"Insulting the Quran is an act of blasphemy"
"We will hold sacred the beliefs held sacred by others"
The latest advisory to our soldiers and contractors fighting jihad in Afghanistan and Iraq will turn your stomach. Imagine, this is what our boys and girls are up against from their "superiors." Between this and impossible rules of engagement, our soldiers are sitting ducks. Bring them home.
What follows is the threat that accompanied the Islamic instructional.
Subject: Mandatory Training
Please see attached training module, this training is mandatory and must be completed by all onsite personnel by 10 March 2012. For any personnel scheduled to leave before this training is due, the training must be done and reported to Operations prior to travel. All departments will be required to scan all sign in sheets to Operations for accountability purposes; the departments will be required to keep these documents on hand for any record keeping purposes.
Proper Handling and Disposal of Islamic Religious Materials Service Members/Civilian Training “Notes”
Slide 1 - Proper Handling and Disposal of Islamic Religious Materials
Years of successful relationship building can be undermined by a single careless incident such as the event that took place on 21 FEB 2012. Muslim holy books were burned in a pile of garbage at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan after being removed from a library at a nearby detention center.
When remnants of the burned books were discovered by Afghan workers, more than 2,000 angry Afghans protested outside of Bagram Air Base. “Die, die, foreigners!” the demonstrators shouted. Some fired rifles into the air. Others threw rocks at the gate of the base and set tires ablaze.
As the crowd grew, so did the outrage. One protester said if U.S. forces can’t bring peace to Afghanistan they should go home. “They should leave Afghanistan rather than disrespecting our religion, our faith,” one man said. “They have to leave, and if next time they disrespect our religion, we will defend our holy Quran, religion and faith until the last drop of blood has left in our body.”
It is vital for every member of Coalition Forces to be equipped so that incidents such as this do not occur again.
Slide 2 - Commander’s Intent
PURPOSE: conduct training on the proper handling and disposal of Islamic Religious Materials
METHOD: training to increase awareness of cultural and religious sensitivities regarding Islamic Religious Materials
END STATE: US personnel will be equipped to appropriately handle and process Islamic Religious Materials
Slide 3 – What Is the Quran?
The vast majority of Afghans are Muslim (99%) and practice Islam. The Quran is Islam’s Sacred Book. The text—in its original Arabic—is considered the literal word of God. It is the foundation of Muslim society and the main source of law and theology.
The Quran is regarded as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language. It is composed of 114 Suras (chapters) made up of verses (ayahs). Arabic is read from right to left and from front to back, just opposite of a text written in English. The text of the Quran is about as long as the New Testament.
Muslims believe the Quran was revealed to Muhammad by God through the angel Gabriel in a period that spans twenty-three years beginning in 610 CE.
Muslims believe the Quran has survived to present times in its original form and is God’s final revelation to humanity.
Slide 4 - Identifying a Quran
Because Muslims believe the Quran is the literal word of God, they treat all copies of book with extreme veneration. Every complete copy, or even partial passages, are considered holy. This includes verses that have been hand-written and that include the name of God. It is considered culturally insensitive for any non-Muslim to touch a copy of the Quran. Even Muslims are supposed to perform ablution (a ritualistic hand washing) before holding the Quran.
Quran verses need not be in a book or even on paper to be sacred to Muslims. You will likely not be able to read the highly decorative script in Arabic. Use your interpreter to identify Qurans or Quranic verses.
Slide 5 - Cultural Sensitivity
Verbal disrespect for Islam and/or the Quran is considered as inappropriate as physical desecration of the Quran. Insulting the Quran is an act of blasphemy.
Expect to encounter a copy of the Quran of other Islamic Religious Materials when you search a person’s belongings or home. Ask the person or homeowner to remove the sacred text or place it in a secure location before conducting a search.
Insurgents will use even perceived disrespect to Islam and/or the Quran to their advantage to substantiate their claim that NATO ISAF forces are dishonoring Afghan religious and cultural values.
Slide 6 - Handling the Quran
Non-Muslims should NEVER handle an Arabic version of the Quran.
While non-Muslims are permitted to handle a translation of the Quran, one should make it a general practice to treat all religious materials with extraordinary respect.
If in the performance of your duty, you are required to handle a Quran or other Islamic Religious Material, you should use a clean cloth or clean gloves.
It is important to recognize that even partial copies or hand-written verses of the Quran are equally sacred and must be handled in the same manner.
Slide 7 - Handling the Quran
These points emphasize some of the significant measures that Muslims follow when handling their own sacred text.
Slide 8 - Handling the Quran
Photo from 21 FEB 2012 event at BAF.
As well as the Quran, service members may come in contact with other Islamic Religious Materials. These may include the Sunnah (Islamic guidance based on the behavior of the Prophet Muhammad), the Hadiths (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad on various major and minor issues), or various other printed or hand-written religious materials.
Slide 9 - Disposal of Islamic Religious Materials
This slide describes the appropriate procedure for dealing with discovered Islamic Religious Materials: Secure, Notify, Validate, Contact, Transfer
Remember when securing items that you must still use proper procedures when handling Islamic Religious Materials, even if you are not certain of the exact nature of the materials you are have discovered. Proper handling ensures no offense will be given should these materials be deemed sacred in nature.
Notify your chain of command concerning the discovery and location of potential Islamic Religious Materials, the need to validate their identity, and the necessity of contacting an ANA Religious Cultural Affairs (RCA) Officer, similar to US chaplain. (The ANA has an RCA Officer Program. Although the RCA Officer Program differs from the U.S. Military Chaplaincy, part of its mission is Religious Support, as the ANA’s religious officers and clerics. Hence the role of the RCA Officer is critical in ensuring an Afghan lead in RLL/E operations. RCA Officers are uniquely qualified members of the ANA, representing their command).
The respectful assistance that we provide in the transfer of these materials to an ANA RCA officer or local religious leaders communicates our respect and value for what Afghans hold sacred and may significantly contribute toward diffusing a potentially volatile situation.
Slide 10 - Disposal of Islamic Religious Materials
While this slide describes the proper method for disposing of Islamic Religious Materials, the take-away is that US personnel WILL NOT dispose of Islamic religious Materials.
Islamic Religious Support Materials brought into the CJOA-A by US Forces are handled with an awareness of Islamic and cultural sensitivities and will only be retrograded from the theater in accordance with USFOR-A policy. They should not be disposed of in any other fashion.
Slide 11 - Conclusion
When in doubt, contact your chaplain! Questions