Tawfik Hamid: Using the Quran to control Afghan anger

Using the Quran to Control Afghan Anger

By Dr. Tawfik Hamid


Troops on the U.S.’s largest base in Afghanistan have unintentionally burned Qurans and other religious materials, triggering angry protests and fears of even larger demonstrations as news of the burning spreads.

The books were mistakenly thrown out with the trash at Bagram Air Field north of Kabul and were on a burn pile Monday night before Afghan laborers intervened around 11:00 p.m., according to NATO and Afghan officials.

By the morning, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside of Bagram Bagram Air Field and on the suburbs of Kabul. Some shot into the air, some threw rocks at the Bagram gate, and many others yelled, “Die, die foreigners.”

Gen. John Allen, the commander of all foreign forces in Afghanistan, released a statement, then a video statement, then gave an interview to NATO television. In his and in all NATO officials’ communication today, each emphasized that the burning was unintentional.

Those materials were inadvertently given to troops for disposition and that disposition was to burn the materials. It was not a decision that was made because they were religious materials,” Allen told NATO TV. “It was not a decision that was made with respect to the faith of Islam. It was a mistake, it was an error. The moment we found out about it we immediately stopped and we intervened.”

Gen. John Allen launched an investigation and promised to take steps to make sure that the same incident would not be repeated.

The Quranic text can actually be used in such situations to control the Afghan anger and prevent its spread. In fact, the religiosity of people in these parts of the world makes the use of religious text more effective in controlling people’s anger than using formal apologetic approaches.

For example the Quran stated clearly that the Lord forgive unintentional mistakes and only consider an action as a sin if it was intentional. Quran Al-Ahzab 33:5:

“But there is no blame on you if ye make a mistake therein: (what counts is) the intention of your hearts: and Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.”

The point to be used with Afghans in this situation is that how could they know that the intensions of those who burnt the Quran was to insult it. They must bring evidence that the intention of the NATO personnel was to insult the Quran – as the Quran itself describes those who accuse others without having evidence as “dishonest” people. Quran Al-Naml 27:64:

Or, Say, “Bring forth your evidence (proof), if ye are telling the truth!”

The third Islamic Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan (who is considered to be one of the greatest Is disciples of prophet Mohamed) burnt the Quran and his actions were not considered as a sin – by either him or by the disciples of the prophet – since the act of burning was not associated with intention to insult it. Similarly, the Afghans must not react with anger against the burning of the Quran as they do not have a proof that it was associated with an intention to insult it.

In addition, even if the action of the two personnel who burnt the Quran was intentional, it is forbidden in the Quran to react against others. For example, the Quran forbids any angry reaction against the NATO soldiers who actually did not commit the burning and are likely to be against it. The Quran stated clearly in four different positions that not one should be punished for the mistake of another person Quran: Al-Isra 17:15; Al-An’am 6:164; Fatir 35:18; Az-Zumar 39:7:

“Nor can a bearer of burdens bear another’s burdens.”

Finally, there is no single verse in the Quran that considers its burning as ‘Haram’ or forbidden. (Afghan Muslim need to be challenged to bring this verse from the Quran!). On the contrary, there is a clear verse (Quran: Al-Imran 3:134) that asks Muslims to control and restrain their anger:

Those (the true believers) who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) humans;- for the Lord loves those who do good.

To conclude, because of the nature of the Afghan culture and the importance of religion in their life, the use of Islamic jargon and Quran text can aid in controlling the anger of the population in response to the burning of the Quran.

Note: some reports mentioned that these books (Quran, plus others) were being used to convey violent messages and communicate between Taliban prisoners.


  1. Insanity
    Use rationality with maniacs? OK, whatever. Problem is that the maniacs are still referred back to their very own maniacal writings. This, seems to me, to simply be playing along with the Muslim mindset that they owe no allegiance to anything but but their own insanity. I guess it would be OK if it would get them to chill out, but no actual progress toward sanity is made because they’re not referring to sanity to stop their insanity. So, at best, given insanity’s typical course, the cessation of violence would probably be a very temporary thing. :woohoo: :woohoo: :woohoo: :woohoo: :woohoo: :woohoo: :woohoo:

  2. Whirled Peas
    And, I was thinking that Oliver Stone’s son and Cat Stevens could go swimming together to bring about whirled peas.

  3. basic behavior
    We recognize the basic behavior of anger to be beastly. This is because love and peace belong front and center in our heart. Choose where you want to be forever.

  4. Basic Education
    I like the articles here from Dr. Tawfik Hamid. He’s recommending immediate solutions to these barbaric acts. I feel, in most cases, the real issue here is that most tribal Islamic states don’t have any sort of education or educational reforms. Most of these people don’t have an education or have an education that comes from a Madrasha or Madhhab. If right now all these tribes had access to real education which is totally separate from religion, what would things look like 50 years from now? :-?: :-?:

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