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

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

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

By Qasim Rashid, Special to CNN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what exactly did Mohammed teach?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Iran • Islam • United States

soundoff (568 Responses)
  1. Voltaire

    First off, I am not religious, so you may not like my opinion.

    That said, I appreciate that fact that people of faith look to prophetical figures for guidance, but the message is diluted and hopelessly skewed. Who Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammad were as human individuals greatly differs from how people viewed them in the Middle Ages and today. It's a case of reinterpretation upon reinterpretation upon reinterpretation. The individual is lost in favor of someone's ideology.

    Here's an example: George Washington lived over 200 years ago, and somewhere along the way, people picked up the whole cherry tree story, which stems from Parson Weems's Life of Washington. Kids are told about the whole "I cannot tell a lie" bit, and later learn that it didn't happen. It's a myth, and the book was published one year after Washington's death. Conversely, the Bible was written about two centuries after the death of Jesus. Now, take into account two things: literacy prior to the creation of the printing press was mainly found in church figures, who were supposed to be about to read the good book. So, it was considerably rare back when the Bible was put together. That means fewer historical accounts–and the accounts which are presented have a slant because the people who wrote them were trying to promote Christianity rather than a history lesson, and the accounts were drawn from stories passed down in the oral tradition, and those were likely to change from person to person.

    It's something to consider. Who was Jesus really? Who was Mohammad? I think people are prone to worship the idea than the actual person, and if they encountered the actual person, they would be sadly disappointed. (Thought he was taller and bathed more...)

    February 9, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • wang

      It's not that I don't like your opinion, I just don't give a rat's a$$ what you think or have to say, troll.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • snowboarder

      the only difference between a prophet and a mental patient is simply the gullibility of those who surround them.

      once that fact is understood, religions can be realized in the proper context.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Byron

      I appreciate your views and agree with most of what you say. Two small comments. The Gospels were written between 70-100.CE, not 200 years after Jesus. The letters of Paul, which make up most of the New Testament, we're written eariler, 50-65 CE. Second,, yes, the story of the cherry tree is a myth about GW. However there are truths in myth. The story illustrates the true nature of the man even if the story did not historically happen. Peace and thanks

      February 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Devil here...

      Whose to say they were actual people? Greeks used to write about Zeus and the like, but I must assume that they, like Jesus, are not gods or demi-gods, since they never ever show up to prove it. Just sayin'...

      February 9, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  2. William

    Peace be upon those who follow right guidance.
    This article written as it is: Is a incision and decent into enticing weak minded "atheist" and alike to sound the drum of their disdain and objection to a country defending is right to practice its religion as its way of life.
    Please don't fall for emotional, irrational outburst and disruption of the weak minded. Figure it out for yourself!

    February 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • religionisthedevil

      Possibly the most ironic thing I've ever heard a religious person say.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • snowboarder

      the intrusion of religion into civil society can only impinge the rights of men. there has never been a beneficial result of religion in society.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • William

      The right way being Odin.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • religionisthedevil

      Odin? Please don't rob my monastery there is important god gold in there.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  3. JAN

    Now if all Muslim clerics rised a global protest, it might persuade the extremsts to back off. Uh huh, that's going to happen.

    February 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  4. angryblackman

    And what would Jesus do?

    If America is supposed to be a Christian country built by christian protestants then why is it assassinating people around the world with drones? why is it sending troops to invade countries and kill people. Why is it allowing money lenders and multinational conglomerates to keep people in poverty and harm the poor? Hmmm...doesnt sound very christian to me. Holding people in prison because they cant fix the unemployment problem. Locking people up for non-violent crimes instead of finding ways to help them. Throwing people out of their homes while the rich squeeze their workers for every penny and line their pockets. Sounds to me like "america" forgot all about Jesus and what he taught. So for the pot to call the kettle black seems to me to be once again another day in hypocrisy.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • religionisthedevil

      Doesn't sound very Christian? Sounds very Christian to me considering they've been murdering and torturing people since Emporer Constantine decided it was to his advantage to convert. In fact, what truth can we say about the world's religions other than they are corrupt and full of people taking advantage of other people? Doesn't it make logical sense that one who doesn't believe he'll be reincarnated or go to heaven be less likely to risk his own life by attacking others?

      February 9, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Sam

      Mr. Angry, those are note worthy points, but they have nothing to do with this article which was really beautiful.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  5. Brandt Ziegler

    Thanks for this. God bless.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  6. religionisthedevil

    2013... basing our decisions on what some dead merchant from 500 AD would think.. When is the insanity in this world going to finally stop so we can advance as one species?

    February 9, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  7. are122

    People corrupt everything Qasim. Unfortunately religion more than others.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
  8. P.A. Scott

    I sentence of any kind based on religion is incorrect. Religion is an expression of belief for someone, but it is not the fact of a civilized country. If I killed someone and said that Allah told me to, would I be free? In the United States, I would be arrested. Everyone should love our land and practice our beliefs. We are a land of refugees. Do not mix the two. Nothing but the best for that man and wish for his freedom.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • religionisthedevil

      If Christians had their way you'd get off for claiming God did it but not Allah.

