“And argue not with the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), unless it be in (a way) that is better (with good words and in good manner, inviting them to Islamic Monotheism with His Verses), except with such of them as do wrong, and say (to them): “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you; our Ilah (God) and your Ilah (God) is One (i.e. Allah), and to Him we have submitted (as Muslims).” (Qur’an, Al-Ankabut 29:46)
Hi there again,
I’m enjoying this conversation by the way. I think through civilised discourse you can get to understand and appreciate different perspectives.
“O mankind, indeed We have… made you into peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of ALLAH is the most righteous of you. Indeed, ALLAH is Knowing and Acquainted.” (Qur’an 49:13)
1. The Mission: A Very Important Choice
I fully agree with you that “one must first establish the validity of the text as a source of knowledge.” (See point 6, below.) Firstly, what I like about Islam is that our mission is to spread the word about Islam but not to compel anyone to it.
“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the deen (way of life, religion). The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut (corruption, evil) and believes in ALLAH has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And ALLAH is Hearing and Knowing.” (Qur’an 2:256)
“So if they argue with you [O Muhammad] , say, “I have submitted myself to ALLAH [in Islam], and [so have] those who follow me.”… “Have you submitted yourselves?”… but if they turn away – *then upon you is only the [duty of] notification*. And ALLAH is Seeing of [His] servants.” (Qur’an 3:20)
This is because the rapport each one of us has (or the lack thereof) with The Creator is something between us (individually) and Him, at the end of the day (i.e. the Last Day – i.e. the Day of Judgement).
In which case, consider the adage: ‘Don’t shoot the Messenger.’
There was a series of conversations on the ‘Why Evolution is True‘ site, on the post about ‘Gary Wills whitewashes the Qur’an‘. The thread I’m referring to is:
“The gist of the Quran is that God will torture for eternity those who reject him or his prophet, or oppose his plans. The same idea appears in the story of Moses. Both, the threat of eternal punishment and the story of Moses are repeated endlessly. I don’t know what’s wrong with people that don’t find the idea of eternal punishment repellent.”
John Lynn Harvey said:
“I believe the Sunni’s are the strictest on the damnation of all non-Muslims. Shia Islam and Sufi Islam are much looser on this.
Roughly one-third of the Koran is concerned with the Last Judgement, which is a much higher percentage than the New or Old Testament.”
MWM (That’s me) said:
“If there were a God who promises those that do good, eternal good and those that do bad, eternal bad that’s His perogative. He’s God. He sets His rules. He’s sent prophets time and again to warn us of a Judgement Day and to guide us to His revealed way. “… And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning).” (Qur’an 17:15). Why would He do that unless He cared?
Moreover he’s given us our minds and our will to make up our own minds, which is a bonus; they are aids to help us to that end. “[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving” (Qur’an 67:2). The danger is we anthropormorphise God, which results in us thinking He’s a tyrant. But tyrants are men acting/pretending /thinking they’re like God. They’re not. “And none is comparable to Him.” (Qur’an 112:4) Only God has the right to act the way He does; that’s the definition of being God. And yet His guidance is good for us. “And this is a Book which We have revealed as a blessing: so follow it and be righteous, that ye may receive mercy.” (Qur’an, 6/155) and “The Qur’an as a guide to mankind also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong)…” (Qur’an, 2/185).