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. OldSchool


    @Old School

    You do realize Islam is a religion, not a nationality, and there are American Muslims, right?

    Just wonderin'

    Yes Kate, I am well aware of that.

    September 11, 2010 at 9:05 am |
    • freewoman

      Islam does not believe in the equality for females. therefore Muslims are not American.

      They want to bring that nasty Sharia to America like they have in the UK... NEVER!!

      Sharia is a shame of humanity.

      September 11, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
  2. NeverForget


    September 11, 2010 at 9:01 am |
  3. NeverForget


    Our country must never forget all the innocent people who died that day!

    September 11, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  4. freewoman

    Will a musllim burn a bible?

    but they will burn other humans.
    we have proof of that for sure...
    burning paper is no crime. burning humans should be.

    September 11, 2010 at 8:13 am |
  5. mathieu

    You're a damn idiot. We went to the middle east after 2 planes flew into the Twin towers 9 years ago tomorrow. The fact that you just blamed the US for 9/11 shows everyone here how small minded you really are.

    September 11, 2010 at 8:09 am |
  6. He lies!

    Two years ago, Bibles were burned in Gaza! Also our soldier's Bibles were destroyed by our own US Army, saying soldiers cannot influence Afghans of another religion! Our soldiers are not even to wear a cross necklace!

    Do research before believing this guy!

    September 11, 2010 at 7:55 am |
    • freewoman

      9 yrs ago 3000 people were burned alive.

      Did not see any muslim protests of that!!

      September 11, 2010 at 8:15 am |
  7. The Rinkster

    Hate to bust it but Muslims busted down a church doors in Hebron and burned Bibles on 2007


    So much for Muslims never burning bibles in nine years from 9-11 to now.

    September 11, 2010 at 7:03 am |
  8. Mike

    Good. Consider the gauntlets thrown down.

    September 11, 2010 at 7:03 am |
  9. freewoman

    Tolerance is a one way street to Muslims.

    Where is their tolerance when they murdered all those people?

    They make demands they themselves refuse to give others.

    Burning a book with a myth printed on its pages is more an insult to the trees than the myth.
    The tree was alive, the myth was not.
    The tree was murdered first!

    September 11, 2010 at 6:41 am |
  10. Richs

    Did Christ tell Christians to kill those who refuse to convert to their beliefs unless they accept a subordinate position in a Christian society? No!
    Did Muhammad tell Muslims to kill those who refuse to convert to their beliefs unless they accept a subordinate position in an Islamic society? Yes!

    Did Christ practice deception and tell followers to deceive non-believers to further the spread of Christianity? No!
    Did Muhammad practice deception and tell followers to deceive non-believers to further the spread of Islam? Yes!

    How can any person say Islam is a religion of peace? How can anyone believe the Imams whose goal is to institute an Islamic political and legal system upon the entire world. They cannot conquer us militarily, so now they are infiltrating our society in order to conquer us from within.

    September 11, 2010 at 6:36 am |
    • freewoman

      I think you need to read that bible at least once
      The christ did till his believers to kill the non believers.

      And the christ did say non believers will go to hell for not believing.
      there is no tolerance in any mythic dogma book..

      They all say to kill the non believers of its myth and its god..

      September 11, 2010 at 8:09 am |
  11. gschong

    Sorry, prof, Muslim radicals have been burning plenty of Bibles and destroying crosses as well: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/285123/christians_in_gaza_fear_for_their_lives.html?cat=9

    September 11, 2010 at 6:24 am |
  12. @ Kurt "Who destroyed Bhudda"

    Your whole post consisted of a biased view of a religion's most extreme sect. The majority(billions) of Muslims are moderate, peace loving everyday people.

    Oh btw heres an extreme end to another major religion which is definitely not the case with the majority here.


    U just cant analyze from the extreme end

    September 11, 2010 at 5:58 am |
    • JT

      Where are the moderates and why has the media missed reporting form that part of world?

      September 11, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
      • Keith

        Kate, Please answer the 8:05 am & 8:11 am posts. "Beware" @ 9:55 am would also like a response.

