EditorialNo Comments | September 2010
Attacking our values – Dividing a divided world
“On September 11th, 2010, from 6pm – 9pm, we will burn the Koran on the property of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL in remembrance of the fallen victims of 9/11 and to stand against the evil of Islam. Islam is of the devil!” (Dove World Outreach Center, www.doveworld.org)
“The world needs peace, love and brotherhood. The world needs an end to wars. Instead of walls of hatred being erected we need peace to prevail and for this to occur people of all faiths must join together. There is nothing wrong with debates but they should take place in a peaceful and respectful environment.” (Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, Press Release 22 August 2010)
The statements above are diametrically opposed. One represents fanaticism and extremism, and the other, a message of love and tolerance. It may surprise some that the message of peace comes from a Muslim leader and that the message of hatred comes from a so-called Christian movement. The media has invariably portrayed Islam as a religion steeped in warfare, hatred and barbarism. Although such sensationalism sells newspapers, the facts are far from reality. Regrettably, the media has either failed to understand the true message of Islam or having understood has purposely chosen to misrepresent it on the basis of the acts of a few misguided evil souls.
We are now, however, seeing signs that the shoe may be on the other foot. In Florida, a small organisation that calls itself the Dove World Outreach Center and describes itself as a ‘New Testament Church – based on the Bible’ has announced amid much media fanfare that on 11 September 2010 it will burn as many copies of the Holy Qur’an as it can acquire.
By combating extremism with extremism is the cause of Christianity being advanced or is it being dragged back into the dark ages?”
The Ahmadiyya Muslim community has always maintained that there is no such thing as ‘Islamic terrorism’. Principally, this is because the term suggests that terrorism is justified or inculcated by Islam. To suggest that the true teachings of Islam were a motivating factor would be wholly unjust. In fact the Holy Qur’an is unequivocal on this issue and declares absolutely that:
There should be no compulsion in religion. (Ch.2:V.257)
In the current era in various parts of the world we find examples of extremist organisations and individuals. The Dove World Outreach Center must be similarly categorised for they have embarked upon a campaign of hate and intolerance designed to create division amongst communities and fury throughout the world’s Muslim population. As in Islam, true Christian teachings are also of love, brotherhood and amity. The fact that over centuries these teachings have been distorted and misrepresented does not legitimise associating the religion with the evil deed. What the Dove World Outreach Center plans to do has nothing to do with true Christian teachings. Did Jesus(as) burn the Old Testament?
The main objection raised by the Dove World Outreach Center against the Qur’an is that Islam affirms that the Crucifixion was not a source of salvation for mankind. Rather it is the deeds of each individual person that will determine his or her fate. The Dove World Outreach Center does not understand that Jesus(as) himself taught this. There are a number of passages in the Bible which clearly refute the false notion of the divinity of Jesus(as) as has been conclusively proven by the Promised Messiah(as). Abraham(as) being cast into fire, and Joseph(as) being abandoned by his brothers in the well etc. were equally great moments, yet God miraculously saved Abraham(as) and Joseph(as), as indeed he saved Jesus(as). It is a fallacy to believe that someone should strike his head with a hammer and cure someone else’s headache. Likewise the concept of salvation as is currently practised was never preached by Jesus(as) himself.
Burning the Holy Qur’an or any other religious or sacred scripture will never achieve anything positive. As Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V(aba) said in his recent Friday sermon of 20th August 2010, to burn the Holy Qur’an would be directly opposed to the teachings of the Bible. It is heartening that many Churches have condemned this proposed burning and so too have people of other faiths and religions.
We live in a divided world where politics and the pursuit of wealth have superseded the principles of justice and honesty. People seek fame and fortune instead of investing in a spiritual life and perhaps that is what is motivating this so called Church. If its aim was to gain fame and exposure it has achieved that, but at what cost? Billions of Muslims and non-Muslims across the world will be offended, angered and deeply grieved if this attack on civility goes ahead. Freedom of expression is a universal right, however, like all freedoms it must be used with responsibility. Social cohesion and a respect for what others hold sacred must always be maintained.
For these reasons we call on the Dove World Outreach Center to withdraw its plans immediately.
Over the past decade the date 11 September has come to symbolise a dark chapter in the ongoing story of mankind. On that date nine years ago thousands of innocent people, including many Muslims, were killed in senseless attacks in the United States. Do we really want in future for the date to symbolise yet another barbaric attack, this time on the sentiments and feelings of Muslims worldwide?
Currently there is also a debate ongoing in the United States about whether permission should be granted to build a mosque near Ground Zero. This is a local civic issue and whatever decision is made by the authorities should be respected. If permission is granted then it is hoped that in the same locality as the proposed mosque, a church, a synagogue and the places of worship of all other religions are also built. That would show that from a horrific act of terrorism the world had emerged with greater understanding and unity. Surely that would be a fitting tribute to the people who were killed nine years ago. What would not be an honourable legacy would be the burning of a scripture that is sacred beyond compare to every sincere Muslim.
Let us hope that common decency prevails. The entire world is currently engulfed in turmoil. From floods in Pakistan, to mudslides in China and raging fires in Russia we find that the world is suffering. Our efforts should be directed at bringing relief to those in need and bringing peace to the world, and not at setting new fires.