Insecurity of Faith and Burning Books


A pastor from a small non-denominational Church in Florida has received unprecedented world wide coverage for his plan to burn a few copies of the Quran.

Whether he decides to carry out this stunt or not the fact that a person who claims to be a man of God, wants to burn a sacred scripture of another faith is despicable.

Mr. Terry Jones, the pastor of this church believes that the Quran is from Devil and hence the devil should be destroyed. Little does he know that he is desecrating and lighting fire to the spirit and essence of the great teachers of humanity, Jesus, Moses and all the other prophets.

This Florida church has only fifty members yet the impact they have created all over the world is immense. Even though we wish our "free press" had not given so much attention to this insignificant group but let this be a teaching moment.

This small band of radical Christians claim that they are the true Christians the same way as those who destroyed the Twin Towers in 2001 claimed that they were true Muslims.

The Muslim community all over the world is outraged at this attempt of burning the Quran. The best way to respond to such an act would have been to ignore it, but it is too late for that and now the leaders from the USA to Indonesia have been forced to jump in to this circus.

What is significant in this situation is that a large number of faith leaders from all traditions and government officials in the USA have voiced an emphatic condemnation of burning a sacred text.

Muslims must appreciate those religious and government leaders who have come forward to condemn Terry Jones. Muslims should not fall in the trap most Islamophobes have fallen in to by equating a faith with the deviation of a few.

Muslims must remember that Islam demands Muslims to show respect to people of all faiths and promotes a pluralism that is not defined by the politics of the day.

Anyone who wants to burn the Quran can not burn the message of Quran. The Quran is preserved in the hearts and minds of people and there are millions of Muslims all over the world who have memorized the Quran.

Muslims must maintain their high moral grounds and when others talk about burning the Quran, we must spend time memorizing a few more verses of the Quran and filling our more important obligation to read and understand the Quran.

History of Burning Books

It is not unusual for clergy, invading armies or other people to burn books as is witnessed in our human history. Such an act may be done because:

  • People may have a paranoia of emerging ideas that challenges their understanding of the world or
  • People may have insecurity in their understanding of their own faith.

A look at the history of the burning of religious text will give us an understanding of the hatred and ignorance that has existed in our religious and secular circles. Here is a review of some prominent incidents of book burning. 

History has witnessed the burning of Library of Alexandria by Christian forces, Library of Baghdad by Mongols, the burning of books and burying of scholars under China’s Qin Dynasty, the destruction of Mayan codices by Spanish Christian conquistadors and priests, burning of Muslim and Jewish books by Catholics during the Inquisition, Torah burning by Christians in Germany, destruction of the Sarajevo National Library. In 1193 after defeating Jai Chand the army of Ghauri, mostly Muslim, is said to have burned the library of Nalanda, known as Dharma Gunj, Mountain of Truth.

It is recorded that in AD 367, Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria, issued an Easter letter demanding that Egyptian monks destroy all books except what constitute the ‘New Testament’.

In his 1821 play, Almansor, the German writer Heinrich Heine, referring to the burning of the Qur’an, during the Spanish Inquisition, wrote “Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings.” (“Dort, wo man Bcher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.”) Heine’s books were among the thousands of volumes that were torched by Christians in Germany.

New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, founded in 1873, inscribed book burning on its seal, as a worthy goal to be achieved. The Society destroyed some 15 tons of books, 284,000 pounds printing plates and nearly 4,000,000 pictures. The society also successfully lobbied the United States Congress to incorporate its objectives in the Comstock Law.

At the advice of Minister Li Si, Emperor Qin Shi Huang of China ordered the burning of all philosophy books and history books. This was followed by the live burial of a large number of intellectuals who did not comply with the state dogma.

In 168 BC the monarch Antiochus IV ordered Jewish ‘Books of the Law’ found in Jerusalem to be burned. 

About the year 50 AD a Roman soldier seized a Torah scroll and, burned it in public. This incident almost brought on a Jewish revolt against Roman rule.

The Egyptian alchemical books of Alexandria were burnt by the emperor Diocletian in 292. In 303 Diocletian also burned Christian books.

In 1242, The French crown burned all Talmud copies in Paris, about 12,000, after the book was “charged” and “found guilty” in the Paris trial.

