I want to remind my readers that my opinion or the opinion of the St. Olaf Muslim students might not necessarily represent that of the worldwide Muslim community.
We, the Muslim students of St. Olaf, evaluated the cartoon controversy under two distinct criteria. The first placed at the forefront the issues of freedom of speech and the damages done to the Muslim community around the globe.
The second criterion involved the various reactions of the Muslim community in regard to the publication of the cartoons of the prophet.
Discussing the first criterion, the MSA as an organization agreed that while Islam respects the freedom of speech and accepts constructive and civilized critics, we believe that this freedom should be responsible, respectful and not insulting.
As Muslims, we understand the anger expressed by the Muslim community around the world. Even though we support the freedom of speech because we believe that it is a humane and civilized concept, we denounce the lack of sensitivity shown by the different journals which published the cartoons.
Without restricting the border of freedom, we judge that especially in a time of tension between the Islamic world and the West, the publication of these cartoons did not help in our struggle to create an environment of mutual respect, understanding and everlasting peace.
We do not think that going into the street and humiliating or insulting someone in the name of freedom of expression is something that we can praise or defend.
We believe in the necessity of freedom of speech, but a freedom which is congruent with the values of a civilized world and the dialogue and understanding of cultures.
On the other hand, we do not agree or support any of the violent responses undertaken by some Muslims. We do not believe that harming people or vandalizing peoples offices and houses is an Islamic response.
As Muslims dealing with this controversy, we want to take a step back and ask ourselves, What would Muhammad (peace be upon him) do? Studying the Islamic tradition and the life of the Prophet, we do not think that he would have retaliated in a violent manner.
We can recall the woman who constantly threw trash on the Prophet from her window every time he walked by. To this abuse, the prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) never retaliated. Instead when the day came that the woman failed to attack him, he went to her home to inquire about her condition.
As Muslims, we are convinced that in the Prophet Muhammad we can see an exemplary way of life. So, when dealing with these kinds of issues, we should always go back and ask ourselves, What would Muhammad do?
To conclude, we, the Muslims students of St. Olaf College, believe that this unfortunate episode could best be used as an educational moment in which the Muslim and the Western worlds come to understand each other for a better future.
God knows best.
Contributing writer Mustafa Dualeh is a senior from Rochester, Minn. He majors in political science.