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The Islamic Response to the Qur’ān-Burning Fiasco: Jihād || AE

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Cross-posted from 1st Ethical, written by Abu Eesa Niamatullah 8/28/10

If there’s anything that the last few weeks on the international news scene have shown us, it would be how difficult it is to not fall into the trap of giving what should have been the non-story of a single individual’s attempts at insulting the Noble Qur’ān yet further attention and coverage.

This is especially the case considering the fact that the Qur’ān is sadly desecrated by enemies of humanity on a regular basis – many news reports have shown this to be true and a brief foray into the online freak-world of the extreme right-wing will show the true reality of a deep-set destructive hatred which can’t always have heroes like Jacob Isom around to save the day. Or at least save the “Koran”, because of course as has now been written into the annals of modern history, “Dude, you have no Koran!”

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The fact that there is a concerted effort in much of the populist media and even some areas of academia willfully misrepresenting and re-writing Islam as something unrecognizable to Muslims is far worse than the childish rhetoric of the fascinatingly style-conscious yet utterly naive Pastor Jones, who although claiming to speak on behalf of America and Christianity, has actually proved that carpentry may be the only thing he has in common with the Prophet Jesus.

But seriously, how does the orthodox Muslim respond to such outrageous and unacceptable attacks against God’s own spoken Word – the Last Testament – to mankind? Disrespect to the Qur’ān is more than just a slap in the face to Muslims; rather it is a knife in the heart of every believer who realizes the true status of the most sanctified representation of God’s message on the face of the Earth.

Moreover, considering that the Islamic belief in God is not just an abstract thought in the mind, but rather a living, breathing, active theology which engages every aspect of society – designed to respond to every single challenge in modern life itself – then no Muslim needs to be restricting themselves to pacifism or a defensive apologetic approach. It is clear that such actions like those of Pastor Jones are intended only to outrage, provoke violence, and force the Muslims to respond in the strongest way possible.

Thus for such insults and disgrace, Islam has indeed specifically legislated a clear and unequivocal response to those who would treat it in this way: Jihād.

Yes. Jihād.

Let’s look at what God Himself says in the Qur’ān:

فَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ وَجَاهِدْهُمْ بِهِ جِهَادًا كَبِيرًا

“So do not give in to the disbelievers; strive hard against them with it.” (25:52)

The wording in the Arabic here is very clear: Jāhid-hum i.e. “make Jihād against them” yet it won’t escape you that the weapon to be used during this act of Jihād is referred to as simply “it”. Thus the mind could quite rightly start to think about machine-guns, knives, bombs or whatever way possible to cause as much death and destruction through revenge as possible, right?

Wrong.

You see, when your religious narrative is taken out of the hands of Islamic scholars and instead hijacked by Muslim extremists on one side, and non-Muslim extremists on the other, it is easy to see why the very mention of the word Jihād causes the hearts of millions of people to skip a beat and then bring forth the standard hate-filled rhetoric we’ve become so accustomed to through those bastions of public news services such as the al-Qaedah newsgroup or the slightly less clandestine Fox News network.

But if we were to ask the experts and scholars of Islam what the weapon in this verse actually is, you will find a near-consensus that the weapon is the Qur’ān itself.

Read and check virtually every single book of tafsīr (Qur’ānic exegesis) and you will find the same statement each time, leading us to now translate the above verse as:

فَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ وَجَاهِدْهُمْ بِهِ جِهَادًا كَبِيرًا

“So do not give in to the disbelievers; strive hard against them with this Qur’ān.” (25:52)

What this noble verse tells us is very important. We are firstly shown directly what the true meaning of Jihād actually means i.e. “to strive”. We also learn more importantly that as a Muslim community that often comes under attack for a number of reasons – some self-inflicted, others not so – our response is not to be based upon our own emotions and opinions.

Every true Muslim’s heart will be full of rage against anyone who would disrespect Holy Scripture. Many thoughts might go through our mind on how to respond, but God himself commands the believers to be patient, be steadfast and to convey the true message of the Qur’ān. If someone attacks the religion, then you respond with that which is better. If someone wishes to engage in ignorance, you respond by education. Strive hard against all antagonists with the arguments and proofs of the Qur’ān itself, and don’t turn to anger and hatred lest irrationality and emotion causes you to do something which is far removed from Islam.

The actions of extreme right-wing racists, xenophobes or just simple Islamophobic people are all aimed at provoking an equally mindless and emotive response, so that it can justify their own ignorance and transgression in the first place.

Reacting in such a fashion is not what Muslims should do. It really isn’t. We neither descend to such depths of human depravity in our responses and neither do we act in a fashion that causes even more problems and damage.

Islam, the Qur’ān and the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) have always been attacked by the ignorant. Sadly, this is not the first time and it won’t be the last. Yet our course of action and the mode of our behaviour should mirror that of the one who was sent to perfect all actions and modes of behaviour.

When the Prophet was jeered at by the aggressors of the Quraysh tribe and was insulted by being called Mudhammam i.e. “the rebuked one”, he turned to his companions and said, “that’s what they say, but I am Muhammad” i.e. “the praised one.”

“And truly (O Muhammad), you are on an exalted standard of character.” (68:4)

Despite the treachery and enmity shown by some of the Jewish tribes when the Prophet went to Madīnah, he was still recognized as the authority in the city. He was requested to judge in an adultery case between two Jews and once the Prophet (upon whom be peace) arrived at the house known as Bayt’l-Midrās, he was seated inside and given a cushion for his comfort. The Prophet wanted to use Jewish law to give the ruling and asked for the Old Testament to be brought forward (the Torah) and when it was brought to him, he gently took the cushion out from underneath himself and then placed the Torah upon it, and said, “I believe in you, and in He who sent you.”

