February 21st, 2012
01:14 PM ET

Rioting over Quran burning is un-Islamic, scholar argues

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

(CNN) - Muslims believe the Quran is the word of God, so holy that people should wash their hands before even touching the sacred book, which is why Quran burning incites such fury.

But with angry demonstrations against Quran burning taking place in Afghanistan, one leading Islamic scholar urged Muslims not to react violently to desecration of the book.

"What is captured on the pages can be printed again. If they burn 1,000, we can print 10,000. What's the big deal?" Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra asked Tuesday after hundreds of demonstrators protested reports of the burning of Qurans and other religious material by NATO troops.

"A NATO soldier killing innocent people is far more painful than the burning of a Quran. I would rather they burn 100 Qurans than to hurt one woman or man or child," Mogra said.

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The commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force admitted that the burning did take place, and he apologized.

"It was a mistake. It was an error. The moment we found out about it, we immediately stopped and we intervened," Gen. John Allen said.

The material that was burned at Bagram Airfield was removed from the library of a detainee center "because of extremist inscriptions and an appearance that these documents were being used to facilitate extremist communications," a military official said Tuesday.

"Additionally, some of the documents were extremist in and of themselves, apparently originating from outside of Afghanistan," said the official.

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It's not the first time that damaging Qurans - or even the threat to do so - has provoked angry Muslim reaction.

Terry Jones, the pastor of a tiny evangelical church in Florida, announced plans to burn the Muslim holy book on the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

He was persuaded not to do it at the time, but he made good on the threat a six months later.

Two weeks after that, protesters in northern Afghanistan attacked a U.N compound, leaving 12 people dead.

Muslim scholars say that the Quran is holy, revealed by the Angel Gabriel to Mohammed over the course of 23 years of visions.

"Symbolically and literally this is the most sacred reminder of God on Earth for a Muslim," said Akbar Ahmed, the chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington. "More than a mosque ... more than any other symbol it is the Quran that symbolizes the word of God for a Muslim."

"The first belief among Muslims of all types is that the Quran is the word of God," said Shainool Jiwa, of the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London. "The words themselves, the typing, takes on a level of sanctity. There is a sacredness about it."

But, she said, violent reactions to its burning are as much a sign of the times as an expression of faith.

"There is a history behind this. It's much more reflective of the times we are in, the protests and anger," she said. "This whole issue has become politicized."

Mogra, who chairs the mosques and community affairs committee of the Muslim Council of Britain, said burning a Quran is in fact an appropriate way to dispose of one that is damaged.

"Copies of the Quran that are torn, tattered or falling apart can be disposed of in a number of ways" so that the word of God is not "scattered" or "thrown away with the rubbish," he said.

Burning, burying or even using a paper shredder are all acceptable, he said.

So is throwing it into deep water so that it disintegrates.

The Muslim community in Leicester, England, where he lives, holds an annual burial of damaged Qurans in a graveyard, he said.

So while Mogra said he could understand the anger about burning a Quran, he called for perspective.

"Our reactions are totally out of order. It's totally un-Islamic. What the pages of the Quran contain is much more important than the pages themselves," he said.

"The pastor in the States who threatened to burn a Quran - I felt, 'Give him a truckload of Qurans to burn.' People in the far east and the Middle East were dying just because someone has threatened to burn the Quran," he said. "I would rather they saved their lives and cared for their children."

-CNN's Zain Verjee, Barbara Starr Steve Almasy contributed to this report.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Afghanistan • Islam

soundoff (818 Responses)
  1. Don

    Religion – another word for war and killing. How many people have died and how many more will die because of a religion and some tainted belief?

    February 23, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Muneef

      How many had died for the sake of crude oil...?

      February 25, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  2. junkdagunk

    if they burned the bible what would happen??? you cant mess with religion what in the world is wrong with people?!

    February 23, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  3. Robyn Harris

    Terry Jones burns Qurans to stoke the flames of war with his "christian" message.
    Taliban calls for murdering those who burn books with their "islamic" message.
    Perhaps the problem is religions that encourage people to hate and murder.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  4. Badly-Bent

    These morons are angry beacuse it wasn't a Muslim who burned those Qurans AND that Muslim was authorized (or sanctioned) by Muslim scholars! But the US military had every right to destroy them because they had already been desecrated with the coded messages by terrorists (or pro-terrorists). And not just because they had been desecrated but, because these Qurans contained information that may have been useful to other terrorists. What we see are people so filled with anger and frustrated with the hardships of their daily life that they eagerly attack anything that can be percieved as a challenge to their brainwashed way of life.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • PC

