CODEPINK publishes Ten Reasons Not to Burn the Qur’an in response to Dove World Outreach Center’s plan to burn copies of the Qur’an on the 9th anniversary of 9/11. We hope our Ten Reasons will help bring about greater awareness, understanding and healing on this sad anniversary.
We call on the Dove World Outreach Center to abandon hate mongering for the true ideals of peace-building — a cornerstone of our democracy and our many faiths.
We call on the Dove World Outreach Center to recognize that like Mohammad, Jesus counseled love and forgiveness, not hatred and symbolic burnings. His teachings should not be used as sources of self-satisfaction and hatred of others. Those of us who believe in God , whether they are Muslim or Christian or followers of another faith, would do better to hold on to the beautiful teachings of their faith traditions than to commit acts of hatred and destruction, whether they be symbolic burnings or otherwise. Rather than burn scriptures, let us learn more about each other, to know one another better.
Ten Reasons Not to Burn the Qur’an
Dove World Outreach Center’s Claim: The Koran* teaches that Jesus Christ, the Crucified, Risen Son of God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords was NOT the Son of God, nor was he crucified (a well documented historical fact that ONLY Islam denies). This teaching removes the possibility of salvation and eternal life in heaven for all Islam’s believers. They face eternal damnation in hell if they do not repent.
- Islam is not a new religion, but traces its roots to Abrahamic monotheism, which teaches that God is one. God is one means that God has no parents, spouse, son or daughter. Therefore, God is considered indivisible and incomparable in any way, shape or form to any other living creature.
- This idea can also be found in the Hebrew Scriptures in the form of the first of the Ten Commandments and elsewhere in the Bible.
- The belief that Jesus was not crucified also predates Islam. For example, the Docetans were among Jesus’ early followers, who also claimed he was never crucified and that another was crucified in his stead. The Gospel of Barnabas, also known as the Gospel of Truth, is a pre-Islamic, non-canonical gospel, which contains fuller accounts of the life of Jesus, and which tell of the crucifixion of Judas instead of Jesus. After the council of Nicea, the Catholic Church declared it heretical, burned its copies, and forbade Christians from reading it.
- Only God decides who attains salvation and who doesn’t, be they Muslim Christian or Jew and no human being or institution has the authority to judge another.
- The Qur’an also teaches that Jesus, peace be upon him, is a prophet and a messenger of God, equal to Mohammad himself. Other than the New Testament, the Qur’an is the only holy book to mention Jesus so profusely and so positively. For example, Jesus is not mentioned at all in the Bhagavad Gita, the Vedas or the teachings of Buddha. This is one good reason not to burn the Qur’an.
Dove World Outreach Center’s Claim: The Koran does not have an eternal origin. It is not recorded in heaven. The Almighty God, Creator of the World, is NOT its source. It is not holy. Its writings are human in origin, a concoction of old and new teachings. This has been stated and restated for centuries by scholars since Islam’s beginnings, both Moslem and non-Moslem.
- The Qur’an is considered to be God’s word, delivered to Mohammad via Gabriel, and recited by Mohammad to his followers. Scholars tend to diverge greatly in their opinions on this subject. While some Muslim and non-Muslim scholars attest to the book’s extraordinary qualities and divine origins, others do not. The Qur’an is a guide for humankind, and a proof of God’s loving-kindness and other wonderful attributes. Its teachings are replete with forgiveness, kindness to others, and other exemplary values and morals.
- Muslim belief in the scripture’s divine origins is not baseless, but is supported by the very verses, which are unparalleled in sentence construction, and by its references to scientific miracles and kind teachings. Whether one believes in the book’s divine origins or not does not diminish the value of its teachings.
- The Qur’an is also among one of the only holy books that attests that the Bible is of divine origin, and the first to ever do so. That is a second good reason not to burn the Qur’an.
Dove World Outreach Center’s Claim: The Koran’s teaching includes Arabian idolatry, paganism, rites and rituals. These are demonic, an ongoing satanic stronghold under which Moslems and the world suffer.
- The Qur’an is unequivocally against idolatry and satanic worship. Anyone who makes these claims cannot possibly have read and understood the Qur’an and should at least thoroughly read what he/she is attempting to disparage.
