- Pictures taken by Jürgen Augusteyns
This is Zakia Belkhiri a young Muslim woman who decided to take selfies in front of the far right Flemist nationalist group called Vlaams Belang. The group held banners with messages like ‘No headscarves’ and ‘Stop Islam’ while protesting outside an exhibition which celebrated Muslim art, lifestyle and culture.
The first word that immediately came to my mind when I saw the pictures was defiance. Credit to her for showing how ridiculous protests such as these are. Her actions also present a huge lesson for all of us as Muslim in terms of how we respond to criticisms / opposition to our religion. Far too often as is the case when magazines depict the Prophet Muhammad PBUH in offensive manners, some Muslims resort to violence in contradiction with the Sunnah of our Prophet.
Zakia’s action are so simple yet so powerful hence why it has resonated with Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Best of all, I love the fact that she is smiling in every single one of the pictures! It reminds me of a story from the Seerah of our Prophet PBUH that Sheikh Hasan Ali describes in the video here Sheikh Hasan Ali They Never Insulted The Prophet. The Prophet PBUH was insulted repeatedly when he started proclaiming the message of Islam in Makkah. The Prophet’s name is Muhammad, meaning the praised one or the praiseworthy. But when the Meccans became his opponents, they coined a name ‘Muzammam,’ on the pattern of ‘Muhammad,’ Muzammam meaning condemned. They used to heap abuses on the Prophet by calling him Muzammam. However Prophet was never enraged at this distorted version of his name. All he said in return was: “Aren’t you surprised that God has turned away the abuses of the Quraysh from me. They abuse a person by the name of Muzammam. Whereas I am Muhammad (Ibn Hisham, 1/379).
It is unfortunate that we live in a period where the message of Islam is continuously distorted but as Muslim our actions should always emulate that of our Prophet Muhammad PBUH and we need to persist in clearing up the misconceptions about Islam.