The world will judge Islam by the way Muslims behave in the name of Islam

Published: March 17, 2017
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Supporters of executed Islamist Mumtaz Qadri shout slogans during an anti-government protest in front of the parliament building in Islamabad on March 28, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

A year ago, the government took a bold decision by hanging Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of late Salman Taseer. The funeral, despite the media’s lack of coverage, was attended by thousands of people, highlighting the appeal of a man who was nothing but a murderer. One year later, thousands of hardliners defied the rally ban to attend his first death anniversary.

The sad reality is that for many, Qadri is a hero, and the significant percentage of those who disagree with his actions have an “empathetic” attitude towards him. I have heard people coming up with all kinds of justifications for Taseer’s murder, to such an extent that people believe Taseer was actually guilty and punishable by law, and since the justice system in Pakistan is corrupt and implementation of laws is derisory, Qadri had no other option but to take matter in his own hands.

A year ago, one of my friends shared a picture of Qadri’s funeral on social media and claimed that people like him were a minority as fanatics had outnumbered “moderates”. A year later, he was openly stating that the abducted bloggers were all blasphemers and therefore should be killed. He was willing to believe it all because certain TV anchors were favouring the notion. The fact that there was never any irrefutable proof showing they had indulged in blasphemy escaped his otherwise rich imagination.

It can be easily fathomed that the difference between him and Qadri supporters is merely of social class and perhaps in the belief about who they think is guilty of blasphemy. The basic thought process connecting the two is the same. My friend, who comes from a privileged background, will most likely avoid killing someone directly. After all, he loves his comfortable lifestyle, high salary and also his new-found rediscovery of religion. To take the ultimate “plunge” is difficult for him, but his thinking is clearly supportive of harsh punishments, even if an extrajudicial process is adopted.

Qadri is not merely an individual; he symbolises a mentality, various forms of which are extremely pervasive. A tiny minority is even ready to kill, while others are either supportive of such killers or are supportive of the basic idea that alleged blasphemers should be killed even without a fair trial.

But the disturbing question that lingers is why some people are ready to even resort to killing? Why did Qadri kill Taseer? And why is this “empathetic” behaviour so common in our country? Why are some quarters practising tolerance while the remaining believe in extreme veneration for such acts?

To some extent, the reason behind Taseer’s murder was the extreme reverence attached to religion and the Prophet (pbuh). Outright religious fanaticism is obviously responsible here and perhaps the only cure in the long run is desensitising people from religion. For sanity’s sake, I will not dispute this obvious reality.

But this only partially explains the complex situation. Reverence alone does not lead men to commit murder. It is what society explicitly or implicitly expects with respect to actual demonstration of veneration – particularly when the revered figures and symbols are perceived to be under attack – which often leads to adoption of a particular action. These expectations are not always spelled out clearly but nevertheless articulated through loaded slogans and narratives which project some real life individuals as heroes and villains.

Due to extremely pervasive and loaded slogans such as the one mentioned above, people actually believe that the Prophet’s (pbuh) honour should be protected even if one has to give their life for the cause. Slogans such as these become extremely dangerous with respect to their potential impact. I am not saying that they affect every person in the same way, but it merely takes one individual to get affected in “that” way to do the unthinkable.

Moreover, such slogans and related literature also lowers the threshold of the desired level of “reverence”, as the line for what constitutes as blasphemy becomes blurred and is then left at the individual’s behest as to what they consider blasphemous.

I think this is important because such acts are often committed for personal glorification which society is willing to bestow on such individuals. Yes, Qadri courted possible death when he fired upon Taseer but he also looked towards widespread hero adoration and “immortality’ in the similar vein of Ilmuddin, a hero for some Muslims and a man revered by Allama Iqbal for killing a Hindu in 1929 who had published a supposedly blasphemous book which had contained derogatory remarks about the Prophet (pbuh). He was tried in court and hanged but achieved a legendary status overtime.

