim video. It's a kind of movie trailer movie that never got made, gets put on YouTube. I want to write my book on the problem on it. I either read or read about every insulting thing it's never been said about the wrong. This was the most offensive thing that's ever been said or made about the wrong. I feel confident. I mean, it's it breaks new ground and offensiveness it's really offensive. Okay.
If you look at YouTube's hate, freedom of speech policy is very clear. They don't allow hate speech, anything that what is it called?
We don't permit hate speech, which domains are grouped based on race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity. So they don't permit speech that attacks are the means that group based on these things.
The US government actually tried to get YouTube to to us it was I think, Facebook, I mean, YouTube, YouTube, they he was going to try to get indirectly
Get YouTube to take this down.
And eventually Institute took it down in Pakistan, I think Afghans,
but YouTube said, this does not violate our our hate speech policy. So the most offensive thing might be the most offensive thing ever made by human beings about the rock Muhammad did not
violate YouTube's hate speech policy. But hundreds of videos that
some members of the judiciary interviewing had submitted were removed from YouTube just one month before, because they were
considered to be the same. So
the moral of the story is, context matters.
It is not a defense of freedom of mind, it is not a defense of freedom of speech, to defend the right of armed white males in Texas to insult
Muslims to insult someone who Muslims revere.
Because what this is really saying that Muslims is you who are ready of a disenfranchised minority already a besieged minority in this country. We're going to step on those things you consider to be valuable and sacred, because we're going to show you that you can only care about the things we say
things you care about, we get to decide what
if you might you might think you're citizens of this country, what you think is important, is not have any effect on our notions of civility.
it's legal to say things are anti semitic, the United States, people don't do this legal offices, usually anywhere in the United States. People don't do it. Because it's very clear in discussions about our notions of civility in this country, that these things are not to be done, because they offend fellow citizens. We're supposed to care.
What do you when Muslims are told that their sensibilities are not taken means that they're not being held as full citizens? If you see this even more clearly in Europe,
where a country like France we have 78% of the population is Arab slash was Germany, 5% of the population is Turkish Muslim,
huge percentage of the population are being told that their sensibilities are not going to be taken into consideration.
Okay, sorry for going over time.
Happy to answer a question. Have you know,
good manners in the south,
it becomes a matter of getting enough people to react calmly as they can, and then
I get a mob, they call that mob veto. And so I
have a weird presentation because I went from classical Islamic law to modern identity politics.
So I think one of the things is, if you look in not just American history in the second half of the 20th century, imagine you go back even further, what you see is the the, why are we making such a big deal out of it defense? Or why can't we just be polite defense, this is a don't rock don't rock, the boat defense is used by the majority or by the status quo to prevent the concerns of a group they feel
So oftentimes, when you see, let's take the example events that happened in University of Missouri, so people say why.
or Yale, it's just Halloween costumes, right?
And you know, you can see it Well, yeah, we all if everyday, we all went around, and we were all kind of like political correctness, police, and just, why are you you're not respecting my positionality or my intersectionality, we're constantly just, we'll never be able to interact with each other, we have to have some degree of charity. But that can't be used to say that a group that has been marginalized, that has been does feel underrepresented, it does feel hostility towards it, you can't just say that anytime they raise that concern that they're they're rocking the boat.
So in a sense, the majority are in control of discourse in this country and discourse in in liberal democracies, where it can be done, or at least most of them with democracy. Ideally, it shouldn't be done through the law has to be done through kind of
sort of a social consensus that's built up and argued over and then built up is you have to go out and organize around a position. Because if you don't, no one's ever going to take you serious. If Muslims, if Muslims in, in Europe, let's say just stopped working or something like that,
until a certain magazine is closed until a certain college apologize. If they could have that much of an impact on the economy. in those countries, you better believe that there will be changes in the law or certainly changes and public attitudes. Same thing in the United States when the football team and university jury decided to play, then the President has gone the next step
is they're going to lose, you know, twice a salary. So so I think that there's a you know, there's a tough argument, it's something just because they don't don't complain, don't do this mob. don't organize some mob veto. But if you don't organize on video in the kind of discourse of liberal democracy, you never get an ever mobilizers report gets. So every kind of KFC gets burned down and hartsdown mucopolysaccharide or something, I find that we have the internal dialogues, the Muslim community deciding, well, obviously, some people are very upset and should we be similarly upset? So we're trying to rationalize, what should our response be? So May we be upset about a KFC being
burned? No, no, no, not that. But so for instance, when there's there's a riot over depiction of the profit or loss of them and a subsequent ride, for instance, what what is what is our response here? And a lot of times I agree that there's a lot of there's a sort of helpless defense where Oh, don't worry about it. It's political free speech. So it'll blow over. So I'm trying to gauge you what what is the right response?