        September 11, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
        • Keith

          Kate, G4y people won't go to Hell because they're g4y, they'll go because they're sinners. They'll go because they reject the Soveriegn God of the univere's free gift of salvation. They'll go because they reject Jesus as Savior. They'll go because they refuse to repent(turn away) from their sins. In other words, they'll go for the same reasons many other non-g4y people will.

          September 11, 2010 at 4:27 pm |
        • freewoman

          thats got to be the dumbest thing I have read since I read the bible...

          September 11, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
        • Keith

          Kate, that said(without moderation), I will reject their lifestyle. I do not like the schools teaching children that being g4y is normal and acceptable. God calls it an abomination. They have activist judges on their side. They have a willing media on their side. But we have the Holy God of Israel on ours. Jesus paid for the sins of g4y people just like He paid for my sins. Again I have no beef with them so long as they leave me alone. Same as the muslim. I was minding my own business hanging 6" sprinkler main with a black apprentice from Toledo named Deion when 19 of those vermin decided to fly planes into our buildings. Before that I hadn't paid much attention to islam. It was just another religion, no big deal. But having this thing in my skull called a brain, I am darn sure paying attention to them now! I've seen enough of the 'religion of peace'. Don't try to use that casting the first stone crap with me. Or cleaning up my own religion first. That's not my job. That will be taken care of at the Judgement. All roads do lead to God–but only Jesus leads to eternal life. Now are you going to answer the questions or not?

          September 11, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
        • peace2all


          Ahhhhh must be the 'pipelayer' keith starting hate and trouble again. Wearing, as you say...."ignorance, intolerance, bigotry, hate, and wing-nut christian fundamentalism....to say the least..... "as a red badge of courage"(and proud of it) And now you are trying to claim using your .... 'brain' Come on...get real here..

          With all of your hate, ignorance, intolerance and bigotry, I am afraid you have no-–'credibility'

          You still never answered 'my' questions from a day or two ago... and here you are 'badgering' @KATE and it seems anyone else about some questions that they apparently did not want to answer or haven't yet.

          Keith....gotta say, you are what make American's look and sound real bad here on these posts.

          I still wish you peace anyway......

          September 11, 2010 at 10:10 pm |
        • Keith

          Peace2all, So sorry we can't all be good little 'cookie cutter atheist Americans' like you and many others on this blog. Perhaps you can get the President to fly around the world and apologize for my behavior. We'll see how that religion of yours is workin' out for you after the Great White Throne Judgement. Good luck with that.

          September 12, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
        • peace2all


          We must have somehow got off on the wrong foot. Don't mean to argue with ya'.....heck, we are both American's who love our country.

          And as far as me being some kind of atheist.....(which is not an official religion by the way), you really don't know what I believe. But, I most certainly don't believe in a god as described in the bible. A little too much story-telling mythology for me.

          But hey, if it works for you....

          My only point of....*concern* is that you seem to have just a little bit too much hatred and prejudice against gays, other religions that aren't fundamental christianity..... that's all.

          I think we are all *trying* anyway to get along.... are we not...?

          And as for "The Great White Throne Judgement".....? Is that when JC comes down in the book of revelations and smites all of the infidels, sorry.... i mean ... unbelievers....?

          Well, I sure hope that you are wrong on that one because, from your perspective, looks like I would be in a whole 'hell' of a lot of trouble.

          Anyways Keith.... I do wish you Peace brother......

          September 13, 2010 at 12:49 am |
        • Kate


          If Flight 77 had come in from a different angle, my husband's name would have been read out this morning – he was at Pentagon Metro when it was hit, he wouldn't have gotten out.

          And like everyone else, I was mad. But I am mad at the people responsible, those who follow behind an egomaniac.

          At the end of the day, religion is a red herring. Religion doesn't have anything to do with what bin Laden is doing, it's about him and his messianic complex, he wants to be the savior of his dream, an Islamic Caliphate – with him at its head. Sure, he calls it Islam, but that's just how he persuades others to join his cause – he's no more Islamic than David Koresh was the Second Coming.

          But he's trained – by us – in how to do the maximum damage with the minimum resources, how to prey on people's fears. And he's succeeded. Terrorism 101, they're going to be writing books about him, 9/11, and everything we do now, for decades to come to examine at War Colleges the world over in stay-behind tactics.

