Of The Devil

I am not going to spend time arguing the premise of Terry Jones’s plans to burn copies of the Quran.  Nor am I going to discuss at length the Ground Zero (or not so much ground zero) mosque debate that has left most of us exhausted and nauseated.  Others have parsed and thoroughly run ragged these hot button issues and I can honestly say that I can not add any value to the discourse.

It is too easy to take a position, indoctrinate talking points into the subconscious, spew them out P.R.N. and sit back pretty and content that I have such grasp on culturally relevant issues.  But it feels good.  It feels good to know what position Obama has on issue A and the quick retort of the GOP followed by the wise-aleck responses of punditry from all spectrums of the political sphere.  It mimics education and academia. It is like an addiction. Adrenaline courses through our veins as we watch Sarah Palin play the heel and say something inexplicable, much the way Kurt Angle used to make our blood boil in enjoyment as he repeated the three I’s.  I apologize for the WWF/WWE reference but the jeering/cheering crowds and the insult slinging ‘professionals’ on TV who play to the masses emotions take me back to my childhood memories of sitting on the couch between my brothers watching Hogan “hulk out.”

After an “event” our hearts thump with anger or admiration.  A few more words from a superstar and our faces flush with pride or anger or fury or something in between.  “What!? You heard that?!” or “Hell ya! That’s right!”

YAY  “The Big O” Olberman! BOO Sarah “Grizzly Mama” Palin and Newt ‘the noot” Gingrich!  What! Palin has tag teamed with Uncle Beck (John Candy reference)! Can you believe it! This is the greatest Wrestlemania…. EVER!  The Bible Belt is going crazy…Just listen to them roar! USA! USA! And the angry mob takes over.

They serve it up. We eat it up.  And as we loosen our belts, we are satisfied by the girth of our emotional friability.  The soap opera continues in our dreams as we imagine Obama floating down from the rafters and laying the smack down on some fools from the “FRW” (that’s the cool name for the far right wing).  It encompasses our free time as we check for news updates and tweets and facebook status changes. Our workplace conversations walk the tightrope of stating our opinions while not seeming too opinionated.  It owns us. We hang on to the words of a political figure and instead of taking them for what they say, we try to figure out why they would say such a thing, what impact it would have upon the delicate balance of things, whether the impact was planned or spontaneous, and what it means … well it never really means anything.

But… Like the 8th season of all reality shows, the audience is getting restless.  People are annoyed… or at least I am and if you ask my wife, she will tell you that I often assume all people feel the way I do.  I will resign myself to not reacting anymore. No more gut-wrenching moments waiting for commercial breaks to end to find out the next big thing.  I retire my jersey of roller coaster emotion and hang it high so that all may see what used to be.  I will no longer feel good or bad or disappointed or pleased by the drama from Alaskan mamas or even  the truthiness of John Stewart.  It’s not worth it nor does it bear any fruit.

When it comes to these two issues– the ‘burning’ and the ‘mosque,’ I will avoid the current event buzz and the allure to just rant.

Instead, I would much rather talk about the basics.  Not the mosque but what it symbolizes.  Not the burning of publications but instead what the text carries.  Not the Islamics (as Dr. Jones puts it) but what they may hold in their hearts.

The very first verse revealed in the Quran was:

“Read! In the name of thy Lord Who createth.”

In poetry, plays, conversations with your spouse, speeches from the president and in anything… the first word, action, or event sets the tone for everything that is to follow. The very first verse in the history of this religion that finds its name plastered on the news, on the tongues of pundits, next to the words ‘of the devil” and in the hearts and minds of 1.4 billion inhabitants of this Earth, instructs mankind to “Read.”  A command, not a recommendation or an afterthought.  A primary principle.  Why? The answer is in the fifth verse of the same chapter: (so that God may) teach mankind that which he knew not.

Humility is found here.  You read with the understanding that you just don’t know.  You have to leave your emotions, your preconceived notions, your biases and your prejudices at the door to enter this realm.  Without this, the mosque is nothing and the book that Terry wants to burn is just ink and paper.  I could continue here but I know of someone who did it better and do not want to waste your time:


I pray God grant us the knowledge that remains elusive to us and gives us the understanding that most of the time, we know not.



~ by Yousaf on September 10, 2010.

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