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A Perennial Problem: Is Islam the Only Valid Path to God?

Shaykh Abu Aaliyah Surkheel



Is Islam (the religion and way of life the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ came with) the only path to God? Does the Qur’an extend the validity of religions beyond Islam; to any who believe in God and act rightly? Or does the Qur’an insist that Islam is the exclusive and only path to God? And what of the idea that some have culled from their personal reading of the Qur’an that at the heart of the world’s major religions and faiths, there is an essential unity of truth? This, Islam and the idea of salvic exclusivity, is our topic for discussion.

Our discussion concerning the above delicate and, in our current time, controversial questions are addressed through the following points:

1. The Qur’an is categorical when it says: He who seeks a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he shall be among the losers. [3:85] Elsewhere it states: The [true] religion in Allah’s sight is Islam. [3:19] Whatever other verses may be marshalled in this issue, these two must surely lie at its heart.

2. Turning to the words of the Prophet ﷺ, we find him informing: “By Him in whose Hand is the life of Muhammad! Anyone from this nation, be they a Jew or a Christian, who hears of me and dies without believing in what I have come with, shall be among the inhabitants of Hell.”1 Fleshing out the hadith’s theological implications, Imam al-Nawawi said: ‘It contains [a proof] that all religions have now been abrogated by the prophethood of our Prophet ﷺ. Also, in its explicit meaning is a proof that those to whom the call of Islam does not reach, are excused.’2

3. Not only has the religion of Islam that the Prophet ﷺ was sent with superseded all previously revealed heavenly teachings, this last dispensation or “version” of Islam is a universal one too. The Qur’an says: Say: ‘O Mankind! Truly I am the Messenger of Allah to you all.’ [7:158]  Al-Ghazali said in his magesterial Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din – “Revival of the Religious Sciences”: ‘Allah sent the Qurayshi unlettered Prophet Muhammad ﷺ with His divinely-inspired Message to the entire world: to Arabs and non-Arabs, jinn and mankind. The Prophet’s Sacred Law has abrogated and superceded all earlier revealed laws, except those provisions in them that the [new] Sacred Law has reconfirmed.’3

4. Over the past eight decades or so a view has arisen which alleges that Islam affirms the validity of other religions, denying or failing to mention that they have long since been abrogated. Recourse has been taken to the following passage to justify the claim:Those who believe [in the Qur’an], the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabaeans; whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does what is right, shall be rewarded by their Lord; no fear will come upon them, nor shall they grieve. [2:62] This verse, it’s claimed, extends the validity of religions beyond just Islam, and the possibility of salvation beyond just Muslims, to whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day. The error of such a claim can be gauged from the next three points:

5. Apart from ignoring the above proof-texts to the contrary, this view stands against Islamic orthodoxy which states, as per Imam al-Nawawi: ‘One who does not consider a person who follows a religion besides Islam – like a Christian – to be a disbeliever, or doubts that such a person is a disbeliever, or deems their religion to still be valid, is himself a disbeliever – even if, along with this, he manifests Islam and believes in it.’4Such, then, is the enormity of the error and the magnitude of its misguidance. Qadi ‘Iyad affirmed a consensus about this, saying that: ‘there is a consensus (ijma‘) about the disbelief of one who does not consider as disbelievers the Christians, Jews and all those who part from the religion of the Muslims; or hesitates about their disbelief, or doubts it.’5

6. How then should the above verse [2:62] be read? Scholars of tafsir, along with their belief that the Qur’an’s message now supersedes all previous heavenly teachings, offer these interpretations for the above verse: [i] It is said to refer to those seekers of truth who believed in the imminent arrival of the final Prophet – like Habib al-Najjar, Qays b. Sa‘adah, Waraqah b. Nawfal, Zayd b. ‘Amr b. Nufayl, Bahirah the Monk, Salman al-Farsi and Abu Dharr al-Ghiffari. Some of them reached the Prophet ﷺ and accepted Islam at his hand. Others didn’t reach him, but are nonetheless included among those who believe in Allah and the Last Day. [ii] It refers to the believers of previous nations, following the prophets of their respective times. [iii] It’s claimed to refer to those Jews and Christians who, prior to accepting Islam in the time of the Prophet ﷺ, followed the unaltered teachings of Moses and Jesus; peace be upon them both. [iv] A few say it refers to the hypocrites; which is somewhat odd.6 Whatever the correct intent of this passage is, the view which extends salvation unrestrictedly, to include even those who deny the Prophet Muhammad’s prophethood ﷺ, is conspicuous by its absence in the classical tafsir literature.

7. Ibn Kathir helps put the above verse into context with his customary hermeneutics; he explains: ‘The faith of the Jews was that of those who adhered to the Torah and the way of Moses, peace be upon him, until the arrival of Jesus. With the advent of Jesus, those who followed the Torah and the Mosaic Laws, not leaving them to follow Jesus, were doomed. The faith of the Christians was that of whoever adhered to the Gospel and to the teaching of Jesus. They were believers and their faith valid till the advent of Muhammad ﷺ. Those who rejected Muhammad ﷺ, by not leaving the Gospel and Jesus’ way are doomed … This doesn’t conflict with what ‘Ali b. Abi Talha relates from Ibn ‘Abbas that: Those who believe [in the Qur’an], the Jews, the Christians, and Sabaeans; whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day was followed by Allah revealing: He who seeks a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him, and in the Afterlife he will be among the losers. For what Ibn ‘Abbas is simply informing is that no path is acceptable from anyone, nor any deed, unless it conforms to the shari‘ah of Muhammad ﷺ now that he has been sent. Prior to this, anyone who followed the particular prophet of his time was upon right guidance and the path of salvation.’7

8. In the above light, philosophies that speak of the “Essential Unity of Religions”, or “Perennialism”, are disbelief (kufr). The metaphysics of these philosophies is such that they insist the world’s major faiths: Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, like Islam, all contain at their heart a core set of esoteric truths, despite them differing immensely in their external appearance, forms and practices – and even in many of their beliefs. They also believe that these major religions, again like Islam, still retain their validity even today. The metaphor used to describe the Unity of Religions is that of a bicycle wheel. The spokes represent the different religions; the hub symbolises God, the Supreme Being, the Transcendent Reality. Just as the spokes come closer to each other as they near the hub, so too, as each path comes closer to the One Reality, it comes closer to all other paths. Now as appealing as it sounds to some, it can never pass for authoritative, orthodox Quranic teachings – as has been shown.

9. Asserting that such Perennialist philosophy is clear disbelief (kufr) does not amount to an accusation that each specific individual who holds such a belief is necessarily an unbeliever (kafir) – as is well attested to in mainstream Sunni theology. The maxim in this matter runs as follows: laysa kullu man waqa‘a fi’l-kufr sara kafir – ‘Not everyone who falls into disbelief, becomes a disbeliever.’ The shari‘ah upholds the distinction between a general charge of disbelief (takfir ‘amm), and the charge of disbelief upon a specific individual (takfir mu‘ayyan). Ibn Taymiyyah said: ‘They have not given proper consideration that making takfir has conditions (shurut) and impediments (mawani‘) that must be actualised if it is to be applied to a specific individual. Because a general declaration of takfir doesn’t imply takfir on a specific individual – until conditions are fulfilled and impediments lifted.’8

10. The Perennialist Philosophy (religio perennis) was first propagated in the late 1930s. It was Frithjof Schuon who would bring this idea to its fruition. Among those who came under Schuon’s influence were those like Martin Lings, Gai Eaton and Seyyed Hossein Nasr (the first two also being converts to Islam). Such Muslims who, through a hugely errant ta’wil or interpretation that misled them into perennialism, are part of a highly learned body of authors and academics who offer some of the finest critiques of modernity from a traditional perspective, and profoundest spiritual expositions of Islam to modern beleaguered hearts and minds. That their writings have, by Allah’s grace, brought so many Westerners into the fold of Islam is beyond doubt. Perennial beliefs aside, their writings are a reminder that to hold to a simple faith without much intellectual and spiritual content is no longer possible in our modern world. For the spirit of our times asks questions, questions for the most part hostile to faith, which demands answers. And those answers can only come from informed and thoughtful faith; from adequate familiarity with modernity’s philosophical underpinnings; and from reflective study, introspection and meditation.

11. Interestingly, the late Martin Lings wrote in The Eleventh Hour about the theory of man’s evolution that if it is indeed true, why didn’t God tell believers about it to begin with, or at least gradually bring them into it? Why did He allow religion after religion to repeat the same old ways of thinking, and prevent prophet after prophet from ever divulging its true nature? Yet He allowed a mere non-prophet to discern its reality and propogate it in defiance of all spiritual authorities of the time.9 And yet a similar line of argument can equally apply to the belief in perennialism. For using the same rhyme and reason one could ask: Why didn’t Allah tell believers about this to begin with, or wean them steadily onto it? Why did Allah allow prophet after prophet to repeat the same ways of thinking, or prevent them from disclosing its true nature? And yet, we are to believe, He allowed a mere non-prophet to arrive at this great existential truth, propagating it in disregard to a scholarly consensus of the past sages and present-day spiritual authorities. The point being is that if Islam’s religious authorities all deemed the belief to be kufr, on what basis should Perennialism be accepted?

12. What of those to whom the message of Islam has not been conveyed, or they have heard about Islam and the Prophet, but in a distorted form? Here the Qur’an presents a far wider, ecumenical scope: Nor do We punish until We have sent a Messenger. [17:15] Also: Whenever a fresh host is cast into it [Hell], its keepers ask them: ‘Did a warner never come to you?’ They will say: ‘Yes, a warner came to us; but we denied.’ [67:8-9] The idea ofbulugh al-da‘wah, “conveyance of the message,” therefore, is vital in this issue; typified by the words of Imam al-Nawawi (which have already preceded in point 2) that ‘those to whom the call of Islam does not reach are excused.’

13. Some to whom the message of Islam is communicated refuse to believe in it out of wilful rejection (juhud) of it or because of belying (takdhib) it. Others, however, choose not to hear the message, but instead turn away from it (i‘radan ‘anha) out of arrogance or prejudice against it, or hostility towards it – in some cases doing so knowing it is the truth: And they rejected them [Allah’s signs], although they inwardly recognised them, through injustice and arrogance. [27:14] Now it’s quite possible that many non-Muslims today fall into this predicament, in that some of them are capable of discerning the revealed truths of Islam. But whether out of not desiring to forsake familiar habits; or losing their standing among people; having contempt for Muslims; arrogant prejudice against them; or just out of sheer folly and misguidance, many turn away from even considering the Qur’an. Unless there are other factors to mitigate this kufr of theirs, such people will have no excuse on Judgement Day.10

14. As for those who have heard about Islam, but in a distorted form, I’ll suffice with what Imam al-Ghazali wrote about the matter: ‘In fact, I would say that, Allah willing, most of the Byzantine Christians and the Turks of this age will be included in Allah’s mercy. I’m referring here to those who live in the farthest regions of Byzantium and Anatolia who have not come into contact with the message. These people are of three groups: [i] A party who have never so much as heard the name ‘Muhammad’ ﷺ. They are excused. [ii] A party who knew his name, character and miracles he wrought; who lived in lands adjacent to the lands of Islam and thus came into contact with Muslims. These are blaspheming unbelievers. [iii] A third party who fall between the two. These people knew the name ‘Muhammad’ ﷺ, but nothing of his character or his qualities. Instead, all they heard since childhood is that a liar and imposter called ‘Muhammad’ claimed to be a prophet; just as our children have heard that an arch-liar and deceiver called al-Muqaffa‘ claimed Allah sent him [as a prophet] and then challenged people to disprove his claim. This party, in my opinion, is like the first party. For even though they’ve heard his name, they heard the opposite of what his true qualities were. And this does not provide enough incentive for them to investigate [his true status].’11

15. That some non-Muslims will be excused for their disbelief in the Hereafter doesn’t mean that they are not judged as disbelievers in this world. All who have not declared the Two Testimonies of Faith, the shahadah, are non-Muslims; disbelievers. Some are actively hostile against Islam and Muslims; most are not. While it behoves a believer to wisely and sincerely seek to guide into faith those who disbelieve, it does not befit a believer to blur the distinction between faith (iman) and disbelief (kufr). Al-Ghazali gives us this rule of thumb: ‘Disbelief is to reject the Prophet ﷺ in whatever he came with, while faith is to affirm as true all that he came with. Therefore the Jew and the Christian are disbelievers due to their rejection of the Prophet.’12

16. As for the honourific distinctions given to the Jews and Christans in the Qur’an, in that they are referred to as People of the Book (ahl al-kitab), their chaste womenfolk are lawful to marry, and their ritually-slaughtered meat may be eaten, then this in no way excludes them from being a category of disbelievers. Fakhr al-Din al-Razi wrote, citing al-Qaffal, that ‘although the ahl al-kitab have acquired the virtue in this world of [us] being able to marry their women and eat their slaughtered meat. Yet this does not set them apart from the idolators in matters of the Afterlife, in terms of rewards and chastisements.’13

To wrap up the discussion: The Qur’an insists that every prophet came with a core set of universal truths centred around Allah’s Oneness (tawhid). The Qur’an says: We have sent to every nation a Messenger [proclaiming]: ‘Worship Allah and shun false gods.’ [16:36] It is possible, therefore, for Buddhism and Hinduism to have been, in the ancient past, divinely-revealed. Yet it is equally true that the Qur’an insists of previously-revealed religions and their scriptures that they have long suffered alteration and corruption at the hands of men, and that whatever revealed truths were once present in them have long since been forgotten, changed, compromised or overshadowed by corrupted and idolatrous beliefs and practices. So while the world’s major faiths do show similarities with Islam, this does not prove their essential unity with it as they currently exist. For they haven’t only been altered, but have also been abrogated and superceded by what was revealed to the final Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. This is why: He who seeks a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers. Now whether such an explanation is passionate or dispassionate, narrow and unecumenical, or born of a “madrasah mentality,” it is the unanimous belief of Islam’s eminent sages, jurists and theologians. It is, in other words, the Quranic truth.

That said, I think it befitting to close with these words from Shaykh Bin Bayyah, one of contemporary Islam’s most revered and learned jurists: ‘Of course, a devotional life in this world should be lived in peaceful co-existence with others.’14 O Allah! Bless us with iman and aman – with faith and security; and make us of benefit to Islam and to humanity, and not a harm or a hindrance to them. Amin.

1. Muslim, no.240.

2. Sharh Sahih Muslim (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1995), 2:162.

3. Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din (Beirut: Dar al-Ma‘rifah, 2004), 1:120.

4. Rawdat al-Talibin (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2003), 7:290. Its like is seen in  al-Buhuti, Kashshaf al-Qina‘ (Beirut: ‘Alam al-Kutub, 1983), 6:170.

5. Qadi ‘Iyad, al-Shifa’ (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm, 2002), 450.

6. Cf. al-Baghawi, Ma‘alim al-Tanzil (Riyadh: Dar Taybah, 2010), 1:57; Ibn al-Jawzi, Zad al-Masir (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 2002), 65.

7. Tafsir Qur’an al-‘Azim (Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifah, 1986), 1:107.

8.  Majmu‘ Fatawa (Riyadh: Dar ‘Alam al-Kutub, 1991), 12:487-8. Also see the article on this blog: Takfir: Its Dangers & Rules.

9. Lings, The Eleventh Hour (Cambridge: Archetype, 2002), 28.

10. See: Bin Bayyah, What of Those to Whom Islam Does Not Reach?

11. Al-Ghazali, Faysal al-Tafriqah (Damascus: 1993), 84.

12. ibid., 25.

13. Al-Razi, Mafatih al-Ghayb (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1981), 11:151, on Qur’an 5:5.

14. Bin Bayyah, What of Those to Whom Islam Does Not Reach?

Abu Aaliyah is the founder of The Jawziyyah Institute, a leading institute for Islamic moderation and contemporary thought in the United Kingdom. Sidi Abu Aaliyah has been in involved in Dawah and Islamic teachings since 1986. He has translated a number of books from the Arabic language into English such as "The Exquisite Pearls". Abu Aaliyah's written works and audio lectures can be found online.



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    January 22, 2016 at 3:12 AM

    As-salamu alaikum
    Thank you for this article. I am born German converted to Islam. Many of the other people in my situation just WANT to believe that it is enough to believe in one God like christians, or be a good person – because we all have family who are non-muslim and they don’t want to think about them as unbelievers and lost.
    I know they are, as much as it hurts me – but I can only pray to Allah to guide them to the right path. Articles like this will, I hope, prevent especially converts of leaving unbelievers behind believing that they don’t need to accept Islam.

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      January 27, 2016 at 9:38 PM

      Neither you not I are not in the position to judge others. I pray that you are in the position to help them. Being influenced by literalism in religion may lead to a blind alley. Allah’s compassion is greater than we can know. We can learn to serve God and compassion through service to humanity, its needs and its potential. Imposing a particular framework to this work may not require conversion of others. To insist on this can be a form of violence. And Allah knows best.

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        January 28, 2016 at 4:43 PM

        And His punishment is greater than we can know. Call it literal-ism or call it being judgmental, this sister is accepting Allah’s word as the truth and thus accepting that He promised disbelievers eternal fire which we should all be afraid of.

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        June 16, 2016 at 3:23 AM

        I am sensing Fethullah Gulen here, is it true?

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      January 28, 2016 at 5:38 PM

      Explanation of 2:62!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      May Allah have mercy on Andrew Booso for explaining this!

      Andrew Booso’s article on Suhaib

      The contemporary world, in which religious studies and Scriptural analyses are not known to respect historical orthodoxies, has witnessed a variety of writers oppose the finality of Islam, whilst claiming to be representatives of Islam. These claims usually fall on deaf ears because most Muslims are adherents of the orthodox position. Nevertheless, a literalist and unscholarly reading of the Qur’an can lead to some confusion, and this has been the case with the method of writers adhering to perennial philosophy.
      The first verse that causes confusion to one unfamiliar with orthodoxy is Qur’an 2:62, whose confusion is eliminated by the following translation from Saheeh International through the use of ungainly, yet necessary, comments in square brackets:

      ((Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans [before Prophet Muhammad] – those [among them] who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness – will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.))

      The relevant exegesis of this verse from the Tafsir (exegesis, or interpretation) of Tabari, on the authority of Suddi and Mujahid (the student of Ibn ‘Abbas, may God be well pleased with him and his father), establishes the orthodox position from the earliest period of Muslim history:

      The Suddi Hadith

      Suddi relates the lengthy story of Salman the Persian’s coming to Islam, telling of his conversion first to Christianity from Zoroastrianism after meeting a Christian monk, and how he travelled to one sage after the next, serving each until their death, until the last one told him that a prophet was about to appear, saying: “I do not think that I shall live to see him, but you are a young man, and are likely to live to see him. He will come forth in the land of the Arabs.” The account continues to when at last Salman meets the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) in Medina, and:

      while he was talking with him, Salman remembered his former companions, and told the Prophet ﷺ how they had been, saying, “They used to fast, pray, and believe in you, and they testified that you would be sent as a prophet.” When Salman had finished praising them, the Prophet ﷺ told him, “Salman, they are of the denizens of hell.” And that distressed Salman greatly, for he had said to him, “Had they met you they would have believed and followed you.” So Allah revealed this verse: “‘Surely those who believe, those of Jewry, the Christians, and the Sabaeans—whoever has faith in Allah and the Last Day . . .” (Tabari, 1.323).

      The Mujahid Hadith

      The second hadith (record of the words or actions of the Prophet ﷺ) is from Mujahid, also about the conversion of Salman to Islam and the subsequent revealing of the verse “Surely those who believe…” In this account:

      Salman told the Prophet ﷺ about those Christians and what he had seen of their works, and he replied, “They did not die upon Islam.” Salman said, “The whole earth darkened around me,” and he recounted their spiritual rigors. Then this verse was revealed, so the Prophet ﷺ summoned Salman and told him, “This verse has been revealed about your companions.” Then he added, “Whoever dies upon the religion of Jesus and in submission [lit. “upon Islam”] before he hears of me is in goodly state. But whoever hears of me today and does not believe in me has perished,” (Tabari, 1.323).

      Tabari comments:

      Therefore, the correct interpretation (ta’wil) of the verse is what we have just mentioned from Mujahid and Suddi; that those who believe of this Umma [community], and those who were Jews, and the Christians, and Sabaeans: whoever believed—of the Jews, Christians, and Sabaeans—in God and the Last Day, “their wage awaits them with their Lord; no fear shall be upon them, nor shall they sorrow.” The interpretation we first mentioned [in his Qur’anic exegesis a few pages earlier, that “whoever believes in and acknowledges the Resurrection after death on Judgement Day, and does good deeds, obeying God, shall have their reward with their Lord”] is closest to the literal content of the text, for Allah (exalted is His praise) has not chosen one segment of humanity above the rest in rewarding good works when they are accompanied by true faith. [Tabari, 1.320, 323–24, trans. Keller]

      Ibn Kathir also states in his Tafsir:

      [After narrating that the verse was revealed as mentioned by Suddi] The faith of the Jews was that of whoever adhered to the Torah and the sunnah [tradition] of Moses (upon whom be peace) until the coming of Jesus. When Jesus came, whoever held fast to the Torah and the sunnah of Moses without giving them up and following Jesus was lost.

      The faith of the Christians was that whoever adhered to the Evangel and precepts of Jesus, their faith was valid and acceptable until the coming of Muhammad ﷺ. Those of them who did not then follow Muhammad ﷺ and give up the sunnah of Jesus and the Evangel were lost.

      The foregoing is not contradicted by the hadith relating that the verse “Surely those who believe, those of Jewry, the Christians, and the Sabaeans—whoever has faith in Allah and the Last Day…” (2:62), was followed by Allah’s revealing: “Whoever seeks other than Islam as a religion shall never have it accepted of him, and he shall be of those who have truly failed in the next life,” (Qur’an 3:85), for the hadith merely confirms that no one’s way or spiritual works are acceptable unless they conform to the Sacred Law of Muhammad ﷺ now that he has been sent with it. As for people prior to this, anyone who followed the messenger of his own time was guided, on the right path, and was saved. [Tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Adhim, 1.283, trans. Keller]

    • Avatar

      joe shmo

      February 7, 2016 at 6:45 PM

      What a load of crap.

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    January 22, 2016 at 7:19 AM

    YUSUFALI: And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah’?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.
    YUSUFALI: “Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, to wit, ‘worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord’; and I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt amongst them; when Thou didst take me up Thou wast the Watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things.
    YUSUFALI: “If Thou dost punish them, they are Thy servant: If Thou dost forgive them, Thou art the Exalted in power, the Wise.”
    YUSUFALI: Allah will say: “This is a day on which the truthful will profit from their truth: theirs are gardens, with rivers flowing beneath,- their eternal Home: Allah well-pleased with them, and they with Allah: That is the great salvation, (the fulfilment of all desires).

    Qur’an 5:116 -119

    Salam Alaykum.

    I will come to the above verses I quoted shortly after a brief background. I have only recently realized that Islam is indeed the Truth. I come from a Muslim family but was a convinced atheist for the past 12 years. One of the biggest flaw I saw in the idea of God and revelation is not just the existence of multiple claimants to the Truth – with logically incompatible creeds – but the obvious fact that people are good & bad despite their religion. I knew I had a stronger moral code than most Muslims yet I didn’t believe in any God. So how can a Creator decide to chose one claimant and insist that humans all accept that version or go to Hell? As an atheist, I thought “it would at least piqued my interest if there was only one religion in the entire world and then there were agnostics, atheists, deists etc.”

    God Almighty guided me and I found answers which make complete sense of the world for me. I will attempt to summarize below:

    I quoted the above verses about Jesus and his followers (clearly refers to Christians in this context, not jews) because Allah’s response to Jesus is interesting and – in my opinion – clearly provides the answer to the question posed by this article. In verse 119 Allah says – on the Day of Judgement – that the “truthful” will profit from their sincerity and be saved. The “truthful” here clearly refers to the sincere amongst the Christians who believed in Jesus’ divinity. Within the context, it cannot be said that it refers to any truthful person (muslim, jew, hindu, believer or non believer) but only those amongst Jesus’ followers who were misled into believing erroneous creeds. An example would be an upright Christian who lives a moral life, was an honest and truthful person and sincerely believed that Jesus was divine (which obviously means they never came across the true message of Islam). It is illogical to assume that Allah – the All-Merciful and the Just – would punish an upright, Truthful person because they were ignorant of the true nature of God by no fault of their own.

    That being said, mainstream christian Creed is certainly blasphemous and incompatible with the Truth. That does not mean that all adherents of the faith as “kafir” or blasphemers. They are simply ignorant (“jahil”). Blasphemy and Kufar both require intent. I don’t know why we always translate “kafir” as disbeliever. Kafir is someone who KNOWINGLY conceals the Truth – it is not a label we need to use as frequently as we do. Allah knows who is and who isn’t a Kafir and He can say so as much as He wants to (and He does in the Quran) but no individual (save the prophets) can make such a claim about anyone – Muslim or non-Muslim. If you insist on translating “kafir” as “disbeliever” than I would say a person who isn’t a Muslim is a “Non-muslim” – not a “disbeliever” unless you have some God-given certainty that they have knowingly rejected the Truth.

    So in a nutshell: Islam IS the only religion which still has the Truth preserved in its Holy Book. Outwardly a Muslim is on the truth path and all others are not. However, that does not mean that they are therefore all “kufar” nor does it mean that the Muslim is a “believer.” No doubt there are many munafiqoon amongst us muslims – these are not believers.

    Finally, with regards to why Allah allowed the other religions to exist despite Islam being the only “true” religion: I have an opinion on this and am not as confident about it as I am about my position on the previous point. Allah has allowed the other religions to exist because following them is, in the end, better than not having any religion whatsoever (mostly) and being left completely unprotected against Shaytan and his minions. A Christian is more likely to conform to good morals than someone who isn’t a Christian or a Muslim. Being a Buddhist is still better than being a materialist or nihilist etc etc. These religions do not have ultimate truth but they still have a moral code which is compatible with Islam in many ways. The world is better off with SOME moral philosophy – even one that is ill-conceived – than not.

    Allah knows best.

    Thank you.


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      January 23, 2016 at 6:40 AM

      If I wrote a story wherein Darth Vader tells Luke Skywalker that they are not related, does that nullify the familial claims made in the Star Wars movies?

      Your entire argument is, “I believe the story in the Koran, therefore the story in the Bible is false.” I don’t doubt that you believe it (and, what a coincidence, that it’s the religion you were raised in). I question how you decided the Koran story is correct.

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        Ahmad B.

        January 23, 2016 at 7:46 AM

        Yes. If the Star Wars movies have a relatively murky and unsure origin and are known to have been edited over the years by numerous directors, many of whom disagreed among themselves whether Vader and Walker were related, then yes, these claims would be on shaky ground. If, simultaneously, your denial of the claim was not based merely on a “story you wrote” but on direct revelation you received from God, and we have a high degree of confidence in your honesty and character, the circumstances of your life, and a high degree of confidence in the preservation and accurate transmission of the text that was revealed to you denying the relationship, then yes, it would nullify the familial claims made in the Star Wars movies. That’s the whole point I was making about comparative textual integrity: there is very little in common between the Bible and the Quran on this level.

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          January 23, 2016 at 7:56 AM

          Are you implying that textual integrity and known authorship have any bearing on a story being true? Is that your standard of evidence when judging claims made in books?

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        Ahmad B.

        January 23, 2016 at 7:56 AM

        Also, the fact that some people grew up believing (erroneously in our thought experiment) that Vader and Walker were related while others grew up believing (correctly) that they were not related may certainly result, by virtue of habit and human psychology, in each group as adults having a natural tendency to keep on believing what they have been taught from youth. But this is only a psychological observation; it has nothing whatsoever to do with the objective truth of either one of the two irreconcilable beliefs. Just because Muslim adults may believe what they were taught as Muslim children and Christian adults what they were taught as Christian children says exactly nothing about the beliefs themselves. Also, lots of people convert to one religion or the other, or leave either religion for unbelief or something else. By the way, people raised in the dominant paradigm of secular humanism to which you refer do not escape this rule: they form psychological habits through years of schooling, etc. which often prejudice them from the start against taking any metaphysical religious truth claims seriously (i.e., it’s just a priori ridiculous to think that there might be a God, that He might have actually communicated with His creation, that there might be something to certain religious truth claims that’s actually worth investigating with an open mind rather than just laughing off as primitive superstition, etc.). Surely you, as well as I, know many such people; they are all over, and are very loud, in our particular day and age.

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        Ahmad B.

        January 23, 2016 at 8:19 AM

        About textual integrity and known authorship equating to the truth of a story, of course those would not be sufficient criteria on their own. Anyone can write whatever he wants. It’s what we know about the Prophet Muhammad’s character, biography, and life circumstances that lead to the conclusion that he was not a liar or an impostor, but was actually receiving revelation from God. The Qur’an is God speaking in the first person, not a human voice speaking about God in the third person, like Muhammad saying: “O Arabs, come let us worship God alone,” etc. in his own voice. In such a case, one could say, well maybe he just had some nice ideas about monotheism, justice, etc., possibly inspired in some vague sense.

        But when the claim being made is one of direct verbatim dictation through an angel, and the resultant text is in the divine voice itself, this changes the equation quite a bit. If Muhammad made it up, then certainly he would be not some well-meaning moral reformer or religious revivalist who may have gotten something right and others wrong, but indeed the most loathsome of impostors and brazen of liars. I mean, who would make up something and have the audacity to speak in God’s very own voice, in the first person, and do it year after year other than an inveterate liar (even if with good intentions), someone with schizophrenia, or just a completely dishonest person?

        So he was either one or all of these things, or he really was a prophet receiving an actual divine revelation from God. I find it hard to strike a plausible middle ground here. Yet all the circumstances we know about his life and character and many other things are completely incompatible with the psychological profile he would have to have had were he really a fake. Therefore, it is neither unreasonable nor irrational to conclude that he was, indeed, a prophet authentically receiving divine revelation from God.

        Of course, if one presumes atheism, materialism, deism, etc. (as is practically the default in our day, particularly among the intellectual classes) from the outset, such a conclusion — or even a serious and open-minded investigation of the claim — will automatically be blocked by one’s prior worldview commitments (which means that one would, by definition, be approaching the claim in a prejudiced, not an open, manner). If one is starting out with the smug assumption that “of course he couldn’t have been a ‘prophet’ because there is no God to begin with to have revealed messages, sent messengers to guide people, etc.,” then the discussion would have to be a philosophical one revolving around the plausibility of atheism / materialism, etc. before getting to a specific claim of divine revelation such as the case of the Qur’an.

        Of course, many people have entered the other way and, reading the Qur’an, have simply felt deep down that they were being addressed not by another human being like themselves, but by the Creator Himself who knows the very inner whisperings of their hearts and minds. This is exactly how Cat Stevens (you may have heard of him) became “Yusuf Islam” in the late 1970s. You may want to check out his story. “The Road to Mecca” by Muhammad Asad, a converted Austrian Jew and prominent 20th-century Muslim thinker, Quran translator, and writer is also a very well-written and profound read.

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          January 23, 2016 at 8:31 AM

          What we may or may not know about one’s character in no way informs us as to the validity of claims regarding supernatural revelation. And, perhaps you were not aware, but the most recently discovered Koran manuscripts fall outside the timeline of the Mohammed narrative. So, the authorship is murky. Add to this the changes that have occurred to the text over the centuries, and it’s just as problematic as the Bible.

          Hypothetical: If your honest, caring, God-fearing mother came to you and told you that she had received divine revelations that showed her that the ancient Norse gods were real, and not the Abrahamic god or any of the ancient Babylonian pantheon, do we now have compelling evidence for Thor? What if your mother was also a great warrior who had led incursions into foreign lands and triumphed at every turn? Is that any better evidence that Thor is real? What if, on top of her honesty, caring nature, and successful military career, she was also beloved by millions. Now do we have good evidence for Thor’s existence?

          Do we judge a claim based on who makes the claim or the evidence that supports it?

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          January 23, 2016 at 9:12 AM

          It’s not the assumption that there is no god of any kind; it’s that the claim that there is a god of some kind needs to be demonstrated to be true. Why should a person accept that a given story was written by a man as dictated by an angel?

          If someone you have deemed trustworthy tells you he was visited by leprechauns last night, do you accept that claim as true?

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        January 23, 2016 at 8:28 AM

        Randy I was an atheist for 12 years (until this past Summer) and so will overlook why you have this urgent need come across as knowledgeable whereas we’re all here blindly following mythologies passed down to us by our forefathers. Having said that, and to my own credit, I would not have interjected in a discussion unrelated to HOW we know what’s true with a comment like yours. You raise a very important question which I likely shared you view on for most of my teenage and adult life BUT this article is clearly for people who already believe that Islam is the Truth.

        So with all that out of the way, if you’re still interested in finding out my views on what you stated I suggest you rephrase it more appropriately and remove the part where you assume how & why I came to believe what I believe. This is not to be stern but rather it will show that you are a sincere person who is actually interested in hearing other views – not someone who’s got an ulterior agenda.

