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My take: What would Mohammed do about U.S. pastor in Iran?
Saeed Abedini, with his 4-year-old son, was sentenced to eight years in an Iranian prison.
February 9th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

My take: What would Mohammed do about U.S. pastor in Iran?

Editor’s Note: Qasim Rashid is a national spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA. Follow him on Twitter @MuslimIQ.

By Qasim Rashid, Special to CNN

When will Iran's government and clerics stop running from the truth that their religion - which they call Islam - would be unrecognizable to the Prophet Mohammed?

On the mere allegation that American pastor Saeed Abedini evangelized Christianity, Iran threw him in front of a member of its Revolutionary Court, whom many have called a “hanging judge.” Abedini now faces eight years in prison, which is nothing short of reprehensible, immoral and cowardly.

If Iran’s purpose was to protect what it thinks is Islam, it has failed.

In 1902, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, courageously declared, “Religion is worth the name only so long as it is in consonance with reason. If it fails to satisfy that requisite, if it has to make up for its weakness in argument by handling the sword, it needs no other argument for its falsification. The sword it wields cuts its own throat before reaching others.”

Thus, in using force to counter Abedini’s alleged evangelism - an oppressive act alien to Islam - Iran’s religion cuts only its own throat.

If Iran’s purpose was to silence Abedini, it has failed. More people worldwide now know of him, his message of Christianity, his struggle and his passion than ever would have otherwise. Iran has given Abedini a loudspeaker that he never could have built on his own. Thus, while trying to silence Abedini's message, Iran’s religion silences only itself.

If Iran’s purpose was to honor Prophet Mohammed, it has failed. The message it has given to the world is one of intolerance and fear, characteristics alien to Mohammed's example of love and pluralism. Iran’s act does more to dishonor the prophet than Abedini ever could. Thus, by cowardly, hypocritically and ignorantly demonizing Christianity, Iran’s religion makes only itself look hideous.

As a practicing Muslim, I’m not sure what religion Iran practices, but it has nothing to do with the Islam that my Prophet Mohammed taught.

And what exactly did Mohammed teach?

My Mohammed declared in writing to St. Catherine’s Monastery at Sinai, “This is a message from Mohammed ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. … The Muslims are to fight for them. … Their churches are to be respected. … No one of the Muslims is to disobey this covenant until the Last Day.”

My Mohammed championed the Quranic commandment to protect all houses of worship, including churches. “Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made - because they have been wronged. … Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is God’ - And if God did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of God is oft commemorated” (22:40-41).

My Mohammed returned to Mecca peacefully and victoriously and, citing Prophet Joseph’s noble example, graciously forgave all his persecutors. While Mecca exiled Mohammed only for his faith, Mohammed now protected the rights of all to stay in Mecca regardless of their faith. But with one condition: that freedom of conscience remain free for all people, Muslim or not.

Had Iran followed Prophet Mohammed's Islam, no such “hanging judge” would exist, no such eight-year prison sentence would exist, and no such restrictions on Abedini’s peaceful preaching would exist.

So give it a rest, Iran. You’ve been running long enough. Your so-called religion honors neither Islam nor Prophet Mohammed, nor will it ever silence other faiths.

Stop running, Iran, or you’ll bleed yourself dry.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Qasim Rashid.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Iran • Islam • United States

soundoff (568 Responses)
  1. Mohammad

    Pastor should be released if he has not committed any capital crime. IRAN behaving like LAPD

    February 9, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  2. Morisco

    The writer is scripting some baloney here. Sorry to say that Iran although shiaa is NOT islam in my opinion...prosecuting ex muslims for converting to christianity are totally the teachings of Islam and Islam did that in the beginning of its era because of military reasons...deserting the army of islam meant death. Its a practice that the US had as well until the 60s...deserting the army in a moment of war meant death and it is still prosecuted as a crime in the US....Keep in mind that Islam is not only a religion, it is a Military system...: from a muslim that speaks arabic believes in Peace and loves america and its people but what can you do.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • mason

      All monotheistic clergy should be treated equally, and jailed everywhere for fraud and tax evasion...