          People need to stop being afraid of themselves. People need to stop being afraid that America as it was founded, as it was envisioned, as it has existed for 230+ years, is not strong enough to withstand the threat of fundamentalists and extremists.

          Because at the end of the day, if you're afraid America will fall, then you've lost your faith. Not your faith in God – your faith in everything that is America.

          Time for you to decide what you believe.

          September 11, 2010 at 11:35 pm |
        • Keith

          Kate, The moderator decided to post my 8:33 am comments after all. I hope this helps to clarify things. This question was and is open for anyone who might want to answer it- I'm not picking on Kate, she just chose to throw her hat in the ring first. It's funny that the g-a-y community has all this horsepower but won't answer a simple question. I have my own ideas as to why they won't answer, but I'd like to hear from them first.

          September 11, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
        • Kate


          Omnibus response:

          You didn't get a reply until now because, to be quite honest, I had much better things to do today. I'm sure you can guess what they were.

          As to your question regarding the g4y community, the blunt answer is: How the frak should I know why they have or haven't mobilized? I'm not part of that community, and I'm certainly not going to speak for them or guess at their motives. So I'm not sure why you want an answer from me on the specific question you asked – I'm not "qualified".

          I will offer my personal opinion however. I think it's ironic that a religion that says it's based on the New Testament seems to keep finding reasons to go back to the Old Testament selectively, as with the issue surrounding g4ys. It's that selective approach that makes Christians dangerous, because you never know when they're going to reach back to the parts they say don't apply to modern life any more when it suits them.

          Like the bits that cover treatment of women, executions, forbidden practices – you see why I have concerns?

          In specific, I don't care who gets up to what in their bedroom or their relationships. That's between their consciences and God, it's not for me or anyone else to judge – and I disagree and condemn the idea that people should be executed for such behavior.

          Don't get me wrong, I'm very pro-death penalty – but it should be for actions that grievously harm another, such as murder, or child molestation, and certainly not for morality reasons.

          So yes, I reject that part of an ideology that mandates death for being g4y. Does that make me conservative, liberal, progressive, or simply a human being?

          As for your last question, you're not going to like the answer: Yes, if NCA determines any domestic group, organization, ideology, or anything else were a threat and sent us in to deal with it, I'd do what it took.

          Do I want to ever have to engage Americans? No. But I took an oath and I would follow it, having to trust that NCA's judgment was correct and the threat required the use of our particular skills to defend the country, the Const|tution, and everyone here (even those I disagree with).

          Even Reality (if they're American).

          If you don't understand the mindset that gives you that answer, I strongly recommend you read On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs by LTC Grossman. I would suggest however that you put religion aside when you try read it, as it's totally unrelated.

          The Const|tution is clear, the Bill of Rights equally so. Theocratic rule is the opposite of what the Founding Fathers called for – as I've said before, I believe that they based the genesis of America using Christian beliefs, but they were very specific in using them as guidelines, not absolutes, and certainly not a "Christian Country".

          So I don't believe the powers that be at any time would see an attempt at imposing theocratic rule in America, of any faith, as being desirable.

          Bear in mind however that the scenario that would likely lead to a military intervention of the sort you're asking me to consider would be something like Westboro Baptist Church or Dove taking up arms and starting an insurrection, or the Islamic population of Michigan declares it an Islamic Caliphate and is secceeding from the United States, or similar – there's a difference between that and changes implemented through the legislative process, legally, democratically.

          In the latter case, that same oath binds me, us, all of us, to accept the democratic process. We have a means to resolve that if we disagree with it – we elect new representatives.

          Does that answer your questions?

          September 11, 2010 at 11:25 pm |
        • Kate


          I forgot to mention, that long post wasn't even addressed to you, it was a response to the cr@p James decided to spew out. It deserved a proper honest response. I do however notice that it seems it went right over your head.

          As I noted: You can't make people think.