        Thank you


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          January 23, 2016 at 8:41 AM

          Come, now. Let’s talk.

          As I said, I don’t question your belief. I question the justification for the belief. If your argument is “X and Y make mutually exclusive claims, and I believe X is true, therefore Y must be false,” you have not justified X; you have merely demonstrated that one cannot maintain mutually exclusive beliefs. What justifies belief in X, by which you came to disbelieve Y? And, as a side note, it is rather facile to dismiss the role that cultural upbringing played in your acceptance of one over another, wouldn’t you agree? Would you not say that someone born and raised in a Southern Baptist home in Alabama is most likely going to be a Southern Baptist if they end up having some form of belief in a god? Surely we would not ignore the influence of one’s upbringing in their decision regarding what is largely a cultural distinction.

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        Ahmad B.

        January 23, 2016 at 8:53 AM

        One judges, of course, a claim based on the evidence in favor of it. When the claim and the alleged scenario, however, is one of a person conveying a message, then the background, character, and circumstances of the messenger in order to judge whether I can trust him or not become part of the relevant evidence. This same principle applies in many of our daily interactions and should be intuitively obvious.

        The claim that the latest manuscript does not fit the time frame is bogus. The parchment itself (not necessarily the writing) is thought to have been produced from the late 6th to the mid-7th century, which is exactly when the Prophet Muhammad lived.

        Also, your claim of “changes that have occurred to the [Quranic] text over the centuries” is entirely without foundation. Non-Muslim secular scholars do not even claim this. One can believe that the Muhammad was an impostor and fabricated the Quran rather than receiving it from God, but there is no doubt regarding the authenticity and stability of the text we have today. Again, the Quran and the Bible, from a purely textual perspective, have very little in common. Completely different circumstances, different claims, different textual histories, etc. You obviously haven’t looked into this very carefully and therefore simply presume that, well, every religious “holy book” out there must fit the model of the Biblical text which I and my civilization have come to reject as spurious fraud.

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      January 23, 2016 at 6:41 AM

      One other thing: do you recognize humanism as a moral philosophy?

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        January 23, 2016 at 8:42 AM

        I would have called myself a “humanist” or “secular humanist” but it was an empty label. My ethics were innate – I believed – and I didn’t need any moral philosophy to tell what’s right or wrong. I was wrong on that latter point. I will elaborate further once you’ve posted your original questions more appropriately.

        Meanwhile, there’s a lot of good points made by Ahmed that should keep you busy.

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          January 23, 2016 at 9:15 AM

          What you refer to is not a philosophy; it is authoritarian dictates. These are not the same. A philosophy is not based on being told what is right or wrong; it is a framework by which you can take a given situation and determine right or wrong, and degree thereof, without resorting to being given the answer. You’re equating an understanding of mathematics to being given the answers to a mathematics exam.

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        January 23, 2016 at 9:01 AM

        “And, as a side note, it is rather facile to dismiss the role that cultural upbringing played in your acceptance of one over another, wouldn’t you agree? Would you not say that someone born and raised in a Southern Baptist home in Alabama is most likely going to be a Southern Baptist if they end up having some form of belief in a god? Surely we would not ignore the influence of one’s upbringing in their decision regarding what is largely a cultural distinction.”

        I have not told you how or why I’ve come to realize Islam IS the truth. You’re insisting on making assumptions. Yes, it is LIKELY that someone raised in a Muslim household would likely hold an Islamic view on God. Likely, not inevitable, and I know how in my case it was not a factor insofar as the Truth of Islam is concerned. It was obviously a factor in that I did not have to “find” or stumble across Islam as most converts do.

        Let’s keep it simple and honest. Stop making assumptions you cannot make and we can proceed.

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      January 25, 2016 at 6:02 AM

      1.) Yes brother Jonaid you brought up some important points there and reference for example to the Quran 99-7 (atom’s weight of good). We Muslims should abstain from labelling those among ourselves as such or such AND also desist from labelling non-Muslims as disbelievers (kfr), AS LONG AS they don’t go against Islam and the Muslims actively (mouth, hand).

      So the label of káfir for not accepting the message of Islam is there for us to know the limits and distinctions of our religion in a technical sense, it’s NOT for us to label individuals, this judgement is for Allah only (may His Majesty be exalted).

      Most of the time people (incl. some Muslims) are too busy categorizing others while forgetting about themselves.

      2.) Finally there is a distinction between believing that world religions have a common core, and believing that they are still valid. = 2 different points!

      Yes they do have a common core (even if inconspicuous), but this does not make those religions valid in the sense that they can equally (as Islam) save the person on Judgement Day.

      They have lost their validity, except for what Allah will accept of the person for the akhira. In the end if there is someone ‘closer’ to God or not is between this person and God, and we must refrain from judging him/ her.

      The Rahma (Mercy) of Allah is greater, and too great as to be limited by human effort.

      and Allah knows best and most.

      see also:

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        January 28, 2016 at 4:47 PM

        And the punishment of Allah is too great to be limited by human effort but a person can avoid it if Allah intends to guide him to Islam.

        فَمَن يُرِدِ اللَّهُ أَن يَهْدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ ۖ وَمَن يُرِدْ أَن يُضِلَّهُ يَجْعَلْ صَدْرَهُ ضَيِّقًا حَرَجًا كَأَنَّمَا يَصَّعَّدُ فِي السَّمَاءِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يَجْعَلُ اللَّهُ الرِّجْسَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ

        So, WHOMEVER Allah wills to guide, He expands his breast to Islam; and whomever He wills to lead into error, He makes his breast straitened, restricted, as if he were laboriously climbing up in the heaven. Thus Allah sets (Literally: makes) abomination upon (the ones) who do not believe.

        Say the Shahadah and accept what was revealed the Muhammad al-Amin and you have sought the right way!!!!

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      January 28, 2016 at 5:30 PM

      Some disbelievers realized that Islam is the truth and for one reason or another, rejected it.

      Others doubted that it is the truth. Some of these even were convinced that a religion other than Islam is the truth, like Christians.

      Allah guaranteed both the stubborn and the deluded painful torment in the akhirah. This is not something we say because we like it, rather we say it as a warning to ourselves and to others, may Allah save us.

      قُلْ هَلْ نُنَبِّئُكُم بِالْأَخْسَرِينَ أَعْمَالًا
      Say, [O Muhammad], “Shall we [believers] inform you of the greatest losers as to [their] deeds?

      الَّذِينَ ضَلَّ سَعْيُهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ يَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُمْ يُحْسِنُونَ صُنْعًا
      [They are] those whose effort is lost in worldly life, while they think that they are doing well in work.”

      أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ وَلِقَائِهِ فَحَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ فَلَا نُقِيمُ لَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَزْنًا
      Those are the ones who disbelieve in the ayat of their Lord and in [their] meeting Him, so their deeds have become worthless; and We will not assign to them on the Day of Resurrection any importance.

      Allah condemns all those who disbelieve in his ayat that they will be in the fire of Jahannam forever. So if any ayat come to a person and they disbelieve it, all their deeds are nullified and they will be in hell forever. Even if they “think they are doing well in work.”

      So, despite being convinced they were upon good, their deeds turned out to be null. None of their charity benefited them at all.

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        January 30, 2016 at 7:00 AM

        That’s the fun of making exclusivity claims. The Bible says you must be a Christian to avoid Hell. The Koran says you must be a Muslim to avoid Hell. Neither can prove itself true, and both say the other is false because only their book is true.

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      March 24, 2016 at 6:35 PM

      I totally agree with you. I liked your comments. Sallaam Brother

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        March 24, 2016 at 6:46 PM

        I mean brother Junayd. I too feel that Islam is the real True Religion of Humans. But Allah is All Merciful. He won’t throw a non-muslim in hell, one who spent his life feeding the poor, fighting oppression like human trafficking, helping elderly, etc. There are some really really good people in this world that have not been enlightened with Islam. But Allah will not let all those good deeds go to waste. I dont believe that our Supreme Diety of Human Beings meant for so many of his beloved creatures to be thrown into hell, just because they were not aware of the true religion. Allah is the most fair and the most kind.
        Numerous times we were told of the story of the murderer who gave a thirst dog water, and he was given salvation, or the prostitute who was kind to a fly with a broken wing, was given salvation. Allah is everybody’s God, whether they know it or not. Now if I turned away from Islam, after feeling the truth of it in my heart, that I think would be wrong. But for those who have not come to know it yet, I agree with you Junayd, they are Jahil. Not Kuffar.

  3. Umm Zakiyyah

    Umm Zakiyyah

    January 22, 2016 at 8:08 AM

    Thank you for writing this. One point I make when this argument is brought up is this: Even if (for the sake of argument) we were to count non-Muslims as believers, they would be subject to the same conditions of emaan (faith) as any other believer. And when these conditions are applied, we find that it’s impossible for them to be counted as believers.

    For example, just as a Muslim cannot reject foundational principles of emaan and still be counted as a believer, so it is for any other professed believer. I cannot believe in part of the Qur’an and reject the rest and still be counted as a believer, even if I call myself a Muslim. Likewise, any other professed believer cannot reject part of what faith requires and still be counted as a believer. This is because inherent in believing in Allah and the Last Day is that a person adheres to all of the conditions of that belief—no matter what they call themselves (Muslim or something else). Otherwise, a pagan who believes in God and the Day of Judgment (along with believing in his or her idols) would be a “believer” too.

    Thus, to apply this ayah to literally *anyone* who believes in Allah and the Last Day—irrespective of anything else they believe or do that contradicts that belief—makes no logical or religious sense.

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      January 28, 2016 at 5:47 PM

      Makes no sense at all sister. Alhamdulilah ALL Muslims, Sunni and Shia who are informed are against this false and blasphemous belief.

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      March 24, 2016 at 6:50 PM

      If a woman who is not Muslim, does not cover herself properly, but by no means is overly immodest, and she is a woman who respects and takes care of elderly and cares for orphans, why would Allah throw her in hell? Nobody told her about Islam, she lived and died as a non-muslim, but a good human. She too was created and loved by Allah. Why would he throw her in hell?

      I believe we can’t judge. We can’t assume. I love my dear Allah so much, and I have faith in his kindness and mercy.

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    January 22, 2016 at 8:37 AM

    A religious text that says its religion is the only true religion? How unexpected! It’s not like every other religious text does that. Oh, wait…they all do. But, I’m sure yours is the only one that got it right. As sure as all the rest are sure theirs got it right.

    Since there’s a set of mutually exclusive claims, how would an outsider determine which of them, if any, is correct? Obviously, it can’t be by taking the texts at face value, for they all make the same claim, and adherents assert that all the others are false using counter-apologetics. It wouldn’t help to rely on faith, for faith is the root of each believer’s belief, and that same mechanism leads to all the mutually exclusive claims we see. What, then, could we use to find the truth?

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      Ahmad B.

      January 22, 2016 at 11:46 AM

      Dear Randy,

      I think the issue is not as complicated — or as hopelessly subjective and arbitrary — as you claim. First of all, it is not true that all religions make a strong claim to an objective, transcendental truth that is universal and, in principle, addressed to all of mankind. In fact, the only two religions that fit into this category are Islam and Christianity. Judaism upholds that the revelation vouchsafed to Moses and the religion built upon it are specific to the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob (a belief in which Islam actually concurs). It is possible to convert to Judaism, but Judaism, while claiming direct revelation from God, has never claimed universal validity for all mankind. Neither Buddhism nor Hinduism claim direct revelation in the Abrahamic sense, and Hinduism particularly is extremely diverse and seen by its adherents as inextricably bound with Indian culture and race. (I once knew a white European who had grown up in India and considered himself a Hindu by belief and practice. He told me that Indian Hindus usually laughed at this claim and could not imagine what it would mean for a non-Indian to be an actual Hindu.)

      So narrowing our discussion to the two religions that actually fit your model for what “every religious text” says and believes, your question can be approached from two angles: one theological, the other textual. From a theological angle, Islam does not consider Judaism and Christianity to be false religions at their core. In fact, the Quran consistently maintains that revelation and prophets were sent to these communities in previous times, and Muslims are bound by the Quran to believe in the authenticity of the mission of every prophet thus sent and in the divine origin of the revelations they brought (specifically the Torah, the Psalms of David, and the Gospel brought by Jesus). Beyond this, Islam asserts that: (1) as a theological matter, these dispensations were sent to specific communities at specific times and places and are now superseded by the final, fully universal revelation vouchsafed to the Prophet Muhammad for all mankind until the eschatological Last Day, and (2) that the religious texts and beliefs of these previous communities were not, as a matter of historical circumstance, preserved in the original form taught by their prophets, but that texts were amended and doctrine corrupted over time (this being true especially in the case of historical Christianity).

      The main theological issue from an Islamic point of view is the standard view of most historical Christianity in the divinity of Jesus, a belief which the Quran strongly and repeatedly denounces, asserting instead that Jesus, just like every other prophet, was a man created by God (albeit without a human father, making his birth miraculous but not the man himself therefore divine). But early Christianity itself is wracked with disagreement over the exact identity and nature of Jesus Christ, with the common view that he was both fully human and fully divine not really hammered out and imposed as orthodoxy until as late as the 4th century. The interesting thing is that there is nothing the Quran asserts about Jesus’ essential nature that was not also held by sizable numbers of early Christians (considered, however, as heretical by the Church). The four Gospels themselves as we now have them hardly seem to paint a very consistent picture of Jesus, from a Jewish teacher and rabbi in Matthew calling the Children of Israel back to the obedience they owe unto God as previous Israelite prophets had done (an image which accords very closely with the Quranic depiction) to something much more like an otherworldly God-figure in John.

      So clearly the Quran’s strict monotheism and what it says about Jesus being fully a man and a prophet of God (no less, for sure, but also no more) cannot be reconciled with the traditional Christian understanding of a triune Godhead in which Jesus himself is somehow one with God. But can there be any rational or objective grounds for accepting one doctrine over another? There is a place for Muslim and Christian understandings of God (and Jesus) to be discussed on a purely rational, philosophical, and theological level, but here I would like to turn to the very important question of the origins of each doctrine and of the integrity and authenticity of the texts on which they are ultimately based. (What follows is taken from a post I recently made to another article on this site.)

      When discussing questions of textual integrity and authenticity, it is a matter of objective fact that there is indeed very little that the history of the Biblical text has in common with the history, transmission, and preservation of the Qur’an. (And I am not saying this simply because I am a Muslim; rather, I am a Muslim precisely because when I investigated the matter, this is what I found to be the case.) The majority of non-Muslim Western academic scholars who work on the Qur’an and early Islam agree with Muslim scholarship — actual scholarship, that is, and not dogma asserted on the authority of an ecclesiastical body — that the Qur’anic text we possess today can reliably be dated to the time of the Prophet Muhammad (570-632 c.e.). Academic views that posit for the Qur’an the type of gradual coalescence over time of a disparate document penned by numerous hands similar to the case of the Bible (both Old Testament and New) are considered wildly speculative, all the more so in light of recent empirical finds, such as the stash of Qur’anic manuscripts uncovered last year in Birmingham, England and the year before in Tübingen, Germany that can be dated with a very high degree of confidence to the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad and slightly thereafter. The Qur’anic text in these manuscripts is identical to the written version of the Qur’an that has been standardized among Muslims across the globe for all of Islamic history, including today. In any case, transmission of the Qur’an has always been as much oral as written, and the mechanisms devised by the Muslim community for preserving and transmitting the original text in its exact form are entirely unique in human textual history, and give Muslims a solid, scholarly-based confidence that the promise of God in the Qur’an to preserve the text without alteration for all subsequent generations of humanity has been fulfilled. In other words, Muslim belief in the integrity of the revealed text is no mere theological dogma, but a rational stance that is both plausible and entirely defensible given the Qur’an’s known textual history, even when viewed from the perspective of critical academic scholarship that does not presuppose a Muslim theological commitment to the text’s divine origin. You can find a solid, though easily readable treatment of the transmission and preservation of the Qur’an in Ingrid Mattson’s “The Story of the Quran: Its History and Place in Muslim Life.” A more complete and more technical presentation can be found in “Variant Readings of the Qur’an: A Critical Study of Their Historical and Linguistic Origins” by Ahmad ‘Ali al-Imam and “The History of the Qur’anic Text: From Revelation to Compilation: A Comparative Study with the Old and New Testaments” by Muhammad Mustafa al-Azami. (Azami’s somewhat polemical tone should not distract from the academic integrity and meticulousness of his work on the Quran. On the other hand, he is not a specialist in Biblical studies, so the second half of his volume can be safely set aside in favor of more specialized scholarship on those texts.)

      Muslims are commanded in the Qur’an to engage with others in discussing theological and religious matters “with wisdom, goodly exhortation, and argumentation according to what is best” (Q. 16:125). Numerous other verses address people holding various religious claims to “bring forth your proof if indeed you are right.” Though true faith in the heart is ultimately an existential quality (like love) that goes beyond (and involves more of oneself) than just rational or intellectual conviction, the Quran is nevertheless insistent that true faith can only be built on proper reflection and the examination of the evidence supporting the religious claim in question. In this vain, Muslims resist contemporary subjectivist notions of religion as simply a “matter of faith” that some people choose to hitch their wagon to in the absence of any compelling intellectual justification. Rather, Muslims invite others to hear and to investigate what their claims to the objective truth of their religion (both theologically and textually) are based on, perchance that they may, with the guidance and grace of God, be granted the greatest gift a human could hope for: peace and serenity in this life and felicity for all eternity in the next, based on a faith in the heart that is nourished not in defiance of reason and evidence, but grounded in and strengthened (partly) by them.

      With peace,
      Ahmad B.

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        January 22, 2016 at 5:04 PM

        The core of Christianity is the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified and raised from the dead according to the Bible. You said the Koran doesn’t say this is false. So, are you suggesting the Koran doesn’t teach the he was merely a prophet who was neither crucified nor raised from the dead?

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        Ahmad B.

        January 22, 2016 at 7:20 PM

        Dear Randy,

        I must not have made myself clear. The Quran asserts that Jesus of Nazareth was a prophet of God, born miraculously of the Virgin Mary but not himself divine (like Adam was created directly with neither a father nor a mother, which makes his creation miraculous but doesn’t make him divine), was not crucified but rather was taken live into heaven where he remains until his second coming a the end of time, after which he will die his natural human death then be raised up with the rest of humanity on the Day of Resurrection. I thought I was clear on the points where the Quran and traditional Christian theology do not line up. Sorry for any confusion!

        Ahmad B.

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          January 22, 2016 at 11:27 PM

          So, you said the Koran does not say the core of Christianity is false, but the core tenets (God incarnated as a divine man, crucified as a sacrifice to atone for man’s sins, risen from the dead) are the very things you are telling me it says are false. I think you might want to polish up your apologetics, as your argument failed in its first premise.

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      January 24, 2016 at 3:37 PM

      Hi Randy,

      I read the whole back and forth between you and Ahmed and Junaid. I got lost within all the details and then going into logic. But then it came to me. Set aside the arguments and the nitty gritty, look at it plain and clear.

      You are here presumably reading and commenting on an article about Islam….

      Think about that.. Why? If it’s the truth that is pulling you towards itself, then that’s great be sincere and honest to yourself. And if you believe or not in God, just try and ask Him to guide you to the truth. Seek and you shall find.

      God bless you and guide us all.

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        January 24, 2016 at 4:33 PM

        I appreciate the kind approach. I wonder, though, would you sincerely follow a suggestion like that you make to me regarding asking a question of God if, instead of an Abrahamic deity, it was instead Osiris whom you were being told to ask? Would you be able to honestly make some communication to/with a deity whose existence you don’t accept?
        It is natural to project our understanding of reality upon others, but if we don’t examine what we say, we may make absurd statements that, however well-intentioned, do nothing to create common ground or increase mutual understanding.

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        January 26, 2016 at 8:12 PM


        You made a semi-valid point so consider trying this instead (I did and it worked). IF you sincerely seek the Truth, are humble enough to accept it if you find it, and genuinely don’t know if God – or which God (s) – exist, then do the following:

        Say something like “God – whoever You are – if You’re there and can hear me, you must know what’s in my mind and heart so You know I’m sincerely asking You to guide me to the Truth, whatever that is. I can’t believe what I see & hear because I genuinely can’t see any truth in any of it so if You – whoever you are – do exist and created me, please help me understand etc etc.”

        It may sound folly and pointless. You may be thinking something like “should I do that for Zeus and Shiva and Thor too?” Leave aside the hypotheticals and just do what I said IF you’re sincere. Do it private no one has to know. You have nothing to lose.

        If you can’t do this much then IF you’re wrong (which I assure you, By God Almighty, that you are with your current beliefs) I’m sure you will agree that you’ll have no excuse if you’re held accountable for your “disbelief.” No one can guide you – not me, not Ahmed or anyone else, unless God wills it. No amount of debating or reading can do anything if God doesn’t want you to see the Truth and He will not show you until you sincerely and humbly ask.


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          January 26, 2016 at 8:19 PM

          Have you sincerely asked Osiris and Zeus and Thor and Mithras and Shiva that? I know you referred to doing that, but you dismissed it. Perhaps the other gods don’t respond to other names or titles, and failing to call them by their proper name is ensuring they won’t respond. If you believe your approach is in any way a demonstrably reliable way of determining if a deity exists (which it isn’t), you likewise owe it to yourself to ask every deity by name if they exist and to somehow demonstrate that existence. Are you prepared to do that for all the thousands of deities mankind has believed in over the last 10,000 years?

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        January 26, 2016 at 8:56 PM

        Like I said if you’re sincere God will show you the Truth until you know it to be true without any doubt. The Creator doesn’t need to be called by any specific name – He just needs to be called sincerely and humbly. Leave the rest to Him – you’ll get answers to everything you need answers for to believe. You will not have to take anything on “faith” BUT you must sincerely & humbly ask.

        I have nothing else to say to you. You either want the truth or you want to sell your own confusion / nonsense to others here. It’ll be clear based on how you proceed.

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        March 24, 2016 at 6:54 PM

        Musa – true. Sheykh Yusuf Estes called this the Challenge. “God, if you are out there, help me to believe in you.” Just ask Allah to give you guidance. It won’t hurt you. You will not lose anything. Uttering his name wont turn you into a madman. But if you ask, you might find what you are looking for!

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    January 22, 2016 at 9:47 AM

    This general theory is well known and often preached. The problems arise when people act on the knowledge.

    I have seen people behave with such arrogance toward those who are not Muslim, and I remember that he who has an atom’s weight of arrogance will not enter Paradise. I see people going around judging others, and I remember that Allah alone is the Judge. Then I see people speaking to others about this at times when their audience is not ready to listen, and I remember the Prophet’s example of choosing the time and place for talking, and using short clear words that struck at the hearts of people because he chose his time so well.

    I do not know how I will be judged on the Day of Judgment, and I pray to Allah to be merciful to me. For others, these categories of who knew what and when about Islam, I must leave that to Him and know that He is merciful, but He is not a pushover.

    Knowing that people were all born in fitr and have something from that that could guide them to Islam, we should acknowledge the good that others do and show them how that is encouraged in Islam. The good deeds of a person are never lost. There are levels in Paradise and levels in Hell. Allah alone knows the truth of our intentions and efforts.

    And we should acknowledge when a Muslim or group of Muslims does something against Islam. Being Muslim does not guarantee entry to Paradise. It is our acts which are judged based on our intentions and our faith, and then, even as Prophet Muhammad needed the Mercy of Allah, so too do we.

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      January 28, 2016 at 5:18 PM

      Arrogance is two things, rejecting the truth and looking down on people.

      Those who reject that Islam is the only way to be saved from eternal pain and entered into Paradise are being arrogant by rejecting this truth.

      And Muslims who look down on kuffar are being arrogant because those kuffar may die as Muslims while these arrogant Muslims may end up dying as hypocrites and be sentenced to black coffins of fire in the lowest depth of the fire.

      May Allah save us.

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    January 22, 2016 at 4:44 PM

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    January 23, 2016 at 4:40 PM


    Confusion arises in religion when beliefs are presented as truths. Truths are based on facts, which are verifiable, while beliefs are merely accepted as ‘truths’ without verifiable facts to back them up. Religion and its claims are a matter of belief. Therefore, the topic of discussion here is essentially whether or not one believes that Islam is the only valid way to God. However, the word ‘valid’ as used should be understood as ‘acceptable within Islamic beliefs’, otherwise its use in the title becomes questionable unless evidence, rather than beliefs, be provided to back it up.

    With the word ‘valid’ in the proper perspective, we can then examine the topic. I cull the following from the post:

    “Whatever the correct intent of this passage is, the view which extends salvation unrestrictedly, to include even those who deny the Prophet Muhammad’s prophethood ﷺ, is conspicuous by its absence in the classical tafsir literature.”

    Then I ask the question: is the absence of ‘salvic exclusivity’ in classical tafsir literature enough reason to conclude that Quran 2:62 does not imply ‘salvic exclusivity’ despite the explicit nature of that verse? If no, you may need to provide other reasons. If yes, then we face a problem: you’re implying that the Quran cannot be read and understood outside classical tafsir (or any kind of tafsir for that matter) literature. If this is true, the implication is then this: tafsir, which is human explanation, and hence human opinion about the meaning, of the words of the Holy Quran, represents that same error we accuse the previous holy books, especially the Bible, of being tainted by. This is so because, as explicit as Quran 2:62 is, you’re implying that it can’t mean salvic exclusivity simply because classical tafsir does not state that it does!

    It doesn’t matter who the author is, and as good-intended and brilliant as tafsir may be, it is still human interpretation and hence opinion-based. If we must steer clear of the same ‘faults’ we find in previous Holy Books, then we must desist from subjecting the Quran to tafsir! Otherwise, we won’t be different from them whose books have been ‘doctored’ as we accuse with just the difference that our own ‘doctoring’ is not included in the Book itself. This is however no difference if we mix verses of the Quran with human opinions before we make sense of if, or if we let human opinion override explicit Quran Verses.

    Above all, we must desist from judgmental comparison of religions as it will lead us nowhere! Being a matter of belief, which religion is the valid way to God is a question that can only create divides across religions. Even the Quran warns of this in Quran 16:125. Rather than preach which religion is valid or right, we should preach how those of us who are already believers will get to know and worship our God better.

    Best wishes.

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      January 28, 2016 at 5:16 PM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh to everyone

      “is the absence of ‘salvic exclusivity’ in classical tafsir literature enough reason to conclude that Quran 2:62 does not imply ‘salvic exclusivity’ despite the explicit nature of that verse? ”

      1) There is no absence of salvistic exclusivity in classical tafsir…..because classical tafsir are all about salvistic exclusivity. Literally drips through the pages….I suggest you read some classical tafsir.

      2) The explicit nature of this verse is that whoever believes in Allah and the last day and works righteousness will be saved. Since Jews and Christians today don’t believe the Muhammad al Amin is the Messenger of Allah, they clearly do not believe in Allah aza wa jal because if you believe in Allah aza wa jal you will inevitably conclude that whatever Allah says is the truth….and since Allah said that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah aza wa jal, believing in Allah necessitates that one believes in His messenger as well.

      3) Moving on, if one were to take the non explicit, not literal, non apparent interpretation of the ayah (i.e. Perrenialist falsehood that belief in Allah is not contradictory to simultaneously not believing Allah when He says مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّسُولُ اللَّهِ ) then we would find the Quran to be very contradictory indeed. Because there is no shortage of ayat condemning Jews and Christians who fail to enter Islam and believe in the Messenger of Allah as disbelievers and guaranteed an eternal stay in Jahannam which we ought to all fear, may Allah inspire us with love and fear.

      “Truths are based on facts, which are verifiable, while beliefs are merely accepted as ‘truths’ without verifiable facts to back them up. Religion and its claims are a matter of belief. ”

      1) False religion and it’s claims are matters of belief, false belief.

      2) Since Islam is the one true religion, it’s a matter of knowledge, and yes believers believe, but they believe with knowledge and certainty because the ayat of Allah aza wa jal have more right to certainty then anything a scientist or historian or philosopher can provide.

      “However, the word ‘valid’ as used should be understood as ‘acceptable within Islamic beliefs’, otherwise its use in the title becomes questionable unless evidence, rather than beliefs, be provided to back it up.

      With the word ‘valid’ in the proper perspective, we can then examine the topic. I cull the following from the post:”

      1) The only validity that matters is validity to God. A religion can be valid to you or me but if it is not valid to the Lord who sent Muhammad sallahualayhiwasalam, then it is in reality, worse then worthless. As Allah says,
      إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِندَ اللَّهِ الْإِسْلَامُ ۗ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْعِلْمُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ ۗ وَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ

      Indeed, the religion in the sight of Allah is Islam. And those who were given the Scripture did not differ except after knowledge had come to them – out of jealous animosity between themselves. And whoever disbelieves in the verses of Allah , then indeed, Allah is swift in [taking] account.

      “Above all, we must desist from judgmental comparison of religions as it will lead us nowhere! Being a matter of belief, which religion is the valid way to God is a question that can only create divides across religions. ”

      1) The Quran repeatedly, again and again makes the most judgemental judgements anyone can conceive of all other religions except Islam by not only claiming that these religions are false, but that they lead adherents to eternal torment if those adherents did not enter Islam and die upon Islam after Islam had reached them. The Quran is literally the most judging book in existence, and seeing as it is from the Lord who has the ultimate right to judgement, this is not a surprise. If there is anyone who can make perfect judgement, it’s God Himself, who, out of His mercy, informed us of His judgement so we can warn one another with absolute certainty of what is to come.

      2) The divides across religions are already….divides. Hence the plural. If they were not divides, everyone would be Muslims but they are divides.

      “Rather than preach which religion is valid or right, we should preach how those of us who are already believers will get to know and worship our God better.”

      You can advocate this, but in doing so you would have to redact all the ayat in the Quran condemning other religions as invalid, wrong, condemning the adherents as disbelievers whose worship will never be accepted.

      There are a lot of ayat explicitly laying this out, in no uncertain terms, and therefore my brother, there is a lot of redacting to do. And I mean a LOT. Like LOADS.

      Best wishes.

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    January 24, 2016 at 7:48 PM

    For myself Islam seems like a sad reversion to the legalistic, cold idea of God in parts of the Old Testament. It sees God as distant and remote. I could not worship such a God. For me it is important that God, however magnificent, was also humble and kind. God was prepared to come and live our life and experience it in human form. That is the only sort of leader I can respect. Wealthy and powerful people who consider themselves important are at the bottom of my list – along with bigotted religious leaders.

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    January 24, 2016 at 8:08 PM

    I sometimes wonder whether Muslims believe in The Quran rather than inthe Almighty. We were given thinking minds to evaluate, we were not created as dumb subservient robots. It saddens me that Muslims and perhaps your prophet himself never got to know the real Jesus who he would have found to be a real friend, not harsh or remote.
    Jesus always tried to say things in a way that even the least educated folk could understand.
    He told people that “Man judges people by external appearance whereas God judges them by their hearts”.
    He also told us to deal with our own failings first, rather than judge other people.
    I struggle to follow Him as I should, and often could be accused of being a hypocrite as I should. BUT I can assure that it is a relationship of friendship and gratitude, not one of fear.
    I hope that as you consider things you come to know Him as a friend too and have happier fuller lives and rejoice in our loving God who cares for us all.

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      January 26, 2016 at 12:00 PM


      Some of God’s attributes as described in the Qur’an : Al Wadood (The Loving), Al Karim (The Most generous), Al Wahhab (The constant bestower of gifts), Al Wali (The Protective Friend), Ar Rahman (The Exceedingly Merciful). These are just a few of the 99 attributes of God mentioned in the Qur’an, many of which describes God’s generosity, kindness and love.

      Scholars say that in a person, Hope and fear of God should be like the two wings of a bird. If one of them falters, the bird loses its flight. And love for God is like the head.

      I hope that metaphor helps you understand fear of God in the correct context.

      If not, imagine a kingdom, in which the King is very generous and kind. He never punishes people for any crime. He never executes justice. What do you think is going to happen? The criminals have nothing to fear. I don’t think I have to elaborate more on what is going to happen to this kingdom.

      Have a nice day. :)

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      January 26, 2016 at 6:04 PM

      Hi, Cliveey-
      Even some of those who met Jesus personally, heard Him talk, watched Him minister to people and followed Him for a while- even some of them turned away.

      John 6 says, “The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray Him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless the Father has enabled them.”
      From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.
      “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
      Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

      Muhammad was among those who heard the truth about Jesus but chose to turn his back on Him.

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        January 26, 2016 at 8:07 PM

        Islam is wrong because my holy book says Christianity is right.

        Christianity is wrong because my holy book says Islam is right.

        How would someone who isn’t a believer of either religious text determine which, if either, is correct? The text itself is the claim, so it cannot prove itself true, just like a defendant’s testimony isn’t evidence that the defendant’s testimony is true. How do we verify the claims, or rule them out as false, especially the outlandish claims, like being flown to heaven atop a winged horse with a woman’s face or resurrecting from the dead, without simply resorting to “it says so in the book?”

