By Justin Hienz
This past weekend was the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and as there is always a heightened threat of attack during this time, I was relieved that the date passed without incident. I was also pleased to see it come and go without the Quran burning that had been planned by a congregation in Gainesville, FL. It would have spread hate on a day when our national attention needed to focus on those we lost nine years ago. They deserve the attention, not those who some perceive as enemies, and certainly not Rev. Terry Jones.
Beyond detracting from the memory of our fellow Americans, that Nazi-like spectacle would have created endless fodder for terrorist propaganda. But it would have achieved something else. In usurping attention with an inflammatory stunt, Jones and his followers would have revealed their ignorance of Islam, ignorance beyond the trite Islamophobic rhetoric all too common these days. Here’s why.
In the Muslim faith, the Quran is only considered the word of god when written in Arabic. A translation of the Quran in any other language, even if the meaning is retained exactly, is no longer the word of god and thus, not the Quran. So, assuming Jones had a stack of English translations, that hateful bonfire actually would not have been burning Qurans, strictly speaking.
But let’s say the Gainesville church got their hands on some actual Qurans – that is, printed in Arabic. If Jones and others took the time to read the book they sought to destroy, they may have found a verse stating that one must be cleansed before he or she can touch the Quran (56:77-9). This involves ritual washing and an avoidance of several things, point being that the Quran burners would have been unclean and, therefore, from an Islamic perspective, would have polluted the books they held.
By a strict interpretation, those books would then need to be destroyed. Any guesses on the only acceptable way of disposing of sacred text in Islam?
It must be burned. What a perfect example of irony.
Justin Hienz is Managing Editor for Security Debrief and a Senior Account Executive at Adfero Group.