      February 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  3. Eve Tanner

    FREE Pastor Saeed Abedini!!!!!

    February 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  4. Elliot Carlin

    I think secularists, atheists and darwinians should all be banned from using cash or any legal tender. (In God We Trust) They should also never be allowed to testify in court as they cannot swear on a Bible.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Swearing on a Bible is not a prerequisite to testimony. But you already knew that.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • snowboarder

      "in god we trust" is not a remnant of the founding of this country. try again.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • YouMayDisagree

      Well, unless you know exactly what God is you are being a blind full to trust something you don't know

      February 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Atheists: teaching Christians about their Bible

      What a moron you are, Elliot. You think swearing on a Bible makes people actually tell the truth?

      Oh, by the way, if you actually knew the Bible, you would know Jesus forbade oaths (Matthew 5:33).

      And putting God's name on money is a sacrilidge, isn't it?

      February 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  5. Eve Tanner

    FREE Pastor Saeed Abedini!

    February 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  6. Elliot Carlin

    Why would a Darwinian object to racism? Survival of the fittest and all that. If man were the answer, why would a Darwinian be in favor of abortion? We could be aborting the person who finds a cure for cancer, or better yet (here's some red meat for you libs) AIDS.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • snowboarder

      interesting strawmen, yet with no basis in actual fact.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      Great non-answer. Don't bother next time.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • YouMayDisagree

      Answer to what? What is the question?

      February 9, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • midwest rail

      It wasn't a non-answer. He correctly classified your entire post as a jumble of straw men arguments. You just didn't like the answer.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      Uh, hardly. Go to youtube and see the video on Andrea Bocelli and abortion. His mother was faced with the decision and made the correct one. Nothing straw about it. Perhaps MLK's mother could have made the wrong choice and blacks, bylibs definitions, would be set back another 100 years. You just don't want to consider these scenarios. Don't be lazy, better yet, its best not to respond with nonsense

      February 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Zingo

      Elliot is not interested in truth. He is only interested in abusing atheists, as the Bible tells him to do in "Turn the other cheek", uh, or maybe it's "Do unto others", uh, "Let he who is without sin", uh, "Judge not, lest thou be judged", uh . . .

      Okay, apparently Elliot is directly rejecting the Bible as he champions it. Kind of a hypocrisy thing. No surprice.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      no takers yet....*crickets* just the usual name calling...expected nothing different.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • snowboarder

      elliot, as with all abortion debates, i think you will find that no one is a "proponent" of abortion. abortion is simply a byproduct of the rights of women, which we many are the proponents of.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Yeah right

      So you want us to some play What Would Darwin Do fantasy imagination game based on your mistaking Evolution with Social Darwinism?

      All you have done is show your total ignorance of science and debate.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  7. Nebraska

    Religion is the biggest hoax on humanity that ever was. Your people think there is a magical man living in the cloud s. Yet u call ppl crazy for voicing an opinion against a government I sounds as though ppl need a wake up call. I had mine two yrs ago. I died twice ( my heart stoped twice) from a motorcycle accident, when I died the first time I felt my breath get shorter and my head got heavy, all I remember is a ringing and black. No pearly gates no light (as some have claimed) just black and emptyness. I was a baptized Lutheran and attended church regular. I don't anymore because I was told when i die in going to heaven, I saw nothing

    February 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      and it is apparent you still see nothing. Basing your beliefs on experience, rather than Truth, will cause you to be the arbiter of all things. And it just isn't that way.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Drew

      You seem pretty sure you were headed to Heaven then, eh?

      February 9, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • snowboarder

      elliot, your "truth" is simply the indoctrination you have received. it is based on nothing tangible.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      If there is no objective/absolute truth in the universe, then truth is what I say it is. Right?

