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Dr. David Liepert: Time for a Little Honesty: Sometimes Muslims Burn Qurans

27 February 2012 Huffington Post 49 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
Dr. David Liepert

Dr. David Liepert

Time for a Little Honesty: Sometimes Muslims Burn Qurans

Twenty years ago, back in the “good old days,” when Rambo still fought alongside the Mujahedeen in Hollywood and Osama bin Laden still worked in Afghanistan for the U.S. Department of State, I discovered I had a problem.

Back then, as a newly “reverted” Muslim, whenever I went to the mosque, people kept handing me leaflets, advertisements and calendars with snippets of the Arabic Quran on them. And although they meant well, pretty soon, those leaflets started to pile up at home: because although I realized I couldn’t just throw them out in the garbage like any other trash, I didn’t know what else to do!

However, when I brought my conundrum to the imam I learned the answer was actually an easy one with a long scholarly tradition to support it. He told me the most respectful way to deal with God’s message to Muslims — in it’s original Arabic format — was to burn the paper and ink it was delivered with, and give God’s message back to God.

So when Quran burning first hit the popular media a few years back, I have to admit I didn’t really understand what the problem was. Obviously, someone idiotic enough to want to burn God’s message to God’s servants without even reading it wasn’t going to respect it, no matter what else he did with it: I figured sending it back to our shared Creator was the probably the wisest thing he would ever do!

So despite the heat of current controversy surrounding the U.S. Army’s recent attempt to burn old Qurans in Afghanistan, if Muslims are being honest, we’ll admit that burning them is one of the ways Muslims discard old “well-used” Qurans, too.

Granted it’s not preferable: Qurans deserve better treatment than short snippets of phrase, and so an honorable burial, or being sunk to the bottom of a running stream, is better. Regardless, it’s not the paper or the ink that really matters, it’s the message those words deliver that Muslims love the most. And to honor that message, when the vessel that contains it no longer proves adequate to God’s purpose of high-fidelity transmission, we give it back to God.

However, a better way to honor it is to actually live by it, and frankly, that’s where we seem to be falling short these days. Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand why Muslims get upset with non-Muslims disrespecting our religion. But the thing is, our religion has very specific advice about what to do when that happens! And no-where does it say we’re supposed to kill or be killed!

Instead, even though honor mattered to pre-Muslim Arabs in Muhammad’s day as much as it seems to matter to Muslims today again, since it didn’t matter one whit to Muhammad back then, it still shouldn’t matter to Muslims now at all.

He told his followers very specifically that his honor wasn’t worth getting hurt for, and even with an army behind him he wasn’t willing to fight for it himself: In fact, while Muhammad was alive he brought the way Arabs worshiped honor over life to a crashing end. Don’t believe me? Check out what happened at Hudaybiyyah. Because what happened there brought peace to the Middle East for Muslim and non-Muslim alike, which was one of the main purposes of Muhammad’s Islam.

Now it seems we’re back to where we started: Our world is being torn apart by tribal, national and religious chauvinism, just like it was being torn apart back then. However, the good news is, Muslims generally figure that what worked back then should still work today, right?

So, when someone burns a Quran, what should Muslims do? I don’t think anyone’s said it any better than Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra, who chairs the mosques and community affairs committee of the Muslim Council of Britain:

“What is captured on the pages can be printed again. If they burn 1,000, we can print 10,000. What’s the big deal? … A NATO soldier killing innocent people is far more painful than the burning of a Quran. I would rather they burn 100 Qurans than to hurt one woman or man or child.”

And that’s the message we should be focused on, because it’s not just the Muslims who aren’t following their book, it’s everyone else too. America today, despite invading Iraq and Afghanistan, an invasion that’s resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children for the sake of vengeance and American security still considers itself a “Christian” nation. And didn’t Jesus once say something about turning the other cheek?

And while we’re at it, God was pretty clear in the beginning, that He was putting the Jews in charge of the Holy Land because they’d bring God’s benevolent Justice, and God’s benevolent Peace to all people’s living there, something the Quran confirms.

Israel wants security, and Palestine wants justice. Judaism and Islam, on the other hand, both say you’re not following either religion until you want for your neighbor what you want for yourself.

Enough said?

So while like every other Muslim out there I honestly believe that Muhammad’s Islam holds the answer for everyone, it’s not like you might think, if you don’t know Muhammad like I know Muhammad.

Because if you go by the actual record of what he did, rather than the rhetoric that surrounds it, Muhammad didn’t bring God’s peace by making everyone live up to Muslim standards. No, he made everyone live up to their own standards instead: He made Christians be better Christians, he made Jews be better Jews, and he made Muslims be better Muslims.

So what he did? Well, I think that’s what we should do too.

And enough about Qur’an burning!

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49 Comments »

  1. This man is excellent writer and has some wonderful points, can we all follow the true tenents of our own religions, then there maybe peace between us all.

