Commentary · Politics

How George Washington and Prophet Muhammad Would React to Hate Speech

In a recent article for Yahoo Contributors Network, Maryam Khan Ansari wrote about how internet postings with anti-Muslim hate messages may soon be subject to federal criminal laws. In her article, Ansari discussed how Bill Killian, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, has plans to use federal civil rights laws to curb hate speech, if the speech is made incident to a hate crime.

Killian’s suggestion has angered many Americans, among them leading anti-Muslim activists like Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. It should also be noted that many Muslims in the U.S. and worldwide are guilty of hate speech and inciting violence against non-Muslims. Ironically, however, George Washington, the U.S. founding father, and the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, were both vehemently against hate speech.

I wrote about Washington and Muhammad’s kindred spirit in a Huffington Post Article, which can be viewed here. In the article, which used the Quran and Washington’s “Rules of Civility” as a point of comparison, I wrote the following:

“Muhammad and Washington advised their peers to keep their mouths free of foul language. In the Holy Quran, offensive name-calling is forbidden: “Let not some men among you laugh at others … Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connecting wickedness” (49:11). In “Rules of Civility,” Washington said “[u]se no reproachful language against anyone, neither curse nor revile” (Rule 49). He added: “[s]peak not injurious words, neither in jest nor earnest” and “[s]coff at no one, although they give occasion” (Rule 65). Muhammad and Washington taught their peers to improve relations with others by using kindness and positive words. Both men hoped that using civil language would help groups avoid misunderstandings and create a more harmonious society.”

As we can see, Washington and Muhammad warned their followers of the dangers of hate speech. In essence, there is no place for hate in the vision that Washington and Muhammad had for their new societies. Americans and Muslims worldwide who engage in hate speech are betraying the very ideals which are dear to their founders.

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