Twenty thousand people have signed a petition stating that — come what may — they give an idol accused of wrongdoing their total and full support. I don’t understand the point of the petition, other than to reinforce the belief in the minds of twenty thousand people — and all their friends — that the accused is entirely innocent and a victim of a hideous slander. That, of course, may turn out to be the case. But total and full support in the face of accusations?

Contrast this appraoch to the saying attributed to the Prophet — peace be upon him — which every Muslim must surely have heard, concerning his beloved daughter, Fatima, the shining one, the chaste, the mother of the believers:

“The people before you were destroyed because they used to inflict the legal punishments on the poor and forgive the rich. By Him in Whose Hand my soul is! If Fatima did that, I would punish her.”

What is this full and total support? If the accused is guilty, let him face justice. Yes, even if he is a great man, whose work has touched the lives of millions. Yes, even if his downfall somehow effects the wellbeing of the masses; we will surely survive. Be just even against yourselves, or your parents, or your relatives, or the rich or the poor.

“O you who have believed, persistently stand firm in justice, witnesses for God, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, God is more worthy of both. So follow not your personal inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort your testimony or refuse to give it, then indeed God is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.” — Qur’an 4:135

This verse does not say let twenty thousand signatures be your judge. Let there be twenty million: it still won’t make the accused guilty or innocent. That is not how justice works. If he is innocent: may he be compensated for an outrageous slander. If he is guilty, whether in the eyes of the law of the land or of his religion: may he be held to account in full.

Ours is not the way of total and full support for the brutal caliph, the dishonest scholar, the corrupt minister, the thieving son. Ours is the way of justice for all.

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