By Hafsa Ahsan
The caricatures published in Danish newspapers, portraying Prophet Muhammad (sa) in a demeaning light, have evoked a strong reaction from Muslims all over the world. A very natural reaction of most of the Muslims is that of anger at this blatant display of Islamophobia. However, there are certain organizations who have taken this incident as an opportunity to propagate the true character of Prophet Muhammad (sa) to the world, and accordingly expand Dawah activities, especially among non-Muslim circles.
One such organization is Al-Huda International which, in collaboration with the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department, Government of Dubai launched a campaign called “Mercy for the World” in Dubai, UAE. Managed by Iman Ismail Abdullah, this campaign was inaugurated in May 2008 and concluded in December 2008.
The activities under the banner of “Mercy for the World” were aimed at serving a dual purpose. On the one hand, they attempted to channel the energy of those Muslims who wanted to do something in response to the caricatures – engaging in positive activities is always way more productive and result-oriented rather than going on a destructive spree and destroying one’s own and public property.
On the other hand, propagating the message and the personality of Prophet Muhammad (sa) is also one effective means of Dawah – it is no surprise then, that the seminars and presentations held under the umbrella of Mercy for the World Campaign managed to attract a non-Muslim audience. These presentations and seminars gave them a very good opportunity to get more information on the Prophet (sa). At the end of these seminars, an informal quiz competition was also held, with winners receiving prizes.
Other activities included a research competition, which was held in the later part of the year. Participants were required to write a fifteen-page article on any aspect of the life of Prophet Muhammad (sa). The winners of the competition would be awarded cash prizes. Moreover, posters designed by Al-Huda International were published by the Government of Dubai and distributed in shopping malls and sports clubs.
Apart from the activities, a booklet was also published as part of this campaign. Titled “Mercy for the World – Prophet Muhammad (sa)” and penned down by Umme Abdullah, this book was distributed for free among the participants of the seminars and presentations, as well as those who were connected with the campaign in any way.
The author of this booklet has compiled a comprehensive collection of quotations from non-Muslim scholars and intellects which bear testimony to the excellent character of Prophet Muhammad (sa). Thomas Carlyle, K. S. Ramakrishna Rao, Sarojini Naidiu and Mahatama Gandhi are only some of the well-known personalities who have, at some time or other, uttered glowing words of praise for the Prophet of Islam (SAW)
Probably, one of the best quotations in this book is from George Bernard Shaw when he says the following:
“I believe that if a man like him (sa) were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness. I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad (sa) that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.”
At the end of the day then, campaigns like Mercy for the World indeed help propagate the message of Allah (swt) and His Prophet (sa). Such campaigns can also be considered as an effective and timely effort to counter the Danish caricatures. Schools and other Dawah organizations can also start similar campaigns to educate both Muslims and non-Muslims about the personality and teachings of the Prophet (sa).