Burning the Koran: 14 September

Not to burn the Koran was the right decision. Publicise it instead!

I would not want anyone publicly to burn the Bible. Jesus told us to do to others as we would have them do to us. As a follower of Jesus I should therefore not publicly burn the Koran.

I also should not do something which puts many of my fellow Christians in danger. The immediate result of a small group of American Christians burning the Koran would be violent attacks on Christians in many Moslem majority countries. Church leaders in these countries understandably condemned the proposed Koran burning.

It is good that the proposed Koran burners listened to the arguments of others and backed down, albeit reluctantly. That some of the most hard-line Christians had their minds changed by other Christians is a good witness to the Church in general. It is hard to imagine any similar process happening in Islam.

Koran burning is non-violent. No-one is hurt. Only paper and print are destroyed. Burning a few copies hinders in no way the free and wide availability of the Koran. Some Moslems would no doubt respond with violence, and they threaten violence in response to a non-violent action. This Moslem response is wrong and should be criticised more, especially by fellow, moderate, Moslems. Some Western writers have also described Koran burning as though it were a violent act, thus legitimising the threatened violence by some Moslems. Freedom of religion means freedom to criticise religion, even in dramatic ways. The Koran criticises sharply Christianity and Judaism. Yet Islam is uncomfortable with being criticised. We should not curtail the freedom to criticise Islam, because of violent threats, but defend and use that freedom.

Koran burning is a dramatic way of saying that this teaching is dangerous and should not be followed. That is the view of the Koran shared by many of us orthodox Christians. It is impossible to follow and worship the Jesus of the Gospels and embrace the teaching of the Koran. From the beginning of Islam, there has been an irreconcilable ideological conflict. This stark difference should be acknowledged and explained more. Maybe we Christians should publicise more the verses from the Koran which we find unacceptable?

“Fight those who believe not in Allah, nor the last day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the people of the Book [i.e., Jews and Christians], until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” Sura 9:29

The Koran instructs Moslems to fight all non-Moslems, all pork-eaters or alcohol-drinkers of whatever faith. We are glad that most Moslems do not follow this to the letter, and that some think of fighting with the pen rather than the sword. But it is clear that, at least, the sword is not ruled out, and the history of Moslem expansion shows that the most common interpretation of ‘fight’ is with the bloody sword. More people need to know that this is teaching from the Koran. Hardly a religion of peace!

No more talk of Koran burning. Instead let’s have more truth about the Koran.

Roger Harper

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