Can we turn Burning the Quran day into something positive?

Dr. Tawfik Hamid

Nearly a decade after 9/11 it seems that the world may be headed toward a clash of civilizations. On one hand, nearly 70% of Americans are against P51 (or the Ground Zero Mosque) and on the other hand plans to burn the Quran in a Florida Church on 9/11 are imminent. It is clear that the radicals on both sides are controlling the game. This is a crucial time for true moderates to come to the table and do something to prevent the escalation of the endless cycle of hatred that can drag our civilization to a dark future.

The responsibility to act to stop this case scenario is a shared responsibility and the burden of it is on the shoulders of enlightened and likeminded people irrespective of their faith.

Various groups and personnel can contribute to the process of healing between civilizations. These groups may not be able to stop the book burning event itself; however, their collaborative actions can help prevent an irrational violent response in the Muslim streets. In other words, our aim now must go beyond stopping the burning to stopping or ameliorating the reaction to the burning.

The Muslim world has the full right to feel insulted by the burning the Quran event. This should lead them to also understand the feelings of the families of the victims of 9/11 who also feel insulted by the building of the mega mosque close to ground zero. As we Muslims expect others to respect our feelings we also need to avoid doing or accepting things that hurt the feelings of the others.  In such a case a genuine offer by Imam Raouf to relocate the Ground Zero Mosque as a matter of respect for the feelings of most Americans can probably interrupt this cycle of hatred and religious intolerance. In fact stopping the Burning the Quran day is currently in the hands of Imam Raouf as the pastor who is planning to do the burning offered to stop the burning of the Quran if Ground Zero mosque is relocated to another place.

Islamic scholars MUST take certain steps to avoid a violent backlash against innocent Christians and Non-Muslims all over the world. This can be achieved by emphasizing the value in the Quran that clearly teaches that no one can be punished by the actions of others {Quran 6:164}. In addition, the leading Islamic authorities MUST issue a powerful Fatwa against those who might use violence against Non-Muslims as a response to the burning of the Quran day. In order to make this Fatwa effective it MUST clearly consider those who will do violent acts against Non-Muslims to revenge for the burning event- as ‘apostates’, state that Muslims are not permitted to pray on the dead bodies these of these terrorists when they die, and declare that such criminals who attack Non-Muslims must not be buried with Muslims if they died. Unfortunately, these are the kind of words that resonate in the minds of Islamic radicals that can deter young Muslims from going down the path of violence. Ideally, the Fatwa must warn radical Muslims that they will go to “hell forever” if they did such acts of violence. Fatwas that solely call violent acts against Non-Muslims ‘Un-Islamic’ are too weak to produce any significant deterrent in the minds of radicals.

The US government needs to learn that supporting acts that hurt the feelings of most Americans -such as President Obama’s support for building the Ground Zero Mosque-based on respecting the first amendment rights, will put them in a difficult situation as some may ask them to support burning the Quran based on the same principles.  There is  inconsistency of the official comments that on one hand supported the building of Ground Zero mosque despite the fact that it will hurt the feelings of most Americans, and on the other hand denouncing burning the Quran day because it will hurt the feelings of Muslims. Clearly, this can be perceived as discrimination against Non Muslims which may result is a feeling of injustice among the latter and ultimately create anger and breed hatred. Having double standards in these situations can only make things worse.

In addition, the complex situation of burning the Quran day highlights the need for more effective efforts to educate the Muslim world that the US government does not have full control over America’s private institutions. Traditionally, people in the Muslim world see both as the same entity. This leads many in the Muslim world to react against the US government in response to actions of the media and other private organizations. The cartoon issue of prophet Mohamed is evidence for this lack of understanding, when the Muslim world asked for an apology from the Danish government for publishing cartoons of the prophet Mohamed in the Danish media. The US MUST use ‘effective’ tactics to inform the Muslim world that the government in America is separate from the private sector. This is a vital issue because thinking that the US government has full control over its private sector allows the radicals to promote their agenda against the US based on the actions of the latter. Without forging such as separation between the government of the US and its private institutions in the minds of Muslims it will be very hard to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world as Muslims will always blame the US government for any comment or act against Islam that occurs within the United States.

Furthermore, if we are ready to stand against Burning the Quran day as it insults the feelings of others we should also be ready to stand with the same passion against insulting Jews in the Muslim world by calling them “pigs and Monkeys”. We also need to stand against more appalling things such as beheading humans who convert out of Islam based on Islamic Sharia -and we must also have the same strong reaction toward women who die in the most inhumane manner when they are stoned to death for adultery based on mainstream Islamic laws. Hurting the feeling of Muslims by burning pages from the Quran cannot be compared in any way to the real sufferings of beheadings or stoning (Interestingly both of these Sharia rules are never mentioned in the Quran itself!).

We also need to raise the point that if the Pastor Terry Jones uses this shocking approach by burning the Quran because he realized the failure of  Interfaith dialogues since Sep 11 2001 in stopping terrorism or ending the barbaric acts in the name of Islam?(1). Then, we need to develop more effective ways to deal with hatred and stop radicalism so that we stop the causes of hatred, rather than just asking people not to hate.

Finally, the more the response of Muslims is honorable in this situation and the more they show tolerance to freedom of expression the more they can improve the negative image of Islam that contributed to the creation of such a situation. The best example for Muslims to follow in this case is to follow what the Quran mentioned about Prophet Ibraham (Abraham) when his father threatened to stone him to death and the response of Abraham who is considered in the Quran as “the role model of all prophets” -was not by revenging but rather by offering peace (Not violence) to him: {Quran 19:46&47 -(The father) replied: “Dost thou hate my gods, O Abraham? If thou forbear not, I will indeed stone thee: Now get away from me for a good long while!”  [Abraham] replied: “Peace be upon thee! I shall ask my Sustainer to forgive thee: for, behold, He has always been kind unto me. The more the Muslim world follows this Quranic model the more they can bring more peace to the world and decrease the possibility that others will think of burning the Quran in the future.

If the Muslim world responded to the burning event by following the above example and by following this Quranic verse {Quran 41:34}: Nor can goodness and Evil be equal? Respond to evil with doing good deeds to the evil doer…. then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate! We may be able to avoid a major clash of civilizations.

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One response to “Can we turn Burning the Quran day into something positive?”

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  1. Matias says:

    The Muslim versus the onon mulism is one that:-By submitting to god we make a contract to obstain from our animal desires-We are forbiden from anything that harms the body or mind like drugs, alcohol, tatoos, self mutilation- We have to adhere to family values and have a social structure these are very strong-Muslims are to love everything and promote peace out of recognition that we are all gods creation and out of fear of God who owns all creation-Peace is made with those who wish for peace, not for those who say they want peace but create war and invade others(no peace with tyranical nations)-Muslims believe in Supreme Justice, just because som1 blew up a tower filled with people doesnt mean you should go and slaughter their family and nation although both are wrong actions-Muslims take God seriously, God is a reality not spirituality like the Christians and Americans believe, we have to pray and remember God all day, this prevents satan from seducing man if you have God in mind Quran calls it Taqwa-Awareness of godThese are just things ive noticed now not everyone is the same, people will differ but in general i think im accurate