Yes, it was very wrong for others to take their priests and rabbis as ‘gods’ when they changed Halal and Haram, but this same issue is seen when the individual interprets (basically makes up) rulings of the Deen. Thus, the major problem is going against the established indubitable religious rulings, regardless of one’s level in religious studies (and the ability to ‘play games’ based on this).
The implied meaning of a term like Insha Allah is to try one’s best to achieve the goal while acknowledging that the action is a Creation based on Allah’s Power. Yet, if it is uttered with other than this mentality, it is using Allah’s name in vain, treating the Lafdh al-Jalalah as a trivial matter – then when we see the disrespectful cartoons, videos, etc., we must remember that non-Muslims often see the seriousness with which we take our own Deen and respond accordingly; thus if nominal Muslims take the symbols and phrases of Islam with jest, then what is to be expected from non-Muslims who witness this?
Yes, it could be said that some people will hate Islam no matter what, but are we providing them with any excuse to make the manifestation of this hatred easier to propagate to the masses of people, to normal people who may have had a serious interest in Islam had we Muslims taken our Deen more seriously, rather than taken important symbols of our own religion in jest?
(As mentioned) Why does the Qur’an use the drinking of the golden calf into the hearts of the Israelites as a phrase? Because the water or liquid becomes part of the fabric of the person, and it is almost impossible to take it out of one’s soul. Other examples are pornography, etc., practically impossible to take out of one’s system what has indelibly colored one’s soul.
Adultery and pornography go hand in hand. We should not imagine that adultery and sexual freedom uplifts women, when we know that pornography denigrates them. So all must note this reality very carefully.
History has many ways it could potentially be narrated, it is impossible to have one narrative covering everything. We Muslims should understand this reality, so as not to fall into the narrative traps of others (for example, those who see pagan Makkans as trying to only carry out trade, and that Islam unjustly disrupted and destroyed this).
We should be aware of going off to ‘Neverlands’ and totally rejecting our natural belonging within a certain community/culture in order to fit into the Ummah (which is not even a practical approach to begin with). Thus, it is quite possible to establish a grounded yet native Islamic presence within a given land, rather than mimic Arabs, Pakistanis, or other “Muslim ethnicities”.
And as a related note: Identities will be there. Even if we Muslims do not build our own identity, then this will be imposed on us from the outside and this is inevitable. Thus, we should proudly say that our mission is to eradicate the worship of all types of idols, otherwise a foreign identity will be stamped on us – an identity that will unfortunately include idol-worship of some sort.
The 2nd commandment in the Judeo-Christian tradition says not to make graven images. Islam says [ليس كمثله شيء] (trans. Nothing resembles Him (Allah) in any way) it takes this to another, a higher level of realization (even the linguistic discussion on this phrase in Verse 42:11 is very long, plus this Qur’anic phrase forms the basis of many Islamic Belief principles).
The 3rd commandment in the Judeo-Christian tradition says not to use God’s name in vain. In Islam we reverence Allah’s Name in the proper way– for example, in grammatical analysis we say Lafdh al-Jalalah (the Majestic Name) is Marfu’ or Majrur, etc., not “Allah is Majrur” (that is, the literal translations of terms Marfu’ and Majrur is raised and pulled, and even though it is clearly within the context of grammatical analysis of words, our scholars have said to use ‘the Majestic Name’ instead of mentioning “Allah” directly in such a case).
(As mentioned) Imam an-Nawawi (RA) refused to eat that which was potentially from stolen land. Were we to follow this maxim we might be half-starved, yet on a good spiritual course.
Consider the insignificance of the world in how some creatures fight over things: Some animals fight viciously, even kill each other, over space on a windowsill, or over a speck of dropped food, and so forth. The materialistic humans likewise, over their short lifespans might engage in similar behavior, making this their ultimate goal (sure it is not a windowsill, but even a large tract of land being fought over is of no significance in the larger scheme of things- this is why we are constantly reminded to return to Allah the Exalted)
(As was mentioned) In our normal conceptualizations, we make exclusive use of what we have gained from the 5 senses (our thoughts for anything is based on these senses). We have the tendency to do the same for Allah which is wrong (because we make new conceptualizations based on old concepts and new sensory information).
The example given is of Allah being al-Awwal (literally, the First) — we might (wrongly) imagine something quasi-human about Divine Hearing or Seeing, but Allah existing without time and place is really the moment when we step back and say Subhanallah.