Is there any political group of Muslims who advocate the right to do things like burn the Quran, ie, because they believe in free speech, or that non-Muslims are not bound to the religious expectations of practicing Muslims, etc.?

As opposed to Muslims who oppose the public burning of the Quran or depicting of Muhammad, regardless of the intention or reason why.

For reference, this Islam SE question is nearly identical to my own.

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    Maybe also ask at islam.stackexchange.com I fear there may not be enough expertise on Islam here. It might also make sense to generalize the question to "which Muslims do support freedom of expression" also burning some symbol and saying what you want to say isn't exactly the same. Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 8:25
  • I have learned that there are modernist Muslims and a group of Muslims called Quranists who only observe the words of the Quran and not the Hadith. As far as I know the Quran does not mention that one should not burn the Quran, so I surmise modernist Muslims and quranists may stand in favor of this. Commented Mar 11 at 8:30
  • Then some cited sources demonstrating the existence of these modernist Muslims along with a statement that they do not observe the Hadith and your interpretation what implications that has would be a valid answer, I think. Others would probably then argue that these may not be "true" Muslims, but it's up to the question (you) to define who is or isn't for the purpose of the question. If you answer then please also edit the question and make sure that it's clear that these groups would be included in the question for the purposes of asking it. Commented Mar 11 at 9:09

6 Answers 6


I know one, but it isn't very active: Democratic Muslims

They were created in Denmark after The cartoon crisis

One of their most important focus areas are freedom of speech, but I guess some muslims would consider them non-muslims because of their priorities.

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    "...some muslims would consider them non-muslims because of their priorities..." Is there maybe a commonly used definition of muslim that doesn't depend on the recognition of others that could be applied here? Probably not and that would make the question unanswerable but just asking. Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 8:29
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    I can see there currently is a question about the burning on the islam forum. islam.stackexchange.com/questions/79908/… Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 10:54
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    @NoDataDumpNoContribution I imagine its much like Christians, Sikhs or Scotsmen - you'll always find those who believe others aren't truly part of their group because they don't quite conform to their ideals. Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 12:52
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    @LioElbammalf Subjective definitions just make answering questions unnecessary difficult. The question here should define Muslim and then we can start answering according to that definition. Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 12:57
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    @NoDataDumpNoContribution It doesn't really need to, if a group self-identifies as Muslim in good faith there's no reason to try to decide whether they're really Muslim. Otherwise the question will be derailed by trying to decide that criteria. Voters can not upvote an answer if they don't think the group is appropriately classed. Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 2:35

Muslim's hold the Qu'ran to be sacred so to desecrate it would be seen as somebody who is publically denouncing Islam and hence by someone who is no longer a muslim.

But to be precise, a muslim remains a muslim so long as he does not renounce a belief in Allah. But given that the Qu'ran is understood as the uncreated speech of Allah, it would be deeply hypocritical to believe oneself a muslim whilst desecratimg their holy book. Thus one would merely think them either insane, and therefore not responsible for their actions or merely muslim in name but not muslim in the heart and head - where it counts.

I expect there is a tension for western born muslims, who understand the rationale for free speech but also hold onto their religion and hold the Qu'ran sacred.

Free speech is not an absolute right. It's circumscribed by many laws including that of hate speech. Instead of targetting the Qu'ran, these provacateurs, which is what they are, really could do better by targetting actual issues in the muslim community that the community could do better. But of course this takes a lot of work whilst burning the Qu'ran is easy amd you get a lot of people riled up and talkimg and plenty of column inches.

Personally, I see it as a form of hate speech.

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    There are many things that I consider hypocritical, or simply bad, but which are not illegal, and which I don't think should be illegal. There may be some Muslims who believe that burning Qu'ran is a bad thing to do, who certainly wouldn't do it themselves, but who wouldn't want this to be considered illegal by the State.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 14:49
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    @Evargalo: Why not? Many European countries, when they were Christian, had laws against blasphemy. Or are you disowning European history? Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 15:08
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    I think there are many Christians (and Muslims, and Atheists, and others...) who don't want their government to have laws against blasphemy. In my country (of Christian tradition) there is no such law nowadays. The OP's question is whether some Muslims do also disagree about having against burning holy books, and I'm afraid your answer doesn't answer that.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 16:16
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    @Evargalo: Sure I did, I implied muslims who agree that the Qu'ran can be desecrated aren't taking their Islam seriously and wpuld probably be characterised by the vast majority as non-muslims and hypocrites. Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 16:44
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    I think this is arguing the "no true Muslim would support others' right to desecrate a Quran" position, but I don't think you ever say that explicitly, is that right? Whether or not it's hate speech or should be allowed isn't the question asked. Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 12:19

According to the definition of the religion of Islam, the religion of Islam cannot be inherited by birth. Someone becomes Muslim only by their actions, both in public and in private.

