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. wow

    Pooh..........worthless book

    February 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Well Hung Jesus

      Actually no...they make for great tp when out camping. I always have a quran with me...never know when #2 will strike.

      February 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  2. sk

    Please with all due respect, don't waste energy on something that has nothing to do with you...Save your self and your family...that is more important ..True religion is to believe and obey only one God.
    Every time humanity deviated from this path, God sent down His of prophets (Noah, Ibrahim, Mosses Jesus and Mohammed were among thousands) who carried this single message to the whole humanity (And they all had the highest moral standards). That is the message of Islam.

    God speaks to the whole humanity through His book Quran..

    “Proclaim, He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him." [112:1]

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    “…anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people. And anyone who spares a life, it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people....." Qur'an [5:32]

    Most exalted is the One in whose hands is all kingship, and He is Omnipotent.The One who created death and life for the purpose of distinguishing those among you who would do better. Quran [67.2]

    Subsequent to them, we sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the previous scripture, the Torah. We gave him the Gospel, containing guidance and light, and confirming the previous scriptures, the Torah, and augmenting its guidance and light, and to enlighten the righteous. Quran [5:46]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to clear your misconception by going to whyIslam org website.

    O people of the scripture, do not transgress the limits of your religion, and do not say about GOD except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was a messenger of GOD, and His word that He had sent to Mary, and a revelation from Him. Therefore, you shall believe in GOD and His messengers. You shall not say, "Trinity." You shall refrain from this for your own good. GOD is only one god. Be He glorified; He is much too glorious to have a son. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. GOD suffices as Lord and Master. Quran [4:171]

    February 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • tsering dolker

      take your religion mumbo jumbo elsewhere. This one God bs has been the cause of millions being killed everywhere. It has only brought injustice, hatred, murder, and division between people and culture. Millions have been killed due to intolerance of these egoistic maniacs who believe they have the mandate of the heaven because somebody heard something in the desert. All these pre-historic belief systems should be in the museum and leave it at that. Interesting at one point but grossly inadequate in the modern era.

      February 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  3. joe

    This CNN employed so-called scholar is an MI5 clown: http://www.maslaha.org/about/whos-involved/people/scholars/shaykh-ibrahim-mogra

    February 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  4. mlr

    I would rather we just yank our boys out (not negotiate our way out with terrorists) and let the afghanis go back to killing afghanis. period.

    February 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  5. UltraAtheist

    What if I delete a pdf copy of the Koran from y harddrive? What if I copy it a million times onto a thumbdrive then throw the thumbdrive in the trash?

    February 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • jimtanker

      That....Was..... AWESOME!! Why didnt I think of that?

      February 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Johan S

      LOL! And what about defragmenting your hard drive?

      February 21, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  6. wondering

    I wonder how God feels about all of this? I mean, both religions essentially have the same God right? So I wonder how he feels about his name being used by all religions to kill?

    February 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • jimtanker

      Compared to what this god did in the old testament these people are saints.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  7. tom

    As usual, most of the wars, killing, maiming, torturing and sorrow has been in the name of religion. I don't think ANY God would sanction or suggest harm come to another of his human beings on earth in his name. Every God I've ever read about preached and taught about loving one another, acceptance and tolerance. NO god says....he who doesn't believe in my or disrespects me must be KILLED. That's just a sick interpretation of books written thousands of years ago. Just stop all the hatred please. WE all love our own gods in our own way...that's how it should be.

    February 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • B(iraq) Hussein Osama

      >> As usual, most of the wars, killing, maiming, torturing and sorrow has been in the name of religion <<

      Not Really!! If you look at most of the major wars over the last 150 years, they have little to do with religion.

      – World War One?
      – World War Two?
      – Communist Purges in Russia?
      – Jewish Holocaust?
      – Communist Purges in China?
      – Vietnam War?
      – Iran-Iraq War?
      – Napoleanic Wars of Europe?
      – Russian Revolution?
      – Sudan War?
      – African Genocides (various)?

      these are the biggest wars of the past 150 years. Only the Holocaust and the Sudan War have anything to do with religion, even the Sudan war is more about black African tribalism more than religion. if all of Sudan was one religion, they would still be killing each other like they do in other black African countries.

      So you comment, while very popular, is TOTALLY INACCURATE!!

      February 21, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  8. Big George in Big D


    February 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Tom

      Just what I was thinking.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  9. John

    Yep, their poor sensibilites were offended. Bummer. Now, it's too bad that they didn't get anywhere near so upset when the Taliban hung and 8 year old boy in front of his parents because they didn't have any money to give them. Truly Islamic of them.

