By Dr. AS Nakadar, Publisher of TMO
A Muslim woman prays in front of the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif during the second Friday of the holy month of Ramadan in Jerusalemâ€™s Old City August 20, 2010.
A non-denominational church, The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville Florida is planning to desecrate the Qur`an by publicly burning it on 9-11 in remembrance of the victims of the infamous and dastardly events of September 11. They want to carry out this despicable act despite a permit denial by the local authorities.
An outreach center has lost its inner moral compass and its inner bearings. They are reaching out but through bigoted and abhorred means. They are unlikely to gain anything other than cheap publicity and stoking the fires in the hearts of about 1.6 billion Muslims around the globe.
In the past, pagans called Qur`an all sorts of names and desecrated it. What is the difference between the pagan of past years and the pagans of today? They both expressed their misguided fear, hate and anger in an uncivilized manner.
Is this a Christian Act? It can never be, because it is counter to the life and teachings of our Prophet Jesus (as) that fosters understanding, mutual respect and peace, while recognizing and appreciating oneâ€™s faith understandings. Many church leaders, local and national have spoken out against this heathen act.
History has witnessed burning of all kinds of books including religious scriptures like Torah, Talmud and others. The latest examples are of the Nazis in 1933, and in last part of 20th century the burning and looting of the famous libraries of Baghdad and that of Sarajevo.
The world reaction, especially Muslims, will depend upon how the media plays its role. No doubt Muslims will be riled over the flagrant disrespect of their holy book. Few will understand that the act is simply stupidity. It is paganism and doesnâ€™t even call for indignation, but chances are some will overreact.
Mob emotions may lose control and may become violent, resulting in deaths and injuries. The Muslim anguish resulting into protests and upheaval is understandable, but the violence associated with this is uncalled for and the loss of life will be regrettable. This kind of reactionary approach is a reflection of our frustration to some of our problems. The impact of such acts is usually fleeting and is never lasting.
The prevention lies in religious education of the uneducated who call for cartoons or desecration of the Qur`an. We often distribute Qur`an to non Muslims in the hope that someday they will read and understand its message. But wouldnâ€™t it be better while presenting the Qur`an that we request them to read a particular chapter that addresses what they believe in? For example, giving a Qur`an to a Christian we may say to read a specific chapter that deals with Mary or Jesus (as) or presenting it to a Jew we may tell him about chapters referring to Moses (as). Chances are they will read it rather than putting it in a space out of sight.
I had a patient who was a pastor. After I came back from the Hajj he asked me: â€œwhat was the most exhilarating experience?â€ If I had told him about spiritual inspirations I drew while going around Kaba, or going to Meena, or to Arafat, etc; he would have shown least interest. But when I told him about the space, next to where our Prophet (s) is buried in Medina, and our belief of his resurrection (of prophet Jesus-PBUH) on the Day of Judgment, pastorâ€™s eyes popped out and with his mouth half open he asked whether I could lend him a copy of the Qur`an. I promptly delivered a copy of the Qur`an with English translation.
Similarly, the people of the Dove church should know that burning the Qur`an means burning the scripture that eloquently mentions in reverence all the people they believe in. And that vital issue as a Muslim is: Why have we not adequately explained what Qurâ€™an is and what it stands for? Why have we not explained to Christians that Jesus (as) is one of the most-mentioned prophets in our holy book? Why have we not conveyed to them that an entire chapter is devoted to Mariam (as), the mother of Jesus (as)? Why are they unaware of our reverence for the prophets that they themselves accept? Why donâ€™t they know our respect for Adam, Abraham, Ismail and Isaac, Moses, Noah, Seth, Job, Lot, (as)â€”why donâ€™t they know that we have respect in our hearts for all these prophets? And some ignorant people are going to desecrate this holy book?
It is apparent that we have failed to communicate these vital facts to them. If they were aware of these facts would they then desecrate the holy book that speaks in so reverence of their prophets? Desecrating a Qur`an is equivalent to desecrating Abraham, Jesus, Mary Moses (as) and all the other prophets mentioned above. It also amounts to desecration of their holy books, the Gospels, Torah and Psalms, as these are reverently mentioned in Qur`an.
Qur`an orders Muslims to believe in these books as Qurâ€™an says these are also Divine books. If they know these facts would any person of â€œAbrahamicâ€ faith then dare to be disrespectful, let alone desecrate, it?
It is just a matter of educating the ignorant. Muslims will never desecrate a Bible or a Torah because they both find mentioned as Divine Scriptures in Qurâ€™an. It considers the followers of these holy books as people of the book. So our better approach in future prevention of Qur`an desecration and similar assaults is teaching the people of â€œAbrahamicâ€ faith what Qur`an stands for–especially our commonalities.