Jeffrey Weiss in the Dallas Morning News (thanks to The Frozen Ghost), with reference to dhimmi academic John Esposito, explains that the Qur’an toilet riots are understandable once one realizes what Muslims think of the Qur’an:
“It’s not like just knocking down a religious leader or a priest or a rabbi,” said John Esposito, a professor at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.
Muslim tradition holds that the Quran is more than a sacred book: It’s the physical embodiment of the literal words of God that were dictated to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel about 1,300 years ago. The book is held in even higher regard by many Muslims than most Christians have for the physical form of the Bible.
For traditional Muslims, a Quran used for prayer can’t be written in, can’t be placed on the floor and can’t be put beneath other books. Particularly observant Muslims will keep it on a high shelf. It’s never supposed to be brought into a bathroom.
Reverence for the book itself is even higher for religiously conservative, illiterate Muslims, said Nazif Shahrani, an anthropologist at Indiana University who grew up in Afghanistan. The mystery of the unreadable Arabic gives the text an additional sacred aura, he said.
“It’s kept in the nicest place in the house and wrapped in the nicest cloth,” he said. “The Quran is not a book. It’s comparable to the body of Christ for Christians.”
Mostly secular American culture has no easy equivalent or outrage, experts say.
Think of burning the flag. Or desecration of the Catholic host. Or the 1980s sculpture Piss Christ – a crucifix placed in a jar with urine and lamb’s blood.
Again: who has been killed for burning the flag? Who was killed for that obnoxious 1980s sculpture?
Christian history includes a time when treatment of the Bible was a cause of political and religious outrage.
John Wycliffe hand-wrote the first English translation of the Bible in the 1380s. His work so upset the Vatican that, after his death, his bones were exhumed and thrown into a river. William Tyndale was responsible for the publication of the first printed English Bibles in the 1500s. He was convicted of heresy and burned at the stake.
This is a particularly scurrilous example of theological equivalence. Wycliffe and Tyndale were not murdered by angry mobs. Nor were innocent, uninvolved people murdered by mobs angry at the deeds of Wycliffe and Tyndale. I am not approving of the killings of Wycliffe and Tyndale. I am pointing out that there is just no comparison to the Qur’an toilet murders.
Intense passion and reverence for religious objects has largely left Western culture, Dr. Espositio said, leaving many Americans mystified at last week’s violent demonstrations.
But anybody who has been paying attention to Islam in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks should have realized the Newsweek report was likely to stir up trouble, he said. The explanation by Newsweek’s editors that they could not have anticipated the response compounds the insult to many Muslims – and may not even be believed, he said.
“We never seem to learn,” he said.
Yes, Professor. We never seem to learn. If only we would learn that these are unhinged people who will kill innocents over a perceived slight, we would do anything to avoid offending them.
It is a blot on the careers of both Weiss and Esposito that they, like so many others, dare not point out how outrageously unjust — and simply mad — the Qur’an toilet murders are. After all, to do so might offend them.