      Agreed...100%. My thoughts exactly. These dis-enfranchised, frustrated Muslims are spring-loaded to react violently to any event/action that is percieved by their little minds to be at odds with their religious beliefs. Step on a crack, and they will break your Mother's back...literally. All, and I mean ALL, they have is Islam. Menial jobs/income (if any), no political representation (like children under the benevolent care of their dictatorial leaders), no future, no hope, and really no desire to change. Primitive.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  5. coder

    the word of what god
    they never say
    muslims, christians, jews – they have all murdered and have been murdered over their gods - religion today is about power and greed – controlling your subjects to do your gods bidding. as long as man thinks he knows the will of god, humans die

    February 23, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  6. Bill Mosby

    I was wondering what you can get away with in terms of scribbling notes or messages in a Koran without desecrating it. Or is it "un-Islamic" to worry about such trifles?

    February 23, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • PC

      The door only swings one way. Apparently, if you are Muslim you can do whatever you want that can be justified in the name of Islam. For some, If it would harm an infidel, they could shove a Quran down an infidels throat (or wherever else the sun doesn't shine). You could conceal a bomb in it, lace it with cyanide, or use it for whatever demonic purpose
      that would further Islam as THE world religio/political system.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  7. Veritas

    Sorry, history stinks when it points out the problems in your faith. But this kind of mob violence and disregard for human life may indeed be unjustified and uncivilized but it is so very, very Islamic.

    February 22, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  8. HRPuckinfutz

    The fact is, the books were desecrated by the Muslim detainees. Burning a desecrated Koran is an ACCEPTABLE method of disposal. The people are rioting over nothing.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  9. Rainer Braendlein

    The problem of Islam is that Muhammad preached it, when Christianity was yet established for a very long time (600 years). I mean the whole world had received a good lawful religion and then came this lousy Arab and invented something new. It is clear that it had to be a lie.

    Christianity was and is the legitimate and authorised and accredited religion of the world, because it was preached by Jesus himself,who was the Son of God (he proved his divine sonship by the miracles, which he wrought and he fullfilled the Oldtestament prohecies on the Messiah; furthermore John the Baptist and others confirmed his divine sonship; moreover he finally proved his divine sonship by his resurrection; in contrast, Muhammad's body was eaten by dogs). Later, even the great Roman emperors like Constantine authorised Christianity as legitimate religion of the civilized world (ecu-mene). Furthermore, Jesus was a Jewish King and thus there was a connection between age-old traditional Judaism and Christianity, which gave much authority to Christianity.

    In contrast, Muhammad and Islam:

    Muhammad was predicted by nobody. He could not work any miracle. He was not an offspring of King David, bad a lousy Arab. The teaching of Koran does not fit together with the teaching of the Old Testament. Islam has no connection with age-old Judaism, which was the first religion of the world, hence, Islam must be a nonsense.

    Islam was never accepted and authorised by the Western rulers and of course a civilized man, who reads the Koran, will notice that it is a ridiculous book, made-up by Muhammad. It is never a divine revelation, but a mixture of Jewish and Christian elements and some ideas of Muhammad, absolutely ridiculous. "God is one", says Muhammad. What is interesting about that statement? It is pure boredom.

    Thus Islam has befallen the world like cancer. It just means bloodshed and destruction. Bloodshed is all about Islam.

    Solution: Let us live as faithful Christians, so that God may release us from that crap.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • BRC

      There is a whole host of crzy in there to deal with, so I'm just going to pick one of the fun points. Your "Muhammad was not the son of David" thing. Guess what, neither was Jesus (according to the bible). Unless I'm completely mistaken, supposedly Joseph was from David's lineage, but according to the bible, Jesus was the son of God... soooo Jesus isn't Josep's son, ie. he is in no way related to David (there are other sources where you can learn about the birds and the bees if this is confusing).
      Even more obscurely, "God" revoked his deal with David after David sent a soldier to get himself killed so he could steal his wife; when he did that "god" said his house would fall, and his lineage would fail, this was shortly before he died (I'm not making this up, read the book again).
      And one final one, long before Jesus, and shortly after Solomon, there was another Jeqish child "born to a virgin mother" who was a prophit and was meant to help free the peple of isreal from their Syrian opressors. So there's nothing all that special about Jesus's birth according to the source material, it only matters if you listen to the people who WANTED the Christian faith (which wasn't fully established till about 200 years before Islam) to be the primary faith.
      Sorry, but there is nor more reason to listen to yours than there is to listen to anyone elses.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Bill Miller

      I have been reading your responses and I still don't think you get it! Practice your own faith and do not worry about other people's faith.. Those who break the laws of various countries should be punished to the fullest degree of the law, where the crime was committed.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • rlowens1

      Your imaginary friend is no better or different than their imaginary friend. Neither of them existed. If you disagree, I would be happy to analyze the evidence that you have that proves your imaginary friend exists. If you can't provide that, I'll just laugh at you – again.

