Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Once again…they burn the Koran | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The incident of American soldiers burning the holy Koran at the Bagram air force base in Afghanistan, even if it was an unintentional mistake as has been said, is still a provocative act that has roused the wrath of the Muslims, and has produced a volatile situation on the Afghan street. This has not been mitigated by the American President’s apology, or by his pledge to investigate and hold the officials responsible to account. Indeed, given its reckless and alienating nature, such an act must have been carried out by people who have lost their minds. Any act of defamation against any faith is a crime against an entire group of people. The American soldiers were not welcome in Afghanistan in the first place, and the issue did not need an additional incident for each side to express its feelings of revulsion toward the other.

This slur is certainly not the first against religious beliefs, whether Islamic or non-Islamic. Yet in recent years the world has seen strong reactions in many Muslim countries because of provocative acts such as the cartoons that appeared in a Danish magazine in 2006, which were not befitting to the standing of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, or with the production of films targeting Islam, or the American pastor’s threats to burn the Koran in 2010. But what is strange is that the anger of the Muslims this time has been confined to within Afghanistan, as no demonstrations or marches occurred on the streets of other Islamic cities and countries to denounce, protest and demand an economic boycott, as has happened in the past. US President Obama sent his apology for the act to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, as if the Koran concerned the Afghanis only, rather than the Muslim Umma with a population of one billion.

Why did the Muslims constrain their anger this time? What we can deduce is that this is due to the world`s preoccupation with the Arab revolutions, especially in Syria, which has become a particularly thorny issue. Likewise, the world can now hear the beating of drums, and we cannot determine whether these are war drums for a forthcoming conflict with Iran, or simply bravado. The two issues have detracted emotions away from the Koran burning incident, reactions to which have been confined within boundaries of the place where it took place, despite the universal agreement that this was an evil act.

Religion and prophets have always been subjected to attacks ever since God Almighty sent his first disciple; this is a universal law. Those who reject God always reject his prophets. This will continue until Judgment Day and no protest, anger or revenge can change that. The burning of the Koran at the air force base will not be the last offense against Islam; these particular acts have an old history. But what we can focus on is how we react, as this could add insult to injury, given that the Muslims are zealous in defense of their beliefs. Enthusiasm stemming from ignorance is misdirected, and we have already seen innumerable incidents of such, like the bombing of mosques in Pakistan and Afghanistan by Muslim extremists.

No one can contest Almighty God`s motives for ordering His Prophet to be patient in the face of harm, especially insults, because they are primarily intended to provoke. “So turn away from them and say, Peace, for they shall soon come to know” [Surah Al-Qasas]. Even though some may deem it appropriate to prepare for combat, it is unwise to overly react to these provocations.