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September 10th, 2010
12:12 PM ET

Would a Muslim burn the Bible?

If you’re trying to understand what burning a Quran would look like to a Muslim, consider this:

“For Christians, Jesus is the word of God. For Muslims, the Quran is the word of God. Imagine someone burning Jesus,” says Emad El-Din Shahin, a religion professor at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

Talk about the Quran has dominated the news ever since a Florida pastor announced that he would burn copies of Islam’s holiest book on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The pastor has since announced that he has called off the event, then later said it is still being contemplated. But his plan has already evoked some of the vilest acts of religious persecution in Western history, religious scholars say.

To burn a Quran is not just offensive; it is the equivalent of “destroying a people’s soul,” one Muslim scholar says.

The Quran is so sacred that many Muslims will not touch it without washing their hands, face and feet, says Caner Dagli, a religious professor at the College of Holy Cross in Massachusetts.

“Muslims always keep the Quran
in a high place. No book is ever placed on top of it. It is never placed on the ground,” Dagli says. “When a Muslim picks up the Quran, he or she
typically kiss it and then touch it to their forehead, and do the same
when they are about to put it down.”

The Quran teaches Muslims to respect the sacred books of Christians and Jews as well, says Chris van Gorder, a religion professor at Baylor University in Texas.

“To burn a holy Quran for a Muslim is to throw down a gauntlet,” he says. “Those who deface any holy book, including the Bible, in many Muslim countries today, will be executed.

“How many Bibles have been burned in the Muslim world in the last nine years? None.”

Muslims, along with Jews and Christians are known by some as “people of the book.” Each religion descends from the same branch. The prophet Abraham is their patriarch.

The Quran considers both Jesus and Moses great prophets. It also praises Mary, the mother of Jesus, says Shahin, the Notre Dame professor.

“Moses and Jesus are mentioned more than the Prophet Muhammad in the Quran,” Shahin says.
The Quran doesn’t just preach religious tolerance; the Prophet Muhammad demonstrated it in his life, Shahin says.

The prophet would meet Christian delegations in his mosque.

“He would allow them to perform Christian prayers in the mosque,” Shahin says.

Muslims believe the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in a series of revelations by the archangel Gabriel. They say the prophet journeyed to a mountain cave where, after falling into a trance, the angel came to him and ordered him to “Proclaim!”

The Florida pastor, however, says he is compelled by his own faith to something else –burn.
To do so, though, would replay some of the most wretched moments in religious history, says Ivan Strenski, a religious studies professor at the University of California, Riverside.

The Florida pastor who has threatened to burn the Quran has unwittingly evoked some of the worst moments in Western history, Strenski says.

When a group of people conquered another, they often sought to destroy their victims’ sacred books. The Spanish conquistadors and Christian missionaries, for example, destroyed the sacred books of the Mayans; American slaveholders tried to destroy the African religion of slaves.

Desecrating a people’s sacred book is like “destroying their soul; you destroy their sense of who they are,” Strenski says.

“It’s about controlling memory,” Strenski says. “You can oppress people. You can beat them down, but if they can retain some kind of memory of who they were before you beat them down, they can pass that on and when the time is right rise up again.

The notion of burning a Quran was so offensive to one religious scholar that he drew on his own personal history.

Van Gorder, the religion professor at Baylor University, says that Nazis not only murdered millions of Jews. They also burned Torahs.

“As a German-American,” he says, “I rue that the day of burning books has come to my own ‘civilization.’ "

- CNN Writer

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • 9/11 • Bible • Books • Interfaith issues • Islam • Persecution • Quran

soundoff (376 Responses)
  1. hotel para eventos en barcelona

    naturally like your website but you need to check the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I to find it very bothersome to tell the truth however I'll definitely come back again.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  2. Fundraiser Ideas For Small Groups

    No the mislims are not burn the bible because it is also their holy book i know and understand that a lot of treachery has occurred on both sides. i know muslims has stood against christain , i think no one has power to burn any religious book
    i want to say every one please respect every religion Thak you.

    http://www.christianbooksbibles.com/Articles.asp?ID=251

    July 16, 2012 at 6:52 am |
    • Mirosal

      Who was your "English as a 4th Language" instructor... Yoda?

      July 16, 2012 at 7:08 am |
  3. Fundraisers For Church

    No the mislims are not burn the bible because it is also their holy book i know and understand that a lot of treachery has occurred on both sides. i know muslims has stood against christain , i think no one has power to burn any religious book everyone should respect their and other religion and their books.
    i want to say every one please respect every religion Thak you.

