Contemporary and Social Issues

Ignorance Begets Ignorance – Condemning the Qur’an Burning in Sweden

Condemning the Qur’an Burning in Sweden. The Holy Qur'an is the sacred scripture of the Islamic faith, believed to be entirely the revealed Word of God and unchanged since its revelation almost 1500 years ago

Sarmad Naveed, Canada

If we respond to the actions of the ignorant with ignorance also, it will only lead them to persist further in their actions.’ – Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba)

According to reports, for the past two weeks, police in Malmo, Sweden deliberated over stopping an anti-Islamic protest planned to be held by the leader of Denmark’s extremist Hard Line party. Eventually, police decided to apprehend the leader and he was deported with a two-year ban from entering Sweden. Nevertheless, a group of his supporters recorded a video in the Malmo square, in which they could be seen burning a copy of the Holy Qur’an and kicking it around. Three of the perpetrators would later be arrested on the suspicion of a hate crime.

The Holy Qur’an is the sacred scripture of the Islamic faith, believed to be entirely the revealed Word of God and unchanged since its revelation almost 1500 years ago. It is the ultimate guidebook for Muslims. So naturally, upon seeing this video, the sentiments of Muslims in Sweden and all over the world would be hurt. 

However, the reaction of some so-called ‘Muslims’ in Sweden to this video can be considered just as heinous and un-Islamic. Approximately 300 people took to the streets, brandishing metal rods taken from street signs and barriers, smashing windows on vehicles and hurling stones and glass towards policemen while shouting vulgarities. All the while, police tried subduing the rioters by assuring them that they condemned and had taken legal action against the perpetrators as soon as they came to know of the crime, but this was to no avail. 

A deplorable state of affairs indeed.

On one hand, the completely unethical, immoral and vile act of treating the Holy Book of a religion in such a heinous matter. Yet, on the other hand, those enraged by this took to completely un-Islamic means, which entirely contradict the peaceful teachings of Islam. Both acts must be equally condemned. 

On 29th August 2020, during a virtual meeting with a delegation from Sweden, the Fifth Caliph and Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) categorically condemned the burning of the Holy Qur’an, as well as the actions of the ‘Muslims’ in its wake. He explained that such an incident should have been used to educate people regarding the true teachings of the Holy Qur’an, so as not to allow extremists to misinform the masses with their out-of-context explanations. His Holiness (aba) said:

‘The truth is that most people in Sweden and other Western countries remain unaware of the true teachings of Islam and this enables extremists to take individual verses of the Holy Qur’an completely out of context for the sake of their false propaganda. People who conduct such hateful acts have no knowledge of Islam or what the actual conditions laid down in the Holy Qur’an are for Jihad.’

He further stated:

‘It is the duty of Ahmadi Muslims to introduce and exemplify the true and peaceful teachings of Islam in each and every city and town so that people understand the reality of our religion.’ [1]

This, in reality, is the true Islamic response to such heinous acts. Rather than responding with violence and anger – which is completely un-Islamic, to begin with, and would only further deter people– Muslims must use such opportunities to exhibit the true teachings of Islam, both through their words, and actions (or reactions).

Our world today yearns for peace and harmony more than ever before. However, acts teeming with intent and sheer disrespect towards the religious beliefs and sentiments of others, no matter the religion, can only be counter-productive towards the establishment of peace and harmony. His Holiness (aba) explains in one instance:

‘If we truly desire peace in the world, we need to think of the consequences of our words and deeds. We need to be respectful of the beliefs and values of others. This is the way to break down barriers and to knock down the walls of enmity and resentment that have been erected in so many parts of the world. Certainly establishing peace is the most critical and urgent need of the time. This should be our foremost ambition and objective.’ [2]

On the same token, Muslims must also be aware that no matter the atrocities committed against their religion, they must remain true to the teachings of Islam. His Holiness (aba) states in another instance:

‘If only the Muslim organisations that commit mayhem in the name of Islam could understand that Islam’s teachings of love and affection can bring the world into the fold of Islam so much quicker. The teaching Islam gives on patience and forbearance cannot be matched by any other religion. Materialistic people are blind to faith and do not even refrain from mocking God Almighty, let alone the prophets. If we respond to the actions of the ignorant with ignorance also, it will only lead them to persist further in their actions. Therefore, God Almighty states that instead of responding to them you should pass by and distance yourself from such people who commit vain acts. Not only does socialising with such people or concurring with them make us sinful, but if we respond to the wrongdoer and in return, they mock or abuse God Almighty or speak or express anything against the Holy Prophet (sa) in degrading terms, then we too partake of their sin. Thus, a true Muslim should try to refrain from this and leave the matter with God Almighty.’ [3]

About the Author: Sarmad Naveed is an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who graduated from the Ahmadiyya Institute for Languages and Theology in Canada. He serves on the Editorial Board of The Review of Religions and coordinates the newly launched Facts from Fiction section. He has also appeared as a panelist and host of programmes on Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA) such as ‘Ahmadiyyat: Roots to Branches.’