Aisehman, a well-respected opinion-blogger, had this to ask of me:
"Aiz, let me start by enquiring on the standards you employ for determining whether something is offensive to your religion."
via The interesting thing about cartoons
The following is my answer:
I understand that everyone will have an opinion about religion, whether it be their own religion, the religion of the next person, or whether or not they should have a religion or be religious at all, and how to act henceforth.
Given these variables, there are many potential combinations of possibilities. You may be very religious, and feel that your religion is right and everyone else who doesn't subscribe to your faith is a sinner. You may be very religious, and care less about what everyone else believes. You may be completely irreligious (though not without a religious faith you subscribe to), and care very much about what the next person believes. Combinations ad infinitum, ad nauseum of everything in between.
Of these many types, i'm of the belief that religion is a personal matter of choice. I am free to practice the religion of my choosing, and so are you. I don't expect everyone to be like me, and i accept diversity of beliefs.
On the issue of the religion of my choosing, I imagine many people may have very erroneous perceptions about what Islam is. Whenever i can, i try to correct those perceptions. And if i can't, i don't take offence at it, "God bless you, go in peace." Say what you will, believe what you want about Islam -- if i can't convince you otherwise, i will not interfere with your right to express your beliefs; after all, you believe in my rights to express mine.
Just like everyone else, i have a line that can't be crossed before i take severe offense and that line is when you try to stop me from practising my religion. When that line is crossed, then i'll do everything i can to put things back in order, but i will never resort to violence or the bearance of arms eventhough the religion allows me to, and in some instances, insists that i do. If Allah in His wisdom sees fit to throw me into Hell because i won't kill in His name, then so be it. I believe in the forbearance of the human race to negotiate and compromise; if there is no winning solution, i trust in the Compassion of Allah to accept i have tried my best.
Furthermore, i'm of the opinion that just because Islam doesn't like it, that doesn't mean that non-Muslims shouldn't do it, especially if their laws allow for it. Laws in democracies are decided upon by the people, if those laws do not take into account religious sensitivities, then who am i to insist that they do? How would i feel if they insisted that the laws that govern me are tailored to suit them?
Taken on face value, this probably means that while i disapprove and am quite upset by the Danish cartoons of Muhammad suggesting he is the source of Muslim violence, i take a step back in my analysis of the situation and ask myself "Why?" someone felt the need to draw such things.
Click to enlarge. Via Cagle.
Could it be because of the way terrorists invoked the name of "Allah" and "Muhammad" before they rammed jet planes into the World Trade Center? Could it be because of the way you can find literally hundreds of websites run by Muslims on the internet asking for things like the "cleansing" of Palestine i.e. extermination of the Jews in the name of Islam? Could it be because of the videos of Muslim mujahideen slitting the throats of journalists?
As far as the cartoonist was concerned, is he expected to understand the difference between the actions of a person who calls himself a Muslim and Islam?
As far as we are concerned, are we expected to understand the difference between the drawings of a cartoonist and the whole Western civilization?