Burn Quran Day and My City Gainesville

07 Sep

As many of you know I live in Gainesville. Among whom who don’t know many will hear this city’s name in few days, unfortunately, for a wrong reason. Recently a church named Dove Church, reportedly having less than a hundred members, announced that they want to burn the Quran (Koran).  I know what you will be thinking, or at least among many of you, there will be disbelief and anger. I want you to control your anger and listen.

Three and a half years in Gainesville and today for the first time I am little afraid. I live in fear of how my country men will react. Will they morph into the lynching crowd of Sialkot? Will they burn fast food restaurants as they did when protesting against caricatures killing two of their own country men or will they set cars and buses on fire? Will they become the monsters the Dove Church envisages Muslims to be?

Muslims of Gainesville need you to remain calm, remember that this does not represent America, this does not represent Florida and this does not represent Gainesville. It is one of the most diverse and welcoming city you can find.  Three and a half years in this city and I have not met one person who has discriminated against me for being Pakistani or being Muslim. My face does not hide from where I am and my name is quite indicative of what my beliefs are.

I want you to remember that this action is being done by a fringe group. Remember that this is not a global conspiracy against Islam; these are just few hate mongers trying to get attention.

Just let me give you a little history: previously this pastor tried to pull of a stunt by asking school-going children of his congregation to wear shirts with “Islam is of the Devil” written over them. Before this no one knew of them. Even before the Muslim community became aware, that school’s administration asked those students to either change their shirts or cover them. This event pushed the Gainesville community to re-introduce school uniforms. Rest of the community in Gainesville, both Muslim and non-Muslim, reacted against it peacefully.

There is one more reason – I have not seen before Muslims of Gainesville as united, as energetic and as active. And Gainesville community supports us; they are against this hateful act. From the day this pastor has announced this program, we are getting support from all-around. Muslim Community of Gainesville has decided that they will not protest. We will respond by servicing the community. On that day we will be having multiple events to help the people of Gainesville who need us. There will be a food drive for the homeless, blood drive and book collection drive.  On other days we are having doing community outreach, having Koran 101 day and opening our Masajids to anyone who wants to come and ask any question.

Why are not we protesting? Because it does not deliver anything, it’s useless and it can result in confrontation. Confrontation is one thing we don’t want. And we don’t want Muslims living away from America to become violent. Your violence, smoke coming out of burning tires and effigies will only harm image of Muslims. We, Muslims of Gainesville, are setting example of how to react intelligently and peacefully; please help us.

I know you are hurt, but will anger go away by doing what we do? Don’t burn things; don’t come out shouting in the streets, drying your throats. There are many things you can do; Pakistan is going from worst crisis now, why not have Largest Donation Day? Or Biggest Blood Collection Drive? Many schools have been destroyed; why not get money for one School?

If you want to show your anger, do it by sending letters. Write letters to the American Embassy, to White House and if you want to Dove Church, telling them to read Book not Burn it.  Educate people about Islam.

Many people will ask why they are allowed to do it. They will say it because they are being allowed this means American Govt. is involved. Remember this is the country, where you can burn the flag of this country, where you can say you favor Hitler and not get arrested.

Most of you know these things and understand the Freedom of Expression comes with the extra responsibility of bearing ignorance, but most of our fellow citizens don’t understand it. Please educate them. Don’t let this become opportunity for radicals and extremists.


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30 responses to “Burn Quran Day and My City Gainesville

  1. abualiarain

    September 7, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    You have presented a thought provoking and sensible approach. I second you (Y)

    • mohsenali

      September 7, 2010 at 6:33 pm

      Thanks abualiarain, but I can’t take credit for this approach. Muslim community (with help of many people of different faiths and no-faiths) in Gainesville is working very hard to make it a peaceful effort.

  2. Haseeb

    September 7, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Nice… Good luck. I hope your words find a way in ignorant minds.

    • mohsenali

      September 7, 2010 at 6:31 pm

      thanks Haseeb

  3. hillgirly0

    September 7, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    As a conservative Christian. A disciple of Christ I denounce the words and actions of the Dove World Outreach center. The center of ignorance in Florida. They do not know Christ.
    Christ would have us LOVE. Burning books does not promote love and it besmirches the name of Christ Himself.

    Thank you for your thoughtful article.

    Marianne in California

    • mohsenali

      September 7, 2010 at 8:20 pm

      Thanks Marianne, you are right “Burning books does not promote love”. I hope others understand it too.

      • Sheraz

        September 9, 2010 at 1:26 pm

        I admire and appreciate your approach.
        Almighty Allah has promised that Quran will be protected by our lord.

        I have signed a petition against burning Quran but of course, we shall not resort to any violence.

        Good luck brother.