      February 9, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  9. Polar Bear

    Who cares "what Mohammed would do?!" As if it's a legitimate religion. Until they take care of their own, – the dirty-bearded, virulent, violent harbingers of nothing but death, destruction, intolerance, and hate – they have no place ranking themselves as worthy of equality among the world's other religions. Sure, Christianity had it's dark days, but that was hundreds of years ago. Islam needs to catch up and deliver itself to the new millennium.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • religionisthedevil

      Keep telling yourself the dark times of Christianity only happened hundreds of years ago.. I'm sure you'll carry on your delusion but back here in reality they're as bad now as they were hundreds of years ago. The only reason these supposed "dark times" are no more is because those of us living in the modern age are no longer willing to allow them to destroy lives and poison people's minds with their nonsense.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Paulray

      You're no different than the intolerant muslims continually mocking other religions. I'm a Christian and even though I don't agree with other religions I don't act haughty and mock them. We will never win others by criticizing but only by loving words and actions. Only then will they see the true Christianity.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • religionisthedevil

      That's the problem I have with people like you. I'm no different than intolerant muslims or christians? Last I checked I haven't cut anyone's head off with a dull knife, I haven't created an inquisition to round up those who are christians, I haven't slaughtered thousands of people by justifying the action with my imaginary non-god. All I do is speak of history. Look at all the antiquated blue laws on the books in numerous southern states – that is from a time when your people were allowed to poison our society. If people like me weren't around you'd continue to oppress people and the only thing stopping you is that people like me won't allow it anymore. Christians believe the only people worthy of passing moral judgment are themselves but the fact of the matter is THERE ARE A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE LIVING IN THIS COUNTRY NOT JUST YOUR RELIGIOUS GROUP.

      February 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  10. Morisco

    proselytizing is illegal not only in Iran but in democracies like Israel. So this guy broke the law...or is it not a law because it is involving Iran...? Have some common sense people.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  11. Doug

    As an atheist... I laugh at all of you "believers". Keep killing each other in the name of your gods!

    February 9, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • are122

      Was that from Stalin or Marx?

      February 9, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Orygun Duck

      So atheists don't kill?? Just curious. Last time I checked communism was officially atheist.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Shafiqul Islam


      February 9, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Polar Bear

      Believing in nothing is believing in something. Too much for the narrow-minded so-called atheists. The intelligence of faith has withstood the test of time and there is no denying it. So keep amusing yourself in thinking that you are too intelligent to believe in a higher being which is effect believing that man is God. Which is believing. I know, I know, you don't get it. So-called atheists are the most miserable people I've ever met, resentful, bitter, and unhappy. Find yourself an "imaginary friend" and life will have so much more meaning. Promise.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • not a moment too soon....

      @ duck

      Atheism wasnt the motivation... power and control were. They didnt kill people because they believed in god...in reality they didnt give a hoot what you believed as long as it wasnt a oganised structure that could be used to undermine the Authority.... And they killed anyone... believer and atheist alike.

      Christianity and Islam by comparison have killed (will kill in the case of The Religion of Peace) specificly because you dont believe.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Polar Bear

      And by the way, I believe denying Mohammed is a "crime" punishable by death in the Islamic world. So why don't you head on over to Iran, Iraq, etc. and preach your faith? You'll find your God as they are stoning you to death.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • not a moment too soon....

      they didnt kill because they DIDNT believe... sorry.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • snowboarder

      polar bear wrote "So-called atheists are the most miserable people I've ever met, resentful, bitter, and unhappy."

      polar bear, you are simply a liar and a charlatan. there is no prerequisite for religion for happiness.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • Yeah

      The numbers of people killed under communism for religious reason were only a tiny percentage of the total dead. The rest were killed due to communism's total inability to tolerate any alternative viewpoint. Bakunin very early on criticized Marx for the absolute intolerance of any other viewpoint and any individualism in his model for communism. This is proved everywhere (Spanish Civil War, Russia, China, Viet Nam, etc), where ultraorthodoxy to a single form of communism was enforced brutally – obey or die.

      The vast majority who were killed were not in any way killed for religious reasons, but for political ones.

      You guys just love that lie, and no matter how much we tell you the truth, you go right back to repeating the lie.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Fop Detector

      Polar Bear hasn't actually met any atheists. He just likes to say things like that.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  12. GetReal

    Give me a break, Islam preaches death to apostates and to anyone trying to preach other than Muhammadanism. Stop trying to cover up the truth of your religion, most people can see with their own eyes what it brings. Do you believe in evolution? It has proven your book false.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • sam

      Thanks for the laugh. How could a sentient being believe that the thing named mohammed could be

      God's prophet. What does that say about God? Scary.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  13. moose1

    Mohammad should stick to doing guest appearances on South Park.. Loved his bear costume!! 🙂

    Beware the headless Christian's wrath!!

    February 9, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  14. Mohammad

    Clean your back yard the LAPD before cleaning up Iran.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  15. him

    Believe or don't believe, just don't make to much noise, and allow a different point of view.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  16. Alex

    Of course it failed. All Iran does is hide behind Mohammad, They do NOT follow his scriptures. Just a lame excuse is what they are about.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  17. AlienShark

    There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, he has no partners, no associates, and Muhammad is His servant and messenger.

