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Imam Abdullah Antepli: An Open Letter to Violent Muslim Protestors

18 March 2012 General 33 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
Imam Abdullah Antepli

Imam Abdullah Antepli

We witnessed another violent and tragic set of events in reaction to the most recent Quran burning scandal by NATO soldiers in Afghanistan and the dust has yet to settle. Violent protests continue in different parts of the country and several civilians have lost their lives. In our recent history, we have seen several similar violent Muslim reactions when some Muslims feel Westerners have insulted and attacked their sacred images or values. The tragic reactions to Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses,” an infamous Danish cartoon and its bloody consequences, an insignificant Florida pastor’s foolish but costly Quran burning show and more. This column is an honest and sincere call to the Muslims who took and have been taking part in these kinds of violent protests.

Fellow brothers and sisters in Islam who, through whatever means, got involved or are planning to get involved in these kinds of violent protests: As an Imam and, more importantly, as a believing, practicing Muslim, I can’t help but think, “what’s wrong with the Muslims who are involved in violent reactions regardless of the nature or enormity of the offense and insult?” There may be some psychological, political or even cultural explanations (which I will not waste any space discussing in this column) for these primitive and violent responses, but I believe there can be no Islamic, religious, ethical or moral justifications for your excessive, lawless and destructive way of expressing disapproval and hurt. Therefore, I condemn and shun all past and recent Muslim reactions with the strongest possible disapproval and dismay. Shame on you!

These violent reactions of yours really do not make sense on many different fronts. For any Muslim who believes the sacredness of the Quran as God’s final revelation to humanity, that very same Quran condemns and rejects such anarchy in many of her verses and teachings. First of all, the Quran invites us to respect and engage with her divine message more so than the actual physical form of the book that is found between two covers. Respecting a physical copy of Quran could be understandable, but violating its central teachings and principles–for example by killing innocent people–just because someone disrespected or insulted a copy of the Quran is unacceptable, barbaric and reprehensible. No physical copy of a holy scripture, including the Quran, is more sacred than the life of a human being. This is what the Quran and our beloved prophet, whom the Quran came through, teaches us over and over.

Secondly, what do many Muslims throughout the Muslim world do when the copies of the Quran get really worn down and become unusable? We burn them! Yes, you didn’t read it wrong: It is a common Muslim practice to respectfully burn old Qurans when they are no longer reparable. It is proclaimed all over the world, including Afghanistan, in many different interpretations of Islamic law that this is an honorable farewell to these old copies of the Quran. So how do you justify your shameless reactions to Quran burning?

Moreover, these unacceptable and indefensible responses only serve to confirm the fabricated, monstrous and scary image of Islam as a religion and Muslims as a people to the fearful world. I really don’t understand how my fellow Muslims do not see that, with their reactions, they actually prove what has been said about them by their enemies. You call my religion evil or terrorism and, in order to “disprove” this insult, I will go kill people, burn embassies, act like a bloodthirsty crazy person…. Don’t you fellow Muslims see the ridiculousness of this logic and actions! The uncivilized images of these violent protests by these irresponsible and violent Muslims shape the image of 1.6 billion Muslims all around the world. These images are so powerful that even education and exposure to real Islam later on is unable to remove these images from the hearts and minds of many non-Muslims.

Maybe more importantly, Muslims themselves are not immune to the images of these ugly and violent scenes created by fellow Muslims. Seeing the actions of Muslim extremists over and over on a daily basis increasingly causes Muslim internalization of biased anti-Muslim propaganda. This creates an atmosphere of perception that all of the world’s extremists are Muslims. Do these angry Muslim protesters not realize how much harm and destruction they do to Islam and to their fellow Muslims all over the world?! Or how much pain and embarrassment they inflict on fellow believers?

Finally, my dear fellow Muslims, you may be thinking that you have been defending Islam and Muslims against their enemies through these violent protests. May God bless you with enough common sense and wisdom to realize that, by protesting in this manner, you are being the worst and most destructive enemies of Islam.

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33 Comments »

  1. Anyone who is willing to kill for any god is insane

  2. Nice to hear from a voice of reason.

  3. I wonder the same thing in or own country when people open fire on innocents, killing multiple men, women and children. We have our share of home grown terrorists too. Timothy McVae comes to mind, college campus shootings, high school shootings, massacres at McDonalds, you name it, we got it. Religious beliefs, madness, bullying, hate are all factors.

  4. there is hadith in which prophet said if u see s0mething wr0ng st0p it by your hand if cant then by your m0uth n if cant then by ur heart n that is the lowest level of faith . i think its en0ugh for the imam to kn0w n undrstand

  5. Afif: but now that he knows and understands I hope he tries to do whatever he, as one man, can to change things…

  6. question for Afif: What level of “wrong” was the prophet referring? Does “by your hand” include violent means?

  7. @rudy no the prophet forbade his dollers from attacking any one .we must find a peaceful way of dealing with any giving situation.did u know at times of war Muslims must not kill innocence or damege trees or kill animal? And this law is for all time? They r many misguided soul with in Islam that’s says diff.may Allah swt guide the misguided towers the path that pleases him.