    They got mad that we were giving away radios with a picture of the Afghan flag on the boxes (the flag has verses from the Koran and they said we were encouraging people to throw the Koran on the ground as garbage). Now, they did NOT get upset when they killed police officers and Afghan army soldiers who wear the Afghan flag.

    Stop apologizing. Has America not yet learned that it is only seen as weakness? If they don't like how we treat them, they shouldn't attack us or help others who do.

    February 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  10. Jacob

    All of the scholars including Imam Ahmad, Imam ash-Shafi'i, Imam Abu Hanifah (an-Nu'man), Imam Layth and others have agreed (as a Consensus of Islamic law) that those that insult Islam must be killed.

    This is clear as found in Qadi Iyyad's Ash-Shifa and Ibn Taymiyya's As-Saram al Maslool ala Shatim al Rasul Salallahu alayhi wasaalam

    This "scholar" doesn't know Islam 101.

    One of the evidences of Islamic law is Ijma' that is consensus of the Salaf os Salih.


    February 21, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Jon

      Anyone who insults Islam should be killed? That's a neat religion you have there.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • tom

      very god-like...kill...kill...kill...somehow I think something was lost in the translation over the centuries. No god wants harm to come to another in his name...try living in the 21st century.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Big George in Big D

      All Muslims can stuff it! I've never seen a more hate-filled religion and they claim its peaceful! I wish they would quit invading us.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Ali

      Yeah nice try, we know you're lying. You think just because quoting from a few arab words it can fool all of us? Sheer BS. CITE any evidence where killling someone over insulting Islam is allowed.

      And I know you're a Christian. Philippians 1:18 commands Christians to lie, cheat and deceive for Christ. Keep on trying buddy, you won't be successful.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • kathy

      Hey Jacob...how about you and your believers in that crap just kill yourselves?

      February 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Jacob

      Re: Imam Ali

      You are a SHIA!

      You use Taqiyyah to lie ALL THE TIME and you accuse AN NUM'AN who TAUGHT your IMAM al-SADIQ! And I AM LYING BECAUSE IMAM AN-NUMAN!? You accuse Imam Abu Hanifah (An-Num'an) of lying!

      You are exposed.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • TrueBeliever

      Remember, any imam, the are not god or Prophet, so they should not be taken as God;s word or True Islamic belief. Ignore them and you are in good hands...

      February 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Ali

      LOL so because you can't present ANY evidence you resort to the "taqiyyah" card, whom NO ONE ever shows where it is in the Quran or Sunnah?

      Islam only allows lying in these three cases: http://muslim-responses.com/Islam_on_Lying/
      Please read then go kill yourself thanks.

      February 21, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Jacob

      Shaykh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyah in Saaraam al-Maslool ala Shatim al Rasul says: "Whoever curses the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم), Muslim or Kaafir, must be killed."

      (Mukhtasar As-Saram Al-Maslool `Ala Shatim Ar-Rasul Pages 31-33)


      February 21, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • AlienShark

      guys like Jacob here suck it up from their hate filled preachers who tell them to go out in the world, armed with half facts from hate based websites and they make themselves look like fools in the real world Monday trough Saturday, until the preacher gives em a little pat on the back and says good job. Such a fool.

      February 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Jacob

      Re: Imam Ali (Upon whom be peace)

      You want evidence from the SUNNAH!? Are you illiterate? The Messenger allowed the lawful killing of Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf! And many more, in one narration he had a 100 year old women mounted on two horses and she was pulled from both sides of hear body until she was RIPPED APART! This is the Sunnah, and I gave you Ibn Taymiyyah's stance on the issue.

      February 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Ali

      What an idiot. Ka'b Ibn Al Ashraf was plotting to kill Muslims with the Quresh, whom always persecuted Muslims. Read the full storey.
      Oh yeah, lol, I forgot to tell you about the thousands of UNRELIABLE hadiths. There is NO SUCH HADITH of a 100 year old woman being ripped apart you moron.
      Like I said, Phil 1:18 commands Christians, lie, cheat and deceive.
      And I searched up your quote form Ibn Tamiyyah, got only a few links (some of them broken) which ALSO means what he said is UNRELIABLE.

      February 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  11. Zeke2112

    "and yes, the hebrew bible was written in latin! look it up!"

    Okay. Here is one of many quick searches that all say the same thing:

    Hebrew != Latin. Sorry.

