Hello fellow lover of God, of virtue, truth and beauty,

I appreciate that you believe in Allah.  Your devotion shows great awareness of truth; you acknowledge a higher power behind our existence.  Also, Muhammad accomplished great good for the people of pre-Islamic Arabia,

In the strongest terms, (the Qur’an, and thus) Muhammad decried the mistreatment and exploitation of the weak and unprotected.  He called for an end to false contracts and the practice of usury that had made slaves of the poor.  He spoke of the rights of the underpriviledged and the oppressed, and made the astonishing claim that it was the duty of the rich and powerful to take care of them.  “Do not oppress the orphan,” the Quran commands, “and do not drive away the beggar” (93:9-10).[1]
Similarly, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, in his commentary on the Quran, expounds on God’s Grace and Mercy,

Mercy may imply pity, long suffering, patience, and forgiveness, all of which the sinner needs and God Most Merciful bestows in abundant measure. But there is a Mercy that goes before even the need arises, the Grace which is ever watchful, and flows from God Most Gracious to all His creatures, protecting them, preserving them, guiding them, and leading them to clearer light and higher life.[2]

 

Nonetheless, I have difficulty accepting that Allah correctly represents God’s nature.  And yet, the 99 names of Allah are 99% correct in describing the nature of God; He is all-powerful, all-knowing, merciful and loving.    Moreover, many of the moral teachings in Islam are similar to those given to the Israelites through the 10 commandments and the laws given to Moses, given by God through Moses to guide mankind, to bless the numerous descendants of Abraham.  In reading the Quran, have you ever thought to yourself, ‘Why would God instruct Muhammad to do certain things that would go against those teachings?’

Perhaps if a society were very wicked, as the Philistines might have been, or the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, overtaking their land would be justified.  But why target people who are not doing evil things, but striving towards holiness and perfection, towards virtue and truth?  Does it seem reasonable that God would pervert his own laws that lead people to righteousness by instructing others to kill those who are living righteously?

Have you ever felt afraid to learn how others view God, from a Christian or Jewish standpoint?  Perhaps you experience fear of being rejected by family, friends or even being injured by those who would enforce a law that makes learning about Jesus forbidden.

We’re called to know, love and serve God.  This is our first priority in this life, and out of that love, to love others as ourselves, even if they’re our enemies.  Is not a greater demonstration of the virtue of kindness exhibited through love of one’s enemies?  Do good parents not continue loving their children even though they make mistakes, knowing they often don’t have the knowledge and practice of self-control?

Jesus taught his disciples to pray to God, starting their prayer with “Our Father.”  Muslims are not taught that Allah is like a Father, a personal loving God.  Would a loving Creator bring mankind into existence and then be too far in the heavens to be concerned with them?  Would such concern be impossible for the All Powerful (Al Jabbaar (الجبار)), the Ever Providing (Ar Razzaaq (الرزاق)), the Omniscient (Al Alim (العليم)), the All Encompassing (Al Wasi’ (الواسع))?

We know love through human relations, through being spouses, parents and children.  Would the one who created such love not seek to share in it Himself, just as parents love their children?  Are we not in His image through our ability to understand and practice such love, to comprehend, create and exercise willpower?

Suppose that Allah is personal, suppose He desires us to live in a relationship with us daily, even with such a depth of love as a husband might experience with his wife and vice-versa.  This is a remarkably different relationship from one that only encourages obedience, as though between slave and master.  Do not husband and wife both desire to be honored and served, cherished and forgiven when there has been wrongdoing?  And yet, obedience is a part of love, I don’t mean to suggest otherwise.  But, this kind of love is elevated beyond servile obedience to one of friendship, to one of matrimonial union.  Does not every person wish to be free, to be trusted so that they may experience vulnerability, and yet, be similarly capable of hurting the beloved, though ultimately to love without injury, as opposed to be being forced to?  Would not the motive to love be stronger than the fear of hell?

