It was announced as an inter-faith gathering. And while the majority of the several hundred who gathered in Bradford’s Centenary Square as the thermometer plunged to below zero were undoubtedly Muslim, there were at least two Christians and even one atheist of my acquaintance who had responded to the call to honour the Prophet. While the proceedings were opened and closed by politicians – the Council’s deputy leader, Imran Hussain, and George Galloway, MP – most of the speakers were ordinary folk. When I spoke, I uttered words of welcome to the various faiths in our multi-cultural city:
Salaam aleycum, shalom, namastie, peace be unto you.
I come before you as a follower of the great Jewish Prophet, Yeshua ben David, whom the Greeks called Jesus, and whom many of you know as Isa – peace and blessings be upon Him.
He was scorned and derided in His day as were so many of the Prophets before Him. We remember His name and the names of His predecessors, but who remembers the names of their persecutors? Only Biblical scholars and theologians. And so it will be for those who scorn and deride the Prophet Muhammad – peace and blessings be upon him.
Jesus had hard words for the scribes and Pharisees who condemned him. “They have their reward,” he said.
And so it shall be for the hypocrites of the world who have been declaring Je suis Charlie, marching, they maintain, for freedom of speech, led by that greatest hypocrite, Netanyahu, who makes it a crime to refer to the dispossession of the Palestinians from their ancestral homes as the Nakba, or catastrophe.
Seventeen were killed in Paris, and whatever one thinks of their writings and caricatures, killing them is not the answer. But where were those marchers when nearly two thousand were killed in the Israeli attack on Gaza?
In response to the Paris killings, the media mogul, Rupert Murdoch declared that Muslims must deal with the canker in their midst.
But think of the outcry there would have been, after the attack on Gaza, if he or anyone else had declared that Jews must deal with the canker of Zionism. He would be accused of anti-Semitism, and quite rightly. For the crimes of the Israeli state, headed by Netanyahu and egged on and armed by Britain and America, are not Jewish crimes. Indeed, I have been proud to stand side-by-side with Jews in support of the people of Palestine.
The media seem to have forgotten that one of those killed in Paris, the policeman Ahmed Merabet, was himself a Muslim. And that a prominent member of the Charlie Hebdo staff, Olivier Cyran, resigned from the paper because of its increasingly racist tone.
The hypocrites have dishonoured the Prophet and anyone who dishonours one of God’s prophets dishonours God.
As Jesus said, they have their reward.
And you who have braved the blizzard to honour all the Prophets will also have your reward.
Go in peace. Peace and blessings be upon YOU!