    • Sohaib

      September 8, 2010 at 3:05 am

      I second your thoughts Marianne, but in general what is out there…When we respond in defence of our religion, we are labelled as radicals. But this jingoist and heinous crime of desecrating another religion is apparently justified as far as the Christians are concerned. What kind of people are these?
      Do they know what our beliefs even are?? Islam preaches peace. The Quran calls Christian…s “people of the Book”, a title given only to those of another faith who are closest to Muslims. We have been commanded to esteem Jesus, which the Quran declares to be one of the most pious and righteous of men.
      Think of it this way: Do Muslims ever threaten to burn the Bible every time there is a drone attack or bomb blast in any Muslim country?

      • mohsenali

        September 8, 2010 at 4:55 am

        Sohaib, actually that’s the point I wanted to present that this is not representative of “Christian”. Today from University Radio to a normal person on the street with whom one talks was against such action.
        Today people representing Christian, a Jew and a Muslim went to the City Hall to relay their concerns against this event. In a meeting organized by University, one “White American” was saying “it appears Muslims have taken high road”; they are going to protest infront of Dove Church even when Muslim Community has decided to not to protest or be present there.
        Sohaib, we here are educating people about Islam and Muslim, I request people outside America to educate people around you to how to respond peacefully.

  4. Nik

    September 8, 2010 at 1:30 am

    I have followed with concern what the Dove Center’s plans. I am from the sub continent myself and have seen how fragile the peace between communities is. But the perspective you give of repercussions back home, was something I hadn’t considered. I believed rather naively that no media attention would be better as this is more a publicity stunt. Thank you for this point of view.

    I sincerely hope that your call to no reaction to this act is heard. All the words of god preach kindness and no act of intolerance can have sanction, either divine, religious or political. Over the next few days, your patience will be the light in which hopefully many will follow. In every step, please remember we stand by you, in word, spirit and action, praying in different languages to gods in different names, that hate never spreads.

    Thank you and god be with you.

  5. bythetranquildiamondorchards

    September 8, 2010 at 3:27 am

    A very nice piece of writing. Ur prose will be an inspiration to prove that peace is the best possible way of protest.
    I respect ur essence of peace and non-violence and the maturity in ur prose.

  6. MickyG

    September 8, 2010 at 5:22 am

    Great approach. The best way to exemplify Islam is a religion of peace is not by becoming intolerant and violent. And this kind of approach will have a large impact on both sides of the aisle if it comes from a true Muslim like you, not from outside Islam.

    I am an atheist, but am very proud of you!

  7. Passive Inhaler

    September 8, 2010 at 7:57 am

    A very Noble sentiment indeed of peaceful retaliation, which is easily expressed in the comfort of your home behind closed doors while turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering that has been caused by the US and now to turn all that into a joke??… all this makes u wonder, were all those conspiracy theories right??… “operation Iraqi Freedom”?? …Yess, By all means free the muslims of oppression, only to make a mockery of them by burning the only thing that they value more then life!… All the times the muslim world has been ridiculed for being barbaric for burning flags… huh, what a joke!… Do you even understand the magnitude of the situation??/.. they are basically saying “we really dont givv a shit abt u” through their “freedom of speech” Bullshit… so, you might be willing to put on a Diaper and a Pacifier to show the world how much of a man you are!… I really don’t think the world will see through your eyes…

    • mohsenali

      September 8, 2010 at 1:40 pm

      Passive Inhaler, comfort of your home behind closed doors? really? Sir/Madam it’s not a decision by me, it’s decision by Muslim Community of Gainesville, a city where this is happening. We are here.

      And “They” do care. Question here is who is “They”? “They” are huge majority of this city. Are we so weak that 30 bad people out thousands of good people can make us go mad?
      Food For Thought: Do you know in many parts of the World, to burn a Quran is considered a valid way of disposing it? I know it’s not considered in Subcontinent but it is considered in many other parts of Muslim world.

      • Passive Inhaler

        September 8, 2010 at 6:05 pm

        “to burn a Quran is considered a valid way of disposing it?”…Yes, i’m sure thats whts really going through their minds when they are burning the quran!!… So are you tryin to say they are doin us a favor by burnin the quran???… Common man “GROW UP”!!…They maybe 30 people doin it, but millions behind them letting it happen!… I understand the muslim community of gainsville must continue to live under oppression because its too difficult to take off your pacifiers and stand face to face with oppression… you should start your own little Diaper community where you can go ahead and preach the art of being Gandhi with pacifiers!…But, do the world a favor and stop imposing your self righteous crap on it…This ACT is an insult to all the muslims worldwide and most of us have suffered greatly under the hand of US, all in the name of “freedom” and “justice”…

      • mohsenali

        September 8, 2010 at 7:10 pm

        No I am not saying they are doing us favor. Because Intentions matter a lot than action and their Intention is to incite Muslims. Should we play directly into his hand?
        I was only pointing out disposing, because I remembered about 10 years back mob in Pakistan killed a Muslim doctor, who mistakenly burned pages Quran in his yard, while trying to get rid of some of the other papers. I was pointing out how what we think wrong could be acceptable way for other people; even when both are Muslims.
        So is our and others concept of Freedom of Expression.