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        January 26, 2016 at 8:47 PM

        Well I’m sure we can all agree – Christians and Muslims – that some religions (at least) were originally from God. The Qur’anic world view – when properly understood – makes sense of all the religions before it and after it. Notice that NO major religion has come after Islam. Nothing even close. I believe Sikhism is probably the biggest post-Islam religion and it has less than 2% of the followers that Islam has and 99% of them are Indian or of Indian origins. The big question a Christian ought to Ponder (other than the triune God who is absolutely One at the same time) is: what / why / HOW did Islam come about? How did a merchant in the deserts of Arabia – and land with history of any serious civilization or power or influence EVER – unite an uncivilized, tribal desert people in 23 years? HoW is it that even after he died they remained so utterly convinced in his message than in under 20 years they conquered the ENTIRE 1000+ year old Mighty Persian Empire and most of the CHRISTIAN Byzantine Empire?

        Now pointing to the success of Christianity is not a response because Islam came after and confirms the divine origins of Christianity. Your only answer can be that Muhammad was influenced and empowered by the Devil. Technically that IS possible but then it leaves you wondering: 1) why on Earth would God / Jesus confuse the masses by allowing a false prophet to be so immensely successful AFTER Jesus came? 2) Is the Devil so powerful that he can match God so perfectly with a religion of his own? 3) If you read the life of Muhammad and still conclude that he was following the devil, well in that case atheism ought to make far more sense to you than either religion.

        Muhammad claimed the Qur’an is the direct speech of God. God says so Himself and He swears to it multiple times in the Qur’an. No other book the world makes such a claim. What nerve to fabricate such lies about God and yet be so utterly succesful. Ponder.

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          January 26, 2016 at 9:07 PM

          Think about what you just said. A man says God is speaking to him, and you know God was speaking to him because he wrote multiple times that God said he was speaking to that man. Do you understand why someone would not accept that as evidence?

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        January 26, 2016 at 9:04 PM

        And please do not repeat “but Muslims believe Christianity is false so you’re doing the same thing you accuse Christians of doing.” It is not the same, at all, and my original response (with the Qur’anic verses on Jesus) as well as my previous message have addressed this point.

        Finally I should add: Christians and Muslims should spend more time tackling bigger problems in the world than arguing with each other. If you’re sincere and do not deny the truth when you see it, you need not worry about anything. That is God’s promise.

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          January 30, 2016 at 7:08 AM

          Right. You say Christianity is false because your book is true, therefore the Bible cannot possibly be true, because their claims are mutually exclusive. But, Christians say that Islam is false because their book is true, therefore the Koran cannot possibly be true, because their claims are mutually exclusive. Yes, what you are doing is completely different.

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        January 28, 2016 at 4:50 PM

        Rather, Muhammad was the one Jesus Christ AS told the truth about when he said,

        وَإِذْ قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُم مُّصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَمُبَشِّرًا بِرَسُولٍ يَأْتِي مِن بَعْدِي اسْمُهُ أَحْمَدُ ۖ فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ قَالُوا هَٰذَا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ
        And (remember) as Isa son of Maryam (Jesus son of Mary) said, “O Seeds (Or: sons) of Israel) surely I am the Messenger of Allah to you sincerely (verifying) that which is before (Literally: between my two hands) me of the Tawrah, (The Book revealed to Musa (Moses), of which the extant Torah is a corruption) and a constant bearer of good tidings of a Messenger who will come up even after me, whose name is ?Ahmad.” Then, as soon as he came to them with the supreme evidence (s), they said, “This is evident sorcery.”

        Do enter Islam so that you can be saved.

        وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

        And whoever inequitably seeks for himself as a religion other than Islam, then it will never be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter (he) will be among the losers.

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        February 5, 2016 at 11:43 AM

        No the sad, unfortunate, thing is he only ever heard distorted versions of who and what Jesus is> They can understand even less what that means for all of us. The humble, loving, forgiving God who gives us a cvhance where we have failed. Jesus as a Friend who we can speak to. Many very good Muslim people have the same problem as Moihammed The Gospel they know is very different to the books you have read. There were other books around after Jesus died and some Muslims belive Jesus married and had children. The old fashioned way was to speak of Converting as if you were going to hypnotise and normailse people to be just as you want them to be and believe exactly the same as you. A world of boring clones. What we all need to do is share what we know of the joy of Salvation and the Life More Abundant that comes from knowing Jesus.
        The Gospel message has been distorted for political reascons and sadly many Christians knwo more of what St Paul said, instead of thinking of what Jesus meant in His messges.
        By teh time of Mohammed the Roman Catholic Church had become a bit corrupted. The same happened to Islam after Mohammed died. In both cases people made use of the messages for their own purposes. In Jesus case Humilty became equated with Subservience to Feudal masters.
        When Mohammed died there was a considerable empire to inherit with all its influence and power. That is where teh first rift betwee Sunni and Shia happened I believe. There were two claiomants to “The Throne”.
        So lets not try and bully or bomb Muslim people. Let;s share teh good things we know and be prepared to listen to them. Who knows it may help bring our own faith alive to us.
        God Bless All Muslim and Christain, Buddhist and Jew. We are all His Children whatever our faults.

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        February 5, 2016 at 12:13 PM

        Reply to Kirsty about knowing Mohammed knowing Jesus and turning hia back….
        Sorry for any typos – my keyboard keeps jumping lines.
        No the sad, unfortunate, I think thing is that Mohammed only ever heard distorted versions of who and what Jesus is. The problem is the same for many good Muslim people. They can understand even less what Jesus means for all of us. The humble, loving, forgiving God who gives us a chance where we have failed.
        Jesus as a Friend who we can speak to.
        Why do they not know this?
        It is not their fault.
        Many very good Muslim people have the same problem as Moihammed The Gospel they know is very different to the books you have read. There were other books around after Jesus died and some Muslims belive Jesus married and had children.
        By the time of Mohammed the Roman Catholic Church had become a bit corrupted. Superstition had cret in. There were people selling “Indulgences” so that rich men could buy tehir way to heaven. A whole host of confusion and distortion arose. People depened on the priest erater than Jesus to find forgiveness of their sins. People were not allowed to read The Bible for tehmselves. Is it any surprise that Mohammed (or rather his first older wife who was a bog influence) turned against the Gospel message?
        Try to avoid a bad mistake….
        The old fashioned way was to speak of Converting Muslims or othe rfaiths to Christianity. “Conversion ” is an arrogant idea. It is as if you were going to hypnotise and normailse people to be just as you want them to be. It is as if you want to make them believe exactly the same as you (As of course You are Right!) That is hardly follolwing our humble saviour Jesus. It is like wanting to create aworld of boring clones.
        /*/ A better idea /*/
        What we all need to do is share what we know of the joy of Salvation and the Life More Abundant that comes from knowing Jesus.
        As I said earlier the understanding oif the Gospel message has over time been distorted for political reascons.
        For example many Christians knwo more of what St Paul said, instead of thinking of what Jesus meant in His messges. Jesus always tried to make people think for themselves.
        By the time of Mohammed the Roman Catholic Church had become a bit corrupted. What messge did Mohammed hear when he heard of Jesus. What excample was he shown of whaty it means to be A Christian. Were the people with the message dodgy? If that wre the case is it any wonder he rejected what they had to say? IF ONLY He had come to know the real Gospel message and so come to now Jesus.
        So do not jusdge Mohammed to easily.
        That is for God or Allah to decide upon.
        He only claimed to be a Messenger and was doing his best, and acheived many good things. (eg there wre good resons for Hala laws in taht country).
        Whearas Christians were forbiden to read the Bible Muslims were actively encouraged – even obliged – to read teh Qu’aran. While some parts are not at all good or need understanding in cotext, others are excellent.
        We probably know as little about their Holy book as they know of ours.
        The same distoirtions, confusion and corruption happened to Islam after Mohammed died as happened to Jesus message. In both cases people made use of the messages for their own purposes.
        The worst thing In Jesus case was that what he showed us by example about Humilty became equated with Subservience to Feudal masters.
        When Mohammed died there was a considerable empire to inherit with all its influence and power.
        That is where the first rift betwee Sunni and Shia happened I believe.
        There were two claimants to “The Throne” with very different messages indeed..
        So lets not try and bully or bomb Muslim people.
        Kets be true friends to them, NOT politically correct ones.
        Let;s share the good things we know from jesus and be prepared to listen to them aswell.
        Who knows it may help bring our own faith alive to us.
        God Bless All – Muslim and Christain, Buddhist and Jew. We are all our Loving God’s Children whatever our faults.

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      March 24, 2016 at 6:58 PM

      You make interesting points Clivey. I think its true Muslims place alot of importance on following the Quran to a T. We become so rigid with our rituals and prayers, and diet, we become so intolerant even within ourselves! Our Ummah! We can’t stand the person next to us praying differently from us!

      I think we Muslims could be easygoing, and if we were to be that way, we would find our spirituality and brotherhood actually increase in the Ummah.

      Your points should be read by all, and taken as a positive criticism.

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      April 12, 2016 at 9:50 AM

      Cliveey you wrote: “God was prepared to come and live our life and experience it in human form. That is the only sort of leader I can respect.”

      Do you believe this is what Jesus did? I mean, He was God and came to live here on earth with humans? Jesus never said that? ….Anyway, even if this is not what you are saying this is what Christianity implies over and over and over. Now do not try to cover up this implication, and tell me; do you honestly believe God came down and failed turning everyone into true believers? And said He knew everything that was going to happen and how he was going to be tortured and killed….Who in their right mind would do that let alone an All Knowing God….I mean do something that is completely futile! How can you then say you can respect only such leader?…. Please read the Quran and then read the bible again whilst accepting Quran, you will see that Bible will start making sense. I love the Bible and I don’t see how you come up with such nonsense and change the meanings such drastically.

      Jesus did talk about the Hellfire in the new testament, and in the Quran God Himself says there is indeed a Hell fire. (May Allah prevent us from it.) So there is no difference in the message. Only difference is our interpretations. Searchers of the truth would see and once seen it try anything to avoid it as well as feeling obliged to inform others of their findings. “Harsh and remote” (you said) that could be!

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    January 26, 2016 at 9:36 PM

    “Think about what you just said. A man says God is speaking to him, and you know God was speaking to him because he wrote multiple times that God said he was speaking to that man. Do you understand why someone would not accept that as evidence?”

    Yes genius we’re well aware that a man claiming something is not evidence in it of itself. In fact when someone makes such claims the burden of proof goes sky high. Why do you think I told you no one can prove Truth to you except God Himself. If you don’t do what I suggested, at least don’t waste space here with your fallacious logic. You don’t seem to realize which points of mine are made for people who share the belief in God with me (i.e. Muslims and Christians) and which are for the Godless. This one I quoted from you was for a Christian reader. You keep interjecting with red herrings and don’t even seem to realize it. Oh and IF you do realize it and are just doing it to deliberately mislead people – I’ve dealt with people like that and those they “call” on. Please save us this drama.


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    January 27, 2016 at 9:32 PM

    Islam also suffers from centuries of error in interpretation, but the pure gold is still pure if we connect to it deep in our human being. In this our faith is no different that previously revealed religions. As a Muslim I have no need to prove my way “better” than others; that is a trap for spiritual pride and judgmental thinking. This chauvinism is a danger. God knows best who is Muslim– and please let us not define Islam primarily through its externals but more essentially through values and virtues. More important than being “correct” is being good, and those who err but are sincere will find His compassion.

    May Allah grant all people compassion for we are all in need of it. May we find a deeper love and understanding and spiritual harmony than scholarly dispute can bring us. The mind cannot know all the truth of being. Religious knowledge is not limited to information and interpretation. God is All; and the invitation is to love all who are humble before God; and to love beyond that too.

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      January 27, 2016 at 9:45 PM

      So, God will grant mercy to the atheist who leads a good life, but commands that they be killed. Please, define “mercy.”

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      January 28, 2016 at 5:35 PM

      Don’t worry, some people who died without Islam having reached them may be saved. They will be tested on yawm al Qiyaamah with an even more generous test then the test on earth since there is only one command. That day is like a thousand years but they have only one command to obey!!!

      On the authority of Al-Aswad Ibn Sarî’ on the authority of the Prophet, صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ, who said:

      “أَرْبَعَةٌ يَحْتَجُّونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ: رَجُلٌ أَصَمُّ وَرَجُلٌ أَحْمَقُ وَرَجُلٌ هَرِمٌ وَرَجُلٌ مَاتَ فِي الْفَتْرَةِ فَأَمَّا الأَصَمُّ فَيَقُولُ: يَا رَبِّ لَقَدْ جَاءَ الإِسْلامُ وَمَا أَسْمَعُ شَيْئًا وَأَمَّا الأَحْمَقُ فَيَقُولُ: رَبِّ قَدْ جَاءَ الإِسْلامُ وَالصِّبْيَانُ يَحْذِفُونَنِي بِالْبَعَرِ وَأَمَّا الْهَرِمُ فَيَقُولُ: رَبِّ لَقَدْ جَاءَ الإِسْلامُ وَمَا أَعْقِلُ وَأَمَّا الَّذِي مَاتَ فِي الْفَتْرَةِ فَيَقُولُ: رَبِّ مَا أَتَانِي لَكَ رَسُولٌ. فَيَأْخُذُ مَوَاثِيقَهُمْ لَيُطِيعُنَّهُ فَيُرْسِلُ إِلَيْهِمْ رَسُولا أَنِ ادْخُلُوا النَّارَ قَالَ: فَوَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَوْ دَخَلُوهَا كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ بَرْدًا وَسَلامًا.”
      “Four will present excuses on the Day of Resurrection: A deaf person who did not hear, a mentally incapacitated man, a senile old man and a man who died in a Fatrah (i.e. a time between two Prophets). As for the deaf person, then he will say: ‘O my Lord, Islâm came and I could not hear anything.’ As for the mentally incapacitated man, then he will say: ‘My Lord, Islâm came and the children were throwing dung at me.’ As for the senile old man, then he will say: ‘My Lord, Islâm came and I could not comprehend.’ As for the man who died during a Fatrah, then he will say: ‘My Lord, no Messenger of Yours came to me.’ So He (i.e. Allâh) will Take their covenant to obey Him. Then He will Send a Messenger to them (commanding them) to enter the Fire (as a test).” He (i.e. the Prophet, صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) then said: “By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, if they enter it, it will be cold and safe for them.”
      Narrated by Ibn Hibbân in his “Sahîh”, (#7,516) and others. This Hadîth or others similar to it were accepted by Ibn Hibbân in his “Sahîh”, (#7,516), Al-Bayhaqî in “Al-I’tiqâd”, (#185), Ibn al-Qayyim in “Ahkâm Ahl ath-Thimmah”, Vol. 2/1139, Ibn Kathîr in his “Jâmi’ al-Masânîd was-Sunan”, (#443), Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalânî in “Fat’h al-Bârî”, Vol. 3/291, Al-Albânî in “Sahîh al-Jâmi’ as-Saghîr”, (#881), Al-Wâdi’î in “As-Sahîh al-Musnad”, (#19) and others. Some based this on individual chains and others based on the chains strengthening each other.

      Here it is fleshed out in detail:

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    January 28, 2016 at 5:24 PM

    I think people need to show more respect to Rasulullah sallahualayhiwasalam. Before claiming their disbeliever parents and family can go to Paradise, recognize that the Sayyid of the Anbiya and Mursaleen himself was not permitted to pray for his parents.

    Are any of you near the status of the leader of the Anbiya and Mursaleen? From Adam to Eesa AS? The one exalted to the highest station in Paradise?

    Abû Hurayrah relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “I had sought Allah permission to allow me to beseech forgiveness for my mother, but He did not allow me to do so, and I sought Him permission to allow me to visit her grave and he allowed me to do so.” [Sahîh Muslim (976)]

    Anas relates that a man asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Messenger of Allah, where is my father?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “In the Fire.” When the man left, the Prophet (peace be upon him) called to him and said: “My father and your father are in the Fire.” [Sahîh Muslim (203) and Tafsir Ibn Kathir]

    No Muslim on earth likes to hear this but we believe in it because Allah subhana wa ta’ala commanded us to believe in Rasulullah sallahualayhiwasalam.

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    January 28, 2016 at 5:40 PM

    Great and noble Shaykh bin Bayyah (hahaha never thought I’d say that…new threats make new fans though) on what happens to Christians.


    In the Name of Allah, peace be upon you.
    My question is: What is the ruling of Mushriks or the people of the book who receive the message of Islam but do not join Islam? And what is the ruling of those who do not receive the message of Islam? Similarly, what is the ruling of Christians who admit Allah is One but follow the religion of `Isa (Jesus, peace be upon him)? Will they be among the dwellers of Paradise or the denizens of Hell? Enlighten us, may Allah reward you with good!

    Allah, Glorified be He, says: “And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.” (Al-`Imran, 3:85) The Prophet (peace be upon him) stressed the same ruling by saying that any Jew or Christian who heard about him and did not follow him would be among the denizens of Hell. This is related by Muslim (153) on the authority of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him). Anyone who receives the message of Islam and does not enter Islam will not be saved from the punishment of Allah; he will enter the Hell. Allah, Praised be He, says: “…this Qur’an has been revealed to me that I may therewith warn you and whomsoever it may reach.” (Al-An`am, 6:19) The message of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) nullifies all previous messages, for he is the final Messenger and his message prevails over all messages. That is what we believe.
    Other rulings are based on this ruling. For example, a Muslim can deal with these people to benefit the Muslims or keep them safe from any harm. This has nothing to do with their belief, for every person with a certain belief thinks he is on the right path. It would not be called belief if he did not think so. This is what makes our belief in Islam firm. As for those who do not receive the message, they take the same ruling as the people who lived in the interval between the prophets. Scholars have two opinions regarding them:
    First: As far as the basics of Islam are concerned, they are punished, but this is not so concerning subsidiary matters. Many scholars such as Al-Qarafi adopt this opinion. The author of Maraqi Al-Su`ud says: “The people who lived in the interval between two prophets are not held accountable for subsidiary matters, but scholars differ concerning the basics.” Such people are not required to fulfill subsidiary matters but they are required to follow the principles of Shari`ah; which is to believe in Allah, His angels, books, messengers and the Last Day. But scholars differ in this regard. An example of such a person is someone who lived on an island and did not hear anything of Muhammad’s message. Anyone who did not receive the message takes the same ruling. On the Day of Judgment, he may be resurrected and given the choice, as mentioned in the Hadith related by Ibn Kathir. Thus, the matter is subject to many criteria discussed by scholars (may Allah be merciful to them all).

    Now, brothers and sisters, do you really think the great and noble Shaykh bin Bayyah is wrong, even though he is agreeing with all of the Muslims of the past?

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      January 28, 2016 at 5:45 PM

      Here is the link BTW. If Aly could be so kind and fuse this comment together so it’s not two comments instead of one…

      He is an Orthodox/Traditionalist/Sufi Shaykh and a MUJTAHID in fiqh. Hamza Yusuf learned from this man and so did so many others. So, when he tells us what is the correct belief (like literally every scholar….Sunni, Shia, Rafidhi, Sufi, Salafi, Ahle Hadeeth, Deoband, Barelvi, ……..) we should believe him and not anti orthodox, anti traditionalist, Perrenialists who contradict what all the Sahaba RA and first generations and pretty much everyone since believed.

      Much love to the author of this article! You and Sheikh Omar Suleiman are the only ones I found with an adequate response to this extremely dangerous falsehood along with Dr Shady Elmasry.

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    January 28, 2016 at 5:46 PM

    1) And on the authority of ‘Abdullâh Ibn Mas’ûd that the Prophet, صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ, said:

    “إِنِّي لَأَرْجُو أَنْ تَكُونُوا نِصْفَ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ وَذَلِكَ أَنَّ الْجَنَّةَ لَا يَدْخُلُهَا إِلَّا نَفْسٌ مُسْلِمَةٌ.”
    “I have hope that you will be half of the people of Jannah, and that is because no one but a Muslim Soul will enter Jannah.”
    Narrated by Al-Bukhârî (#6,528)

    2)So they state that Allâh has told us that whoever dies as a kâfir will be in the Fire, so when we say that a kâfir is in the Fire, we are only following what Allâh has Told us.

    And on the authority of Abû Hurayrah, رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ, that the Prophet, صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ, said:

    “وَالَّذِي نَفْسُ مُحَمَّدٍ بِيَدِهِ لَا يَسْمَعُ بِي أَحَدٌ مِنْ هَذِهِ الْأُمَّةِ يَهُودِيٌّ وَلَا نَصْرَانِيٌّ ثُمَّ يَمُوتُ وَلَمْ يُؤْمِنْ بِالَّذِي أُرْسِلْتُ بِهِ إِلَّا كَانَ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ النَّارِ.”
    “By Him in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, no one from amongst this Ummah hears of me; not a Jew nor a Christian, then dies and does not believe in what I came with, except that he will be from the denizens of Hell-Fire.”
    Narrated by Muslim (#153)

    3) On the authority of Anas Ibn Mâlik, رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ, who said:

    كَانَ غُلَامٌ يَهُودِيٌّ يَخْدُمُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَمَرِضَ فَأَتَاهُ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَعُودُهُ فَقَعَدَ عِنْدَ رَأْسِهِ فَقَالَ لَهُ أَسْلِمْ فَنَظَرَ إِلَى أَبِيهِ وَهُوَ عِنْدَهُ فَقَالَ لَهُ أَطِعْ أَبَا الْقَاسِمِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَأَسْلَمَ فَخَرَجَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَهُوَ يَقُولُ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَنْقَذَهُ مِنْ النَّارِ
    “A Jewish boy used to serve the Prophet, صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ, and he became sick. So the Prophet, صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ, went to visit him. He sat near his head and said to him: ‘Embrace Islâm.’ The boy looked at his father, who was with him, then he (i.e. the father) said: ‘Obey Abul-Qâsim.’ So he embraced Islâm. The Prophet came out saying: ‘Praise be to Allâh, the One Who saved him from the Fire.’”
    Narrated by Al-Bukhârî (#1,356)

    Now Jews say la ilaha illallah, don’t worship idols and even acknowledge Musa AS as the Messenger of Allah!! And it still is not enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SubhanAllah. Indeed all the scholars got it right and the modern day Perrenialists got it wrong!!!!!!!!!!!

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    February 1, 2016 at 2:26 PM

    Keep this in mind everyone: “Actions are judged by the intentions behind them.” No Muslim denies the validity of this statement and it applies to ALL human beings. This is 100% true, everything else written above may or may not be as it is our opinion.

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      February 3, 2016 at 3:01 PM

      Yes, and just like raping little boys is always bad, no matter what the intention, kufr is always bad, no matter what the intention. Inventing lies on Allah aza wa jal and lying against Allah’s ayat is always always always bad and never forgiven.

      Deeds do not only depend on intention but whether they are correct or not. No deen other than Islam will ever, ever be accepted.

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        February 4, 2016 at 11:48 AM

        Salam Alaykum.

        “Kufr” is by definition an act of ill-intention. One cannot possibly have good intentions when committing kufr (i.e. deliberately denying the truth without compulsion).

        “Deeds do not only depend on intention but whether they are correct or not. No deen other than Islam will ever, ever be accepted.”

        This is not Truth. A correct deed may be done with an ILL-intention. Does that mean the person is saved whereas a bad deed may be done with a good intention and that person is doomed? Where did you learn your religion? It is precisely this mentality which is ruining Islam. I used to blaspheme and caricature the Qur’an (May Allah forgive me) but it was out of ignorance and a genuine belief that the book was false and harming innocent people. When my Lord turned to me in Mercy, He was generous and did not make me grovel for forgiveness because He knew that my intentions were not “evil” per say.

        You have a profoundly unsophisticated and non-Qur’anic view of Islam. The certitude with which you insist on your correctness should be alarming to you.

        Good luck.

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        February 4, 2016 at 11:58 AM

        Would raping little boys be immoral if it were commanded by God?

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        February 4, 2016 at 1:33 PM

        You have a very simplistic and unsophisticated view of Islam. You should be groveling for forgiveness for whta you did-you acted on ignorance which is your own fault.

        A correct deed done with ill intention is not accepted but bad deeds done with good intention are never accepted.

        For example Christian missionaries are disbelievers for disbelieving in even after Islam has come to them however they think they are doing good by calling people to kufr and shirk.

        Their good intentions are wasted and they are damned for their disbelief.

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    Muslim brother

    February 4, 2016 at 8:22 AM

    I believe that the Qur’an has been revealed by God Almighty. Thus I am a Muslim by that definition.

    However, I also realize that I was born a Muslim to Muslim parents.

    Can I disentangle my status of believing in Islam from factors outside of my control…that I was born and raised as a Muslim?

    Even though I really believe in Islam in my heart and I also find it gratifying to my intellect, studies show that people tend to justify and rationalize their inclinations.

    If you or I with finite minds, can understand that, then does not God Almighty know that?

    Thus, although I am a Muslim and a Christian is a non-Muslim by the criterion of our reaction to accepting the Qur’an from God or not, I cannot definitely say that I am better than a non-Muslim.

    This type of analysis may seem simple to us but it was not in the consciousness of our predecessors. Therefore, appealing to Imam Nawawi or Imam Qadi Iyad is not only appealing to authority but misplaced to some extent.

    It should still give us pause when great intellectuals say that to think otherwise makes us an unbeliever but we should not let go of our intellect as our fitrat and the Qur’an (and thus God) demands us to not let go of it.

    I am NOT saying that I accept Perrenialism…indeed I would like to warn every single non-Muslim who has an intellect in this world to care for their soul and do not reject the Qur’an.

    However, I find the traditional and Salafi approach to categorizing who is saved and who is not simplistic in two ways….don’t be so sure that those who are Muslim believers are guaranteed 100% to be saved…only God knows how much of their belief is due to their conditioning at childhood…and don’t be sure that non-Muslims are destined to not be saved (as Allah says in Surah Zukhruf, I think some will be surprised to not find who they thought were bad people to be with them in Hell).

    As for the verses using the word “Islam”, this is not a clincher because the word “Islam” can also mean submission….and again only God is able to peel away all the numerous factors to REALLY know who is more submissive and who is not at the core of their hearts.

    I ask God to guide us all to be better and may we present the teachings of the Qur’an to all by way of conduct and handing people a good translation of the Qur’an like the one by Sahih International.

    I think a good commentary is by Abdullah Yusuf Ali or Muhammad Asad. I think there are a lot of other good commentaries…I have not had the time to read much of The Study Quran but I read some of the essays at the end and I recommend all to read those essays…such as by Professor Lumbard on people of other religions and by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on death and the afterlife.

    If I am mistaken in any of the above, I ask God’s forgiveness.

    Remember, we all have a lot to learn…sometimes what we and our dear scholars thought may be wrong or not entirely correct….remember Prophet Moses’s story with Khidr.

    As always, God knows best.

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      February 4, 2016 at 11:56 AM

      A Christian could easily write the same thing, with the religions reversed. As the Bible says all non-Christians will be punished, should you not, then, believe the Bible and be a Christian? You can see how this appeal does not compel you on an intellectual level to abandon Islam and adopt Christianity. You believe the threat of the religion you believe in, and dismiss the threat of the religion you don’t believe in. As an outsider who isn’t inclined or predisposed toward either faith, why should a person accept either of your religions?

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        Ahmad B.

        February 5, 2016 at 9:08 AM

        Dear Randy,

        I’ve already answered your question several times at length, but you seem not to be a very careful reader. One examines the claims made by each faith (like, for example, whether it makes more sense to believe in one indivisible transcendental God or a God who is both simultaneously God and man and who can walk on the earth as a man while still being a transcendent God in heaven, etc.), as well as the evidence put forth for the authenticity of the claimed scripture (where applicable), and one makes an informed decision as to which truth claim is more plausible (if either). People make lots of conflicting truth claims all the time about all sorts of matters, and how else would you adjudicate among these other than by (1) examining the plausibility of the claim themselves, as well as (2) the evidence put forth in support of them?

        Whether you want to admit it or not, the non-believer has also accepted certain truth claims “on faith” simply because he sees these as more plausible than other views, not because he can adduce any 100% apodictically certain proof in their favor. Choosing to believe that the world just exists, without any ultimate cause or explanation whatsoever, and that it can be coherently accounted for without positing a transcendent creator is a belief held by atheists, scientistic materialists, and other agnostics for which none of them has any definitive proof. Try defending that position philosophically without running into a contradiction or something ridiculous like saying that the world just created itself or was “spontaneously generated” (hardly a scientific claim) or some cop-out answer like that.

        I already gave you the example of Antony Flew, a 50-year philosophical atheist who ended up, at the age of 80, adopting the philosophical view that there is NO way of plausibly accounting for the world as we know it WITHOUT positing a transcendent intelligent creator who him/itself is not created but has simply always existed (which we know is not true of our universe). The burden of proof is on the atheist to show how a rational person should accept that something just popped into existence out of nothing. Isn’t it interesting that from Aristotle on until the 18th century (in some quarters), everyone believed there had to be a God in order to account plausibly for the world — including the philosophers, despite the fact that these latter also believed the world to be eternal (unlike Christian, Muslim, and Jewish theologians, who held that the world had come into existence at a certain point in time, which made the existence of God all the more necessary) — while today, the scientific consensus agrees with traditional theologians that the world had a beginning (14 billion years ago), yet you have many hard-nosed atheists running around insisting that this consensus is somehow consistent with atheism. Why is it that so many people in our times cannot see the absurdity of this position, which was a no-brainer to everyone else before us (and, of course, for many today, including many scientists)?

        The existence of some such being is a rational necessity given our own existence and the knowledge we have of our world, and it is to this being — call him/it whatever you like — that Jonaid told you a while ago that you should turn yourself towards if you are sincere in your pursuit of truth. Whether such a God has sent any revelations, prophets, is concerned about our actions and fate, evaluates us morally, will raise us after death for judgment followed by an eternal life, etc. — all of this, for sure, is not a NECESSARY concomitant of the very existence of God; no one here is making that claim. But when you start from the premise that God must exist (even the polytheistic pagan Arabs knew that much), you can then at least start to take various religious truth claims — like those of Christianity and Islam — seriously, since they are at least plausible. I mean, if there is an all-powerful, intelligent, transcendent creator — which reason itself, along with modern science tell us there must be — then the main theological claims being made about human moral responsibility, resurrection after death, final judgment, etc. are all perfectly plausible.

        Again, I am not saying this means they are true BY NECESSITY, in the manner that the existence of God is true by necessity, but it does shift the plausibility framework in terms of which one would evaluate the various specific religious truth claims being made. But if you start with the prejudice of an atheist and the irrational belief in scientistic materialism as a plausible overall approach to the explanation of the world as we know it, then of course all these claims about a God, an unseen realm (oh no! there might exist something that is not amenable to limited human sense perception and the empirical science based on it?), this God communicating His will to His creation through revelation, as well as knowledge concerning their ultimate purpose and destiny, etc. will of course all seem like a bunch of fantastical nonsense. But again, it only appears so on the antecedently indefensible position of atheistic materialism. Drop the materialist bias and you can at least start to evaluate things with a more open mind.

        Say, have you ever read the Qur’an?

        Ahmad B.

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      February 4, 2016 at 1:43 PM

      Thats not true since this batil opinion of yours is not found among any of the earlier generations and appeals to authority are true in Islam since the Ummah will never gather upon error and yet yhr Ummah did gather uppn the truth that Imam an Nawawi amd Qadi Iyadh explained.

      Islam does NOT mean some generic “submission” but the only valid submission which is the deen of Muhammad.

      It doesn’t mattet that some people have an advantage over others since Allah has given each sane adult the faculties to discern truth from falsehood.

      Therefore a kaffir cannot be described as submitting in his heart and yes you should fear for yourself since any Muslim may die a kaffir. [REDACTED]

      Likewise any kaffir still alive may repent and believe and be saved.

      It is NOT a “Salafi” understanding but everyones understanding in the past, the appeal to authority is a just appeal and the false views of Joseph Lumbard are poison to anyones intellect let alone even close to the truth.

      Since you are totally mistaken, ameen to your dua and may Allah save you from taking ayat completely out of context which is a tremendous thing that you have just done.

      Now if you believe the Quran has been revealed by Allah and are true in your claim, you will believe what it says, that disbelievers are in the fire forever and that there are no exceptions except those who did not receive the message
      Never once has the batil and obviously foolish excuse “they were indoctrinated” been accepted-on the contrary ayat and ahadith specifically refute that excuse.

      So why should anyone accept this obviously and blatantly false view that is at variance with the Quran the Sunnah and all the Muslims of the past generations? May Allah accept your dua for forgiveness [REDACTED].

      *This comment was edited by the MM Comments Team in order to comply with our Comments Policy*

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      February 4, 2016 at 7:34 PM

      “and don’t be sure that non-Muslims are destined to not be saved”

      I believe Allah and His Messenger and disbelieve in you. Allah said they are destined to not be saved so I believe Him. They are in the fire khalideena feeha abada. Allah did not mention an exception for a single kaffir ever in the Quran so I will take Him at His word. This unsophisticated and simplistic of yours is unfortunately contradictory to the Quran and not intellectual enough for me to adopt it.