In the 1480s Tomas Torquemada promoted the burning of non-Catholic literature, especially the Jewish Talmud and also Arabic books after the expulsion of Muslims and Jews. 

In 1490 a number of Hebrew Bibles and other Jewish books were burned at the behest of the Spanish Inquisition. In 1499 about 5000 Arabic manuscripts were consumed by flames in the public square at Granada on the orders of Ximenez de Cisneros, Archbishop of Toledo. 

In 1526 William Tyndale’s English translation of the New Testament was burned in London by Cuthbert Tunstal, Bishop of London.

Martin Luther’s German translation of the Bible was burned in Catholic-dominated parts of Germany in 1624, by order of the Pope.

In 1656 the authorities at Boston imprisoned the Quaker book in public..

In 1731 Count Leopold Anton von Firmian – Archbishop of Salzburg burned the Lutherans books.

In 1933, Christians burned works of Jewish authors, and other works considered “un-German.”

On May 10, 1933 Christian youth influenced by Nazi philosophy burned copies of the Torah.

On the 23rd March 1984 hundreds of copies of the New Testament were ceremonially burnt by Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem. 

In recent history there have been several incidents of burning of Music CD’s and other books of fiction and non-fiction.

There have been several incidents of Harry Potter books being burned, including those directed by churches at Alamogordo, New Mexico and Charleston, South Carolina. The burning of Beatles records after a remark by John Lennon concerning Jesus Christ. In 1988, a group of Muslim British citizens burned Salman Rushdie’s book Satanic Verses in London which was followed by the burning of Yusuf Islam’s music CD’s after he made some statements about Salman Rushdie. In May 2008, a group of Jewish youths burnt a large number of New Testaments in Or Yehuda, Israel.

This is a dark side of our humanity. Let us all work to extinguish the fire of hate and intolerance.

 

Dr Aslam Abdullah is director of the Islamic Society of Nevada, Vice president of the Muslim Council of America (MCA) and the President elect of the Nevada Interfaith Council. He has authored several books and published more than 400 papers on issues related with Islam and contemporary issues. He has taught at colleges in India as well as in the US. 



26 Comments

  1. It is high time for us to start respecting one anothers faith and scriptures. We the muslims believes that Allah is the final judge in the hereafter…………

  2. I am really surprised at the intellectual of Romesh. He is always trying to humiliate Muslims by raising ignorant questions and making irrelevent statements ignoring his own religious traditions where the so called lower caste people were killed by individuals given the status of gods and goddess for listening to the holy scriptures of Brahmins.

    He raises the stoning to death issue. This is a Biblical verdict and the Brahminical rule as well. In the old days, human beings were sacrificed by Brahmins to please gods and goddess. The Quran does not mention stoning to death. The Quran and Islam is not responsible for the misdeeds of its followers.

    He fails to make a distinction between a faith and its deviants’ behavior.

    He is always ready to insult and what else do you expect from someone whose ideology dictates to him that all other humans except the one belonging to his caste are inferior and lead a low life.

  3. FBI file record said only 6% of the terrorists are muslims

    and

    A study completed by Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said, “The terrorist threat posed by radicalized Muslim-Americans has been exaggerated.”

    and

    The christian already burn the Koran.

    What more is to come?

    Muslim in retaliation set fire to a Christian missionary school and government buildings in two Kashmiri districts.

    It all started in USA

    …………..

  4. I would like to remind muslims to be calm and patient during these on going world haterate on islam.we should recite qur an more and memorize it and make Du’aa everyday. Qur-an is the sacred book and the almight God promised to govern it. Our syndicate should be to practice at maximum our prophet’s teachings.

  5. I have a similar opinion to that expressed by Shuja Ref; 55009

    I have embraced the Quran within my belief system and performed Hajj (May GOD accept it).

    After reading and accepting the Quran, I naively thought that I would be able to discuss the meaning of the Quran with any of 1.5 Billion Brothers and Sisters who claim to be Muslims, to enable a deeper understanding of the guidance given to mankind by GOD.

    Do I really need to say anymore?

    What excuse do the people of Countries that have a majority of Muslim’s (or people claiming to be so) to explain why they are in dire predicaments.

    Is it because

    A. Shaitan (Who has no Power) or

    B. There own actions/inactions

    They do not heed their Quran, favouring everything else.