“And truly (O Muhammad), you are on an exalted standard of character.” (68:4)

The attitude of the Muslim with sacred scripture couldn’t be more removed from that of the extremist bigots who have captured the headlines. This example of the Prophet Muhammad with the Old Testament speaks volumes, despite the Islamic belief that insertions have been made and the text changed from the original message of the Torah. Yet for the reason that it is a book, and more than that a book of knowledge, and more than that a book of Scripture, and more than that a book held to be sanctified and loved by a people, that we likewise show it respect and honour. All of these four features are individual and separate blessed reasons why Muslims must act the way that their Prophet shows them.

We cannot take responsibility for the actions of others, but we certainly will be held accountable for our own decisions and actions. And at this time when ignorance has become the order of the day, our response really has to be the education of the other through Jihād with the Qur’ān. We must take this opportunity to explain to people the real message behind the “Last Testament”, to encourage people to look inside and read instead of burn, to become proactive and reach out to the masses by showing them the great injustice they are doing to themselves by disrespecting one of the world’s greatest books of Holy Scripture.

The ignorant might wish to burn us inside by setting ablaze God’s Word, but if it does make you smoulder, then at least burn like incense – bring beauty, fragrance, benefit and guidance to humanity by living and promoting the Word as it should be.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Hakim

    October 5, 2010 at 4:39 AM

    This piece is Gangster ,2 guns up bang bang. ooopss a bit of Jahiliyah filtering through . What i meant to say is Mashallah,Tabarakallah well done again Sh Easa another well written article.

    • Faisa

      October 6, 2010 at 3:36 PM

      Ended at a positive note mashallah :)

  2. Basir

    October 5, 2010 at 6:23 AM

    The important part this article has missed is why is this man, pastor terry jones, who has never read the quran nor met a muslim before all of this, by his own adminission, decided to burn the Quran and call islam the devils religion. This is because of the climate created by politicians and media about Islam and more accurately political islam and that it is a threat to america and mankind. This is having an affect upon non-muslims who feel that Islam is a threat to them. What are we to do about this?

    • cul heath

      October 5, 2010 at 6:57 AM

      Bashir:

      “This is having an affect upon non-muslims who feel that Islam is a threat to them. What are we to do about this?”

      Exactly what is happening here…engage, instruct and illuminate.

      • Basir

        October 6, 2010 at 4:46 AM

        The ponit you have missed is that these politicians and media have vast resources and can access huge amounts of people to pump out their propaganda. Unfortunatly Muslims do not have these types of resouces, on the contary, our resources are quite meagre and the ones who hold the resources in the Muslim countries and corrupt and do not really seem to care that Muslims and Islam is being demonised.

        I am all for engage, instruct and illuminate but the reality is that for all of our efforts it seem like this is a losing battle unless we can engage, instruct and illuminate on a scale that western politicians and media are able to do.

        • someone

          October 9, 2010 at 12:55 PM

          bismillah
          if its a resource problem that you think stops us from engaging, then its a very defeatist attitude. I understand your concerns and they are legitimate. Truth in all its forms is being distorted on a wide scale spectrum, to a drama seeking sensationalist media. If you just worry about checking your intentions and being as creative as possible, then Allah (swt) will make it easy for you, and give you unprecedented success in your endeavors. This, I believe, seems like a David & Goliath type issue.

  3. cul heath

    October 5, 2010 at 6:52 AM

    As a non-believer, I had to post this brilliant essay on my site because this truly represents the bridges of empathetic understanding and compassion that will elevate us all and is so sorely lacking in our culture today. Thank you for the revelations.

  4. Middle Ground

    October 5, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    Salam

    Mashallah, excellent article! Jazak Allah for spelling this out:

    “The actions of extreme right-wing racists, xenophobes or just simple Islamophobic people are all aimed at provoking an equally mindless and emotive response, so that it can justify their own ignorance and transgression in the first place.”

  5. Faisa

    October 6, 2010 at 3:37 PM

    Tolerance is the ability to disagree in peace…..
    Salam

  6. Mohammad Islam Hussain, MD.

    October 6, 2010 at 9:58 PM

    Better response is to develop all out approach to reach wider community, I have some ideas perhaps this will help:
    In each community Muslims should reach out wider community on regular basis on the principle of Amr-bil-Maroof and Nahi unel Munkar, finding way of Wa Tawanoo Ulal Bir wa Taqwa Wala Tawanoo Ulal Isme Wal Udwan.(Get 2 Know Dinner Receptions, support in refugee settlement, support in race relation, support on immigration and justice issues, similarly book clubs, lecture series including:
    • A forum “Islam Muslims and American way of life” scholars high light American way of life, how they aer in practice it is according to Islam.
    • A book club in which we take a book every 2 months or quarterly discussing book from our angle, open invitation to wider community. Also may develop forum of reading Quran together.
    • A forum to evaluate societal issue in our community. Drugs, pre-marital issues, marital problems and divorce, education and advancement in society, prejudice and discrimination.
    • A forum were we can have debate between scholars of Islam with differing opinion on issues of Muslim Umma

  7. Outstanding Muslimah

    October 7, 2010 at 5:04 AM

    JazakAllahu Khair! Very well written.

    Thank you for addressing this topic.

  8. feedproxy.google.com

    October 12, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    Hello ! Love your blog thanks for sharing it with us.. Greetings from the Speedy DNS

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