Sunday, April 3, 2011

Response to Burning the Koran - Is Allah Good?

The killing of U.N. Aid workers in Afghanistan as a response to the burning of a Koran in Florida is unreasonable. That should go without saying, but unfortunately, it needs to be said. It is unreasonable to kill anyone over a religious desecration. It is unreasonable to kill those unconnected in any way to the burning. It is unreasonable to kill persons of a different nationality than those who committed the "offense." Because of these heinous murders, which were committed in the name of Allah, I must ask, "What do believers in Allah believe about the nature of their God?"

It is one thing to say that it is a sin to burn a holy text, quite another to murder as a response. It causes one to question the leaders of Islam theological questions about the nature of their God. They claim the same God as I do, the God of Abraham. But I have to ask some questions.
  • We know that Allah (God) is all-powerful, but is he always good? As a Christian, my answer is an unequivocal yes, God chooses to always be good. Islamic theology is not so clear to me.
  • Again, we know that Allah (God) is all-powerful, would he ever demand that we disobey his word? As a Christian, I say no, because he chooses to be bound by his word, the Bible. Is Allah bound by the Koran? It is not clear. Therefore, may Allah command his followers to commit evil to advance his purposes? Judging by the behavior of crowds whipped into a frenzy by Taliban in Afghanistan, the answer is yes.
  • Can one apply logic and reason to understand Allah's (God's) will? My answer as a Christian, is of course. The Gospel of John states that in the beginning was the Word (in Greek λόγος or logos, which means both reason and the word) so we can apply reason to discern His will. Even in the absence of God's direct intervention, Christians believe that he has ordered the world through logic and it continues without God's direct intervention. In Islam, it appears that all manner of evil is ascribed to Allah's will because all that happens in the world is through his will. It lacks order without His constant intercession.
By failing to address these questions on the nature of Allah, Islam fails to be a religion that brings good to the world. Its defenders argue that it is a religion of peace, but they offer no fundamental condemnation of those who murder the innocent in Allah's name. I ask that they do so, to show the world that their religion deserves consideration as a force for good in the world. Their failure leaves one to question the legitimacy of Islam.

To give credit where it due, my thinking on these issues is highly influenced by Pope Benedict's speech at the University of Regensberg on September 12, 2006. A key passage:
The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (sun logo [the "u" is long and the last "o" in logo is also long]) is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".


  1. Do not kill, do not rape, do not steal, these are principles which every man of every faith can embrace.
    These are not polite suggestions, these are codes of behavior and those of you that ignore them will pay the dearest cost.
    There are varying degrees of evil, we urge you lesser forms of filth not to push the bounds and cross over, into true corruption, into our domain.
    For if you do, one day you will look behind you and you will see we three. And on that day, you will reap it.
    And we will send you to whatever god you wish.

  2. Read the Koran and you might write a different post. Your thinking is too Judeo-Christian, IMHO.

  3. But according to Lindsey Graham, we should limit freedom of speech during wartime (which is now always and forever) based on how the most insanely fanatical of our enemies might respond.

  4. Thanks for the comments everyone, all good.
    Dawg, couldn't agree with you more. My complaint is that it is not clear that those rules are believed to always be applicable to Islam, without exception.
    KT, yes my thinking is Judeo-Christian, but I believe that the principles are universal. This is why Islamic theologians refuse to take up Pope Benedict's challenge.
    WC, Lindsay Graham is a fool. Perpetual war or no, there is no call to limit freedom of speech.

  5. The principles are not universal. See also: Vikings, beliefs of.

  6. Mine was merely a quote. I thought it would be recognized as apropos.

  7. What you are all missing in our theologically based arguments is that nothing sacred or holy was destroyed. The "book" that was burned was printed by non muslims on non muslim made paper and was marketed through non muslim channels. Every copy of the bible is not holy, it is only a copy of the original "holy" bible. Burn the copies at will that doesn't destroy the Judeo-Christian ethics it defines. Destroy and burn as many copies of the Koran as you want and it will not diminish the Islamic belief system it defines. why the Muslims get so upset with burning a book is beyond me. A trully unwarranted response to a dumb stunt!