Jesus comments on the cartoons depicting Mohammed

TOPICS: Clarity and honesty before you can change – how do people come to a turning point? – if they don’t listen within, only an outer crisis can show the need for change – masters will precipitate crisis to help us see the need for change – the cartoons represent one such crisis and it shows the need for change – Islam has become as rigid as Christianity – the Islamic world is at the same stage of development as medieval Europe – change is inevitable – when people will not change, they feel threatened – Muslims feel threatened by the more rapidly changing West – projecting your own state of consciousness upon God – think you have to fight other people who don’t accept your beliefs – you think you will be rewarded for violating God’s laws – you think you have to do what God isn’t doing – Muslim leaders have not sufficiently spoken against violence – the masters use people who are open – why this happened in Denmark – Muslim world is a smoldering volcano – a Muslim double standard – opportunity for Muslims to prove they are as peaceful as they say – if your faith is hurt, it is not strong – misunderstandings about idol worship – what the Koran really says as opposed to what people want it to say – many Muslims have started the process of self-examination – you cannot maintain a free society without free debate – hidden western intolerance – western nations need a new debate about spirituality and society – Muslims stereotype themselves when they commit violence in the name of Allah – prove the world wrong by responding with non-violence – the offense is in your mind –

Question from Kim: Jesus, I would like to hear your input on the cartoons with caricatures of the prophet Mohammed, originally published in a Danish newspaper. Obviously, having grown up in Denmark, I am interested in hearing whether you think the cartoons should have been published and why it happened in Denmark. But on a broader scale, I would like to know how you assess the entire situation and the reaction from both Muslims and the West.

Answer from ascended master Jesus through Kim Michaels: (February 3, 2006)

Let us look at the big picture. The ascended masters are the spiritual teachers of humankind. It is our assignment from God to help all people raise their consciousness. Raising your consciousness is not something that can be forced or faked; it must come from within because you – meaning an individual, a group of people, even humanity as a whole – make the decision to change. Yet before you can decide to change, you must come to a point of clarity, where you see that you need to change and how you need to change. And you must come to a point of honesty, where you decide that you are willing to change, that you are willing to leave behind your old state of consciousness.

In practicality, this means that people must see and admit that their old state of consciousness, including part of their belief system, is incomplete or incorrect—it needs to be expanded or replaced. What does it take for people to get to that turning point? You have two extremes:

  • One is that people are willing to change, willing to grow. They see the need to change through honest and open self-examination. To this end, we have given a number of spiritual teachings, including the teachings that formed the basis for the major world religions. Although it will shock and dismay some Christians, I count the teachings of the Koran among such transformational tools. Anyone who openly examines himself in the light of the profound teachings in the Koran will attain the Christ consciousness and will thus overcome the anger, aggression and fear that springs from the consciousness of anti-christ. Many Muslims, especially Sufis, have proven this point beyond doubt. My larger point is, however, that when people are willing to change, they gladly apply the tools we give them.
  • The other extreme is that people are unwilling to change. Thus, when we give them transformational tools, people do not use the tools to transform their state of consciousness. Instead, they use their state of consciousness to transform the tools. They use a pure spiritual teaching to create a rigid and dogmatic religion that they use to justify why they don’t have to change. They actually use their religion to justify why they do not have to look for and remove the beam in their own eyes. And this inevitably causes them to focus on the splinter they see in the eyes of another, using their religion to justify making their neighbors change rather than changing themselves. Psychologists call this mechanism for scape-goating, and is is as old as Cain (actually even older).

My point is that when people refuse to use a spiritual teaching for self-examination, the teaching can no longer bring them to the point of clarity, to the turning point. So what can bring such people to see that they need to change? In most cases only one thing, namely the precipitation of some kind of crisis or conflict that makes it obvious that people’s actions and beliefs are hypocritical, inconsistent or out of touch with their spiritual teaching. We might say that the beam in people’s eye becomes so big that they can no longer ignore it.

As the spiritual teachers of humankind, we are charged with helping people see that they need to change. We prefer to do this the easy way, but if that does not work, we will seek to precipitate a flash-point or crisis that exposes people’s behavior or beliefs. By making things obvious, by bringing out what is normally hidden or unrecognized, we hope to help people see the beam in their own eyes.

