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Community expresses disgust with Florida Quran burning plan

September 13
03:04 2010

CHINO: Some 50 plus religious leaders, local well-wishers and friends of the community came together at Ahmadiyya Muslim Baitul Hameed Mosque to show their solidarity with Muslims and express their outrage about the ‘Burn a Quran Day’ event planned in Florida.

Numerous members of the area clergy addressed the interfaith gathering entitled ‘Sanctity of Scriptures’ which took place on Saturday and lasted for over two hours.

Along with Imam Shamshad Nasir of Baitul Hameed Mosque, leaders from Judaism, many denominations of Christianity and Hindu faith spoke at the event and expressed their extreme displeasure with insensitivities being employed by the infamous Dove World Outreach Center.

Pastor Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Center, a non-denominational church in Gainesville, Florida has announced plans to burn copies of the Holy Qura’n, the Muslim Holy Scriptures, to commemorate September 11 at his church.

Mr. Monas Chaudry, the community’s interfaith outreach coordinator served as a moderator for the gathering. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Hamidur Rehman, a national vice president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, USA and started with the recitation of several verses of the Holy Quran.

Emphasizing Qura’n’s  respect for all religions and specially mentioning the line of prophets from the Abrahamic faiths, Mr. Asim Ansari, president of the community’s Los Angeles Inland Empire chapter first recited the versus in the original language -Arabic – and then presented the English translation.

Mr. Imran Jattala, vice president of LA Inland Empire chapter of the community offered a multi-media presentation to explain the background of Dove World Outreach Center, Pastor Terry Jones, the ‘Burn a Quran Day’ event and the Pastor’s history in promoting bigoted ideas in his community.

The presentation explored the connection of such bigoted actions, as proposed by Dove World Outreach, with radicalizing of youth by the abnormal thinkers like Pastor Terry Jones.

As it was reported in the media in 2009, Pastor Jones is known to have gotten young students in trouble with schools by encouraging wearing of Islam bashing T-shirts to their classes.

Many elders from various faiths spoke one after the other and expressed clear shock at Pastor Jones proposed plan. They demonstrated from the Holy Scriptures that such actions were against the Christ’s own teaching and promotion of such bigotry crosses all bounds of morality.

Rev. Leland Stewart, Co-founder of Unity-and-Diversity World Council presented a statement issued by Trustees of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions entitled “A Call for Solidarity on 9/11” which in part read: “…there is deep distress about the intentions of some to identify the Muslim tradition, and the Muslim community, as the villains, rather than a few radical individuals.”

“Unfortunately, too many in the United States know little about the true aims of Islam, nor do they know that Islam is fundamentally a religion of peace and human solidarity,” the statement further stated.

Kenn Rasmussen, a senior elder from Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Days Saints in Chino is a long time friend of the community. Mr. Rasmussen addressed the audience and expressed his disgust with the action planed by Pastor Terry Jones of Dove World. Mr. Rasmussen explained that he can easily identify with the hurt the Muslims feels as his community – Mormons – have been at the receiving end of discrimination as well.
Dr. Martin Offenberger, a Jewish man spoke on behalf of Rabbi Micha’el Akiba who was not able to come to the meeting. Dr. Offenberger told the audience that he sees similarities between Jewish persecution in Germany and persecutions of the Muslims in certain quarters these times. Dr. Offenberger who lost his several family members in Nazi concentration camps during World War II feels that Jones’ actions should cause people to worry.

“This is a small man with a small congregation in a small community,” said Dr. Offenberger. “And, so was Adolf Hitler in the beginning.”

Other religious leaders who spoke at the meeting included Rev. Kristina Collins from Sanctuary for Spiritual Living in Covina; Dipak Shimkhada of Hindu faith, a professor at Claremont School of Theology; and Pastor Joyce Kirk-Moore of the San Dimas Community United Church of Christ.

All speakers condemned the “Burn a Quran Day” event in clearest possible terms and showed there full solidarity with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

“I am shocked somebody would do such a thing,” said Dipak Shimkhada. “Where I come from all books are considered sacred – not just the Holy Scriptures – because books dispense knowledge.”

In addition, Catherine Rowlee of Monte Vista Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Montclair, Jacqi Morrison a member from Unity Church of Pomona, and Ken Fujimoto a senior organizer at Inland Empire sponsoring Committee were also preset in the gathering.

In his closing presentation Imam Shamshad Nasir offered numerous verses of the Holy Quran, the detailed teachings of Islam and the practice of the Holy Founder of Islam, Prophet Muhammad with respect to other faiths and their Holy Scriptures.

Imam Shamshad demonstrated that Islam requires Muslims to accept, without any discrimination, all holy people of various faiths, many mentioned by name as prophets in the Holy Quran, the divine books they brought and the teachings they promoted.

Imam Shamshad offered the many versus of the Holy Quran that pay special respect and tribute to Jesus Christ and Mother Mary and mentioned about the special chapter named after her ‘Surah Maryam’.
“Pastor Terry Jones needs to start believing in Jesus,” Imam Shamshad Nasir remarked.
At the end Dr. Hamidur Rahman thanked the guests for coming to this special interfaith meeting and for their support.

Although it is Ramadhan, the month of fasting for the Muslims, the visitors to this interfaith gathering were served with snacks after the meeting. The guests mingled together and exchanged ideas about how to effectively discourage future bigoted outburst such as the ‘Burn a Quran day’ event planned in Florida.

India Post News Service

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