The initial point of tension between Muslims and these so called ‘freedom fighters’ who are defending their right to ‘free speech’ occurred when the Danish cartoon of the Prophet pbuh was published. If this were to occur some 300 years ago, it would have been published in the papers, the locals would have been upset, but the cartoon would not have received nearly enough attention as it did half a decade ago. The reason the news of the cartoon spread like wildfire in 2005 was the technology and media we have at our disposal today. A Danish cartoonist drew a cartoon of the Holy Prophet pbuh, it got published in the paper, there was resentment from the Danish Muslim community, and soon these emotions were shared by Muslims around the globe. Some claimed it a right to freedom of expression, but to Muslims it was far from that. It was an attack on our religion and a direct insult to the beloved Prophet Muhammad pbuh.
The issue was a known one which had gone under the surface for some time, and it was not until a popular cartoon show, South Park, had touched the topic again. The South Park episode satirized the issue of drawings of the Holy Prophet pbuh, and from there some found it a point to be taken further. In an attempt to exercise ‘freedom of expression’, someone jokingly declared May 20th naudhubillah “Draw Mohammed Day”. This was picked up by a few groups after an Islamic group condemned it, and with the large global reach of Facebook, the event had thousands of ‘attendees’. In retaliation to the formation of this group, there were endless groups encouraging the boycotting of Facebook if the group was not deleted. Some felt that if there was a collective effort, the boycott would show Facebook that the insult of our Holy Prophet pbuh will not be tolerated. A few countries did not let the boycott be a voluntary effort, and in order to show their disgust with Facebook’s allowance of such groups, banned Facebook in entire nations.
On the other hand, a parallel movement was going on which did not encourage deactivating Facebook, but instead encouraged the use of Facebook as a channel to educate Non-Muslims and other ignorant individuals/groups about the beautiful religion of Islam and the greatness of Rasool Allah pbuh. With the use of technology and media, there was a stir in the cyberworld which impacted many on a global scale. All of this goes to show that we can use media and technology in both negative and positive ways. I do not think I am able to judge which of the methods were more effective: boycott or dawah, but I do know that intentions and efforts of both groups were towards a common goal: upholding love and respect for our beloved Prophet Muhammad pbuh. We’ve entered a technological age in which there is a lot of good as well as evil, but we must keep in mind that we must strive to do our best to avoid the evil and multiply the good.