So Tripoli the right to respond to
your speech. I'm not saying that. But my point is, the level the level of intensity with which people try to defend the honor of the prophet in other places is incredible. versus our approach here tends to be much more passive. There's one thing of good wall do nothing. If someone
depicts the prophet in an insulting way. Another way is right in the streets. What's the right balance? I mean, I, one of the things you see, I think you see it pretty clearly.
Not only the precedent of the Prophet, but also in the
instances I mentioned in Islamic history of ministry, of course, is, you know, the Christians who were, let's say, accused itself the proper it might even have been executed, for example. They weren't executed by a mob, they were brought to a court and they weren't even they hadn't tried. So obviously, due process is extremely important. vigilante justice isn't acceptable. The instances I mentioned the life of the Prophet, where, let's say he has Cardinal Ashraf assassinated he sent people to do things on the instance in which the man says, My wife insulted you, I killed her the promises for blood as listed. That's actually that's in the southern amount widowed
century. That's actually an unreliable ID. For me as a Muslim. I mean, I don't accept that. But because it's completely unreliable.
So there's not even in the life of the Prophet and in the sort of the least normative practice that Muslim civilization is obviously a huge time space expands. But in general, you see that there's not an acceptance of vigilante justice. So you know, vigilant people have to have due process.
in the last
three years, was the condemnation from Muslim out is
wondering if there's any way you can draw upon that shows that that's legitimate, like, what do you mean an
insult of the Prophet
could come from?
I mean, I think that this is perhaps best.
This the recognition of a globalized media farm.
And then it's become, it's become quite common for countries to comment on issues of their concern that go on in the country. And not just, you know, not just say things like, Great Britain or Russia or France, complaining to the Ottoman Empire about the treatment of Christians in inside out and apart. But I mean, you know, that might be a substantive concern. But you know, we don't like the way we're portrayed. Remember, there was this one Turkish towel, which tried to sue DC Comics because the town's called Batman?
I don't think that's going anywhere. But I mean, the point is that there's no you obviously, there's a there's a trend in global media and law and just modes, and mechanisms for accountability, where
people make demands.
And again, it's really about power. It's really about
the United States can get a country to change its internal discourse to suit the United States. It's especially powerful if a country that's not that powerful and tries to make that demands and attempt to assert sort of use a global regime of rule of law, or at least kind of emotions of global civility, to exert power on
Yes, can you visit again, like exploring the nuance of power, but like, as a Muslim that lives in america that's very involved in that spiritual community? How do you recommend talking about things like Palestinian poet that Saudi are dead for some
genius hour saying something that they found to be offensive?
So it's, I think it's really I just got this email.
john wise in cash from Saudi Arabia every month, he gave a one time gift, no strings attached.
Someone sent me this email saying, why don't you guys say something about
the Saudis something inside your email?
mean, how? Just First of all, like,
I think it's I think it's wrong, that someone I don't think we should be considered condemned to death for freedom for issues of conscience. I don't think they should be condemned to the four
statements that are made for artistic expression.
Have you said that if we had not made unless you happen to have been in the courtroom when this guy had to struggle or have some access to information about the case it's very hard from you know, reading like a New York Times story or Huffington Post blog piece three hard to go from that to saying you any real idea what is really going on? So you've read about this, it's something's happening in Iran or something's happening to everybody. Even if you even if you are
I'm interested in this topic, it's very hard to know really a way to control making a statement. I condemn it. So that's why I think it's much more useful to just make statements about principles. You know, I, I am as a Muslim American don't believe people should be executed for freedom for issues of conscience. Now, if somebody
has issues of conscience that then makes them commit grand, grand, high treason, but say, like Jonathan Pollard, and steal all this intelligence from nations United States military, I give it to Israel because he has a religious national identification.
Yeah, there's just really, I mean, that then that person can be punished. Right, but just an issue of matter of conscience of
that can be punished. If someone has an issue of conscience that causes them to threaten public order as an American. I don't really buy public order defenses like that. They're grossly misused in
many European countries, but I'm sure not Norway.
See, the way I think it's really misused in France. So, niqab is a violation of the border hijab in school violation of the order, you know, a 10 year old girl with a headscarf as a violation.
But in France, just in November, French government court, the high Administrative Court
No, it was the Court of Cassation, the highest court
upheld the criminalization of boycott, divest sanction, to the kind of movement to engage in peaceful boycott of Israeli politics. That is a crime in France is a crime in France to wear a T shirt that says, Don't buy a house don't lie is really good. But yeah, so it didn't mean that.
Imagine that it's a crime. To have something written on your shirt saying don't buy is really good.
Because that's according to the French Court of Cassation it defamed or religious, but you can have a magazine that publishes
every single Muslim friends that's attempted. So you can see how these, I think these things are American, I don't really, by the way, these things with us. But
I think it's also important, there has to be some degree of deferral to the international legal system. So if you look at let's say, the European Court of Human Rights, has a very high degree of difference to national legal systems.
