- In Response to Pastor Terry Jones’ Call to Burn Copies Of the Qur’an on Each 9/11 Anniversary
By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009)
September 20, 2013
The essay is provoked by Rev Wayne Lavender’s deep concern over this sensational issue, averted temporarily last week, but is likely to survive the Islamophobic environment of the era, promote hate crime and feed radicalization – let alone endangering the safety of Americans / Christians in predominantly Muslim lands.
It is targeted at our Christian brothers and sisters having no means to know anything about the Qur’an except what the media wants them to know. It is inspired by the following clear enunciations of the Qur’an:
· “Repel evil with that which is good. Indeed We are aware of what they are working (in their minds)” (23:96).
· “Goodness and evil are not equal. Therefore repel the latter with that which is good, and then the one between whom and you is hatred, will indeed become your friend” (41:34).
Dispel Your Doubts about the Integrity Of This Essay
To avoid any doubt in the mind of a sceptic reader of any twist or travesty in presenting this testimony of the Qur’an, this essay has been sourced from an extensively researched publication of Geoffery Parrinder (1910-2005), a Methodist minister and missionary who later became Professor of comparative religion at King's College London (1958-1977), and authored over thirty books. His following remark appearing towards the end of the book  may offset any antipathy of the unsympathetic against reading any material on the holy scripture of Islam:
“Concepts of prophesy, inspiration and revelation must be re-examined in view of the undoubted revelation of God in Muhammad and the Qur’an. Then much more real charity and generous understanding must be shown to members of other faiths. The example of Islam towards other People of the Book often put us to shame.”
With this very brief introduction, we explore how the Qur’an presents Jesus Christ and Mary.
Jesus in the Qur’an
No person, who has ever read the Qur’an, even most cursorily, can deny that this book, regardless of whether Muhammad fabricated or plagiarised it or his companions and successors pieced it together, is exceptionally and consistently generous and reverent to Jesus Christ and Mary. Its text abounds with glimpses and short commentaries on his life without a breath of criticism or disdain. Interestingly, it says a lot more about the miraculous birth and powers of Jesus Christ than any other Prophet. Thus, it declares:
· “The Angels said, ‘O Mary, God gives you good news of a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, honoured in this world and the next, and one of the nearest (to God). He will speak to the people from the crib and in maturity, and will be among the righteous. She said, ‘My Lord, how can I have a child, when no man has touched me?’ He said, ‘It will be so. God creates whatever He wills. To have anything done, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is” (3:45-47).
· “When God will say (on the Day of Resurrection), "O Jesus, son of Mary! Remember My Favour to you and to your mother when I strengthened you with the Sacred Spirit so that you spoke to the people from the crib and in maturity; and when I taught you divine writ and wisdom in the Torah and the Gospel; and when you made out of the clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My Permission, and you breathed into it, and it became a bird by My Permission, and you healed those born blind, and the lepers by My Permission, and when you brought forth the dead by My Permission; and when I restrained the Children of Israel from harming you when you came unto them with clear proofs, and the disbelievers among them said: 'This is nothing but evident magic.' "(5:110).
It is also notable that the Qur’an distinguishes Jesus Christ with honorific titles among all its prophets. It refers to him as a Sign (ayah, 19:21, 21:91, 23:50), a Mercy (Rahmah, 19:21), a Word (Kalimah, 3:45, 4:171), and a Spirit from Him (Ruhum Minhu, 4:171), one who was strengthened by the Sacred Spirit (Ruh ul Qudus, 2:87, 2:253, 5:110), and parallels his birth with the creation of Adam – both a result of divine decree: ‘God spoke and it was done’(3:59).
It mentions Jesus by his name ‘Isa’ 25 times and in conjunction with this or separately as Messiah or Son of May, some 35 times , the highest for any Prophet.
Mary in the Qur’an
The Qur’an extols Mary to have been divinely chosen and purified and the most elevated among all ladies in all eras (3:42) and distinguished as a sign jointly with Jesus (ayah, 21:91, 23:50). She is the only woman named in the Qur’an, which refers to all other female figures by their male representatives: wife of Noah, Abraham, Lot, Moses, Pharaoh, Abu Lahab, the Egyptian master of Joseph; wives of Muhammad; daughters of Lot; mother and sisters of Moses, house (descendant) of Imran; and by their mark of distinction (the Queen of Sheba, the woman complainant to Muhammad).
The Qur’an identifies Mary as a descendant of ‘Imran’ and names its third chapter after his lineage (Aale Imran or ‘the House of Imran’). It names a chapter after her (Chap. 19) which contains its longest passage on annunciation and birth of Jesus (19:16-21):
· “(Thus is) Mary mentioned in the Book: When she withdrew from her family to a place in the East (19:16), and secluded herself from them, We sent her Our Spirit, and he appeared to her as a man in perfection (19:17). She said: ‘I seek refuge in the Benevolent against you, if you do heed (God)’ (19:18). He said: ‘I am only an emissary from your Lord, and bring you (the news of) a sinless son’ (19:19). She said: ‘How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, and I have not been wayward’ (19:20)? He said: ‘So be it’: Your Lord says, ‘that is easy for Me; and We shall appoint him as a Sign to humanity and a Mercy from Us.’ Thus is the matter decreed” (19:21).
