Muslim Group Offers Dialogue Ahead Of Koran Burning

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18: A Muslim man reads the Koran before Iftar, the evening meal in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at the London Muslim Centre on August 18, 2010 in London, England. Muslim men and women across the world are currently observing Ramadan, a month long celebration of self-purification and restraint. During Ramadan, the Muslim community fast, abstaining from food, drink, smoking and sex between sunrise and sunset. Muslims break their fast after sunset with an evening meal refered to as Iftar, where a date is the first thing eaten followed by a traditional meal. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

    A Muslim community in Silver Spring, Md., is inviting Christians to learn a bit more about their holy book ahead of Saturday's planned Koran burning by a Florida church.

    Naseem Mahdi, vice president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community based in Silver Spring, said he wishes the Florida church and other groups knew how much the Koran and the Bible have in common. Both, he said, refer to Jesus as the messiah, for example.

    "We'll be just raising this question that how a good Christian can burn this book that talks of Jesus as the true messiah and Mary as a chaste and righteous woman, and there are so many verses about the goodness they have done," Mahdi said.

    He worries that people around the world won't view the burnings as the act of a fringe church in Florida, but as a symbol of the United States as a whole and that, he said, will embolden radicals.

    "We feel very sorry about it, sorry in the sense that what some Muslim clerics are saying, that is not Islam, and what this pastor is saying in Florida, that is not Christianity. Ultimately this going to damage true Islam and true Christianity, and also the United States and security and safety," he said.

    It will be a small meeting; Mahdi has invited just a few church groups, but he hopes it'll make a difference.

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