      February 9, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      and Snowjob, what you believe, if anything, isn't based on anything tangible either. Great strawman :)

      February 9, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Nebraska

      I was told as a young child that Jesus died for my sins, I could go to heaven if I went to church. A drunk driver hit me doing 70mph I now have one arm and have to miss in a bag, if there was a true god then he would have accepted me and not have allowed me to live my life in agony,and pain.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • snowboarder

      elliiot, what belief have is espoused in these comments? please explain exactly how it is tangible or not.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Patrick

      I was also christened a Lutheran...as time went by, I eventually became an agnostic. I cannot critique an experience so personal as you describe, but had it been me, I would not be able to live with such a dark vision of life. I don't believe in bearded men in the sky, but I do think there is some sort of spiritual or timeless quality to life. Some say life is only driven by the force of evolution, but evolution in itself (not to mention our understanding of it) is a wondrous thing! I still believe that life is a miracle, and even if it is the only miracle, it is the one to which we owe our existence. Though we die, we are all connected through the miracle of life, and even if we stop breathing, our spirit lives on in our brothers and sisters and all our children, even those yet to be born. Unfortunately, right now it seems our society is not worried with our children, only with money (at the expense of everything else).

      February 9, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • snowboarder

      patrick, if by spirity you mean memory, sure.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  8. forgetcnnbull

    US Air Force Veteran, Finally Allowed to Fly Into US, Now Banned From Flying Back Home

    Secret, unaccountable no-fly lists are one of many weapons the US government uses to extra-judicially punish American Muslims

    by Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian, Feb 9, 2013

    February 9, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Mohammad

      democracy against islam and muslim people. I bet middle east is watching how you treat your own people because of their faith. Why you worry about Iran.. look at your own govt here and your comments on CNN.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  9. el_incr

    Mohammad would simply behead the pastor. Quite simple really.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Nebraska

      Onot after raping his family and mutilating them would he let the pastor beg for death, then our "hero" mohamed would return home to his 8, 9yr old wives

      February 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • jacob

      I am God. I am the One.

      who the f*** is Mohammad anyway?

      February 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  10. Lardeau

    Never will I be able to understand why 2 religious factions who worship the same almighty Creator who is all things GOOD can be at such odds against other. It goes back even to the Crusades. Like why can't both live in eternal peace, respect, tolerance, and love. You know why ?? Because the influence of the Devil is in the mix. If you believe in God you must also believe in the Devil.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • snowboarder

      lard, after reading any of the old testament it astounds me that anyone could label the abrahamic god "good".

      February 9, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • el_incr

      The two religions as you call them, DO NOT worship the same God. Allah is the moon god of the Kaaba and the God of Christians is the God of Israel, Jehovah. The God of Israel had a Son. It is blasphemy in Islam to claim that Allah had a son.
      Mohammad killed the Jews because they would NOT surrender their beliefs and submit to Allah.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  11. snowboarder

    islam, like all other religions is a remnant of more ignorant and supersti tious times. religion thrives in the places most devoid of education.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      Well thought out comments in light of the founding of our country. Tell me, did you ever receive a days' worth of edumacation OUTSIDE our public system?

      February 9, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Mohammad

      islam taught prophet Mohammad to read. So how can the religion be spreading ignorance? You such full of it. You cant stand islam because you cant stand the truth. What is denial?

      February 9, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • God: a Barbie doll for the mind

      Elliot, America was founded on Enlightenment ideas, not religious ones. The Enlightenment was, to a great extent, a rejection of religion due to the failures of religion to make the world a better place. The Founding Fathers well knew the results of theoracy from the Puritan totalitarianism under Oliver Cromwell, and they well knew the centuries of religious war that had wracked Europe.

