Make Muhammad the “smiling prophet” again
“When you smile to your brother’s face, it is charity” (Hz. Muhammad)
I once asked a Jewish diplomat friend of mine how they manage to create all those jokes about Moses, Solomon, Abraham, Jewishness and ancient tradition of Judaism and not get mad. “One day hopefully Islam will do it as well” he said. “It is a way of survival. We wouldn’t have been able to overcome all the horrors of the past century if we could not laugh about it”
Come to imagine for a second. Can Muslims ever create stories that begin with sentences like, “One day, Omar and Othman and Abu Bakr were on the road to the marketplace. They came across a sahabi with a camel...”
The horrendous attack against Charlie Hebdo is a slap in the face to all Muslims. It is not about our religion, it is about what we are doing wrong. It is about the missing love and compassion in our lives and traditions. It is about mis- and dis-understanding the days of the Prophet Muhammad.
He was an orphan, grew up in very modest conditions, and lived with very few women until he got married. But he was loved deeply and so he loved back. Google the words “Muhammad and smile” and you will find hundreds of citations on how often and easily he smiled. He would have probably smiled at some of the cartoons of Hebdo. Remember, this incredible man built this religion on winning hearts and minds.
The first novel I read about the Prophet Muhammad’s life was, ironically, in English: “The Jewel of Medina” by Sherry Jones. It was a great fun novel to read about Aisha and her love for the prophet. He loved being surrounded by women. He enjoyed women’s company more than the military talk with Omar or politics with Abu Bakr. He was a man of simple joys and modest comforts. As a young man who grew up without a mother, he liked watching the interaction of the household, the kitchen, the pantry, conversations of women in the house. We, his followers, did not know him like this. For us, he was a man of rules, “do nots,” swords and wars.
It is also incredibly refreshing to read Sibel Eraslan’s novels about the women who cherished his daily presence. Her words tell us the stories of Aisha, Fatma, Khadija, and their love that made a man a prophet. Turkey should be the champion of such literary works and make them available in European languages.
Islam is not an easy religion to live in non-Muslim lands these days. It is twice as hard on young men living in Europe as minorities who are seeking a role as fathers, sons and citizens. Women can find solace and peace in homes and sisterhood, but men unfortunately do not have that luxury, so they seek comfort in force and violence.
To love one another, we should first love the wounded souls among us. To cure the ills of this unfair, unjust world, we should first learn to laugh and smile at each other. Thus, I was filled with hope and joy after learning that daily Yeni Şafak is launching a new monthly women’s magazine called “Nihayet” (Finally). Under the command of the wonderful Fatma K. Barbararosoğlu, I am sure that Turkey’s pious women will seek a true cure to the broken hearts inside Islam. Equally exciting is daily Zaman’s new satire magazine “Puff.” The time has literally come for Muslim intellectuals and cartoonists to take the challenge of showing the tolerant, smart and joyful face of Islam.
Historians claim that Moses was the angry prophet, while Jesus was the sad prophet. Let’s make Muhammad the “smiling prophet” again.