Skip to navigationSkip to content

Dear Americans trying to torch Qurans: You’re doing it wrong

Reuters/Esam Omran Al-Fetori
Light reading.
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

It was 70º in our nation’s capital this weekend. I’m sure lots of Washingtonians had plans. Eddie Spiker and Brandie Seagrove did, too.

They’re the co-creators of a Facebook event called The Quran Roast of DC. Despite their event’s name, the duo were not planning to invite the New Testament to deliver a few good-natured jokes at the Quran’s expense. No, they were planning to burn a Quran outside the White House.

But as Seagrove wrote disappointedly (and disjointedly) on the group’s page, “There was a meeting yesterday [sic] there will be no burning of any thing the Quran or any Isis flags federal law prohibits anybody from burning anything on federal property it is a $25,000 fine and up to five years in federal prison for the people that did the burning.”

Then Facebook took down the page itself. On behalf of America’s Muslims (an authority I granted myself), I’d like to say: I wish you could have burned the Quran.

Facebook/Haroon Moghul

Not just because I believe in everyone’s right to free speech. Not just because there’s no better way to prove one’s racist, fascist credentials than by organizing a book burning. (Pro tip: Keep the long white robes and pointy hoods away from the fire.) But because I’m actually not opposed to Quran burning. In fact, in some contexts I welcome it.

The last Quran burning I attended was roughly 30 years ago, but its location stands out in my mind: a mosque.

The Muslim Bonfire

In order to successfully indoctrinate me into the hateful death cult that is my religion when I was still a young boy, my parents brought me once a week to our nearest mosque. There I learned the basics, including prayer and ablutions, and recitations of the Quran in Arabic. (Fun fact: I’m not Arabic, because I’m not a language.)

One fine Sunday morning, a teacher interrupted my recitations. He knew the entire Quran by heart, so he didn’t even need to glance at his copy to know that I was doing it wrong. He accused me of mispronouncing a word. But my copy said that I was right.

My teacher had to do what faithful Muslims must in these situations: he lit my Quran on fire.

After checking several more Qurans, we determined my copy was in error. It had a typo. A spelling mistake. Just a single one. But that’s a big deal when you believe that each word in a book is the literal word of God. And so my teacher had to do what faithful Muslims must in these situations: he lit my Quran on fire.

It’s ironic, isn’t it? In the US, it’s become fashionable to display disgust or disrespect for a given work by burning it. But when Qurans are damaged, unreadable, or contain any kind of typographic error, they can be disposed of by being buried, burned, or, more recently, recycled. I mention this because I think my enraged, frustrated fellow American citizens should be aware of their error. I understand that they want to insult my religion, but it’s kind of embarrassing (for them) that the strategy they chose to proclaim their hate was unintentionally reverent.

Or perhaps, was there something more satirical afoot here? Could it be that the people who came up with the idea of burning a Quran in front of the White House are secretly Muslim? If so (and since they’re clearly a fellow member of the undercover Muslims club) tell Barack I said “salam.”

📬 A periodic dispatch from the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly in NYC.

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.