      February 22, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • common sense

      Really? Jesus didn't exist then? Hmm..Historical fact says you're wrong. That's just me though. I tend to gravitate toward believing historical facts.

      February 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • rlowens1

      "Jesus didn't exist then? Hmm..Historical fact says you're wrong"

      There is no evidence – none – that Jesus ever existed – period. I await whatever trumped up evidence you can find – but, I won't hold my breath.

      Jesus seems to have been a fictionalized amalgam of several earlier deity figures, such as Dionysus, Horus, Mithra, Krishna, and the Buddha. Study those other fictional characters and the similarities in their stories makes it obvious that the story of Jesus borrowed from them all.

      February 22, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Nono

      @rainer: spoken like someone who is clueless about religious history. Get an education. Read some books. It helps make you sound less of an idiot.

      February 22, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • BioHzrd

      By your logic, there was a good lawful religion already in place (Judaism) and then Jesus came and invented something new. How dare he.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • BioHzrd

      Wait hold up...I just got to your Judaism as the first religion of the world. HAHAHAHAHAHA Don't make me laugh. There's over a billion Hindu's in India that might have some contention with that point.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • WiscBAdger

      I would be happy to analyze the evidence that you have that proves that God does not exist. If you can't provide that, I'll just laugh at you – again.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  10. heresy

    I wouldn’t call myself a bigot. (Though, I don’t think anyone who was a bigot would either). I am one of the most tolerant people there is. I tolerate all existence and beliefs. Do I have my opinions? Sure I do. Everyone does. Do I act out on those opinions? No I do not. I treat everyone the same. I just would like humans to behave in a more civilized manner. Rioting over anything other than political strife is ridiculous.

    February 22, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  11. rhall

    CNN=Controlled Network News. What a bunch of mainstream malarkey...yes, the author of the piece and CNN "authority" on the Quran is - Jewish!

    February 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  12. return to God

    Verily, We, it is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur'an) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption) .
    Chapter #15, Verse #9

    The Quran is memorized ( all 600 pages of it , word by word and letter by letter") ) by millions of people around the world in the Arabic format in over 140 countries (even the one who do not speak arabic ,,, still memorize it by heart.) This has been the case since the Quran was first revealed 1400 years ago to the prophet (peace be upon him)

    February 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • common sense

      So what if its memorized? The fact that DOING something and checking off an item on a checklist you think makes you more holy than someone else is why Islam and Religion in general are DISGUSTING. Islam is the manifestation of satan and evil in this world. I'm glad I dont read the insane musings of a pedophile false prophet.

      February 22, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Ed N

      If its memorized then why do we need written copies? And if there are no written copies then there is nothing to burn. Problem solved. These peopel are so stuipid

      February 23, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  13. carlyjanew6


    February 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  14. Jagman

    Is it not "damaging" to the Quran to inscribe in it also? Weren't the imprisoned Islamic extremists desecrating the book when they wrote in it?

    February 22, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  15. scieng1

    Meanwhile, the Muslims execute Christians and burn Bibles freely. It just shows the difference between those who follow a God of love and salvation (Christians), and those who follow a god who satisfies their pride and lusts.

    February 22, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  16. DDM

    "I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organised; nor should any organisation be formed to lead or coerce people along any particular path. If you first understand that, then you will see how impossible it is to organise a belief. A belief is purely an individual matter, and you cannot and must not organise it. If you do, it becomes dead, crystallised; it becomes a creed, a sect, a religion, to be imposed on others." J.Krishnamurti

    February 22, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  17. Rainer Braendlein

    I love Muslim people, not because of their Muslim belief, but because they are just human beings with human dignity. Furthermore we are all together sinners, which need God's grace, the Christians and the Muslims.

    I may burn an edition of the Koran or not, one thing is clear: The Koran is unholy from the sight of the Christian Church.

