Opinion: "The Respect of a Cousin"

February 10, 2006

Source: The Jewish Week


On February 10, 2006 The Jewish Week ran an opinion piece by Edward Miller, a New York attorney who is active in efforts to reconcile Jews and Muslims. Miller commented on the controversy over a Danish newspaper's cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, "As we condemn the violence on the streets, perhaps we should take a moment to understand the hurt in the hearts of the great majority of Muslims who did not engage in violence... What can we do as Jews to lessen the hostilities? Perhaps, just perhaps, a little respect would help. Rather than ripping the wounds wider with editorial musings extolling freedom of speech and condemning violent protests, is it not time for a bit of healing? The pages of this Jewish newspaper present a place for a small start by showing Muslims right here that though we too have the freedom to say anything we like, we choose to convey respect to our Muslim cousins. Printing something positive about Muhammad best does this... There is a Hadith (oral tradition concerning the words and works of Muhammad) recorded by Bukhari in the name of Amer Bin Rabiha that reads as follows: 'A funeral procession passed us and the Prophet stood up for it. We said, "but Prophet of God, this is a funeral of a Jew." The Prophet responded, "rise"'... When you give respect you get it. When you take criticism, you earn the right to give it. Perhaps this article will be republished in Muslim newspapers, compete with its critical comments about the pain we feel in the face of anti-Jewish cartoons and worse in Muslim media. Muslim readers may come to understand that an article by a Jew, in a Jewish newspaper, was one of respect, telling its audience: 'We know that the one mocked in newspapers in Europe is the one who had the humanity to tell his companions to rise for the funeral procession of a Jew.'"