U.S. outreach to American Muslims may not curb Afghan violence
February 27th, 2012
12:19 PM ET

U.S. outreach to American Muslims may not curb Afghan violence

By Paul Courson, CNN

Washington (CNN)– After a weekend that saw continued deadly violence in Afghanistan triggered by what the U.S. says was the inadvertent burning of Qurans, an American Muslim group says outreach here is unlikely to help over there.

On Friday, a ranking Pentagon official visited a prominent mosque in the outside Washington and apologized for last week's incident, which involved copies of the Quran and other religious tracts that had been
kept at a U.S. detention facility in Bagram.

"On behalf of Secretary Panetta, and the Department of Defense, I offer my sincere regret for the incident at Bagram Air Base," said Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Lavoy.

But an Islamic activist group Monday suggested that the U.S. is preaching to the wrong choir if officials hope they can reach those in Afghanistan who have been perpetrating the violence.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Afghanistan • Belief • Church and state • Islam • Quran

February 24th, 2012
11:12 AM ET

Obama apologizes to Afghanistan for Quran burning

From Masoud Popalzai and Nick Paton Walsh, CNN

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) - Afghan rage over the burning of Qurans by NATO troops continued Thursday even after a President Barack Obama apologized for the "error."

Afghanistan erupted in violent demonstrations after the troops burned the Islamic religious material at the beginning of the week.

Two American troops were killed Thursday by a man wearing an Afghan National Army uniform, a U.S. official said, asking not to be named discussing casualties. The gunman is thought to have been acting in conjunction with a protest outside the base, the official said.

In a letter delivered to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Obama called the act "inadvertent," Karzai's office and National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said Thursday.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Afghanistan • Islam • Quran • TV-The Situation Room

Report of Quran burning sparks protests at Afghan base
February 21st, 2012
06:41 AM ET

Report of Quran burning sparks protests at Afghan base

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the Baghram Airfield in Afghanistan on Tuesday, spurred by reports that soldiers had burned a copy of the Quran at the base.

NATO officials acknowledged that Islamic religious materials, including copies of the Quran, had been improperly disposed at the base, but could not definitely say whether any was burned.

"We think very little was disposed (of)," said Col. Gary Kolb. "We don't think any was burned because we were able to recover most of the materials."

The commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan quickly apologized and said he had launched an investigation.


- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Afghanistan • Islam • Quran

February 1st, 2012
10:51 AM ET

Islamist or Islamic?

(CNN)–CNN's Erin Burnett examines two recent cases of violence against women. Were they the product of religion or culture? Is there a difference?

In this video essay Burnett discusses her own experiences in the Middle East and speaks to an awarding-winning journalist, Deborah Scroggins, the author of "Wanted Women: Faith, Lies & The War on Terror," to try and answer the question "Islamic or Islamist?"

Read more about the issue of "honor murders" here and here on the Belief Blog.

And don't miss all the latest on Burnett's show from the Out Front Blog.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Culture wars • Islam • Islamic law • Quran

Islamic phone features 29 Quran translations; points to Mecca
December 7th, 2011
11:24 AM ET

Islamic phone features 29 Quran translations; points to Mecca

By Moni Basu, CNN

Nwe Delhi (CNN) -
What could possibly be more popular than the latest iPhone? An Indian company is hoping that among India's Muslims, it will be the new Quran mobile, a smartphone loaded with Islamic features.

The new ENMAC Quran MQ3500 phone, launched last month in India, comes with Islam's holy book translated in 29 languages and a compass that directs users toward Mecca. Muslims bow in the direction of the holy city for prayers five times a day.

The $76 phone also features an Islamic calendar, downloaded holy books, a calculator for zakat (donation to charity) and an automatic ring silencer that can be set up for prayer times at mosques.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • India • Islam • Quran • Technology

Bin Laden's theology a radical break with traditional Islam
May 4th, 2011
03:00 AM ET

Bin Laden's theology a radical break with traditional Islam

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - Osama bin Laden wore the mantle of a religious leader. He looked the part and talked a good game, but his theology was a radical departure from traditional orthodox Islam.

The pitch to join al Qaeda did not start with an invitation to put on a suicide vest but, like other religious splinter groups and cults, took advantage of disenfranchisement and poverty.