When I walked the earth 2,000 years ago, I first attempted to help people change by giving them a teaching or an example. Yet when that did not work, I would often provoke or challenge them in order to bring out in them what they were reluctant to see. I provoked the scribes and Pharisees by calling them hypocrites, I overturned the tables of the money changers, I healed on the sabbath. In fact, my entire mission – including that I allowed myself to be crucified in the hands of those who would not change – was an attempt to make obvious the fact that people needed to change their consciousness by facing their own fear, anger and hatred.

In the centuries after my mission, those who were not willing to change themselves took my teachings and turned them into a rigid and dogmatic religion. They became as fanatical as the people who persecuted and killed me, yet they claimed to have the authority of Christ behind their beliefs and actions. This led to the indisputable historical fact that the Catholic Church became a totalitarian institution. It has been said that all power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. With absolute power I mean that no one can question or speak out against the people in power. And when people can exercise power without being held accountable, you will inevitably see the abuse of power.

Thus, there were centuries when a cartoonist drawing a caricature of Christ would have been burned by the stake by those who claimed to be the only representatives of Christ on earth. Did these people really believe that I, an ascended master, could be offended by anything said by human beings? Did they really think that I, the teacher who told my followers to turn the other cheek and forgive seventy times seven, would want them to kill those who supposedly offended me? They did, but this shows the depth of their spiritual blindness. They had projected their own state of consciousness, their own fear, anger and hatred, upon me, and they thought I was made in their own image and likeness.

It should be obvious to any thinking person that these people were completely out of touch with the true message of Christ. Therefore, we of the ascended masters clearly were looking for ways to help the people in Medieval Europe see the fallibility of the so-called infallible Catholic doctrines. In other words, though the original spiritual teachings of Christ were given to set people free, those teachings had now been perverted and turned into a tool for imprisoning people’s minds. The only way to help people be free was to help them see the fallacy of some Catholic doctrines and help them question the infallibility of the outer religion.

Two things helped bring this about. One is that the blind leaders of the church took their blindness to the extreme in the Inquisition. The brutality of this event caused many people to open their eyes to the gaping chasm between the teachings and example of Christ and the actions of those who claimed to represent Christ. The other event was the emergence of science that brought certain Catholic doctrines into question. Contrary to what many Christians think, we of the ascended masters inspired several of the early scientists and we did so precisely to set people’s minds free from the prison created by Catholic doctrines.

When you look at this situation from our perspective, it looks as follows. People in Medieval Europe had been imprisoned in a mental prison created by church doctrines and fear. It was our assignment from God to help people escape that prison. To do this, we needed to help people see beyond the beliefs that imprisoned them, we needed to bring people to the point of being willing to question these beliefs and admit that they had to change. Given the situation as it was, who were the people we could work with to bring forth new ideas that would help people see that their beliefs needed to change? The answer is obvious, namely the early scientists. Unfortunately, many of today’s scientists have used science to create another mental prison, called materialism, which makes it impossible for us to use most scientists to bring humanity to the next level—but that is another story.

What has this got to do with the present uproar over a few cartoons published by a newspaper in a small country that never offended anyone? Well, from an overall perspective you have a situation in which two cultures, the Islamic culture and the western secular culture, both need to change. Yet both are reluctant to change, each thinking it is so advanced or right that it doesn’t need to change. By bringing the two together, the inevitable clash forces people to face the need to change, thus giving both an opportunity to look in the mirror and face the beam in their own eye. So from the perspective of helping people change, the clash can be seen as an opportunity for growth. As always, the actual outcome depends on whether people will be willing to change or whether they will cling to the old ways—and that is the essential problem on earth.

Let us take a look at the current state of Islam. For anyone who is willing to look at the historical facts, it should be obvious that Islam has followed a parallel track to what I just described for the Catholic Church. Those who were not willing to change themselves took the teachings given by Archangel Gabriel through Mohammed and projected their own state of consciousness upon them. They turned the transformational teachings of the Koran into a rigid and dogmatic belief system.

As I explain elsewhere, the Koran was originally given to help people in the Arab world overcome their warring ways. As I said earlier, anyone who uses the teachings in the Koran as a tool for self-examination, will overcome all anger, hatred or the desire for revenge. In fact, such a person will overcome all need to take offense over anything done to him/her by other people.

The fact that so many modern Muslims tend to respond with anger, hatred and violence to any real or perceived offense is a clear sign that Islam has moved as far away from the original intent of Archangel Gabriel and Allah as the medieval church had moved away from my teachings. If you are willing to draw the obvious historical parallels, you will see that Islam today – and the Arab world – is in many ways at the same stage of development as the Catholic Church and Europe at the end of the middle ages.