      I will be sure, you can be in doubt. I advise you though, to believe with certainty in the ayat of Allah aza wa jal.

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        Muslim brother

        February 8, 2016 at 6:01 AM


        Please check out

        Brother M. Mahmud,

        It was my mistake to forget to use the word ***every***.

        I meant to say don’t be sure that ***every*** non-Muslim is destined to not be saved.

        Yes, you should not believe me…you should indeed believe in Allah and his messenger.

        But Allah tells you, me, and all of us to use your mind…and tells you, me, and all of us to be just.

        Even if you do not read that in the Qur’an, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has placed logical thinking and understanding of justice in our fitrat.

        The point is that you cannot judge billions of people’s fate…only Allah can….as Allah says He knows what is in the hearts of people.

        You don’t know.

        As Allah (swt) says in Surah Al-Baqara about past peoples…we will not be asked about them.

        Yes, Allah, subhana wa ta ala, explicitly, repeatedly and emphatically says that those who are “kafir” will be in hell.

        But the point is that just because you believe in Islam, it does not prove that you as a professing Muslim is better than a non-Muslim who has not adequately heard Islam.

        “Kafir” means to reject the truth…to cover truth up….only Allah (swt) knows how me, you, or any particular born Muslim would be if we were born to non-Muslim parents and only Allah says that reverse for those who are non-Muslims.

        I am not saying that non-Muslims need not be worried.

        On the contrary, I say that if they don’t accept Islam, they are in clear danger of severe punishment for eternity or at least unbearably and tremendous long time. I assume that the majority of them and perhaps vast majority will go to hell-fire.

        But I think it is dangerous and a bit naive for those born named as Abdullah or Ayesha to assume they are going to paradise just because they believe in Islam and follow the practices.

        Only Allah (swt) knows the very depths of our hearts and knows if we would do so if we were born to non-Muslims and only Allah knows the converse for every non-Muslim.

        I believe that Allah is not deficient in knowledge…I believe that He knows everything and that He will act according to that all-encompassing knowledge and justice and not according to our presumptions, our conditioning, or our biases.

        This is not rocket science…but I think quite logical (using our minds that Allah (swt) commanded us to use).

        Of course, only Allah, subhana wa ta ala, knows best.

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        February 8, 2016 at 7:00 AM

        Well, if you’re being honest, you believe that’s what Allah said, but you don’t know it to be true. Your belief is just as justified as the Christian’s, and the Jew’s, and the Hindu’s, and so on.

      • Avatar


        February 8, 2016 at 3:37 PM

        Every is tested with the situation they were given. It is irrelevant if someone had Muslim parents or not, someone can easily say “Allah knows best what they would do if they were raise in a Muslim environment” “Allah knows best what they would do if they saw the Messenger” “Allah knows best what they would do if they saw an angel”

        وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِن بَنِي آدَمَ مِن ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ ۖ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ ۛ شَهِدْنَا ۛ أَن تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَٰذَا غَافِلِينَ
        And when your Lord brought forth from the children of Adam, from their backs, their descendants, and made them bear witness against their own souls: Am I not your Lord? They said: Yes! we bear witness. Lest you should say on the day of resurrection: Surely we were heedless of this.

        أَوْ تَقُولُوا إِنَّمَا أَشْرَكَ آبَاؤُنَا مِن قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا ذُرِّيَّةً مِّن بَعْدِهِمْ ۖ أَفَتُهْلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ الْمُبْطِلُونَ
        Or you should say: Only our fathers associated others (with Allah) before, and we were an offspring after them: Wilt Thou then destroy us for what the vain doers did?

        When the minimum required evidence comes, a person is required to believe. Every human is gifted with fitrah and intellect and so by definition he has enough evidence for la ilaha ilallah although this is not enough if the message of Islam comes then he must also accept the Messengers of Allah aza wa jal, for Allah said concerning whoever fails to believe in all of them,

        أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ حَقًّا ۚ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابًا مُّهِينًا

        These it is that are truly unbelievers, and We have prepared for the unbelievers a disgraceful chastisement.

        I advise you to avoid listening to Hamza Yusuf and Joseph Lumbard and any who fail to clearly affirm what all the fuqaha of the past affirmed. Nouman Ali Khan, Omar Suleiman, Yasir Qadhi….you have so many more options like these three and more. Don’t listen to someone who would fool you into thinking you are using you intellect when they are only calling to falsehood.

        And no Muslim is safe from fitnah. Any of us could die disbelievers. That is why we must be fearful may Allah make us so until our hour.

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      February 7, 2016 at 11:26 PM

      “and don’t be sure that non-Muslims are destined to not be saved”

      Why should I obey you? Allah commanded me to believe in Him and said they are damned forever so why should I not be so sure? Do answer this please.

      Also, appeals to authority are correct because an-Nabi sallahualayhiwasalam informed us that the Ummah does not agree upon error and the majority are not led astray.

      Therefore since there is ijma’ on this issue, despite the insistence of some that there is not, authority IS a proof. Imam an-Nawawi RH and Qadi Iyad RH are correct.

      (As for the verses using the word “Islam”, this is not a clincher because the word “Islam” can also mean submission….and again only God is able to peel away all the numerous factors to REALLY know who is more submissive and who is not at the core of their hearts.)

      Islam in 3:85 is Al-Islam, the Islam that was known to an-Nabi sallahualayhiwasalam and the Sahaba RA. There is not a shred of evidence in the slightest they ever considered it to be anything less then the Shahadah. In fact and early disagreement among the first generations is whether abandoning Salah takes one out of the fold of Islam or not.

      If someone is actually submissive, then they will enter Islam when it comes to them and die as Muslims. Whats in the heart is manifested by actions however what is manifested by actions is not necessarily found in the heart. Therefore if a kaffir is truly submissive he will enter Islam however someone may appear to be a believer but he is truly a hypocrite.

      “but we should not let go of our intellect as our fitrat and the Qur’an (and thus God) demands us to not let go of it.”
      My intellect tells me that the belief nonbelievers can go to Jannah is not only contradictory to what Allah and His Messenger have explained, and not only contradictory to what the entire Ummah has come to accept, but is completely contradictory to what intellect would lead a man towards. I cannot but conclude that it is not intellect but the very opposite that could lead a man to conclude disbelievers have a chance at Jannah.

      And again, why should I not appeal to authority and what all the believers have agreed on? Shall I throw away my intellect and thus lose my certainty as you would have me do and turn my heels on the way of all the believers before us? Think! Use your intellect! Those arguing for this falsehood are not bringing a shred of evidence except that it is proof against them.
      I leave you with this warning and pray for the forgiveness and guidance of myself first and then you,

      وَمَن يُشَاقِقِ الرَّسُولَ مِن بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ الْهُدَىٰ وَيَتَّبِعْ غَيْرَ سَبِيلِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ نُوَلِّهِ مَا تَوَلَّىٰ وَنُصْلِهِ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا
      If anyone contends with the Messenger even after guidance has been plainly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than that becoming to men of Faith, We shall leave him in the path he has chosen, and land him in Hell,- what an evil refuge!

  17. Avatar

    Muslim brother

    February 9, 2016 at 3:46 PM

    Brother M. Mahmud,

    You just “don’t get it.”

    Your belief may not be because you are a good person than those who were not born and conditioned like you.

    I am not saying they are in danger….they are in clear and present danger if they don’t accept Islam (submission to God…and sincere submission requires the person to seek out the true religion rigorously) but it is not black and white. There is a lot of distortions on Islam because of false information and because of bad Muslims.

    “…..To each of you We prescribed a law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ.” (Surah 5, 48).

    “to test you in what He has given you.”

    I assume you were born to Muslim parents, correct? And you probably received a thousands and thousands of units of conditioning to love Islam and practice Islam and believe in Islam.

    That’s what you were “given.”

    You cannot compare yourself with anyone else unless what they have been given is just like you.

    And there are so many variables involved, it is not a calculation you can casually make.

    You will be tested based on what you were given…and they will be tested on what they were given.

    Yes, a lot of people who have good brains and have access to the information are still rejecting Islam…probably a lot of them should have known much better and they will receive their just punishment of being sent to hell for their judgement to be stubborn and follow their desires and not really research and be ready to follow the truth wherever it leads.

    But again it is not rocket science…as for so called ijma….how was ijma calculated….was there info on all the hundreds of millions or billions of Muslims who lived in the past?

    Do you know that that hadith about Ummah not agreeing on an error itself is based on a weak hadith….I may be wrong but that is what I recall reading from Jonathan Brown’s book on introduction to hadith…

    Please correct me anyone since I am not completely certain on that.

    But back to the main point….you I am afraid cannot assume that you are better than someone who rejects Islam.

    God is good….He will reward the good and He will punish the evil.

    But if you believe in something that is true, it can very be because you are conditioned that way.

    Every people are in the bubble of their time period….people in the past were in their bubbles…it does not mean that they were not as intelligent as us…but just that they were in their boxed as we are in our boxes.

    People in the past thought it would be absurd to think that the earth went around the sun…although we know it does.

    So just because people of the past, whether among Christians in their lands or in Muslims in their lands had difficulty to realize the point I am making does not mean they were right.

    Interestingly, Allah, subhana wa ta ala says in Surah 9 something to the effect that don’t assume that pagans are necessarily bad since you were pagans before….

    Regarding your other point….about…oh, Muslims can die as non believers before they die and so on many times….well let’s look at the clear empirical evidence….how often is it that those who are born to Muslims are buried in Christian cemeteries….not that often…babies born to Muslim parents tend to die professing Islam.

    And how often are those born to Christians buried in Islamic cemeteries? Not that often but much more likely I think than the reverse. However, still the vast majority of those born to Christians or to religions other than Islam do not die as Muslims.

    So this point you raise is a little weak.

    If I am wrong, may Allah (swt) guide me.

    I am afraid to go against simple logic for Allah (swt) has given me a mind and commanded me to use it.

    He did not command me to follow some group of scholars on every point because even a group of scholars can be mislead because of the limiting environment of their time and place and circumstances.

    And no, it is not possible to assume that this or that group was “ijma,”

    I think it is quite possible and likely even that the notions that are thought of when one thinks of “ijma” is to some extent a construct…a convenient construct….not to be dismissed outright but not that strong when looked under scrutiny.

    Of course, only Allah, subhana wa ta ala knows best.

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      February 9, 2016 at 4:38 PM

      Why do you burden yourselves with all this? The vision you have of the Almighty seems to me the best advocate for Satan.
      I believe it ius because in so mnay Muslim countries the only experience of leadership is of remote bullies who live lives of ease themselves but allow no dissent.
      If you are not allowed to disagree with what you are taught for fear of going to hell what value does it have?
      If we are to be simple subservient slaves what does that say of our creator.
      Why did he not make us all as dull duplicate unthinking people.
      How can you love a God who does nota llow you to argue and evaluate.
      How can you truly love a god who does nota llow you to dissent and make mistakes and learn for yourselves.
      Yes we have to be sorry when our actions hurt others and be humble when we do that.
      Do you not question whu God vreated Eartyhquakes, Volcanic Erruptions, Tsunami’s and drought and disease?
      Surely people have a right to protest to God when that happens.
      Good luck to you all but you turn something taht should be joyous into complete misery.
      Muslims I know are mostly nice people – but I am afraid your faith Islam leaves me cold.

      • Avatar


        February 9, 2016 at 4:56 PM

        >How can you love a God who does nota llow you to argue and evaluate.

        Well we do love God Almighty, and we do argue and evaluate – not the least on this site!

        However we should not be allowed to argue and evaluate with people who haven’t understood much of Islam while they consider our beautiful religion so negatively. But Allah tells us {to us our life-transaction and to you yours.} !

        And BTW if those “free, progressive” Western (and even Eastern) countries would stop interfering into Muslim countries, also by massively supporting those “remote bullies who live lives of ease themselves but allow no dissent,” the Muslim world wouldn’t be in such a chaos right now.

        Surely in this short period on earth there would be “something (more) joyous” and less “misery.” Tell this your Sunday school friends please.

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          February 10, 2016 at 5:54 AM

          I would agree in part about not supporting dictatorial regimes. The problem and great sadness is that when dictators are replaced in the Islamic world a worse situation enues . It is as if the people there can only survive witha bully in charge. Bullying figures can give a great sense of security. Children of bullying parents often caht way and have problems coping with gentler, kinder parents.
          Often the people who claim to be so opposed toa ttempts to remove dictators and establish democracies turn out to be dictators themselves. It is not only in the Islamic world this happens but also in communist regimes.
          I had lengthy discussion with an Iranian friend at teh time of the war to remove Saddam.
          My own belief is taht it would have been better to allow teh Americans to stay longer and ensure a democracy that inclduded Shia, Sunni, Kurdish Muslims and other faiths and groups. But the Muslim Association of Britain working with the Socialist Workers Party were so sure this was wrong.
          I spoke with an Iranian friend at that time. He was sure the Americans would never leave.
          I said consider this. George Bush, who was much hated tehn, will only stay in power under teh American Constitution for a maximum 8 years. He hadto be re-e;ected after 4 (but that was not democracie3s proudest moment!)
          At taht tiem the Supreme leader of Iran, who as ALL teh real power, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ha dbeen in post for 13 yearsor more.
          He has been in power since 989, making him the second longest serving autocrat in the Middle East (after Oman’s Sultan Qaboos) as well as the second longest-serving Iranian leader of the last century, after Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
          He has nver had to face election by the people. Since tehn we have had what was known as “The Green \revollution and the TTcks on the Sufi Muslims in their Housnaiyeth at Quom.
          Khamenei’s overt support for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed 2009 reelection—amid unprecedented mass protests—undermined his image as a dispassionate guide who stays above the political fray.
          The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), wield far more power than quasi-elected institutions like the presidency and parliament.
          I get annoyed with friends who opposed the removal of Saddam. They have what I call an elitist viewpoint. They conside rthat the peopel in Islamic countries cannot cope with democracy. Thate they are not yet ready for democracy. I believe that Muslim people are pretty bright and as entitled as anyone else to choos ethir future on a regualr basis without fear of some war lord or religious fanatic forcing their ideas on them.
          There is a fear that ademocracy will be “imposed”.
          That is a nonsense. Democracy has its limitations but it can never be imposed. Otherwise it is not democracy.
          Yes sometimes you have to choose the party or people who you dislike least.
          Sometimes none of teh candidates are very good.
          But teh freedom to organise yourselves and try to convince otehr s and stand for election is vital.
          Otherwise youa re just slaves.
          Our ideas change as we grow and so may teh way we vote.For example when we have te responsibility of children or caring for elderly parents we see the world in adifferennt way.
          Young people are easily fooled by loud mouthed leaders who ahve all the answers – but young people grow up.
          No I was all in favour of removiing Saddam, but I do think that we should have kept out of Libya.
          Let us all pray for peace and justice, prosperity and happiness in Syria.
          I hope this is helpful . Truye firiends will speak their mind not just be politically correct.
          God Bless You.

        • Avatar


          February 10, 2016 at 6:10 AM

          I would agree in part about not supporting dictatorial regimes. The problem and great sadness is that when dictators are replaced in the Islamic world a worse situation ensues . It is as if the people there can only survive witha bully in charge. Bullying figures can give a great sense of security. Children of bullying parents often can only feel safe that way and have problems coping with gentler, kinder parents.
          Often the people who claim to be so opposed to attempts to remove dictators and establish democracies turn out to be dictators themselves. It is not only in the Islamic world this happens but also in communist regimes and elsewhere.
          I had lengthy discussion with an Iranian friend at the time of the war to remove Saddam.
          My own belief is that it would have been better to allow the Americans to stay longer and ensure a democracy that inclduded Shia, Sunni, Kurdish Muslims and other faiths and groups. But the Muslim Association of Britain working with the Socialist Workers Party were so sure this was wrong. The International Community would have scrutinised any democracy they put in place and any dodgy dealing would soon have been picked up.
          I spoke with an Iranian friend at that time. He was sure the Americans would never leave.
          I said consider this. George Bush, who was much hated then, will only stay in power under the American Constitution for a maximum 8 years. He hadto be re-elected after 4 years (but that was not democracies proudest moment!)
          At that time the Supreme Leader of Iran, who as ALL the real power, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had been in post for 13 years or more.
          He has been in power since 989, making him the second longest serving autocrat in the Middle East (after Oman’s Sultan Qaboos) as well as the second longest-serving Iranian leader of the last century, after Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
          He has never had to face election by the people. Since then we have had what was known as “The Green Revollution” and the attacks on the Sufi Muslims in their Housnaiyeth at Quom.
          Khamenei’s overt support for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed 2009 re-election — amid unprecedented mass protests—undermined his image as a dispassionate guide who stays above the political fray.
          The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), wield far more power than quasi-elected institutions like the presidency and parliament.
          I get annoyed with friends who opposed the removal of Saddam. They have what I call an elitist viewpoint. They consider that the people in Islamic countries cannot cope with democracy. That they are not yet ready for democracy. I believe that Muslim people are pretty bright and as entitled as anyone else to choose their future on a regualr basis without fear of some war lord or religious fanatic forcing their ideas on them. Simply putting on the clotes of a religious leader does not mean you are or remain a good person. We all need to be subject to scrutiny by others.
          There is a fear that ademocracy will be “imposed”.
          That is a nonsense. Democracy has its limitations but it can never be imposed. Otherwise it is NOT democracy.
          Yes sometimes you have to choose the party or people who you dislike least.
          Sometimes none of the candidates are very good, they are after all people.
          But the freedom to choose, or to organise yourselves and try to convince othersand stand for election and offer tehm an alternative is vital.
          Otherwise you are just slaves.
          Our ideas change as we grow and so may the way we vote. For example when we have the responsibility of children or caring for elderly parents we see the world in adifferennt way.
          Young people are easily fooled by loud mouthed leaders who claim to have all the answers – but young people grow up.
          No I was all in favour of removiing Saddam, but I do think that we should have kept out of Libya.
          More vital – Let us all pray for peace and justice, prosperity and happiness in Syria and I would say pray that they may have achance to choose who leads them in future..
          I hope this is helpful .
          True firiends will speak their mind not just be politically correct.
          May God Bless You.

      • Avatar


        February 9, 2016 at 6:44 PM

        MY interpretation of MY holy book is correct!

        No, MY interpretation of MY holy book is correct!

        How would a disinterested third party determine which, if either, is actually correct?

    • Avatar


      February 10, 2016 at 12:19 PM

      If you are afraid to go against simple logic then you will be afraid to continue insisting on your clearly false belief. It is not logical to assume that because people are conditioned to disbelieve they have some excuse from the fire. They may have varying punishments in the fire but they will still all be in it forever.

      Why do you refrain from using simple logic? Why do you not just believe like everyone else? All the scholars are fools or what? Nobody in this Ummah had this batil opinion of yours so they were all not logical until you came along? Imam an Nawawi and Qadi Iyad aren’t enough to explain the right opinion?

      Why are you refraining from aql did Allah not command you to use your intellect?

  18. Avatar


    February 9, 2016 at 9:40 PM

    Salam :.

    An advise to the sincere commentators here: it’s not worth getting into arguments and debates with people on the internet. Some people come here with agendas and will just waste your time and the blog space if they’re given attention. Those that are genuinely confused or misinformed can learn from reading comments from intelligent & learned commentators. One cannot guide someone who can’t realize the difference between what Muslims do / say and what God actually taught mankind. It is a fitna of a kind – the mere fact that a beautiful religion can often appear so ugly because of its self-proclaimed followers. Only God can keep you on the straight path – not Muslims or scholars or anyone else. If you’re Christian and don’t like Islam, you can keep your comments to yourself, particularly when they’re not related to the topic and only display your own ignorance. If you truly believe what you believe about Islam & Muslims, you ought to pity Muslims and pray to God to guide them (and yourself while you’re at it – no one is beyond the need for guidance).

    Islam is actually not nearly as complicated as it often appears to be. Ultimately it comes down to believing in God, trusting in Him, worshiping only Him, and being a truthful person.

    • Avatar


      February 10, 2016 at 8:09 AM

      What you BELIEVE Go taught. Also, do you not also have an agenda? To persuade others to agree with you? Why should your agenda be more important or valid than someone else’s agenda based on doing the same thing?

      • Avatar


        February 10, 2016 at 4:24 PM

        I’m responding to this guy in case some reader is actually wondering if his latest comment makes a valid point or not. Yes it’s true most people do have agendas and if you’re a muslim you have an agenda: to spread the truth of Islam to as many people as possible. The difference, however, is that someone guided by God and on the Truth does NOT deceive, lie, manipulate or cheat in any way whatsoever when spreading the message. The problem with people like you (so it seems from your comments here) is that you do NOT care to actually follow the facts where they lead or even listen to what others have to say. You have an agenda which is not objective truth – that much is obvious by your constant repetitions of the same nonsensical complaints which have been addressed multiple times by different people. Let’s not forget that your comments are misplaced and have nothing to do with the topics being discussed. So yes, we all have “agendas” but some of us – those with the Truth – are being honest and straightforward and not deceiving or parroting the same nonsense mindlessly without any consideration for the facts. We may make mistakes as we’re not perfect and that is reflective of our own shortcomings and ego. However, “mistakes” are not deliberate attempts to muddy the waters and confuse sincere readers. Mistakes are genuine misjudgments or errors made without any ill-intention.

        God knows best. May He guide us all.


        • Avatar


          February 10, 2016 at 5:29 PM

          You have accused me of dishonesty, yet I have only done three things: correct the claim that Islam does not claim the core tenets of Christianity are false; assert that people BELIEVE, not KNOW, that their holy books are true; and ask how one can determine which holy book, if any, is actually true. The first is a matter of fact, and the claim was demonstrably false, so that does not qualify as dishonesty; the second is agreed upon by most religious scholars, as well as being true according to epistemological methodology, so that does not qualify as dishonesty; the third is a question that nobody has thus far answered, so that does not qualify as dishonesty. What, sir, do you propose I have said that is dishonest? Please be specific, as ambiguous accusations are easy to make but difficult to demonstrate.

  19. Avatar

    Muslim brother

    February 10, 2016 at 11:00 PM


    Peace to you…

    Regarding your comment,

    “How would a disinterested third party determine which, if either, is actually correct?”

    I think you have made your point very clear many times….and in many different ways.

    It is simply by reading the Qur’an (and the other books) with and open mind and open heart.

    The Qur’an does not say that the Torah or the Gospel is false but it highlights that the Qur’an is the final revelation of God and the Qur’an also has verses very suggestive that the current scriptures that Jews and Christians take as scripture is not in its pure form….

    You will simply need to take the time and study, do good deeds, and pray often and from the bottom of your heart for God to guide you and to be patient for God’s guidance. Anything else will simply distract you and harden your heart and distract others.

    With all due respect to you as a my fellow human being, I don’t see any benefit by your discussion and my replies continuing because we are going in circles.

    I genuinely wish all the best to you from the bottom of my heart.


    “Some people come here with agendas and will just waste your time and the blog space if they’re given attention. Those that are genuinely confused or misinformed can learn from reading comments from intelligent & learned commentators. One cannot guide someone who can’t realize the difference between what Muslims do / say and what God actually taught mankind.

    Great points you just made….”

    I particularly love your mashallah very insightful comment on 5 (116-119) in your comment on this thread much earlier.

    Abdullah Rahim makes the same exact point at the relevant article at


    • Avatar


      February 11, 2016 at 8:15 AM

      I respectfully disagree. We can always learn from each other if we are willing.

      The Christian can equally tell me that being open and reading the Bible will make it clear that the Bible is the one true holy text. Surely you agree that they can and do make just such claims, just as you have done.

      If the same method can lead to contradictory results (which should be impossible if one of the books is actually true and if the method were actually effective at determining truth), the method is not valid.

      Is there a method that is more reliable than “be open and read it” for determining which holy book is true? A method that will yield the same results no matter who employs it?

      For example, people can use all sorts of methods to find pieces of metal in the sand at a beach. Some may use dowsing rods, some may use their instincts, some may use a dog to sniff it out. But, if a person uses a metal detector, no matter who they are, and no matter what their opinion of metal detectors might be, they will reliably and consistently find metal. The metal detector is a valid and reliable method of finding metal.

      Is there a method equally reliable and effective at determining truth of holy books, such that the one using the method has no effect on the results? Certainly “be open and read it” can’t be it, as there are people who use that method with the Bible and end up believing it is true, which should be impossible if the Koran is actually true. How can we better distinguish true from false, if any holy book is true to begin with?

      I care about truth and believing what is true. If it’s true, I want to know about it. But, I need the truth demonstrated before accepting it. How can we do that, in a way that is not equally capable of demonstrating mutually exclusive things to be true?

  20. Avatar


    February 23, 2016 at 11:52 PM

    Everybody is shouting throughout the past so many centuries, pointing their religion is the greatest and IS the only way to the Almighty. Yet the world is fast moving towards “Qiyāmah”…and everybody thinks they will be saved or will go to jannat/heaven.
    The followers of all religions of this planet follows only one true path, i.e. Dogmatism!!! ;-)
    When Allah knows best then why keep ranting & arguing? Leave everything to Him and keep shut, simple!

    • Avatar


      February 25, 2016 at 5:36 PM

      I did leave everything to Him. And he informed me that disbelievers are those who do not believe in Allah and His Messenger and will be guarenteed eternity in the fire.

      So why should I believe and obey you over my Master who commanded me to tell the truth? SINCE qiyaamah is near it is even MORE necessary to preach the truth Allah informed us about.

      So why should I believe your judgement over Allah? Since Allah knows best and I have left it to Him, why should I instead leave it to you and shut up when He has informed us we ought to warn humanity of the punishment?

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        February 28, 2016 at 7:25 PM

        A kinder, more humble tone would be more appropriate. God has made his warning clear enough in His book. The believer ought to be tender and compassionate when spreading the word – it’s called “Rahmah.”

        BTW to the best of my knowledge, there is no “guarantee” of “eternity in the fire.” The Quran hints it will be for a long time but it is not specified if it’s forever (and that doesn’t make much sense either).

        God knows best.

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        February 29, 2016 at 3:00 AM

        The best of your knowledge is wrong because Allah DOES guarantee it will be forever and ever and ever.

        It would be humble of you to not say “it doesn’t make sense” without confirming with the Quran.

        “The word Abadan (for ever) in the Arabic language means eternity without an end, and this differs from the word Khulood (staying for a long time) which does not necessarily mean eternity but means a long time. It is for this reason that Allaah mentioned both meanings in several verses in the Quran and this proves that they have different meanings otherwise this would be just repetition, and this is contrary to the principle (which reads that coupling between two words indicates a change in meaning) as stated by Ar-Raazi may Allaah have mercy upon him in his Tafseer (interpretation of the Quran). For more benefit, please refer to Fatwa 90244.”
        The word abadan is used for those who are believers, that they will stay in Jannah for eternity.

        The same is used for disbelievers.
        إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَعَنَ الْكَافِرِينَ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ سَعِيرًا
        Inna Allaha laAAana alkafireenawaaAAadda lahum saAAeera
        (Indeed, Allah has cursed the disbelievers and prepared for them a Blaze.)

        خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۖ لَّا يَجِدُونَ وَلِيًّا وَلَا نَصِيرًا
        Khalideena feeha ABADAN layajidoona waliyyan wala naseera
        (Abiding therein forever, they will not find a protector or a helper.)

        A humbler tone is more appropriate Jonaid, so please, next time avoid saying “it doesn’t make any sense” when you lack knowledge. It’s fine to not know, it’s wrong to speak without knowledge.

        You have now been informed linguistically, eternity is a guarentee for the disbelievers in the fire. Now there are PLENTY MORE ayat condemning them to an eternity in the fire and furthermore there are also ahadith condemning them to an eternity in the fire.

        If you would like me to inform you of those and cite them here for you so that you increase in conviction, I am more than happy to just as I was happy to remove your misconception that they are “hinted” to be there for a “very long time” when in fact they are definitively there for an absolute eternity. The Quran doesn’t “hint” at “a very long time” it EXPLICITLY GUARANTEES an ABSOLUTE ETERNITY(would italicize or bold for emphasis but those aren’t options unfortunately.)
        This makes more sense, since God said explicitly, in no uncertain terms that they will be in the fire forever and ever, and thus it has to be true since it makes sense that God is always correct and God doesn’t send explicit messages with no ambiguity except that we should take these messages as that-explicit with no ambiguity.

        I cited a single ayah which linguistically removes doubt that there are there for a very long time because it explicitly, linguistically affirms that they will be there for an ABSOLUTE eternity. There are other ayat like it as well, if you want me to go through the effort of presenting them all, feel free to request it.

        Additionally, it makes sense that those who commit the most severe of crimes, which is disbelief and polytheism are destined to an absolute eternity in the fire.
        خالدين فيها أبدا لا يجدون وليّا ولا نصيرا
        أبدا this is the wonderful word(abadan) which is the reason we know believers will be in Jannah for eternity and not just a very long time (Khulood). It’s also used for the disbelievers in the fire.

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        March 1, 2016 at 1:16 PM

        Salam Alaykum.

        Firstly, I agree with you that I shouldn’t have said “that wouldn’t make much sense either.” What I should have said (and meant) is “that doesn’t seem to make sense to me at all.” As far as a human mind can see, it is not “mercy” nor “justice” if a soul is punished eternally for sins committed in a short, finite life. That’s just simple logic. Now of course Allah can and has the right to do as He pleases but that in it of itself is not an argument. It is also possible that God knows something we don’t and so therefore it is actually justified IF He decides to punish certain criminals for eternity.

        The reason why I said I don’t believe Hell is eternal is the following clear-cut verses:

        In the name of God, The Merciful, The Compassionate.

        “Those who are wretched shall be in the Fire: There will be for them therein (nothing but) the heaving of sighs and sobs:

        They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: for thy Lord is the (sure) accomplisher of what He planneth.

        And those who are blessed shall be in the Garden: They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: a gift without break.”

        Qur’an 11: 106-108

        According to these verses, the sinners will be in Hell so long as the Universe lasts (and we know from Physics that the Universe will come to an end). God adds that He can cut that term short for anyone as He pleases. In the following verse, God speaks about those in Jannah. Here it is the opposite: they too will remain therein so long as the Universe remains BUT this time God will not cut short anyone’s term but may, as He pleases, ADD to anyone’s term. It is beautiful and exemplifies the Rahmah of Ar-Rahman. When there is not certainty, a Muslim ought to speak of the Mercy of his Lord and not exaggerate His wrath.

        So how do I understand the verses which state “abadan”? I don’t know classical Arabic but I take your word on it that it means something like “forever.” Forever implies “for all TIME.” Time is a property of the Universe – if there is no creation, there is no time. This fits perfectly with the verses quoted above (thus no contradiction). The most wretched (I guess Iblis and his closest companions) will remain in Hell for as long as the Universe endures (that’s trillions of years according to Physicists). For as long as there is “time,” the most wretched will be in Hell…except those Allah may, at His discretion, free. By saying “eternal” you’re suggesting that God will keep them in Hell even after the Universe fades away. He may recreate them and Hell and then put them back in…again and again. This, in my humble opinion, contradicts the verses I quoted above, and brings into question the Rahmah and Justice of God Almighty (at least insofar as the human mind can comprehend).

        God knows best.

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        March 1, 2016 at 1:26 PM

        NOTE in verse 108 God says: “…They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: a GIFT WITHOUT BREAK.” This is “eternity.” A “gift without break” clearly suggest eternity – not contingent on the life of the Universe. God never, ever says something so explicitly clear about the dwellers of Hell. The closest it ever gets is as you said “abadan” and that, as confirmed by these verses, almost certainly suggests “for as long as there is a Universe & time.”


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        March 1, 2016 at 1:37 PM

        I think the word “Abadan” might be better translated as “permanently” or “lastingly.” These are a property of time and thus our Universe. In my opinion, the Quranic “forever” is clearly – in light of 11: 107 – in the context of created time, not a timeless eternity.

        God knows best.

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        March 1, 2016 at 4:36 PM

        Walaykumusalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        Thank you Jonaid, for I hope, presenting the best arguments you could possibly present because I’m going to thoroughly demolish them right now insha Allah, but hopefully with lenient words so you listen.

        1) So how do I understand the verses which state “abadan”? I don’t know classical Arabic but I take your word on it that it means something like “forever.” Forever implies “for all TIME.”

        Thank you for admitting your ignorance. Now this linguistic analysis of English to negate the explicit, unambiguous and apparent meaning of the Quran is a failure at the beginning.
        You *may* have had a case if Allah had only used khulood for disbelievers for then we might assume eternity or an extremely long duration.

        But that fact is, Allah didn’t only use the word khulood, He used a clear and unambiguous word-abadan which means absolute eternity.

        So right on the outset, the absolute only possible means for you to interpret a Jahannam that isn’t maintained forever is by negating a word that is unambiguous in regards to its meaning. Right on the outset, you are, regardless of whatever false interpretation you had of other ayat, contradicting the unambiguous meaning of the ayah. The people Allah guides do not use an interpretation the negate a message Allah made explicit and unambiguous.

