On Jihad and the Burning of Holy Books

You could only imagine how many times in a week (or day) I get asked questions like “Do you think we should bomb Iran?”  Or… “Do you think Iran is going to get nuclear weapons and then will bomb Israel?”  Or… “Why do the Muslims get so angry when we accidentally burn their Qur’an and yet they seem to feel free to burn our Bible?”

I remember being in southern Iraq a few years ago and the bus boy at the hotel where we were staying looked at me with large brown innocent eyes and asked “Sir, why do the Americans hate us?”

Actually in 30 years I can’t count the times when an Arab Muslim has asked similar questions.  “Why do you want to take over the world?” They ask.  Or… “I don’t understand why America doesn’t care about Palestinians who are being killed?”  And… “Do all Americans love their family the way you do? Because I have never heard of such nice Americans before.”

Funny how this works.  Lack of understanding usually goes both ways. And misunderstanding between potential enemies is dangerous.  When we don’t personally know someone we can easily fall into fear. And fear leads to all things bad.

I remember early on during our Lebanon years a family saying to Chris and I that they could never become Christians because they LOVED their family.  That meant, that what they thought of Americans/Christians (which they see as the same thing) are only people who don’t love each other. Who get divorced. Who send their kids off to colleges far away when they turn 18 (like we’ve done).  And they – being good God fearing family oriented Muslims – could never do that.

So back to the questions.  Why do they seem to hate us?  Want to kill us?  Bomb Israel?

I think the answer lies in our ability to see clearly. Before we answer, are we 100% sure the log is out of our eye?  It’s interesting that Jesus said to take the log out of our eye before we help take the speck out of the others’ eye. He could have said it the other way around. I am always willing to admit I have a speck in my eye and that you have a log in yours.

Then, walk a mile in their shoes before trying to answer these kinds of questions. Try to think of something like this – what if a Muslim army of Afghans were in our country to liberate us from some internal tyranny.  They were honestly trying to help us by being here. They set up checkpoints everywhere that we had to go through – it was for our own security.  And mostly they DID kill the bad guys in our midst. Gang members.  Criminals. People who go on shooting sprees in our schools. They did kill those. Of course, sometimes while doing that, they also killed some kids at the school. Or some businessmen downtown Denver when they were trying to take out some gang leaders of the Bloods.  But mostly they were good.  Well there was that one time when they accidentally bombed the wedding at our local church and killed the bride and groom and wedding party.  But other than that….

Force yourself to think that way. It’s a good practice. Think this thought – if I had grown up in a Muslim family, which had been Muslim for maybe 1400 years, and I was proud to be Iraqi or Afghani, would I be confused to wake up every day to American troops outside my window doing their morning drills? What might I think if I were that person?

It’s tough to take the logs out of our eyes.  The others DO have specks in their eyes and we need to help them be free of those specks. We just can’t do it if we have a log poking us in the eye.


  1. ekmike says:

    Excellent post, Carl. Thanks for the tips on empathy and considering the other perspectives.

  2. Rosy says:

    Carl, I hesitate to comment because you will think I hate all Muslims. On the contrary, I’m very concerned about the women and children stuck in this barbaric culture. Deception and killing are standard procedure during war, but it has no place in religion, unless those ARE tenets of one’s religion, which is true of Islam. That sounds more like a cult to me. If this young man doesn’t empathize with Americans after 3,000 were killed in one day and thousands more since 9-11, I don’t know how I could answer him. His “religion” has no place for empathy, only hatred. As for the current outrage over Koran burning, Islamic experts advised the US military that ceremonial burning was the proper way to dispose of the desecrated Korans. Seems Muslim prisoners had been communicating by writing notes in their Korans. The US military should have insisted the clerics conduct the ceremony, but it’s a bit late now. As for “Palestinians”, have you ever investigated the invented history surrounding this “people”?

  3. BrianLarson says:

    Ever since the fall of man and then the tower of Babel, we have been misunderstanding each other and lashing out at each other and, more directly, at God. We are all made in God’s image and any animosity directed at others is, in a very real sense, directed at the creator (Jesus). Jesus came to us and walked among us to teach and to touch us and died in order to recocile us to himself (and the rest of the Triniy). As Christians, we are to share in the death and restoration process. We too are to walk in the world and teach and touch as Christ did and, ultimately, to die. We talk about the “unjust” injury that was inflicted at 9/11 and the many that have been killed and wounded since then. How much greater injustice did Christ suffer as a part of His reconciliation for us all. We need to get the logs out of our eyes so we can be recociled first, to Christ and then to each other.

  4. travist81 says:

    This is an informative article about one reason why Muslims react the way they do when the Quran is desecrated.


    1. Carl Medearis says:

      I think this article is almost exactly the opposite of what I’m saying. It’s well-written and makes some good points, but is not at all what I think needs to be done.

      1. travist81 says:

        It answers the question “Why Muslims get angry when the Quran is burned or desecrated?”, which was posed by people you have encountered in the past. I didn’t post the article to resolve the issue, but to explain why they get angry. It helps to know a people groups sensitivities so that you may have a fruitful relationship.

        I understand the last part of the article created a “us” vs “them” mentality saying Muslims are “permitted freedom to worship their false god”, which I reject, but overall the article was very clear explaining the relationship between Muslims and the Quran.

  5. bruckoii says:

    Carl, here is a link to what I wrote on the subject. Bruce – http://www.oprev.org/2012/02/apologizing-for-quran-burning-fans-flames/

  6. dougovermyer says:

    Excellent commentary. And you can see from some of the comments that the point was missed completely.

    1. travist81 says:


      Who missed Carl’s point? You can’t just throw up a comment and leave people in the dark who you’re talking about.

  7. ericknac says:

    Have tried to use this line of reasoning many times…but many times just draws blank looks…