In a society where Ilmuddin has been made into a legend and a “shaheed” (martyr), Taseer’s murder and its endorsement or even apologetic defence are hardly surprising. Qadri, in his head, was going to heaven and was on his way to attaining the same legendary status when he took it upon himself to end Taseer’s life, despite the fact that the latter had only asked for a presidential pardon of an illiterate woman accused of blasphemy. And the subsequent showering of rose petals and roaring applause demonstrated that he was not wrong in his calculations. His death, funeral and continuation of that adulation also show that he was not wrong about his legacy.

Today, his mind-set dominates Pakistan and the atmosphere has become so charged that merely accusing someone of blasphemy on social media is enough to pronounce him guilty in the public eye. People don’t even want to know whether the accused actually committed the crime or not as they simply believe the accusation and start demanding blood.

We need to re-examine the narratives about people like Ilmuddin; why do we narrate the story of men like him in a consecrated manner? Why do we glorify violence through such stories? We forget that the world is judging us through our acts. When a sizeable number of us act like this, then the world will doubt our claim that Muslims are peaceful.

In the end, I would like to make a humble plea to all my Muslim brothers and sisters. When you kill or endorse such acts in the name of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), you are portraying Islam and his legacy in an extremely wrong manner. The world will, and in fact already is, judging Islam by the way Muslims behave in the name of Islam. If we want the world to consider Islam as a peaceful religion then remember to act accordingly. Being violent, endorsing violence, providing apologetic defence for violence and then also demanding that the world should not “stereotype” Muslims and consider Islam as a religion of peace will definitely not work.

raza.habib

Raza Habib Raja

The author is a recent Cornell graduate and currently pursuing his PhD in political science at Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He has also worked for a leading development finance institution in Pakistan. He is a freelance journalist whose works have been published at Huffington Post, Dawn (Pakistan), Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Pak Tea House. He tweets @razaraja (twitter.com/razaraja?lang=en)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Shamil

    Good article, but Jinnah didn’t revere Ilmuddin. He merely represented him in court at Iqbal’s request. A lawyer is hardly responsible for his clients actions. Jinnah argued that what Ilmuddin had done was wrong but that he should be spared the death penalty due to his young age (19).Recommend

  • Rizwan Nasar

    First and foremost my take on this blaspheme issue is very different. When Islam says there is “no compulsion in religion” how can anyone commit blaspheme? The other question to answer is that are Muslims in Pakistan more pious and more in love with the Prophet (PBUH) than his companions. How many of his (PBUH) companions went on a murderous rampage when anyone opposed the Prophet? I just heard this Molvi Saheb (a staunch supporter of murderous Mumtaz Qadri) on a video claiming that the Quran does not advocate Peace and that Islam is not a religion of peace. What do you say to it? I tell people to please start reading it. If we understand just one verse from Surah An-Nisa (chapter 4) Verse 93. We will understand where we stand on these killings. Allah SWT says, that whoever kills a believer intentionally – his recompense is Hell, wherein he will abide eternally, and Allah has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment. I rest my case!Recommend

  • lothist

    QUOTE:
    “Today, his mind-set dominates Pakistan and the atmosphere has become so
    charged that merely accusing someone of blasphemy on social media is
    enough to pronounce him guilty in the public eye.”

    This is the case in the islamic world since 1400 years. It is not something of “today”.

    If a book or a person is made uncriticizable then there arises a fascism in the name of this book and this person. That is what exists in the islamic world since 1400 years.Recommend

  • Dr Abeer

    Desensitizing from religion means that religion is responsible for this? And showering of rose petals always does not mean that everything is right .Although I am not defending the outright murder approach by Mumtaz Qadri without court involvement ,but apart from Asia’s story!Salman Taseer called the anti blasphemy law a “black law” which is outrageously disrespect to law protecting Prophet’s Pbuh honour.request to all new so call moderate people who in name of modernity utter extreme words which result in incidents like Salman taseer confronted.why to act to get a reaction like that.Modern people should be peaceful nowadays so that fanatics don’t react. Recommend

  • SPS

    A very good analysis and frank thoughts from the author. The last paragraph took the cake for me. I sincerely hope the ‘silent’ moderate majority muslim community are in sync with the author’s views and would soon come out in open and express it without fear of retaliation.Recommend

