Book Burning

Muslim Matters

Book Burning

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor-in-Chief

On the 9th anniversary of the September 11th Attacks On August 2010, a non-denominational Church in Florida plans to burn some 200 copies of the Quran. It is not unusual for clergy or rulers to burn books as is witnessed in our human history. Both are paranoid at the emergence idea that challenges their understanding of the world and both have often worked hand in hand openly or secretly to serve their purpose. Those who are burning the Quran believe that Islam is from Devil and hence the devil should not be allowed to live. They are acting on behalf of their perceived God and doing a religious duty. However, what is significant in the proposed burning of the Quran in Florida is that a large number of interfaith leaders have started openly against the Quran burning.

Even though those attempting to burn the Quran are not many, yet the impact they have created all over the world is immense. These elements of radical Christianity claim that they are true Christians the same way as those who reportedly destroyed the Twin Towers in 2001 claimed that they were genuine Muslims.

Obviously, the Muslim community all over the world is outraged at this attempt of burning the Quran. Yet the best way to respond to such incidents is to ignore them and do not retaliate. The Quran demands from Muslims to show respect to people of all faiths and promotes true pluralism not defined by the politics of the day.

The Quran burning event would not burn the Quran. The organizers know fully well that by burning 200 copies they would not destroy the Quran. They are orchestrating the event to show their hatred towards Muslims and to put their claim of religious superiority.

The Quran is preserved in the hearts and minds of people and there are approximately 56 million Muslims all over the world who have memorized the Quran and the numbers are constantly on the increase.

Muslims must appreciate those Christian and Jewish and other religious leaders who have come forward to condemn Terry Jones, the leader of the Church intending to burn the Quran. Muslims should not fall in the trap most Islamophobic have fallen by equating a faith with the deviation of a few.

Muslims must maintain their high moral grounds and on the day when others burn the Quran, we must spent time memorizing a few more verses of the Quran and filling our masajid  to read and understand the Quran..

Perhaps a look at the history of the burning of religious text would give us an understanding of the hatred that has existed in our religious and secular circles. Here is a review of some prominent incidents of book burning.

We have witnessed the burning of Library of Alexandria by Christian forces,  Library of Baghdad by Mongols, the burning of books and burying of scholars under China’s Qin Dynasty, the destruction of Mayan codices by Spanish Christian conquistadors and priests, burning of Muslim and Jewish books by Catholics during the Inquisition, Torah burning by Christians in Germany , the burning of Beatles records after a remark by John Lennon concerning Jesus Christ, the burning of Yusuf Islam’s cds by a Christian conservative talk show host and the destruction of the Sarajevo National Library.

It is said that in AD 367, Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria… issued an Easter letter demanding that Egyptian monks destroy all books except what constitute the ‘New Testament’.

In his 1821 play, Almansor, the German writer Heinrich Heine, referring to the burning of the the Qur’an, during the Spanish Inquisition, wrote “Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings.” (“Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.”) Heine’s books were among the thousands of volumes that were torched  by Christians in Germany..

New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, founded in 1873, inscribed book burning on its seal, as a worthy goal to be achieved. The Society destroyed some 15 tons of books, 284,000 pounds  printing plates and nearly 4,000,000 pictures. The society also successfully lobbied the United States Congress to incorporate its objectives in the Comstock Law.

At the advice of Minister Li Si, Emperor Qin Shi Huang of China ordered the burning of all philosophy books and history books. This was followed by the live burial of a large number of intellectuals who did not comply with the state dogma.

In 168 BC the monarch Antiochus IV ordered Jewish ‘Books of the Law’ found in Jerusalem to be burned.

About the year 50 a Roman soldier seized a Torah scroll and,   burned it in public. This incident almost brought on a general Jewish revolt against Roman rule.
The New Testament book of Acts, early converts to said to have burned the sorcery scrolls.

Emperor Hadrian ordered the teaching of the Jewish Scriptures together with Rabbi Haninah.

The Egyptian alchemical books of Alexandria were burnt by the emperor Diocletian in 292.

In 303 Diocletian burned Christian  books. page.)

In 1242, The French crown burned all Talmud copies in Paris, about 12,000, after the book was “charged” and “found guilty” in the Paris trial.

In the 1480s Tomas Torquemada promoted the burning of non-Catholic literature, especially the Jewish Talmud and also Arabic books after the expulsion of Muslims and Jews.

In 1490 a number of Hebrew Bibles and other Jewish books were burned at the behest of the Spanish Inquisition. In 1499 about 5000 Arabic manuscripts were consumed by flames in the public square at Granada on the orders of Ximénez de Cisneros, Archbishop of Toledo.

In 1526 William Tyndale’s English translation of the New Testament was burned in London by Cuthbert Tunstal, Bishop of London.

Martin Luther’s German translation of the Bible was burned in Catholic-dominated parts of Germany in 1624, by order of the Pope.

In 1656 the authorities at Boston imprisoned the Quaker book in public.

In 1731 Count Leopold Anton von Firmian – Archbishop of Salzburg burned the Lutherans books.

In 1933, Christians burned works of Jewish authors, and other works considered “un-German.”

On May 10, 1933 Christian youth influenced by Nazi philosophy burned Torah.

On the 23rd March 1984 hundreds of copies of the New Testament were ceremonially burnt by Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem. 

There have been several incidents of Harry Potter books being burned, including those directed by churches at Alamogordo, New Mexico and Charleston, South Carolina. In May 2008, a “fairly large” number of New Testaments were burned in Or Yehuda, Israel. 

Those who burn books in fact show their hatred to themselves by being insensitive to others.


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