          Just sayin'

          September 11, 2010 at 11:44 pm |
        • Keith

          Kate, Thank you for your response. I understand-I too have better things to do and do not always get back to respond promptly. You know, you and I are just going to have to agree to disagree on many of these issues. That's okay. I just find it facinating as to why the g4y community does not shun islam-yet attacks Christianity every chance they get. I wish you well Kate. And I hope that Christianity does not become 'hate speech' and I hope they don't send you to arrest me. Personally, I'm hopin' the rapture happens before that. Take care.

          September 12, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
        • Kate


          It might be that Islam isn't considered the "controlling" religion ... Islam isn't in control so why spend time combatting Islam's opinion of g4ys when Christianity has a much greater control over public morality?

          Just a guess.

          As for the latter – unless you're planning on armed insurrection en masse against the government, do you really think they'd send the Marines after you? 🙂

          Just grinnin'

          September 12, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
      • Gretzky

        The media has not missed reporting, you just need to change the channel from FOX to something unbiased.

        September 12, 2010 at 2:19 am |
    • Sashland

      "moderate and peace loving"

      But, what does their book say?

      September 11, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  13. Sary Basha

    as a muslim we must (not optional) believe , respect and love God, his prophets and his holy books.
    how can we even think of burning a holy book?? Any Muslim who burns a holy book will have to rethink his beliefs.. there are consequences..

    September 11, 2010 at 5:52 am |
    • freewoman

      to be a Muslim you MUST do , think everything in your life as dictated by your dogma book.

      You have no option to do and think for yourself. If you do, you are killed and sent to hell.

      I would not call that living.. but a prisoner of insanity.

      September 11, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  14. InTheBubble

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

    Make that "plenty." Here's just one example: ". . . gunmen Sunday attacked Gaza's Latin Church and adjacent Rosary Sisters School, reportedly destroying crosses, bibles, pictures of Jesus and furniture and equipment." This quote is from:


    Christians warned:
    Accept Islamic law

    'New Hamas rule means real changes,'
    missionaries to be 'dealt with harshly'
    Posted: June 19, 2007
    1:00 am Eastern

    By Aaron Klein
    © 2010 WorldNetDaily.com

    September 11, 2010 at 5:14 am |
  15. Robertf

    So, if God exists and all the Bible believers believe they are right, and the Koran believers believe they are right, and the pagan believers believe they are right, and the atheist believers believe they are right, and Buddhists, and Hindus, and Hopi Indians, and on and on and on and on believe that they are ALL RIGHT. How about God, assuming that you actually DO EXIST, how about it being time you show yourself to all of these believers and nonbelievers, and not-knowers, and stop playing games by hiding out behind all those clouds and all? Or, perhaps this is just one damn big gruesome game, sort of like the Romans watching the gladiators fight to the death, and God is watching because it is so damn interesting because he set the whole damn grisly game into motion for his enjoyment! But if that is true, then how do we readjust our thinking about the grand creator of it all?
    Well, I guess I am asking for to much, as I don't think the creator is about to show himself anytime soon, and put an end to the mystery! Yes, now that I have offended all the believers in every possible religion by bringing up the subject of the gods being more like the Greek idea of the gods on Mount Olympus with all too human frailties-jealousy, greed , lust, hatred, love, courage, cowardice, arrogance, and no sense of humor at all etc... I suppose I am going to hell for just saying it or thinking it. But honestly, I do believe in God, I only wish I didn't. And as for the fanatics out there be so willing and anxious to take offense, and murder for your god and your so-called holy books and his honor, I think you have severe mental problems and should be under some very heavy medication and kept in a padded room where you cannot hurt anyone until you are cured of your delusions!!!

    September 11, 2010 at 4:46 am |
    • freewoman

      amazing... the more time humans have been thinking beings the more gods have been created.

      The more gods, the more hells, the more reasons for us to kill each other.

      perhaps the creation of gods are natures way of human population control on this poor dieing planet.

      September 11, 2010 at 7:59 am |
    • freewoman

      if we did not have gods to tell us to kill each other, then we would not know to do it or have a reason to do it.

      no god no killing...

