On Drawing Muhammad

In light of Charlie-Hebdo, and as a former Muslim, I feel it is necessary to point out two things.  First, my comics are not an exercise in spiteful and provocative irreverence for its own sake.  Second, any cartoonist who draws the prophet for merely the above reasons takes up a profoundly weak and un-elevated platform from which to spread the craft.

Believe it or not, mockery for no larger purpose troubles me to no small degree.  Perhaps it is because I am an Arab who was formerly a devout Muslim that I still feel a faint prick of offense when Islam, Muslims, and yes, even the prophet, are made light of—this all despite having long ago washed my hands of religion.

I thus find myself doing a good deal of introspection and justification for every cartoon I draw.  This is not to suggest that I am apologetic or that I have a guilty conscience—I believe this work is timely and necessary.  I only mean to say that I make some efforts to be considerate and tasteful (or at least one of the two).  I want to be funny, but I want progressive Muslims to be in on the joke.  This is a bit of a balancing act and by no means one which I am always able to manage.  Does one give way for humor, or air on the side of tasteful boundaries—and if so, who’s?  Like most meaningful endeavors, this is something one grows into.

In the meantime, I can say that my comics are not about disrespecting people, but rather, about discrediting a bad idea while being entertaining.  For me, that bad idea is religion—and more specifically, Islam—which happens to be the bad idea I know best.

I have no illusions about drawing the prophet.  Before I even thought of creating this book, a friend of mine (an Anglo-American atheist), chidingly remarked: “If you start drawing Muhammad I don’t know you.”

And there it is in plain English: religious extremists are, on some level, getting their way.  It is almost taken for granted by most people that drawing Muhammad (and to a lesser extent, even satirizing Islam) is something one should avoid.

I know my cartoons are inevitably provocative and heretical to the fringe fanatic, but I like a tough and demanding audience.  If I manage to force a chuckle out of a hardened Wahhabi, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I made someone laugh at their beliefs, if only for a brief moment.

Anyone can draw a stick-figure of Muhammad sodomizing a goat and offend Muslims to get attention.  Needless to say, this would be in poor taste and preclude any meaningful dialogue.  However, we all know that free speech is not limited to those with something intelligent to say—imbeciles also share this right (so long as they do not harm others in its exercise).  But when an artist lowers him or herself to being provocative for its own sake, it is a strong indication that they have nothing of value to add the discussion.

While I vehemently disagree with Islam and hold that its ideas are destructive to decent society, I do my best to give individuals the respect and compassion that is due to our fellow citizens.  Many Muslims I know are good people, and I certainly do know some whose views are unsavory to say the least.  But as free people, we are entitled to believe and say what we want.  What I will not tolerate is being threatened into silence.  At the risk of echoing a thought which has been repeated to tedium: it’s 2016.

5 thoughts on “On Drawing Muhammad

  1. I am a Muslim and i support Donald Trump west NEED one more HITLER

    Jews created Islamophobia for their own advantage for ISRAEL

    Name the few Zionist who spreading FEAR of Muslims and Islam, Pamela Geller, ( SAM ) Harris, Bill Maher , David Horowitz

    Donald Trump and the rise of right wing fascism in the Europe / west AGAINST the Muslims is a product of Islamophobia

    NOW Jews AFRAID of monsters they created anti-Muslim Donald Trump and the rise of right-wing fascism in the Europe / West

    Jesus said to the Jews: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

    Is it Islamophobia good or bad for the Muslims?…. GOOD,… i know it is hard to understand,

    Islamophobia is a SHOCK therapy for the Muslims to reform themselves

    Islamophobia will forced Muslims to reform themselves

    Muslims NEED reformation NOT Islam

    I had already seen positive effect of Islamophobia on Muslims

    WE NEEDED THAT !

    Islamophobia is GOOD for the Muslims and BAD for our enemies

    Quran: ” Perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.”

    Islamophobia is BAD for our enemies, Islamophobia WILL divide white people and could bring civil war AMONG the white race

    IF civil war AMONG the white race did happened in the future, God have mercy on the Jews

    Even if Donald trump did not became president of America,

    SOON one day another Donald Trump will come to the power and he will be WORSE then this one

    Maybe this Donald Trump is not bad but you have to worry about his evil supporters who will be electing another Donald Trump in the future

    Jews created mindless zombies that they cannot control !

    SOON this zombies will eat Jews alive NOT the Muslims

    Zionists radicalizing white race against the Muslims for their OWN interest for Israel

    But it WILL back-fire

    SOON these radicalized WHITE-MALE will became violent Jihadist to save the PURITY of WHITE RACE and ( WHITE-POWER ) and Jews will be HIDING from them for their own life

    YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW

    Quran: “But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners.”

    Please click on my name to read my other comments

    Like

  2. Syed, your ignorance is astounding. Please, I IMPLORE you, I BEG you, read a book. If you are content to say that Muslims are the mere errand boys for Nazis and other disgusting ideologies you are tacitly agreeing that Islam is as dirty as these other groups by association. If this is your god’s plan then he is as disgusting as the Nazis etc.

    I am deleting your rambling nonsense from my page but will keep it for a bit so other people can see how ridiculous you sound.

    Again, please please, read a book besides the Quran and listen to some academics besides the naive and deranged imams (from which it seems you get your incoherent ideas).

    Like

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