As can be seen the petition singles out Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for protection, and also refers to other Prophets (SAW) of Allah.
It is obvious from the style of language used in the petition, that it is requested by a particular community of people Muslim for their particular Prophet, with particular salutation PBUH and Prophets of Allah as secondary prophets with different salutation SAW.
Then, an Arabic name Allah for a godhead mentioned in a particular Scripture The Quran, that they consider as a Scripture meant specifically for them.
Therefore this particularity must be examined with reference to Quran in order to validate the claim from that Scripture.
It is found that the scripture Quran does not mince words. It claims itself as revealed for All humanity. The “Allah” (God) is the Creator Supreme godhead for all creation in the Universe including human beings. The Quran is for Humanity's guidance – Hudal Lil Naas.
The fact that Allah is an Arabic word is for the simple logic that the Scripture Quran was Revealed to and compiled by the Messenger who was an Arab, born in Arabia, speaking Arabic and imparting the Message to predominantly Arab audience and so in their own language. It rightly questions that how can a Messenger an Arab then speak a different language other than of his own people?
The Arabic Scripture stresses the fact that the Message is common as was delivered by ALL the previous Messengers, who were NOT Arabic speaking and so delivered the Message in their own languages so their audience would comprehend it. Those previous Messengers were not differentiated between. Therefore, belief of Faith in All those Messengers including Muhammad is essential for Muslims to be considered as Believers, verse:
2-4, And those who Believe in that which was revealed to you (Muhammad) and that which was revealed to those before you...
There is no exception and differentiation of any kind between the Messengers. Not even of the kind suggested by the abbreviated salutations PBUH and SAW; as the petition indicates as a difference between Muhammad and other Allah's Prophets!
God's Blessings, assistance and support was granted equally to all His Messengers and is assured to all Believers acting righteously, as embedded in His fixed laws.
As such it is the essential feature of the Scripture that establishes the unity of humanity - “as one nation”, by promoting without differentiation, a universal moral code for all to follow.
The above differentiation however minor, between the Community of God's Messengers, made by Muslims is a breach of ordained Faith of the Scripture Quran. It is allegedly based on that Scripture the Muslim at large, specially pin their sensitivity to the Defamation of Muhammad and somewhat grudgingly to other God's Prophets. Religious prohibition declared from the pulpits to offer Christmas greetings to Christians of the country, let alone to other citizens is an example.
In the petition is argued that - It is that special reverence and sensitivity that they is the root cause of the ire that leads to some in their community to violence against the alleged perpetrators of defamation. The petition therefore requests:
“We therefore ask the House to present a bill for following legislation; that Australian Government to comply with international covenant on civil and political rights (ICCPR, Effective 1976) especially Article 20 which explicitly obligates states to prohibit " any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence. This provision is the one used now in western countries to apply religious hate speech laws and limit the rights found in article 18 and 19 DEFAMING prophets of ALLAH(SAW) will be a crime and there will be penalty enforced on individuals breaking this law. Australian Government will condemn such an action on media.”
For an untrained person in Law, there does not appear to be any provision for “speciality” built in the referred Articles.
The demand for exclusiveness therefore, has become a hallmark of Muslim community, particularly in non-Muslim majority countries; where although they wish to “join the crowd”, never the less want to be distinctly visible by various means that they have adopted. As the Quran says – want to be seen by others 107-6, 4-142; quixotic fashion charging at the windmills.
Internationally it is interesting to note that out of the thirteen top of the list countries out of seventy one on the list of the Economist on Blasphemy laws, Italy a non-Muslim country comes in at seventh.
“It was only in 1979 that the Constitutional Court affirmed the equality of rights for the non-religious, and only in 1987 that laicità (secular neutrality with respect to religions) became a Constitutional Principle (again thanks to a judicial ruling of the Court). However, separate laws on “defamation of religion” and “blasphemy” remain in force”. Religions are all pervasive!
With reference to the above petition however it is appreciated that the petition does not call for legislation to impose 'death penalty', not even by stoning, for the crime of Defamation of special prophet, as is in many Muslim majority countries under allegedly “Islamic” law.
May be the petitioners have realised that Legislation does not necessarily eradicate crimes totally. If it did there would be no murders and stealing in human society by now as every nation in the world, centuries ago has legislated against it. It is therefore obvious that some other approach is also necessary to address this problem and education/knowledge/enlightenment seems to be the foremost strategy to adopt.
Muslims in non-Muslim majority countries where they have chosen to build their home away from home, should not demand “special” status and treatment that may project them as insular and exclusive. Living by example for harmony is the best form of imparting knowledge to the 'others'. In Australia, other than Muslims there are many different religious communities who live in peace without overtly proclaiming 'pax vobiscum'.
One would wish that the petition could have been worded differently for all to sign to set an example, to be all inclusive for all the people of the country and for all God's Apostles treated on equal basis. The Muslims community can demonstrate then its stance of being a peaceful inclusive part of the nation. That would be in accordance of Quran too:
2-213: Mankind is a single nation. So God raised Messengers as bearers of good news and as warners...
Merry Christmas All.
A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer