Yasir Qadhi is an imam in Memphis, Tennessee. He is also Dean of Academic Affairs at the Al-Maghrib Institute. He is a hafiz — that is, he has memorized the entire Qur’an. He has an M.A. in the Islamic Creed and a B.A. in Islamic Sciences from Islamic University of Medina, as well as a master’s and a doctorate in Islamic Studies from Yale.
In the video above, he calls Jews and Christians “filthy” (in accord with Qur’an 9:28) and says: “The life and property of a mushrik [one who worships others besides Allah] holds no value in the state of jihad….which means if they don’t say la illaha illa Allah, their lives and property are halal” — that is, permitted to be taken by the Muslims.
Now he has taken to Facebook to argue that the Twitter ban on showing images of the beheading of James Foley shows that every society has restrictions on the freedom of speech, and that “the issue of the cartoons [of Muhammad] had nothing to do with ‘freedom of speech’, but rather with each society’s own views on what is acceptable and unacceptable to show.” That is indeed so, but the idea that anyone should be prohibited from showing cartoons of Muhammad is an attempt to force Sharia blasphemy laws on the West, and to create Islam and Muslims as a privileged class that cannot be criticized — which is exactly the situation in the Muslim societies that Qadhi is here comparing to the West.
That attempt has been remarkably successful due to the cowardice and pusillanimity of most Western authorities and the mainstream media (very few papers would publish the Muhammad cartoons, even when reporting about them). It constitutes a victory for Sharia and a defeat for the very idea of a free society.
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Twitter recently announced that they would delete any tweets that showed images of the execution of the American journalist James Foley, and ban the account of the user who posted such images. Facebook as well announced a strict policy in this regard. This was done to respect the memory of the deceased and honor his family’s request.
Now, I actually sympathize with this type of censoring, mainly because I don’t feel that such gruesome images should become commonplace and be seen by millions of men, women and children (and I mean ALL gruesome images, not just of this journalist).
However, what was interesting was the fact that this news wasn’t given that much national attention, nor was there any outcry regarding ‘censorship’ or ‘freedom of speech’ or ‘infringing on rights’. In fact, quite the opposite: most people who commented were supportive. People in the Western world, by and large, are sympathetic to such a ban, and appreciate the respect that Twitter and FB are showing to the families of the bereaved.
This proves my point that I made in a lecture many years ago, when the controversy over the blasphemous images of the Prophet (SAW) erupted. I claimed back then that the issue of the cartoons had nothing to do with ‘freedom of speech’, but rather with each society’s own views on what is acceptable and unacceptable to show.
Each society has a self-imposed and ever-changing red-line of taboos that it will not cross, in speech or in images. For this society, respect should be shown to the deceased’s family; for us Muslims, an infinitely more amount of respect should be shown to our religious symbols and especially to our Prophet (SAW).
Here’s the link to the lecture…eight years ago!