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I want to believe you Mr Klaidman but your retraction has the opposite effect
By Shaikh Riyad Nadwi, Ph.D

16 May 2005

“Revelations of sadism in Abu Ghurayb were examples of rogue elements in a highly disciplined force, invading to teach Muslims civility and freedom,” we were told. Last week, Newsweek announced to the world that a copy of the Quran was flushed down the toilet in Guantanamo Bay. A week later, after violent demonstrations in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Yemen and Pakistan, Newsweek editor Daniel Klaidman tells the BBC (Radio 4, 16.05.05) that although he had ‘relied on a source that was very credible and reliable in the past’ and that he had ‘run it by the Defence Department’ he now thinks that he may have made a mistake’. He is also keen to remind the listeners that the source (a high government official) ‘still believes that the information was in the Southern Command report’ but the Pentagon is denying it.

Apart from the lame and contradictory attempt at retraction, the problem I have with accepting Mr Klaidman’s explanation is the global consistency with which these gross and inhuman activities are taking place. Incidents at Abu Ghurayb, Baghram, and Guantanamo suggest a uniformity in policy aimed at humiliating Muslims for their belief in the Quran. Indeed, it is a policy justified in the idea of pre-emption.

Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace) had advised in his wisdom that Muslims should abstain from carrying copies of the Quran when travelling in lands where people were likely to desecrate it. The architects of the policy of attacking the faith of Muslims would do well to pay attention to the reasoning behind that advice. The Prophet’s concerns were not primarily for the effect it would have on Muslims or the Quran, but the possibility that people in their ignorance may desecrate the Quran and thereby incur upon themselves the wrath of God.

One is reminded of Khusraw Parvez (Cosroes II, 590-628), the King of Persia who desecrated a letter of the Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace) by tearing it to shreds because he believed it to be from an uncivilised slave. “May your Kingdom be torn to pieces,” was the response and history bears testimony to its truth. Khusraw was killed by his own son who then set the kingdom on course to destruction.

It is ironic indeed that those who promote the doctrines of humiliation and pre-emption fail to take lessons from the great stories of history. Absurd pre-emptive doctrines are found prevalent only in the fading phases of past civilisations. Those who claim to be followers of Moses should be more cognisant than others of the fact that Pharaoh also adopted the doctrine of pre-emption when he vowed to kill all male, new-born children.

I say to those responsible, do whatever you may, at your own peril, with the pages of the Quran but know with full certainty that the Word of God will remain pure and lofty in the hearts of millions of Muslims around the world. If you feel compelled to dismiss the testimony of a Muslim like me, I suggest you ponder the words of your own Professor Jacques Jomier: "It is not only the intellect that is affected but all the fibers of one's being...it is difficult to understand the fascination that the Quran exerts without mentally putting oneself in the place of the Muslim, who finds God when he recites it, looks to it for guiding principles, and for whom the Quran is the presence of God." (Jacques Jomier, 1997, The Great Themes of the Quran, p.124).