Friday, April 4, 2014

Allah the Parent

I talked with a Muslim online at an Islam advocacy website. The discussion started out with him explaining basic things, and then I got him to admit that Allah would 
reward evil people with heaven and punish good people with hell. And then I used an analogy of a parent and child to explain how it doesn't make sense. Then he used my analogy to explain why good people aren't actually good because they are disrespecting their parent and being ungrateful to their parent. And then I showed him how that doesn't make any sense. Enjoy!

Naomi: Muslims say that Islam helps with leading a good life. I’m interested to know more about how it helps with that.

Mohamed (an Islam advocate online): The religion of Islam is the acceptance of and obedience to the teachings of God which He revealed to His last prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Mohamed: “Islam” literally means peace through submission to God by belief in His Oneness and by obedience to Him. Thus, Islam claimed to be the same religion preached by all the earlier prophets, in whom Muslims must also believe. These prophets include Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, John the Baptist, and Jesus (peace be upon them all), among others.  

Mohamed: Islam is basically the same religion preached by all the earlier prophets, in whom Muslims must also believe. The main message of all the Prophets has always been that there is only One True God and He alone is worthy of being supplicated to and worshipped. But God's final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal message and a summing-up of all that has gone before was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through Gabriel.

Naomi: Yes my Muslim friends explained that part to me. Can you tell me about how it helps lead a good life?

Mohamed: There are many benefits in Islam, and to enumerate them is impossible, but I will try to mention a few.

Mohamed1) One is freed from the worship of and slavery to created objects, systems, lifestyles, and becomes a true worshipper and slave of God. He worships God alone and no other deity, loving Him alone and placing his hope in Him alone.

Mohamed2) In accepting and practicing Islam, one knows that he is fulfilling the purpose of their creation. God created us for a purpose, and in abiding by Islam, one fulfills their purpose, the worship of God alone and none else.

Mohamed3) A person is provided with a light which guides them through life. The religion of Islam has answers to all situations, and one will always know the right step to take in all aspects of life, from the religious, political, social, familial, and corporate. Islam provides guidelines which one uses to base their decision. In following these guidelines, one knows which decision to make, and also knows that it is the one which earns the pleasure of God.

Mohamed4) One forms a personal relationship with God through prayer, supplication, fasting and the many other forms of worship in Islam. One feels this personal relationship and feels that God is with him with His knowledge at all times.

Mohamed5) One comes under the favor of God, thus being more eligible to Divine help than others.

Mohamed6) Forgiveness and Mercy of God. God promises that He will forgive the believing Muslims if they happen to sin, if of course they sincerely repent and truly feel remorse for their sin.

Mohamed: 7) The greatest benefit is that if one converts to Islam, they are promised that God will enter them into Paradise, even if they might be punished for some other greater sins which they may have committed. They will abide therein forever, having all their wishes fulfilled.

Naomi: Can you talk more about how somebody gets to heaven or hell?

Mohamed: All people who lived their lives according to God’s guidelines will enter paradise. God will reward them in abundance and they will have what they desire.

Mohamed: As for those who chose to follow their whims and desires, such will enter Hell except if God forgives them and He is the Most Merciful. The dwellers of hell will be punished for their rejection of God’s guidelines.

Naomi: My Muslim friends told me something different. That non-Muslims can go to heaven instead of hell.

Mohamed: A person who has never heard of Islam or the Prophet SAWS (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and who has never heard the message in its correct and true form, will not be punished by Allah if he dies in a state of kufr (disbelief). If it were asked what his fate will be, the answer will be that Allah will test him on the Day of Resurrection: if he obeys, he will enter Paradise and if he disobeys he will enter Hell. The evidence (daleel) for this is the hadeeth of...

Naomi: So if they repent, and if God accepts their repentance, then they will be rewarded with heaven. And if their repentance is not accepted, or if they didn’t repent, then they get punished in hell.

Mohamed: Right.

Naomi: There’s something not clear to me. What if somebody did evil things his whole life, and then on his death bed he repents. Then he can get away with not being punished for having deliberately done evil his whole life.

Mohamed: Yes, Allah is the Most Merciful, the Most Forgiving.

Naomi: Forgiveness seems good in general, but this doesn't make sense. This is telling Muslims that they can deliberately do whatever evil sins they want to do and then not be punished for it, and instead, be rewarded with heaven.

Mohamed: Well, Allah knows our intentions. 

Naomi: Are you saying that if somebody tries to beat the system, then Allah will know this and will judge this person negatively?

Mohamed: Only Allah knows. He is the Judge.

Naomi: What if somebody did good things his whole life, and tried hard to never hurt anyone, and then on his death bed he doesn’t repent?

Mohamed: He is punished in hell.

Naomi: But he was good!

Mohamed: The good deeds were for himself.

Naomi: So you're saying that Allah would punish a good person.

Mohamed: If a person is good to other people, but his attitude towards the Creator is poor, why should he be rewarded for that?

Naomi: That's like a parent who punishes his kid for doing good things. Why should the parent punish his kid for doing good things?

Mohamed: If the kid isn’t respectful to the parent, would he still be considered good?

Naomi: What do you mean by "isn't respectful to parent"?

Mohamed: Disobeying his parent. Being ungrateful of his parent.

Naomi: That's like saying that it's parent's right for his kids to be obedient to parent. Doesn't the kid have the right to have his own opinions? Doesn't he have the right to live his life according to his own opinions?

Mohamed: Isn’t it God's right that he be recognized, that His commandments be followed? He created man with a purpose.

Naomi: That's like saying that the parent had a purpose for his child when he gave him birth. But the child didn't choose to be born. It's not the child's fault for being born. The parent caused that. So why shouldn't the child have the freedom to live his life according to his own chosen purpose?

