As Europe is plagued by anti-Muslim hatred and acts of Quran-burning aren't punished by law, we spoke to Islamic scholars about what Islam says about tackling hatred.
"Who spend in the way of Allah both in plenty and hardship, who restrain their anger, and who forgive others. Allah loves such good-doers," the Quran, Surah Ali 'Imran, verse 134.
For practising or non-practising Muslims, displaying deep admiration and devotion toward the Quran is of utmost importance. And it starts right from where the holy text is placed in every household – it's always found on the highest shelves, above all other books. In many families, the holy book is found wrapped up in beautiful embroidered velvet or silk cloth.
Before touching or reading the holy book, the ritual of washing hands, face and feet in an Islamic way is equally important.
On seeing a torn page of the Quran lying on the ground, the believers either bury it or place it somewhere away from the reach of humans or animals.
When someone recites the sacred verses, the followers of the last Abrahamic faith are expected to refrain from making any distractive noises.
Although the Quran orders Muslim to act this way, Muslims from all walks of life, no matter how well-versed they are with the book, tend to remain placid until the reader falls silent.
Therefore, any assault on the Quran is akin to stabbing the soul of Muslims. But since the leaders of Western democracies often tend to trivialise such vile acts, with the latest Quran-burning act taking place in Sweden and the Netherlands, many Muslims struggle to come to terms with such provocations.
Here's what the Quran says about dealing with hateful people like Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right Stram Kurs (Hard Line), who, on January 21, burned a copy of the Quran in Sweden under police protection.
Speaking to TRT World, Nurullah Denizer, assistant professor of Tafsir at Usak University, said that for every religion, sacred values have an essential and indispensable position in people's lives.
“For this reason, it is normal to react against people who disrespect and attack religious values. But what is important at this point is the form and limits of the reaction. The Quranic verse, 'and do not insult those they invoke other than Allāh, lest they insult Allāh in enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made pleasing to every community their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them about what they used to do”, guides believers about how this reaction should be,” Denizer said.
“The primary message given in the verse is that people should not insult each other's sacred values. However, the verse describes the reaction of the addressees as 'ignorant' and 'transcendent' in case of such a situation. It can be thought that it indicates that those who insult sacred values should not be met with understanding, but that the situation they are in should also be tried to be understood”.
The Quran has several other verses on tackling hateful people who attack Islam and its followers.
In verse 3:134, the Quran defines good Muslims as “those who restrain their anger and who forgive people.”
Many religious scholars, however, argue that the Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad could shape their response in times of dealing with events like the Quran burning and other assaults on their faith.
The Quran clearly orders Muslims to keep a distance from those who mock Muslims or Islam. In some verses, there is a strict warning, too.
For instance, take verses 6:68-69:
“When you see those who are engaged in blasphemy against Our signs, turn away from them until they begin to talk of other things; and should evil ever cause you to forget, then do not remain, after recollection, in the company of those wrong-doing people.”
“For those who are God-fearing are by no means accountable for the others except that it is their duty to admonish them; maybe then, they will shun evil.”
“The (true) servants of the Most Compassionate are those who walk on the earth humbly, and when the foolish address them ˹improperly˺, they only respond with peace” (verse 25:63).
“Good and evil cannot be equal. Repel evil with what is better, and your enemy will become as close as an intimate friend.”
Mustafa Ozel, professor of Tafsir at Fatih Sultan Mehmet Vakif University, Istanbul, told TRT World that irreligiosity robs people of common sense, which can lead to chaos in society.
"Every society and every religion has spiritual and sacred values. You may not have a positive relationship with any society or religion. However, this does not allow anyone to insult their interlocutors. First of all, it should be kept in mind that religions play a positive role in society and in inter-communal relations. In addition, it should not be forgotten that the most sensitive issues of people and societies are their religion and spiritual values," Ozel said.
“Rejecting and opposing a religion is different from insulting that religion, humiliating its concepts, symbols and resources, in a bid to try and make them worthless. People with common sense never insult their sacred values. Such a wrong attitude and behaviour lead to hostility, hatred, and violence”.
Prophet Muhammad's life is another area where Muslims can learn how to respond to hate, Ozel said.
One of the Prophet's most shared anecdotes involves an older woman who, out of hatred toward the Islamic messenger, tossed trash at him whenever he passed by her house.
As the Prophet noticed no trash being tossed into his tracks on one particular day, he inquired about the woman and learned she had been sick. He went to see her and offered help. The woman was embarrassed about her past actions. The Prophet instantly forgave her.
Another Muslim example of good prevailing over evil again involves Prophet Muhammad.
According to various hadiths, a collection of accounts of the Prophet's life, the Muslim victory over Mecca proves how Muhammad abstained from taking vengeance on his relatives, who had tortured him and his companions until they were forced to take refuge in Medina.
After defeating his rivals, mainly the members of the powerful ruling clan called Quraysh, the Prophet entered Mecca and asked them: "O Quraysh, what do you think of the treatment that I should accord you? They said: “Mercy, O Prophet of Allah. We expect nothing but good from you.”
“I speak to you in the same words as Yûsuf spoke to his brothers. This day there is no reproof against you; Go your way, you are free,” responded the Prophet as per the hadith.