  • Dari Sini

    As an outsider and non-Muslim such articles make our work to be more inclusive in the societies we live in that much more difficult. It would seem to some of us that many Muslims simply are not a good fit as immigrants to the West.Recommend

  • Purna Tripathy

    extremism in Pakistan is also having repercussion in India. Narratives against non Muslims / liberals in Pakistan is inducing some effect not only on Indian Muslims but also on a very large percentage on Indian Hindu populations who have started looking Muslims with suspicion.Recommend

  • Muslim apologist bingo

    You finally hit the head . Whenever there is an attack done by a muslim,people go on this defensive mode and say any of the following

    – They are not “real muslims”. No real muslim would do such an attack.
    – What about Syria,what about kashmir,what about Palestine?
    – Islam is a religion of peace.
    – There are so many peaceful muslims in the world but you judge by the few of the terrorists.
    – This is a RAW,Mossad,CIA plot to make muslims look bad..
    – an anecdote of how Prophet Mohammed treated the non muslims kindly.
    – Islam is perfect,muslims are not..Dont judge islam by acts of muslims..
    – First read the Quran before judging us..

    Lets say if ISIS was created by Mossad,then how come so many educated muslims living in peaceful countries go towards them..
    Lets most of muslims are peaceful,but there is a high pattern of muslims getting radicalised,so it must be addressed by you,not us..
    I dont have to read the Mein Kampf before judging the Nazis,i can see other things committed by them to understand them…

    Muslims can keep deflecting hard questions with ad hominen replies but unless they sit down and introspect,they wont be fooling anyone but them…Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Very well written analysis!
    One thing that must be remembered is how big a part “Denialism” plays in the public mind! Just consider Pakistan, where many of the ills that befall the country are easily blamed on the “foreign hand” conspiracies by (RAW, India, Israel, CIA, etc) since Muslims could not possibly have done (fill in the blank)!
    Worse yet is the role that Muslim religious leaders play in Denialism, such as the Saudi Grand Mufti declaring that ISIS fighters are really Israeli Soldiers!Recommend

  • Agarwal

    Sound reasoning.Recommend

  • PatelPara

    so can we judge Christians by the way Christians behave in the name of Jesus?Recommend

  • Muhammad

    Unfortunately our founding fathers created a hero out of a criminal Ilm Din, the result is a society abandant with Qadries.Recommend

  • Sudhanshu Swami

    Its fair to assume that most people will judge any religion by how follower of that act. People wont go and read the holy book and then conclude after research and analysis that religion is good but followers are not.
    A good Religion should not be easily misinterpret able and should produce mature people instead of blind followers.Recommend

  • Fahim

    Will the world judge medical sciences on basis what a mbbs doctor behave in name of medicine ?Recommend

  • 19640909rk .

    they are allowing so many refugees inside their nation. How will you judge them?Recommend

  • 19640909rk .

    and Muslims will start accusing them of Islamophobia.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    “The world will judge Islam by the way Muslims behave in the name of Islam”

    Exactly instead the Muslims are busy telling the non Muslims, ” Muslims are not perfect but Islam is”, sounds almost a veiled threat that if you criticize what we believe is perfect, we are going to unleash our imperfect’s on you.

    It is these imperfect’s who have made Islam one of the major communities in the world, one just needs to read history to understand.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Doctor would be punished and whole medical community will disown him.No hospitals will be built in his name.Can the same be said of Qadris and the “doctors” of Islam?Recommend

  • Agha

    There is a difference between objective medical SCIENCE and subjective religious truth and vague scripture. You see when an MBBS doctor “misbehaves in the name of medicine” (this phrase alone made me LOL over your point), the objective medical science doesn’t change. Its concrete supported by evidence and misbehave goes against the objective research of the science. But when a religionist “misbehaves” he can look to the scripture and find justification for it because scripture can “interpreted” in many ways.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Not a rational argument.Recommend

  • Agha

    So let me get this straight: You are ACTUALLY in favour of death penalty ( albeit done by courts, how kind of you) over what some person SAID? Like used words and they deserve to die? Yes? In the 21st century?