Mohamed: Does that give the child the right to be disobedient and ungrateful? And is being disobedient and ungrateful a good deed????

Naomi: I don’t understand what you’re saying here. Why do you think the child does not have the right, the freedom, to live his life by his own opinions? Just because he was born to the particular parents he was born to?

Naomi: And why do you think that the child should be grateful? Grateful for what? The child didn’t ask to be born. When somebody is grateful for something, it’s because he asked for it or otherwise wanted it, and then somebody gave it to him. In this case, the child did not ask to be born and he didn't want to be born, so there is nothing to be grateful for.

MohamedThe Creator has blessed you with all kinds of faculties.

NaomiAnalogously, the parent gave the child lots of faculties too. So what?

MohamedDoes that not warrant gratefulness??

Naomi: Whether or not the child should be grateful should be about way more than just giving birth. The parent is responsible for helping the child, helping him become independent, helping him learn, helping him live a good life. If the parent fails at these things, then what is there to be grateful for? Being given birth is such a low standard for being grateful.

Naomi: And that's even a different question from whether or not the parent should expect his child to be grateful. It shouldn't be expected. It should be earned. And the child should be the sole judge (of whether or not his parent did a good job enough to deserve gratefulness).

Mohamed[blank out]

Naomi: Let me ask it like this: Is it a good deed for the parent to expect obedience from his child?

Mohamed: There is nothing wrong with having expectations.

Naomi: The parent can have expectations for himself. Why should he have expectations for his child? Why shouldn't the child have the right, the freedom, to choose expectations for his own life?

Mohamed: Are you saying the child should be disrespectful because he feels he owes nothing to his parents?

Naomi: Owes? Why would the child owe the parent anything? It's the parent that owes the child. It's the parent who chose for the child to be born -- the child did not choose to have his particular parents.

Naomi: Who chose for the child to be brought into the world dependent on his parent? The parent chose that, not the child. So the parent owes his child, not the other way around.

Naomi: And I don't even know what you mean by "disrespectful" besides not obeying somebody who expects obedience. And this still leaves the question: Why is it a good deed for the parent to expect obedience from his child

MohamedIs that an evil deed? Is it evil to expect your child to listen to you?

Naomi: I don't get the point of your question. Is it evil for a child to have the freedom to have his own opinions, and the freedom to live his life by his own opinions instead of the opinions of his parents?

Naomi: I mean, I know that parents want for their children to do good, so they try to get their children to adopt good values ("expectations"), but shouldn't the parent explain his good values so that the child might adopt them?

Mohamed: That's why there is revelation. To help guide mankind. To do what is right.

Naomi: Ok but don't you think the parent should explain those values so that the child might adopt them?

Naomi: I mean, how can the child adopt some values without knowing why those values are good? Doesn't the parent need to explain why those values are beneficial to his child so that he might be persuaded of the benefit of those values?

Mohamed: Again the role of a holy book and revelation fits that.

Naomi: Are you're saying that the holy book explains why the values it has are good/beneficial?

Mohamed: It explains our purpose in life. How we should live our life. Why we came to this earth. And where are we going. What is good and what is bad in the eyes of God.

Naomi: I note that you didn't include whether or not the holy book explains why those so-called good things are beneficial and why those so-called bad things are harmful. Does it explain this part too?

Mohamed: [blank out]

Naomi: In other words, in the parent analogy, you're saying that the parent explains what is good and what is bad, but you didn't clarify whether or not the parent explains to his child why the so-called good things are beneficial and why the so-called bad things are harmful.

Mohamed: The question was on the goodness of a person who is disrespectful or disobedient. That just because you are good to others, that doesn't mean you're being good to your parent.

Naomi: And my clarifying question about that, which you haven't answered, is: Why should the parent expect obedience? Why is that good? Why don't you consider it evil for a parent to ignore his child's freedom to form his own opinions independent of his parent's opinions? Why don't you consider it evil for a parent to ignore his child's freedom to live his life by his own opinions independent of his parent's opinions?

Mohamed: The analogy fails here. God created humans for a purpose.

Naomi: And if God wanted man to be persuaded that the things he calls good and evil are beneficial and harmful (respectively), then he should have explained these things in his holy book so that we might be persuaded.

Mohamed: But God created man to worship him, not for them to question his laws.

Naomi: But God is supposed to be perfect/infallible/omniscient, and as I understand it, the Quran is claimed to be perfect/infallible/omniscient. And one of the things that that implies is that it answers all possible questions that any person could ask. So when I ask the question why is this so-called good action beneficial? and if I don't find the explanation in the Quran, then this is evidence that refutes the claim that the Quran is perfect.

Mohamed: [blank out]

Naomi: So let's recap. I told you that Allah would punish a good person who didn't believe in him, and I gave you the parent analogy to explain how that doesn't make sense. You replied saying that a good child that disobeys his parent is not actually good. 

Naomi: Then I showed you how it's wrong for a parent to expect obedience, and instead he should explain the merits and demerits of certain actions as a means of helping his child figure out what's good and what's evil, while not infringing on his child's freedom to form his own opinions and live his life according to his own opinions.

Naomi: Then you said that the parent analogy fails because you realized that the Quran does not explain why the things it claims are good are beneficial, nor does it explain why the things it claims are evil are harmful.

Naomi: Then I explained to you that not explaining these things implies fallibility/imperfection/non-omniscience.

Mohamed: [blank out]

Naomi: No answer?

Naomi: If the Quran is not perfect, while claiming to be perfect, then why should anyone believe any of its claims? Why should I believe that Allah is real?

Naomi: How do you know that Mohamed didn't invent Allah and the Quran?

Naomi: If you have no answer, then I have no reason to believe your claims. I'm out.


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