08 September 2010

Don't burn the Quran (or the Bible). Read it.

Nearly half of the world's 6.8 billion people believe (or pretend to believe) in either the Quran or the Bible. Yet few believers have read the book that they claim to believe in. And there's a good reason for that: it is nearly impossible to believe in either book once you have read them.

Go ahead and try it for yourself. If you believe in the Quran, read it (in a language that you understand). Do likewise if you believe in the Bible. Read the book that you claim to believe in and see if you still believe it after you've read it.

Better yet, read them both. Whether you believe in either, both, or neither, the Quran and the Bible are too important to ignore. Read them and then decide for yourself what to think about them.

We need to read these books. And it's hard to read them after they're burned.


Unknown said...

Somebody should send that book burning guy a email with a ebook of the Quran for every book he burns. Also maybe the guy for extra insult should dress up like Mohammad and burn the books. If they attack him they are attacking Mohammad muhahaha.

Matthew Blanchette said...

That last bit was just... ugh. No one knows what Muhammed looked like, so it'd be a waste of time, wouldn't it? :-P

Unknown said...

@MatthewB doesn't stop some Muslims from getting pissed off remember the draw Muhammad day thing. Anyway just put an ID badge that says Muhammad prophet of Islam and pedo bear. I wonder if we will hear of bible book burnings as a counter seems it's just US flag burning? That said they probably have to buy the flag to burn it? i wonder if they are made in the US :P

Unknown said...

I wonder where they got their Quran's from? Did they go out to buy them just so that they could burn them?
There's plenty of burning and destruction of other cultures in the OT.

John said...

I read somewhere that the Qurans were sent from people all around the world. I am imagining other Pastors asking their congregations to go out and purchase a Quran and send it to Florida. Surprising they only received a couple hundred, actually, considering the intolerance and bigotry I have witnessed here in my local church.

Xaratherus said...

When I first heard about this, it scared me, because it reminded me of the mindset in Bradbury's F451 future. "Monday burn Millay, Wednesday Whitman, Friday Faulkner, burn 'em to ashes, then burn the ashes," to quote Bradbury's Captain Beatty.

It made me angry, and frightened, that such idiocy can exist (and, in fact, can run rampant)in a 'civilized' society.

While I consider both the Bible and the Quran works of fiction, I nonetheless consider them important reminders of a time long gone - a sort of fictional history, a record of the mores of a pre-scientific society.

My first thought was to hold a Bible burning. "An eye for an eye" and all that.

But after that knee-jerk reaction, I realized I was guilty of a crime outlined in that same book (Fahrenheit 451) - and that in my panic I had forgotten my favorite quote from that novel:

"The sun burned every day. It burned Time. The world rushed in a circle and turned on its axis and time was busy burning the years and the people anyway, without any help from him. So if he burnt things with the firemen, and the sun burnt Time, that meant that everything burned!"

So instead, on September 11, I'm going to sit down and read from the Quran. No, I'm not converting to Islam - I recognize that a book of unproven veracity doesn't constitute evidence of any god. But, "Somewhere the saving and putting away had to begin again and someone had to do the saving and keeping."

Maybe that starts with me.

twillight said...

I reached sura 42 today in the Quran. That means if I read ca. 100 lines per day, I'll end with it within 19 days.
Well, the best thing in this reading that there are no more 200 lined suras. It is boring.

Just as a sidenote: I've found some way described in the Quran to test wether Allah is real or not. He failed every time.

My reason reading the Quran is bloody stupid though. I only do it because the jews hate me for not reading the Quran, but the Talmud. So I do it to catch out wind from their boats.
I wish I could move further with my translation of the Talmud, but oh well, why not.

twillight said...

Just got into me:
Steve, as you're just at the beggining with Project Reading Quran, could you collect all the titles of Allah?

I mean there are that kind of adjectives associated to Mr. A. like "mercyful", "proud", "rich" etc.
What'd be the full nomination of Mr. A. in the likeness of every ruler? (Like "King John the First, the king of Asia, the Prince of Malaizia, the Lionheart and so on)

Ayeohx said...

Exodus 23:24
Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.

Numbers 7:5
But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.

I agree with you and support your cause but there are those that will take verses such as these and use them to justify their actions. How do we fight intolerance when our holy texts seems to dictate otherwise?

