Source/Credit: The Malta Independent http://www.independent.com.mt/ , Saturday, October 24, 2015, by Laiq Ahmed Atif
Decency, tolerance, understanding and mutual respect are few of the very basic values and principles we learn and teach to our children at the very early stage of life. The Holy Prophet Muhammad emphasised so much on this subject and said that do not only respect elders but also ‘respect your children and cultivate in them the best of manners.’
In the modern, diverse and intercultural world, such values have become extremely important; and without wisdom, reason, understanding and respecting the sentiments of each other, an effective and harmonious co-existence cannot be dreamed.
Local newspapers have published many write-ups and letters about the vilification law, both in its favour and opposition. Some have argued that such laws are a hindrance for artists to show their capabilities. I think that, without vilifying any religion, or even any human being, the right of arts can be exercised fully.
Conveying a message in a positive and decent way in itself is a great art. I am failed to understand why it is so important and compulsory to being offensive for an effective arts work? The arts, no doubt, are a great medium of conveying message and a means for the artists’ demonstration of thoughts and qualities, but this can be achieved without hurting the sentiments of others, vilifying any religion or religious personalities, and mocking with any human being.
Secondly, even if it is considered the right of an artist to vilify any religion or draw or play anything which might be offensive to others, does not necessarily mean that such right must be practiced. I think just because one can vilify or ridicule religion, or any other person, doesn’t mean one should do it. Such things should be avoided for the greater good and the peace of the society.
I would like to give an example, where during last few centuries, in sub-continent India, there was a split between Muslims and Hindus on the issue of the cow. The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community presented a feasible solution, and said that, for the establishment of peace and harmony, Muslims can stop slaughtering and eating the meat of cow because it is considered holy by the Hindus. He said:
“Remember if we are permitted to eat something, it does not follow that we have to eat it. Everything permissible is not obligatory. There are many things which we know to be lawful yet we do not necessarily practice them. To treat Hindus [or anyone] with decency and kindness is one of the important Islamic injunctions— If for the sake of achieving a higher goal one forgoes a right, it will not be against the spirit of the Divine law. To consider something to be lawful is one thing, to utilise it is another.”
He also emphasised that the peace is a common heritage of mankind, so it should be safeguarded even by personal sacrifices.
I think, no one is against the arts – instead, the culture of arts should be promoted and encouraged, because it is instrumental in shaping the thoughts of people. I think if we all give space to each other in the diverse society and respect the sentiments of each other – be it political, religious, social or artistic – this will lead to success; and it will sow the seeds of unity instead of division.
Therefore, if peace is to be established, we will have to respect the sentiments of each other and safeguard the rights of society. It is easy to spread hatred but very difficult to sow the seeds of love. Modern man has come so close to other men that he can find the whole world before him on the touch of a button while seated on his sofa in his drawing room. Were all the efforts to achieve that nearness of a global village aimed at kindling the fire of hatred or were they to witness the evergreen fruit-bearing trees of love and sympathy for mankind? You will certainly agree with me that our goal should be to acquire and promote respect, harmony and love.