The Qur’an mentions Mary 34 times of which 23 instances in the title, ‘Son of Mary’  and unfailingly speaks of her with reverence.
Let us now look at the coverage of Muhammad in the Qur’an.
Muhammad in the Qur’an
It says that God “found him an orphan and gave shelter, and found him wandering, and gave guidance, and found him needy, and gave sufficiency” (93:6-8).” There is no mention of any of his immediate relatives – wives, children, protective uncle who was his guardian since he became an orphan early in life, his mother, father or direct ancestors except for a passing reference to his tribe, the Quraysh (Sura 106). There is no mention either of any miracles attending his birth or performed by him. In fact it testifies that Muhammad was not granted any power to show miracles (6:37, 11:12, 13:7, 17:90-93, 21:5, 25:7/8, 29:50) except to be the recipient and conveyor of the miraculous revelation, the Qur’an, that was vouchsafed in him.
The truth is, the Qur’an projects Muhammad as a mortal like others (18:110, 41:6), who was not even a prominent man in the two towns (Mecca and Medina) (43:31) and was unable to harm or benefit himself (10:49) or harm and guide others (72:21). It, however, presents him as a manifestation of mercy to all humanity (21:107), imbued with sublime personal qualities and spirituality - detail omitted from this essay for its lack of relevance to the theme but can be accessed in this link, drawn on the Qur’anic testimony:
The Noble Persona of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) As Mirrored In the Qur’an
However, to avoid people and theologians from making any speculations or assumptions based on the incidence of references and the interplay of the miraculous, the Qur’an leaves no doubts that both Jesus and Mary were mortals like others and declares: “The Messiah son of Mary was only a messenger, before whom other Messengers had passed away, and his mother was a woman of truth. They both used to eat food. Behold, how We make clear the revelations to them; then note how deluded they are (5:75).”
The Qur’an asks Muslims repeatedly to make no distinction between any of the Prophets (4:152, 2:285, 57:19). The Qur’anic allusions to Jesus – the divine nature of his birth, his power to show miracles and the exalted position of his mother, and the Qur’an’s express acknowledgment to the divinity of their faith (5:46) forbids Muslims from maligning Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary and their religious symbols and icons. This leaves the Christian maligners of Islam in a singularly advantageous position in demonising Islam and by extension all Muslims.
It also must be noted that the above quoted Qur’anic verses are in the form of definitive statements and stand eternally valid and are preserved in the Qur’an as the oldest uncorrupted historical record on Abrahamic faiths, including Christianity.
Therefore, a Christian pastor who contrives to burn a copy of the Qur’an must understand that in doing so, he destroys the living and historically strongest and readily accessible testimony to the divinity of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary, let alone breaking the heart of the entire Muslim population of the world and defying the following testimony to the mercy and compassion of devout Christians:
· “We sent after them, Our Messengers, and We sent Jesus - son of Mary, and gave him the Gospel. And We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him, compassion and mercy. But the monasticism which they invented for themselves, We did not prescribe for them, but (they sought it) only to please God therewith, but that they did not observe it with the right observance. So We gave those among them who believed, their (due) reward, but many of them are deviants (57:27).
A Final Note of Caution and Appeal
Perhaps the others will not grasp the awe and admiration of the Qur’an that overwhelms, the Muslims world over, but suffice it to say that there will be numerous Muslims ready to lay down their lives to defend its honor, however stupid or illogical it may appear to others.
Thus, any attempt by any quarter to burning a copy of the Qur’an in a planned way in broad daylight can have an immediate and overwhelming response. Since, the Muslims cannot burn a Bible, which they regard as a sacred scripture side by side with the Qur’an, their helplessness in offsetting a carnage against the book that is more sacred to them than their lives, can fill them with intense hatred of those allowing this carnage to happen under the travesty of ‘personal rights,’ and will inevitably trigger a chain reaction of hate crimes. Hence, the very notion of committing a sacrilegious act as burning of a scripture must be regarded as hate inducing crime just like a hate speech or denying the holocaust and must be forbidden by law and treated as a punishable offence.
1. Jeffery Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an, Oneworld Publications, U.S.A., 196, p.173.]
2. Ibid., p. 18, 1st para.
3. Ibid., p.60, 3rd para.
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009., 2013.
Yunus Sahab, the points you make are valid. The way Pastor Terry Jones and others of his ilk see things is much more simplistic. They see Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism etc. as false religions. Then when 9/11 happens or they hear of atrocities against Christians in Muslim countries, they react. Should we try to change them or should we try to change ourselves? As someone said recently, only ones we can change are ourselves.
Burning the Quran is a symbolic expression of hostility to Islam and to Muslims. We must try to understand why they hate us. Muslims in Egypt and Pakistan must stop killing Christians and burning their churches. Muslims must stop bombing civilian targets in Western countries. Muslims living in western countries must stop touting antiquated "Sharia Laws" which cause repulsion and fear in local people. If we claim that Islam is a peaceful religion which teaches us to respect the beliefs of others let us actually be the people who practice peace and who respect the beliefs of others. We can do it if we make up our minds to do it.