Therefore, if someone supports Qur'an burning for the purpose of desecrating it, they are not a Muslim. They might have a Muslim-sounding name, but, they are not a Muslim.

If a Muslim desecrates the Quran then they commit kufr and become an apostate. This should be self-evident. Because desecration of a text implies that the perpetrator disagrees and condemns its contents, which is kufr by definition.

Further, for example, mocking and hating the Quran has been explicitly declared as Kufr. Desecrating a copy of the Quran is a way of expressing mockery and hatred for the revelation and verses of Allah.

قل أبالله وآياته ورسوله كنتم تستهزئون لا تعتذروا قد كفرتم بعد إيمانكم

Say, "Is it Allah and His verses and His Messenger that you were mocking?" Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after your belief.

Quran 9:65-66

والذين كفروا فتعسا لهم وأضل أعمالهم ذلك بأنهم كرهوا ما أنزل الله فأحبط أعمالهم

But those who disbelieve - for them is misery, and He will waste their deeds. That is because they disliked what Allah revealed, so He rendered worthless their deeds.

Quran 47:8

إذا أهان المسلم مصحفا متعمدا مختارا يكون مرتدا ويقام عليه حد الردة وقد اتفق الفقهاء على ذلك

If any Muslim intentionally and willingly disrespects a mushaf then he shall become an apostate and the hadd punishment of apostasy will apply to him. This is agreed upon by the jurists.

Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah

The punishment for apostasy is execution:

من بدل دينه فاقتلوه

Whoever changes his religion, kill him.


Next, as far as desecration done by non-muslims is concerned:

Islam voids pacts (such as peace treaties and dhimma status) and prescribes fighting against those who revile the religion:

وإن نكثوا أيمانهم من بعد عهدهم وطعنوا في دينكم فقاتلوا أئمة الكفر

And if they break their oaths after their treaty and defame your religion, then fight the leaders of disbelief

Quran 9:12

( وطعنوا في دينكم )

أي : عابوه وانتقصوه . ومن هاهنا أخذ قتل من سب الرسول ، صلوات الله وسلامه عليه ، أو من طعن في دين الإسلام أو ذكره بتنقص

(and attack your religion...) with disapproval and criticism, it is because of this that one who curses the Messenger, peace be upon him, or attacks the religion of Islam by way of criticism and disapproval, they are to be fought.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir

Desecrating the Quran is an extreme form of reviling Islam, hence it would fall under the same ruling.

Islam also prescribes taking precautions to prevent desecration of the Quran. Among which is that selling a copy of the Quran to a non-Muslim, or carrying it to a hostile non-muslim land is forbidden. This being a precaution against any non-muslims disrespecting it.

أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم نهى أن يسافر بالقرآن إلى أرض العدو

Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) forbade the people to travel to a hostile country carrying (copies of) the Qur'an.


Using the law of induction we can say that, If a Muslim cannot support the Qur'an burning, they cannot support the right to burn the Qur'an.

Therefore, a Muslim supporting the right to burn Qur'an is a paradox.

Therefore, this question is inherently contradictory.

  1. Disposing of the Quran by burning is disagreed upon. There are madhabs (schools) who consider it forbidden or makruh.

  2. Disposal only applies to an unusable deteriorating copy. The reason is that fragments of the pages can break off and then be inadvertently trampled or mix with filth. Hence disposal methods are permitted as a way to ensure respect of the book. No one permits burning a usable copy of the Quran, let alone for the very purpose of disrespect.

  3. You are comparing two different things. For example, when you die it is permitted to bury your body in order to protect your dignity and the feelings of others from the effects of decomposition. But it is not permitted to bury you alive to murder you.

People often forget that they cannot visualize Islam with a Western mindset just like you cannot apply English grammar to the Chinese language.

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There is no definition for a true Scotsman. Islamic scriptures offer a precise definition for a Muslim.

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Your query is based on a misinterpretation of the hadith:

سباب المسلم فسوق، وقتاله كفر

Abusing a Muslim is Fusuq and fighting him is Kufr

The view of the Ahl as-Sunnah is that committing a sin, such as murder or fighting, is not Kufr by itself. As evidence for that, consider e.g. the verse of the Quran:

وإن طائفتان من المؤمنين اقتتلوا فأصلحوا بينهم And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two.

— Quran 49:9

In this verse Allah calls both parties who have fought each other as 'believers', which would be false if they had committed Kufr by fighting each other.

Similarly consider the verse:

كتب عليكم القصاص في القتلى ... فمن عفي له من أخيه شيء Prescribed for you is legal retribution for those murdered ... But whoever overlooks from his brother anything ...