If there is one lesson that history should have taught all perceptive people, it is that change is inevitable. When you look at medieval Europe with modern eyes, it should be obvious that things had to change and that the wheels of time would inevitably bring this change about. People could resist it for a while, and the Catholic Church was one of the major factors that did postpone change. Yet in retrospect, change was inevitable. The old, restricted society simply had to give way for a freer, more flexible way of life. The more people or institutions resisted the change, the more pressure was built and the pressure eventually shattered the individuals and institutions that resisted change. Had the Catholic church been more flexible, it would not have lost so much credibility and influence and the western world might have found a more mature approach to the role of religion in society.

If you are willing to transfer this to the current Muslim world, you will see a society that is steeped in rigidity and is holding on to values and lifestyles that have been left behind by time. The people are suppressed by an elite, they do not have self-determination, there is no equal economic opportunity and the plight of women in Muslim nations is simply out of step with time. This must change, and the wheels of time are grinding away with absolutely no respect for human feelings and people’s unwillingness to change.

Yet when people resist change, they feel threatened by the wheels of time and this inevitably leads to fear. When people are not willing to change themselves, they cannot adapt to the winds of change, and thus they fear they could only lose their old lifestyle instead of attaining a better one. This leads to a sense of powerlessness, and this inevitably leads to anger. When people are not willing to change themselves, they always look for an infallible justification for not changing themselves.

In medieval Europe, Catholic doctrine provided this justification, and in today’s Arab countries, fundamentalist or conservative Islam provides it for many people. When people feel they have infallible justification for not changing themselves, then other people who are changing themselves will be seen as a threat. Thus, people’s – self-created – powerlessness will be directed into hatred for those people who are changing and thus threatening the illusion that you don’t have to change.

In this case, the powerlessness that many Muslims feel is directed against the West, which is – at least to a higher degree – flowing with the necessary planetary changes. For many Muslims, the West brings out their worst fears of what changes would mean for their own society. And because they have used a misinterpretation of the Koran to justify not changing themselves, they inevitably see the situation as a battle between the West and Islam. They feel that the West is out to destroy their infallible religion and impose its culture upon them. Thus, they fail to see the obvious alternative that Muslim nations could change without repeating some of the mistakes – including unbalanced secularization – made in the West.

Yet the real problem here is that fundamentalist Muslims have followed the historical pattern of fundamentalists in every religion – even many of today’s fundamentalist Christians – of projecting their own state of consciousness upon their prophet and their God. They think that because they are angry, Mohammed and Allah are angry. They think that because they feel threatened by the West, Mohammed and Allah feel threatened by the West. They think that because they feel offended by a cartoon in a western newspaper, Mohammed and Allah feel offended.

And they think it now becomes their holy duty to destroy the threat to their religion—thus failing to see that what they are seeking to destroy is the very thing that is forcing them to change themselves. They are – as are all people who engage the dualistic battle – fighting something in themselves.

The inevitable effect of this is spiritual blindness, which causes people to think that they are no longer bound by the laws of God. In other words, they think that even though the laws of God clearly say “Thou shallt not kill,” the offense to their religion makes it justified in the eyes of God that they kill the offenders. They not only think they can escape being held accountable for their actions, they even think God will reward them. That is why it is entirely appropriate that one of the cartoons depict Mohammed as saying to a group of suicide bombers approaching heaven’s gate: “Stop, stop, we are out of virgins.”

The belief that Allah would reward anyone for violating his own laws against killing will only remove Muslims further from their God. If Allah could be offended, he would be far more offended by this belief than any of the cartoons. Surely, it should be possible for people to see that a prophet would be far more concerned about the actions of those who claim to follow him than about the actions of those who are not his followers.

If such people truly believed in the teachings of the Koran, they would believe that Allah is almighty and all-powerful. Thus, an all-powerful God is perfectly capable of punishing – even destroying – a tiny nation like Denmark if it has offended him. Yet apparently these people do not believe that Allah is capable of doing so, which is why they take it upon themselves to do what Allah obviously is not doing. Thus, they appoint themselves as the “defenders” of Allah, who have to do for him what he – for a reason they prefer not to contemplate – is not doing for himself.

As I said earlier, if you truly understand the Koran, you will know that Allah is completely beyond being offended by anything on earth. Allah does not need to punish people, for they punish themselves when they go against his laws. By going against the laws of Allah, you separate yourself from him, and that is the severest form of “punishment” there is.