    February 21, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  12. Xavier

    Is he really a Muslim .. ???.. soo matured .. so sane .. surprising !!!

    February 21, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • YK

      That's what makes him Muslim, I'm christian , but I know that Muslims are always rights and know how to act properly, better than us!

      February 21, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  13. AngryBob

    The voice of reason will fall on deaf ears in this extremist environment. Just ask Jon Huntsman.

    February 21, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  14. scott

    I decided years ago not to be one of those people that reads news like this and assumes the entire population is involved. This is an easy lesson to learn once you accept that America has radicals too.

    February 21, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Jon

      Except Americans don't go around blowing up schools and buildings every other day.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • scott

      Oh, I forgot the entire muslim population practices bombing as a hobby.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Electric Larry

      Well they sure don't practice tolerance.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • R. Smith

      THe US most certainly impacts their everyday lives. Sometimes in a manner that does not belie our "official" motive.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  15. Mojo

    A Muslim that actually makes logical sense? Priceless!!

    February 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • scott

      A human that can manage to not be a bigot? Priceless-ier!

      February 21, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  16. ddblah

    Man, they seem got nothing but Quran. Pathetic.

    February 21, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  17. Zeke2112

    And protesting the deaths of soldiers is un-Christian, but WBC believes that they're just fine doing that.

    Welcome to the problem with religion: your version is always right and everyone else's version is always straying from the true belief. Perhaps this will help you understand why some of us discount ALL of them.

    February 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • esoll

      I subscribe to this view. I rejected all religions, including mine. I prefer to be humanist and do good but in the name of our humanity and not in the name of any religion. Too many distortions, it is near slavery to be part of one. I prefer to be a freethinker without the oppression of a religion. I am against any religions but I adhere to none.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  18. Spidey-Man

    Don't tell us... Tell them! Like I've said before bloodthirsty religion from what they show us from over there.

    February 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • COlady

      And how do you think Christians in this country would react to the burning of bibles over there? All religion is evil. They're all alike.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • derF

      How would we react? We'd turn out in the streets burning cars, looting, and beating each other up ... No wait, that's hockey.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Manhattanslide

      Oh wow COLady. The "christians are the same!" argument. I hope you're just a troll and you don't actually believe this.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Rosstrex

      COlady – The US Army burned Bibles with the TRASH last year in Afganistan and Christians did not do anything other than make statements of protest. As usual they were met with derision because Christians do not kill people over stupid things like burning holy books in the trash.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  19. Tony

    I would much rather prefer to see mosques being burned then korans. The koran is like a guide for the perversions of islam, but the mosque is more of a house among which the symbolic importance of islam persists. For this reason, mosques should be destroyed wherever they stand!!!

    February 21, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Lennon/McCartney

      But when you talk about destruction
      Don't you know that you can count me out
      Don't you know it's gonna be all right
      All right, all right

      February 21, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • jj

      Well, that was certainly uncalled for.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • R. Smith

      The perversion of Islam. Interesting. Are you a Christian? You just called your God a perversion. I can't believe how stupid the average person is. You are all so anxious to run your mouth even though you done know anything. It wouild seem to me, THAT is the major problem in todays world. Too many mouths runnin' with no brains attached.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  20. Muslim

    I am glad to see CNN actually printed this article. this is nothing new. I also applaud this Imam to give voice to the majority of the Muslims who think on the same lines. what you see on the streets dont represent the majority. giving them center stage and making headlines out of it is misleading. there is whole lot of misunderstanding and misrepresentation when it comes to Islam and Muslims in the western media.

    February 21, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • derF

      You guys don't eat pork, right?

      February 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • cajr

      i eat pork..its fantastic. nothing burps like bacon!

      February 21, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Rosstrex

      So you know that the majority of Muslmis feel this way? Maybe the majority in say Dearborn Michagan but not the majority in Afganistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sudan, Lybia, Egypt, Pallestine, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria and many many more. So please get real in all of the places I have listed above Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims and many many more are Jailed, Beaten and Murdered for their faith. The rediculous idea that they are not and Muslims and Islamic States are so peaceful is a LIE told by you and people like you that desire to keep us in the dark. For goodness sakes the Copts are being Massacred in Egypt and you go around saying Muslims are not violent. You are just as guilty as any Muslim that murders another person in the name of your evil religion.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Big George in Big D

      Oh that's a crock of crap intended to make all the gullible people fall for your dribble! I've never seen a more unpeaceful religion! I wish they would all go away!

      February 21, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
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About this blog

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.