        As “Letting it happen”, there are many Non-Muslim organizations and individuals who have announced that they will going to protest against the Quran Burning. In what category you will put them? Oppressors?

        As for Grow Up, …. I think that’s what we all need right now, to Grow Up.

  8. Faraz

    September 8, 2010 at 10:42 am

    This is exactly how every Muslim should respond. Thank you Mohsen and the Muslims of Gainesville for setting an example.

    • mohsenali

      September 8, 2010 at 1:41 pm

      Thanks Faraz

  9. Al

    September 8, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    @Passive Inhaler.
    Brother you are angry and I’m sure every Muslim who hears about this will be. But I do not agree with the idea you are promoting here. Our whole idea of “standing up” to this has become somewhat distorted. You gave examples of Gandhi in your own way but have you forgotten the example set by our own Prophet? Did he ever go on to destroy others’ property or valuables? NO! It doesn’t prove that you are the brave one if you go one damaging your own countrymen’s property. It is stupidity. If you really are brave, pray to God. It is God’s religion and I’m sure he knows better than all of us how to protect it. The best thing for us to be to pray to God to protect the religion He has blessed us with.

  10. sf

    September 9, 2010 at 3:13 am

    very interesting reading. Islam is a religion of peace and what you brave muslims of Gainsville are showing is the true religion of Islam our prayers will be with you on that day and may Allah S.W.A. open the pastors heart at the right time

  11. Viru

    September 9, 2010 at 3:43 am

    I feel the best response is to ignore it. It will go to show that the Muslim community in Gainesville is matured.

  12. Sofia Ashraf

    September 9, 2010 at 4:31 am

    @ Passive Inhaler
    A1 makes a brilliant point. Do you remember what had happened when the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) went to the city of Taif? He had rocks thrown at him. Yet when the angel Jibreel asked him whether the city must be crushed, the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) asked to forgive them. Let us learn by his example. Islam is too strong and too beautiful a religion to be destroyed by a few books being burnt or a few people speaking rubbish. Even if millions were to blaspheme about the religion, I don’t think it should have the power to do anything…unless you believe Islam isn’t strong enough to withstand it.

  13. Fahad Nari

    September 9, 2010 at 5:01 am

    Very nice and thought provoking approach. I wish ppl all around the world could handle communal issues is such a sensible manner. You guys are setting a very nice example for the larger crowd to follow.

  14. Shoaib Faruqi

    September 9, 2010 at 10:21 am

    This is exactly what needs to be done. Very well written.

    I pray that the Muslims all over the world show restraint and tolerance.

  15. Syed Mohsin

    September 9, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Love and Support from India Sister =)

    May Allah Guide them ! Ameen . All i can do for this is Pray ! Power of prayer , The best Medicine !

  16. Arjun

    September 9, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    A friend of mine had posted this on his facebook news feed. I myself am an Indian, currently living in the US, but that really is unimportant here.

    I must congratulate you on finding such a wonderful, humane and strong response to the idiocy and madness that is the bedrock of hateful acts such as book burnings.

    Kudos to you all.

  17. Saad

    September 9, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Well said. Thank you Mohsen for your insight, opinion and advice.

  18. peace lover

    September 10, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Awesome approach! You guys are setting an example of peaceful way to handle sensitive issues. There is a lot for the world to learn from you people.

  19. Project

    September 18, 2010 at 3:20 am

    Dear sir, AOA,

    “Muslim Community of Gainesville has decided that they will not protest. We will respond by servicing the community. …”

    Good for you and Gainesville for not falling into the well-laid trap of the hectoring hegemons!

    Protest has many forms, least of which is to yell in the streets which has been not only shown to have zero efficacy, but also easily infiltrated by agent-provocateurs to further enhance the mantras they want to show to be empirical. Like the flag-burning pictures they project on mainstream tv to show that the “clash of civilizations” – nay, “Not a Clash of Civilizations, It’s a Clash between the Civilized World and Barbarians” – is imminent.


    The matters of “imperial mobilization” are steeped in political science, and only that can derail the mantras, and the war-mongering. You have taken a good political science step.

    For some realpolitik with real teeth that the American people can even begin to reclaim their nation back, see

    All the best,

    Zahir Ebrahim


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