African faiths are not dogmatic
Stabroek News
March 5, 2002

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Dear Editor,

I refer to Mr Mohammed Shabeer Zafar's letter captioned "Third Caliph made official collection" [ please note: links provided by LOSP web site ] (SN, 25.2.02) in reply to mine of 15.2.02.

I thank Mr Zafar for the correction that it was the third Caliph, Uthman and not the first, Abu Bakr, who destroyed all the other versions of the Quran which were in circulation except the one which he felt was the real thing. I would however emphasize that Mr Zafar does not dispute that there were several versions of the Quran in circulation during the time of the third Caliph and that they were all destroyed except the one the Caliph chose to retain.

Unfortunately, my letter of 15.2.02 was edited and so the point I was making seemed to have been lost on Mr Zafar. I was pointing out that:

(a) Since all other versions of the Quran were destroyed by the Caliph except the one he chose to retain (i.e. the current one), there remains a lingering doubt in the minds of those who are aware of this historical incident of book destruction, that it could have been a more authentic version of the Quran which was destroyed.

(b) That from earliest times there has been a strong Islamic tradition that Iblis (Satan) was able to slip in a number of verses into the Quran. Salman Rusdie's famous book "Satanic Verses" mentions this tradition.

Accordingly, taking (a) and (b) into account, there are several questions as to the authenticity and integrity of the Quran still to be considered.

Further, I pointed out that Muslims regard the Quran with excessive devotion as compared with Christians for their crucifixes and Madonnas and Bibles and our African Faiths for their various icons. If someone tore up a Bible and threw the leaves on the ground and walked on them, or destroyed a Cross or an African idol, that is no big thing. But if someone tears up a Quran and walks on the pages, Muslims will kill you for this since they have an inordinate devotion to this book.

I would reiterate that our African Faiths, because they are not dogmatic or do not insist on a harsh, finite monotheism, and have no inordinate devotion to idols, whether in the form of man, animal or book, would never have the embarrassments which Islam and Christianity have to face.

Yours faithfully,

Accabre Nkofi