"Be tolerant and forgiving, command what is right and pay no attention to foolish people." ~Translation of the Holy Quran 7:199"The servants of the Lord of Mercy are those who walk humbly on the earth, and who, when the foolish address them, reply, ‘Peace’" ~ Translation of the Holy Quran 25:63
God commands Muslims to turn away from those that insist on ignorance; He commands us to reply to words of hate and foolishness with words of peace.
Where else can such beautiful advice apply, than to the likes and actions of people like Terry Jones, who soon plans to move to Tampa and is seeking headlines by threatening to burn thousands of copies of the Holy Quran.
The reality is that the best response to people like Jones is simply to ignore him. However, some in the media have insisted on giving him attention. Therefore, the purpose of this post is to clarify once and for all our position on people like Jones and share general advice on how to respond to such ignorance and hatred.
People like him are not worth our time, and are simply ignorant seekers of attention.
They do not reflect the beautiful teachings of Jesus (Peace be Upon Him) who taught loving thy neighbor. Nor do they reflect American values which teach freedom of religion and respecting diversity.
They often view the world through a hypocritical double standard. They show simple mindedness by conveniently blaming an entire faith for the criminal acts of a few when the faith is alien to them. To them, if a Muslim does something bad, they blame Islam. Yet ironically, they do not blame their own faith for the inquisition, the witch-hunts, the enslavement of Africa, the killing of millions of Native Americans, the bombing of abortion clinics,the shootings of Sikhs, the burning down of mosques, the mass shootings by white supremacists, and so on.
They demonize an entire faith and people because of the acts of a few, but ignore the fact that many more people have been killed by members of their own faith; that most terrorists have no association with any religion; that even then such terrorists are motivated by political grievances, not religion; and that the threat of terrorism from any particular community is extremely over-hyped.
I mention these points to make it clear, it is simple mindedness, ignorant, and hypocritical to blame an entire group of people for the acts of a few. There are good and bad people among us all and all faiths have been hijacked to advance political agendas and commit heinous crimes.
The likes of Jones are no different than so-called Muslim extremists, who claim that Islam and America are incompatible.
Their actions show nothing but insecurity about their own beliefs and are reminiscent of the book burning of the dark ages when thousands of books science, religion, and philosophy were burnt by a church that felt insecure by the thoughts and ideas contained in the books.
While they can burn books, they cannot extinguish the light that such books produce in the heart of humanity. In fact, the fires they burn only increases the light, as the more attention they bring to Islam, the more people study it on their own and see the beauty of the faith for themselves. So the more awareness and attention they bring Islam, the better.
The hatred and intolerance the likes of Jones promote only serves to bring together the moderates in the community, and the American people as a whole have rejected his hateful message.
If anything, his actions are unproductive and just causes more pollution in our beautiful Florida environment. Can you imagine the carbon footprint the burning of 3,000 books will unnecessarily cause?
There is concern that their hateful speech actually sometimes incites violence against minorities. In the past year many Sikh and people perceived to be Muslim have been shot or killed by people who follow Jones' type of intolerance, several mosques have been burnt down, and in 2011 Anders Breivik, a Christian white supremacist killed dozens of children citing Islamophobes to justify his violence.
Thus the best reaction to ignorant individuals preaching hatred to seek attention is simply to ignore them, and make them irrelevant.