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

      Allah gave proofs to people of different times and places of his absolute power in the form of miracles. Those miracles, however were only proofs to the people of that time and place. For example, Allah split the sea for Moses and the Israelites and that was a clear sign and proof for those people who witnessed it, however that is now part of the unseen and it can no longer be considered a proof of the existence of the all powerful One God for someone living in 2013...if they use rational thought anyway. Since Allah already sent His last messenger until Judgement Day (who came with miracles as well) many people cannot accept the existence of the One God without some sort of proof, in the form of a miracle. The miracle that has survived and will continue to survive unchanged, letter for letter, word for word is The Qur'an. The Qur'an is the Arabic speech of Allah, the One God, the Creator and Lord of the Worlds. He is perfect in every way and His speech is perfect in every way, completely devoid of flaw. If you examine the Qur'an (translation to your own language) and the sahih hadith of Muhammad Salallahu Alaihi wa Salam, you can witness this miracle for with your own eyes. It is a flawless guide to living in the world and a book full of signs for men (and women) with understanding. Peace and blessings.

      February 9, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • sam

      What asylum did you just escape from?

      February 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • snowboarder

      your god is no more valid than the myriad of other gods invented by men over the course of history.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • AlienShark

      snowboarder, you have a valid criticism that deserves explanation. There are seven major religions and philosophies in the world and hundreds more small ones, so who is to say who is right? in order to figure our what the truth is you have to use your intellect. First off, one commonly known attribute of mankind is that we are imperfect. Being imperfect, we cannot create anything perfect. No human has ever created a perfect house, car, building or even draw a perfect circle for that matter. Likewise, no human being can create a perfect character in a story, no matter how hard the person or persons try, their character will have flaws and imperfections. Allah and His 99 attributes that are described to us in Qur'an and Hadith are absolutely perfect and devoid of flaw. No person or group could have even made up one of his perfect attributes much less the 99 that he has revealed to us. I grew up a disbeliever because my family is Christian and things have to make sense to me, so I became what you could call a truth seeker and I know with certainty that I have found the truth in the pages of The Qur'an.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • snowboarder

      alien, i'm sorry, but that is all just bunk. you are simply brainwashed into your religion, though you may have actively sought it, just like everyone else.

      there is nothing that supports any religious faith. nothing.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • AlienShark

      snowboarder, it is one thing to criticize and question, but if an answer comes to you that is logical and makes sense, than either prove it wrong with a logical statement, investigate for yourself or move on. The truth is the truth man. There is no God but Allah, he is perfect in every way and there is really no valid argument that I have heard to discredit it. If I found one, I would have moved on to the next religion, philosophy, musical style or science.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • AlienShark

      again, just to recap for you so there is no doubt of what I am saying. Islam teaches that Allah has informed us of 99 of his perfect names or attributes, all of which are described in Qur'an and Sahih Hadith in different lengths. One thing they all have in common as described in Qur'an and Hadith is that they are all absolutely perfect, having no flaws and being unrivaled by anything in the Creation.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • AlienShark

      that is obviously not the work of a man, or a group of men. (or women for that matter 😉

      February 9, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • snowboarder

      alien, there is nothing about your argument that is logical or makes sense. what you believe is truth is simply your indoctrination. i am no more required to disprove it than i am required to disprove the itinerant stanger on the street for every ridiculous claim.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • AlienShark

      You are right, you are not obligated to disprove or prove anything. People (myself included) have a tendency to expect that others live up to their standards. As I said, I am a truth seeker, I have been for most of my life, I search far and wide using varieties of methods, some I don't want to write here, and I tend to think that others have the same desire and passion. Seek or don't seek, Do or don't do, I am not your keeper. I delivered the truth to you in plain language, that is all that is required of me.

      February 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • GetReal

      Go ask to see the origianl Kuran, you won't find it. The ones that they have in Turkey and Saudi, don't even match. They are written in script that is hundreds of years different from the time we are told it was written. It has many flaws in it, including dates, names, facts. For instance, sperm comes from a mans rib. This is false. Also, it mentions blood clots in semen, there is no blood in semen. This was all errors taken from the Greeks. There are many more. And if I'm correct, If you find one error the book challenges you to find, then the book itself tells you to ignore the whole thing. The Sun does not set in a mud puddle. And yes we are descendants from apes. Want proof, many children are born with tails, similar to monkeys. Is the child evil or just has some genetic error? Come on, go kiss the meteorite covered in poop in the box stolen from the idol worshippers. God would want you to follow a liar and murderer, thats not much of a god.

      February 9, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
  18. Mohammad

    What would LAPD do?

    February 9, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  19. joshua

    See video called mega kisumu revival and you will never say God doesnt exist. fact is what we need so there it is.

    February 9, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  20. Ron Nader

    AND ALLLLL the idiots with their half-wit comments are out in droves now...

    February 9, 2013 at 4:46 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.