        2) “Time is a property of the Universe – if there is no creation, there is no time.”
        Jahannam is itself a creation that will be maintained eternally.
        I refer you to Imam al-Tahawi rahimahullah who wrote:

        Janna and Jahannam have been created; they will not ever cease to exist.

        3) “This fits perfectly with the verses quoted above (thus no contradiction).”
        Unfortunately it does not. However there is a far better way to interpret the ayat which doesn’t result in fault logic and inconsistent application.

        4) “The most wretched (I guess Iblis and his closest companions) will remain in Hell for as long as the Universe endures (that’s trillions of years according to Physicists).”
        First of all, the ayah refers to all those who enter Jahannam, whether the wrongdoers and sinners from the believers or the disbelievers from the rest of humanity and the hypocrites. As for the universe, it will be replaced by a new universe on that day, and so will the earth.

        5) “For as long as there is “time,” the most wretched will be in Hell…except those Allah may, at His discretion, free. ”
        Yes-the ayah in question is not restricted to disbelievers but anyone unfortunate enough to enter the fire.

        Now lets interpret it(and the other ayah which makes an exception to the people of the fire 6:128), not according to weak English analysis which brought you to contradict the Quran, but according to the mufassir of the Quran among the Sahaba RA Ibn Abbas.
        And Ibn Abbaas said: The exception only applies to the people of faith. (Abu ‘Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami’ li-ahkam al-Qur’an)

        Also the earliest commentators,

        The exception is only for those believing sinners who will be taken out of the fire after spending some time in it. Therefore, Allah’s statement “Those who are wretched” is general and applies to disbelievers and sinners, and the exception is from “dwell therein”

        This is said by Qatadah, Al Dahhaak, Abu Sinaan and others. (Abu ‘Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami’ li-ahkam al-Qur’an, Commentary on Surah 11:107,

        Now we take the clear message from both ayat. The disbelievers will be in the fire for eternity. The wretched will be there as long as Allah aza wa jal wills. Which means the people of faith will be brought out since He made an exception for them.

        6) “By saying “eternal” you’re suggesting that God will keep them in Hell even after the Universe fades away. He may recreate them and Hell and then put them back in…again and again. ”
        No…I’m not. By saying what you just said, you are putting words in my mouth and then refuting that. The universe on that day will be a different one from the one we have and

        a)If that universe lasts forever, neither the people of Paradise nor the people of hell would exit “except as your Lord wills” and the exception is for the people of faith among the people in the fire.

        b) If that universe lasts temporarily, only the people of faith would exit the fire and the remaining disbelievers would remain in the fire *just like* the the people who are in Paradise will remain in Paradise as long as the heavens and the earth endure except as Allah wills.

        Now you might claim, clearly the ayah here for Jannah indicates perpetuity while the ayah for the fire hints at relief.

        Well yes!-as explained to you, these two ayat are discussing the fate of people in the akhirah and they clearly indicate dwelling in Paradise and dwelling in the fire. As explained to you, an exception is made for the people of the fire which all the Sahaba RA agree upon. However as for the people of Paradise, there is no exception-none are expelled from it.

        Allah hints at this when he mentions disbelievers wishing that they had been Muslims! Now why you may ask? Don’t Muslims go to hell as well? Aren’t some Muslims wretched as well? Yes but there is an exception for them.

        Tafsir Ibn Kathir:
        رُّبَمَا يَوَدُّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ

        (How much would those who disbelieved wish) Here Allah tells us that they will regret having lived in disbelief, and will wish that they had been Muslims in this world. Regarding Allah’s saying,

        رُّبَمَا يَوَدُّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ لَوْ كَانُواْ مُسْلِمِينَ

        (How much would those who disbelieved wish that they had been Muslims.) Sufyan Ath-Thawri reported from Salamah bin Kuhayl, who reported from Abi Az-Za`ra’, from `Abdullah, who said: “This is about the Jahannamiyyun (the sinners among the believers who will stay in Hell for some time), when they ﴿the disbelievers﴾ see them being brought out of Hell.”

        7)This, in my humble opinion, contradicts the verses I quoted above,
        If you are humble, you will accept the truth that the overwhelming vast majority of the Ummah has somehow accepted and neglect an opinion that is barely found among anyone. It’s claimed for Ibn Arabi who was declared a kaffir by many scholars. It’s claimed for Ibn Taymiyya but he explicitly refuted such a notion. Your false understanding of the ayat is what is contradictory to the Quran.

        8)and brings into question the Rahmah and Justice of God Almighty (at least insofar as the human mind can comprehend).
        You speak for yourself. I am convinced they deserve eternity in the fire for dying as disbelievers and I am convinced that there is no issue-they chose to intentionally or unintentionally draw upon Allah’s curse and barr themselves from His mercy forever.

        9) NOTE in verse 108 God says: “…They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: a GIFT WITHOUT BREAK.” This is “eternity.” A “gift without break” clearly suggest eternity – not contingent on the life of the Universe. God never, ever says something so explicitly clear about the dwellers of Hell. The closest it ever gets is as you said “abadan” and that, as confirmed by these verses, almost certainly suggests “for as long as there is a Universe & time.”

        This is absolute and blatant falsehood. Firstly, abadan unambinguously refers to eternity. Secondly, there are multiple ayat indicating that there will be no break at all for the disbelievers. Thirdly, even “a gift without break” if we were to use your own faulty logic, does not neccessitate eternity. It could mean, “as along as the heavens endure, this gift of Jannah will have no break. There will be no period in this very long time where there is a single break in the gift that the people of Paradise will receive.”

        The only way for you to be consistent with this logic of yours, whether you deny it or not, is to affirm that Jannah itself will end as well.

        Of course, that is false. While we know there is an exception Allah made for the people of faith among the people of the fire, there is no exception for whoever enters Jannah.


        وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَهُمْ نَارُ جَهَنَّمَ لَا يُقْضَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ فَيَمُوتُوا وَلَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُم مِّنْ عَذَابِهَا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي كُلَّ كَفُورٍ
        But those who reject – for them will be the Fire of Hell: No term shall be determined for them, so they should die, nor shall its Penalty be lightened for them. Thus do We reward every ungrateful one!

        10) “I think the word “Abadan” might be better translated as “permanently” or “lastingly.” These are a property of time and thus our Universe. In my opinion, the Quranic “forever” is clearly – in light of 11: 107 – in the context of created time, not a timeless eternity.”

        Indeed God knows best, and I owe all my thanks to Him for informing me, and the rest of the Ummah on how to avoid falsely interpreting unambiguous Arabic and using fault and blatantly inconsistent logic in interpreting ayat.

        Here it is again-the word khulood is not used, but an unambiguous eternity. The same word which is used again and again to give believers hope of absolute everlasting Paradise is also used for the people of the fire. Your false translation of the unambinguous Arabic word is just that and nothing more-a false understanding. If Allah had wanted, He could certainly have chosen to say “lastingly”!!!!! However He used a word which means eternity without end.

        You know that phrase “without break” which you claimed indicates the people of Paradise will remain there forever? The True King, in no uncertain terms decreed for the disbelievers in the fire abadan. Not khulood. Abadan.

        “The word Abadan (for ever) in the Arabic language means eternity without an end”

        That ayah you mentioned concerning the lasting of the heavens and the earth includes all the wretched, a disbeliever and a believer. The exception in that ayah refers to the believer.

        So be among them and accept this book, the whole of it and not one part over another.

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        March 1, 2016 at 4:51 PM

        Additionally, here is Ibn Kathir;

        Allah, the Exalted, says,

        لَهُمْ فِيهَا زَفِيرٌ وَشَهِيقٌ

        (in it they will experience Zafir and Shahiq.) Ibn `Abbas said, “Az-Zafir is a sound in the throat and Ash-Shahiq is a sound in the chest. This means that their exhaling will be Zafir and their inhaling will Shahiq.” This will be due to the torment that they will be experiencing. We seek refuge with Allah from such evil.

        ﴿خَـلِدِينَ فِيهَا مَا دَامَتِ السَّمَـوَتُ وَالاٌّرْضُ﴾

        (They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure,) Imam Abu Ja`far bin Jarir said, “It was from the customs of the Arabs that when they wanted to describe something that would last forever, they would say, `This is as enduring as the heavens and the earth.’ Or, `It will last as until the night and day separate.’ They would say, `As long as talkers at night continue to chat.’ They meant by these statements the condition of eternity. Therefore, Allah addressed them in a manner that they were familiar with among themselves. Thus, He said,

        ﴿خَـلِدِينَ فِيهَا مَا دَامَتِ السَّمَـوَتُ وَالاٌّرْضُ﴾

        (They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure,) The literal meaning is also intended with; “for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure.” This is due to the fact that there will be heavens and earth in the life of the next world, just as Allah said,

        ﴿يَوْمَ تُبَدَّلُ الاٌّرْضُ غَيْرَ الاٌّرْضِ وَالسَّمَـوَتُ﴾

        (On the Day when the earth will be changed to another earth and so will be the heavens.) ﴿14:48﴾ For this reason, Al-Hasan Al-Basri said concerning the statement of Allah,

        ﴿مَا دَامَتِ السَّمَـوَتُ وَالاٌّرْضُ﴾

        (the heavens and the earth endure.) “Allah is referring to a heaven other than this heaven (which we see now) and an earth other than this earth. That (new) heaven and earth will be eternal.” Concerning Allah’s statement,

        ﴿إِلاَّ مَا شَآءَ رَبُّكَ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ فَعَّالٌ لِّمَا يُرِيدُ﴾

        (except as your Lord wills. Verily, your Lord is the doer of whatsoever He intends.)

        As you can see, the heavens and the earth after the end of this universe and this earth, will last forever, and therefore the blessed and the wretched will be there as long as the new heavens and earth last (i.e. forever) “except whatever your Lord decides”. So He decided to not make an exception for the blessed-they enjoy what they have forever.

        But He did decide to make an exception for the wretched-the people of faith among them would be freed.

        إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَوْ أَنَّ لَهُم مَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا وَمِثْلَهُ مَعَهُ لِيَفْتَدُوا بِهِ مِنْ عَذَابِ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ مَا تُقُبِّلَ مِنْهُمْ ۖ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
        Surely the ones who have disbelieved, (even) if they had whatever is in the earth altogether and the like of it, with it to ransom themselves from the torment of the Day of the Resurrection, in no way would it be (favorably) accepted of them, and they will have a painful torment.
        يُرِيدُونَ أَن يَخْرُجُوا مِنَ النَّارِ وَمَا هُم بِخَارِجِينَ مِنْهَا ۖ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّقِيمٌ
        They would like to go out of the Fire, and in no way will they be going out of it; and they will have a perpetual torment.
        Allah uses the word muqeem for these disbelievers who will not exit the fire,
        The Arabic word muqeem implies that the punishment is permanent and will not go away.

        Imam Qurtubi says:

        “Muqeem”, it means that it is fixed and permanent. It won’t evanesce or switch. (Abu ‘Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami’ li-ahkam al-Qur’an, Commentary on Surah 5:37

        Imam Tabari concurs:
        They have a punishment that is fixed and permanent. It won’t disappear from them and it won’t move away ever. (Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami’ al-bayan fi ta’wil al-Qur’an, Commentary on Surah 5:37

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        March 2, 2016 at 2:43 PM

        Salam Alaykum.

        You are entitled to your opinion and the scholars you cite are certainly entitled to their opinion. I didn’t find anything in your “demolition” of my very simply observation of Qur’an 11: 106-108 that needs any defending or clarification. To my mind, the Qur’an is explicitly clear here on how long Hell will remain and in light of these verses, all the other verses which seem to suggest “eternity” are better understood as “permanently.” Frankly I don’t care what any scholar says if their reasoning does not make sense to me. God alone brought me to Islam – not a scholar – and I trust in Him alone. The rest of us can & do make mistakes. In any case, may God have mercy on us and guide us both.

        We can agree to disagree. If you insist on correcting me still, I would request you provide me with your own translation of 11: 106-108 first.

        God knows best.

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    Ahmad B.

    March 2, 2016 at 6:10 PM

    Assalamu alaikum Jonaid,

    We are all obviously responsible before Allah alone and the quality of our individual iman is between each of us and Him alone. Nevertheless, when it comes to the details of aqida and fiqh issues, we must treat these as questions of knowledge (‘ilm) and be willing to discuss them within an agreed upon framework, otherwise we risk falling into the pure subjectivism of Protestantism with its notion that each believer can interpret and correctly understand the Bible entirely on his own. We do not have ecclesiastical authority in in Islam in the way of the Catholic and Orthodox churches, but we most certainly do have a tradition of ‘ilm and scholarship that grounds a type of epistemic authority without which the deen would have split up long ago into many rival sects and would never have come down to us intact, as has been the fate of the religions that have gone before us.

    Imagine that Ibn Battuta in the 13th century was trained in Maliki fiqh in Tangiers then served for five years as a judge thousands of miles away in Delhi because the SAME LAW was being practiced there — all this despite chronic political fragmentation and in the absence of any church-like institution capable of imposing an orthodoxy from the top down. This in itself is very remarkable and should give us great pause before bypassing or dismissing our tradition of knowledge. Of course certain things might not “sit right” with any one of us, but this can get very subjective very quickly, and I think we should start with the assumption that we are — in most likelihood — the ones missing something, not the generality of classical ulama and their contemporary inheritors, especially when they have reached a consensus or quasi-consensus view on an issue.

    There has historically been SOME debate about the eternity of both heaven and hell, but Br. Mahmud is correct that these are highly unusual opinions that the vast majority of scholars have rejected as untenable in light of the textual evidence and the understanding of the early community. Given this, an objective observer would probably come to the conclusion that, in all likelihood, you are wrong and they are right.

    … Which doesn’t mean that it might still not sit right with you and it may be something you have to put away for a while and come back to at a later time. As I said to Br. Mahmud last year in the thread to Daniel’s article on homosexuality, any individual is bound to have specific issues that they struggle with or that don’t fully sit right with them, and each age also will, based on the intellectual and social specificities of that age, throw up generational questions that people were not bothered by in the past (like slavery or gender issues, for example) and that have to be looked at closely and answered, usually over a period of time and much debate.

    On the subjective level of the individual, I believe Allah will help us and guide us through such issues, as long as we pursue them earnestly, modestly, and in light of the tradition of knowledge through which He has preserved the deen. If we all started advocating publicly for whatever seemed most plausible to us personally, we would very soon find ourselves in quite a mess indeed.

    By the way, on the issue of eternal punishment for finite acts, I once heard from a scholar what I thought was a pretty astute response. He explained that, as per the hadith that states that actions are according to intention, we are rewarded in the akhira according to our intention (which is not quantifiable), rather than for the finite act. The intention is the only thing that counts when it comes to belief, since belief is a function of what is in the heart rather than being a quantifiable act. He explained that when one believes, one’s intention is to remain a believer for ever, and when one is in a state of disbelief, one’s intention at that time is to be a disbeliever forever, and essentially the reward for belief and the punishment for disbelief are according to this intention. This would also make sense of the fact that a believer can eventually come out of Hell after being purged for temporal offenses to which no permanent intention attaches, while a disbeliever remains forever on account of his permanent intention of kufr if he died as a kafir. I found that thought-provoking.

    On another note, I am intrigued by your story and would be very interested in hearing more about your reconversion to Islam and what led you, after so many years of estrangement, to the strength of your renewed conviction. If you’d be willing to share, perhaps we could communicate privately.

    Ahmad B.

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      March 2, 2016 at 8:17 PM

      Wa Alaykum Salam Ahmed,

      Thank you for this message. It’s always a pleasure to correspond with you…or mostly anyway ;)

      I was going to respond to you in detail but since you offered to correspond with me directly, I thought it would be pointless if I gave a lengthy response here. Sure, I don’t mind discussing in private. My email is the t

      Briefly about Islamic scholarship, the tradition and the question about eternal punishment:

      Firstly I acknowledge that in several of my posts I come across as staunchly anti-tradition, almost as if I want to restart Islam or something. My actual position is somewhat in between. When I listen to Hamza Yusuf (who I respect tremendously) urging Muslims to not take matters into their hands and leave religious matters to the Ulama, I get it. I literally get it and in the context in which he mentions it (“shaykh googles” – every Joe Shmoe reading something and issuing opinons…) it certainly makes sense. I agree that the masses – the majority of people who are neither interested nor qualified in any sense of the word to discuss deep religious matters ought to refer themselves to the scholars. This is simple logic and is how every system works, not just theology. We don’t go to a doctor because he / she is an “authority” in medicine. We go to them because they are way, way more LIKELY to know the right answer when it comes to physical ailments than we – a lay person – are. I see Islamic scholarship as exactly the same: people who devoted themselves to study and on MOST matters they are way more likely to know a right answer than myself or any lay person. I pray Salat based on rules I take from scholars (without questioning them). I learn tajweed from scholars and don’t question them. I learn the seerah and the subsequent history of Islam and Islamic scholarship from the Ulama / historians and I don’t challenge them (one cannot learn history with logic & reason alone). However, when it comes to the big questions – does God exist? If so, what religion, if any, is true? Why is Muhammad (PBUH) a messenger? Why should I believe him? Why do we pray Salat? What is the purpose of creation? Why is there evil / good? Why should punishment be eternal? Why should X go to heaven and Y go to hell? Etc etc – these are THE main questions which any human being can ask and seek answers for. To me, believe it or not, God Almighty gave the answers without any direct aid from any person. I’m not claiming that I have the absolute correct understanding – I’m just confident enough in the answers because it was through these answers that God became a reality to me. I’ll leave with you a simple example which, I hope, explains my mentality:

      I was in Texas a couple of months ago for a convention I was told I should go to. The day before I left I briefly spoke with two White American converts to Islam. One of them was already deep into the faith. The other was a young kid, probably younger than me. Both of these guys were led to Islam by “visions.” The younger guy said to me that he literally saw Mecca right in front of him (as if it were a hologram). He said he used to be afraid of Muslims and never spoke to them, never considered Islam, but after that he started corresponding with them and converted. Now with the three of us there was a gentleman from Libya who (I guess since he was answering a lot of questions) was either an Alim or a student. I asked him what he thought about the “visions” and he said these are not real & only occur to the prophets. I asked him “how do you explain this guy’s vision then? he’s became Muslim because of his vision.” In my mind I was thinking “who do you think is messing with him? Jinns are fooling around with him and actually leading him to the Truth”? People don’t use common sense anymore and are firmly stuck to their tradition. It’s not the fault of the masses – they are doing what they should do. It’s the ulama – by and large – who are ignorant and not worth listening to (in general).

      God knows best.

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        March 2, 2016 at 8:22 PM

        Also Ahmed,

        I heard from you and Mahmud about what the classical scholars have said. My main point is that 11: 106-108 is as clear as possible on this point. Unless I have good reasons to think the verse is speaking about something I didn’t understand, why should I listen to a million scholars saying otherwise? If they’re correct, shouldn’t they have a logical argument to prove their position using reason & evidence from the Quran? Hadiths and opinions of scholars are NOT “reasonable” or “proof” against a clear verse of the Quran which is logical & reasonable in it of itself.

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        March 2, 2016 at 8:32 PM

        I want to learn Arabic & Qur’an and Insha’Allah if God gives me the opportunity I will obviously need a scholar for that. That’s another example of something I cannot learn on my own and would not question the teacher (barring the obvious…i.e. if he’s not qualified to teach Arabic or something).

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    March 2, 2016 at 9:52 PM

    “By the way, on the issue of eternal punishment for finite acts, I once heard from a scholar what I thought was a pretty astute response. He explained that, as per the hadith that states that actions are according to intention, we are rewarded in the akhira according to our intention (which is not quantifiable), rather than for the finite act. The intention is the only thing that counts when it comes to belief, since belief is a function of what is in the heart rather than being a quantifiable act. He explained that when one believes, one’s intention is to remain a believer for ever, and when one is in a state of disbelief, one’s intention at that time is to be a disbeliever forever, and essentially the reward for belief and the punishment for disbelief are according to this intention. This would also make sense of the fact that a believer can eventually come out of Hell after being purged for temporal offenses to which no permanent intention attaches, while a disbeliever remains forever on account of his permanent intention of kufr if he died as a kafir. I found that thought-provoking.”

    Forgive me but this sounds like an attempt to rationalize something irrational once you’ve already accepted it. Christians do this with the Trinity. Arguments like this may satisfy someone who already subscribes to the view but they don’t have any merit in it of themselves. This to me sounds like white noise and flawed reasoning. God only holds people to account for the actions they committed, not their thoughts. Intentions come into play once an action is already taken. How can a disbeliever intend to remain a disbeliever “forever”? Do they think they’ll live forever? Even if they do (some people do seem to be deluded into thinking they’ll be around indefinitely) we know from our tradition that God does not hold you to account for an evil inclination or thought provided it does not turn into action. Still, it IS possible of course (God can do as He pleases) that your argument is exactly right. I just don’t think that a loving Creator, Ar-Rahman, would punish anyone beyond what is due to them (as He assures us again and again in the Qur’an).

    When you read the Qur’an don’t you ever think “this sounds a lot different than what the religion as a whole looks like”? The Book is profound, sophisticated, full of wisdom that only unveils itself when God wills and when it does you’re left with your jaw dropped. Then you come to the scholarship and so often you’re thinking “what? where? how?” Christian theologians are actually far more sophisticated than Muslim ones these days. If Truth was spread by scholars, Christianity would overtake Islam as well. No, God guides as He wills and everything in between, including Ulama, are just a means He uses at times.

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    Ahmad B.

    March 2, 2016 at 11:53 PM

    Salam Jonaid,

    The explanation offered by that scholar is not meant to be a conclusive rational argument establishing the point in question, which is established on the basis of the textual evidence. It is merely a rationalization (if one feels the need for such) — a way of addressing the objection that eternal punishment is incommensurate with anything a finite being could have done.

    It is true that, when it comes to actions, God judges us by (a) the licitness of the action itself, coupled with (b) our intention in doing the action. We are not, in principle, called to account for mere thoughts, or the desire to do an action from which we then refrain, etc. But belief is different. It is an “action” of the heart, if you want to put it that way, and is our first duty as created human beings, i.e., to believe in our Lord and Creator (then to love and worship Him and to obey Him by following His commands). Belief is not at all the same category as “an evil inclination or thought as long as it does not turn into action.” Disbelieving in God is in itself one of the worst things a person can “do” (or better stated, one of the worse conditions a person can be in). Allah says that none of our actions will be accepted without belief in Him and that all the good deeds of disbelievers are naught in His sight and like scattered winds on the Day of Judgment. He always describes the successful as “alladhina amanu wa-‘amilu al-salihat”, those who believe and who work righteous deeds. Belief is a pre-condition for the acceptance of deeds.

    As for God’s justice and not punishing anyone beyond what is due to him, that is, of course, true, as God Himself has assured us that He is in no wise unjust to His servants, and that they only work wrong against themselves. This fact alone, however, does not settle the question as to whether it would, in fact, be unjust for God to punish someone eternally for rejecting Him, even though: (a) the person has been created on a fitra (normative innate disposition) that knows God instinctively; (b) he has testified before being born into this world that Allah is, indeed, his Lord such that he should have no excuse on the Day of Judgment for his denial (see Q. 7:172); (c) God has sent messages reminding people of His existence, our createdness, and of the pre-worldly Covenant; and (d) has made clear in His final revelation to mankind that the penalty for disbelief is eternal punishment. Modern Western society basically rejected the notion of Hell altogether in the 19th century since they came to the “rational” conclusion that NO such severe punishment was ever justified against a human being, no matter how badly they had acted, or could be compatible with a merciful and loving God.

    In any case, I think we sometimes miss the larger point here. We sometimes speak and act as if going to Hell is no big deal after all if it’s not really eternal. Going to Hell for some indefinitely long period of time (“everlastingly”, “abidingly”, etc. as you have suggested as translations for “abadan”) is hardly a prospect to sneeze at, and in no way makes the business of religion any less urgent: the business of believing in and worshiping Allah as He deserves to be worshiped and in calling the rest of our brothers and sisters in humanity to do the same, for their own benefit in this world and the next and to save themselves from the eternal Fire.

    Ahmad B.

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      March 3, 2016 at 1:31 PM

      W. Salam.

      We can continue this privately but I want to just briefly address one point for anyone following our discussion.

      “Modern Western society basically rejected the notion of Hell altogether in the 19th century since they came to the “rational” conclusion that NO such severe punishment was ever justified against a human being, no matter how badly they had acted, or could be compatible with a merciful and loving God.”

      I was a sincere atheist for over a decade. I really did not believe God existed and if I pretended to I would be a hypocrite. If I said “maybe” I would have been lying. If I spoke the truth I had to say that I am near certain that no God exists. That in Islamic belief is kufar. My actions were overall “good.” From my point of view, what I quoted above from you would make 100% sense and would a major proof against God and religion. I really believe that turning the opinions of human beings (no matter who they are) that are not based on absolutes from the Qur’an into widely held beliefs does major damage to the religion. It would be one thing if we said “well it’s possible and many of our Ulama have held this opinion” but to say “this is our position” or “this is what most of us believe and is likely the case” does much harm in my opinion to the religion, particularly in our day & age.

      As to your point on certain thoughts being actions of sorts, I agree and accept that disbelief (I prefer “rejection” or “denial”) is technically an act in it of itself. Still, that does not seem to justify eternal punishment. God has made “asbab” – means – for everything. He has employed angels to be witnesses against us. Everything is kept on record. God does not use his own knowledge of our innate thoughts against us. Never in the Qur’an (and as far as I understand in the Islamic tradition) are we told that God will say “I know how you are because I’m God and that is proof enough against you.” He keeps track of what we do & say and records everything. That record will be evidence for & against everyone. The record does not take into account the private thoughts of each individual. How then can God say “according to your record you deserve X number of years in Hell BUT since I know what you were thinking the whole time, I’m going to turn that into eternity”? Again, all power is with God and He can do as He pleases but by His own description of Himself, as the most Compassionate & Just, it would not make sense to a human mind.

      In the end, I don’t think this is an issue which most people are concerned with. I am – and I guess others like me who take this stuff seriously enough that it impacts our faith – do. We can agree to disagree because only God knows for sure.

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        March 3, 2016 at 1:34 PM

        A couple of corrections to my comment above:

        Firstly, I apologize I said I’m going to address one point and addressed two. Secondly, I said atheism in Islamic belief is kufar. What I meant to say was that atheism (at least how I described my own atheism) is considered by most muslims to be kufar. As far as I understand, I was NOT a kafir when I was an atheist. I did not “cover up” the truth, I did not “bury it” or “deny it.” I was ignorant. A genuine atheist is, in my opinion, simply ignorant (“Jahil”), NOT a kafir.

        Thank you and God knows best.

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        March 3, 2016 at 1:41 PM

        My apologies I realized I ought to clarify what I mean by ignorant. Of course a “kafir” is ignorant in many as well so just saying one is ignorant does not necessarily mean they’re not a kafir. I meant I was genuinely and innocently ignorant – had I known better, I would not have been an atheist. I did not reject anything that I knew to be true and opted to believe something else. That is why I say God “saved me” because He literally proved His existence to me by showing many signs. Insha’Allah I will not lose my way this time because if I did, I would actually be guilty and have no excuse in front of God.

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    Dan Bennett

    March 3, 2016 at 12:11 AM

    Dear Friends,

    We don’t know each other. So if I started this post claiming to know your opinion on a particular topic, you might suspect an insult in the offing. But what if I say immediately the topic is: are you satisfied with the current dialogue in America between Christianity and Islam ?

    Exactly. No one is. It’s a disaster.The hostility between us is palpable. Misunderstanding is rampant. This really does not need to be so. We do not need to make wild allegations and insult people of genuine faith.

    We are at odds with the secular culture and with each other. Let’s think about this for a minute. We believers share the experience of attempting to live a human life in accord with God’s plan for us. We share the experience of trying to be good and failing. We experience awe, a universal trait, with the unique Abrahamic expectation that its source is the Creator.

    But do the Qur’an and the Bible talk about the same God?

    Can we find a simple test of reason to determine the truth?

    It is with tragic consequences that Christians and Muslims continue to misunderstand each others’s Scripture. Especially in the West, where information—fact–is freely available to anyone with a smartphone. This freedom is key. We can make and examine truth statements based on evidence available to all.

    I’ll make a claim, friends, and that is that I can convince you why no Christian in the West will ever leave our faith for Islam, a proposition I can make in five minutes, without insulting you in any way. I can explain why we don’t accept Islam without the usual tension, but by using the simplest logic. May I try?

    I want to make clear at the start that I am addressing just the religion of Islam and not the people who practice it. The people of the Middle East, in my personal experience, are often beautiful human beings of depth and sensitivity, with an appreciation for the simple pleasures of life—food, family, community–and for the rigors of the intellect when it is engaged in pursuit of spiritual flight. They have a genuine heart for God.

    I know this to be true because I know Christians from the Middle East. They are wonderful people and pious followers of our faith. The Desert Fathers are much revered in our tradition. I quote the silent Syrian monk, Isaac of Nineveh, to myself whenever I get too wordy. (Maybe more importantly, on a subconscious cultural level, Danny Thomas came into our living rooms every week and we gladly made room–who didn’t love Uncle Tannous?)

    Let’s start with the arguments I’m not going to use. I’m rejecting out of hand the pedophile charge against Mohammed because any competent advocate will counter with the sexual abuse scandal of the Catholic Church. I saw Spotlight a few weeks ago. Not going there.

    I’m not going to address the violence associated with Jihad. We live in a murderous world.

    Obviously, I can’t address the argument that the Qur’an is a book of transcendent Arabic. I struggled with high school Spanish many years ago, my old brain isn’t up to the task. I have read that the Arabic of the Qur’an is perfection, and I have read that it is in parts undecipherable. Out of my reach as an argument. Ditto the claimed scientific and mathematical miracles.

    This is a critique of specific apologetics from Islam.

    The following is what I found with a simple Google search. All the points are claimed or stipulated by the Qur’an or Hadith. It is entirely due to the internet that Islam has survived for 1,400 years but it cannot withstand a morning’s worth of research.

    It wasn’t a warring enemy that inflicted Islam’s mortal wound; it was that sedate science, archaeology.

    Mohammed was 600 years and 1,000 miles removed from the scene of the Crucifixion when he dictated the Qur’an. Mohammed denied the Crucifixion, appropriated the figure of Jesus, claimed there were “lost gospels”, the so called, Injil, which proved Jesus was really a Muslim. The Jews too were using a corrupted Torah (Tawrah) the original of which pointed to Allah.

    Well, 600 years and 1,000 miles takes a toll on historical speculation. The lost gospels Mohammed spoke of have never been found. The true original Christian gospels have been found and historically validated. By using the Habermas Minimal Facts Method, Christians can confidently fix the doctrine of Crucifixion and Resurrection to within two years of the event. Likewise has the original Torah been historically validated by archaeology. In no extant Torah is there mention of Allah. That is a fact.

    The Qur’an is entirely the work of one man, Mohammed. If you believe he was carrying a revealed message from God you are sincerely welcome to that view. If he had said, Allah has not spoken until this revelation, and other religions were man-made, he would have an unassailable argument. It would be simply a matter of belief. But once Mohammed claimed to be in the line of the Hebrew prophets and denied the crucifixion of Christ, he blasphemed both traditions. This is not a value judgment, the definition of heretic includes a rejected source.

    The reality of Muslim pride does not need comment on, but the fact that Islam never sees fit to approach Christians or Jews with humility in the face of its egregious insult to both religions, at the very core of its scripture, speaks volumes.

    Let me repeat the key facts. Removed by 600 years and 1,000 miles. Neither the Injils nor the Tawrah have ever been found. Not a letter, not a pen stroke. In all of the Judaeo/Christian material authenticated in the Holy Land through 6,000 years, not a whisper of Mohammed or Allah. That is a fact.

    The Gospels have been validated as existing substantially unchanged from their original forms to the satisfaction of all legitimate scholars. The apocryphal gospels, the Gnostic texts of the period don’t mention Allah. Not a single document in the 600 years between the Crucifixion and the Qur’an makes mention of Allah or confirms Mohammed’s message. That is a fact.

    Until Islam produces the so called uncorrupted texts, isn’t your entire argument the dog ate my homework?

    The Qur’an stands or falls on the reliability of Mohammed’s revealed message. That message contradicts every historically affirmed text and tradition of both Jews and Christians. On Mohammad’s word alone.

    Now, in closing dear friends, let me ask you a question. I know you’ll be honest. Would you convert based on that non-existent evidence? 600 years and 1,000 miles removed? Absent the purported mesmerizing purity of the Arabic and absent the self validating assumptions inherent in a closed culture?

    Based on the evidence alone, is there really any reason at all for a Christian to accept the Qur’an as truth?

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      Aly Balagamwala

      March 4, 2016 at 10:27 AM

      Yet over the years and to this day countless of Christians continue to become Muslim.

      *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

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      March 4, 2016 at 1:05 PM

      The non existance of thay existence of evidence is nothing more than your imagination.

      The plethora of evidence for Islam is there for all with eyes to see.