Bin Laden had no official religious training but developed his own theology of Islam.

"We don't know that (bin Laden) was ever exposed to orthodox Islamic teachings," said Ebrahim Moosa, a professor of religion and Islamic studies at Duke University.

The writing of ideologues in the Muslim Brotherhood influenced bin Laden heavily, Moosa said.

"He takes scriptural imperatives at their face value and believes this is the only instruction and command God has given him - unmediated by history, unmediated by understanding, unmediated by human experience. Now that's a difference between Muslim orthodoxy and what I would call uber- or hyperscripturalists," Moosa said.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 9/11 • Egypt • Islam • Islamic law • Leaders • Middle East • Osama bin Laden • Quran • Sharia • Terrorism • Violence

April 21st, 2011
11:26 AM ET

Freed hiker: Terry Jones endangers us all

Editor's note: Sarah Shourd, a teacher, was freed from prison in Iran last year. Shourd, her fiance, Shane Bauer, and Josh Fattal were hiking in the mountains in northern Iraq in July 2009 and were arrested by Iranian border guards, accused of spying and imprisoned. Her companions remain in prison. To learn more, visit freethehikers.org.

By Sarah Shourd, Special to CNN

(CNN) - During my more than one year in solitary confinement in Iran, I read the Quran from cover to cover several times. While I am not a Muslim, in my most desperate hours I was comforted and uplifted by the wisdom it speaks.

When I came across the words "Truth hath come and falsehood hath vanished away. Verily, falsehood is ever certain to vanish" I was reminded of a line from the Bible, "Then you shall know the truth and truth shall set you free." That certainty helped keep my hopes alive that my suffering, and the suffering of my fiance, Shane Bauer, and our good friend Josh Fattal, would end.

Shortly before my release last September, I was horrified to learn from the English-language Iranian news I was allowed to watch every night that a Florida pastor, Terry Jones, planned to burn 200 copies of the Quran. I had never heard of Terry Jones but it was all too clear from where I was sitting how destructive this misguided act would be. Mr. Jones backed off but he went ahead with a Quran burning last month.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Islam • Opinion • Quran

Protests continue in Afghanistan against Quran burning
Afghans pray inside the Hazrat-i Ali shrine in Mazar-i-Sharif, where an angry mob stormed a U.N. compound on April 1.
April 5th, 2011
01:46 PM ET

Protests continue in Afghanistan against Quran burning

About 1,000 protesters gathered in front of Kabul University on Tuesday morning, as protests continue throughout Afghanistan to condemn the burning of a Quran by a pastor in the United States.

The demonstrators marched toward the city center amid a heavy police presence but without incident, said Kabul City police official Abdullah Mahboob.

The sight was in marked contrast to earlier demonstrations, some of which turned deadly.

Read the full story
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Afghanistan • Quran • Religious violence

April 4th, 2011
10:47 AM ET

The Take: Zakaria on the Quran burning

CNN's Fareed Zakaria discusses the Quran burning by an extremist Florida pastor and the violent reprisals in Afghanistan.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Afghanistan • Belief • Christianity • Content Partner • Culture wars • Islam • Quran • Religious violence • TV-Fareed Zakaria GPS

April 4th, 2011
10:22 AM ET

Petraeus condemns Quran burning as protests rage on

Check out CNN.com's Afghanistan Crossroads blog for the latest developments, and our Belief Blog timeline of Terry Jones.

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) - Top U.S. officials in Afghanistan on Sunday condemned the burning of a Quran in the United States that sparked three days of protests in which more than 20 people died.

Burning the Muslim holy book "was hateful, it was intolerant and it was extremely disrespectful and again, we condemn it in the strongest manner possible," said Gen. David Petraeus, who heads the U.S.-led international forces in Afghanistan.

U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry said in a statement that Americans respect the Quran "and all religious texts and deplore any action that shows disrespect to any religious faith."

"At the same time, I want to emphasize, as have many Afghan leaders, that to attack and kill innocent people in response to the deplorable act of one individual is outrageous, and an affront to human decency and dignity," Eikenbery's statement said.

Read the full story here about Gen Petraeus' comments on the Quran burning.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Asia • Belief • Christianity • Islam • Quran • Religious violence

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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.