    So may question is why do they get upset if some unknown, unworthy of any mention, hateful, poor excuse for a holy man, Unchristian christian (non-christian) Pastor burns some copies of the Quran.

    If he legally owns them, then they are his property to do with, as he desires.

    Does anyone have to fill certain criteria to be able to purchase a copy of the Quran?

    Does everyone who claims to be a Muslim

    Own a Quran

    Cherish it (Not leave it unopened on top of the bookshelf)

    Read the Quran critically

    Read the Quran regularly

    Tried to understand the Quran

    Obey the instructions within the Quran to the best of their abilities

    Referred back to the Quran as the Al-Furqan (Standard) by which to judge all matters regularly

    Accept the Quran completely (with full conviction that can only be gained by pondering/meditating deeply on all Ayat)

    Try to perfect their actions, thoughts, desires, goals to please GOD

    For if they were, they would have no time for a misguided (By Satan) FOOL’s actions by behaving despicably, WITHOUT PATIENCE (What GOD expects most from MUSLIMS)and instead follow SATAN by burning, rioting, killing etc, etc, etc, etc, etc. etc, etc, etc, etc, etc etc,

  6. Sir Ramesh Chander comments about Islam yet have very little knowledge like the redneck and the Pastor of Florida.

    As far as I know (not an expert), Stoning is allowed because

    1. God made it permissible ,but has many many strings attached, such as gotta have 4 witnesses and if one repents then should be freed and it is mostly for repeat offenders.

    You just do not go around stone people.

    2. Stoning is done to prevent creation of sick adulterous and fornicating societies as it is in the West. Stoning may sound horrible, but the damage done by adulterors is much more horrible, i.e.- destruction of the fabric of families and civilized socities.

    Why let 15 minute of sexual excitement ruin your family? And why create a society that is full of whores?

    Does Ramesh Chander want her daughter or son to have sex with 20 different men or women while she/he is married to one?

    I would refer Sir Ramesh Chander ask Dr. Zakir Naik of peace TV of his native India. I urge him to listen to Dr. Zakir Naik and all his questions will be answered.

    In conclusion, God knows best. We stupid humans are very stupid and that’s why ask stupid questions.

    If it’s in the scripture, follow it as you would follow the recipe to make an American Pie. Don’t be like Pharaoh, the eternal loser.

  7. Pastor means priest having spiritual charge over a congregation. A Christian pastor who never gives such kind of statement if he really follows his religion.No religion advises to do bad thing. some wants to die for the religion but they never follow according to the principle of the religion which they follow. We should not give importance to that Pastor. He might have given this statement to get cheap popularity.

    Allah knows all and He would safeguard His book and that is history

  8. Why protect one adulterous woman? why you keep quiet when allied forces (USA and UK) killed one million Iraqis. This one million people are gone forever!

    It is time people all over the world to read the Koran and understand the message. Lets compare our understanding, the present Muslims understanding is better or the new readers understanding is superior?

    Afterall the Koran is meant for all mankind and Muslims are under examination…

  9. This is a response to Romesh Chander. As your name may indicate, I am confident to ascertain that you hate Muslims and thus for your ignorant question. Muslims do condemn the stoning of any person anywhere and Islam makes it extremely difficult for an adultery accusation to take hold: there should be 4 witnesses who have seen and witnessed an act of adultery plainly and without any obscurity. Anything less and is rejected!

    If your reference then is to the stoning of the Iranian woman, let me remind you that the Iranian regime does not represent 1.5 billion Muslims either. As to why you never hear Muslims condemn such stoning, it’s because the wonderful media favors a negative portrayal of Muslims. Therefore, the media will not broadcast Muslims worldwide outrage to such injustice! Is that not the case also by your ignorant question?

    ATW

  10. Assalamu Alaikum Brother in Islam, I fully support this article published by Dr Abdullah and this article should be publish in all major and widely read newspapers and magazine in US and the West.

    Islamic religion cannot be destroyed by burning Islamic scripts. This miraculous Islamic doctrine is preserved and protected in the memories of the entire Islamic Ummah.

  11. AsSalaamu Alaykum,

    Just want to say thank you for all you do. These articles are wonderful and Inshaallah people around the world are getting the message.

    Jazakallah

  12. I dare ask the Editor to publish this; if he does not I will understand that even Western educated muslims hate human reasoning.