- The Qur’an eliminated idolatry in Arabia, led to the cleansing and purification of the ancient Abrahamic temple in Mecca, and returned the people to the worship of the one true God of Abraham, their forefather.
- The Qur’an also contains many hymns and praises to the God of Abraham, and condemning such texts is not something a devout monotheist of any faith background would encourage. That is a third good reason not to burn the Qur’an.
Dove World Outreach Center’s Claim: The earliest writings that are known to exist about the Prophet Mohammad were recorded 120 years after his death. All of the Islamic writings (the Koran and the Hadith, the biographies, the traditions and histories) are confused, contradictory and inconsistent. Maybe Mohammad never existed. We have no conclusive account about what he said or did. Yet Moslems follow the destructive teachings of Islam without question.
- The Qur’an is an independent text and is very different from the Hadith, histories and biographical literature.
- The Hadith, histories and biographical literature were compiled at a later date and should not be confused with the Qur’an.
- There are whole manuscripts of the Qur’an which date to the first century of Islam, as indicated by carbon-testing and other evidence provided by some of the top Western scholars in the field. See, for example, Codex Sanaa 20-33.1 found in Yemen under the big mosque in Sanaa.
- The Qur’an is one of few prophetic books that have been so well preserved and that give an accurate rendition of the prophet’s communication. It is thereby one of the world’s greatest treasures. That is a fourth good reason not to burn the Qur’an.
Dove World Outreach Center’s Claim: Mohammad’s life and message cannot be respected. The first Meccan period of his leadership seems to have been religiously motivated and a search for the truth. But in the second Medina period he was “corrupted by power and worldly ambitions.” (Ibn Warraq) These are characteristics that God hates. They also led to political assassinations and massacres which continue to be carried out on a regular basis by his followers today.
- Mohammad lifestyle was exemplary and he lived very simply, preferring to give his money to the poor. Few can match his kindness towards his enemies. For example, when he and his followers conquered Mecca, he did so peacefully and did not punish its pagan inhabitants, even though they had tortured and oppressed them. There is no evidence that he ever ordered a political assassination or a massacre.
- The Qur’an teaches forgiveness of Jews, Christians and people of other religions, even when they harm Muslims. See, for example, “And you will hear much harm from the people who have been given scriptures before you, but if you are patient and pious, then that is a way to determine the issue (3:186), … pardon and forgive … (2:109, 5:13). This is a fifth good reason not to burn the Qur’an.
Dove World Outreach Center’s Claim: Islamic Law is totalitarian in nature. There is no separation of church and state. It is irrational. It is supposedly immutable and cannot be changed. It must be accepted without criticism.
- Islamic law is a pre-modern system of law, which served Muslims very well for centuries. It is a human product, developed by individuals such as Abu Hanifa, Ja’far al-Sadiq, Malik ibn Anas, al-Shafi’i, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
- Islamic law changes all the time, depending on circumstances, and there are many books and articles written by Muslims which critique some of its rulings.
- It should not be confused with the Qur’an, which is unchanging, even though its interpretation can vary.
- The Qur’an is the one scripture that teaches not to take up rabbis, priests and other clergy and give them the authority to delineate religious law. See, for example, verse 3: 64, “Say to the People of the Book: Let us worship none but God, let us not associate partners with him and let us not take each other up as rabbis other than God.” If they then turn away, say: “Bear witness that we are Muslims (wholeness-makers, monotheists, peacemakers).”
- Thus, the Qur’an teaches a distinctive monotheism, which makes all human beings equal before God, and does not privilege one human being over the other, particularly when it comes to religious authority. This is a sixth good reason not to burn the Qur’an.
Dove World Outreach Center’s Claim: Islam is not compatible with democracy and human rights. The notion of a moral individual capable of making decisions and taking responsibility for them does not exist in Islam. The attitude towards women in Islam as inferior possessions of men has led to countless cases of mistreatment and abuse for which Moslem men receive little or no punishment, and in many cases are encouraged to commit such acts, and are even praised for them. This is a direct fruit of the teachings of the Koran.
- The Qur’an does not delineate a particular political system for Muslim to follow, other than outlining that their governance should be conducted by taking the counsel of the community. “Their governance is a process of taking mutual counsel among them” (42:38). Democracies are therefore highly compatible with the Qur’an.