And yes, I realize that these verses are taken out of context, but these are the tools that many religious leaders use to sway the masses. Ignorance, especially when it is fueled by faith, is difficult to oppose.

Ryo said...

Forgive my Bad English, I'm still a kid..

Steve, can I translate some of your post and a bit of the SAB in Italian on my blog?

Have I your permission?

Moreover, I'd like to turn some of your post in answers for Italian Yahoo Answers, can I?

Waiting for your reply, my best wishes.


twillight said...


I suggest you to send an e-mail to Steve's adress with the exact detail on what you have in mind.

Brucker said...

My thought on the whole thing was that if they believe the Quran to be so evil, the best thing they could do is have a "Read the Quran" day to show how evil it supposedly is. It's just so much easier to be a lazy douchebag than to be industrious like you are with your site, I guess.

Steve Wells said...

That sounds OK to me, but send me an email (as twillight suggests) and so we can discuss your plans.

kat said...

Ibn Arabi----"Every (state of) being in accord (with God) that doesn't bring with it the corresponding appropriate behaviour and attitude can't be relied upon"
It is upto us human beings how we make use of knowledge---be it science or religion....we can use it for good if we so choose.
What should be the purpose/goal of religion?----it should make us better human beings today than we were yesterday....if it does not---then we have failed it......because the choice to use it for good was ours to make.

skanksta said...

Back to work slacker Wells - your fans are getting withdrawal symptoms !

Matt said...

I'd be interested to know how you know that few believers have read their holy book. In my experience, that's not the case. Please forgive me not accepting what you say as, ahem, gospel.

Steve Wells said...


It is difficult to find statistical studies on the number of believers that have actually read the book that their beliefs are based on. I've seen estimates as low as 10%, but not with any credible references. But Christianity Today claims that less than half of Americans (>70% of which are Christians) could identify Genesis as the Bible's first book.

Does anyone know of a statistical study that estimates the percentage of Christians (or Muslims) that have read their holy book?

kat said...

All Muslims read the Quran from cover to cover---every word---however, we read it in Arabic---so do not necessarily understand what we are reading...translations of the Quran are available in most languages and these translations often come with tafsir----(context/commentary) because in order to understand the verses, one has to understand the historical context as well as how the Prophet(pbuh) understood/implemented the Quran (Hadith and Sunna)
We read the Quran in Arabic because that is the language in which it was revealed.
Yusuf Ali tafsir and translation is popular, Mohamed Asad tafsir and translation is on the net for free.

Steve Wells said...


"All Muslims read the Quran from cover to cover---every word---however, we read it in Arabic---so do not necessarily understand what we are reading."

Then you aren't reading it. And you are wasting your time.

I'm sure that it sounds better in a language you don't understand. So does the Bible. (That's why the Catholic church kept it in Latin for so long.)

The verse 4:56 in the Quran would sound better in Arabic, or French, or Swahili -- anything that you don't understand. But you should first read it in a language that you understand and then decide if you believe it. Here it is:

"Lo! Those who disbelieve Our revelations, We shall expose them to the Fire. As often as their skins are consumed We shall exchange them for fresh skins that they may taste the torment."

Muslims that read that verse in a language they understand are unlikely to believe that it was inspired by a God who can honestly be called good.

kat said...

"...then you aren't reading it..."---very well then, we "recite it"....as to wasting time---that is a matter of opinion.
(I did mention the Quran is translated in most world languages....along with tafsir to put it in context)
I would argue that someone who fails to gain wisdom from a book of wisdom/guidance has also failed to "read" it....and therefore, could be wasting their time......

4:56---God is compassionate and merciful. During the time we have on earth, God gives us many chances to do good. If we refuse because of pride/arrogance and continue to do "mischief" on earth causing hurt and sorrow---we will be held accountable for our choices, intentions, and actions.
(and the verse following this one (4:57) explains that those who do good will also be held accountable for their choices, intentions and actions)

Steve Wells said...

You say, with respect to 4:56, that "God is compassionate and merciful. During the time we have on earth, God gives us many chances to do good."

And here's what verse 4:56 says: "Those who disbelieve Our revelations, We shall expose them to the Fire. As often as their skins are consumed We shall exchange them for fresh skins that they may taste the torment."

