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Aug 15th
Fitna PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Amina Rasul
Wednesday, 09 April 2008 00:28

By Amina Rasul 

Dutch MP Geertz Wilders has gained his 15 seconds of global fame (or infamy) with the posting of the 15-minute short movie "Fitna."

What is the meaning of fitna or fitnah? Fitna is a very complex Arabic word. Its definition depends on the context in which it is used. It originally meant testing and refining of metal [removing the dross] and now means testing or trial of one's faith. It can refer to misguidance, disagreement, schism, secession or civil war. has posted one of the most comprehensive answers, some listed below:

"And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah]" (al-Baqarah 2:193)

Ibn al-Atheer said: "Fitnah: trial or test . . . The word is often used to describe tests in which something disliked is eliminated. Later it was also often used in the sense of sin, kufr [disbelief], fighting, burning, removing and diverting."

Wilders displays his ignorance and rabid anti-Muslim feelings thru this movie. It is sickening and disgusting. Should Muslims protest against it? Most certainly we should. After all, Christians protested the "Da Vinci Code," a very entertaining work of fiction. Muslim reactions have been muted, thank God. Our Philippine ulama, leaders who participated in the National Ulama Summit organized by the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy last January, have issued statements condemning the film but calling for restraint.

Ustadz Esmael Ebrahim, PCID convenor and spokesperson of the Assembly of Dharul Ifta of the Philippines, cautioned Muslims against violent reactions, believing the movie intends to draw violent reactions among Muslims to justify its making, and "gain for its writers, instant fame at the expense of Islam and the Muslims."

The Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Verhagen, disassociated the Dutch government from the work of Wilders, emphasizing, "these views do not in any way reflect the perspective or policy of the Dutch government." Condemning violence and terrorism, he stated, "But Islam must not be equated with the commission of atrocities. The vast majority of Muslims condemn extremism and violence, of which many Muslims are also the victims." Verhagen described the film as having "invidious generalizations and its polarizing effect."

I empathize with the constraints faced by democratic governments like the Netherlands. As they protect freedom of religion, they must also freedom of expression and the press. Verhagen clarifies, "However, I would not interpret freedom of expression as a license to insult other people at will." The Dutch government, according to him, "repeatedly drew the attention of the politician in question to the possible consequences of his film and appealed to his sense of responsibility. The Dutch government regrets that he nonetheless decided to release this film. The film serves no purpose whatsoever other than to trample on people's feelings."

He requested, "Let us keep a cool head while preserving the warmth of our relationships."

In contrast, Pope Benedict, knowing how sensitive Muslims are to the issue, made the conversion of a controversial Muslim journalist the high point of his Easter Mass last month. The Pope baptized Magdi Allam, a non-practicing Muslim news editor and staunch critic of Islam, acclaiming the "miracle" of conversions. Talk about insensitivity while trampling on the feelings of billions. At least Wilders is a politician, ignorant about religion.

Luckily, the majority of Muslim faithful have not reacted harshly towards either Wilders or the Pope.

Dr. Hamid Barra, PCID convenor who represents the ulama in the Bishops-Ulama Conference, said: "Muslims have to thank individuals, groups, institutions, and goverments who are not carried by tide of Islamophobia and the current of undermining Islam and the Muslims. …There are a lot of them who are also by nature morally upright and are committed to justice and peace. These are the Abu Talibs of our times who are not Muslims but are willing to defend the Muslims from all forms of injustices and persecutions. As Muslims, we need to be objective so that we can be just."

To my Muslim brothers and sisters in the Philippines, perhaps we should look at fitna in the Philippine context and move to eliminate the source of our severest trial and tribulation: the corrupt core of our government that has kept us in poverty and trampled our rights, shackled our children with ignorance thru the poorest educational system in the country, killed our innocents and passed their massacres as mere collateral damage.

Let us keep our heads cool and reserve our fire to burn away the cancer, the corrupt core, that destroys our communities.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2008 05:56

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