Quaker Universalist Conversations

Playing with fire: Quran burning and the deaths in Afghanistan

By Anthony Manousos

Like a boy who can’t resist playing with matches,  Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL, couldn’t resist burning the Qur’an. Not only did he do this despicable deed, he even posted his inflammatory act on the web. He had been duly warned by the National Council of Evangelicals, and also by Evangelical pastors like Jim Wallis. He had also been warned by General Petraeus, Hilary Clinton, and countless people in the interfaith movement that such an act could lead to deaths in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Jones and his followers didn’t listen, nor do they feel any responsibility.

Such moral and spiritual immaturity is tragic. It is also sad that the people of Afghanistan, roused by religious bigotry, killed 9 innocent people in response. As mature Muslims have said repeatedly, those who kill in the name of religion do not grasp the essence of Islam. As the holy Qur’an makes clear: “There shall be no compulsion in religion” and “Taking one life is akin to killing the whole world, and saving a life is like saving the entire world.”
Islam is a religion of peace (“peace” and “islam” come from the same root), and the founder of Christianity was called the “Prince of Peace.” There is no reason why those of each religion cannot come together in friendship.

Let us pause and hold in the Light of God’s Love those who have died because of religious bigotry and spiritual immaturity. And let us also pray that those whose hearts have been inflamed by religious bigotry and hatred will come to realize that God is Love, or as the Qur’an says, “most caring” and “most compassionate.”

Let us redouble our efforts to live in the power of Love, or as George Fox said, let us “live in the power and life that takes away the occasion of war.”

See also a talk I gave last summer about “How to Overcome Islamophobia”: http://laquaker.blogspot.com/2010/09/how-to-overcome-islamophobia.html

For details about the tragic killings in Afghanistan, see http://www.aolnews.com/2011/04/02/afghan-official-civilian-deaths-on-second-day-of-quran-burning/

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