Friday, September 10, 2010

9-11: Who's Burning What in Whose Memory?

Well I am just sitting around having a quiet weekend, half listening to the news. President Obama had just made some statements pertaining to the intention of some Americans to burn copies of  the Al_Quran in memory of  the 9/11 Tragedy.

He is right in saying that such course of action would violate against 'the best in us', which I presume to mean not only as referring to Americans but 'us' as human beings. I am heartened to hear him isolate those concerned as a small group, not in any way representing the majority of Americans. Of course in line of duty, he had to add some utilitarian or pragmatic rational in so opposing such a plan. He pointed out how the act would put 'our boys in the armed forces in the harm's way', which is just another way of saying how the act would simply backfire to advance the cause of violence and terrorism in various ways.

As a  consequence, the plan for this dangerous 'fire play' had been cancelled. Nevertheless, I think the affair is a very serious one, worthy of our serious reflection in a befitting memory of the tragedy of 9/11.

In history, the ascent of any form of bigotry  had always been accompanied by book burning.  Some notorious examples woud be the rise of Hitler and Nazism, the Cultural Revolution of Communist China, and the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols. Consequently we had always considered the Ritual of Book Burning as uncivilised or anti-civilisational. This is even more so when it comes to the burning of Sacred Books, which had been a major force in civilising humanity. We all know, to a point of banality, that much wrong had been inflicted on mankind in the name of Religion and Sacred Books, but we know too that Religion and Sacred Books had been our civilising force, to which majority of us owe 'the best in us' and our civilisation. Some of us are inclined to blame Religion and Sacred Books for all the violence and inhumanity in the world. But just imagine the kind of world it would be without Religion and the Sacred Books!

Since it is the Al-Quran we are discussing, let me illustrate how erroneous our thinking would be in blaming the Al-Quran for the violent action of some who evoke its name in self-justification. Those who plan to burn the Al-Quran in protest of 9/11 would be blaming it for the 3,000 innocent lives lost to violence, while 'forgetting' that according to the Al-Quran to take one innocent life unjustly is to kill the whole of humanity. Imagine how the teachings of the Al-Quran condemn violence and senseless killing.Now whose cause would we be advancing by the Ritual of Book Burning, particularly of the Sacred Texts,that of  the terrorists or that of peace and the innocent victims? The Al-Quran too teaches that to violate any House of Worship is to prevent the name of Allah being invoked. In addition, the Quran enjoins mankind to tolerance, understanding and peace by reminding us that different Tribes and Nations had been created by God that they may learn and understand each other.

Now within our present quest for a peaceful world, do we want to promote such teachings or weed them out from our humanity or civilisational memory? Our answer would influence our action, to distribute free copies of the Al-Quran or propagate the Ritual of Book Burning!

According to the news, there is plan to build a mosque, a House of Worship at Ground Zero, amids some protest. One argument advanced by the protesters is that such move would 'offend against the memory of the victims'. In my personal opinion, such a move, far from 'offending'  against the memory of the victims, would truly serve their memory. It reminds all of us, Muslims in particular,that all Sacred Texts condemns violence and cruelty and how sacred Human LIfe is! Being at Ground Zero, such a House of Worship would be an eternal symbol of Man's Quest for Peace! As such, logically speaking, only terrorists and Prophets of Violence and discord would 'have reasons' in objecting.

If for every form of violence, bigotry, and inhumanity in the world we resort to the Ritual of Book Burning, to weeding out the Sacred Texts, the world world would be set ablaze and raging. If we were to resort to the maxim of 'an eye for an eye' the whole world would surely go blind!