As you know, prayer is an essential part of our relationship with God.  In many respects, Muslims live more righteously in their attitude towards prayer than many Christians and Jews.  As our Creator, it is right and just for us to love Him, to enter into a relationship with Him through prayer, expressing reverence and desire for obedience to all thing holy and good, not because He requires it, as though it adds anything to His stature, but for our own good.  However, it would be inaccurate to believe that God requires prayer rather than asks it of us.  Thus, love is exercised through the freedom not to love.  Similarly, without the freedom for a person to say, “There is no God,” there can’t also be the freedom to sincerely state that He is, and to choose to love without any sense of requirement for fear of not doing so.  Accordingly, consider this verse from the Quran, 8:12:

[Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, “I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.
How can these be His words?  Surely this verse inspires fear for not believing.  And, this is not a fear that concerns a person’s eternal destiny, which should be our ultimate concern, but is a fear in other believers actually hurting those who disbelieve.  Should we not be free to disbelieve so that when we do choose to believe we do it out of love rather than fear?
Consider these words of Jesus:

“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  –Matthew 10:28
Our fear should not be based on those in this world who would punish us for not believing, but on the reality of God’s existence, who can punish both body and soul.  However, this is not to suggest that there shouldn’t be laws that establish protection of human rights, and punishment for those who break those laws.  Certainly that is true, and perhaps some of the laws in Muslims countries are more fruitful in helping to establish crime-free societies and the promotion of virtue, such as in Qatar.  And yet, there needs to be freedom to learn about God, especially from the perspective of Jesus, as recorded by his close followers, such as Peter, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Many Muslims live in fear of converting to Christianity because the two primary sources of Sharia –the Quran and the Hadiths, require the death penalty for apostasy.[3]  Their families often will reject them and in some Islamic countries and they could be killed.  That is not freedom of religion or freedom to love, but is coercive and estranging.  Why should the use of reason be diminished?  Surely our Creator gave us our mind to use it in our fullest capacity, discerning truth and love from falsehood and hatred.  How can this be so if one lives in fear of converting?

In that Islam has developed to become intertwined with the state, i.e. a theocracy, there can be stifled freedom to believe other than the truth as presented through the Quran, because to do so would be a kind of treason.  Clearly this damages the ability of our minds to grow.  Truly, such a situation stifles reason, our ability to discover and accept truth, truth that can lead to love, to love freely.  Similarly, if you are confined out of fear, how can you evaluate other claims concerning God’s nature, and thereby, love freely as your reason would incline you?

Since God embodies truth, people should be free to learn about the possibility that Jesus is the Father’s son, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.  Would you not agree that the freedom to learn this possibility should exist?

Truly, freedom of speech and religion are necessary and must be protected by government, by the state, for this knowledge to be accessible without fear, without living in fear of one’s rights being violated, especially the most basic right, the right to life, to live without fear of injury or torture.

From the very beginning of the Quran, Jews and Christians are ostracized and treated as though of lesser value.  This is not expressing an openness to learn about others and their faith, but is prejudiced and likely to inspire hatred.  To hate others, even with a just cause, is sinful.  Rather, a merciful parent, in hoping to keep his family members in a state of peace, teaches forgiveness and love, even of one’s enemies, even when another steps on our toes.  Is that not the nature of The All-Merciful (Ar Rahman (الرحمن))?  Should we not be like our Creator?

I admire many teachings and customs of the Islamic faith, especially how many virtues are extolled, such as modesty and purity.  I appreciate the calligraphy and the architecture of Islamic mosques, the holiness of many practices and that God is a central part of the culture.

Truly however, the angel Gabriel, who supposedly appeared or inspired Mohammed, cannot be the same angel that appeared to the Virgin Mary heralding the birth of Emmanuel, “God with us.”  How could the same angel later appear to Mohammed with instructions to supplant, belittle, ostracize and even kill those who follow Jesus, son of the Blessed Virgin?

“Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified thee – chosen thee above the women of all nations.”  –Quran 3:42
Certainly consistency helps to establish trust.  Therefore, why would God send confusion and mistrust through the same beloved angel?  Surely God would not teach his children to deceive one another, as might be suggested in the Quran, verse 2:225.  Should we not be attentive and thoughtful in our oaths, neither vain nor deceitful?  Does not this help to establish trustworthiness and friendship among all of His children?

