Our family business, Noorart, a multimedia, educational online store retails material throughout North America and a bit elsewhere. We’re one of the largest Muslim online stores. We receive and fulfill orders from Islamic schools, centers, mosques and Muslim families.
We also get requests from prison inmates who want to learn about Islam or see that reforming themselves according to their faith might be a much better alternative to a former lifestyle. Naturally, we get orders for copies of the Qur’an, the Muslim Holy Scripture, both in the original Arabic and other languages, primarily the English meaning.
Inside a mosque, Istanbul
Recently we received a rejection notice, a pretty standard process throughout the federal and state correctional facilities, as everything that goes in, gets a look-at and is evaluated. But this one judgment took the wind out of my sails.
A federal prison in Connecticut rejected a copy of the Quran because
“…it encourages and incites the commission of violence and/or criminal activity”.
The Quran has been shredded, stomped on, vilified by its detractors, in addition to a few other ‘uses’ that are unmentionable in polite company. A copy of the Qur’an was burned publicly by a Christian pastor no less.
Because it’s said Islam is an evil and violent religion and that the Quran is full of verses promoting terrorism. Verses are cited and held up as examples from pulpits, congressional hearings, courtrooms and billboards. The fact that one can quote a few verses out of context from the Bible or the Torah and come away with some pretty violent images matters not. Religion seems to be an easy target, forgetting that men and women are actually the ones taking the verses out of context and reinterpreting them to suit their needs.
This website offers a questionnaire to guess which verses are from the Torah, the Bible or the Quran.
You will be surprised!
But it really pains me. This book I love so dearly – that edifies my life and purpose -that brings me peace – that provides a cure for my restless and longing spirit – a manual for my life. The Qur’an is my guidance and Muhammad’s life is my example. Don’t get me started what they say about Muhammad (peace be upon him).
On just a first read, the Quran was the greatest book of psychology I’d ever found. Humanity! They we were in all our human beauty and ugliness. I saw the ego and arrogance of colleagues in my former entertainment world and I also found the ways to kindness and mercy that I try to live my life by.
Though my Arabic reading and recitation is far from perfect; I am nevertheless left breathless, stunned, frequently brought to tears by the Qur’an’s poetic beauty and wisdom. The words themselves have created an art form; decorating thousands of mosques, homes, art, and calligraphy, in textiles and countless other structures and items throughout the world and throughout history. Throughout the Muslim world, many have sought to create the descriptions of Paradise found within the Qur’an of “Gardens, beneath which rivers flow.” The concept and importance of gardens for reflection and tranquility flowed and traveled along with the religion from the Middle East to Spain. They may well have been the forerunners of the beautiful and plentiful gardens that are now so famous in Europe.
Al Hambra, Granada
I want so badly to share. No proselytizing, no sword, or threats that you must be Muslim or else. I only want others to at least see what I see, hear what I hear, and learn what I’ve learned. I know why I am here and where I will end. I know why bad things happen to good people; and why rotten folk and Mean Girls seem to get away unscathed. I know God in a way I’ve never known Him before. I have answers for questions my fellow countrymen yearn to know.
Nice girls share, right?
But I can’t. Not in this media and political pundit driven climate. I can’t get past the haters, burners, shredders and rejecters who won’t even listen to a word I say. They are so convinced I am brainwashed, a fad follower, deceived by Satan, even a traitor to the American Way and God Himself! I am so busy being constantly put on the defensive, explaining what the Qur’an is not, and not what it is.
Ablutions Area, Istanbul
This is not America right now. Not the land people dream and struggle all their lives to be part of. Not the constitution that gives people more freedom to practice their religion than anywhere on earth. Not the society that proclaims to embrace all, regardless color or choice of Holy Scriptures. Not the America that denies a simple and penitent inmate to read a book that might give him peace and a means to repentance, healing and transformation.