Did Mohammed have a sense of humour?
As a wave of Islamic fury encircles the globe in response to a film (yes, a film; and a rubbish one at that), it is worth considering what it means to 'offend' a religion or 'insult' a prophet. Not least because Terry and Sam, the two individuals specified in the banner above, are clearly about to be hunted down and murdered after the fashion of Theo van Gogh.
'Sam' is Sam Bacile (or Bassiel), the pseudonym of the film’s distinctly untalented and manifestly ignorant writer, director and producer, identified as Egyptian Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. And 'Terry' is Pastor Terry Jones (he of Qur’an-burning fame), who has probably had it coming for a while (and would have known precisely what he was letting himself in for).
The bizarre thing is that this film was made in America by someone obscure living in LA, but the rampaging Islamist hordes are attacking not only US embassies, but British and German ones, too. Any excuse, it seems, to tear into 'the West'. So flags are torn down, buildings torched, and an ambassador brutally murdered along with his staff, all in the name of the 'Religion of Peace'.
Apparently, the film portrays Mohammed as a womaniser, paedophile, warmonger and a fool. Thankfully, there are many Muslims who, while undoubtedly offended by this, are exhorting their co-religionists to respond reasonably and graciously. The considered reaction of the MCB in particular is to be welcomed.
And His Grace would exhort the mature and reasoned Muslim intellects of the world urgently to develop a 'Prophetology' - after the fashion of centuries of Christology - in order to investigate the true nature and person of Mohammed as recorded in the Qur'an and Hadith(s). Then we might discover, or come nearer to understanding - as we have with Jesus - who Mohammed was; what manner of prophet he claimed to be; what his relationship was with Allah; how he was born and raised; and what he means not only to the diverse world if Islam but to non-Muslims the world over.
Did Mohammed laugh? Did he have a sense of humour?
If so, wouldn't he simply smirk at Sam and Terry, tell them to grow up, and then get on with preaching his message of Allah and salvation through submission? Or are the thugs and violent hordes emulating another prophet; a different prophet; a false prophet?
There is an unbridgeable gulf between the God who laughs (Ps 2:4) and the one in whom there is no humour. According to Islamic scholars, Zabur is the holy book of King David - the Book of Psalms of the Old Testament. They anthropomorphise God, and state quite clarly that He laughs. If God has a sense of humour, so must his prophet.
But protests over the Danish cartoons which satirised Mohammad, combined with images of Muslims criticising frivolous aspects of Western culture, leave the distinct impression Islam and comedy are incompatible – it is haram. The most concerning thing for Muslims is that those who dare to express humour or satirise aspects of their religion are invariably derided by their co-religionists who hold to the Ayatollah Khomeini rather trenchant school of Islam. He once said: "An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humour in Islam. There is no fun in Islam."
It is time for Muslims to laugh in the face of this, and to greet Sam and Terry not with bloody threats and hatred, but a beer, a joke and a smile.