A person who truly understands the Koran will become completely surrendered to the will of Allah, who is unmoved – and cannot be offended – by anything on earth. Thus, a true Muslim will know that killing someone in the name of Allah or in the defense of his prophet is a far greater violation of Allah’s laws than drawing a cartoon. The Muslims who seek revenge in the name of Allah are actually going against his laws, and thus they are separating themselves from him—just as the Christians who killed in my name were setting themselves apart from me by their own state of consciousness.

So if you look at the state of modern Islam from the perspective of the ascended masters, which includes the founders of Islam, you see that many Muslims are trapped in a mental prison. How can we help people escape this prison? Only by bringing them to the point where they are willing to do some honest self-examination and consider whether their beliefs and actions are truly in alignment with the true teachings of Islam. What can bring people to this point?

One way is the hard way, namely that the extremists act out their extremism until it becomes so obvious that most people should be able to see it. This is precisely what happened in the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and subsequent terrorist attacks fueled by extremist Muslim anger. These attacks were in no way supported or condoned by the ascended masters. Nevertheless, they were a wake-up call that presented both the western world and the Muslim world with a very urgent call for self-examination.

After the attacks, you saw some Muslim leaders distance themselves from terrorism and claim that Islam is a peaceful religion. Yet it is a fact that since then the Muslim leadership has not put forth a consistent and determined effort to speak out against violence committed in the name of Allah. Thus, these very leaders bear part of the responsibility for the continued violence, just as medieval Catholic leaders bore the responsibility for the atrocities committed during the crusades and the inquisition. There is an – unstated and unaddressed – belief among too many Muslims that violence can be justified when it comes to defending their religion, its prophet and its God. It is precisely this belief that has now been exposed in the anger and hatred against these cartoons of Mohammed.

This brings us to your question of why this happened in Denmark. Let is be stated clearly that we of the ascended masters are constantly seeking for positive, non-violent ways to help Muslims (and all people) recognize the urgent need for self-examination. We are therefore looking for people who can serve as instruments for pointing out this need. Therefore, the original idea behind these cartoons was, in fact, the result of the editors of the Danish newspaper tuning in to the intentions of the ascended masters. I am not thereby saying that we inspired or necessarily approve of the way the cartoons were executed—that was left to the free will and creativity of the individual artists.

Yet the original intention of the newspaper editors was to point out the need for debate and the fact that the western world has self-imposed a virtual censorship when it comes to issues relating to Islam. Thus Islam has – in practicality – become a taboo in western media. This is close to elevating Islam to the status of absolute power, which – as I pointed out earlier – will inevitably have negative consequences. The ascended masters fully support the intention to open up – even provoke – a debate about this issue and the tension between Islam and the West.

Why did this happen in Denmark? For two reasons. Denmark has a long-standing tradition for freedom of speech, which has often resulted in Danish people and artists making fun of authority figures. During the Nazi occupation, people made fun of the Germans, even at the risk of their lives. Not all countries have this tradition, and thus not all countries could have been an instrument for this purpose.

The other factor is that Danes have a long-standing tradition for making fun of themselves. This has resulted in a national character that causes most people to rarely take themselves or anything else too seriously. The Danes have such a tradition for this that they simply could not imagine that Muslims would be so offended by these cartoons. In my view, it is healthy when a people do not take themselves too seriously, and you will see that many nations in the world are actually moving in the direction of being able to laugh at themselves. The Danes are in the forefront of this, and that is why they could become the instruments in this situation.

I am well aware that the Danish people are very reluctant to take a stand for or against anything. Had they not been blinded by their own sense of humor, they would never have published these cartoons. And had they known what they know today, they most certainly would not have published them. Nevertheless, the situation is an example of how people can – even unwittingly – become the instruments for bringing a taboo out into the open so that people can no longer ignore the issue.

Having said that, the Danes also have something to learn from the situation. They need to learn that even when you live in a small country, you sometimes have to take a stand—even if it offends the big world. Danes also need to realize that their mentality has caused them to be very self-centered, thus making them insensitive to the attitudes and beliefs of other people. This is a factor that makes it more difficult for immigrants of any background to integrate into Danish society, and it would be beneficial for all parties if the Danes came out of their “fairy tale world.”

My point is that the entire situation is an opportunity for all – both western nations who tiptoe around the issue of Islam and Muslims everywhere – to face the need to overcome the taboo and openly debate the clash between Islam and western civilization. If this issue is not debated openly, the tension will simply continue to mount, and it can in its extreme lead to World War III between Muslim and western nations.

