It's been a year of highs and lows for the Muslim faithful. Followers of Islam found the old disagreements over what is acceptable and what is not resurfacing in contemporary arguments. Here we present some of the best, worst and downright unusual, Islam had to offer in 2012.
Last year saw the opening of the first “gay mosque” in France
to cheers and jeers. Some thought this was fabulous, saying that Islam is open to personal interpretation, a religion for the post-modern 21st Century, where each follower can choose his or her own path to being closer to God. Others, however, vehemently disagreed with the gay-founded house of Islamic worship, saying that it was an affront to Islam and to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).
It has also been learned that the head of the Central Intelligence Agency’s covert drone war - and the man in charge of the hunt for Osama bin Laden - converted to Islam when he married his wife.
The world’s first beauty pageant where wearing a hijab was mandatory was held in Indonesia and for the first time Saudi women carried the torch for Islam by joining fellow athletes at the London Olympics.
A key moment of the year was the violent protests that swept across the region, after a trailer for the film “The Innocence of Muslims” was posted on video-sharing website, Youtube. Vicious attacks were levelled at symbols of America. Embassies were hit, leading to a tragic fallout, starting when the US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was killed, although the jury remains out on whether his death was due directly to the film, or whether it was part of a pre-planned operation on the anniversary of 9/11.
It was one of the defining moments of the year, but did it do the religion any favors; and is it right to protest violently against offenders of the faith or indeed freedoms of speech -- even if those freedoms are used in a low-grade and anti-religious spirit? Does this kind of collective action just give Islam a bad rap?
For many Muslims, the film “The Innocence of Muslims” enraged, provoked and angered. The rise of salafists and other militant zealots in Tunisia and Syria worried more moderate Muslims and non-Muslims alike as to the future trajectory of political Islam. With conflict in Syria taking on an increasingly sectarian tone, protests in Iraq heating up along sectarian lines, and the continued exodus of minority faiths from the region, it is hard to imagine a more promising year ahead.
Still, among all the Islamic darkness and chaos, there was light. Many firsts for the right to veil publicly visited formerly supressed Muslim communities- from East to West. 2012 was a record year for the hijab, and achievements for visibly Muslim women in sport and architecture.
Whether it was in actions by Muslims or on behalf of Muslims or even against Muslims, the year of 2012 can be defined by activities revolving around Islam. Was it a record-breaking or reputation-making year for the faith or the faithful? Did Islam make as many headlines as in years past? In answer, Islam probably grabbed as many headlines as we've come to expect, and then some more. Here are the highs and lows of Islam in 2012.
Share your thoughts on the year past - Was 2012 a happy year for Islam? What is your abiding image of the year - -the anti-Islam film or the first veil on Egyptian state TV?