So it's tough. How do you balance like respecting Iranian self sovereignty or respecting Sally's opposite, respecting British sovereignty while still insisting on promoting potentials?
Probably don't want to keep you guys any longer. So
well, you're the boss. You tell me Well, if there's a burning question site,
are you tired? I don't care. I'm high on whatever the caffeine I drank it a few more minutes. Yeah. Yes. question in terms of comparing the Persian versus Arab views on the representation of the Prophet. Is it also the case that Shia in Arab speaking regions, so for instance, northern border of Saudi, do they represent? That is a really good question. That is a very, that's actually a great question. I think that would be anybody want to write an article?
So because when you mean, when you go to Iran, one of the first things that struck me is you see pictures of the moms. I
mean, I have I wish I brought examples of Iran. I mean, the Iranian, Iran has government sanction efforts to kind of go back and forensically reconstruct that the profit, but these are government sanctioned government approved by us Islamic Republic. So it's so far it's so different from the kind of iconoclast sentiment you find. I characterize the sort of Arab world. I know it's a clumsy distinction, but it seems the division is very clear. I think it'd be really interesting to look at where the fault line is. So that's a great question. I will I will try and find the answer and I'll send it to Terry and if not, then someone else didn't do an article I'm sending
someone out there gentlemen in front of the other guy who already asked
one of your books he said that the 72 virgins you
expand on that?
Not in the
appendix at the end of the book, right discussed so
anybody who's seen the family are Bill Maher who knows about the 72 virgins, right here martyr you get 72 virgins. When you go to Paradise.
This is this is not from the grants from iD iD itself is not a real
liability insight. And essentially my opinion many Muslim scholars already this is not a reliable. Why is it included in Muslim League collections then? Because every culture thinks martyrdom is good. So now Independence Day Two is coming out. In Independence Day One, Randy Quaid goes in your fantasy airplane up into the laser hole of the alien airplane and kills himself. And then everyone says
so everybody, everything, I think it's good to die for a good cause. Um, so what Muslim scholars said is
the seems like it's helpful to encourage, we don't, we're not sure the Prophet didn't say it. So. But then there's another ad, just a few pages later in that collection that says any the lowest level of people inheritance. So martyrs are one of the highest level, the lowest level gets 70.
Having the use, so you're talking about a part of difference of two.
So the reason that Muslims, I'm not trying to equate it with the Muslim scholars didn't take these these very seriously, because, again, they already knew Martin numbers, but they're just kind of piling material on
to get to encouraging them to be martyrs.
Okay, I would like to give you two scenarios and see what's the context, because we are focusing on the idea of the people who are going into mobs because because they there was, someone insulted the Prophet. But think about this, for example, in Pakistan, it happened that there was a mob, that were they, they were very violent because of that, but also, just yesterday was listening to the news. And they were talking about, there was a mob mob, and also a bomb that killed more than I think, 15 people in front in front of the polio,
places where they do the polio vaccines.
So here, I mean, these are people who are coming from the Muslim community, and doing this kind of Acts. So when we talk about situations where there is violence, we always think about the religious aspect, what the religious understanding of the people how people are religious and the religiosity or the type of religiosity. But we completely forget, what what is the basis of this violence? I mean, for me, for someone who goes and kill innocent people in the front of the the people who are going to the vaccine, there is more probably there was a more like, a basis for it that is very political. So I mean, how are we going to talk about the discourse of religion when there are many
other discourses that we are not including? I think one of the one of the problems in America in general market, European media discourse about stuff that happens in the Muslim world is it is always discussed. So I think that there's,
you know, sort of I mean, there's my opinion.
In the case of let's say, this whole is obsessive discussion, as it is ISIS Islamic, just recently revealed that they really true Muslims. That's the real face of Islam.
Every Muslim scholar, I only know one Muslims around the world. So if you had been on it works for ISIS is important. So many Shia So the issue of the liberal conservative establishment is so does everyone else I know that places either as heretics or as anonymous. Okay, so no, they do not represent it.
As long as and why is American media obsessed with talking about this? Because if you're talking about this, and you're not talking about the actual cause, which shows the destruction of the political, social economic infrastructure of Iraq, and killing, you know, anywhere between
150,000 and million Iraqi civilians died as a result of the war. I mean, I think I calculated in America, that would be like 19, at the highest level in 19 million dead Americans. Imagine, imagine what you do to this country. So the country was obliterated as a result, but totally unnecessary work, which I mean, very few people would argue was a good deal.
But, you know, if Americans actually sat and thought about, maybe we shouldn't engage in military adventurism so easily, then they wouldn't be. They can't be manipulated by the, you know, the military industrial complex.
Around by the nose is towards whatever, new or inside out. So I think there's a purpose to making everything about religion if it doesn't work.
We'll talk about
real issues and examining their own faults.
Thanks very much