What is the Point?

When I first showed the new "Talking Dollar" cartoon feature of al-Ummah to some acquaintances, they began laughing. However, after a day or two, I received a call from one saying: "You know, there is no need to stoop to this low level to make your point. I showed the cartoon to some 'Salafi' brothers and they were very offended." Caught off guard I replied, "well, perhaps the tone seems harsh, but we have not targetted any individual with these cartoons, and you must admit they make the point extremely well without long-winded prose."

Later I thought about my answer. I realized that I had fallen for the usual neo-Salafi trick, which my acquaintance had also fallen for. "Bait-and-switch" I believe it is called in used-car sales parlance. OK, given a cartoon is not the most scholarly or sophisticated way to make a point. But think about it. Were the 'Salafis' scholarly or sophisticated when they denounced those who ask for the intercession of the Prophet (s) as mushriks, declared the common Muslims who practice Mawlid as mubtadi`, and when they declared those who follow imams, shaykhs and awliya as kaafir? The great thing about a cartoon is that it gets the point across in a very succinct manner. And that is the point.

We could spend man-years arguing, from one electronic forum to another, from one magazine to another, from one mosque to another. But no one ever gets it through arguments. 'It' is that the declaration of someone to be outside of Islam is one of the greatest of sins--it makes either the caller or the callee a kaafir! Think about that. Yet, this statement "you are committing kufr" is on the tongues of so many hundreds and thousands of imams, regular college students, Muslim activists and young people, that one is left wondering "who will be left within the fold of Islam after they are done with their declarations?" These young people, unfortunately, with their lack of Islamic knowledge and their "Reader's Digest" approach to learning from a single source, whose propaganda and free booklets now fill our mosques and Islamic centers, are in many ways no different than the rabble-rousing crowds who attacked Sayiddina `Uthman (r), and those who had Imam Ahmad imprisoned.

So before the gentle reader jumps to the conclusion that we at al-Ummah are unnecessarily attacking a certain group or set of people, let them examine the actions of those who are addressed by these cartoons: those who would, with one sentence, put the majority of Muslims outside of the fold of Islam, by declaring them to be mushrik, kaafir or deviant.

the Editor

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