    I do not find muslims even mildly enraged when a woman is stoned to death but explosively enraqed when somebody desecrates Koran. When a woman is stoned to death, she is gone forever. But one can print

    millions of copies of Koran instantly.

    So, let muslims answer this question faithfully and honestly (no iffs, no Ands, no Butts):

    Which is more offensive (1) stoning a woman to death (2) burning of Koran

    This question can’t be difficult.

  13. As u say Dr. Aslam the people who’s doing somthing like that doing that because:

    People may have a paranoia of emerging ideas that challenges their understanding of the world or people may have insecurity in their understanding of their own faith.

    That all the story .. thx for sharing these article

  14. Congratulations for doing an excellent research on “burning of books ‘ in history.

    One should not get rattled by these ignorant and stupid acts and other irrational acts of the mob as long it remains non-violent.

    You are right if the contents have an immortal message it won’t disappear by burning books.

    There have been barbaric acts far more terrible than this stupid acts. Imagine burning some one else’s property, lives as in pogroms, mutilation, killing of humanbeings, honor killings, stoning a woman to death, napalming in the name of religion and gassing. etc. etc.

    There more things to protest about about injustice, poverty, corruption, torture and war etc. than harmless burning of books be it a novel or Quran or any other man-made “Holy book”.!!!

    Kam

  15. I am an American living in the usa who was raised as a Christian. Some yeas ago I reverted to Islam and I’m proud to say that the first thing I learned in Islam was to respect the religion of others. I also learned many valuable things being raised in a Christian home as well. One of these things being, if you can’t love people on earth then you cannot love God or find ever lasting peace in heaven.

    I think both muslims and christians alike can learn something from both these simple things. It’s easy to spreed hatred through ignorance and fear of what you don’t know or understand. It’s also easy to throw stone for stone or to twist the teachings of peace in such a way to incite war.

    But burning a book of God, be it a bible or quran, is NOT the answer. Would not calling for a day of international peace and prayer been a better idea? Haven’t we all learned anything? Violence begets violence and one stupid and unkind act only makes for more of the same w/ both sides trying to out due the other in an effort to prove domanice and greatness.

    But the greatest things we can do, christians and muslims alike, is to learn forgiveness and respect for each other. We have an obligation from God to the younger generation to show them that disrespectful acts, unkindness,fighting,killing and hatred isn’t the answer. We must remember that we will be accountable for all our action in the end of life. That God is looking down on us and sees all that we do and know why we do it.

    We should worry more about pleasing God than being the stronger more dominate one who one upped the other. With so many people homeless, hungry, dying of starvation.. diease and war… one would think we had enough to focus on fixing that we wouldn’t have time to resort to burning a holy books. If this action is carried through, shame on the one who does it.

    Especially the pastor of a church who should be teaching respect for religion and love.. not hate. This man needs to go back and READ his bible in God’s name

  16. The pastor has provided us with several billion dollars worth of publicity. He has done a favour to us. Can we match him by distributing 100 million copies of the Qur’ans to non-Muslims?

    What is the point of whining and crying. We have abandoned Qur’an centuries ago. Brothers, when Bani Israel was following Torah, they were Muslims, when they abandoned Torah in favour of Talmud, they bacme Yahud. We have religiously abandoned Qur’an and divided us into factions. Who abandoned the Qur’an?

    The religious authority of Muslims and they converted us to a Nationalistic, Tribal, Factional and Khaumi group. If we wanted to become universal, we need to go back to the book. What is the title of the companions? The people of Qur’an. What is the title of the current Muslims? The people of hadeet and fiqh. It does not mean that we have to abandon Sunnah. Not at all. We need to bring the primary source of salvation into our lives. There is no substitue to the Qur’an. Qur’an is the most straight forward and esiest book on this planet. It is the source that can unite us back. We need to analyze hadeet, fiqh and sunnah according to Qur’an.

    Reading the Qur’an with just translation is not enough, it should become mehwar, rooh, spirit, center of attraction, the light bulb, the noor and kernel of our lives. We need to understand every other discipline of Islam or the world according to the Qur’an. Qur’an is the Furqan. We need to go back to Qur’an. Take up the challenge, and distribute 100 million Qur’an all over the world.

Leave a Reply