    Fundraisers For Church

    July 16, 2012 at 6:47 am |
  4. LordAzrael

    Thousands of bibles are confiscated and destroyed in Saudi Arabia every year. Once again – Muslims lie.

    February 25, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Sara J

      Muslims Have not and will not burn any scare books as their religion refuses them to burn the Christian,and Jewish scare books. Also, Christians tend to lie more than any other people on earth.

      June 10, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  5. Robert

    Would a Muslim burn a Bible? Absolutely, in fact they regularly do:

    http://www.fcnn.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1522:iran-the-burning-of-hundreds-of-bibles-by-the-government-security-forces&catid=127:iranian-christian&Itemid=593

    February 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  6. Frank Bales

    Want peace? Ban religion; all religion.

    April 4, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Thisorthat

      The freedom for you to say " Want peace? Ban religion; all religion" was given to you by a Christian government (at that time) that is if your an American. Why would you want to ban Christianity, Christ died so that you can live, if you accept Him or not is your choice this is for sure, but look at Romans 5:7-9 & Philippians 2:9-11 before you are so harsh , OK?

      April 5, 2011 at 4:08 am |
  7. Perry

    Hey John Blake, Christians believe Jesus was the Son of God as well as the word of God, and the word of God according to John Chapter 1 is God . So most Christians believe that the bible is the written word of God and therefor God himself, same as the Muslims with the Quran. To Place a higher level of importance on the Quran and meaning to its followers, then the Bible is to Christians is laughable and condescending, as well as pandering to the violent tendencies of Muslims. Muslims should expect to have there customs, beliefs, and books given as much tolerance and respect as they give others, which we all know is very little. How many Muslim leaders have you heard denouncing publicly the burning of effigies, bibles, and flags......... I have yet to hear one. But one nut job from the south burns a Quran and its global outrage. CNN panders to these thugs (Muslims) by legitimizing their outrage. When Muslim leaders will start showing the same outrage for acts of disrespect to other religions, I will stop generalizing all Muslims as thugs, until then your cries are falling on very deaf ears. Frankly, I wish I could burn every Quran and Bible in existence, I am tired of living in a world where policies, wars, and actions are shaped by many peoples beliefs in a fictional deity in the sky. While I dislike them, at least christians don't try to stifle my free speech, I would burn a bible or a crucifix with little concern for my safety........... I can't say the same for you Muslim thugs. How many times have you heard a Christian leader call for the death of someone that wrote disparaging things about Jesus, I can think of zero. On the other hand you thugs (Muslims), are constantly issuing death sentences for those who dare to question or "blaspheme " Allah, remember Salmon Rushdie, Trey Parker and Matt Stone ( South Park creators). You Muslim thugs can dish it out but you weak minded thugs can't take it. So I say burn baby burn, stop pandering and legitimizing the actions of these thugs, the next Quran I see is defiantly going to be desecrated, I am sick of you thugs affecting my way of life, and refuse to bow to your mental midget minded demands. F you very much thugs.

    April 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Peaceful Muslim and Proud

      Islam doesn't call for the burning or destruction of ANY religious artifacts. A flag isn't a religion and the burning of it isn't nearly as bad as the desecration of land and PEOPLE. There was never any proof that Muslims committed the act of terrorism on 9/11, there has been a lot of proof that it was a complete set up. Look at how many people have to die because the US thinks that these other, Arab/Muslim, countries have weapons. If they did, wouldn't they have used them to protect themselves? They can't if they don't have any.
      Islam is not a violent religion, just because people do violent things doesn't mean it can be blamed on that persons religion or lack of religion. That is so ignorant. And the whole belief of you do this so I have to do this is completely childish. Bibles and Torah's weren't ever burned. However, you can find many many instances where the Qu'ran has been peed on or burned or ripped apart or in any other way disrespected. And no true Muslim would ever compare religions as superior or inferior.

      I wish people would not be so ignorant and judgmental.

      February 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • LordAzrael

      Peaceful Muslim – so the Saudi Government doesn't regularly destroy confiscated bibles ? Taqiyya or ignorance on your part, take your pick

      February 25, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  8. YUSEF

    I am totally and unequivocally against burning the Koran. It is extremely disrespectful to muslims. However, despite my opposition to this action by Mr. Terry Jones, I am equally opossed to the gross hipocracy by many Muslim theologans and scholars who turn the blind eye to all the church burning and bible burning that takes place in the Islamic world. The killing of Christians is a common occurence. There are kidnappings, and beatings and all types of atrocities committed against Christians all the time. Go to persecution.org and see for yourself. THe Western media are too fearful to publish the truth about all the evils committed by radical Muslims. The liberal media is heartless in its coverage of the persecution of Christians in the world. It is a shame that in our world, one act of desecration against Islam recieves all the attention but the countless acts of desecration, and violence against Christianity is overlooked and ignored.

