Thursday, September 9

Burn Baby Burn

I'm finding thi whole Quran burning thing quite amusing. However I'm not laughing at the irrelevant actions of some guy, but at the reaction us as Muslims are giving him. This tweet is a prime example of what I'm talking about. It's not the tweet itself - I found it funny enough to retweet - but more how everyone else also laughed at it and then in the same breath went on to chastise Rev. Terry Jones in the same breath. For me that totally misses the point (or at least what I understood to be the point) of what was being said.

This could be because of my formal education in Computing. There we were taught to look at information and data as completely abstract things, all of which are merely manifested in media using an alphabet placed in a particular order to represent these abstract things. In short, the physical wasn't important, it was the idea.

Expanding on this idea and you find that every idea can be represented in an infinite amount of ways. So the Quran can be printed, it can be recorded as audio, it can be memorised. The latter two don't contain any "script" or paper even if you can imagine that it does. And even some ink on some paper can be reduced to a bunch of atoms that happen to lie in a certain way. In this sense nothing physical is sacred.

Of course some orderings of arbitrary things have an intrinsic value. I'll still cleanse myself before touching a paper Quran for instance, since we've been told to do so. But nevertheless, this doesn't mean that this value is lost if the physical is destroyed, and neither does it mean it cannot be recreated. The exception is if what is being destroyed is unique, like art or something, but the Quran is in no way unique (in terms of copies), and even if you burned every single copy there'll be millions of people who have learned it by heart willing to regurgitate it.

Growing up (and even now), I was always told not to put the Quran on the floor. Although I respect this out of a sense of tradition, I can't quite say I understand it. This audio CD I have, can I put that on the floor? If I can, is that because it's not the Quran until I play it? If so, can a person for whom Arabic is a bunch of squiggles put a Quran on the floor while he's alone in his room? Can he rip it up, or even (gasp) burn it?

The fact is we disrespect the Quran as an idea much more each time we neglect or ignore it.

But I'm not being fair here. Perhaps our reaction isn't really about a book being burned, but more about the symbolic gesture of doing so. But if that's the case the wholly makes it our emotional problem, not his. And as it's our problem, we don't need anyone else to do anything on our behalf to solve it.


  1. "Lazy fundamentalist Christians vow to download full text of Koran and then delete it"

    You're correct; an eloquent point is made. Fundamentalist Christians printing / buying thousands of copies of the Qur'an to burn... you think they're translations? Either way, it's not as if they're doing any damage. A bit of a smoky affair but otherwise God is not a little paperback. These rulings are for Muslims.

    They could all take a mass dump on the Qur'ans before burning them; it wouldn't make a difference. If any one of them embraced Islam in the future, it wouldn't matter what they did.

    These kinds of affairs sometimes only prove to prove their point. People are retarded. And Muslims are people too :)

  2. Zuhayra,

    Yeh, but you're probably not a very good Muslim if you don't get angry. Or in other words:

  3. Getting angry about inter-religious blasphemy is for the birds. So is bible-bashing and qur'an-burning. Yawn. I don't think my stance has any sway over my Muslimness :)

    The pot has never called the kettle black.

  4. hmmm, another of the thinking slumous :)))
    man, I've missed blogging
    great post!