  2. I heard from a Muslim friend that it is proper to burn a defaced, ripped or ruined Qur’an. However, there is a ritual behind it. The US trooper may not have any malicious intent, but they did not properly dispose the defaced Qur’an.

  3. When I think of how violently people in the US react when someone burns the US flag, I can understand how upset people might be over burning their religious book.

  4. There is proper ways it is to be done and should be done by a Muslim but important info is to remove one page so the book is not whole. The Quran can only be touched by a non Muslim if a page is removed.

  5. People have to learn to differentiate between an honest error and malicious intent. No book is worth the lives of 4 or 5 US soldiers and about 20 Afghan civilians.

  6. This is the result of religious fanatics using this as an excuse to fan flames of hatred. No piece of paper is worth one human life!

  7. That doesn’t make sense, non Muslims touch complete qur’ans all the time.

  8. Like here with republicans giving people an excuse to be bigots, Muslim extremists need any excuse to get riled up and violent. They’re as bad as our “Christian” extremists. They give Muslims a bad name while our “Christian” extremists (like Santorum) give Christians a bad name.

  9. The burning quran represents the occupiers disrespecting their values and belief. How can you say your there to “help us” and your not at war with muslims and islam, yet you burn our religious text? (Through afghan eyes)
    No need to blame “religious fanatics”. It’s naturally for afghan to express their anger towards troops who’ve been occupying their home for over 10 yrs.

  10. All very true.

  11. Even as a nontheist I agree with this entire article. Live and let live.

  12. Kevin, what are you talking about?

  13. The Korans weren’t actually supposed to be burned anyway. They got mixed up with trash by accident. This is likely such a big deal simply because of eleven years of building resentment of conditions in Afghanistan

  14. Yes, let’s be honest. Who ever burnt the Holy book, meant disrespect.
    This article is trying to justify the disrespect intended.
    Since Muslims fast Ramadan, should the world starve them as well since they fast as well?
    The premise is true but the conclusion is misleading.
    You don’t even need to know philosophy or logic to see the cover up here.

  15. this go beyound the quran this has to do with 10 years of war by white christian the us of umd in american made bombs the use of rape against the people by american the stilling of there kids by americans

  16. You can burn quran,,killed muslim ppl,,burn mosque….but you can’t burn Islam !!!!

  17. It is my impression that we are in Afghanistan at the behest of the Karzai government. The beef should be with them, have them ask us to leave, please. Regardless, the accidental burning of the holy books is not an excuse to take human lives.

  18. @john they didnt take human lives they took american lives theres a difference

  19. We’re in Afghanistan at our own behest. We established Karzai as our client, well after our invasion. Part of his job as our client, of course, is to request us to stay.

  20. @ Nallein: Americans aren’t human?

  21. nallein, your hateful speach is not becoming of this page. it is about peace to all. allah would never reward the killing of any human lives over some ignorant mistakes. if everytime a goth kid burned a christian bible christians physically attacked or killed them it would be equally unacceptable.

  22. nallein, your hateful speach is not becoming of this page. it is about peace to all. allah would never reward the killing of any human lives over some ignorant mistakes. if everytime a goth kid burned a christian bible christians physically attacked or killed them it would be equally unacceptable.

  23. Excellent article, but there’s a factual error in the first paragraph. It wasn’t the State department involved in Afghanistan, it was the CIA, and Bin Laden never worked for them. They helped fund the same cause, but Bin Laden never took orders from the CIA.

  24. Burn baby burn! Where’s my lighter?

  25. Burn baby burn! Where’s my lighter?

  26. Isn’t it just possible that the recent violence in Afghanistan is a response to being occupied, drone bombed, exposed to photos of American soldiers posing with the dead like trophies, and pretty much disrespected at every turn. It doesn’t take much of a flame to strike a fire under these circumstances.
    BTW: Karzai took control AFTER the U.S. moved into Afghanistan… but I understand how easy it is to forget such subleties.

  27. Isn’t it just possible that the recent violence in Afghanistan is a response to being occupied, drone bombed, exposed to photos of American soldiers posing with the dead like trophies, and pretty much disrespected at every turn. It doesn’t take much of a flame to strike a fire under these circumstances.
    BTW: Karzai took control AFTER the U.S. moved into Afghanistan… but I understand how easy it is to forget such subleties.

  28. @keira i dont have god sorry

  29. @keira i dont have god sorry

  30. 2keira i wasnt speak in name of religion all so called holy books even the bible is filled with death from god which is why i care for ether but it still wrong to burn it

  31. 2keira i wasnt speak in name of religion all so called holy books even the bible is filled with death from god which is why i care for ether but it still wrong to burn it

  32. These people are hardly a represntation of islam, they are meerly more fanatics hiding behind a banner as an excuse to kill people. The kind of poverty they live in and the wars that always seem to be takeing place is an understandable breeding ground for that sort of mindset if the us were a poor nation forever invaded by other nations we would see the exact same thing.

