On Saturday, September 11, a Florida minister, Terry Jones, together with 50 of his followers, is planning an act of religious hatred and intolerance, the public burning of copies of the Qur'an (the Muslim holy scriptures containing the words of the prophet Muhammad). This hateful act has been widely condemned around the world, and reminds many of us of the infamous burning of Jewish books by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages (most existing copies of the Talmud were burnt in the 13th century) and of the burning of all Jewish books in Germany under Nazi rule in the 1930s. Thank God both the Church and Germany have evolved a long way since those infamous acts!!! So now we have some extremist Protestants doing this (and of course most Christians reject this kind of hatred, just as most American Moslems reject the hatred spread by some Muslim extremists in the Middle East), and leaders of the Republican Party are declining to condemn them, according to media reports today Sept. 8th.
In response, NSP (our Network of Spiritual Progressives) is calling on all our members and friends to quickly organize reinterfaith public readings of the Qur'an on the same day. Please reach out to members of every religious community, and none, to join with you in doing this act of solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters. You may find that other groups in your community have already planned this--so then join with them and let them know that the NSP stands with them.
In the SF Bay Area, we will be reading Koran at an event organized by many local groups which will take place at Ohlone Park, in Berkeley on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 at 3:15 PM. Meet at the corner of Sacramento and Delaware at 3:15. We shall all symbolically stand with Muslim Americans and read aloud in English parts of the Qur'an, affirming that we will not stand by silently while others perpetrate un-American acts of hate in the name of patriotism or religion. Unfortunately, because it is Shabbat and I don't ride on the Sabbath, I won't personally be able to be there. But we will read from the Koran at our Rosh Hashanah service as our act of public solidarity (www.beyttikkun.org).
All people -- of any faith or no faith -- are welcome to join us. We will read and discuss the Qur'an for about 30-45 minutes. The official event will then end, but some of us may choose to stay and share our thoughts and feelings.
The park has facilities to entertain children while parents take part in the reading and discussion.
September 11 this year for Jews is Shabbat Shuvah, the Sabbath of returning and renewal between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. September 11th this year is also just after the last day of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, prayer, purification, forgiveness and renewal. Materials about Ramadan will also be available for people to learn about this important Muslim observance. Please join us in standing up for religious coexistence and for the celebration of what we all can learn from people of varied faiths.
Shana Tova u'metuka--a good and sweet year to all. Mubarak Eid. Many blessings!