— Quran 2:178

Here Allah calls the killer and the family of the victim as 'brothers'. This would be false if the killer had become a disbeliever by committing the murder. Similarly forgiving by the victim's family would not suffice to spare the life of the murderer rather it should have been contingent on him reverting to Islam.

Hence, the hadith وقتاله كفر has a meaning other than what you have inferred. It may mean either one of the following:

It is implicitly talking about one who commits murder while considering it lawful to do so. Such a person has committed Kufr as he has denied the teachings of Islam.

It means that fighting\killing a Muslim is like disbelief. Because it is a deed that is typically done by disbelievers. This is a warning about the severity of the deed, i.e. it is similar to the actions of the disbelievers.

Kufr has meanings other than disbelief. Here it could be used in the meaning of 'being ungrateful' to Allah.


وأما قتاله بغير حق فلا يكفر به عند أهل الحق كفرا يخرج به من الملة كما قدمناه في مواضع كثيرة إلا إذا استحله فإذا تقرر هذا فقيل في تأويل الحديث أقوال أحدها أنه في المستحل والثاني أن المراد كفر الاحسان والنعمة وأخوة الاسلام لاكفر الجحود والثالث أنه يؤول إلى الكفر بشؤمه والرابع أنه كفعل الكفار والله أعلم

— Sharah Nawawi

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    There's a huge difference between supporting behavior versus tolerating behavior one personally feels is wrong. This answer perfectly illustrates why Popper wrote that “in order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance.” Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 9:28
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    The question asks about supporting the right to burn the qu'ran, this answer is about supporting the act of burning the qur'an. As such, it is not an answer to the question. Or does the qu'ran spell out explicit legal punishments for people who desecrate it?
    – xyldke
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 10:19
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    @IllusiveBrian The edit came in after my comment. I considered removing it, but then again, in the cited surah the fighting only pertains those who broke treaties with the Muslims. "They are to be fought" is part of a Tafsir, an interpretation that is subject to debate and revision and may not be believed by all muslims (unlike the text of the Qu'ran itself, as Rusi explained).
    – xyldke
    Commented Aug 3, 2023 at 13:18
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    This answer sounds to me like a "no true scotsman" argument.
    – Philipp
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 10:32
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    Regardless of implications, this looks to be a well-researched answer. Whether it is correct, I think hinges on two things. One, how clear-cut and watertight is the definition of 'Muslim' in Qu'ran itself. Two, the quotes that support an aggressive response to a non-muslim's 'disrespect' of Quran seem to mainly come from interpretations of Quran rather than the core text itself. So it would depend on how much those are regarded as part of the dogma. These questions are probably best asked in the Islam Stackexchange. Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 14:33

I got no satisfying answers to my question. As usual on Politics SE, most people are incapable of giving a straight, emotionally neutral answer, but rather overly politicize everything, pick sides, chargedly advocate this or that way society must be, and often express being offended or insulted or indignant about this or that claim or insinuation they detect.

My question is extremely simple and does not come with any secret hidden messages that some people are reading into it. Like asking “Are there any countries with rainforests and mountains,” I am asking, “Are there any pro-Quran-burning Muslims.” I am asking the naivest of questions: can you provide an example of thing X which has property Y?

Some of the totally off-course answers and comments I have received are…

  • “There is something wrong with the question. It disingenuously implies bad things about Muslims.”
  • “I am Muslim, and I know a true Muslim would never believe that.”
  • “Here’s 20 pages of quotes about what the Quran says about things possibly related to how a Muslim should view Quran-burning.”
  • “Let me tell you my thoughts on the definition of “Muslim”…”
  • “Let me tell you my thoughts on what free speech truly is…”

I asked none of these things. I just wanted examples of pro-Quran burning Muslims.

There are a few resources I have found at least of Muslims who appear to have political leanings roughly in this direction:




Personally, I believe it is likely that there is at least one such Muslim in the world.


i think, people or groups that burn any of books, even more so holy Books, unable to call Muslims, or Christians, or have another honest naming.

Because these are destructive acts.

To burn holy Books is one of the most inhumanity and tyranny actions, especially if the official government let to perform it.

Those who did same acts have only one naming - Criminals. And those who let to perform that actions have only naming - Outlaws.

People and things must have their clearly namings at ground causes or base of principles, if these namings are not clear they have no any sense, then nothing have sense and everything is allowed.


Let me quickly deal with the second (minor) part of your question before we jump into the main one:

Is there any political group of Muslims who advocate the right to do things because they believe that non-Muslims are not bound to the religious expectations of practising Muslims, etc.?