    April 3, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  9. MamaMariaT

    "How many Bibles have been burned in the Muslim world? None."

    It is too bad CNN doesn't think to check basic AP stories. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/285123/christians_in_gaza_fear_for_their_lives.html

    You know why there are no bibles burned in the Muslim world? Because anyone caught with a Bible in a country following Sharia Law would get executed.

    Start doing your own damned job CNN, or I will start charging for research copy editor services! Twits!

    Stop the scapegoating folks. Quit taking a side in favor of political correctness and let's call it what it is. Hypocrisy

    April 3, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Thisorthat

      Thank you MomaMariaT for correcting me about who did the inquisitions. You are right the Jesuits are not to be blamed for this horrible torture of people who did not want to convert to Catholicism. It was the regular everyday priest who helped to propagate this atrocity. Maybe this is why it's "OK" to blame the Jesuits for everything? Because in doing so you catholics can divert attention away from the countless killings that took place all around the world all in the name of God, and expanding the empire, Catholic style. In case you want to make some assertions that we did the same in America, you'd be wrong, because the clergy was not in the forefront of manifest destiny. We protestants haven't done anything close to what you guys have done over the years. In fact if you look at your influence in the world it's a bad track record. Where ever Catholicism was or is the predominant form of Christianity the people live poorly and in many ways oppressed, even in Europe. In Europe the majority of people hate the Catholic oppressors. This is not the case with predominantly Evangelical countries,(unless the country begins to turn away from evangelicalism and toward secularism). I appreciate your Franciscan sympathy (honest, morality, modesty, etc) but monastic lifestyles of sticking one head in the sand don't work either, no matter how well intended that person is. I'm sure I'll be corrected for the directness of this letter but try really hard not to shot the messenger here, OK? Fact are facts. Having said all of that , I do what you say I agree with you completely on the issue the hypocrisy of CNN's reporting of the Pastor Terry Jones story and burning the Quran.

      April 5, 2011 at 3:59 am |
  10. Thisorthat

    Dear CNN, please remember you are in the journalism field (reporting the facts) and not the editorial field or the propaganda field. This article wasn't very fair now was it? Yes there have been a FEW things that Christians have done wrong in the grand scope of history (don't include the inquisitions- that was Catholics mainly the Jesuits). The Muslims over the centuries and even until now give no respect to anyone of any other faith or their writings. The systematically burn Bibles regularly. We Christians are the most liberating, loving, forgiving, freedom providing for women, holy, selfless of all other religions in the world. Some of you will make a reply based from limited knowledge, please investigate deeply before you make an off of the cuff remark. False information & Rhetoric no matter how many times you repeat it will still be incorrect.

    April 3, 2011 at 6:51 am |
    • MamaMariaT

      I'm a Catholic. We blame the Jesuits for everything. They are our scapegoat. Feel free to blame them for the Inquisition with our blessings.

      Only problem is, I don't think that order was around then. But it was a nice thought. The Inquisition began in 1198 and was made popular by Spain in the subsequent centuries. (In fact, it never really left Spain until the 18th century.) The Jesuits, as much as I think they are airy fairy, artsy fartsey types, did not organize as a formal order until 1571.

      But thanks for the thought. I am a Franciscan Sympathizer myself!

      April 3, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
  11. ThisGuy

    While I respect the message of religious tolerance (I think everyone ought to stay in their own yard), a major point brought up by this article states that a Bible has never been burnt in a Muslim country. I'm not religious so the only thing that bothers me is what appears to be incorrect reporting of facts.

    A simple Google search reveals several hits for "Muslim burn bible" including this: http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=35590

    April 1, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • scott

      no bible has ever been burned my ass, every church burned has at least one bible in it and how manny holy buildings go up in smoke daily in muslim countries?