  8. Followers not dollers Sry my phone

  9. It is good to say this sort of thing, but it appeals to reason so it probably won’t work.

  10. Imam is right
    agar insaan ka iman pakka hai to usko koi gumhra nahi kar sakta

  11. Ellen, over 11,000 terror attacks against christians/jews since 9/11. A little different than that of people who have lost all sense of reality. When you have one of the largest countries in the world made up of totally immigrant population, you will have some incidents of violence. The oklahoma bombing does have ties to mooselimb terrorism. Read the facts before totally selling out this great country. Where would you rather live, Saudi Arabia, Iran or Turkey? See how many rights as a woman you would have.

  12. rudy : evry wr0ng w0rk that make u feel unwell 4m soul n0t 4m ur w0rldly thoughts

  13. y y0u people c0me up with the same attak on w0mans right !
    GIVE ME YOUR HOLY BO0K REFERENCE IN WHICH W0MAN HAS M0RE RIGHTS THAN MEN ? OR TELL ME WHY USA OR UK OR FRANCE D0NT HAVE W0MEN ON TOP AS ADMINISTRAT0R ?

  14. where u g0ne give me y0ur c0ments

  15. Women do have top administrative positions in the US and more so in the UK (as in Margaret Thatcher?!). Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State and was almost president (as an example). No “holy book” should dictate as to who has rights or who does not (as in separation of church and state). The malignant extremist interpretation of religion is a huge problem in our world, where each religion’s most zealous and dogmatic followers justify violence against others and expound ethnocentrism as an excuse. It is an incredible lack of respect to burn a Koran or a bible and is offensive to religious people – or a cartoon satire on Mohammed. But none of the above justify violence against others – period.

  16. then y she didnt became president ? y n0t a single w0men president in all these christians.

    n 4 ur info she d0nt speak of herself bt do wat d cabinet says. she realy dnt hv a power.
    she is jst a c0ver p0ster 2 show dat usa is giving equality

  17. It’s nice to hear a voice of reason. It makes no sense to kill people over a few burned books.If the ideas in a book have value those ideas will live on no matter how many books are burned.

  18. ur w0men just w0rk as m0del 2 show their flesh in advertisement or to be as an assistant in s0me c0mpany

  19. or to make p0rn in difrnt locati0n

  20. wat type of respect do u give in these jobs ?

  21. why there is n0t a single presidential candidate a w0man ?

  22. n I WANT 2 ASK THIS IMAM WHERE HE WAS WHEN NATO SOLDIER KILLS THE CIVILIANS OR WHERE HE WAS WHEN US SOLDIER WERE CUTTING THE DEAD BODIES N PISSING OVER IT N MAKING VIDEO IT ?
    WHY HE DIDNT SAID THAT TIME THAT THE SOLDIERS R DOING WR0NG ?
    HE DIDNT WR0TE LETTER TO THE OFFICIALS THAT TIME ?
    THE PROTEST IS N0T JUST AGAINST A SINGLE VIOLATI0N OF ISLAM BUT AGAINST THE WHOLE ATROCITIES THAT SOLDIER ARE DOING IN NAME OF FREED0M N DEM0CRACY !

  23. I want to copy this to keep for myself and to share. Excellent from my point of view.

  24. I think we need more education the deen can’t be practised through ignorance

  25. Great article, but I think that Muslims need to send Missionaries into these troubled areas to teach these concepts in conjunction with a better understanding of the Koran.

  26. Chris Gennett Is troll and liar. There has been a racist views towards islam prior to 9/11 . 9/11 Just made it an open policy. Your facts are nonsense. I dont know what channel or what paper he reads , but anyone who is not a racist knows that Islam is the new Jew.

  27. I was asking a simple question no reason to go all jihad on me ….

  28. Criley, Hera
    I agree

  29. If only we heard more Muslims saying this louder. You’re a good man. I don’t object to criticism of the west, or of my own country (providing it is done within reason and fairness), but too many Muslims simply side-step issues like this and don’t realise that the same approach to their religion is very important, and criticism and hate speech aren’t neccessarily one and the same. I actually don’t like Islam in the state it is in now, but I don’t have anything against Muslims as people hope it can change like christianity was changed, and maybe Muslim-majority countries will be wonderful places to live one day.

  30. Afif
    Calm down. Remember Surat Abasa, the blind man and the ignorant man.
    Rudy
    No, simply arbitration. If there’s a fight, to apply this hadith I would physically go in and stop it. There was a segment on the Colbert Report about people who do it for a job, the Interrupters? I think that was it, the lady featured on the show was Muslim.

  31. Amen brother.

  32. when ameican take 2million lifes in Iraq for oil: Not Terrorism
    When Serbs rape Muslim women in Kosovo/Bosnia: Not Terrorism
    When Russians kill 200,000 Chechens in bombings: Not Terrorism
    When Jews kick out Palestinians and take their land: Not Terrorism
    When American drones kill entire families in Afghanistan/Pakistan: Not Terrorism
    When Israel kills 10,000 Lebanese civilians due to 2 missing soldiers: Not Terrorism

    When Muslims retaliate and show you how you treat us: Terrorism

    It seems like the word “Terrorism” is only reserved for Muslims

  33. i would love to know what allah has instore for the somali model named iman. she dosent deserve to have that name. she is not muslim. i would love it if muslims can consider this as an issues in our community.

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