    We should consider that Christianity is not one of many legitimate religions, but the only legitimate religion. Jesus, the Son of God, who came down from heaven and finally proved his divine sonship by his resurrection, teached the divine gospel and by that he established the Christian Church. Furthermore, Jesus was the predicted Messiah of the Jews and David's Son (Jesus fullfilled the prophecies on the Messiah of the Old Testament; in contrast Muhammad just came out of the darkness and nobody confirmed his prophethood). Jesus was a Jewish King. Through the Jew Jesus there is a connection between traditional age-old Judaism and Christianity. Christianity is the successor of age-old Judaism and has its roots in it. Hence, Christianity is a very respectable and solid religion.

    The core message of Christianity is that Jesus has died for us on the cross and borne our sins there. If we believe that, we become rightous by God's grace. God wants to save us through grace and not by doing works of the law (we are not able to keep the law by our natural strength, because we are under the original sin). The new life, which God gives us for free, is a life of Christian love, which automatically fullfills the law. God's Spirit dwells in us and lives God's life through us, so that we have no more need for any law. We are led by God himself, that is the mystery of the Christian life.

    The Koran denies the divine sonship of Jesus Christ and that he died for us on the cross (some Muslims assume Judas Iscarioth died on the cross, instead of Jesus). Denying Christ's death on the cross means denying the gospel, which is the spiritual center of the universe. Hence, the Koran denies, what the eternal God revealed through Jesus Christ our Lord and God.

    The Koran teaches that Jesus was not the eternal Son of God, who came down from heaven to earth and became man, but just an acknowledged prophet like Abraham, Moses, Noah, etc..

    The most bad thing of the Koran is that it teaches that Jesus, Abraham and Moses had been Imams and had teached the Islam (that is ridiculous). Furthermore the Koran sees Jews and Christians as former Muslims, which have turned apostate (that is the evil mystery of the Koran). Of course, people which have turned apostate, must be disposed of and should be killed. In the sight of the Muslims Judaism and Christianity are distored religions. Jews and Christians have distorted the genuine faith of Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Now it becomes clear, why they hate us. But Muhammed has hoaxed them infinitely. Muhammad just copied parts of the Bible and added on some own ideas. His most "striking" news was that "God is one" and "don't ascribe partners to Allah". But I ask: "Are these statements are interesting in any way?" No, not at all. This statements on Allah just mean that Muhammad was an anti-Christian and hated the Christians. I assume he made-up the Koran, just in order to unite the Arabs for a war against the Christian Eastern Roman Empire.

    Conclusion: The Koran is not holy, but unholy. However, we may not burn editions of the Koran, but preach the gospel towards the Muslims, which are lost sinners and need Jesus. The Muslims must accept that Muhammad was an impostor in our sight and the Koran is an evil lie, ready.

    February 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Obama'sQuran

      You'll just get liberal trolls who won't even read a line of that. Better to turn the other cheek.

      Or in my case, let everyone know how much Obama gets mad when people burn his Quran.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Bob

      And these are known by the West since the spread of Islam... News for most American people.

      Treaties, alliances, dialogue, trade between Christian and Muslim civilizations for centuries.. All put on a table once again.. It looks like this NEW WORLD is going through its own STONE AGE..

      February 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • heresy

      you all came from the same area around the same time. but hate each other the most and call the other liars the most....Islam and Christianity.....all different points of view of the same feel good story and all not recognizing the others as right. when everyone is right in their own way. and should tolerate the others and quit trying to convert.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • BRC

      You're right, there is no reason to believe that Muhammad actually recieved any messages form an angel named Gabriel, there is absolutely no proof of it.

      But by the same measure, there is no proof that Jesus is the son of "God" (you have stories, not evidence), and there is no proof that there was ny interaction between Yahweh and Abraham, Noah, Moses, David, Solomon, or any of the many others (who relaly have no proof of existence either).

      So if you believe the one, why not believe the others?

      February 22, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Nono

      You really are an idiot and dont know anything about religion. I would educate you, but you are too ignorant to learn anything and blinded by your own prejudice against Islam. Hence I will say this: Please shut up. Thank you kindly.

      February 22, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  18. Obama'sQuran

    Obama gets SOOO fired up when people burn his Quaran.

    February 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  19. John

    If I did believe that a deity had created me, I would do what I do anyway-appreciate my life, and treat the world I live in and the people I live with, with respect. What I could never do is accept anyone else's claim that they understand the non-understandable, that they understand god, more than I do myself. So I would be spiritual, and I would be thankful that my deity chose to make me (for whatever that deity's unknowable reasons)...but I would say and I do say, F all religions.

    February 22, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  20. ObamaJoe

    God bless America,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    God bless President Obama,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    February 22, 2012 at 12:28 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.