Recently, a Toronto school principal sent an email newsletter to the parent body to commemorate Somali Heritage Month and Islamic Heritage Month. That email newsletter also carried the image that Muslims know from history as the ‘Seal of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’, simply Googling the term would bring it up, if one tries.
The problem however, which has become a dilemma for the entire Muslim world is that the terrorist group ISIS made the image of that seal a part of their black and white flag. In Western media’s reporting of the incident, no one dared mention that this was a sacred symbol to the Muslim community globally that had been appropriated by ISIS; it was simply referred to as the ISIS flag.
The uproar from parents after seeing the email with the image caused significant fright and frustration, which is understandable. Canadian media extensively reported on the whole incident and eventually the principal sent an apology to all the recipients of the email. Some parents are still in shock and many consider that email apology from the principal insufficient. The school principal does not belong to the Muslim faith but it seems she sent the email in good faith in a show of interfaith harmony.
The quandary we all are stuck in today is how do we as Muslims educate people to edify the appropriate image of the religion. How do we enlighten people of other faiths to differentiate between the most consecrated image of the official seal of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) of Islam and extremists who arbitrarily use this image to further their agenda of terror? There is no doubt that imagery associated with violent groups like ISIS instills terror and fear, not only in the Western world, but send chills down the spine of the entire Muslim population globally, due to the optics presented by the outfit since its creation in Iraq and Syria. Presently, their accumulation as it looks is in the region of Afghanistan and nearby areas and they do carry out their activities within the country and lure the elements not happy with the Afghanistan government to come join their fold.
One way which would probably change this chronicle even if not entirely is for all the Muslim nations to come out in unison to clearly announce that they do not endorse this arbitrary use of sacred emblems and any monograms associated with the origins of the religion of Islam. They should also denounce any terror outfits’ use of any sacred Islamic insignia. Islam does not endorse or support violence of any form.
Islam is the religion of peace and harmony, and offers a code of conduct to become a good human being and that’s what the majority of Muslims try to accomplish.
All Muslim nations coming out with one voice will certainly help clear the confusion many people face when they see this flag and do not even know the origins of it.
The fulcrum has to be shifted but how is the bigger question.