      September 11, 2010 at 8:02 am |
  16. guest

    in response to the query 'who destroyed buddah?'
    it was abe's daughter on her first pass making up for any idols her father missed when he cleaned house the first time. buddah is ok with it since his image is only a hinderence to those seeking the path

    September 11, 2010 at 4:14 am |
  17. The Real Truth

    No Bibles ever burned in the past 9 years. Is this propaganda or just a bald faced lie? http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/285123/christians_in_gaza_fear_for_their_lives.html?cat=9

    When will people smarten up?

    September 11, 2010 at 4:09 am |
  18. Truthseeker

    I think some of the commenter miss the point he says a muslim would never burn a bible.. a simple search shows that they burn it quite a bit.
    Type in muslims burn bible

    September 11, 2010 at 3:59 am |
    • Kate


      Which results in many many pages most of which point to the same event, or to links to people posting links to the same event – a terrorist organization (Hamas) on the rampage in Gaza. Once. The same one everyone has posted links to here multiple times.

      You did forget to mention though that there's also an entry from 9/10 from South Africa where a Muslim who was going to burn bibles in response to Dove's planned event was blocked by a lawsuit filed by – oops, Muslims.

      Just notin'

      September 11, 2010 at 4:38 am |
    • David Johnson

      WoW! I already posted that! Don't you read my every word? Are not my comments, almost sacred?

      I am insulted!

      September 11, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  19. 1Mohawk

    @ Fast Eddie

    Just an update of accurate information for you, I'm from the IROQUIOS CONFEDERACY SIX NATIONS, we've been NATIONS as far back as I can remember and the only tribes I can think of are from the other side, Africa etc. If you're a Native as well, you've failed to mention your Nation, a common mistake of (non-natives) when they communicate with us you know.

    Have you been to Caledonia recently ? When Is your next Pow Wow ? Steady the canoe, rough waters ahead.

    September 11, 2010 at 3:09 am |
    • Fast Eddie


      Is that your way of calling me a "N**g*r"? –Just because I'm (thankfully) NOT a member of your particular strain of stain?

      And here I was just trying to include you in my "tribe" of Humanity by way of making a political point. So much for that idea.

      But now we know you a little better, eh?

      Try saying that raclst s**t to somebody's face instead of in a blog.

      And here you have made an enemy where none existed before.
      Big surprise. But then you never were very smart, were you?

      Be grateful that this is only a blog and not someplace where I can get my hands on you.
      For you would surely be in a world of hurt.

      Now do you get where I am coming from, you raclst piece of s**t?
      Don't EVER talk to me like that again.

      September 11, 2010 at 6:06 am |
    • Fast Eddie


      In fact, don't bother replying to my posts at all. I'm not coming back here. Feel free to go to heII. You're already well on your way.

      September 11, 2010 at 6:43 am |
    • freewoman

      Isn't hell a great invention of the myths makers.. ever since it was created, we can wish others there to go to a better place after they die.
      Imagine how frustrating it must have been for humanity before hell was invented.

      September 11, 2010 at 7:55 am |
    • Talking_It_Over


      I'm sorry, but I really don't know what you want. Do you want your lands restored to you? Which ones... dating from which date?

      It's a harsh fact - the Native Americans were conquered, yes, sometimes by 'dirty pool'; but all conquests have been that way. Who should have England returned to them?... the Druids?, the Beakers? the Celts? I'll bet that some of that land belonged to my ancestors - I want it.

      We need to evolve in our culture to disavow racial and ethnic chauvinism and to just get along as best as we can – day to day.

      September 11, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Dude! You insulted my friend big time. He extended the hand of friendship to you.

      If he is your enemy, then you are mine.

      September 11, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
    • peace2all


      I don't care for your postings..... but, insulting Fast Eddie is a no go pal....

      September 12, 2010 at 2:32 am |
  20. Maire

    Of course Muslims would never burn the Bible. They have respect for the sacred, especially Judaism and Christianity. The West has lost its respect for the sacred. I don't know when the Bible was first openly burned here, but it's been happening for a while. The fact is not enough people care to stop it–and God forbid you suggest burning the Bible is shocking or outrageous because then you're a narrow-minded right-wing neo-con fundie. Westerners proudly sh!t on their own religious heritage–why should anyone expect them to treat Islam any better?

    September 11, 2010 at 2:37 am |
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