“Everybody Draw Muhammed Day” is a Facebook fan page that went viral recently. It stems from the idea of a cartoonist called Molly Norris. She was originally protesting the censorship by Comedy Central of a South Park cartoon that depicted the Prophet Muhammed wearing a bear suit. Her protest was to draw a picture of Muhammed on a slice of toast, declaring May 20 “Everybody Draw Muhammed Day”. She says she never intended this to be actually taken literally. However, someone else then ran with the idea, setting up a fan page on website Facebook. Facebook is a popular example of a Social Network: a website that allows users to locate old and new friends who have joined the network and then share information (usually trivia about their day to day lives or idle vagaries of opinion). Over 17,000 people subscribed to the “Draw Muhammed Day” fan page — and many uploaded their own images of the Prophet of Islam onto the page.
At 26, Mark Zukerberg has become one of the youngest billionaires in the world due to his founding the system.
Facebook is a very popular preoccupation for the under 30s set — in fact, it appears to be an genuine addiction for that species, at the same level as drugs, supplanting the television and computer games of their childhood. And as a subset of usage, it has large Muslim base. Perhaps as a result of this, there have been some street protests, a Pakistan court has banned access to the website and — who knows, the way the ummah works in these cases — there might well be recourse to further legal action.
So it’s a smaller repetition of what happened with the Danish cartoons. In the grand cosmic scheme of things, this is a mere tweet, an ignored status update from a friend recommendation of a friend I never really knew so well at school. What has it got to do with the two seas of Surah Rahman? Or the Celestial Tablet? Why is the Tailor interested in speaking on such obscure and irrelevant trivia?
Is there any illumination to be gained within Facebook — either through retaliation or through reading it?
Well … yes. First, it affords us the opportunity to reappraise the sunnah of retaliation to insults against Islam in general and the depiction of Prophecy in particular.