      July 31, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  12. Bible Studies

    I think no one has right to burn a religious book, every one should respect his and others religion, thank you for the post..Bible Studies

    January 21, 2011 at 3:47 am |
  13. RightTurnClyde

    What a dumb article. Would a KKK burn his hood? Just because some "other" has some revered artifact does not make it virtuous. Muslims chop of heads with swords (on TV!) They televise barbarism. They stone women to death. They abuse women and children. They bomb airplanes and churches and make their children into suicide bombs. The kill for the sake of killing. They butcher innocent hostages. They have been doing this for 1,000 years (it is not a small percentage). Would they burn a book? Would they use a napkin at dinner? Do they treat their camel nice? You are trying to put a square peg in a round hole and you failed. They are barbarians.

    January 8, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Ace

      Well put.

      February 13, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  14. Lambert Pabellon

    The Bible is the word of God and it keeps no secret about life's realities. Most biographers, just like speakers on funerals and memorial narrate only the good things about the dead person but the Bible tells us what we should learn from bad and good experiences and situations that is contained in many books of the Bible. The Koran does not narrates who Muhammad is. A muslim prophet who lived a villain, poligamous and a shameful life/ history, because nothing good can be learn from his person.
    The Koran narrates the story of Ibrahim(Father Abraham) intending to Sacrifice Ismael in Obedience to "Allah". Then "Allah" intervenved and praises Ibrahim because he passed the test of Allah. This Koran story and claim is 600 years late which is a copy cut of the true narratives about Abraham and Isaac in the Mt Moriah Sacrafice/Offering narratives.
    Iran leaders campaigned hatred againts Israel, yet clearly, every Christmas we teach a world wide acknowledge narratives about the Three Wisemen – that Iran's wises men who were King Makers of Persin were the FIRST WORSHIPERS OF JESUS (besides the Sheperds). Islam Leaders are so afraid that the muslims will know the truth that their Wise men travel a distance just to worship and offered gifts which is a sign of adoration for THE BABY JESUS WHO IS A JEW!. If muslims are wise like their ancestors they, too, should worship Jesus – but it appears that they are not!

    Logic teaches us that A LIE HAS TO BE COVERED WITH SUSTAINING LIES TO MAKE IT TRUTHFUL. The Bible says " NOTHING IS HIDDEN THAT WILL NOT BE REVEALED". May the mercies of The God of the Bible be among the Muslims whom He love so much. "And if they will KNOW the TRUTH(Jesus) He will make them free" – "If the Son(Jesus) will set them free, they will be free indeed"

    November 6, 2010 at 3:20 am |
    • American Muslim

      With no disrepect, I am a convert to the islamic faith and I believe you are wrong ... We do believe in Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) and also in the virgin birth in which the 3 wisemen traveled and made offerings. So before you start offering your opinion you should read just a little bit more.

      And also, God picks a prophet not you or anyones opinion of a prophet. Everyone even a prophet has faults, God did not make us person, and he who casts the first stone, remember.

      March 27, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • Stretch717REV

      @American Muslim

      The unholy quran is a collection of hear-say verses from the Torah, Psalms and Gospels with the rants of a false prophet named muhammad. If you were a christian, why did you convert to that which is clearly defined in the Original Word of God (Bible) a religion that is stated as the beast of Revelation and accept the doctrine that denies the Son and the Father?
      1John 2:22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
      Matthew 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
      Matthew 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
      Revelation 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

      I encourage you to turn back unto the LORD, stop receiving the mark of the beast and worshiping the antichrist. May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to the truth in Jesus' name, amen.

      November 3, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      There is no difference between christianity, islam and the other cults – all so called holy books are pieces of bad fiction. You are merely quibbling over rules to the world's oldest and biggest fantasy role playing game. Unless, of course, someone has a shred of real evidence for their as yet wholly unfounded, and therefore silly if not insane, beliefs.

      November 3, 2012 at 1:31 am |
  15. NM

    please check out http://www.islamicsolutions.com/you-must-read-this-book/

    September 24, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
  16. Robert Tolson

    I know and understand that a lot of treachery has occurred on both sides. I know that Muslim has stood against Christian, and vice versa, as well as Muslim vs. Muslim depending on which "side" one is on. But this does not excuse the intended, or actual, actions of an individual or a church. I am Christian, and do not agree with the Muslim faith or the Quran. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the only path to salvation...however...
    This does not give me the right to pass judgment on another, or act in such a way of hate to "attack" the faith of another. The Old Testament does show many instances of this in conquering, however we forget the progression of scripture. "Old Testament" references, from the original translations, "Old Covenant". This was the giving of the Law. But in the "New Testament" (or "New Covenant") Jesus Christ sealed a new way of Christian life with His blood, death, and resurrection. This fulfillment of the law says that we must love our neighbor as ourselves. This does not mean our fellow Christian neighbor, or law abiding neighbor, etc. If your neighbor is a Satanist...we should all "love the person...hate the sin". Hate what they do, but love them. This goes for all things.
    I will say no more than this...and this one last reminder..."Do not say unto thy brother 'Let me take the spec out of your eye' when you have not taken the plank out of your own". This is not an attack or disrespect...just a reminder to us all...including me...Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". Pray...don't hate...

