by M. Salahuddin

It isn’t possible to burn the Qur’an.

“Qur’an” strictly means a “recital” and it’s for a good reason. The Qur’an was revealed as a verbal experience. Embracing it is a verbal-mental process. Above all, it’s about MEANING and living according to it. Therefore the Qur’an cannot actually be burned. Since Islam began, Muslims have been committing the Qur’an to memory and such people are called “Huffaz,” (singular—Hafiz).

The word hafiz means one who protects and it is a reflection that the protected form, incapable of defilement, is that which is memorized.

The physical rendition in the form of a book is called a “mushhaf,” and while treated with respect for its content, it is not strictly the Qur’an itself. Moreover when a mushhaf deteriorates beyond usability, the required procedure is, of all things, …to burn it! The reason is that the printed word should not be defiled by being discarded or trashed.

Muslims screaming and ranting at the disrespect arising from the book’s burning, while understandably offended, are probably not truly grasping the book’s message which would counsel against such ranting.

That said, books are about communicating understanding and those who burn any book without reading and understanding its contents offer poetic demonstration of their particular form of elective ignorance.

It’s heartening to see the near universal condemnation of Pastor Terry Jones’ call for an “International Koran [sic] Burning Day” on the ninth anniversary of 9/11. Indeed, for Muslims the world over, we have a unique opportunity to demonstrate that we DO understand the theme of “they do not speak for us” offered by so many of the non-Muslim world in America in relation to Pastor Jones and his congregation of 30 people.

This stands in contrast with the failure of many Americans to understand the same sentiments when an even greater number of the world’s Muslim population asserts the same thing about 19 al-Qaeda terrorists.

It is that theme, after all, that informs the viewpoint that the Ground Zero community center and mosque project represents Islam, not the terrorists. By contrast, Islam as an underlying cause of 9/11 has been internalized by so many in America, including a few opportunists who continue to delude themselves about being political leaders.

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2 Responses to “THE UNBURNABLE QUR’AN”

  1. imran on April 15th, 2011 2:04 pm

    Regarding the recent burning of the Quran:

    We, who represent a wide spectrum of religious belief, stand firmly together in condemning the recent burning of the Quran by a self-proclaimed minister of the Christian faith in Florida. We view the burning of any sacred text to be a hate crime. Such an incendiary act does not bring God’s love and mercy into the world. Rather, it only serves to fan the flames of mistrust, fear, and destruction of the other. To disagree with another religious perspective is anyone’s prerogative; but to disrespect and destroy the sacred words that are the very foundation of a people’s faith journey can only be for the purpose of hateful provocation. Such blatant intolerance does not represent the essence of all the holy books that seek to bring humanity into a state of grace and enlightenment. Such blatant intolerance does not represent who we are as Christians, Jews, and Unitarian Universalists.

    We also decry the ensuing violence fueled by this despicable act, and mourn the lives that were lost because of it. Our 21st century reality is that we live in a world where our communication technology is moving at the speed of light, bringing diverse belief systems, cultures, and social conditions into abrupt contact. To that end, we must recognize that our words and actions hold enormous power. Isolated incidents go viral in a matter of seconds, and the reactions to them reverberate to the far corners of the earth. The author Anais Nin once said, “We do not see things as they are; we see them as we are.” Fear of fanaticism, persecution and terrorism is real both in the West and in the Arab nations. As a human family, we must work harder to build bridges across the gulf of our ignorance and fear – not burning but learning from those inspired texts that call us to bring our best selves to the altar of our humanity.

    During the month of May, we, the undersigned clergy, will be affirming respect for the Islamic faith through readings and/or prayers in our worship services. We will also pray for those who have been harmed in body, mind or spirit by religious fanaticism, whatever the source, and for God’s love and healing mercy to open our minds and hearts, bringing us into a deeper and lasting peace with one another.


    The letter above was signed by the Rev. Cynthia A. Frado, The Unitarian Universalist Congregational Society of Westborough; the Rev. Dr. Kathryn Baines, The Rev. Jeffery Goodrich, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church; Pastor John Wesley Taylor, First United Methodist Church; the Rev. Dr. Dirkje Legerstee, The Rev. Elaine S. Gaetani, The Evangelical Congregational Church, UCC; Rabbi Lawrence Milder, Rabbi Joseph Eiduson, Congregation BNai Shalom; Pastor Stephen P. Misarski, New Hope Chapel; Rabbi Michael Swarttz, Beth Tikvah Synagogue; Father George Warren, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church; Mr. David Russo, director, Assabet Pastoral Counseling Center.

  2. Salahuddin on April 15th, 2011 10:43 pm

    I applaud the action take by the cosignatories of the Westborough Interfaith Clergy and it needs to be publicized. I also fully agree that there can be zero tolerance for murder and mayhem perpetrated on handy, nearby victims merely for being perceived as “of the other,” and too typically because of their white skin or blue eyes when they were there to provide assistance to their very assailants.

    In my opinion Muslims need to understand that Terry Jones didn’t burn the Qur’an. He cremated a paper rendition of it.