      Which is why no one hears of the final Messenger from either of the corrupted religions, Jew or Christian except that he is saved by entering Islam and dying upon it or imprisoned in the fire forever.

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      March 4, 2016 at 2:46 PM

      “The reality of Muslim pride does not need comment on, but the fact that Islam never sees fit to approach Christians or Jews with humility in the face of its egregious insult to both religions, at the very core of its scripture, speaks volumes.”

      Keeping in mind that actions speak louder than words, I would insist that you read more history and see who actually shows “humility” to who over the past 1400 years. ISIS – a psychopathic cult butchering Islam, it’s adherents, archaeology, and minorities – is accused of killing and expelling Christians, Yazidis, and others. I want you to ask and ponder “why are there still ancient Christian communities in Iraq and Syria”? They’re not tiny minorities and nor are they the products of Christian missionaries from the West. These are ancient, Pre-Islamic Christians. Egypt claims to have millions of Coptics (most claims put it at 10%). From it’s onset Islam has tolerated and respected the “People of the Book.” Of course it’s ideology is different from both those religions, that’s why it is a different religion, but it’s track record is FAR, FAR better than anything the Christians or the Jews have left behind. There are practically no indigenous Spanish Muslims (except the recent converts) despite nearly 800 years of Islamic rule there. There aren’t even Sephardic Jews in Spain (except the tiny minority who recently migrated back) despite them being present there in numbers during Islamic rule. Southeastern Europe (including Greece and the Balkans) have been under Islamic rule for hundreds of years yet remain overwhelmingly Christian (I guess that’s because the Muslims were not humble enough to tolerate them?).

      It is a sad reality that in the West religious tolerance only began when it became secular. The only minority that was allowed for most of it’s Christian history were the Jews and that in it of itself is a history of persecution, torture, and ultimately genocide. I do not blame Christianity for that but it was during the period when the Church had the most power that most of these atrocities took place. So please do not preach to us about humility.

      You can dismiss Muhammad – as a Christian must (I assume…on logical grounds) – as a false prophet, a charlatan, or a deluded madman. As a former atheist I used to think he was genuine (he really believed that he believed he was a prophet) but was obviously deluded and probably schizophrenic. Now that I believe in God, how could I explain the extraordinary success of this man in light of his message, his career, his time & place, his life & struggles and the legacy he left behind? If the Devil is behind this, then one ought to ponder “just how much power does the Devil have? is he a rival to God”? You have to keep in mind that he came after Jesus. Christianity’s success is no surprise from a Muslim point of view. The success of Islam is a complete mystery from a Christian or Jewish point of view if you deny Muhammad’s prophecy or claim he was false.

      In the end, you have your way and we have ours. Anyone who’s sincere in seeking God will find Him and not have anything to fear, in this life or the next. May God guide us all.

      Thank you and God knows best.

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      Ahmad B.

      March 4, 2016 at 4:51 PM

      Dear Mr. Bennett,

      You expect to improve Muslim-Christian relations in America by coming onto this board and insulting our prophet (“Sure he was a pedophile, but I won’t use that argument because Catholic priests are just as bad”), professing how much you love “Middle Easterners” on the basis of knowing some Middle Eastern Christians, and accusing us of arrogance? I don’t think they picked the right man for the job.

      Your arguments are entirely bogus. “Allah” is an Arabic word meaning “God” (didn’t your Arab Christian friends explain that to you?) — you know, like how the French refer to “Dieu,” the Germans to “Gott,” and the Italians to “Dio,” while they’re all referring to the same being? Are you telling me the Christian and Jewish scriptures make no mention of God? Why don’t you ask your Arab Christian friends to borrow one of their Bibles and count how many times “Allah” is mentioned in it?

      You state that “the original Torah has been validated by archaeology.” Which “original Torah” are you talking about? The oldest surviving manuscripts of the Torah date from the second century BC, at least a 1000 years after the Torah would have been revealed to Moses (peace be upon him). For a thousand years of history there’s just a big black hole with no manuscript evidence or any evidence of a continuous oral transmission either. No one has any idea what the original Torah may have said exactly. At best we know what it looked like after a full 1000 years of transmission. This would be the equivalent of us having no evidence of the existence or content of the Qur’an until the 17th century (for a book that was allegedly revealed 1000 year earlier). This is unimaginable from a Muslim perspective.

      The state of the Gospels is a non-starter as well. You have four accounts of the life of Jesus (peace be upon him) — rather divergent as well — all penned third hand by anonymous authors that we don’t know anything about. The “Gospel of Matthew” was not written by Matthew, but by an unknown figure who transmitted to him from another unknown figure what this latter knew of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life. This goes for the other Gospels as well, and, as you know, John (the most extravagant of all in his claims of divinity for Jesus) is late first century. By Islamic standards of textual criticism, all of this material would be rejected out of hand as not having firm enough support and a reliable enough, known history of transmission to base religious beliefs on. So don’t try to play the textual authenticity game with us. There isn’t a single argument you can give in favor of the integrity of Christian and Jewish texts that wouldn’t be all the more true for the Qur’an, and there isn’t a single argument you can give doubting the textual integrity of the Qur’an that wouldn’t be all the more true for the Bible. (I have gone into Qur’anic integrity at some length in earlier posts in this very thread, and have referenced books that you can consult to check up on what I’m saying.) Also, don’t you find it curious that the earlier Gospel accounts portray Jesus in very much the way the Qur’an does (a righteous messenger from the Children of Israel, a wise teacher of the Scriptures who came to remind them of their duty to God and call them back to His worship, not claiming divinity for himself), while the more extravagant claims only come with time?

      I’m afraid Islam is not the outlier here, but rather Christianity. We worship the God of Abraham, the God of Moses, and the God of all the Hebrew prophets (including Jesus). Are you telling us that Abraham and Moses worshiped a divinized human being as part of a triune Godhead? Jews are normally annoyed at the specious way that Christians have gone back and reinterpreted certain passages of the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible in odd and unprecedented ways in order to support belief in a trinitarian man-God. They had never been told to expect such a thing and you have no reliable proof that Jesus ever claimed such a thing for himself. Islam has done nothing but reaffirm the One God of Abraham and return all worship and obedience to Him alone, and corrected the Christian heresy of deifying one of God’s noble creations, namely, Jesus, who we also affirm was born of the Virgin Mary (may God bless her). In this sense, Islam is both the very last revelation sent by God to mankind, but also the very first, since it is nothing but a recapitulation and reaffirmation of the pure monotheism that mankind has been called to ever since the very first man, Adam (may peace be upon him).

      Muslims and Jews, by the way, have always easily recognized each other as monotheists in the proper sense, with both shaking their heads at Pauline Christianity wondering, “Where did that come from?” I have listened to a whole series of lectures on Christian theology by a practicing conservative Protestant Christian who also has a Ph.D. in philosophy and religious studies. He can be expected to have presented the doctrine of the trinity in both the most theologically “orthodox” and the most philosophically rigorous manner, and it is impossible for a Muslim to see even the most sympathetic presentation of Christian belief, such as his, as anything other than blasphemous.

      So we will continue to worship God / Allah / YHWH / Adonai / Dieu / Gott / Dio as did ALL the ancient Hebrew prophets from Abraham our father on, including Jesus himself, and will not associate with God any of His creatures besides Him. Historically, the movement of conversion has always been, in the overwhelming majority, from Christianity to Islam, never the other way around — despite the fact that Islamic law officially recognizes Christians and Jews as protected Peoples of the Book with the right to practice, retain, and transmit to their offspring their own religions. There are VERY few cases of forced conversion of People of the Book to Islam in history (unlike the history of Christianity in the territories it conquered), and countries that lie at the heart of the Muslim world today — like Syria and Egypt — took literally centuries to become predominantly Muslim after the initial Muslim conquests in the 7th century. So don’t go saying that those formerly Christian countries are now predominantly Muslim because their populations were forced to convert.

      You should read and examine the Qur’an with an open mind and an open heart and you will see that is is very much an affirmation of everything that has come before it. And you should be warned that on the Day of Judgment, Jesus himself will be asked by God in front of all mankind whether he had told anyone to worship him as a god besides God and he will explicitly deny it, saying he told people only what God had commanded him to tell them, namely, to worship God and God alone (“my Father and your Father” as you have it in John himself) and to act righteously in their lives. All the Prophets (from Adam through Muhammad) are brothers, and all taught the same message: there is no god but God, so worship and adore and obey Him. And all mankind is called upon to testify to this — as it has been engraved into our very hearts — and to believe in ALL of the messengers of God (including Muhammad, peace be upon him, the final messenger and the final brick in the noble edifice of divine prophecy).

      I close with the Words of God Himself (Q. 3:64) — and there are no words better than His: “Say, ‘O People of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you, that we shall worship none but God, shall not associate aught with Him, and shall not take one another as lords apart from God.’ And if they turn away, then say, ‘Bear witness that we are submitters.'”

      May God guide and have mercy upon us all!


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        March 11, 2016 at 9:51 PM


        I started reading the Bible today. I have to say that one need not go far (Genesis 3 is enough) to know that the Quran is 100% correct: this book (the Bible) is obviously written – in large part – by men with agendas other than the Truth. God in Genesis is not the All-Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Merciful Creator of everything as described in the Quran. Rather, while He is the creator of the Heavens & the Earth, His powers are very much limited – He’s portrayed almost as if He’s Zeus but without all the other Olympians. He asks to ask Adam “where are you” because apparently He didn’t know. He’s insecure and afraid that man is no longer “innocent” after eating the fruit from the tree so he banishes him and then places a guard to watch over the Tree of Life. Later he sees a united mankind with a single language working together to build the tower of babel. He again feels insecure and decides to break up mankind into communities with multiple languages…lest they remain united and become a force to be reckoned with. Contrast this with Qur’an 49:13:

        “O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of God, is the best in conduct. Lo! God is Knower, Aware.”

        The portrayal of God in Genesis would be considered blasphemous in Islam.

        Contrast also the narratives of Adam & Eve in both the Quran and the Bible. If you read carefully and think deeply, you’ll realize immediately that the Genesis account is not just “off” but it is almost certainly caricatured intentionally by the author (who must have known the original narrative).

        “Therefore woe be unto those who write the Scripture with their hands and then say, “This is from God,” that they may purchase a small gain therewith. Woe unto them for that their hands have written, and woe unto them for that they earn thereby.”

        Qur’an 2:79

        I suggest you read the Quran with a sincere intention. May God guide you.


  25. Avatar


    March 3, 2016 at 3:10 PM

    15 minutes in he explains – almost perfectly – what I mean about scholars and how Islam is taught these days. “Read what scholars write but don’t read the Qur’an…that’s for the scholars.” Well said. The only thing he didn’t say that I would add is that one should ask God all the time for the right direction & guidance. He will not mislead you if you sincerely ask Him alone. He may teach you directly, He may teach you via others, He may teach you via signs etc etc but He will never leave you guessing or unsure or misguided if you sincerely asked Him directly.

    I’m really starting to like Nauman Ali Khan.

    • Avatar


      March 3, 2016 at 5:14 PM

      Nouman Ali Khan affirms eternal hell. Because not only do the scholars affirm it, it’s literally in the language-your blatant obvious misrepresentation of the ayah you cited is what is obviously and clearly false, illogical and explicitly inconsistent. If it was consistent, you would apply it to the people in Paradise i,e, “a gift without break as long as the heavens and the earth last, but since they don’t, Paradise will end just like the fire will end.”

      Start at 1:30

      I don’t see any reason we should be compelled to literally change Arabic to adopt your definition of the word Arab. Disagreeing with scholars is one thing, literally changing the meaning of an Arabic word is entirely different.

      I think he made a mistake about Ibn Taymiyya RA though. Yes he is one of the scant few who are claimed to have argued for a temporary hell however I read an explicit refutation of that from him so this argument that he held that opinion is disagreeable at best. The other famous one is Ibn Arabi who is famous for uttering blatantly blasphemous statements which scholars either declared him a disbeliever for or excused him as someone intoxicated.

      I think you can realize, the heavens and earth that exist today will be replaced on yawm al Qiyaamah with a new heavens and earth. This is in the Quran.

      So however long scientists say this universe will last is irrelevant.

      Secondly, the phrase refers to eternity. The Quran is Arabic, was revealed in Arabic and Allah uses a phrase Arabs used to describe eternity. So the ayah here is saying,

      فأما الذين شقوا ففي النار لهم فيها زفير وشهيق
      Those who are wretched shall be in the Fire: There will be for them therein (nothing but) the heaving of sighs and sobs:

      خالدين فيها ما دامت السماوات والأرض إلا ما شاء ربك إن ربك فعال لما يريد
      They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: for thy Lord is the (sure) accomplisher of what He planneth.

      It’s important to note two things-the phrase “as long as the heavens and earth endure” is an Arabic phrase for “forever.” The lifespan of this universe is irrelevant because the Quran is clear they will be replaced on that day with a new heavans and earth.

      It’s also important to know that this ayah is not limited to disbelievers. Rather, it describes every single jinn or human being who enters the fire, both disbelievers and wrongdoing Muslims, for anyone who is unfortunate enough to enter the fire is a wretched person indeed.

      And it makes an exception. The ayah is saying, the wretched will stay there forever except as Allah wills.

      And Allah’s will is to relieve the Muslims who are in the fire. This is indicated in the Quran.

      As for the rest, the disbelievers, they will be in the fire forever and ever and ever because Allah said so. He mentioned they will be there for eternity no less than three times.

      So the exception Allah makes here is for Muslims, and not disbelievers.

      Even if we are to assume the heavens and the earth then will end someday, the same principle that you attribute for the people in Paradise(i.e. the heavens and the earth fail away but they have a gift without break) would also apply to disbelievers because they will be in the punishment forever without break as well.

      As for Ahmad’s explanation of eternal hell, really it’s something I don’t need and early Muslims did not need it either. I’m sure it suits brother Ahmad and the scholar who taught it to him but it’s not something I or other Muslims need to subscribe to.

      Neither is it difficult for us like it is difficult for you to understand that they deserve eternal hell.

      Rather it’s pretty clear to me-they deserve eternal hell for being disbelievers. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if they lived a finite amount of years on earth. That’s a fallacy, that a crime or injustice done for a short amount of time somehow necessitates only a temporary punishment.

      The recompense for dying as a disbeliever is eternal hell. Punishment forever and ever and ever. I don’t need to “rationalize” it as some have by claiming that since they intended to be disbelievers forever they are punished forever.

      Rather, the fact that they died disbelievers is enough. That act warranted endless punishment. Eternity. That in an of itself is enough to grant them unending pain. They are not punished for what they would have done but what they did. Which is die as disbelievers.

      Here is Ibn Kathir

      [ Having told us how the blessed will be (in Paradise), Allah now starts to tell us what the state of doomed will be. He says:

      ﴿وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ لَهُمْ نَارُ جَهَنَّمَ لاَ يُقْضَى عَلَيْهِمْ فَيَمُوتُواْ﴾

      (But those who disbelieve, for them will be the fire of Hell. Neither will it have a complete killing effect on them so that they die) This is like the Ayah:

      ﴿لاَ يَمُوتُ فِيهَا وَلاَ يَحْيَى﴾

      (Wherein he will neither die nor live) (20:74). It was reported in Sahih Muslim that the Messenger of Allah said:

      «أَمَّا أَهْلُ النَّارِ الَّذِينَ هُمْ أَهْلُهَا، فَلَا يَمُوتُونَ فِيهَا وَلَا يَحْيَوْن»

      (As for the people of Hell who will dwell therein, they will neither live nor die there. ) And Allah says:

      ﴿وَنَادَوْاْ يمَـلِكُ لِيَقْضِ عَلَيْنَا رَبُّكَ قَالَ إِنَّكُمْ مَّـكِثُونَ ﴾

      (And they will cry (to the keeper of Hell): “O Malik! Let your Lord make an end of us.” He will say: “Verily, you shall abide forever.”) (43:77). When they are in this state, they will think that if only they could die, it would be a time of rest for them, but that can never happen to them. Allah says:

      ﴿لاَ يُقْضَى عَلَيْهِمْ فَيَمُوتُواْ وَلاَ يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمْ مِّنْ عَذَابِهَا﴾

      (Neither will it have a complete killing effect on them so that they die nor shall its torment be lightened for them. ) This is like the Ayat:

      ﴿إِنَّ الْمُجْرِمِينَ فِى عَذَابِ جَهَنَّمَ خَـلِدُونَ – لاَ يُفَتَّرُ عَنْهُمْ وَهُمْ فِيهِ مُبْلِسُونَ ﴾

      (Verily, the criminals will be in the torment of Hell to abide therein forever. (That) will not be lightened for them, and they will be plunged into destruction with deep regrets, sorrows and in despair therein.) (43:74-75).

      ﴿كُلَّمَا خَبَتْ زِدْنَاهُمْ سَعِيرًا﴾

      (whenever it abates, We shall increase for them the fierceness of the Fire) (17:97), and

      ﴿فَذُوقُواْ فَلَن نَّزِيدَكُمْ إِلاَّ عَذَاباً ﴾

      (So taste you. No increase shall We give you, except in torment.) (78:30). Then Allah says:

      ﴿كَذَلِكَ نَجْزِى كُلَّ كَفُورٍ﴾

      (Thus do We requite every disbeliever!) meaning, this is the recompense of everyone who disbelieved in his Lord and denied the truth. ]

      You are also confused if you claim atheists aren’t disbelievers. Just because they don’t realize God exists does not mean they are not disbelievers. Kufr is not limited to someone who realizes what the truth actually is and fails to follow it. Among this group are the leaders of the Yahud at the time of Rasulullah sallahualayhiwasalam, Abu Jahl, Abu Talib, Shaytan and Firaun and so on.

      Rather, kufr describes all those who do not accept the truth, whether they realized it was true and rejected it, or were deluded into doubting the truth or believing in falsehood.

      قل هل ننبئكم بالأخسرين أعمالا
      Say: “Shall we tell you of those who lose most in respect of their deeds?-

      الذين ضل سعيهم في الحياة الدنيا وهم يحسبون أنهم يحسنون صنعا
      “Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works?”

      أولئك الذين كفروا بآيات ربهم ولقائه فحبطت أعمالهم فلا نقيم لهم يوم القيامة وزنا
      They are those who deny the Signs of their Lord and the fact of their having to meet Him (in the Hereafter): vain will be their works, nor shall We, on the Day of Judgment, give them any weight.

      It’s a common lie among layman that the only type of kufr is kufr inad(that of stubborn disbelievers who realize Islam is the truth and still reject it.) Rather that is just one category of disbelievers. Just like Allah mentioned there are darknesses but only one light, there are various shades of kufr and shirk but only one iman and tawhid.

      Rather it is each person who does not believe in Allah and His Messenger after the message reaches him.

      ومن لم يؤمن بالله ورسوله فإنا أعتدنا للكافرين سعيرا
      And whoever has not believed in Allah and His Messenger – then indeed, We have prepared for the disbelievers a Blaze.

      • Avatar

        Ahmad B.

        March 4, 2016 at 11:37 AM

        Assalamu ‘alaikum Br. Mahmud,

        Thank you for your time and effort in expounding upon this important point of ‘aqida. Just for the record, I agree that explanations or rationalizations such as the one given by the scholar I mentioned were not necessary for the early community and should not really be necessary for us either. I am not one who has been troubled by this particular doctrine, but some people are, and sometimes it helps people along if they’re able to recognize a wisdom in something. Allah is not bound to make His wisdom known to us, but we do know and believe and trust that He does act with wisdom and purpose, and this is often available to us through reflection, even if only in an imperfect and incomplete form.

        Is that particular explanation (i.e., about belief and disbelief being non-quantifiable like actions) correct or not? Allahu a’lam. If there is no verse or hadith explicit about it (which I don’t believe there is), or if it is not directly entailed by something so stated (which I don’t see how it is), then it’s purely speculative and, as such, of course cannot be touted as something that Muslims have to adhere to. It’s a possible way of understanding a part of Allah’s justice and wisdom in decreeing eternal punishment for certain people, but it is not obligatory to believe (in fact it may very well not even be correct), nor is the point of ‘aqida itself in any way dependent on whether this explanation is, in fact, correct or not, or whether we can or cannot (individually or collectively) understand the wisdom and justice behind this fact. I just wanted to clear the record on that.

        Finally, I do not appreciate your dismissive and supercilious tone when you say “I’m sure it suits brother Ahmad and the scholar who taught it to him but it’s not something I or other Muslims need to subscribe to.” I do not “need” to subscribe to it either and I never said I did, and I don’t appreciate the insinuation that I somehow lack integrity or am wanting in faith and can only get by through leaning on speculative statements that kind of “make it okay” for me. You’re very quick to judge other people’s motivations and intentions, and from one brother to another (and I say this purely out of brotherly love for you), that’s something I think you really need to work on. The best of our scholars have always maintained a tone of pure objectivity, responding to positions and statements without making bold assumptions about other people’s hearts, minds, or where they’re coming from. And please watch your attitude in your exchange with Jonaid as well. He has shared the fact that he is a newly returned Muslim after 12 years of staunch atheism. He’s been a Muslim again for something like five months, so say what is right, but give him a break as well, will you? I explained to you in another thread last year that people need to be given the room to think things through and to learn and to grow. This doesn’t mean we compromise anything in our deen, but can’t you consider taking people by the hand and speaking to them with love and respect as your brothers in faith with a heart and a soul and (hopefully) good intentions, rather than as some abstract debate partner trumpeting a heresy you’ve been appointed to knock down?

        I apologize if my tone is harsh here. I very much appreciate your contributions to all these debates and your obvious care and concern for finding out what is right and submitting to it fully. This is exactly what we are called upon to do as Muslims. But please, brother, if you don’t work on your adab and the way you interact with your own brothers and what you allow yourself to assume about them, you can end up in the long run doing a lot more harm than good. I hope you can accept what I say as honest nasiha.

        With love,

      • Avatar


        March 4, 2016 at 1:02 PM

        Wa alaykumusalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        I don’t remember having any conversation with you before this. Perhaps you mistake me for someone else.

        I think I have tackled the eternity explanation both scholarly and linguistically so I am done.

        I think rude speech comes from anonymity and speed. I can’t see your face and I type these refutations as fast as I possibly can.

        I will repent from rudeness in speech. Allah doesn’t need my refutations and you will be guided of Allah wills or not, regardless of how well I speak.

      • Avatar

        Ahmad B.

        March 8, 2016 at 9:58 AM

        Assalamu ‘alaikum Br. Mahmud,

        I appreciate your response; thank you for that. And I would also like to apologize to you, for it seems that I did confuse you with someone else who had commented on Daniel’s article “Debating Homosexuality” last year and whom I had likewise urged that he might want to moderate his tone a bit.

        In any case, I think you have done more than an adequate job in establishing the (near) consensus view on the eternity of both Heaven and Hell and in responding to the objections that have been raised against it. So thank you for that, and may Allah reward you and guide you, and me, and all of us here to what is true, best, and most pleasing to Him. Ameen!

        Ahmad B.

    • Avatar

      Ahmad B.

      March 3, 2016 at 5:48 PM

      Salam Jonaid,

      I haven’t listened to the video yet so I can’t comment on Br. Noman’s exact words. To your point about the scholars, however, I think we need to distinguish what we mean when we say scholars. When I use that word, I am using “scholars” to refer to our intellectual tradition as a whole, and particularly to the huge luminaries of that tradition that are recognized by all as master explicators, teachers, and practitioners of this religion, and which have been accepted as such by the overwhelming majority of the umma over centuries, people like the four imams (Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Imam al-Shafi’i, Imam Ahmad), the major collectors of hadith like Bukhari, Muslim, and many other major muhaddithin, the scholars of ‘aqida (including people like Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Ahmad, as well as Imam al-Tahawi, and later figures among the Ash’aris, Maturidis, and Hanbalis), the people of the inner science of ihsan and spiritual excellence (what I would refer to as orthodox Sufism, though some people may reject or misunderstand that term), the major scholars of the Qur’an, other scholars who spanned numerous disciplines like Imam al-Ghazali, Ibn Taymiyya, Imam al-Suyuti, and many, many others. (If you recognize these names, you will see I’m taking a fairly broad view of the normative tradition.) I am not talking about every local imam who gives a khutba here or in the Muslim world, every da’i or prominent figure in a contemporary Islamic “movement,” or anyone who happens to answer a lot of questions, like the Libyan brother you mentioned in one of your recent e-mails. And it is definitely true that the level of scholarship is considerably lower in our age than in previous ages, as is the level of practically everything in the Muslim world. We have been in a chronic period of decline for several centuries now, and the effects permeate the entire society. Even people being turned out by big institutions like the Azhar are not, on average, what they used to be, but nevertheless, there are still true inheritors today of that authentic grounded tradition.

      About reading the Qur’an directly, absolutely. This is something every Muslim should do, precisely in order to benefit from a direct encounter with the very Word of God that He has sent us to guide us, to overawe us, to break us down, to invigorate us anew. The Qur’an is a living, abiding miracle and he who does not have an intimate personal relationship with it is depriving himself of enormous benefit. You know this, obviously, since you have stated it yourself and very much seem to have personally experienced the Qur’an as miracle, as the living word of the Living God in your own life. There are people all over the Muslim world who do not understand a word of Arabic, yet are utterly reduced to tears upon reciting or hearing the recitation of this Book. We as Muslims have never sought to keep the Book away from anyone. On the contrary, all are encouraged to approach it, and to learn its language so as to experience it in the most direct and powerful way possible.

      The Qur’an is full of that which is a mercy to the believers, a shifa’ or healing for their wounds, an admonition, a warner and a giver of glad tidings, the fount of Truth, a guide to wisdom most profound, an earth-shattering and soul-shattering discourse that is unmatched by any other. So there are many, MANY benefits that anyone can get from plunging into the Qur’an, each according to his own capacity and preparedness. The Prophet (saas) spoke of the hearts as being like containers: the same rain falls on all of them and each container retains of it what its capacity allows. The other metaphor (I don’t recall if its from a hadith or just a metaphor from an insightful scholar) is that of rain falling on the earth: when it falls on fertile soil, it brings forth lush vegetation. If it falls on barren sand, however, nothing comes forth from it. Some read the Qur’an and are guided by it instantly (read the story of Cat Stevens / Yusuf Islam), others read it and it has no effect on them (rather, they are not open to its effect, they are not fertile soil for its reception), and some read it and it actually increases them in DISbelief and misguidance (as Allah Himself says in the Qur’an). So absolutely, it is a great travesty if we abandon our direct and intimate relationship with the Qur’an.

      Having said that, all these innumerable spiritual and moral benefits, the guidance, the admonition, the beauty and weight of the Qur’an on the heart — all of this is, nevertheless, different from approaching the Qur’an for its detailed ahkam (legal rulings) or to expound upon detailed points of ‘aqida in a systematic way. This is quite a different type of reading, with a rather different goal, than approaching the Qur’an for general guidance as the direct Word of one’s Creator. In order to delineate the details of fiqh or ‘aqida, absolutely that takes a great deal of knowledge and training to do responsibly. All verses of the Qur’an on a given topic have to be understood in light of each other, in light of well established sunna precedent (mostly transmitted in the form of hadith, which itself is a hugely complex field of knowledge), etc., etc. Each verse must also be understood in light of the context of its revelation, with expert knowledge of Arabic language, grammar, morphology, and rhetoric, and the list goes on and on. This is exactly what Sh. Hamza Yusuf (whom you have mentioned) means when he says that, on this level, the only responsible thing to do is to leave it to those who have been trained to do this and who have spent many, many long and hard years acquiring this type of knowledge. And no one is barred from doing that (man or woman, freeman or slave, black or white, Arab or non-Arab, etc.), but you have to do that in order to be able to speak responsibly about the details. The Companions and the major scholars actually consider it a very serious offense to speak of detailed matters of religion on the basis of hearsay or private opinion without having a firm basis in knowledge, or taking from someone who does. (This, again, is precisely what distinguishes us from the utter subjectivism of Protestantism and its currently 400 and something discrete sects, as well as from authoritarian religions like Catholicism where creed and practice are normative simply because they are declared by the Church, rather than derived through a process of rigorous scholarly investigation and discussion over many centuries, carried out on the basis of a perfectly preserved revelation and a well preserved body of hadith or hadith-like materials.)

      Regarding the issue we have been discussing, you should not imagine that scholars were unaware of v. 11:106-108. Of course not. But that verse is only one of many verses (and hadith) that talk about the Day of Judgment, Heaven and Hell, believers and disbelievers, the wretched and the felicitous, etc. And they ALL have to be taken into account, along with reliably transmitted statements of the Prophet (saas) and his Companions. If we have firm evidence that, say, Ibn ‘Abbas explained the meaning of a verse in a particular way, that is not just “some scholar’s opinion.” Br. Mahmud actually did a very thorough job of showing how these verses have normally been understood in light of each other (distinguishing khulud from abadan, for example, speaking about the new heavens and earth after the end of this current world, etc.), and you do not seem to have taken into account the many well-established points he raises, based every bit as much on the direct and literal word of the Qur’an as you do when you cite v. 11:106-108.

      I get where you’re coming from, but I do think the issue is more involved than you have conceded. In any case, let’s let this particular point rest for now. I just wanted to make the distinction between deriving spiritual benefit and guidance from the Qur’an vs. working out the fiqh and ‘aqida in detail on the basis of all the relevant evidence we possess (which includes the ENTIRE Qur’an and Sunna, as well as much else besides — in terms of how to understand and interpret these sources). I also did want to vindicate the integrity of our scholarly tradition as a whole and distinguish that tradition very clearly from individual “scholars” of our day who may or may not live up to and embody the best of that tradition. Once you learn more about who are scholars were and what they have produced — which I’m sure you will, since you seem to have the curiosity, drive for understanding, and, insha’Allah, the sincerity to do so — I am confident that you will take back your indictment of them as simplistic, unsophisticated, and out of touch with the meaning and message of the Qur’an.

      May God guide you, and me, and all others who may be following this discussion. May He guide all Muslims on here to a renewed commitment to Him through His holy Word, and may He guide all non-Muslims here as well and expand their breasts to the Truth so that they may enjoy never-ending felicity in the presence of their Lord Most High. Ameen!

      Ahmad B.

      • Avatar


        March 3, 2016 at 8:01 PM


        There is much here that I could respond to but I’ll leave it until after I’ve responded to your email. I will say in short: the Truth is FAR, FAR more sophisticated than “Islamic Tradition.” I acknowledge that Mahmud put forth a better argument grounded in the “Islamic Tradition.” I’m just perfectly comfortable with asking God for guidance and using my own reasoning when approaching the Qur’an. I am familiar with most of the classical scholars you listed, as well as Yusuf Islam, and much more. I’m not new to Islam…I’m just new to it as a true believer. I have tremendous respect for people like Al-Ghazzali and Ibn Taymiyyah (judging by the minuscule amount I do know about them). If I lived in their age, they would be the people who I listened to most to form my own opinions. I would not, however, take their word as authorities in any sense. The only authority is God Almighty and His book which He guarantees is free of all corruption (unlike anything else in Islam). Today, however, people like Ghazzali and Ibn Taymiyyah are non-existent, at least insofar as we can see. Present day scholarship is in desperate need of a major revival.

        I want you to note once again that you did not address – on grounds of reason & logic – how you can square 11: 106-108 with the other Quranic verses dealing with the duration of Hell. I’m well aware that other scholars have read them and have issued their opinions. I gave my own opinion in light of what we know from modern physics about the nature of our Universe. You can challenge my reasoning & evidence or – as you and Mahmud have done – you can ignore the verses and trust in the authority of the “tradition” and “big names” like Ibn Abbas. God knows my intention is pure when I say: I don’t know Ibn Abbas (personally – I have heard of him) and I don’t HAVE TO KNOW him to know the Truth. God can & does guide in ways you can never imagine.

        The Truth is very simple. Islamic “Tradition” is highly complex, and needlessly so in my opinion, for a host of reasons I cannot get into. In any case, I’ll email you Insha’Allah by tomorrow and we’ll proceed there.

        Thank you and God knows best.

        P.S. Don’t forget to watch the clip – I think he articulates my overall point better than I can.

      • Avatar


        March 3, 2016 at 11:56 PM

        Ibn Abbas RA was the mufassir among the Sahaba RA.

        Also, I rebutted your reasoning directly using pretty much ayat and Arabic.

        That comment has yet to be allowed as of me writing this, I did write it this afternoon.

        Ameen to all of our duas for all of us and the rest of the Ummah.

  26. Avatar


    March 4, 2016 at 3:13 PM

    Salam Alaykum.

    “Nouman Ali Khan affirms eternal hell. Because not only do the scholars affirm it, it’s literally in the language-your blatant obvious misrepresentation of the ayah you cited is what is obviously and clearly false, illogical and explicitly inconsistent. If it was consistent, you would apply it to the people in Paradise i,e, “a gift without break as long as the heavens and the earth last, but since they don’t, Paradise will end just like the fire will end.”

    My apologies maybe I’m confused but I haven’t a clue what you’re saying here. “If it was consistent, you would apply it to the people of Paradise…” I don’t think you understand what the verses say and what I said. I’ll quote the verses here again (from your message) and then outline my position more thoroughly.