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Either reject the concept of blasphemy or stop “parroting” the religion of peace. You can’t have both.Recommend

  • siesmann

    The author is talking about your kind of Muslims.A law that is misused over 95% of the time is a Black Law.Recommend

  • Agha

    Yes, we do. And Christianity was judged severely through the actions of church and its zealots. You do know thats what this business of “separation of religion and church” came about? Secular forces criticized the religion severely. Now its time for Islam to present itself for criticism (through its followers and scriptures).Recommend

  • Agha

    * separation state and churchRecommend

  • ashok

    The world judje the MBBS doctor as incompetent and unfit to practice medicine. Not medicine itself.Recommend

  • vinsin

    So you would support reaction by Arab Pagans on Mecca?Recommend

  • Milind A

    If a sizeable majority of mbbs doctors start behaving irrationally, then the world will start judge the mbbs course based on their behaviour… The medical association or body who designed the course, will revisit it the contents of the course taught, the process and work towards changing it, removing invalid or outdated contents, replacing with new ones (e.g. addition of ethics course etc). The contents of the course will not be set in stone calling these the final word/immutable. Anybody asking these to be revised, will not be threatened with death for blasphemy. Hope you got the message.Recommend

  • Milind A

    Indian Hindus who otherwise were tolerant have already started looking Muslims with suspicion. However the difference between Hindu extremism and Muslim extremism is – Hindu fundamentalism is mostly political and less religious, mostly to organize Hindus politically against onslaught of Islamic and Christian fundamentalism. Whereas Islamic fundamentalism is religious and political, seeking to convert the non-Muslims to Islam. A Muslim chancellor of Aligarh Muslim Univ had long predicted that is Islamic fundamentalism increases linear proportions, Hindu fundamentalism will increase in geoometric proportion.Recommend

  • Milind A

    Not because there are a lot number of Christians including religious ones, who do not condone the wrong actions of the Church or celebrate murders. The religious ones might oppose homosexuals and abortion, but do not call for murder. Any blasphemous caricature of Christ is met with gentle protests, rather than burning property, lynching, bombing, beheading.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    This is a bad example Sir, since the medicine or man made knowledge of sciences are not perfect whereas Islam is the final form of the Ibrahimic religions and talks about the Creator*s commandments as outlined in written scriptures. The Author with his hindu ancestory is always operating on the fringes of what Islam is all about and suffers from Islamo phoby which many around the world do as well. He can be treated by the science of psychology if he takes the initiative which most in the USA do and get treated as well. The one who praises the hanging of a human automaticaly disqualifies himself from any objective analysis or opinion.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Arsha

    The article is exactly about people like you. How can you justify murder. What if I do not respect your beliefs, so you will murder me for some thing I said? Every time a Muslim preaches conversion they offend beliefs of other religions, so it will be justified to murder them? How can violence be ever justified in any such case? Mature people do not commit violence in anger, maturity is about focusing on your own self instead of getting into a frenzy about others’ words. Recommend

  • Feroz

    How many MBBS doctors are willing to kill a patient because they dislike what a patient says, does and believes in. Understand the word KILL clearly !!!Recommend

  • Feroz

    Can you understand that Man cannot and does not protect God, in no religion is Man supreme and God powerless deserving of protection. Can Man ever affect the destiny and fate of God ??Recommend

  • KlingOn2K

    No religion has an image other than what the followers bestow upon it. It is the followers that make the religion what it is supposed to be.Recommend

  • Sudhanshu Swami

    MBBS doctor wont behave wrong in the name of medical science, he wont behave quoting or misinterpreting Science, He wont appoint people and misguide other mbbs to do wrong in the name of science. He will not ask land/country for corrupt or misguided MBBS. They wont try to impose their misinterpreted science on others. They misbehave for their own benefit and greed.Recommend

  • vinsin

    What about Noarkhali riots, Mopilla riots, apostasy wars?

    But, this verse is abrogated by the verse of “fighting…Therefore, all people of the world should be called to Islam. If anyone of them refuses to do so, or refuses to pay the Jizya they should be fought till they are killed. This is the meaning of compulsion.

    Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 1999: First Edition, Part 3, pp. 37-38

    https://islamqa.info/en/43087Recommend

  • PatelPara

    They are creating so many refugees. they are creating entities like al qaeda and daesh. they are openly supporting terrorists across the globe for their agenda. they are saving israel because “Christianity believes that Israel needs to be there for the 2nd coming of Jesus” ignore all this ?Recommend

  • PatelPara

    We barely judge them. the judeo-christian constitution of usa is a proof that it’s not separate.Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    “Why did Qadri kill Taseer?”
    Ghazi Mumtaz Qadri Shaheed killed Tasheer because of Tasheer being able to subvert the process of law and justice by using his high position in the government. The charges which Tasheer was trying to evade are as follows:
    #1. Adultery;
    #2. Treason;
    #3. Gustak a Rasool.
    #4. Subverting the Constitution of Pakistan and Shariah Law to escape their grip.
    Please note that he was hanged hurriedly and surreptitiously without process of law but under pressure from foreign religious and governmental agencies. The common man understands this perfectly that is why his regard, adoration and legacy lives on.
    Recommend

  • Muhammad

    Our founding fathers created a hero out of a criminal Ilm Din, the result is a society abundant with Mumtaz Qadries.Recommend

  • Huzur

    It depends on how well they are ready to integrate with the others in the world and demand no special rights or privileges which is critical as these very rights are denied to non muslims.Recommend

  • Patwari

    The author writes ‘…one of my friend stated that all the abducted bloggers
    were blasphemers and should be killed…’ [same friend was pro Qadri too]
    Good grief! Surely there is something WRONG here!! Very very wrong!! Recommend

  • KlingOn2K

    In every single oppressive regime throughout history, the majority of the population were peaceful people. It does not take a majority to spread mayhem – a small percentage will do. That’s what happened in Germany. The peaceful majority are not activists and are largely irrelevant.Recommend

  • rationalist

    Medical science doesn’t doesn’t teach the doctor to shout “allahuakbar” if he kills a patient.Recommend

  • Fahim

    Thanks, That is what I want to read. So similarly the an inhuman muslim should be judged similarly.Recommend

  • Fahim

    What about doctors in USA who give lethal injections ? All US states and the federal government use lethal injection as their primary method of executionRecommend

  • Fahim

    What is your sizeable majority of mbbs doctors start behaving irrationally? According to reuters up to 98,000 Americans died every year because of medical errors and 13.5 percent. Now will you judge medical sciences or be apologist ?Recommend

  • Fahim

    But what if they do! will you judge medical sciences on their basis ?Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Nothing justifies the killing of a human Sir and it directly violates the god almighty commandment. Pakistan rulers must put an end to this line of thinking by banning the capital punishment.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    I just heard this Molvi Saheb (a staunch supporter of Mumtaz
    Qadri) on a video claiming that the Quran does not advocate Peace and
    that Islam is not a religion of peace. What do you say to it?

    These kind of sahebs should be sent to a religious closter to receive education in theology and training as well from the recognised Sufi School to learn what is narrated in scriptures. There are no short cuts in any learning least of all the religious scrriptures which came for the man kind in specific languages. A killing of a human is forbidden Period. And yet the history of mankind is full of wars of killings. The laws against blesphamy and extremist insurgents and terrorism in Pakistan are a human pretext to kill other humans. The author should concentrate his intellect on this issue and not in worshipping neu liberalism which has similar results elsewhere.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Sudhanshu Swami

    If he does above Ie quote kill people who believe in homeopathy,he quote that you will get PG degree if you spread believers in MBBS degree he shows authentic quotes, if he does all what I wrote, then definitely world will say this particular MBBS degree or medical science is bad. Otherwise people will say that this person is bad.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Wow, and in what court were those charges you list ever filed against Tasheer, or have you just made them up?
    As for Qadri, he was tried, convicted, and hung per Pakistani law in due process, regardless of any delusions!Recommend

  • Fahim

    And what if he is not MBBS degree holder but claim that MBBS studies is right way ? He shows authentic quote from medical studies regarding medical assisted suicide, lethal injection, save either mother/child theory etc.
    Now will you say that he represent medical studies ?Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    You Sir are the devils advocate, raising questions and then providing the answers by the applictaion of human logic not realising that Islam is the religion and logic does not equal truth. The world is made of people of all faiths and beliefs and their respective opinions. They are not in this world to judge but be judged.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Mohd Farhan

    if Hindus were tolerant we would not have got millions murdered while moving towards pakistan in 1947. we would not have to create pakistan in the first place!
    clear example of Hindus “tolerant” is that the murderer of thousands of Gujrat muslims is now PM. wowRecommend