The verse says nothing about "doing good," as you claim. It says that Allah will burn our skins off our bodies if we disbelieve his revelations. And then the "compassionate and merciful" God will provide us with "fresh skins" so we can "taste the torment" forever.

Yeah, I bet that sounds a lot better in Arabic!

(Why do you pretend that your imaginary friend is compassionate and merciful, Kat? Is it compassionate and merciful to endlessly burn people's skin off for refusing to believe in obvious falsehood and unspeakable cruelties?)

kat said...

Obvious falsehood and cruelty----I might say that those who knowingly believe in falsehood and cruelty are likely to end up in Hell?.....

Hell---The Quran talks a lot about Hell/Paradise---The concept is ofcourse tied up with Judgement-Day. However, in the Quran, God is not only Compassionate and Merciful---but also Just. Justice is what Judgement-Day is about.
As the Quran will explain---those who do good are not the same as those who do evil. All of us human beings will be held accountable for our choices----choices about intentions and actions. In Islam, religion, (or "Deen") is not about "belief for the sake of believing"---but to have "right belief" that will help guide us to goodness. The purpose of belief is to make us better human beings----that is, those who pursue "God's will" and Gods will=right belief that promotes right intentions that lead to right actions for the benefit of all of God's creations.

Because we are using an English translation---many words end up with Christocentric baggage. The usage of certain words such as "disbeliever", have come to be associated with certain connotations. The Arabic word for "disbeliever" is generally "Kaffir"---its meaning is "one who covers up"----it implies a deliberate action with knowledge---(you can't cover up something you don't know). Both Hebrew and Arabic have a "root word" system and Kaffir comes from the root word meaning "ungrateful" ---therefore, the word kaffir has connotations of "one who covers up (truth/guidance/goodness) because of ungratefulness. This means that the act is not only deliberate, but stems from pride and arrogance.

Another Arabic word is Ayah---generally translated as "revelations"---however, the word means "signs" and refers not only to the Quran, but to all other "Revelations/Signs". Thus, there are "signs" in nature all around us. As the Quran explains---everything in nature "submits" to God's will---they follow God's laws (natural laws). In both Judaism and Islam---Human beings have been created inherently good---and when we reject goodness---we go against the "nature" that we were created with. (the Quran explains---we go against our own souls)
(The Arabic words are defined in the Quran---so even in translation, one can grasp the meaning....)
It is easy to break the verses of the Quran (or any book) for whatever "agenda" we have---good or bad. The Quran says it must be read as a whole and warns about breaking up its verses "for profit"(for our own biases)Therefore, rather than basing an opinion on a single verse---it is best to look at the preceding and following verses and to put the whole in context of the Quran.---this gives a more complete concept.

Steve Wells said...

The meaning of the verse (4:56) is perfectly clear. Allah will repeatedly burn the skin off of unbelievers after they die. There is no context in which such an idea is anything other than cruel and barbaric.

You say that Allah only burns the skin off of kaffirs after they die, where "kaffirs" are those that know Allah's BS is true but try to cover it up. If so, then there aren't any karrirs. Those of us who disbelieve the Quran disbelieve because it isn't true. Or because it's cruel, absurd, disgusting, etc. But even if there is some stupid kaffir out there somewhere that denies what he knows is true (and no one knows it's true), it would still be cruel, absurd, disgusting for Allah to repeatedly burn her skin off after she died.

Allah is worse than Yahweh. Thank goodness nether exists.

kat said...

"There is no context in which such an idea is anything other than cruel and barbaric."---So in your opinion, Justice will be served by allowing those who do evil to benefit from their crimes not only in this world but also in Paradise?

Why do I consider a God who dispenses Justice as Compassionate and Merciful? ---because he gives us opportunities to come to guidance/goodness, to repent, make ammends....this makes him merciful. He is compassionate, because during our time on earth, he gives us sustenance, both physical (food/shelter...etc) and spiritual (knowledge, Guidance...etc). We have been created with intelligence and free-will. Therefore---we will be held accountable for our intentions and actions. Being Human comes with blessings as well as responsibilities......while we can enjoy our blessings....we should not abandon our responsibilities.