  33. […] Dr. David Liepert: Time for a Little Honesty: Sometimes Muslims Burn Qurans […]

  34. It is not allowed in Islam. It was allowed during the time of the Prophet (pbu) during war times and men were killed. They would take the wives of killed soldiers to provide for them and their children. It was for taking care of people. If you can take more than one wife and treat them both just and fair then be my guest. I don’t know of any man that can do that.

  35. Rayeane, its still allowed in Islam, I just dont think its practiced as much, and I agree I dont know of anyone that can love more than one person the same.

  36. I can see where having a second woman around to help with house kids etc would be excellent, but the intricacies of relationships would make it hard to live in a polygamous family.

  37. Rayeann Noyes: If I’m not mistaken, that’s Allah’s rule. I don’t remember the exact verses, but I remember there being a verse where it says if you can treat all of your wives with equal love, you can have them all.

    Then I remember another verse that seemed to intentionally contradict that by saying that was impossible.

  38. So in short hand, the Qur’an says you can have multiple wives IF you can treat them with equal love and respect, but then it reminds you that’s not possible so don’t even try it. :P

    Basically, yea, it is unIslamic if I interpret it correctly.

  39. Jeremy, well said, and Jen you cant marry just for “more help around the house” you hire a maid for that:)

  40. WELL PUT.

  41. Please support Judge Martin. He is being viciously attacked after he lectured an Islamophobe who insulted prophet Mohamed at a parade in PA that freedom of speech does not mean he hurts or insults others. All the anti-Muslim organizations (especially the CNN) are leading a dirty campaign against the man for refusing a bigoted action against Islam. You will find the story on the CNN, but here is his contact.. please please please send a letter of support and call to thank this wonderful judge for his actions. Please!

    Mark W. Martin
    Magisterial District Judges
    Title: Magisterial District Judge
    Phone: 717.766.4575

    Contact:
    507 N. York St.
    Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
    Ph: 717.766.4575
    Fx: 717.766.2238 ….

  42. Talal, I agree with you, but violence is wrong, I totally understand this mans anger over seeing a messenger of Allah being direpected in such a manner, I wonder how many christians would have done the same thing if they had seen Jesus(PBUH) disrespected??? but violence is wrong

  43. Glad I did not read the article..after reading some of the comments..I will say ..the Holy Qur’an is not a “piece of paper..” it is the Word’s of Allah/God. And Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, was a Prophet of Allah/God. Thank you Mona for your word’s. I wonder how it would have been if they burned truckloads of the Holy Bible? A different story I think…Salam, Idhamou Ani

  44. Very good artical

  45. The comments on what Christian’s would have done if a truck load of bibles had been burned or what Americans would have done if it was the U.S. Flag. Let me tell you what would not have happened, riots would not have broken out and no one would have been killed. Christians do not riot and kill people because Bibles are burned. They just print and buy new bibles. Bible burning has happened quite often and to date I have heard on no one being killed or injured by Christians over it. As to flag burning people do protest flag burnings but rarely is there violence over it, which is why it is burnt, stomped, and spit on by Muslims in demonstrations in cities like New York while being taped and placed on You Tube. Other people also burn the flag and while it makes people angry we simply watch it burn because freedom of expression and speech has been bought by the lives of hundreds of thousands of United State Citizens who have died under that flag defending its values. For a citizen to burn that flag is akin to spitting on one’s own mother. You can do it and you can get away with it, but what kind of person are you?

    My point is to not try to justify the riots and murders taking place due to the Koran’s being burned. If faithful Muslims are committing these acts it says little for Islam, the only excuse that can be made is that these people perpetrating these acts are ignorant and do not truly understand their religion.

    As to the Judge, he has some problems and If I use those numbers it will not to show support but to support his removal, Muslim or no. The case was one of assault, the decision should have been guilty or not guilty-the religion of the people involved should have played no consequence in this case. If the judge was being asked to make a summary judgment he should have listened to the evidence made a decision, restated the crime, gave a synopsis of how he made his decision, and then issued his decision. His moral outrage should not have entered into the judgment and should not have been aired in that courtroom.

  46. It’s not really about Qurans. It’s about US Troops occupying their homeland and just shooting them when they feel like it.

  47. Milton I am not sure if solders just kill whomever they want but I can agree with your point. If solders from another nation were in my city and they killed or injured members of my family I may take part in riots or worse. We cannot win the hearts and minds of a nation by killing its citizens, even if we think we have a good reason. War is not compatable with winning hearts and minds.

  48. Quran should burn cause it create a lot of problem among human. Quran make Muslim lazy, less confidence, oppress women, fanatic. All this teaching create by Muhammad terrorist

  49. […] ~Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra quoted by Dr. David Liepert in a new article featured at Islamophobia Today […]

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