Since the time of the Islamic era, when Islamic empires ruled over vast majority of non-muslims too, to modern Islamic nations today, muslims have never subscribed to the belief that non-muslims should be bound to the religious practices of Islam. This is easily apparent when you examine how non-muslims, their religion and their culture have thrived (and continue to thrive) in Islamic nations. For example, idolatry is against the tenets of Islam (and a very foundational and strong tenet), and yet, Churches and Temples are still built in many middle-east Islamic nations just as they were in the Islamic empires. Pork is forbidden to muslims and yet non-muslims have been raising pigs for food centuries even during the Islamic era, and their consumption was not prohibited to the non-muslims, nor were they treated differently for consuming it.

(The reason why people errantly and ignorantly believe that muslims like to impose their religious beliefs on others comes from the imposition of Sharia laws on non-muslims in some Islamic nations. However Sharia is simply a legal system based on Islamic values, and not an imposition of the religion itself. Like any legal systems, it has its pros and cons, but often, people only focus on the cons.)

Coming back to your main question:

Is there any political group of Muslims who advocate the right to do things like burn the Quran, ie, because they believe in free speech?

This is a loaded question about:

  1. Free speech in a democracy.
  2. Politics of religion ("Where are the moderate muslims and why aren't they speaking up?").

Your question presumes that "free speech" only means the absolute right to say anything on any subject. But is that the reality of the democratic world? Even if you subscribe to the belief that only the western nations are truly democratic, you'll find that even they can't agree on how much it should be regulated. Here's a good example of it, related to both the subject (Islam and Free Speech) we are talking about:

In the fall of 2009, a woman referred to as E.S., a 47-year-old Austrian national, convened two seminars offering “Basic Information on Islam” at the right-wing Freedom Party Education Institute (FPEI) in Vienna ... an undercover journalist ... lodged a complaint against E.S. to the police. The substance of the complaint related to two comments E.S. made in the course of a discussion about Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha. He “liked to do it with children,” she asserted, adding, “A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?”

The ECHR ruling came on appeal. On February 15, 2011, the Vienna Regional Criminal Court found E.S. guilty of publicly disparaging religious doctrines, which is a crime in Austria ... In its judgment, it affirmed that “freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society.” It also acknowledged that religious minorities “cannot expect to be exempt from criticism” and “must tolerate and accept the denial by others of their religious beliefs and even the propagation by others of doctrines hostile to their faith.” However, the ECHR was adamant that “the exercise of the freedom of expression carries with it duties and responsibilities, including “the duty to avoid as far as possible an expression that is, in regard to objects of veneration, gratuitously offensive to others and profane.” It also made clear that where criticism of religion takes the form of “an improper or even abusive attack on an object of religious veneration” it should be considered as exceeding the bounds of acceptable expression, since it is “likely to incite religious intolerance.” - A Flawed European ruling on Free Speech

(Note: I agree with the ruling and find it logical and sensible but have still cited an article critical of it to showcase the ongoing interesting debate on free speech.)

Muslim population by country in 2023

I bring up this issue about difference in opinion about free speech in a democracy to highlight an important point - as the chart above conveys, the vast majority of muslims in the world are in Africa, Eurasia, the middle-east and Asia. And all the country in these regions, even the most democratic ones, regulate speech much more strongly than the west. Thus, culturally, the majority of muslims don't subscribe to the "western" notion of free speech.

There's a good article I came across - Free Speech and the Muslims Who Love It - and one point in it struck me:

The main problem on both sides has been an emotional response taking hold before a logical one ... People (not just Muslims) who feel disempowered often resort to emotional displays as a release, with no reasonable expectation that the source of the provocation will change. The desire to do something – anything – to address a wounded soul comes first and foremost.

This is the crux of the matter - free speech expects rationality in everyone. And this is unrealistic when there is no political "release valve" for pent-up frustration.

A non-muslim may a burn a Quran out of frustration against the "intolerant" muslim(s). This frustrates some vulnerable muslims. Some of these muslims react emotionally with further hate and violence. And the cycle continues.

The real issue is not free speech at all - the actual issue is whether there is a political outlet to express it safely, rationally before it becomes a pent-up emotional mess that one feels can only be expressed dysfunctionally.

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    Is the answer to the question for this answer that the Muslim faith generally would not ban desecration of the Quran, but rather the secular sharia law would, so the silent majority of Muslims in non-sharia countries actually aren't in favor of banning such desecration? Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 2:31
  • @IllusiveBrian You may also be interested to read my answer to What does Islam say about the burning of the Quran by non-Muslims in a state with freedom of speech?
    – sfxedit
    Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 22:56
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    OK, so is your answer that no true Muslim can be, or at least no major sect of Islam is, in favor of not criminalizing desecration of the Quran? I'm still not seeing how this answers the question asked. Commented Aug 3, 2023 at 1:32

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