As announced earlier on this blog and my Facebook page, I have started reading the Qur'an. I am doing this out of personal interest, and to understand more of a religion that has been in the focus point of much criticism and misunderstanding since the horrible attacks by a few fanatics on this day 9 years ago.
Before I start writing about my first impressions, I want to clarify that even though I personally am an atheist, I do not hate religion, none of the many faiths out there. I even think that for many people religion is a good thing since it helps them to have someone to turn to in difficult times and definitely provide a good social network. This issue has even come up during a brunch of our Atheist/Agnostic parent group some time ago. Many atheists miss this type of social connection many churches provide but don't find it in their hearts to join just for the company and actively deceive the congregation on how they truly feel. I myself know several wonderful people, some of whom have invited us to join them in their congregations, which we had to decline. This, however, never hurt our friendship, because we agreed from the beginning to disagree on certain issues and leave it with that; additionally, we were always honest about our feelings and convictions. Our friendships are based on the most simple principles of love, tolerance, and respect, which most faiths teach to begin with.
Unfortunately, there are people, like said Mr. Terry Jones, the members of Westborough Baptist Church in Topeka, KS, and fanatics of any faith, who use religion as a tool and a justification to hurt others. This leads me to my preliminary favorite passage of the Qur'an. As in the translation by Sahih International, the Holy Book of the Muslims talks about these fanatics:
"2:13 And when it is said to them, "Believe as the people have believed," they say, "Should we believe as the foolish have believed?" Unquestionably, it is they who are the foolish, but they know [it] not. 2:14 And when they meet those who believe, they say, "We believe"; but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say, "Indeed, we are with you; we were only mockers." 2:15 [But] Allah mocks them and prolongs them in their transgression [while] they wander blindly. 2:16 Those are the ones who have purchased error [in exchange] for guidance, so their transaction has brought no profit, nor were they guided. 2:17 Their example is that of one who kindled a fire, but when it illuminated what was around him, Allah took away their light and left them in darkness [so] they could not see. 2:18 Deaf, dumb and blind - so they will not return [to the right path]."
Especially the picture of the lighted fire that will turn into darkness so reminded me of Mr. Terry Jones and his planned burning of the Qur'an. Indeed, he lighted a fire, even if by now only a figurative. He managed to be in the spotlight of attention from all over the world. But this spotlight was a dark one, which could easily ended in more deaths of innocent people. He, along with all fanatics, who call themselves "reformers" of their faith, are walking a dark path ending in nothing but chaos. The only way for them out of this mess they have brought themselves into by their very own pride and vanity is to turn around, go back to the beginnings, really READ the words and don't interpret them to fit their ideas.
This all might sound like a heavy load from an atheist like me, but as I said before, I respect religion and all people of true faith, it is just not for me. I am just a person who tries to leave a positive trace on this planet and who dreams of a better world for her children.
In this sense: Let's commemorate the victims of 9/11, who were of many races, nationalities, and faiths. Let's commemorate the innocent victims of two wars that ensued these attacks and together as one work for a more peaceful future for everyone.