    In the name of God, The Merciful, The Compassionate.

    فأما الذين شقوا ففي النار لهم فيها زفير وشهيق
    Those who are wretched shall be in the Fire: There will be for them therein (nothing but) the heaving of sighs and sobs: (11: 106)

    خالدين فيها ما دامت السماوات والأرض إلا ما شاء ربك إن ربك فعال لما يريد
    They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: for thy Lord is the (sure) accomplisher of what He planneth. (11: 107)

    These two verses are saying the following (if I’m wrong, please be brief and show me exactly where I misunderstood without citing your authorities): The wretched will be in Hell “for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure.” God can (and presumably will) make exceptions for some of them and take them out early (whether they are Muslims or not is besides the point). So what we get from this verse is:

    The wretched are in Hell so long as the heavens and the earth (aka Universe) lasts. Whether it’s this universe or a new one is also besides the point. The verse is as clear as it can get that they will NOT endure forever otherwise this entire wording is pointless. To say that’s how the ancient Arabs understood it is akin to saying “Allah sent a book for all time to all peoples but He insisted on using phrases which, as stated, mean A but really absolutely mean B because the ancient Arabs understood it like B.” I have a much higher opinion of my Lord than this. Also, for the dwellers of Hell, God can reduce the term for some or most of them if He wills. It does NOT say he will EXTEND it or let it go on forever.

    You did not quote 11: 108 so I will re-quote from my original response.

    “And those who are blessed shall be in the Garden: They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: a gift without break.”

    This verse is saying the Jannah too, like Hell, will endure for “all the time that the heavens and the earth endure” BUT the exception God makes this time is the exact opposite. He may make exceptions for some or most and grant ETERNAL bliss to whoever He wills. He will not cut short anyone’s term in Jannah but He may extend it forever for whoever He wills.

    Lastly, the only question remains is how one ought to interpret the other verses pertaining to hell-fire, some of which you quoted. God is saying they will not exit it despite their pleading for destruction. They will not die therein and will be given fresh skins again and again. The torture, in other words, is INESCAPABLE – it is not saying “inescapable AND eternal” – that you are reading in and most of the scholars you cite are reading in.

    I have my opinion and you (and the majority it seems) have theirs. That’s fine in my opinion. I am not a hypocrite I don’t subscribe to opinions just to “fit in.” I don’t believe in a God who demands that we knowingly believe something which doesn’t make sense to us. I may be wrong but if I am, I ask God to help me see the Truth. Meanwhile, I have my reasons to believe what I do. I don’t want to repeat this with you and your reservoir of ancient sources & opinions. Your method of discussion is unpleasant & confusing to say the least.

    Thank you and God knows best.

    • Avatar


      March 4, 2016 at 3:22 PM

      Let’s say I was sentenced to an indefinitely long period in solitary confinement. The judge says I can beg and cry all I want I will not be let out. I will ask to be given the chair but I will be forced fed if need be and kept alive. There’s no way I can escape.

      It is possible to MISread this as “he’s gone forever.” What it’s actually saying is “you’ll be there for a long, long time and you won’t find any way to escape it.”

      Please now, let’s drop this one. It doesn’t look like are making progress with each other. We can agree on one thing: God knows and may He guide us both.


    • Avatar


      March 5, 2016 at 6:56 PM

      wa alaykumusalam

      The word abadan is as clear as it can get. Allah affirmed again and again their eternal punishment, if it wasn’t eternal the wording would be pointless. And by majority, really you mean “overwhelmingly vast majority” because practically no Muslim on earth believes as you do.

      As for the heavens and the earth, Allah speaks to Arabs in an Arabic language, using Arabic phrases, and “as long as the heavens and the earth last” mean exactly that, forever. The exception is not for disbelievers but for believers.

      And despite your denials, your argument is inconsistent. The same “exception” you make for the ayah about the fortunate can easily be interpreted as “a gift without break as long as the heavens and the earth endure.” If we are to stay honest and consistent with this contrived logic, Jannah also won’t last forever.

      Not to mention, you’ve literally taken it upon yourself to give new definitions to Arabic words. There is not helping you if Allah does not intend to guide you.

      “It is possible to MISread this as “he’s gone forever.” What it’s actually saying is “you’ll be there for a long, long time and you won’t find any way to escape it.””

      Yeah, and it’s possible to misread what Allah is saying when He uses an unambiguous word meaning actual eternity and not a very long time. I love how you conveniently ignored the fact that not only does Allah say they won’t be brought ought, won’t die, and that the punishment won’t be lightened, but also that He unequivocally stated they will be there for eternity.

      Not a metaphorical word for a very long time, but eternity. You are misrepresenting the meaning of one ayah and by it, denying the meaning of others without even realizing it.

      Alhamdulilah who saved the vast majority of the Ummah from this misguidance you spout.

      Yeah I think we’ll end it here. For me, with a warning.

      ومن يشاقق الرسول من بعد ما تبين له الهدى ويتبع غير سبيل المؤمنين نوله ما تولى ونصله جهنم وساءت مصيرا
      And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad SAW) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – what an evil destination.

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        March 8, 2016 at 9:08 PM

        “And despite your denials, your argument is inconsistent. The same “exception” you make for the ayah about the fortunate can easily be interpreted as “a gift without break as long as the heavens and the earth endure.” If we are to stay honest and consistent with this contrived logic, Jannah also won’t last forever.”

        I still haven’t a clue what you’re saying here. I am not making any exceptions – I have no such authority. God Himself is saying it in plain language for anyone to read. I have no clue how you’re not seeing it. Maybe someone can help us out. If not, let’s agree to disagree – ultimately it doesn’t matter what either of us think God will do what He wills.


      • Avatar


        May 1, 2016 at 5:24 PM

        ” I have no clue how you’re not seeing it. Maybe someone can help us out”

        it’s because you aren’t reading it properly. Hence, you fail to see your own inconsistency. It is right there in plain kanguage. And sadly you’ve missed it. Unlike the rest of the Ummah Alhamdulilah.

  27. Avatar

    francis Ayala

    March 22, 2016 at 5:10 PM

    The Jews consider themselves the “chosen ones”. The Christians say non Christians are doomed to hell. The Muslims call everyone else non-believers (also, doomed to hell). This is also common in many smaller tribes around the world, referring to themselves as “The human beings”, favored by God, but implying that everyone else is not quite a human being. This is the nature of mankind. The Nature of God is that he plants flowers of many colors and shapes, delights in them all, and does not prefer one to another.

    • Avatar


      May 1, 2016 at 5:26 PM

      You have uttered untruth on the Master. He does prefer some over others.

  28. Avatar


    April 4, 2016 at 9:08 AM

    This is really a great post. Thank you for taking time to provide us some of the useful and exclusive information with us. Keep on blogging!!

  29. Avatar


    May 4, 2016 at 2:44 AM

    Woww! really very wonderful information.Thanks for sharing that valuable information.

  30. Avatar


    June 27, 2016 at 6:34 AM

    Great post….Thank you for posting the great content……I found it quiet interesting, hopefully you will keep posting such blogs…

  31. Avatar

    Hamid Missoumi

    December 10, 2016 at 3:11 AM

    It seems to me that we – Muslims – have (subconsciously) agreed to the (wrong) definition (translation) of Islam as ANOTHER RELIGION – comparative to others which came before – when the Quran tells very clearly that “Religion in the eyes of God – Allah – is surrender
    – Islam – “. That ADAM was the first Muslim, and Jesus, and on and on … and that the “message” is one …

  32. Avatar

    Gymnos Apollon

    September 11, 2019 at 11:36 PM

    This is moderate Islam? Moderate to damn everyone who is not a Muslim? This sort of right-wing thinking is appalling and historically has led to the Holocaust and other horrors. I came to this website hoping to find Islamic tolerance, and found hate in this article and in the comments. Deeply disappointed. I will be more wary of so-called “moderate” Muslims in the future. Maybe the anti-Islamic nutcases who say that Muslims are against tolerance and democracy are not so crazy after all. Very sad about this discovery.

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Shaykh Hamza Yusuf And The Question of Rebellion In The Islamic Tradition

Dr Usaama al-Azami



Sepoy rebellion, Shaykh Hamza

In recent years, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, a notable Islamic scholar from North America, has gained global prominence by supporting efforts by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to deal with the fallout of the Arab revolutions. The UAE is a Middle Eastern autocracy that has been the chief strategist behind quelling the Arab revolutionary aspiration for accountable government in the region. Shaykh Hamza views himself as helping prevent the region from falling into chaos by supporting one of its influential autocratic states. However, more recently, he has become embroiled in another controversy because of comments he made regarding the Syrian revolution in 2016 that surfaced online earlier this week and for which he has since apologised. I will not discuss these comments directly in this article, but the present piece does have a bearing on the issue of revolution as it addresses the question of how Islamic scholars have traditionally responded to tyranny. Thus, in what follows, I somewhat narrowly focus on another recent recording of Shaykh Hamza that has been published by a third party in the past couple of weeks entitled: “Hamza Yusuf’s response to the criticism for working with Trump administration”. While it was published online at the end of August 2019, the short clip may, in fact, predate the Trump controversy, as it only addresses the more general charge that Shaykh Hamza is supportive of tyrannical governments.

Thus, despite its title, the primary focus of the recording is what the Islamic tradition purportedly says about the duty of Muslims to render virtually unconditional obedience to even the most tyrannical of rulers. In what follows, I argue that Shaykh Hamza’s contention that the Islamic tradition has uniformly called for rendering obedience to tyrannical rule—a contention that he has been repeating for many years—is inaccurate. Indeed, it is so demonstrably inaccurate that one wonders how a scholar as learned as Shaykh Hamza can portray it as the mainstream interpretation of the Islamic tradition rather than as representing a particularly selective reading of fourteen hundred years of scholarship. Rather than rest on this claim, I will attempt to demonstrate this in what follows. (Note: this article was sent to Shaykh Hamza for comment at the beginning of this month, but he has not replied in time for publication.)

Opposing all government vs opposing a government

Shaykh Hamza argues that “the Islamic tradition” demands that one render virtually absolute obedience to one’s rulers. He bases this assertion on a number of grounds, each of which I will address in turn. Firstly, he argues that Islam requires government, because the opposite of having a government would be a state of chaos. This is, however, to mischaracterise the arguments of the majority of mainstream scholars in Islamic history down to the present who, following explicit Qur’anic and Prophetic teachings, opposed supporting tyrannical rulers. None of these scholars ever advocated the removal of government altogether. They only opposed tyranny. For some reason that is difficult to account for, Shaykh Hamza does not, in addressing the arguments of his interlocutors, make the straightforward distinction between opposing tyranny, and opposing the existence of any government at all.

A complex tradition

Rather than support these tyrannical governments, the Islamic tradition provides a variety of responses to how one should oppose such governments, ranging from the more quietist—opposing them only in one’s heart—to the more activist—opposing them through armed rebellion. The majority of later scholars, including masters such as al-Ghazzali (d. 505/1111), Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d. 795/1393), and Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (d. 852/1449) appear to have fallen somewhere between these two poles, advocating rebellion only in limited circumstances, and mostly advising a vocally critical posture towards tyranny. Of course, some early scholars, such as the sanctified member of the Prophetic Household, Sayyiduna Husayn (d. 61/680) had engaged in armed opposition to the tyranny of the Umayyads resulting in his martyrdom. Similarly, the Companion ‘Abdullah b. Zubayr (d. 73/692), grandson of Abu Bakr (d. 13/634), and son of al-Zubayr b. al-‘Awwam (d. 36/656), two of the Ten Companions Promised Paradise, had established a Caliphate based in Makkah that militarily tried to unseat the Umayyad Caliphal counter-claimant.

However, the model of outright military rebellion adopted by these illustrious scholars was generally relinquished in later centuries in favour of other forms of resisting tyranny. This notwithstanding, I will try to show that the principle of vocally resisting tyranny has always remained at the heart of the Islamic tradition contrary to the contentions of Shaykh Hamza. Indeed, I argue that the suggestion that Shaykh Hamza’s work with the UAE, an especially oppressive regime in the Arab world, is somehow backed by the Islamic tradition can only be read as a mischaracterisation of this tradition. He only explicitly cites two scholars from Islamic history to support his contention, namely Shaykhs Ahmad Zarruq (d. 899/1493) and Abu Bakr al-Turtushi (d. 520/1126), both of whom were notable Maliki scholars from the Islamic West. Two scholars of the same legal school, from roughly the same relatively peripheral geographic region, living roughly four hundred years apart, cannot fairly be used to represent the swathe of Islamic views to be found over fourteen hundred years in lands as far-flung as India to the east, Russia to the north, and southern Africa to the south.

What does the tradition actually say?

Let me briefly illustrate the diversity of opinion on this issue within the Islamic tradition by citing several more prominent and more influential figures from the same tradition alongside their very different stances on the issue of how one ought to respond to tyrannical rulers. Most of the Four Imams are in fact reported to have supported rebellion (khuruj) which is, by definition, armed. A good summary of their positions is found in the excellent study in Arabic by Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Dumayji, who is himself opposed to rebellion, but who notes that outright rebellion against tyrannical rule was in fact encouraged by Abu Hanifa (d. 150/767) and Malik (d. 179/795), and is narrated as one of the legal positions adopted by al-Shafi‘i (d. 204/820) and Ahmad b. Hanbal (d. 241/855). As these scholars’ legal ideas developed and matured into schools of thought, many later adherents also maintained similar positions to those attributed to the founders of these schools. To avoid suggesting that armed rebellion against tyrants was the dominant position of the later Islamic tradition, let me preface this section with a note from Holberg Prize-winning Islamic historian, Michael Cook, who notes in his magisterial study of the doctrine of commanding right and forbidding wrong that “in the face of the delinquency of the ruler, there is a clear mainstream position [in the Islamic tradition]: rebuke is endorsed while [armed] rebellion is rejected.”

But there were also clearly plenty of outliers, or more qualified endorsements of rebellion against tyrants, as well as the frequent disavowal of the obligation to render them any obedience. Thus for the Malikis, one can find Qadi Abu Bakr b. al-‘Arabi (d. 543/1148) who asserts that advocating rebellion against tyrants is the main position of the madhhab; similarly among later Hanafis, one finds Qadi Abu Bakr al-Jassas (d. 370/981); for the Hanbalis, one may cite the positions of the prolific scholars Imam Ibn ‘Aqil (d. 513/1119), Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597/1201), and in a more qualified sense, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali. Among later Shafi‘is, I have found less explicit discussions of rebellion in my limited search, but a prominent Shafi‘i like the influential exegete and theologian al-Fakhr al-Razi (d. 606/1210) makes explicit, contrary to Shaykh Hamza’s claims, that not only is obeying rulers not an obligation, in fact “most of the time it is prohibited, since they command to nothing but tyranny.” This is similar in ways to the stance of other great Shafi‘is such as al-hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani who notes concerning tyrannical rulers (umara’ al-jawr) that the ulama state that “if it is possible to depose them without fitna and oppression, it is an obligation to do so. Otherwise, it is obligatory to be patient.” It is worth noting that the normative influence of such a statement cited by Ibn Hajar transcends the Shafi‘i school given that it is made in his influential commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari. Once again, contrary to the assertions of Shaykh Hamza, there is nothing to suggest that any of the illustrious scholars who supported rebellion against tyrannical rulers was advocating the anarchist removal of all government. Rather they were explicitly advocating the replacement of a tyrant with a just ruler where this was possible.

Al-Ghazzali on confronting tyrants

A final example may be taken from the writing of Imam al-Ghazzali, an exceptionally influential scholar in the Islamic tradition who Shaykh Hamza particularly admires. On al-Ghazzali, who is generally opposed to rebellion but not other forms of opposition to tyranny, I would like to once again cite the historian Michael Cook. In his previously cited work, after an extensive discussion of al-Ghazzali’s articulation of the doctrine of commanding right and forbidding wrong, Cook concludes (p. 456):

As we have seen, his views on this subject are marked by a certain flirtation with radicalism. In this Ghazzālī may have owed something to his teacher Juwaynī, and he may also have been reacting to the Ḥanafī chauvinism of the Seljūq rulers of his day. The duty, of course, extends to everyone, not just rulers and scholars. More remarkably, he is prepared to allow individual subjects to have recourse to weapons where necessary, and even to sanction the formation of armed bands to implement the duty without the permission of the ruler. And while there is no question of countenancing rebellion, Ghazzālī is no accommodationist: he displays great enthusiasm for men who take their lives in their hands and rebuke unjust rulers in harsh and uncompromising language.

Most of the material Cook bases his discussion upon is taken from al-Ghazzali’s magnum opus, The Revival of the Religious Sciences. Such works once again demonstrate that the Islamic tradition, or great Sufi masters and their masterworks, cannot be the basis for the supportive attitude towards tyrannical rule on the part of a minority of modern scholars.

Modern discontinuities and their high stakes

But modern times give rise to certain changes that also merit our attention. In modern times, new technologies of governance, such as democracy, have gone some way to dealing with challenges such as the management of the transition of power without social breakdown and the loss of life, as well as other forms of accountability that are not possible in absolute autocracies. For their part, absolute autocracies have had their tyrannical dimensions amplified with Orwellian technologies that invade private spaces and facilitate barbaric forms of torture and inhumane degradation on a scale that was likely unimaginable to premodern scholars. The stakes of a scholar’s decision of whether to support autocracy or democracy could not be higher.

Modern scholars like Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (b. 1345/1926), someone who Shaykh Hamza’s own mentor, Shaykh Abdullah b. Bayyah (b. 1353f./1935) considered a teacher until fairly recently, has advocated for an Islamic conception of democracy as a possible means to deal with the problem of tyranny that plagues much of the Muslim world. He is hardly the only scholar to do so. And in contrast with some of the scholars of the past who advocated armed rebellion in response to tyranny, most contemporary scholars supporting the Arab revolutions have argued for peaceful political change wherever possible. They have advocated for peaceful protest in opposition to tyranny. Where this devolved into violence in places like Libya, Syria, and Yemen, this was generally because of the disproportionately violent responses of regimes to peaceful protests.

Shaykh Hamza on the nature of government

For Shaykh Hamza, the fault here appears to lie with the peaceful protestors for provoking these governments to crush them. Such a conception of the dynamics of protest appears to assume that the autocratic governmental response to this is a natural law akin to cause and effect. The logic would seem to be: if one peacefully calls for reform and one is murdered in cold blood by a tyrannical government, then one has only oneself to blame. Governments, according to this viewpoint, have no choice but to be murderous and tyrannical. But in an age in which nearly half of the world’s governments are democracies, however flawed at times, why not aspire to greater accountability and less violent forms of governance than outright military dictatorship?

Rather than ask this question, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf appears to be willing to defend autocracy no matter what they do on the grounds that government, in principle, is what is at stake. Indeed, in defending government as necessary and a blessing, he rhetorically challenges his critics to “ask the people of Libya whether government is a blessing; ask the people of Yemen whether government is a blessing; ask the people of Syria whether government is a blessing?” The tragic irony of such statements is that these countries have, in part, been destroyed because of the interventions of a government, one for which Shaykh Hamza serves as an official, namely the UAE. This government has one of the most aggressive foreign policies in the region and has been instrumental in the failure of representative governments and the survival of tyrannical regimes throughout the Middle East.

Where do we go from here?

In summary, Shaykh Hamza’s critics are not concerned that he is “supporting governments,” rather they are concerned that for the last few years, he has found himself supporting bad government and effectively opposing the potential for good government in a region that is desperately in need of it. And while he may view himself as, in fact, supporting stability in the region by supporting the UAE, such a view is difficult if not impossible to reconcile with the evidence. Given his working relationship with the UAE government, perhaps Shaykh Hamza could use his position to remind the UAE of the blessing of government in an effort to stop them from destroying the governments in the region through proxy wars that result in death on an epic scale. If he is unable to do this, then the most honourable thing to do under such circumstances would be to withdraw from such political affiliations and use all of his influence and abilities to call for genuine accountability in the region in the same way that he is currently using his influence and abilities to provide cover, even if unwittingly, for the UAE’s oppression.

And Allah knows best.

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Can Women Attend The Burial Of The Deceased?

A short survey on what leading scholars and the four schools of law (madhhabs) have to say on the issue

Dr Usaama al-Azami



Quran at graveyard, woman attend burial

A few weeks ago, my brother passed away, may Allah have mercy on his soul. By Allah’s grace, his funeral was well-attended by many friends, relatives, and students of his, including a number of women. In this context, someone asked me about the Sharia’s guidance regarding women attending the burial of the deceased, and in what follows I consider what leading scholars and the four schools of law (madhhabs) have to say on the issue. The short survey below is by no means exhaustive, something that will need to be left for a much longer piece, but I hope it can be considered representative for the purposes of a general readership. 

This is not a fatwa, but rather a brief outline of what past scholars have argued to be the case with some suggestions as to how this might be understood in modern times. Finally, I should note that this is a discussion about accompanying the deceased to their final resting place (ittiba‘/tashyi‘ al-jinaza) after the conducting of funeral prayers (salat al-janaza). Accompanying the deceased on the part of women is considered more contentious than simply attending the funeral prayer, so in general, jurists who permit such accompaniment would allow for attending the prayer, while jurists who do not permit accompaniment of the deceased may be more reluctant to permit prayer. Whatever the specific cases may be, I do not go into this discussion below.

Key positions and evidence

In brief, I have been able to discern three general positions regarding women accompanying the deceased until they are buried: 1. A clear majority of scholars indicate that women are permitted to attend the burial of the deceased, but it is generally discouraged (makruh). 2. Some scholars permitted elderly women’s attendance of the burial unconditionally. 3. Others prohibited all women’s attendance unconditionally.

Overall, it is clear that most schools have permitted women’s attendance of burial, with most of these scholars discouraging it for reasons we shall consider below. The notion that women should not attend the burial of the deceased will thus clearly be shown to be a minority position in the tradition, past and present. Being a minority position does not mean it cannot be practiced, as we will consider in due course. The evidence from the Sunnah is the main legal basis for the ruling, and I shall now consider the most authentic hadiths on the matter.

The general rule for legal commands is that they apply to both genders equally. Accordingly, in a hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) strongly encouraged attending the burial of the deceased. That the ruling for women would be one of discouragement (karaha) rather than of encouragement (istihbab) would thus necessarily arise from countervailing evidence. This may be found in another hadith narrated by both of the earlier authorities. This short hadith is worth quoting in full: 

(‏متفق عليه‏) قالت أم عطية: نهينا عن اتباع الجنائز، ولم يعزم علينا

In translation, this reads: Umm ‘Atiyya said, “We were prohibited from following the funeral procession, but it was not insisted upon.”

Interpreting the evidence

The Sharia’s ruling on this matter hinges on how this hadith is understood. On this point, scholars of various schools have adopted a range of positions as outlined earlier. But on the specifics of how the wording of the hadith should be understood, it is worth considering the reading of one of the towering figures of hadith studies, Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (d. 852/1449). In his authoritative commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari entitled Fath al-Bari, he glosses the phrase in the aforementioned hadith “but it was not insisted upon” as meaning, “the prohibition was not insisted upon.” He adds: “It is as though she is saying: ‘it was discouraged for us to follow the funeral procession, without it being prohibited.’”

The hadith has, however, been interpreted in various ways by the schools of law. A useful summary of these interpretations may be found in encyclopedic works of fiqh written in recent decades. In his al-Fiqh al-Islami wa-Adillatuhu, the prolific Syrian scholar Wahba al-Zuhayli (d. 1436/2015) notes (on p. 518) that the majority of jurists consider women’s joining the funeral procession to be mildly discouraged (makruh tanzihi) on the basis of the aforementioned hadith of Umm ‘Atiyya. However, he adds, the Hanafis have historically considered it prohibitively discouraged (makruh tahrimi) on the basis of another hadith in which the Prophet reportedly told a group of women who were awaiting a funeral procession, “Return with sins and without reward.”

Al-Zuhayli inclines towards this ruling despite noting in a footnote that the hadith he has just mentioned is weak (da‘if) in its attribution to the Prophet. However, he also adds that the Malikis permitted elderly women to attend the burial of the deceased unconditionally, and also young women from whom no fitna was feared. What constitutes fitna is not generally specified in these discussions and perhaps needs further study, but one contemporary Hanafi defines it as “intermingling with the opposite sex,” and thus suggests that where there is no such intermingling between members of the opposite sex, it is permissible for young women to attend funerals and burials.

Another valuable encyclopedic source for learning about the juristic rulings of various schools and individual scholars is the important 45-volume al-Mawsu‘a al-Fiqhiyya compiled by a team of scholars and published by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowments a quarter of a century ago. In its section on this issue, it notes that the Hanafis prohibitively discourage women’s attendance of the funeral procession, the Shafi‘is mildly discourage it, the Malikis permit it where there is no fear of fitna, and the Hanbalis mildly discourage it. The reasoning behind these positions may be found in the Arabic original, and ought to be made available in English by Muslims in the West investing in translating such voluminous works into English. 

From the above, we may gather that of the four schools, only the pre-modern Hanafis prohibit women’s attendance of funeral processions. I have already indicated one example of a modern Hanafi who moves closer to the position of the less restrictive schools in this issue, but it is worth highlighting another. Shaykh Nur al-Din ‘Itr (b. 1355/1937), one of the greatest Hanafi hadith experts alive today, in his commentary on the hadith of Umm ‘Atiyya writes that the report indicates that women’s attending a funeral procession is only mildly discouraged (makruh tanzihi). Additionally, in a footnote, he criticises a contemporary who interprets the hadith as indicating prohibition and then proceeds to cite the less restrictive Maliki position with apparent approval.

The fiqh of modernity

In none of the above am I necessarily arguing that one of these positions is stronger than the other. I present these so that people may be familiar with the range of opinions on the matter in the Islamic tradition. However, this range also indicates the existence of legitimate difference of opinion that should prevent holders of one position from criticising those who follow one of the legitimate alternatives with the unfounded charge that they are not following the Qur’an and Sunna.

Furthermore, there are often interesting assumptions embedded in the premodern juristic tradition which modern Muslims find themselves out of step with, such as the assumption that women should generally stay at home. This is clearly an expectation in some of the fiqh literature, and in modern times, we sometimes find that this results in incoherent legal positions being advocated in Muslim communities. We find, for example, that in much of the premodern fiqh literature, Hanafis prohibit women from attending the mosque for fear of fitna, while we live in times in which women frequently work outside the home. As one of my teachers in fiqh, the Oxford-based Hanafi jurist Shaykh Mohammad Akram Nadwi, once remarked in class, is it not absurd for a scholar to prohibit women from attending the mosque for fear of fitna while none of these scholars would prohibit a woman from going to a mall/shopping centre?

This underlines the need for balanced fiqh that is suited to our times, one that allows both men and women to participate in spiritually elevated activities, such as going to the mosque and attending funerals while observing the appropriate Islamic decorum, so that the rest of their lives may be inspired by such actions. The answer to modernity’s generalised spiritual malaise is not the shutting out of opportunities for spiritual growth, but rather its opposite. This will only come about when Muslims, individually and communally, invest more of their energy in reflecting on how they can faithfully live according to the Qur’an and Sunna in contexts very different to those in which the ulama of past centuries resided.

And God knows best.

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Reflections on Muslim Approaches to the Abortion Debate: The Problem of Narrow Conceptualization

American Muslims must go beyond simplistic and emotionally-charged approaches to the abortion question.

Shaykh Salman Younas




“Islam is the golden mean between all ethical extremes’ is what certain Muslims would assert… This moral assumption isn’t far from the truth.”

Shaykh Abdullah Hamid Ali in A Word on Muslim Attitudes Toward Abortion

“The golden mean is kind of a summit, and it is a struggle to get there. The ego does not want balance because you have to think and make sacrifices.”

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad in Paradigms of Leadership (6)

A few months ago, Governor Kay Ivey signed into law House Bill 134, or the Human Life Protection Act, which prohibited all abortion in the state of Alabama except in cases where it was deemed necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the mother. The bill additionally criminalized abortion or any attempt to carry it out in situations deemed non-necessary. A motion to exempt rape and incest victims from this law was defeated in the Alabama state senate, which give the state the (dubious) distinction of possessing one of the most restrictive abortion laws in America. This move by Alabama to place extreme restrictions on abortion followed a spate of similar legislative moves by other states, such as Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

This escalation in anti-abortion legislation occasioned intense debate within the Muslim community.[1] Muslims who self-identify as progressives chanted the familiar mantra of “my body, my choice” to affirm a notion of personal rights and bodily autonomy in defending a woman’s right to choose. The ideological underpinnings of this view are extremely problematic from a theological perspective, and the practical policies arising from it that sanction even late-term abortions contravene the near-consensus position of classical jurists and is rightly seen as an assault on inviolable human life. For this reason, this essay will not pay any particular attention to this view.

Several people pushed back against this permissive attitude by arguing that abortion is essentially prohibited in Islam in all but the direst of situations, such as when the life of the mother is at genuine risk. This opinion has a sound precedent in the legal tradition and is the mainstream view of some of the legal schools, but it has often been presented in a manner that fails to acknowledge the normative pluralism that exists on the matter in the shariah and rather perniciously presents these alternative opinions as ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’. Similarly, those who favour the more lenient view found in other legal schools are often seen characterizing the stricter opinion as ‘right-wing’ or reflective of the Christianization of Islamic law. Despite having legal precedent on their side, both groups engaged the abortion question in a manner that was rather superficial and fundamentally problematic.


Did Jurists Only Permit Abortion in ‘Dire’ Circumstances?

I will begin this essay by offering a corrective to the mistaken notion that classical jurists only permitted abortions in cases of necessity, an assertion that has become very common in current Muslim discourse on abortion in America. One need not look much further than the Ḥanafī school to realize that this claim is incorrect. Though there are opinions within the school that only permit abortion before 120 days with the existence of a valid excuse, the view of several early leading authorities was that abortion was unconditionally permissible (mubāḥ) before this period and/or prior to the physical form and features of a fetus becoming clearly discernible.[2] In his encyclopaedic work al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī, Burhān al-Dīn ibn Māza (d. 616/1219) presents two main opinions on abortion in the school:

(i) It is permitted “as long as some physical human features are not clearly discernible because if these features are not discernible, the fetus is not a child (walad)” as per Fatāwā Ahl al-Samarqand. Some scholars asserted that this occurs at 120 days,[3] while others stated that this assertion, though incorrect, indicated that by discernibility jurists intended ensoulment.[4]

(ii) It is disliked because once conception occurs, the natural prognostication is life and so the fetus is granted this ruling at the moment of conception itself. This was the view of ʿAlī ibn Mūsā al-Qummī (d. 305/917-18).[5]

The first opinion of unconditional permissibility was not a solitary one in the school. It was forwarded by many of the foremost Ḥanafī authorities, such as Ḥussām al-Dīn ibn Māza (d. 536/1141),[6] Raḍī al-Dīn al-Sarakhsī (d. 575/1175),[7] Jamāl al-Dīn al-Ghaznawī (d. 593/1196),[8] Zayn al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 666/1267),[9] ʿAbd Allāh ibn Maḥmūd al-Mawṣilī (d. 683/1284),[10] Fakhr al-Dīn al-Zaylaʿī (d. 743/1343),[11] Qiwām al-Dīn al-Kākī (749/1348),[12] Jalāl al-Dīn al-Khawārizmī (d. 767/1365),[13] Kamāl ibn al-Humām (d. 861/1457),[14] Muḥyī al-Dīn Jawīzāda (d. 954/1547),[15] Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥaṣkafī (d. 1088/1677),[16] and several others.[17] The reasoning underlying this view was that prior to a specific period (whether defined by days or by fetal development), a fetus is not a ‘child’ or ‘person’.[18] Therefore, no ruling is attached to it at this stage.[19]

Another opinion in the school, and one that has gained wide acceptance amongst contemporary Ḥanafī jurists, argued that abortion prior to 120 days was disliked and sinful unless carried out with a valid excuse. This view was most famously expressed by Fakhr al-Dīn Qāḍīkhān (d. 592/1196) in his Fatāwā and subsequently supported by the likes of Ibn Wahbān (d. 768/1367),[20] Ibn Nujaym (d. 970/1563),[21] and Ibn ʿĀbidīn (d. 1252/1836).[22] These sources, however, do not define or fully flesh out what constitutes an excuse, sufficing mainly with a single example as illustrative of a case where abortion would be permitted, namely when a woman ceases to produce milk on account of pregnancy and her husband is unable to provide an alternative source of sustenance for their child and fears his or her perishing. Cases of rape, incest, adultery, and other possible excuses are not discussed by most of these authors, and it is not clear whether they would have deemed these valid excuses or not.[23]

The Ḥanafī school, therefore, had three main opinions on the issue: unconditionally permissible prior to a specific time period; unconditionally disliked; and conditionally permissible prior to a specific time period. Of the three, the first view seems to have been the dominant one in the school and held by multiple authorities in virtually every century. The view of conditional permissibility was also a strong one and notably adopted by several later jurists. It is also the view that has gained currency among modern Ḥanafī scholars who are generally not seen forwarding the view of unconditional permissibility.

