I must have missed the Biblical verse where Jesus taught us to burn holy scripture. Terry Jones, however, managed to 'find' this alleged teaching.
And to be sure, while Terry Jones' actions are abhorrent, the extremists who have killed innocent people in response are that much more outrageous. They are an offense to human decency, to dignity, and to the teachings of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad, through his example, brought a revolutionary change to an extremely deteriorated world. He purified those who behaved as ignorant and blood-thirsty animals and transformed them into civilized humans, then knowledgeable humans, and ultimately into godly people. The murderers in Afghanistan and their like, however, have reverted back to the animal state. Terry Jones, meanwhile, seems content on promoting disorder.
The Quran (2:12) forbids causing disorder in the Earth. It further forbids Muslims from insulting others: "And revile not those whom they call upon beside God, lest they, out of spite, revile God in their ignorance." (6:109) When Muslims are reviled the Quran commands, "Take to forgiveness, and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant" (7:200).
"Turn away." A concept uncannily familiar to Jesus' "turn the other cheek" philosophy. How ironic that the proper Islamic response to Jones reflects Jesus' teaching in a manner Jones refuses -- or perhaps is unable -- to demonstrate. Whatever the case, this Quranic teaching accords submitting Muslims, not Jones, as the true lovers of Christ.
And yes, the Quran still champions free speech. Over a millennium before the Framers even conceived of the Bill of Rights, the Quran guaranteed freedom of speech and conscience: "There is no compulsion in religion" (2:257) and "Fight them until there is no persecution and religion is professed freely for God" (2:194). Aside from demonstrating an unrelenting commitment to freedom, the Quran further require Muslims to fight on behalf of Christians and Jews who face persecution and oppression of conscience: "If God did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of God is oft commemorated," (22:41).
No person exemplified these teachings better than Prophet Muhammad. When Christians from Najran traveled to Medina to investigate his claim, Muhammad invited them into his mosque and later asked them to honor him by offering their worship services in that very mosque. When Ayesha (Muhammad's wife) was slandered and later proven innocent of Ibne Mistah's baseless adultery allegation, Muhammad 'took to forgiveness and enjoined kindness' upon Mistah, granting him pardon. When Muhammad marched into Mecca with an army of 10,000 and after suffering through two decades of relentless persecution and murder, he forgave all his persecutors under the single condition that they accept -- not Islam -- but freedom of conscience and respect for all peoples.
And lest critics cry out, "But the extremists are the ones murdering, not Jones!" I remind them of the futility of reasoning with extremists, because, well, they are extremists. Perhaps this is why it is so difficult to reason with Jones. Perhaps, then, this appeal is to the greater moderate community instead.
World and military leaders have failed to convince Jones to behave otherwise. Though doubtful, perhaps the Quran might have an impact: "Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them in a way that is best" (16:126). This is how Prophet Muhammad compassionately treated his Christian guests, but Jones instead wants to place Prophet Muhammad on trial, literally. As Muslims who believe in the Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, we make it our duty to exercise and teach the restraint Prophet Muhammad taught. Likewise, we strive to champion Muhammad's directive when he wrote, "Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them."
Far from violence and obscenity, we respond to people like Jones with wisdom and goodly exhortation, per Muhammad's example. And, we invite Jones to be Christ-like, just for once, and do the same.
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