      Nice try. Totally wrong, but that's what comes of embracing propaganda that tells you what you want to hear, instead of what truly happened.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • snowboarder

      elliot, this country was founded on the principle of individual liberty by people of a diverse religious backgound. denying that fact is being willfully ignorant.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  12. sativa king

    Religion is a neurological disorder, especially Islam.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Mohammad

      You are wrong. It is a cancer of peace.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      Securlarism is a neurological disorder, especially Darwinianism

      February 9, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • snowboarder

      elliot, only in secularism can liberty thrive. the first casualty of theocratic rule is liberty.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
  13. YouMayDisagree

    People use God for good and evil, it's time people stop lying to themselves and put a face on "God" , this can be achieved by looking in the mirror...

    February 9, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
  14. Get Real

    People who do not use toilet paper do not deserve to live anyway.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Get Real

      Oh, I forgot my original thought. This guy knew the laws in Iran and he still went there. I feel bad for him but that is how it goes. As Americans we always say people from other countries should assimilate to our culture and culture/laws. Well he should have done the same thing. He was from Iran and knew full well what the deal was. When you swim with sharks and you are bleeding you will have serious problems. This guy has serious problems.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Mohammad

      are you comparing muslims to your cat and dogs?

      February 9, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      So by which method do you plan to "off " yourself?

      February 9, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • snowboarder

      i recently read that nearly 80% of the worlds population does not use TP.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Morisco

      They have cleaned for centuries and still clean their body parts with water your body parts are full of chunks of S*it, try taking a shower using toilet paper...they knew soap toothpaste and daily showering when your ancesters lived in caves in england and germany.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • Ron Nader

      I should say the same for the waste of space who brought your sorry behind into this world...

      February 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  15. snowboarder

    Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a wise man.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
  16. I AM

    Well, where did all this Islam Religion go wrong ? It went wrong like all religions, when the zealots get hold of it and forget the tenants of their faith. I'm not a man of religion, but I am a man of faith.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Were the tenants just renting the tenets ?

      February 9, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • Mohammad

      Truth be told, the media is the one that hijaked it after giving too much air time to the bad apples of muslims. Where the a billion muslims kept watching the same media with surprise and the whole world portray islam as such. What a sad era.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • God: a Barbie doll for the mind

      Religion is the mind going wrong and inventing invisible being to explain natural phenomenon. It happens right at the beginning: it instantly goes wrong. And when in the normal course of events knowledge shows religious explanation to be wrong, religious people get belligerent and, like Live4Him, start flailing around to say the true knowledge actually doesn't say what it says.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  17. Weed smoker

    Religion needs to be abolished for mankind to continue to evolve, religion inhibits mankind. Just look at how awful the middle east is.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  18. Mohammad responding to fake one

    Why would CNN invite a non muslim to defend islam? Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was a self proclaimed prophet that has no bases in islam, Quran or the original teachings. Just like mormonism.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • God: a Barbie doll for the mind

      I bet he isn't a real Scotsman either.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Edwin

      This is an opinion piece, not an article written by CNN.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      We Christians have been getting used to CNN's modus operandi. Non-Christians always telling us what we believe. Thanks.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • Ted

      Prophet Muhhamad (no peace after him) promoted nothing but hate to the infidels. He would have either killed the Christian preacher on the spot, or told him "convert or die" as he did countless times during his life.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • I agree

      while i may agree with the author to some extent, his belief system is very similar to how a mormon is to christianity. The Ahmadiyyas are considered non-muslim by majority of the muslim community (both Shia & Sunni). Although they may sound tolerant & nice, their belief system goes against certain cores of islam. This shows up in their thinking as well. Take for example how the author not once says Peace be upon him (PBUH) after the name of the Prophet (PBUH). They will pick and choose certain hadith.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • God: a Barbie doll for the mind

      Elliot, you do realize that for many centuries, if you did not believe what the Christian church told you, you were repressed or executed, right? You do know that it is Christianity that has for centuries done what you claim CNN and seculars are doing to you?

      February 9, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  19. Weed smoker

    Religion enslaves the mind.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Little Feat

      Don't bogart that joint, my friend. Pass it over to me.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
  20. az

    “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth has been made clear from error. Whoever rejects false worship and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks. And God hears and knows all things.” [Quran 1:256

    February 9, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.