A moderate Muslim this week penned a defense of the terrorists, who murdered ten reporters and two others at the offices of satirical publication, Charlie Hebdo in Paris:
It is known to all that radicals and fanatics cannot stomach any jokes or cartoons about the prophet Muhammad, so why do it? There are thousands of other topics and cartoons that can be produced that would not hurt the sentiments of Muslims.
Western civilization has advanced far greater than the Muslim-majority regions of the world in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, because they embraced the Enlightenment. It didn’t happen immediately, but ultimately people realized that reason and inquiry were powerful tools to improve their lot in life – both physically and spiritually. It was a shock to the established Roman Church when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg (Holy Roman Empire) in 1517, but the Roman Church reformed, and a whole new era of religious inquiry and study of the sacred texts emerged. These events led Europe out of the Dark Ages.
In the Islamic world, the Mu’tazilites posed the same challenge to the accepted theology of Islam much earlier in the 9th Century. In response, the Ash’arites made inquiry into Islam a crime, and the “House of Wisdom” was shut down. The 30-year rule of al-Ma’mun (813-833) was called the Golden Age of Islam. It was a very short period, indeed. (See Robert R. Reilly, The Closing of the Muslim Mind.)
Since that time, the Muslim-majority regions of the world have been extraordinarily deficient in innovation, education, literature, and other indices of achievement such as Nobel Prizes. At one time, the Ottoman Empire was called the “sick man of Europe.” Immigrants from Muslim-majority regions stream into Europe and America seeking a better life that cannot be achieved in their birth countries. The problem is that those immigrants have brought with them the failed ideology that made Muslim-majority countries so backward. It is an act of charity to try to shake the resident Muslims living in the West from their primitive beliefs. The philosopher-historian Ernest Renan once wrote, "Muslims are the first victims of Islam. To liberate a Muslim from his religion is the best service that one can render him!"
Ridiculing the primitive beliefs of Islam is one way of helping to liberate Muslims. If it “hurts the sentiments of Muslim,” that’s because the tenants of Islam cannot stand up to reason or inquiry. The Quran actually warns Muslims against asking questions: “Believers, to not ask questions about things which, if made known to you, would only pain you... Other men inquired about them before you, only to disbelieve them thereafter.” (Surah 5:101) Muslims cannot question the words or acts of Muhammad or the teachings of the Quran, as those would be acts of apostasy, punishable by death. So the only way Islam can move toward enlightenment and rationality is for non-Muslims to help Muslims see the error in their ideology.
So, I ask you to consider a few things about your ideology that should truly bother you:
If the Quran is truly the word of Allah, why would asking questions about it cause you to lose faith? (See Surah 5:101-102).
If Allah leads people astray, is it “justice” that Allah should then punish them for that? (See Surah 5:41, 7:155, 14:4, 16:53 and 6:149)
If Satan cannot harm anyone except with Allah’s permission, doesn’t that mean that all harm that comes to a person is Allah’s will? (See Surah 58.10)
Jesus is mentioned by name more times than Muhammad. If Jesus had no sin (See Surah 3:35-36 and Bukhari, Vol. 4, No. 641) and if Muhammad had many sins (See Surah 47:19 and Bukhari Vol. 8, Number 319), why is Muhammad considered the “good example” (Surah 33:21) and emulated more than Jesus?
If whoever associates anything with Allah has devised a great sin (per Surahs 4:48, 4:116, and 5:72), shouldn’t that also apply to Muhammad who is cited as a partner to Allah sixty-four times in the Quran (and mostly in the final Surahs that were handed down)? See Surah 2:279, 3:32, 3:132, 4:13, 4:14. 4:45, 5:33, 8:1, 8:13, 8:20, 8:24, 8:27, 8:41, 8:46, 9:1, 9:3, 9:16, 9:29, 9:54, 9:59, 9:63, 9:71, 9:74, 9:80, 9:84, 9:90, 9:91, 9;94, 9:107, and so forth)
If Allah would kill Muhammad for lying (Surah 69:43), is it possible that Muhammad died so suddenly because of false revelations he had just inserted into the Quran? (Example: The Quran states in Surah 9:111 that both the Torah and the Gospel tell their believers to “kill and be killed” in order to get to Paradise. That is a false revelation.)
If Jesus is to return on Judgment Day to judge mankind (per Surah 43:61 and Bukhari, Vol. 4, No. 657), wouldn’t it be better to follow the teachings of Jesus rather than the teachings of Muhammad and the Quran (which actually contains no teachings of Jesus)?
So to answer your question, “Why do it?”, Charlie Hebdo, Ali Sina, Bill Maher, and thousands of others ridicule the ideology of Islam as a way of helping to coax Muslims into the 21st Century. You can either hate them for doing it, or you can thank them. It’s your choice.