Quran much more than a holy book to Muslims
A Muslim in Bangladesh holds a Quran during a recent protest against the government.
April 1st, 2011
04:50 PM ET

Quran much more than a holy book to Muslims

Two weeks ago, controversial pastor Terry Jones presided over what he called a trial of the Quran.

The holy book of Islam was "found guilty" by members of Jones' tiny church in Florida and burned, according to a release posted on the church's website.

On Friday, 12 people, including eight workers for the United Nations, were killed in the Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif, when people protesting the burning of that Quran attacked a U.N. office.

Jones likely knew that burning the Quran would prompt protests when Muslims learned of the actions of his church, the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville. He canceled plans to burn a Quran last year, on the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks after being lobbied by President Obama, Gen. David Petraeus and others. Petraeus said American service members in Afghanistan would be increasingly in danger if Jones proceeded with his plan.

On March 20, the parishioners at Dove burned a single copy of the Quran, thus "attacking the foundations of Islam itself," says one Muslim scholar.

"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."


- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Islam • Islamic law • Muslim • Quran

Timeline of Florida's Quran-burning pastor
Florida pastor Terry Jones.
April 1st, 2011
01:33 PM ET

Timeline of Florida's Quran-burning pastor

On Friday, a bloody attack on a United Nations building in Mazar-e Sharif is suspected to have been carried out by a mob protesting  last month's Quran burning by Pastor Terry Jones.  The Florida pastor made headlines last year when he threatened to burn Qurans to protest Islam, on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.  On March 20, he went through with the act, this time failing to attract widespread media attention.  However, the incident triggered outrage in Pakistan, which condemned the desecration and called for him to be charged with terrorism.  Here's a timeline of events leading up to the Quran burning:


- CNN.com Senior Producer

Filed under: Florida • Islam • Pakistan • Quran

March 7th, 2011
01:36 PM ET

Muslim hearings: Shining a light or turning up the heat?

Editor's Note: CNN’s Soledad O’Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door”, airs Sunday, March 27 at 8 p.m. E.T.

By Dave Schechter, CNN Senior National Editor

The inference in the rabbi’s question could not be missed.

“I know that, at the Olympics, when I see the American get a gold medal and they play ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ I cry,” the rabbi said. “So my question is, if an American Muslim sees somebody getting a gold medal for the United States and they play ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ do they cry?”

The rabbi was one of 200 or so people who came to an Atlanta temple for an event titled “Understanding the Quran,” sponsored by the Southeast Branch of the Anti-Defamation League and the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta. The question was directed to the guest speaker, an American Muslim professor who teaches about Islam at a highly regarded university near Boston.

Looking around the sanctuary, I saw more than one person among the 200 or so present had arched an eyebrow and displayed a look of amazement that such a question would be asked; some with the particular knowledge that American Jews have faced questions of whether their loyalty is divided between the United States and Israel.

The American Muslim answered politely, telling the rabbi that, yes, he roots for the American athletes to win at the Olympics. “I cry,” the visiting scholar assured him.

I recalled witnessing this exchange back when thinking about the upcoming hearings organized by Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee on whether American Muslims pose a threat to the United States.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Afghanistan • Iraq • Islam • Muslim • Quran

Banned in Britain: Pastor Terry Jones
January 20th, 2011
10:45 AM ET

Banned in Britain: Pastor Terry Jones

Britain has denied entry to the Florida pastor who said last year that he was "praying about" whether to burn Qurans to protest the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"The government opposes extremism in all its forms which is why we have excluded Pastor Terry Jones from the UK," a Home Office spokesperson said in a statement. "Numerous comments made by Pastor Jones are evidence of his unacceptable behaviour."

Jones vowed to take legal action to change the decision. "Just as a human being, I believe it is restrictive, against my right to travel, against my right to my opinion, to express my opinion, against basic principles of freedom of religion and freedom of speech," he said in a telephone interview.

Read the full story here about the UK banning Pastor Terry Jones.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church and state • Europe • Florida • Quran • United Kingdom • United States

December 23rd, 2010
08:27 AM ET

Pakistan parties protest possible blasphemy law changes

Pakistan's religious parties are planning protests this week against any attempts to change the nation's blasphemy laws, a party spokesman said Thursday.