 Kim: I understand clearly that the newspaper did not intend to offend Islam and that it only meant to prove the point of the unwillingness to debate the issue. Yet many people have said that given the tension between the Muslim world and the West, this was an unnecessary provocation that only brought World War III closer. What would you say to that?

Jesus: The indisputable fact is that the Muslim world is like a smoldering volcano. The mounting anger among Muslim people is like a pool of lava that is right under the surface, ready to break through at the slightest weakness in the surface. This is a volatile situation that will inevitably lead to an outbreak sooner or later. The only chance of avoiding war is to diffuse this tension through non-violent means.

As you have seen with the war in Iraq, many Muslims feel that when a Muslim country is attacked or threatened by violence, it is fully justified that they respond with violence. This is the Old Testament philosophy of “an eye for an eye” which became obsolete when I inaugurated the new age of Pisces and the Christian dispensation of turning the other cheek.

You would be surprised to know how many “ordinary” people and leaders of Muslim countries are silently approving of the insurgency in Iraq—even despite the fact that they kill civilians – Muslims – to make a political point. My point is that you have people who are simply looking for an excuse to respond with violence. So if a provocation had been based on violence – as when Israel responds violently to the Palestinians – Muslims will use violence in retaliation.

What was unique about the cartoons is that they are a non-violent measure. Thus, many Muslims have come to question whether it is justified – according to both common sense and Islamic law and tradition – to respond with violence. Given the volatility of the situation, there is no guarantee that it will not lead to violence. Yet in any event, this will only serve to further expose the anger and hatred that Muslim people need to confront in themselves. Compare the situation to the British occupation of India and how Ghandi and his followers used non-violent protests to make the British empire face what they had been unwilling to see in themselves.

The stark fact is that many political and religious leaders in Muslim countries have complained that the cartoons picture Mohammed as the stereotype of a Muslim terrorist. They claim this is offensive because Islam is a peaceful religion. Yet the violent reactions to the cartoons disproves these claims. Let me mention a couple of examples:

  • Some religious and political leaders have stated that the Danish government should restrain the press. Yet many media outlets in the Arab world have encouraged anger, even violence, and the boycott of western products. These same leaders have not spoken out against or sought to restrict their own press—even though some have the legal authority to do so which the Danish government does not.
  • You see people in the streets of Muslim nations demonstrating against the cartoons by burning Danish flags, closing embassies or threatening the lives of westerners. Yet the leaders in those nations are not speaking out against this, taking a stand against violence in any form. If you see violence and do nothing to stop it, you are – in actuality – encouraging it. A representative of a peaceful religion would not do so.
  • Some religious and political leaders in Muslim countries have encouraged the boycott of Danish products while very few have spoken out against this. A boycott only punishes companies and employees – meaning regular people – who had nothing to do with the cartoons. This is lumping all Danes or all westerners in the same category as those who supposedly caused offense.

Two things are wrong with this attitude. First of all, it is stereotyping people, which is what Muslims claim is being done to them when people in the West see all Muslims as terrorists. Second, it is being willing to punish everyone in a certain group, even those who had nothing to do with the incident. If this kind of mentality had been common in the West, the American government would have deported all Muslims after September 11, 2001. Of course, most Muslims would have felt this was highly unjust—as it would have been. However, most Muslims do not see that they are quick to adopt the very same attitude that they do not want to have directed at themselves. Do unto others . . .

Muslims take offense when western media depicts them or their faith in a non-favorable light. Yet the media in many Muslim nations regularly depict westerners and Jews in a non-favorable light. Few in the Muslim world speak out against this.

It is a fact that many Muslims believe their faith is the only true religion, and they have little respect for other religions, even though the Koran clearly acknowledges the prophets of both the Old and New Testament. Obviously, some Christians feel the same about their religion, but this consciousness of exclusivity and superiority is behind the times and it must go.

My point is that many among the Muslim press, the political and religious leaders and the people have a double standard. They believe other people should live up to their standard, but they are not willing to follow it themselves, nor are they willing to see that they are not following it. This is exactly what I addressed when I challenged the scribes and the Pharisees 2,000 years ago. I used one word to characterize their actions: “Oh ye hypocrites!” That word has not lost its relevance.

The fact is that this situation was the perfect opportunity for Muslims everywhere to demonstrate that they can respond peacefully to a situation that offends their religion. Unfortunately, the debate has so far been dominated by those who failed to take this opportunity. Yet I remain hopeful that we will begin to hear from the more moderate and open-minded Muslims—those who have the potential to bring Islam and the Arab world into the modern age.

