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When September 11th is Not Just September 11th

By Steven Martin - Posted on 02 September 2010

Nothing can, or should, be done to divert Muslims from celebrating Eid al-Fitr on September 10th or 11th. Many people have done their best to stop "Burn a Koran Day." The Dove World Outreach Center, despite being denied a burn permit by the city of Gainesville, and despite the counsel of cool heads, seems bent on carrying out this intensely provocative act.

A key point has been missed in the discussion around the Park51 mosque project, "International Burn a Koran Day," and the arson incidents in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Not only do these hateful events insult American Muslims, they create a dangerous perception in the Muslim world that our nation despises Islam. We underestimate the power and the potentially disastrous consequences of this perception at our own peril.

All Americans know the significance of September 11th. This date will ring out through the years as significantly as December 7th or any number of other significant national dates. Almost a decade after the attacks we mark this date through patriotic ceremonies or peace demonstrations. In ways we wish Memorial Day was honored, we stop to contemplate the way the ground of meaning shook beneath our feet on that bright, clear morning when so many lives were lost, and when we all wondered what was going to happen next.

So it is understandable that nine years later, we are still angry and hurt. For persons who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior, a tension arises between our base emotions and the teaching to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." It is this tension that makes the threats of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, hosts of "International Burn a Koran Day," so difficult to understand. Anger has a way of blinding us, and in this particular case ignorance becomes fuel for a dangerous incitement that will have violent consequences that will be felt around the world for years to come.

For Muslims, the Koran (from now on I'll use the more proper "Quran") is the Word of God. Christians might therefore equate the burning of a copy of the Quran to burning a Bible or any other book: reprehensible, but ultimately acceptable in a free society in which free speech is often exercised through symbolic actions. But this reflects a key misunderstanding of both Islam and Christianity. For Muslims, the Quran is not simply a book: it is the very Word of the One God. It is the words God gave humanity, spoken directly and written down in perfect accuracy. This is why the Quran is only the Quran when it is written or spoken in Arabic: Muslims believe God actually gave this word in Arabic, and therefore a translation of it into another language is less than the Quran.

Christians (although this is a matter of great debate) believe that Jesus is the Word of God. The Bible is an inspired text that reveals Jesus, but in the end, it is Jesus himself that is the Word of God (read the Gospel of John, chapter 1 and following, to see where this idea comes from). Therefore, it is not inaccurate to say that for Muslims, the act of burning the Quran has the same significance as that of burning Jesus! It is a fundamental desecration of what Muslims view as a sacred gift to humanity, spoken directly from God.

Another key perception we must pay attention to is the unfortunate convergence of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr and the commemoration of September 11th. Eid al-Fitr is one of two holy days in the Muslim calendar. This day falls at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a month of fasting, praying, and gathering together as a community. Because Muslims follow a lunar calendar, Ramadan, and consequently Eid celebrations that follow, come at different times of the year. Christians have a similar custom regarding the date of Easter, which follows a lunar calendar and therefore occurs on a different date each year. This year, when the new moon is sighted at the end of Ramadan, Eid celebrations will begin on either September 10th or 11th.

Perhaps now you are seeing the crisis that is about to unfold. Which politicians, talk show hosts, or public figures will choose to seize the opportunity to declare that Muslims across the country are gathering to celebrate Osama Bin Laden and the deaths of thousands of Americans on September 11th? Which public figures will be willfully ignorant in their incitement against the millions of American Muslims? And in this nation, already polarized by inflamed emotions around the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" and our ongoing struggle with racism, how many will fail to see the distinction between a celebration that follows a lunar calendar and a solemn remembrance that falls each year, according to the Gregorian calendar, on September 11th?

But that's not the end of it. Another misperception is brewing worldwide. Imagine how people, half a world away, will come to know "International Burn a Koran Day." The perpetrators of this book-burning, ironically guarded by a "Christian" militia group, will perceive their act to be against terrorists (which they wrongly equate with Muslims) on a date commemorating a terrorist attack. Muslims worldwide will perceive that American Christians are desecrating the Word of God on a key Muslim holy day. This will be perceived as a most egregious, aggressive act against Muslims, the Prophet, and ultimately against God.

In 2008 a Danish cartoonist published works that mocked Mohammed in 2008. Riots broke out, and people died. What do you think will happen after Christians burn the Quran on Eid al-Fitr?

Nothing can, or should, be done to divert Muslims from celebrating Eid al-Fitr on September 10th or 11th. Many people have done their best to stop "Burn a Koran Day." The Dove World Outreach Center, despite being denied a burn permit by the city of Gainesville, and despite the counsel of cool heads, seems bent on carrying out this intensely provocative act.

Perhaps the best we can all do is to pray for rain, lots of rain, in Gainesville on September 11th.

Pastor Terry Jones,is a leader in an American Church in the States.He is a pastor in Florida.The world was shaken by the news that the there are American Christians who wants to burn the Koran on Sept.11, 2010, headed by the pastor himself.But something stopped him from doing that.He said that there is something in his conscience that is bothering him.His group planned to make Sept.11, 2010 an "International Koran Burning Day." But something stopped him,Gen.Petraeus said that they should not do that because it will only make the relationship between Muslims and Christians worse than before.Also, he told them that it will only trigger the terrorists to attack United States again.That's why the religious group did not do it although there are a lot of people who still wants them to do it and I guess those are the people that hates Muslims.

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