(if they were listening to me...)
Seriously, finding the right words here is more than difficult. It is hard to know what to say. I mean, of all the things to get upset about, a cartoon is what sets your world afire? After all the blasphemy and heresy and murder and idolatry already committed by man in the name of God – and in the names of his beloved prophets Moses, Jesus and Mohammed – you fly off the handle because of cartoons. Not just any cartoons, but tasteless, classless, badly drawn cartoons in a second rate newspaper published in Denmark.
If you are afraid this is a graven image, and that this is idolatrous, remember that those sins are on the heads of the sinners. The classless illustrators of these pictures knew exactly what they were doing, and they knew exactly how you would react. That reaction is what they wanted. They are the same people who, in my country, paint a vision of Jesus in a glass of urine. They are the same people who will rip apart photographs of our religious leaders on television.
If God considers that idolatry, if God considers that blasphemy, He will punish them in His own time and in His own way in the sweet hereafter. Sometimes a sin will go unpunished by the laws of man; we all know this. We must have faith and trust that God knows what he is doing, and that sometimes we are not privy to His plans. That is the mystery of faith.
At every turn of the day, our faith – Jewish, Christian, Muslim – is tested. In my country, we celebrate these tests of faith with the freedom of speech. Even in my country, that is a fight every day.
Each day we hear things we disagree with. Each day we hear things that make us angry. Each day we see things that we would rather not see. Each day we are tested by temptation to stray from the paths of righteousness. Sometimes we falter, many of us have and many of us will do so again. But because we have the freedom to falter within the laws of man, when we can rise up and live out the laws of God and faith and justice, and then it is a triumph that means so much more. That is the nature of redemption, of which all the prophets spoke.
My faith in God does not require anyone else to agree with me. My faith is not shaken when someone says hateful things, lives a cursed life or curses God in front of me. I am saddened by them, to be sure. I am sometimes offended by the things that they say and do. Sometimes my blood boils at the things they do. But God calls me to something higher. God calls me to do more than just loose my temper or throw rocks or set fires.
God calls me to live a life that is worthy of Him.
For every rock I want to throw, God tells me instead to hand bread to the hungry, to clothe the unclothed, to ease the suffering of the sick.
Are there no Muslims who are hungry tonight?
If you are afraid that these Danish illustrations are an affront to Islam, Mohammed and Muslims in general, you would be correct. There are a great many thousands in my country, and in the countries of the West, who despise you and your faith. You must learn to live without their respect.
These thousands of the West think you are a civilization of murderers, bigots, tyrants, and bullies. These thousands of the West have openly advocated genocide against your civilizations from the heights of punditry all the way down to students in college classes. These thousands of the West think the world would be better off with less Muslims in it. These thousands do not want you in the West; they hate your religion, they hate the fashion of your clothing, they hate your countries, they hate your leaders, they hate your grievances, they even hate your diet.
You have given them plenty of reason to feel this way.
Remember how angry you were when you first saw those Danish cartoons? Do you remember how your blood boiled up, and you wanted to go out and hit something?
That is how it feels in my country when you burn one of our flags.
That is how it feels in my country when Muslims drag the naked, butchered bodies of my countrymen through the streets of Mogadishu.
That is how it feels in my country when Muslims parade my countrymen’s daughters and sons, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers in front of video cameras and hack their heads off with swords.
That is how it feels in my country every time a Muslim flies a plane into one of our buildings.
That is how it feels in my country when Muslims dance with joy and hand out candy because Muslims killed thousands of my countrymen.
Those thousands of the West who despise you and your faith wanted to kill all of you the next morning before breakfast. They would have done it. They could have done it, too. You know this. Only one thing stops them: the millions in the West who will not let them.
But you must understand that for all those thousands of the West who despise you, there are millions of us who make the distinction between those Muslims who follow God and his prophets, and those Muslims who kill in the name of God and his prophets. There are millions of us who make the distinction, and there are millions of us who know the difference.
But that, too, is becoming a test of our faith. It is becoming a test of our faith in you. The only times we see you, you are burning things. The only times we see you, you are throwing rocks. The only times we see you, you are making our blood boil.
We millions of the West know that there are, in turn, millions of Muslims who are feeding the hungry instead of throwing rocks. Clothing the destitute instead of burning things. Healing the sick instead of killing.
We millions of the West know there is a fight in the East for the soul of Islam. We millions of the West spend hours each day defending the faith of Islam to those thousands here who despise you. We know there are millions of Muslims who have culture, we know there are millions of Muslims who seek a better place in life, we know there are millions of Muslims who want to live in peace and prosperity with the West.
We know this because the same ugly things we see in your history today, we saw in our own history yesterday. We were able to overcome, and we are waiting on you to do the same.
But we don’t see you and we don’t hear you.
All you leave us to go on is patience.
All you leave us to go on is faith.