Kim: What do you think about the Pakistani Parliament stating that many people’s faith had been hurt by the cartoons?

Jesus: If your faith in your religion can be hurt by a cartoon in a newspaper – or anything else said by anyone on earth – then your faith obviously isn’t very strong. Yet why isn’t your faith strong? Because you have an incomplete understanding of the spiritual teachings behind your religion, causing you to have internal contradictions and inconsistencies in your beliefs.

You have these contradictions because you have not thought deeply enough about your faith. And you have not thought deeply because you have subscribed to the superficial approach which says that you do not have to change, you do not have to examine yourself, you do not have to pull the beam from your own eye. You only have to affirm outer doctrines and follow outer rules, and then you will automatically be saved—without having to change your state of consciousness through self-examination. This is what the Old Testament calls the way that seemeth right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.

When you take this approach, you subconsciously know your faith is shaky, and that is why you feel threatened when your faith is questioned in any way. You want your religion to be raised to the status of infallibility, of being above questioning. However, this is not out of true reverence for your God, it is to avoid having to examine yourself. As I said, you have projected your own state of consciousness upon your religion, and you are now using your religion to justify not pulling the beam from your own eye.

Kim: Many people have said that the cartoons went way over the edge by striking at the very heart of Islam. What is your comment on that?

Jesus: First of all, they had to strike at the heart of Muslim beliefs in order to provoke the debate. There would have been no debate had the issue not gone to the very core. You will notice that the debate did not gather momentum until several months after the original publication.

In reality these cartoons do not strike at the heart of Islam—at least not the original teachings of the Koran. It is true that Islamic law and tradition states that it is forbidden to create an image of Mohammed and Allah. Yet you will find no direct statements in the Koran that express this view. You will find warnings against idol worship, which Muslim clerics have interpreted to mean that images are forbidden. Yet this is an interpretation imposed upon the Koran, and it goes beyond the original intent. There are several problems with this interpretation:

  • The cartoons did not depict Allah, but only Mohammed. Yet in the Muslim mind, the two are the same. If you insult Mohammed, you have insulted Allah. This is elevating the prophet – who is merely a human instrument – to the same status as the God he serves. As I said, the servant is not greater than his Lord. Obviously, some Christian churches have elevated me to the same status as God or have portrayed me as being God. Yet this is against my own statements, and it is clearly a form of blasphemy. Thus, the Christians who do this to me and the Muslims who do it to Mohammed are engaging in idol worship.
  • Even if the cartoons had depicted Allah, it would not have been blasphemy. If you truly understand the teachings of the Koran, you will see that the benevolent and ever-merciful Allah can never be offended by anything people do. If people violate his law, they simply separate themselves from him and thus punish themselves.
  • The teachings in the Koran that warn against idol worship are true and parallel the first two of the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament. However, an idol or a graven image does not simply mean an outer portrayal. The reality is that the supreme God is beyond his creation and thus beyond any words or images that could possibly be used to describe him. However, this does not mean that it is necessarily wrong to describe or depict God. What is wrong is when people take an image or a doctrine and elevate it to the status of infallibility. If you take a limited image and say that it gives a complete and infallible depiction of God, then you have created an idol. And if you refuse to revise your belief in the infallibility of the image and refuse to expand your view of God, you have taken unto yourself a graven image, meaning an image that does not change and therefore can never lead you to the true God who is beyond all images.
  • The fact is that idol worship is more than an outer image. It is a state of mind. It begins in the mind and it can be overcome only in the mind by removing the beam – the graven image – from your own eye. Idol worship begins with the creation of a mental image that you elevate to the status of infallibility. You may project this image upon an outer statue or you may project it on a religious scripture or an interpretation of that scripture. Yet it is the mental image that imprisons your mind and thus keeps you from knowing the true God who is beyond all images in this world.
    My point is that when Christians elevated me to the status of being equal to God, they created a mental idol. When Muslims elevate Mohammed to the same status as Allah, they turn him into an idol. And when they create a mental image that Allah can be offended by human beings and that he will respond with anger and hatred as they do, then they have created an idol of God. Thus, many of the Muslims who cry blasphemy are, in reality, guilty of blasphemy. Their idols simply reside in their own minds rather than in outer images, but they still keep them from knowing the true Allah who cannot be confined to any mental image. The “god” who is offended by the cartoons is not the true Allah but a man-made God.
  • The basic issue here is that Muslims need to take a long look in the mirror. They need to compare their reactions and their actions to what is actually said in the Koran. They even need to compare some of their interpretations and doctrines to what is said in the Koran. They need to look at what the Koran really says and not what they want it to say—so that they can continue to justify not removing the beam from their own eyes.

