Article Op-Ed

Script for an Arab Leader's Next Speech

Script for an Arab Leader's Next Speech

Author Maryam Haider by

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Dear Arab Leaders, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings, Queens, Parliament Members and Imams,

Please get on every TV and radio station and in front of every congregation to take this message to your constituents…

Asalamu'alaikum Brothers and Sisters,

For the last two years, you have been protesting for your voice to be heard---for more jobs, for more government accountability, for equality and also for more freedoms, including freedom of speech.

Isn't it ironic that freedom of speech was even practiced and respect by our beloved Rasul Muhammad (saw), yet we are asking for it from our governments today? Rasulallah (saw) practiced a form of freedom of speech that even the modern world has not witnessed. From many examples, there is one that even our children know—there was an old woman whose house was on prophet's route to the masjid. She would regularly throw garbage on him as he passed by. What would he do? Would he swear at her? Would he set her house on fire? Would he throw rocks at her? Did he even utter a single word against her? No, he quietly passed by every day even as she threw her garbage on him. And what else did he do? He did something that even my ego is too big to ever do. When she fell ill, he visited her.

And what happened when he visited Ta'if to take his message of monotheism to its people? The people of Ta'if chased him, throwing rocks at him and Zayd (raa). The prophet and Zayd were bleeding, badly injured and running for their lives. Not only was the prophet disrespected, he was physically attacked. He bled so badly that his feet stuck to his shoes. They ran for their lives and staggered out of the city.

And how did our beloved rasul react? He made du'a to Allah. Was it a du'a asking Allah to hurt the people of Ta'if? To burn their city? For them to be destroyed? No. And, as a matter of fact, when Allah sent angels to ask the prophet if He should destroy the people of Ta'if, he said no. Allah could have easily destroy these people, who had just attacked and humiliated him, but the prophet said no, do not destroy them. His hope was that their children will one day become worshippers of one God.

So what happened to the woman who threw garbage on him? And what happened to Ta'if? She became Muslim, and Ta'if is full of Muslims today. What does this tell us? It tells us our prophet respected freedom of speech. He respected freedom of speech! We are ordered to follow his teachings. He respected freedom of speech, so we must respect freedom of speech. When he was insulted, he turned to Allah, he did not burn down cities or hurt people.

Love our prophet by following his example, not by burning down our cities and destroying property and killing innocent people. Love our prophet by being on time with salaat, feeding the poor, visiting the sick, loving our neighbors, being honest, working hard and proliferating peace.

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