Love Don’t Cost A Thing – But Everything Else Does
Over the past few months, buses have been carrying a sillier-than-normal advert, which causes me a great amount of personal chagrin. Everytime I see it it makes me want to claw out my eyeballs, and then claw out the eyeballs of anyone else who might see it. And trust me, this is a reaction shared by pretty much every Muslim I know. Maybe not the eyeball-clawing part, but, you know, the chagrin part.
Loyalty, Freedom & Peace.’
It screams of crying for validation. It’s telling everyone who passes, whether they give a toss or not (they don’t), ‘I’m not an axe-murderer! I’m sane! I’M A GOOD PERSON!’
Guys. Have some self-respect. You don’t need to do an ad campaign to tell people you love them. If they hate you, they’re still going to hate you. If they don’t, they probably don’t care either way. Waste of money. At least the atheist ads were somewhat amusing. This one just embarrasses me.
That’s the other thing. It claims to speak for Muslims, but as most informed Muslims know, the Ahmadiyya community is universally understood to be outside of authentic Islam – therefore, not considered Muslim* – and their identification with the rest of the body of Muslims has long been a source of great controversy. So even more than the aggravation of obsequious fawning is the doubled aggravation of someone speaking for me without my authority, as part of a group I identify myself with, without itself being a member of that group but claiming to be. Messy, messy.
Also, what a stupid sentiment. ‘Love for all, hatred for none’?
In six words, it invalidates the right every Muslim citizen has to object to their government’s activities. Civic responsibility is a part of Islam: loyalty doesn’t entail backing people whatever they do. Moreover, I don’t think there is any question of loyalty without it being preceded by having your rights fulfilled as a citizen: that is, reasonable freedom and security.**
We have a hadith of Muhammad (peace be upon him), that he said: ‘Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is oppressed.’ The Prophet was asked: ‘It is right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?’ He replied: ‘By preventing him from oppressing others.’ (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 3, no. 624)
That is what Muslim ‘loyalty’ means. It means having a social conscience, not blindly supporting the activities of a government or authority that may or may not be acting in an ethical way.*** It means objecting to human rights abuses, the breaking of international law and miscarriages of justice, refusing to pander to apologist sentiment for the sake of acceptance, and exercising your democratic right to be heard by those people who represent you in Parliament. It means doing everything in your power with the means you have available to change your condition, and to change the conditions of other people.
This bugs me more than I can adequately express:
‘Love for all…’
No, no, NO.
I do not love everyone! (Ew!) I believe I have a human commitment to my fellows, certainly, but I’m not a hippie-free-love numpty singing ‘all you need is love‘. It’s not true. It’s a great line for people to push because ‘love don’t cost a thing’, but love is never the whole story. Sure, it is good and useful, but in the grand scheme of things, say the world is a car. Love is like, the carburettor.
‘…hatred for none.’
This whole silly slogan is an insubstantial, half-headed romanticism that will never find its way into any serious discussion (ergo, this is not a serious discussion XD) – which then begs the question of what is really meant to be achieved by it.
Loving-not-hating is nice in principle, but just try and find someone (who isn’t inclined to illegal activities) who will tell you they love Hitler (his mother doesn’t count, and not only because she’s dead), or at the least, have ambivalent feelings about him. Go. Find someone. The idea that you love everyone and hate no one might sound attractive (if you like that kind of thing, which I don’t) but it is quite plainly RIDICULOUS. All-embracing indiscriminate feelings are up there on the list of things that are just dumb (along with minds so open your brains fall out, admiring an idiot for their perseverance in attaining further idiocy, etc.).
Also, the URL is too long. If you want someone to visit your website, make it short and snappy and memorable. And easy to type. And less annoying.
A few years ago, this advert appeared on some major billboards in the City, which to my mind, does the job – or at least does a job since it isn’t clear what job exactly the bus ads are doing – of disabusing people’s misconceptions of Islam much better:
I know this won’t be to everybody’s taste, but it has 4 things going for it:
1. Purposive (i.e. it had a point)
2. Correct content
3. FREE! product
4. Website URL that is short, snappy and memorable.
I know we’ve been strongly indoctrinated to believe discrimination is a rude word and a bad thing, but trust me, some discrimination is good and necessary. Discriminating the silly from the less silly is an important skill. They even teach you it if you stay in school long enough and pay a lot of money.
Discriminate. One day, it might save your life.****
* A Muslim, by definition, is a person who a) believes that there is no other God except the One God, and b) accepts that Muhammad (saas) is his final Messenger. This marks entry into Islam. Ahmadiyyans (?) believe that someone else came after Muhammad (saas), so they do not accept the second part of the ‘entry requirement’, therefore, by definition, they cannot be Muslim, no matter what they call themselves.
** Politicised because this is clearly a reactionary contribution versus the ‘Muslims r trrrstz’-hysteria.
*** Oh dearie me, did I just put the word ‘ethical’ in the same sentence as the word ‘government’? Surely not.
**** For instance, say you are doing this hippie-love thing. You’re on a bus one day, and this psycho drunk high person is shooting his mouth off at you and at everyone else. But you are all ‘love for all and all for love!’ and you go and hug him. He breaks his bottle**** over your head and you die. Do not worry about the mechanism of your death: the upshot is the same. You die.
Now see, if you had shown a little discrimination, you would have thought, ‘oh look, there’s a verbally-abusive psycho drunk high guy with an illegally-open container of alcohol. I’m not going to hug him because I don’t want to die. I’ll just love him from here, kthxbai.’ And voilà, you aren’t dead. Good, innit?
***** Also note that it is illegal to carry open containers of alcohol on public transport.