Moulana Amjad Khan, spokesman for the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal ur Rehman (JUI-F) party, said the JUI-F and other religious parties are going to hold the rallies on December 24.

JUI-F recently left the collation government led by President Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan People's Party.

Religious parties have been upset since the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, helped file a mercy petition with Zardari's office, requesting a pardon for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced for death for blasphemy.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Islam • Quran • Religious liberty

Sudan's president warns of tighter Islamic law
December 20th, 2010
06:01 PM ET

Sudan's president warns of tighter Islamic law

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has warned that he will tighten the application of Islamic law, or sharia, in northern Sudan if southern Sudan votes for independence next month, the Sudan News Agency reported.

"If the separation of the South unfortunately happens, the constitution will be amended and sharia will become the main source of legislation," al-Bashir said.

Sharia already is the law of the land in northern Sudan, but the authorities have relaxed their enforcement of it since a 2005 peace treaty ended more than 20 years of civil war.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog

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

December 12th, 2010
10:58 AM ET

Pastor who threatened to burn Qurans invited to England

Britain's government is considering whether to block the Florida pastor who threatened to burn copies of the Quran earlier this year from entering the country, a top government official said Sunday.

Terry Jones called off his planned protest amid increasing pressure from U.S. and international leaders. But he has been invited to speak at a 2011 rally by the English Defence League, a British far-right movement.

But British Home Secretary Theresa May, whose office can bar people from entering the United Kingdom, said the government is weighing whether to keep Jones out.


- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Florida • Islam • Quran • United Kingdom • United States

November 22nd, 2010
12:32 PM ET

Arguments to take place in Oklahoma over ban on Islamic law in courts

Editor's Note: From CNN's Matt Smith

A federal judge will hear arguments Monday on a temporary restraining order against an Oklahoma referendum that would ban the use of Islamic religious law in state courts.

Oklahoma voters approved the amendment during the November elections by a 7-3 ratio. But the Council on American-Islamic Relations challenged the measure as a violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange issued a temporary restraining order November 8 that will keep state election officials from certifying that vote.

"What this amendment is going to do is officially disfavor and condemn the Muslim community as being a threat to Oklahoma," Muneer Awad, executive director of CAIR's Oklahoma chapter and the lead plaintiff in the suit, said earlier this month. In addition, he said, the amendment would invalidate private documents, such as wills, that are written in compliance with Muslim law.

The amendment would require Oklahoma courts to "rely on federal and state law when deciding cases" and "forbids courts from considering or using" either international law or Islamic religious law, known as Sharia, which the amendment defined as being based on the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.

Read the full story here.

Listen to a report on this story from CNN Radio.

You can also listen to the CNN Radio Reports' podcast on iTunes or subscribe to the podcast here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church and state • Islam • Oklahoma • Politics • Quran • United States

October 19th, 2010
12:18 PM ET

Court in UAE says wife, child beating OK if no marks are left

A court in the United Arab Emirates says a man is permitted under Islamic law to physically discipline his wife and children as long as he leaves no marks and has tried other methods of punishment, the country's top court ruled.

The ruling came in the case of a man who slapped his wife and slapped and kicked his 23-year-old daughter, the document said.

The daughter had bruises on her right hand and right knee and the wife had injuries to her lower lip and teeth, the ruling said.

The court ruled that a man has the right to punish his wife and children.


- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Belief • Courts • Islam • Quran

October 16th, 2010
02:44 PM ET

Controversial pastor gets free car for not burning Quran

The Rev. Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who caused a firestorm last month when he came close to staging a public Quran burning, is getting a new car courtesy of a New Jersey dealership.

In the run-up to the planned book-burning, Brad Benson Hyundai in New Brunswick offered Jones a vehicle if the pastor backed down on his threat.

“We heard on the news that he was going to burn the Quran," Benson Hyundai general manager David Canton told CNN on Saturday.

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Florida • Islam • New Jersey • Quran • United States

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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.