CRUCIBLE: Treating Islamophobia (2) By Julkipli Wadi

2nd of a series

QUEZON CITY (MindaNews/10 Oct) — Given the calibrated reaction by US government [on Terry Jones’ plan to burn the Holy Qur’an], we feel it is not the right response to address such a sensitive issue. [It can hardly soothe] the feeling of many Muslims worldwide. Expectedly, foreign governments including many Muslim countries are hard pressed to stop such [a sinister] plan. What’s more with individuals?

This is not to imply that we simply resort to passivity and inaction. Attempt to burn a Holy Book is unacceptable and should be opposed by people of various faiths.

As a consolation, it is time to find wisdom from Holy Qur’an itself and the history of the Prophet. A verse reads: “Innā nahnu nazzanā l-dhikra wa innā lahu lahāfiďūn.” [We have, without doubt, sent down the Message (Holy Qur’an); and we will assuredly guard it (from corruption.) (15: 9)].

The Holy Qur’an is under complete and total protection by no les than Allah (SWT). It is Allah (SWT) and His Angels who sent the Holy Qur’an; it must also be Allah (SWT) and His Angels who would protect it. The [ultimate source of] protection of the Qur’an is not in the hands of any Muslim, although we feel as our Holy Book we have to protect it.

The Holy Qur’an is our most precious possession – more than our wealth, more than our sons and daughters. This is the only representation of anything that is “divine” that we can touch, we can read, we can hold.

As we said in our previous khutbah, there are only two instruments, within which Allah (SWT) reaches to His servants: through the prophets and through His Revelations. However, prophethood is already history after Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has sealed it. What is left with us is this holy book – the Qur’an.

Thus, anyone who would trample this, we all have to come together to oppose it. However, because of the dynamics of our time, such that, people could freely ride on very shallow understanding of such buzzwords like human rights or freedom [of speech and expression], they are given the opportunity to desecrate our scripture.

Incidentally, there were several instances during the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to defile, to challenge and to question his prophethood, and to question the Holy Qur’an.

Read the story of a certain person named, Musaylama al-khaddab (Musaylama, the liar). Due to his jealousy and his desire to rival Prophet Muhammad (SAW), Musaylama claimed that he, too, was a prophet. He concocted his own verses [claiming that he could also produce something like the Qur’an] while he also built his own mosque that was eventually destroyed because Musaylama’s intention [was dubious].

In short, it is not unique to our time where some people would come forward to defile sacred text like the Qur’an and our other religious and cultural symbols if only to create hostility between the Muslim world and the rest.

Probably during the Crusade, one could hardly imagine how many Qur’ans were destroyed and burned by the Crusaders. More recently, how many Qur’ans, do you think, were defiled, torn apart and destroyed by US soldiers during the Iraq war?

Despite these, the stride of Islamic faith has never been as fervent and promising. Islam continues to penetrate the hearts of many Americans. Immediately after 9/11, there were more people who became curious about Islam and many of them converted eventually to the faith. Also, a substantial number of American soldiers who joined in the US war in Iraq developed [psychological problems while some committed suicides]; still, others ended up embracing Islam. And it’s not only American soldiers but also Japanese and Korean soldiers and other nationalities.

By twist of fate, the head of the Political Party in Sweden who initiated the banning of minarets in that country embraced Islam two years ago. Immediately after the controversy on the banning of minarets in Sweden, that head of political party read a lot about the Qur’an; Alhamdulillah, he ended up embracing Islam. In fact, he has to first profess secretly his being a Muslim because his colleague in the party felt betrayed. It’s only recently when he surfaced and publicly announced that he is already a Muslim.

And we don’t know what will happen to Terry Jones wherein, he said, he didn’t know anything about the Qur’an. But he said since it is a book of the Muslim he simply wanted to burn it, suggesting that he had no inherent antipathy against the Qur’an. Probably because he felt that some acts of the Muslims were sources of problems (e.g., terrorism) in many parts of the world, he thought, instead of hurting those Muslims he would rather burn the Qur’an. As there is [perverted] logic in his assumption, it is not altogether bad to learn lessons from Jones.

What we are saying, if the Qur’an has never been protected by Allah (SWT) then we don’t know what would have happened to it several centuries ago and today. Since it’s under Allah’s protection, the Qur’an its purity and authenticity has been preserved.

There is an American khatib who explained very vividly [this issue]. He said if all religious denominations (e.g., Jews, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian) agree and decide one day to throw all their holy books into the ocean, Muslims wouldn’t have any problem. According to him and we fully agree with him, while the Qur’an and its value is that it is written, many Muslims especially learned ones memorize the Holy Qur’an. The Qur’an is in their hearts. [The tradition of recitation and memorization of the Qur’an is alive] since the Prophet’s time until today. So that even if those texts are lost in the ocean, simply gather the hafiz and qari (Qur’anic readers) and let them recite the Fatiha to the last sura and they would be able to produce once again the Qur’an, perfect in its uniqueness, perfect in its rendition of the original. (To be continued)

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Julkipli Wadi is Dean and Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, University of the Philippines Diliman).

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