The Charlie Hebdoes of History

Greater Kashmir

Charlie Hebdo is a Protean sinister phenomenon which has always been present in history in one form or the other:

There is nothing new in the Charlie Hebdo mischief which has already claimed many precious human lives. Charlie Hebdo is a Protean sinister phenomenon which has always been present in history in one form or the other:


Sitezah-kar raha hai azal se ta imroze
Charagh-i Mustafavi se sharar-i Bulahbi 


What is baffling is that this inhuman and obscurantist exercise should be allowed in the name of freedom of expression in the 21st century and that too in the West which takes pride in its enlightenment. This enlightenment has led to a consensus in the West that nothing anti-Semitic should find expression in the media so that even literary figures of the stature of Ezra Pound, W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot should not go uncondemned. It is certain that if the celebrated author of the Merchant of Venice were alive today he too would face the wrath of having conceived and produced a Shylock. How does this very enlightenment allow its media to indulge in lunatic ridiculing of a personage whom its own objective criteria describe as the greatest man in history and the central tenet of whose teachings is the reverence of all religions and religious figures? That is for the West and its intelligentsia to decide.


For us it is appropriate to turn to history and see what has happened to the other Charlie Hebdoes that existed from time to time. It will also be appropriate to see how the Prophet (SAW) treated the Charlie Hebdoes of his day and what in the end happened to them? There was an Abu Jahal and an Abu Lahab both of whom had no scores to settle with the Prophet, whom they regarded, like all other Makkans, as the most Truthful and the most Trustworthy. Their only grouse against him was their deep rooted prejudice and tribal rivalry like the genie of the Crusades that has sunk deep into the subconscious of the modern West. Both suffered the ignominy that is destined for unreasonable prejudice. Then there was that old woman who used to collect the waste of her household in a container and then keep watch. As the Prophet would pass through the lane she would pour the waste on him. This continued regularly for a long time. One day the Prophet was amazed to see that no waste fell from above. He stopped, knocked at the door and went in saying, “Mother are you alright? Perhaps you have taken ill and I have come to see if I could help.” That was the end of the old woman’s all diseases – physical and spiritual – as she became a devotee of the Prophet (SAW).