Many of the more moderate – I prefer to call them open-minded and true – Muslims have already begun this process. This is especially true for many of the Muslims living in western nations. I continue to hold the immaculate concept that this situation will become a catalyst for a more open and free debate about the many issues involved in the friction between Islamic and western culture. I hold the concept that this debate will eventually lead to a diffusion of the tension and the emergence of mutual understanding, so that we do not have to see a modern reenactment of the crusades. However, this will only happen if the moderate and open-minded Muslims begin to speak out and challenge the extremists who have so far dominated the exchange between Islam and the West.

Kim: What do western people need to learn from the situation?

Jesus: One of the main lessons is that you cannot maintain a free society if you create taboos in your mind and if you have issues that you are afraid to debate freely. The fact is that the large number of Muslim immigrants in many western nations has created a tension and a clash of cultures. As you clearly saw from the recent riots in France, this has built up a tension that will inevitably lead to confrontation—that is, if it is not diffused through a free debate that leads to mutual understanding.

I am fully aware that many people in the West, including political leaders and media people, have felt too intimidated by the threat of Muslim violence to openly debate the issues. Yet the fact is that most of the Muslims in western countries are not extremists, and you are not doing them a service by tiptoeing around the issues without addressing them. Thus, the reluctance to offend will in itself become an offense—hurting everyone.

The other main lesson is that western people need to look in the mirror. Many European nations – including Denmark – think they are very tolerant. Yet the influx of Muslims in recent decades has exposed an underlying intolerance that has not yet been openly addressed. This is actually a major reason why western countries have been reluctant to debate the issue openly. Too many people have not been willing to face their intolerance, so it is easier to ignore the issue.

For there to be a free and open debate about this issue, westerners must be willing to face their own lack of tolerance. It is very easy to be tolerant of other cultures while you have them at a safe distance. It is quite different to be tolerant when you have people from other cultures as your neighbors. I hold the immaculate vision that westerners will be willing to look in the mirror as a result of this conflict and work on overcoming their intolerance of that which is too different from their comfortable way of life.

The only long-term solution is that Muslim immigrants become integrated into western culture without losing their Muslim faith. Yet for that to happen, two hurdles must be overcome:

  • The Muslim immigrants will have to adapt their approach to religion to the realities of the 21st century and the realities of western society. Expecting that you can move to Europe and live as if you were still in the middle East is simply out of touch with reality. If you do not want to adapt to your new country, go back or go somewhere else.
  • westerners will have to be willing to face their own lack of tolerance by admitting that they are not as tolerant as they like to think they are. This will also require them to overcome their subtle disrespect for Islam as a religion, a feeling that is fueled by the Christian illusion of religious superiority or the secular world view that there is no God and that religion is a thing of the past.

Incidentally, many westerners could be inspired by the Muslims and their commitment to a more spiritual lifestyle than what has become the norm in the overly secularized European nations. And because many western people have already gone through the transformation to the modern world, they are in a position to help their Muslim neighbors make that transition—if a free and respectful debate can be created.

My point is that if there is no dialogue, or if there is not a free and open dialogue, everyone suffers. Yet when there is openness, everyone benefits. And when there is openness, there is no need for flash-points – such as these cartoons – to force people to face their taboos.

From a bigger perspective, most western nations have not had a mature debate about the role of religion in society. For example, people have not processed the role of religion in the past, including the Catholic Church and its abuses. Again, a main cause is that people are not willing to face the beam in their own eyes, so it has been easier to ignore the issue and let nations slide toward secularism. However, this has led to many undesirable consequences, including a sense of purposelessness, leading to depression and addiction.

We might say that for Islam the need of the hour is to overcome religious extremism and for the West the need is to overcome extreme secularism. Thus, both need to find a more mature and balanced approach to the role of spirituality in society, and both could learn from each other.

Kim (February 4, 2006): What is your comment on the fact that the Danish embassy in Syria was burned to the ground today?

Jesus: Many Muslims have taken great offense to one cartoon that depicts Mohammed with a bomb in his turban. Yet the point of this cartoon – and the intent behind all of the cartoons – is to show that – because of the undeniable terrorist acts and numerous threats by extremist Muslims – people in the West have come to see Islam as something they need to tiptoe around. Western people simply expect Muslims to respond with violence to any provocation.

