I took this photo last year at the Bringing Peace to Somalia conference in Dubai.
The latest Muslim related controversy to raise its ugly head is the one about the British School teacher arrested in Sudan over allowing her schoolchildren to name a Teddy Bear “Muhammad”.
There are a couple of issues here that need to be looked at, not least that this incident seems to again make Muslims look like a bunch of idiots in the way it has been handled.
There is a clash of cultures in that in the West a teddy bear is an object of love and affection, they are often bought and given to newborns and small children and remain with them even into adulthood as symbols of happiness, love, affection and comfort, no negativity is associated with teddy bears. Even though it is inappropriate to ascribe the name Muhammad to something like a teddy bear or an animal, the intention in this case was not to blaspheme or cause offence and therefore I hope the Sudanese government will act with wisdom and mercy.
I have started a petition to highlight this case and to urge the Sudanese government not to pursue the case further as it will be detrimental to the image of Islam and Muslims everywhere. If you feel inclined and share my concerns please sign the petition. If anyone has an contact with the Ambassador for Sudan in the UK I would appreciate that they contact me regarding this petition.
Here is the text of the petition:
In the name of God the Most Gracious Most Merciful
as-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatAllahi wa Barakatuh
(Peace be upon you with the Mercy and Blessings of God)
We the undersigned,
Urge our Muslim brothers and sisters in the Sudan Government to immediately free school teacher Gillian Gibbons and treat the case with wisdom and mercy.
As Muslims we understand the sanctity of the name “Muhammad” but we feel that this incident was a result of innocence on the part of the children and an oversight and the part of Gillian Gibbons who intended no offence and has offered an unequivocal apology over the matter.
In the West the teddy bear is a symbol of love, happiness and joy and it is because of this fondness and love for the Prophet (God bless him and grant him peace) that the children chose the name Muhammad. The teacher, Gillian Gibbons, who is not a Muslim seems to have been unaware of the problems this would cause and it is quite clear that she intended no offence.
We believe that any action to punish Ms. Gibbons will be to the detriment of Islam and Muslims everywhere and therefore urge our brothers and sisters in Sudan to show mercy and accept Ms. Gibbons’ apology on the matter and bring to a close this unfortunate situation.
On the Day of Judgement, each one of us will ask for the Mercy of God, no one will ask for the Judgement of God, since we all will fall short and it will be the Mercy of God that will save us. So let us be merciful to others! Indeed the Prophet Muhammad (God bless him and grant him peace) showed mercy to those who abused him deliberately, what then of a person who has done this innocently?
We hope that the Government of Sudan will look upon this request from their brothers and sisters favourably, we thank you for taking the time to read this plea.
The URL for the petition is: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/muslims-urge-sudan-to-free-schoolteacher
Please spread the word.