By the way---passages about hell/paradise are metaphor.(or as the Quran calls it---"similitude")The Quran juxtaposes the horrors of Hell with the soothing comfort of Paradise to elicit an emotional response---so that we would abhor hell and prefer paradise.......and the hell in the Quran is truly, truly horrible---but much of it is in the middle Surahs.

Kaffir---the Quran does not promote blind belief---this is important so pay attention----if a person feels that a particular belief is cruel/unjust then they should NOT believe it. Whatever religious label we call ourselves (or no religious label)---God has created us inherently good and we have the capacity within us to goodness.---we have the intelligence to understand it and the free-will to use it---we are therefore responsible for our choice to do good or to reject good.This responsiblity also means that those who reject goodness will be held accountable for their choices and suffer the consequences....(as will those who choose goodness enjoy the benefits)

Faith=the use of the intellectual faculties to reason and arrive at a conviction.

kat said...

Steve, we may be approaching the idea of hell/paradise/judgement from 2 different perspectives which may be causing some miscommunication and frustration?--I hope you will continue to have patience with me, I appreciate the dialogue......

Steve Wells said...

I have a simple question for you, kat. Does Allah burn the skin off kaffirs' bodies, replace the skin, burn it off again, and repeat endlessly as stated in verse 4:56 of the Quran?

kat said...

"Does Allah burn the skin off kaffirs' bodies,...?"---sort of(or both yes and no)
---This is an interesting question. There is a lot of nuance and detail to the Quranic concept of Hell/Paradise/Judgement. As I mentioned, it would be better to look at this as a metaphor rather than take it literally. The reason for this is that when the Quran says human beings will be Judged---it is referring to the self/soul which is called Nafs in Arabic. (Judaism has a somewhat similar concept of soul with "Nefesh"). This nafs is not the human body. It is what some call the conscioussness. The point the Quran is trying to make is that hell is a horrible experience as if the skin is repeatedly burned...
this image is used because we human beings on earth can understand the horror of being burned. (not much point to give an image we cannot relate to)As we move deeper into the concept of hell---worse images than this are going to come up. Likewise, the concept of Paradise also has images that the desert Arabs could relate to. These 2 images are juxtaposed to create an emotional response in the reader/listener. the verse folowing 4:56 goes like this....
4:57 But those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, We shall admit to Gardens with rivers flowing beneath---their eternal home: therein shall they have companions. We shall admit them to shades, cool and ever deepening.
Hot and cold, horror and pleasure are contrasted to encourage us on the path of goodness. That is the purpose of religion after all---to help us be better human beings.

By the way---the translated word "day" as in Judgement-day is best understood as a fixed period of time as God wills and the translated word "eternal" is best understood as a long period of time as God wills.

It is simpler to think in terms of black and white/yes or no/good or bad. But this comes at the expense of sacrificing nuance.....and we may end up committing intellectual-suicide.

Steve Wells said...

Thanks, kat, for that ever so nuanced response.

Allah will torture us after we die if we don't believe the cruel and idiotic things in the Quran. Maybe he'll burn our skin off over and over again like he threatens in 4:56. Or maybe he'll force us to drink boiling water (6:70). Or give us a shower of molten lead to cool us off a bit (18:29). Or he'll force us wear garments of fire, pour boiling fluid on our heads, melt our skin, and torment us with iron hooks, and when we try to escape he'll drive us back with the taunt: Taste the doom of burning (22:19-22).

But we need to keep all this nuanced, don't we kat? If we honestly said what it obviously is (vicious and cruel), we'd be committing intellectual suicide. And then Allah would have get out his (possibly metaphorical) burning garments, boiling fluids, and iron hooks to torture us forever after we die.

kat said...

Thanks, kat, for that ever so nuanced response.

you're welcome steve

Anonymous said...

Thanks, kat, for that ever so nuanced response.

kat, I don't think Steve is hearing you. *sigh*

kat said...

thankyou bec-87rb

Steve has been very gracious in allowing me to express my opinions on his site. Not everyone has the tolerance for an opinion different from theirs.

Steve is also not alone in finding "Hell" to be a particularly difficult concept to reconcile with. I suspect many of us feel the same way.....?

sirataalmustaqeema said...

The whole intention of this event was to make money and draw attention to a small group that no one knew about.

The Straight Path: Don't Burn Books, Don't Burn The Quran