- The Qur’an is also known for giving rights to minorities and other vulnerable peoples. For example, it has given women the right to life, independent ownership of property, wages, divorce, marriage, inheritance, maintenance, good treatment, etc. For example, in North America, laws concerning domestic violence date only to the 20th century. The Islamic tradition is therefore a pioneer in giving women the right to divorce, alimony and other financial provisions in cases of domestic violence.
- Despite a variety of patriarchal interpretations of the Qur’an which are widely available in the media, intensive research and contextual understanding reveals that the Qur’an asserts over and over again the fact that women are equal and autonomous human beings.
- While Islamic law is distinct from the Qur’an, it also does not delineate women as men’s possessions or chattels. Like all communities, the Muslim community is not devoid of men who abuse their wives or daughters-the legal systems in many countries, whether Islamic or otherwise, contain many loopholes and often do not allocate adequate punishment for cases of domestic violence and other infringement on women’s rights. However, the Qur’an is an inspiration and a hope for many Muslim men and women who work in the women’s movement. This is a seventh good reason not to burn the Qur’an.
Dove World Outreach Center’s Claim: A Muslim does not have the right to change his religion. Apostasy is punishable by death.
- A Muslim has a God-given right to change his/her religion, if they should so choose-the Qur’an clearly states “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (2:256).
- The Qur’an should not be confused with Islamic law, which was developed under different circumstances and which contains a plethora of legal opinions, not all of them as tolerant as the Qur’an. This is an eighth good reason not to burn the Qur’an.
Dove World Outreach Center’s Claim: Deep in the Islamic teaching and culture is the irrational fear and loathing of the West.
- The Qur’an does not endorse hatred of anyone and does not privilege any human being over another on the basis of race, origins or country. “O Humankind, we have created you from a male and a female and have made you into peoples and tribes so that you may know one another. The most honorable among you according to God is the most pious. God is all-knowing, experienced” (49:13).
- Even when faced by hatred, Muslims are counseled to forgive (2:109; 5:13) and to deal fairly with everyone. “do not let the hatred of a people lead you to deal unfairly” (5:8) “support each other in kindness and piety and do not support each other in sin and in attacks. (5:2) This is a ninth good reason not to burn the Qur’an.
Dove World Outreach Center’s Claim: Islam is a weapon of Arab imperialism and Islamic colonialism. Wherever Islam has or gains political power, Christians, Jews and all non-Moslems receive persecution, discrimination, are forced to convert. There are massacres and churches, synagogues, temples and other places of worship are destroyed.
- These claims are not supported by historical fact–if non-Muslims were forced to convert, there would be no Christian and Jewish minorities in Muslim-majority countries today. It is within Muslim lands that Nestorians, Monophysites and other minority Christians managed to survive, while they were eradicated in Europe in the Middle Ages and Late Antiquity. There is no Muslim equivalent for the Roman and Spanish inquisitions. During the crusades, European Jews found safe havens in Muslim lands, when they were being massacred by crusading Christians.
- Believing Christians would do well to remember the words of Jesus, peace be upon him: “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, and not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matt. 3), before they embark on a verbal campaign to disparage Muslims and Islam.
- As for “Arab imperialism”, Mohammad’s last sermon states: “An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”
- Islam literally means “peace-making”–it is the causative Form IV of the root “salam,” which means wholeness, peace, well-being and safety.
- Persecuting religious minorities and burning their books is not an act of peace-making. It recalls some of the actions of medieval churches, which have a history of intolerance and burning the gospels of minority Christians.
- Muslims have never embarked on a campaign to burn the Bible in any of its forms. It is the Qur’an’s insistence on freedom of worship-”Let there be no compulsion in religion”-which has contributed to the safety of many Christians and Jews and their scriptures across the ages. This is a tenth good reason not to burn the Qur’an.
This article is greatly indebted to the work of Nevin Reda, who has provided us with much of the information in these responses.
Our thanks to CODEPINK Canada for helping us compile these responses, and to CODEPINK Gainesville, Florida for spurring us to take this awareness-raising action.
* The correct reference is “Qur’an”, not “Koran”