  • Mohd Farhan

    so ashok is saying that some muslims are insane, not the majority or not islam.
    mullahs never made it to PM in pakistan. but only a few Hindu terrorists have been able to make modi PM of india. actions speak louder than words.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    Nobody asked your opinion on Modi.
    as for partiton, you asked it , not us.
    remember.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    Muslims can’t dictate how the world judges them.
    it’s upto the world.Recommend

  • Rizwan Nasar

    I guess Ibn Khatir was a human just like you and me. And what you quote is his “interpretation.” The Quran says for its readers that This book is made easy for you, so you can READ, UNDERSTAND and PONDER over it. I consider myself an intelligent, educated and knowledgeable human being who does not need a ‘Ibn Kathir’ or anyone to tell me what is in the Quran. I can read and come to my conclusions on my own. I see the book as advocating peace and love. You can look at it through ‘Ibn Kathir’s’ lenses.Recommend

  • Rizwan Nasar

    You live in your own world beyond Islam. Fist and foremost Mumtaz Qadri was a murderer. Allah says it I am not! Now tell me who was he to judge Taseer and who found him guilty of the 4 charges you put on him? Mumtaz Qadri was give a full court hearing. He was found guilty of cold blooded murder. and according to Pakistan’s law and the law of Allah SWT. He was duly hanged. You can give him any title you want. This is one reason I ask people to study the Quran with it’s history. Why and when a verse was revealed to our Prophet (PBUH). Remember Mr. Gul, we all have to stand in front of our Lord one day soon. But only if we believe. hat is the key!Recommend

  • maynotmatter

    Pakistan was created by Jinnah’s Direct action call which killed millions Hindus too. If Muslims would have supported secularism then there would not have been “Islamic republic of Pakistan”. Get your history facts fixed.Recommend

  • PatelPara

    Burning property, lynching, bombing etc has nothing to do with muslim or christian but other factors one of them being law n order situation.

    Christians. across USA burned tons of stuff when they thought justice was not given to them.Recommend

  • KDP

    The reason is obvious. Followers of other religions do not terrorize or kill people like followers of Islam doRecommend

  • KDP

    I wonder what would happen to writers who do not or may forget to write “pbuh” after Prophet’s name?Recommend

  • KDP

    And what does Quran say about Non Believers?Recommend

  • KDP

    It is because of people are afriad to travel in plane operated by Muslim pilots. There are some unexplained plane crashes that are possibly blamed on Muslim Pilots. (In 1999 Co Pilot Batouty of EgyptAir 990 committed suicide, taking 216 souls with him in the process, A 28-year-old Jordanian Muslim who who was studying to become a pilot died after crashing a small plane in Connecticut, and the instructor pilot who survived the crash said it was intentional, Although not proven crash of EgyptAir flight MS804 from Paris to Cairo is also blamed on Pilot Shakir. Disappearance of Malaysian passenger plane etc
    It is difficult to judge when such transformation of a Devout misguided Muslim in to a killing machine suicidal or otherwise occurs. It can happen overnight whereby a 20 year experience Pilot suddenly decides to commit suicide to go to heaven taking lives of Kafirs. If you are a Medical Doctor Mr. Abeer, I being a non-Muslim sure will not prefer to be treated by you.Recommend

  • babon khan

    the hindus are killing muslims in india//more muslims have died in air strikes and war onn iraq/syria/afganistan//what about hitler//// is it that you dont believe in god so you chip away in islam in other to feel better and less guillty?Recommend

  • Mohd Farhan

    maynotmatter facts? do you know that ALi jinnah was staunch believer in hindu muslim unity and was ambassador of so but hindu supremacist thoughts separated ali from congress altogether.

    anyway atleast pakistani muslims can sacrifice cows in peace now and eat hamburgers out of them. it is pretty darn tasty!Recommend