By Mansoor Ahmad:
Recently Rasmus Paludan, a politician from the Danish far-right Stram Kurs (Hard Line) party in Sweden has ignited a massive worldwide outrage after he burnt a copy of the Holy Qur’an outside the Turkish Embassy in the Swedish capital Stockholm. In April 2022 Paludan’s declaration of a “Quran burning tour” during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan sparked riots across the country. According to The New York Times, described an anti-Muslim provocateur, Rasmus Paludan had gained some notoriety through a series of online videos in which he insults Islam and its adherents.
It is greatly tragic that Islam, a religion of peace; hope, harmony, goodwill and brotherhood has been scarred by the perpetrators of terrorists’ acts and barbarism. Islam is perceived today as an aggressive and terrorist religion around the world. Everywhere the killing of innocent people, suicide – bombings, and terrorist activities are orchestrated by the people who claim to be Muslims, although in reality, the fanatic actions of these ignorant people have nothing to do with Islam.
Islam in fact is such a religion that promotes peace and understanding among people of all faiths, and it strongly prohibits all forms of violence and aggression against all people regardless of their faith or race.
Uncompromisingly, Islam is a law of peace and a religion of mercy. But those who misunderstand or are ignorant of its teachings, hostile to its system or are arrogant enough not to accept the evidence, will inevitably clash with this fact.
The word ‘Islam’ is itself derived from the word ‘salam’ which means ‘peace’, and ‘Muslim’ is the epithet attributed to the believer who exercises this religion of peace.
‘He (Allah) has chosen you, and has laid no hardship upon you in religion; so follow the faith of your father Abraham; He named you Muslims both before and in this book (the Qur’an), so that the Messenger may be a witness over you, and that you may be witnesses over mankind’. (Surah Al-Hajj, 22:79)
The essence of this religion is peaceful submission to the Lord of the worlds: ‘Nay, whoever submits himself completely to Allah, and is the doer of good, shall have his reward, with his Lord. No fear shall come upon such, neither shall they grieve’. (Surah Al- Baqarah, 2:113) and ‘When his Lord said to him, ‘Submit’, he said, ‘I have submitted to the Lord of the worlds’. (Surah Al- Baqarah, 2:132) Again ‘And we have commanded to submit to the Lord of the worlds’. (Surah Al- An’am, 6:72)
Muslims respect the Prophet Jesus (Peace be upon him) in the same manner that they respect the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (Peace be upon Him and the blessings of Allah). Both of these Prophets, as well as many before them, were messengers of God and preached peace and love. The burning of any religious scripture or holy books should be strongly and forever condemned. The Holy Qur’an is to be read carefully and the divine commandments contained in it are to be followed acutely. Such obedience to its laws would bring peace, harmony and love. There should be greater interfaith understanding if such harmony is to ever be established.
Islam’s beauty exists in its forbidding of aggression. It recommends one to fight only if negotiation jeopardizes or fails in establishing peace and security. Fighting is only sanctioned with the pre-determined desire to end the fighting. This is the teaching on which peace can eventually be built, and this is the teaching on which the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (Peace be upon Him and the blessings of Allah) based his own policies and his practice on.
Our Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him and the blessings of Allah) suffered continuously and consistently in Mecca but did not fight the aggression of which he was an innocent sufferer. When he escaped to Medina, the enemy was out to eradicate Islam. It was, therefore, necessary to fight the enemy in defence of truth and for the right of freedom of belief.
Allah Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an: ‘Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged-and Allah indeed has power to help them-Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’ (Surah Al-Hajj, 22:40-41)
The Holy Qur’an speaks of ‘Tawheed’, the divine oneness of God. It contains the direct revelation to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him and the blessings of Allah) from God, consisting of; moral commandments and guidance, promises of reward to the righteous, warnings for acts of evil, narratives of the Prophets highlighting their exemplary obedience to God, inspirational stories of miracles, and perhaps most importantly with reference to aforementioned occurrence, the fundamental precept of Islam. Allah Almighty says :
‘There should be no compulsion in religion. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong; so whosoever refuses to be led by those who transgress, and believes in Allah, has surely grasped a strong handle which knows no breaking. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing’. [Surah Al Baqarah, 2: 257]
The Holy Qur’an teaches that opponents should be dealt with justice and as such, a mode of debate should be designated that is centered on the code of justice.
Furthermore, the Qur’an further teaches, ‘And when thou seest those who engage in vain discourse concerning Our Signs, then turn thou away from them until they engage in a discourse other than that. And if Satan cause thee to forget, then sit not, after recollection, with the unjust people. And those who are righteous are not at all accountable for them, but their duty is to admonish them, that they may fear God.’ (Surah Al-An`am 6:.69-70)
In the aforementioned verse, Muslims are commanded only to turn away from such people temporarily, who seek to defame Islam. The separation is not permanent, and no consequences of the offense is mentioned either. In dealing with provocation, it commands: ‘Take to forgiveness, and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant.’ (Surah Al-Araf: 7:200)
It is reported that Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Tobias Billstrom, called the act “appalling”. “Sweden has a far-reaching freedom of expression, but it does not imply that the Swedish government, or myself, support the opinions expressed,” he wrote on Twitter.
The high representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations has condemned the burning of the Muslim holy book by a Swedish-Danish far-right politician as a “vile act”.
Egypt has strongly condemned the burning of a copy of the Noble Quran by an extremist on Saturday in Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, as a “disgraceful act”.
Morocco, Qatar, Türkiye and many other countries – as well as social media users – condemned the act, expressing their concerns amid a rise of extremist tendencies in Europe.
The major problem with the current state of the world is lack of recognition of God and His guidance and surely lack of belief in an ever living God is the root cause of all problems. Until we can establish complete faith in the existence of God Almighty and our living relationship with God, both at individual level and as a society, we cannot fulfil the aim of having peace in the world. Without this foremost of the principles, world will remain lost in the darkness of chaos and misery. The only accurate and definite solution to the current world problems is to restore our relationship with God and submit to His guidance and it is only through the practice of teaching of the Holy Qur’an that we can achieve this.
Mansoor Ahmad BCA BEM, London, Member – Commonwealth Journalists Association (UK), [email protected]