As I said above, it is an undeniable fact that Muslim clerics and political leaders have not made a clear and determined effort to discourage violence in the name of their religion. The burning of an embassy – and the burning of the Chilean embassy which had nothing to do with the situation – simply reinforces the stereotype that when Muslims are offended, they respond with indiscriminate violence.

It is quite understandable that many people in the West have this impression—and only Muslims who are blinded by their own anger can fail to see this. If Muslims want to change this impression, they should demonstrate that they can respond peacefully to a provocation.

As I said, a cartoon is a non-violent measure, and this would have been the perfect opportunity for the Muslim world to object to an affront to their religion through peaceful means. The Muslim world as a whole has so far failed this test. When violence breaks out, how can Muslims expect people in other cultures to change their view of Islam and overcome their stereotypes of Muslims as bomb-throwing religious fanatics? How can you expect that other people will change their view of you if you are not willing to change yourself? This simply is not realistic.

I know very well that most Muslims are not violent or extremist. Therefore, it is understandable that they don’t want to be stereotyped as extremists. Yet by not speaking out against the extremism on their own doorstep, it is virtually inevitable that the radical Muslims will be the face that Islam shows to the world. I am not saying it is right for western people to stereotype Muslims. I am simply saying that Muslims should be willing to recognize that if they want the world’s perception of them to change, they must begin by changing themselves. Prove the world wrong by responding with non-violence. If you respond with violence, you only prove the world right.

The fact is that if Muslims want to truly honor Allah and his prophet, they should conduct themselves in a way that increases international understanding and respect for Islam as a peaceful religion that is more concerned about people’s eternal salvation than issues here on earth.

Kim: What do you think about other newspapers reprinting of the cartoons?

Jesus: The papers showed they were willing to take a stand for one of the foundations of a free society, namely freedom of speech. Imagine that all media outlets in the world did the same. Where would Muslims direct their anger—against the entire world? Sure the extremists are already doing so, but that is precisely what needs to be exposed as against the very foundations of Islam.

The Muslims who objected to the cartoons – even months after their publication – were responsible for turning it into an international news issue. How can you expect the press not to report on an issue that provokes demonstrations and death threats? Had the Muslims responded peacefully, there would have been no need to reprint the cartoons as few papers would have felt the need to defend freedom of speech. They would instead have opted for showing respect for the Muslims who deserved respect because of their peaceful response.

It is hypocritical to report on this issue without showing at least some of the cartoons. How can a media outlet report a story to its customers without letting them see what caused the incident so they can decide for themselves? It is like asking Christians to believe in Christ without letting them read the Bible in their own language. Or ask people to vote without knowing the candidates.

Kim: So what about the countries, such as Britain and the U.S. where hardly any media outlets have showed the cartoons?

Jesus: They have not been willing to take a stand, hiding behind the excuse of not wanting to offend Islam. This shows clearly that these countries are unwilling to openly debate the issue. They gave in to the Muslim intimidation factor, which proves the validity of publishing the cartoons to draw attention to this problem.

The fact is that these cartoons do not offend Islam, nor do they offend Allah or Mohammed—for they are above being offended by anything on earth. Thus, the cartoons in themselves do not offend Muslims. Nothing I do to you can offend you—unless you choose to take offense. Your offense is not caused by my actions, your offense is caused by what you allow in your mind. I am responsible for my actions but you are responsible for your mind and for your reaction to my actions. God has not made you responsible for the actions of other people, which is why he has not given you the authority to act as the avenger or punisher of other people’s actions. That is why God said, “Vengeance is mine saith the Lord, I will repay.”

The essence of all true religions – including the Koran – is that you must raise yourself above the dualistic consciousness that causes people to take offense. You must let the prince of this world come to you with absolutely anything, and you must remain unmoved by any of his temptations and offenses.

If you do not, you make yourself a slave of the false god of this world, rather than a follower of the true God of heaven—whether you call him Allah, God, YOD HE WAV HE, Brahma or anything else. You cannot worship the true God by projecting the human consciousness upon him.

Many Muslims are following a false god of anger and hatred, whereas Allah is a God of unconditional love—which is why he is called ever-merciful. You must use a true teaching to raise yourself above the consciousness of hatred, so you can have a direct experience of God’s love. This is the central message of Islam—let those who have ears hear.

NOTE: Jesus gave further comments on this issue in another answer.


 Copyright © 2005 by Kim Michaels