    September 14, 2010 at 9:27 pm |
  17. lorgat

    You read the bible,yet you peace loving christians massacred red indians,total annihalation of the original inhabitants of america,
    But you do not want know because people like you are evil to the core.So do not tell me my religion is evil.more worse you put them in to reservations,lock em up declare this your country and then tell us islam is such and such.go drown yourself in shame.i have been to the reservation and the conditions is appaling.shame on you racist murders.especially you freewoman.

    September 13, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
    • JAMES

      its funny you have to go back 200 years and try to include all Christians in your example when I can find hundreds of examples of evil perpetrated daily by your religion

      September 14, 2010 at 12:24 am |
    • phil

      you dont have to go back 200 years. Christians are daily killing people who are gay and murdering doctors who perform abortions

      April 1, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • AThinkingChristian

      One thing to remember in all this is that there are many kinds of Muslims, as well as many kinds of Christians; for any of us to condemn either religion based on the views of one of those subgroups, or one person in one of those subgroups, as the case may be, is to be cruel and naive. In forums, hate often abounds, so I would like to say what I believe.

      I am a confessional Lutheran, that is, a Christian who believes that the Bible is inspired by God and therefore inerrant. The Bible says that all people are, as you say, "evil to the core." It also says that God loves all of us, and that is why He sent Jesus to die for us and rise again, so that we may not be lost to our own evil, but may go to heaven. We are not to harm others. It is an atrocity that past Americans who happened to say they were Christians did this very un-Christian thing in destroying the Native Americans. As an American citizen, I am an unfortunate heir of this part of history, which I did not cause, but which I also cannot change.

      It is not an inherently Christian thing to burn the Quran or any other holy book of another religion. Many people in history and today have hidden behind a mask of false Christianity to excuse their actions as holy or commanded by God, when those actions were abominable in God's eyes. He desires all people to be saved, not murdered or imprisoned or enslaved.

      April 4, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  18. Lex

    Lol. Whatever. Not only will they burn Bibles, but they will kill Christians, burn crosses and destroy churches, etc.
    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/285123/christians_in_gaza_fear_for_their_lives.html?cat=9
    It is a such a joke this Islamic doublespeak. I refuse to believe it any longer. The only reason that this pastor made this news is because it is so UNLIKE Christians to do something like this. But headlines like, "Muslims attack Christians" "Muslims destroy churches" are so common.

    September 13, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
    • T. Jones

      I believe you meant to say that headlines like "Muslims attack Christians" "Muslims destroy churches" are NOT common headlines. Though it happens all the time, news agencies rarely comment on it so as to not sound accusatory of the Islamic faith (or perhaps to avoid a bombing on their office). I agree that it is uncommon for a Christian leader to do something like burn a Quran.. so there is an immediate news reporting on it and world wide Muslim uproar. The ease that Islamic faith moves to murder and uses violence to threaten others and themselves is scary. Like Taslima Nasrin from Bangladesh who wrote a book citing that Islam had abusive toward women and limited them only to status of housewives and mothers, which resulted in three bounties placed on her by Mullahs: One for 5000 dollars to kill her; one for 2000 US dollars to anyone who would smash her in the face; and one for 2000 to anyone who would locate her so she could be brought in for indictment under Sharia law – blaspheming the prophet, which is the death sentence. There is such an intimidation factor inherent to the faith. Certainly there are good persons who are nonviolent Muslims, but their voice is barely heard in most cases. And they will be branded as infidels, enemies of Islam, and cited to calamity and danger if they do speak up. There are so many factions of the religion that are out of control. Many Muslims know this. Also, in Muslim nations.. where there is little diversity and the diversity there is is subjugated by extreme prejudice, so obviously, that no one would willing step into that role by publically coverting to another belief... so the Muslims who are these countries.. have no real sense of defending another's right to worship, or not worship, as a personal choice. To them.. if all the terrorism, which is bad, finally leads to a Muslim dominance in the world.. then 'allahu akbar' .. it is the will of God. Why try to change it??

      April 5, 2011 at 8:23 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.