Suppose with me for a moment that Islam has been constructed through knowledge about God that was already present at the time Muhammed began his work, present to him through the divine revelation given to the Israelites, and through God Himself in the person of Christ Jesus, the Word made flesh.  You may not presently believe this, or live in fear for entertaining the thought, but allow me to indulge you in such an idea, to pretend that such really is the truth.

As a devout Muslim, I’m sure this would not be easy for you to accept.  As someone who likely grew up in a good home where love for Allah was central, where the customs of your parents reinforced that love, it would be hard to accept that Islam is not truly given to mankind through an angel, as though through God.

Sadly, while still pretending as above, those who’ve been deceived by the false representations of God as discussed in the Quran and through Islamic rule, feeling inspired to commit horrendous acts of violence, engendering suffering and the murder of innocent people all over the world, do so believing they’re doing the will of Our Heavenly Father.  Suppose that Muhammed, embracing the doctrine of Jihad that he created, pillaged the people surrounding him, murdering them because they did not agree with him.  There appears to be good evidence that this happened. [4][5]  Even today, there are efforts to suppress the truth of unjust conquest known as the Armenian genocide.[6]  Nazi Germany fell into similar error, having a doctrine similar to Jihad, that Jews were second class citizens, though not as though God had made them so, but nature as though through evolution, and their extermination was ultimately good for the state and the first class citizens of Germany.  Sadly, in some middle Eastern governments, including Iran and Syria, the truth of the holocaust that took place in Nazi Germany is denied.[7]

How can killing innocent people in the name of God represent a Loving Father who wishes his children to live in peace with one another?  Such would not be the work of a loving God, The Most Holy (Al Quddus (القدوس)), Peace and Blessing (As Salam (السلام)), who desires access to truth, who desires that we live holy lives.

If your parents, grandparents and great grandparents, and even further back, were forced to believe in Islam, because in not doing so, they’d become second class citizens, possibly enslaved or killed, it is not your fault or the fault of your parents that you were brought up in an Islamic nation or home.  And yet, who can blame them or you for not wanting to convert if doing so leads to persecution and death?  Truly, if you believe in God, and that His nature is just and good, you should not fear man but Him who can destroy both body and soul.

Terrorism is surely a form of forcing indoctrination, brought about through fear of suffering and death.  If people do not have the freedom to learn for themselves the truth about God’s nature, how He loves us fiercely and desires us to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength, and others as ourselves, even our enemies, they cannot be blamed for wanting to remain alive and not convert, or to believe whatever is necessary to preserve their life, especially when there is much good to believe in.

God has made us in His own image, from the beginning.  It is through this love in Christ Jesus that America built her foundation for basic human rights, and hopefully someday, from the moment of our conception.  May the values of America, upholding the freedom to learn about God and choose to love Him or not, spread like a raging fire throughout the world.  May we live in hope that more and more will choose to love and abide in His love through obedience, reverence and prayerful desire for Holy Communion, for service and good works.

1st photo source[8]                 2nd photo source:[9]

 

[1] Ericksen, Adam.  Who is Allah? #BringBackOurGirls.  Raven Foundation.  May 8th, 2014.  Online.  https://www.ravenfoundation.org/allah-bringbackourgirls/

[2] Ibid.  Ericksen.

[3] Wikipedia contributors. “Apostasy in Islam.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 17 Jun. 2016. Web. 20 Jun. 2016.

[4] Muhammad: A Looter.  FaithFreedom.org.  Online.  http://www.faithfreedom.org/challenge/looter.htm

[5] What Makes Islam so Different.  Myths of Muhammad.  Online.  https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/muhammad/raid-caravans.aspx

[6] Ottoman Empire and the Armenian Genocide.  Armenian National Institute.  Washington DC.  http://www.armenian-genocide.org/ottoman.html

[7] Wikipedia contributors. “Holocaust denial.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 Sep. 2016. Web. 15 Sep. 2016.

[8] Photo Source: http://www.theologynetwork.org/world-religions/getting-stuck-in/reaching-out-to-muslims.htm

[9] Photo Source: https://www.iesve.com/consulting/projects/
projectdetail?building=Grand-Mosque&id=1943

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