Some Contemporary Views on Abortion

A wide range of opinions is also found in the discourse of contemporary jurists. Shaykh Muṣṭafā Zarqā (d. 1999) presented a gradated scheme where abortion prior to 40 days was permitted without a “severe excuse”, which included “undertaking necessary travel where pregnancy and giving birth would prove a hindrance, such as for education or for work that requires a couple to move.”[24] He also considered financial strain arising from a child as a valid excuse during this limited time period. According to him, the threshold for a valid excuse would become higher as the pregnancy proceeded beyond 40 days.

Muftī Maḥmūd Ḥasan Gangohī (d. 1996), one of the foremost scholars of the Deobandī school, permitted abortions when conception occurred out of wedlock (zinā).[25]

Muftī Salmān Manṣurpūrī states emphatically that the basis is that abortion is impermissible unless there is a valid excuse before 120 days, such as the life of the mother being at risk, serious consequences to her general health, an actual inability to bear pregnancy, clear harm or danger to one’s current children, and adultery, but not fear of economic difficulty nor the decision not to have children.[26]

In Fatāwā Dār al-ʿUlūm Zakariyya, Muftī Raḍā’ al-Ḥaqq states that a fetus diagnosed by medical professionals with an incurable and serious disorder that will prove to be an extreme burden on the child and its family is permitted to abort prior to 120 days as per the Islamic Fiqh Academy in Mecca.[27] Elsewhere, he divides pregnancy into three stages. The first stage is when the general form and facial features of the fetus take shape but prior to the formation of its limbs. At this stage, it is permitted to carry out on abortion with a valid and established excuse, such as the fetus suffering from a “dangerous hereditary disease”, “physical abnormality/deformity”, the life of the mother being at risk, or reasonably-established fear of the mother’s “physical and mental health” being impacted. The second stage is when the limbs of the fetus are clearly formed and discernible, and the third stage is after 120 days. In both these stages, the respected Muftī rules that abortion is not permitted except in cases of necessity, such as saving the life of the mother.[28] The permission to abort the fetus is also extended to cases of rape.[29]

Mawlānā Zubayr Aḥmad Qāsmī (d. 2019), a founding member of the Islamic Fiqh Academy, India, argued that the permission to carry out an abortion before ensoulment (even after discernibility) is not simply restricted to cases of necessity (ḍarūra) but includes cases of need (ḥāja), which broadly includes “any situation that entails bodily or psychological harm for the parents or the child and is a cause for continual distress.”[30] Examples of valid excuses include “danger to the general health, mental health, or life of the mother”, pregnancy resulting from rape or fornication (so long as it is not someone who has engaged in the latter habitually), the strong possibility that the child will be born with serious physical abnormalities or defects as determined by a medical professional, and the genuine inability of the parents to raise and maintain/sustain more than one child without it negatively impacting their current children.[31]

Mawlānā Khālid Sayf Allāh Raḥmānī states, “Essentially, abortion is impermissible in Islam, and there is no time period in which it is acceptable to abort a fetus. However, this impermissibly has degrees. In the first scenario (i.e. post-ensoulment) it is a grievous sin and categorically prohibited; in the second scenario (i.e. pre-ensoulment but post-discernment of limbs) it is lesser than this; in the third scenario (i.e. before features/limbs become discernible) it is relatively less severe than the previous two.” He then goes on to rule that abortion is not permitted for the following reasons: not desiring more children; conception out of wedlock; or being physically or mentally unable to care for a child, since others may be able to do so. Excuses that permit abortion before ensoulment include a doctor concluding with reasonable-surety that the child will suffer from a dangerous hereditary disease, physical abnormalities, and deformities, and the life of the mother is at serious risk.[32]

There are stricter views than some of those mentioned above, especially from non-Ḥanafī scholars. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, taking the Mālikī school as his basis,[33] has argued that abortion before 40 days is prohibited “with rare exception.”[34] This view of impermissibility is also held by Shaykh Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī although he allows for a dispensation to be given to victims of rape.[35]

Shaykh ʿAbd Allāh ibn Bayya also deems abortion at all stages of pregnancy to be sinful to varying degrees except in situations where the life of the mother is at risk.[36]

Shaykh Wahba al-Zuhaylī (d. 2015) ruled that abortion was impermissible from the moment of conception “except in cases of necessity” such as being afflicted with cancer or an incurable disease.[37]

Framing the Problem: Basic Levels of Engaging the Law

The discussion so far makes one point quite evident: there are an array of opinions on the issue of abortion ranging from the extremely restrictive to the more permissive. Though ‘difference of opinion’ (ikhtilāf) has generally been viewed as one of the outstanding and unique features of Islamic legal discourse, it is precisely the range of views that exist in the tradition on abortion that partly plays a role in the problematic approaches to the issue seen amongst certain Muslims. It is not so much the differences themselves that are the issue, but the manner in which particular opinions are selected by individuals who subsequently propagate them to the community as binding doctrine.

To better understand this, one can broadly identify four basic levels of engagement with religious law applicable to Muslim leaders and scholars in the West in the context of the abortion issue,[38] which often overlap with one another: (a) personal, (b) academic, (c) fatwā, public preaching, and irshād, and (d) political.

(a) The Personal

The ‘personal’ level concerns an individual’s own practice where he or she can follow the legal school (or trusted scholar) of their choosing or decide on the rulings that govern their lives when possessing the ability to do so. This level does not directly concern anyone but the individual himself.

(b) The Academic

The ‘academic’ level in the current context refers primarily to a process of study, reflection and deduction, and research to arrive at a personal conclusion regarding some aspect of the law that is undertaken in conversation with a guild of peers and not the general population. Such academic activity is often theoretical, abstract, and conceptual, and even when it addresses more practical concerns, it constitutes a general articulation of an opinion, not an individualized responsa, that others engage with as members of a scholarly class. This scholarly class includes the ʿulamā’ and others whose input is relevant to a particular issue.

(c) Fatwā, Irshād, and Public Preaching

The realm of fatwā is exclusively for a qualified scholar. Here, the scholar enters most directly into the practical implementation of a legal ruling. Fatwā does involve an academic process, and it is often conveyed by a jurist as a universal ruling in accordance with his academic conclusions. However, the practice of fatwā is commonly understood as an answer directed by a qualified jurisconsult (muftī) to an individual (mustaftī) who requires guidance on a particular religious matter. The jurisconsult providing said individual with an answer is now tasked with translating the abstract, theoretical, and academic into a practical solution, which requires taking into account the circumstances of the questioner.[39]

The delicateness of this matter has led some scholars to compare the relationship of a jurisconsult with the questioner to that of a doctor and his patient.[40] Indeed, the answer that a scholar provides a questioner may not be fully in accordance with the theoretical and abstract conclusions the former has reached in an academic setting, it may disregard an opinion that the jurisconsult otherwise deems a valid legal interpretation because its application is not appropriate in the specific case at hand, it may be strict or lenient, in accordance with the legal school of the scholar or a dispensation from another, and it may be inapplicable to anyone but the questioner. Further, a fatwā is non-binding (unlike a judicial court ruling) and does not negate other valid opinions or peoples’ choice to follow them. This is important to note in contexts where a fatwā is issued to communicate a universal rule.

In many cases, the answer that is provided to a person is not presented as a fatwā but merely a form of religious advice or irshād. Though there is presumably a difference between these two concepts, they are sometimes indistinguishable in a Western context. Irshād has a seemingly less formal quality to it, and it can be offered by a non-scholar though the prerequisite of sound knowledge still remains. Like fatwā, the proffering of religious advice and guidance can assume a more public form and have an academic flavour to it. The articles written by non-scholars on the blogosphere, lectures and speeches delivered by speakers, and religious counsel extended to others falls within this general category of irshād. For those in leadership roles, the public nature of their work means that high standards are required even here when it comes to addressing and conveying religious issues of a complex or delicate nature.

(d) The Political

If the issuance of a fatwā and providing religious advice is a delicate matter, the process of forming, advocating for, and/or enacting laws on the political level is far greater in this regard. Such laws are made in the context of human societies and affect large swaths of people who objectively vary in their circumstances – individual, social, religious/ideological, and economic. Unlike a fatwā or irshād, once a law has been settled upon by the state, it becomes binding upon an entire population and any reasonable alternative ceases to hold validity in practice at least until the law is reviewed and amended. Exemptions are only tolerated when affirmed by the law itself. Further, law interacts with and influences society in complex ways. This is true for all forms of law, not just ones that are state-enacted.

A core question in legal philosophy is what the law ought to be or what makes a law good. The ‘good’ is a moral concept and might be described as one that is essentially contested in so far as people differ over its conception and the criteria for its application. Some emphasize the consequences of a rule (consequentialism), while others favour a deontological moral ethic or one that is virtue-centred. Each of these families of theories subsume within them further particular theories that differ with one another. There are also considerations of fairness, equity, distributive justice, enforceability, practicality, and/or efficiency that those evaluating the law might assign significant value to. These notions of morality and the good influence policy-making and legal systems.

How do Muslims approach this issue? Islam is viewed by Muslims as a comprehensive moral and philosophical system where the moral value of an act is determined by the divine will. It is the commands and prohibitions of God that render an action good or evil, and under this divine command theory, revelation is the primary source for moral knowledge.[41] However, this legal notion of moral value is not as straightforward as it sounds since a significant number of legal rulings are probabilistic in nature and differed upon. Consequently, the moral value attached to these rulings lack a decisive character, which engenders a plurality of moral outlooks. This pluralism is an indelible feature of the tradition itself creating a paradox whereby Muslims can affirm that good and evil are known through revelation, while recognizing that differences concerning moral judgments are part of the moral vision of revelation itself.

This raises important questions regarding the political approach a minority Muslim population in the West might take regarding the abortion issue. Should Muslims seek to accommodate a pluralism justified by tradition and avoid commandeering the state to coercively impose laws that negate the right of people to follow an acceptable and mainstream Islamic legal opinion?

Should Muslims simply support restrictions on abortion practices that contravene the consensus position of Islam? Or should Muslims seek to promote an opinion, or some combination of opinions, among those found in the legal schools on the basis of a reasonably defined criteria that assesses the issue holistically from the perspective of the theological, legal, ethical, and the public good?

Indeed, there are many classical opinions whose validity scholars did not accept, others that were prima facie valid but not put into practice, and classical jurists themselves erected systems to keep a check on legal chaos resulting from people being allowed to arbitrarily follow any opinion with a basis in precedent. Yet, Muslim societies always tolerated differences of opinion, and for most of its history, people living in these societies had recourse to various scholars from multiple legal schools. Unlike the centralizing and homogenizing tendencies of the modern nation-state, Islamic law was centrifugal and operated on a grass-roots level to produce self-governing societies. In many periods, this diversity was even found in judicial settings where courts were established for each of the legal schools. This was extended to non-Muslim populations living under Islamic governments as well who were accorded a high degree of autonomy. While this might strike some as a thing of the past, a nostalgic yearning for a bygone era, there are many lessons the community can draw from the attitudes and approaches of past societies.

In a political context, the notion of the ‘public good’ (maṣlaha) is particularly relevant given the scope and consequences of legislative actions, but it is a notoriously complicated one to pin down and, like the ‘good’, might be described as essentially contested. Even the basic question “who will this law or opinion impact, and in what manner” takes one into a complex maze of considerations and perspectives that demand careful attention and thought. It is hard to imagine any informed answer to this question without the input of a variety of experts. While Muslims are not quite in a position to craft legislation, influential religious activists and scholars who advocate for specific legislation and/or discourse on it to the wider community should keep the above points in made for any advocacy that proceeds in the name of religion is one that must be approached with care and seriousness.


Identifying the Problem: Beyond Personal Preferences, Emotions, and Selective Madhhab Picking

With this framework in mind, it is now possible to identify a major problem in current American Muslim discourse on abortion, which is that it does not meaningfully engage any of the levels described above save the personal. The distinction between these various engagement contexts is hardly recognized. Most public discourse on abortion promotes one traditional opinion over another based not on a rigorous standard that is grounded in revelation, theology, legal theory, ethics, the public good, and a keen awareness of human nature, the individual, political, social, and ideological currents and factors, historical trends, and the challenges of the contemporary world, but seemingly on personal opinions based on little more than a reaction to a perceived ideological threat, individual proclivities, or pure taqlīd. The mainstream opinions of the legal school simply act as tools of legitimation for one’s personal view.

The Problem of Imposition

On a personal level, this is not a problem per se, and people have their reasons to select certain views as opposed to others and even vociferously promote them in some limited capacity to friends, colleagues, or family over a session of tea or a short-lived social media feud with random individuals. However, for those in positions of leadership and influence, this cannot be the basis for a fatwā, general communal irshād, or public advocacy impacting millions of people. The imposition of the personal onto these areas in this manner is both ill-advised and potentially harmful. Even the conclusions reached by a scholar on the basis of sound academic research may be put aside in these contexts, i.e. fatwā and political activism/legislation, when the scholar feels that competing considerations and interests demand so. Thus, a scholar may believe in a reading of revelation that is extremely restrictive on abortion but recognizing the probabilistic nature of his interpretation and the variety of individual circumstances, the ethical norms of ease and warding off hardship, profound societal and economic changes, complex and strained community and family structures, the advice of other experts, and the general public good chooses not to advocate for this view as a matter of policy to be implemented as law or provided to a specific individual as a legal edict.

The Sunna Imperative for Leniency, The Lack of Depth of the Lenient

It is often forgotten that a peculiar response by some classical jurists to the degenerated state of society was not in toughening up legal prescriptions but relaxing them: “Our time is not one of avoiding the doubtful (shubuhāt), meaning if a person only avoids the impermissible, it is sufficient.”[42] This was an ethical consideration influencing the judgment of the jurist who saw it not as compromising religion nor a dereliction of his duty but part of the guidance of the sunna itself where facilitating the affairs of people was deemed important.[43] As Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad states commenting on the instruction of al-Birgivī (d. 981/1573) not to give the laity the more difficult opinion on an issue validly differed upon:

This, of course, is a Prophetic counsel. The ego doesn’t always like giving people easy options because we assume it is because of our laziness or some kind of liberal Islam. For al-Birgivī it is taqwā to give the ordinary Muslims the easier interpretations… but nowadays, we tend to assume that the narrower you are, the less compromises you make, the more the West will be angry and, therefore, the better the Muslim you must be.[44]

The Prophetic counsel that Shaykh Abdal Hakim refers to is known to many: “Make things easy and do not make them difficult.” This attitude of facilitating matters for people, granting them leniency, and not repulsing them with harshness and difficulty is a part of Islam. As Imām al-Shāṭibī stated, the removal of hardship (rafʿ al-ḥaraj) is a decisively established foundational principle in the shariah.[45] From this foundational principle arises some of the most important legal and ethical principles in the Islamic tradition, such as hardship necessitates ease, there is no harm nor reciprocating harm, harm is lifted, the lesser of two evils, taking into account the consequences of an act, custom as a source of law, and more. In fact, some jurists opined that when the evidence for an issue was contradictory or conflicting, the more lenient opinion was to be given preference due to the generality of revelatory texts affirming ease in the shariah.[46]

But there is a problem. Many of those who promote and relay the lenient Ḥanafī opinion of unconditional permissibility approach it in a manner that lacks substance. On the academic plane, even basic questions regarding this position are not addressed or understood, much less entertained. Take, for example, the difference between the statement of Ḥanafī jurists that abortion is impermissible after the physical features of the fetus become discernible and the statement of others in the school that this impermissibility comes into effect after a 120-day period. Are these the same? Who in the madhhab held these positions? Is there a clear preference for one or the other? How was discernibility understood? What features needed to be discernible? Did discernibility refer to what is normally observable by humans or to what is discernible by modern embryogenesis? How have contemporary jurists addressed this issue? Then there is the matter that one is hard-pressed to find a single contemporary Ḥanafī jurist who favours the view of unconditional permissibility. What does this reveal about this opinion and the possibility of critically evaluating past opinions that fall within the scope of differences of opinion?[47]

These questions largely fall within the parameters of an intra-school discussion and do not even begin to address the broader social and political considerations mentioned earlier.

Here, the sheer fact that there were over six-hundred thousand abortions reported in America in 2015, the latest year for which statistics exist from the CDC, should be alarming to people and cannot be callously dismissed.

Though the overwhelming majority of these occurred well within a 120-day period (≤13 weeks’ gestation, which is measured from the first day of the woman’s last menstruation and not from the day of conception), most of those who obtained these abortions were unmarried women who did so in non-dire circumstances.[48] The culture of sexual freedom out of which the abortion movement emerged and its ideological grounding in notions of bodily autonomy and personal choice cannot be ignored in this discussion.[49] Nor can the devaluing of family and motherhood,[50] the practice of female foeticide, the increasingly materialistic outlook of society, and its mechanistic view of human beings.

Additionally, some Muslims seem largely oblivious to the fact that abortion politics link to many other issues that have little do with abortion itself, such as assisted suicide or end-of-life care. In a famous district court case on assisted suicide, Compassion in Dying vs. Washington, it was Planned Parenthood vs. Casey that was cited as an important precedent to rule that a ban on physician-aided suicide was unconstitutional.[51] Clearly, it is not sufficient to make simplistic appeals to leniency to justify promulgating an opinion that leads to such wider consequences. Abortion, in other words, cannot be treated as a ‘stand-alone’ issue with little or no relation to a broader philosophical outlook that downplays a sanctity of life ethic.[52]

Thou Shalt Make No Exceptions, But Should We?

Many of the issues highlighted in the previous paragraph raise serious theological and ethical concerns for Muslims and should push them to reflect on the type of society they wish to create and sustain in America. Is the abortion movement today in line with the moral vision envisioned for society by God and His Prophet (blessings upon him)? Clearly not. But while the seriousness of this crisis cannot be understated, a core question, at least in the context of this debate, is often missed: if it is misplaced and dangerous to forward the most lenient opinion in this context, in what way does the strictest possible position on abortion where exemptions are not even extended to victims of rape and incest ameliorate the current situation? Or to put it differently, how do these social and ideological problems make the strictest possible opinion on abortion the most appropriate one to adopt for the individual and society?

The answer to this question is not usually satisfactorily provided. Generally, such a view returns to a genuine moral belief one holds regarding a fetus being an inviolable living person. This moral belief may be grounded in a preferred reading of revelation, simple adherence to a specific legal school, a reaction to a perceived ideological battle framed in the language of pro-life vs. pro-choice, personal inclinations, or, as is usually the case, some combination of these factors. But the no-exception view is at least initially a personal view one holds, which is then forwarded as a broad religious and political solution. One may wonder why this is an issue. After all, why shouldn’t a person forward what he or she personally believes to be the Islamic ruling on an issue?

Certainly, this is expected especially when it concerns human life, but as stated earlier, it is problematic when that personal view, which it should be noted in this case lacks a decisive legal/moral character from a religious perspective, moves into the realm of fatwā and public advocacy without taking into account the many considerations required to make an informed decision in these areas. This is in addition to the fact that those who hold this view feel perfectly within their rights to tell others to set aside their personal moral views permitting abortions precisely in view to a broader context.

Here, it is worth sharing the response given by Shaykh Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī when he was asked about abortions for Bosnian Muslim women who were raped during war. After mentioning that his basic view is that abortions are impermissible “from the moment of conception” and “this is what we give preference to”, he states:

However, in cases of need, there is no harm in taking one of the two alternative views (i.e. permissibility before 40 or 120 days), and whenever the excuse is more severe, the dispensation will be more established and manifest, and whenever it is before the first 40 days, it is closer to dispensation.

We know that there are jurists who are very strict on this matter and do not permit abortion even a day after conception… but what is most preferable is a middle path between those who are expansive in granting permission and those who are excessively strict in prohibition.[53]

This is, of course, how knowledge and fiqh operate. They do not merely float around in the world of the abstract but address a complex world of real people, which in the context of fatwā, irshād, and politics often requires setting aside individual feelings and personal adherences to particular legal opinions: “Know that this ikhtilāf [between scholars] may be a reason to provide facilitation and ease, which is one of the higher aims of the shariah affirmed by the unequivocal text of the Qur’an and sunna.”[54]

Too often, many of those who vociferously promote the strictest view on abortion address the issue on the level of the abstract and then transfer it to the practical realm with little further thought. Take, for example, the argument that Muslims should oppose the legalization of abortion because a majority of abortions are due to economic anxiety or a feeling of unreadiness, which in turn return to the increasingly materialistic outlook of society and crumbling family structures.

This materialistic outlook and erosion of the family must be remedied. However, no justification is ever furnished as to why a no-exception abortion stance is the best method to address this social problem, and there is almost no focus on the individual. It never crosses the mind of the proponents of this view that it is the very fact that society is materialistic to its core and the family lay in ruins that causes economic anxiety and feelings of unreadiness to be felt much more palpably and intensely by young, unmarried, pregnant women.

Web MD

By largely confining their analysis and presentation of the issue to ‘materialism’, ‘decay of family’, ‘feminism’, etc., proponents of the restrictive view (inadvertently) divert attention away from the lived realities of people. This leads to neglecting the more concrete conditions and circumstances people are subject to, such as poverty, unemployment, drug abuse, poor health, psychological issues, sexual abuse, incarceration, social inequality and stratification, and the varying abilities of people to cope with life pressures and struggles. This focus away from the individual produces an unsympathetic, even antagonistic attitude, where the solution favoured is uncompromising and rigid. The ethical is erroneously conflated with strictness even though it might entail leniency in recognition of individual and social conditions.

To take one example where these broader considerations come into play, take the issue of pregnancy resulting from rape. Though statistics regarding rape are inconsistent because the crime is so underreported, it is safe to say that hundreds of thousands of women are victims of rape every year with tens of thousands of these rapes resulting in pregnancy (approximately five percent).[55] A significantly high number of rape victims are under eighteen with many actually being under the age of twelve.[56] Victims of rape spend many weeks simply recovering from physical injuries and managing mental health symptoms, which can remain with them for years. Beyond the physical and psychological symptoms common after rape, if a rape victim decides to carry her child to term, she is forced to go through a lengthy and exhausting process to prosecute her rapist in a criminal court and contest custody in a family or dependency court.

The political and legislative context makes matters even more difficult. Not every state has legislation in place allowing for parental rights to be terminated for a rapist. Most states that do have such legislation in place require a criminal conviction of rape beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard of evidence possible, with several also requiring a civil court conviction by clear and convincing evidence that conception resulted from rape.

Some states require the rape to be of the first-degree, which is varyingly defined.[57] Generally, the chances of obtaining a conviction of first-degree rape are slim. Not only do rape crimes go unreported in a majority of cases,[58] there are numerous hurdles in the criminal justice system that disadvantage rape victims at every stage of the process, such as ‘rape myths’ that influence police, investigative officers, jurors, and judges.[59]

In most cases, a rapist will plead guilty to lesser crimes in order to avoid prolonged jail time, which would potentially allow him to gain parental rights in states requiring first or second-degree rape convictions for such rights to be terminated.[60] In view of this, one can state that the suggestion by some Muslims that abortion should not be permitted even in such contexts because a woman can simply put her child up for adoption is seriously misinformed and potentially harmful.[61] Is the correct solution in this context to support the most restrictive view on abortion?

Conclusion: Refining our Conceptualization & The Bigger Picture

American Muslims must go beyond simplistic and emotionally-charged approaches to the abortion question. This issue, like many others, cannot be properly addressed through a narrowly defined law, politics, or clash of ideologies narrative, especially at the level of individual fatwā, communal irshād, or political activism, advocacy, and legislation.

Nor can the wider community be shown direction on this issue, or have a course charted for them, merely on the basis of narrowly-informed personal opinions and proclivities neatly presented in the classical opinions of our choosing. Our approach must address the issue through real fiqh, namely deep understanding, where the question of abortion is tackled with an academic rigor that is cognizant of lived realities and is grounded in the ethics and guidance of revelation.

Today in America, a crisis we face is of an activism not based in, or guided by, real scholarship, and a scholarship that is wanting, uninspiring, and disconnected from those it seeks to guide. The first step scholars must take on this issue is to gain a proper and thorough conceptualization of the issue. No sound and effective conclusion can arise without such a conceptualization. This is true for any issue we find ourselves dealing with.

On the level of addressing the broader community, this is not an issue to be decided by an individual but a collectivity of minds coming together to exchange ideas and opinions. The laity should understand that American Muslims will not reach an agreement on this matter, and nor should we demand that they do. People will continue to forward different opinions and solutions. The progression of time will likely result in a plurality of acceptable views emerging within our context. This should not be met with confusion.

Muslims once lived in an age of ambiguity where opinions were confidently held but differences embraced. Today, we live in an age of anxiety, people with confused identities, threatened by modernity and various ideologies, so much so that “the only form of Islam [we] can regard as legitimate is a totalitarian, monolithic one” as Shaykh Abdal Hakim once remarked. Let us avoid this, allow for different perspectives, but demand higher standards from those who seek to guide us and speak on our behalf especially when the matter veers into a space that impacts people and communities in a very real way.

Finally, and most importantly, Muslims must break out of the mindset that social problems can simply be legislated away or solved through polemical battles waged on the internet against pernicious ideologies. The political and social are intimately intertwined, but it is all too common to see many Muslims neglecting the latter while imagining that the activities they are engaged in to address the political are actually meaningful and impactful. In fact, it is often detached from the real world, a mouthing of clichés and idle moralizing on social media platforms that elicits rage and fails to yield actual solutions on the ground. If television altered the meaning of being informed as Neil Postmann asserted, social media has undoubtedly taken things a step further by altering the meaning of ‘taking action’.

The erosion of family, the decay of morality, the rise of materialistic outlooks, the loss of higher purpose and meaning, and the devaluing of life must be addressed more directly through education, the creation of a real community, the nurturing and training of leaders who embody knowledge and wisdom, and the erection of structures that support peoples’ faith and anchor them in times of crisis. It should not be forgotten that these non-legal institutions play an important role in shaping behaviours and promoting social mores.

Muslims should learn from the many conservative Christian activists who, contrary to popular stereotypes, demonstrate an acute awareness of the struggles and anguish that many women contemplating abortion experience. As the prominent pro-life activist Frederica Mathewes-Green states:

This issue gets presented as if it’s a tug of war between the woman and the baby. We see them as mortal enemies, locked in a fight to the death. But that’s a strange idea, isn’t it? It must be the first time in history when mothers and their own children have been assumed to be at war. We’re supposed to picture the child attacking her, trying to destroy her hopes and plans, and picture the woman grateful for the abortion, since it rescued her from the clutches of her child.

If you were in charge of a nature preserve and you noticed that the pregnant female mammals were trying to miscarry their pregnancies, eating poisonous plants or injuring themselves, what would you do? Would you think of it as a battle between the pregnant female and her unborn and find ways to help those pregnant animals miscarry? No, of course not. You would immediately think, “Something must be really wrong in this environment.” Something is creating intolerable stress, so much so that animals would rather destroy their own offspring than bring them into the world. You would strive to identify and correct whatever factors were causing this stress in the animals.[62]

It is this realization, which arises from a perspective that looks beyond abortion as simply an ideological battle between ‘the feminist’ or ‘the liberal’, that generates a sense of empathy within many conservative Christian activists who are then motivated to assist women in concrete ways.

Take the example of Embrace Grace, a Texas-based non-profit organization, which describes its purpose as “providing emotional, practical and spiritual support for single, young women and their families who find themselves in an unintended pregnancy” and to “empower churches across the nation to be a safe and non-judging place for the girls to run to when they find out they are pregnant, instead of the last place they are welcomed because of shame and guilt.” Christians have set up hundreds of pregnancy care centers across the United States, which, despite issues of concern, provide resources and services to pregnant women. Various churches have set up support groups for single mothers and mothers-to-be, while the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) has set out to confront systemic injustices in society that lead women to seek out abortions, such as poverty.[63]

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad said reaching the golden mean requires that we think and make sacrifices. It is time for leaders, thinkers, and scholars in our community to begin thinking more deeply and contemplatively about the issue of abortion in its various contexts, and it is time for our community to sacrifice their time, wealth, and energies in providing concrete solutions and remedies that demonstrate a true concern for both the unborn and the women who carry them.

God alone is our sufficiency.

[1] References to Muslims in this article should be primarily understood as referring to people in positions of leadership and influence. In this article, I discuss some of the technical aspects surrounding the legal debate over abortion, but my intent is to simply provide a brief overview of this aspect of the debate in order for a general audience to appreciate some of the complexities of the topic.

[2] Though the term fetus technically refers to the unborn after 8 weeks of gestation, many use it to refer to the unborn throughout the period of pregnancy. I will be using the latter convention for the sake of simplicity.

[3] al-Ḥasan ibn Manṣūr al-Farghānī, Fatāwā Qāḍīkhān, on the margins of Fatāwā Hindiyya (Bulāq: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Amīriyya, 1310 A.H.), 3:410.

[4] Ibn Māza himself framed the ruling in terms of ensoulment. He stated that jurists differed on the permissibility of abortion pre-ensoulment with some permitting it. He then cited the text of Fatāwā Ahl al-Samarqand, which only speaks of discernibility. Qāḍīkhān mentioned how the discernibility of physical features and limbs was “determined” by some as occurring at 120 days. Kamāl ibn al-Humām and others correctly pointed out that observation proves otherwise but proceed to state that the connection made between discernibility and ensoulment shows that scholars intended the latter when expressing the former. Ibn ʿĀbidīn, however, questioned this. I agree for several reasons: firstly, many jurists make no reference to 120 days or ensoulment when presenting this ruling; secondly, discernibility and ensoulment are clearly different stages during the pregnancy, a fact that was known to classical scholars who sometimes applied different terms to these two stages, such as taṣwīr/ṣūra and takhlīq/khalq; and, thirdly, most Ḥanafī rulings premised on determining personhood rely on the discernibility criterion. Given this, there are two possible views in the Ḥanafī school regarding the period before which abortion is permissible: before some of the physical features of the fetus become discernible or prior to ensoulment at 120 days. Additionally, there was discussion in the Ḥanafī school on the features that were to be given consideration when assessing whether a fetus was a ‘person’. These discussions are highly significant in modern debates for if the criterion for personhood is discerning a particular physical form on the basis of observation, this potentially broadens the scope for modern Ḥanafī understandings of the concept of personhood and how/when it is established. I hope to address these issues in a separate paper. See Maḥmūd ibn Aḥmad ibn Māza, al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī fī al-fiqh al-Nuʿmānī, ed. Nuʿaym Ashraf Nūr Aḥmad (Karachi: Idārat al-Qur’ān wa’l-ʿUlūm al-Islāmiyya, 2004), 8:83-84; al-Farghānī, Fatāwā Qāḍīkhān, 3:410; Muḥammad Amīn ibn ʿĀbidīn, Radd al-Muḥtār (Būlāq: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Kubrā al-Amīriyya, 1323 A.H.), 1:201.

[5] Ibn Māza, al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī, 8:83-84. It is worth noting that al-Qummī did not say fetus is a life at conception but that it has begun a process that concludes with life.

[6] Ḥussām al-Dīn ʿUmar ibn Māza, al-Fatāwā al-Kubrā (Istanbul: Rāghib Bāshā #619), ff. 96b.

[7] Raḍī al-Dīn al-Sarakhsī, al-Wajīz (Istanbul: Koprulu #684), ff. 116a.

[8] Jamāl al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad, al-Ḥāwī al-Qudsī, ed. Ṣāliḥ al-ʿAlī (Lebanon: Dār al-Nawādir, 2011), 2:326.

[9] Zayn al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Abī Bakr al-Rāzī, Tuḥfat al-Mulūk, ed. Ṣalāḥ Abū al-Ḥajj (Amman: Dār al-Fārūq, 2006), 290.

[10] ʿAbd Allāh ibn Maḥmūd al-Mawṣilī, al-Ikthiyār, ed. Shuʿayb Arna’ūṭ (Damascus: Dār al-Risāla 2009), 4:153.

[11] ʿUthmān ibn ʿAlī al-Zaylaʿī, Tabyīn al-Ḥaqā’iq Sharḥ Kanz al-Daqā’iq (Multan: Maktaba Imdādiyya, n.d.), 2:166.

[12] Amīr Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Kākī, Miʿrāj al-Dirāya (Istanbul: Koprulu #619), ff. 395b.

[13] Jalāl al-Dīn ibn Shams al-Dīn al-Khawārizmī, al-Kifāya Sharḥ al-Hidāya, on the margins of Fatḥ al-Qadīr (Cairo: Maṭbaʻat al-Maymaniyya, 1901; reprint Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, n.d.), 3:373.

[14] Kamāl ibn al-Humām, Fatḥ al-Qadīr (Cairo: Maṭbaʻat al-Maymaniyya, 1901; reprint Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, n.d.), 3:372-73.

[15] Muḥyī al-Dīn ibn Ilyās Jawīzāda, al-Īthār li-Ḥall al-Mukhtār, ed. Ilyās Qablān (Istanbul: Maktabat al-Irshād, 2016), 4:98.

[16] Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥaṣkafī, al-Durr al-Mukhtār (Lebanon: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 2002) 197.

[17] I am usually disinclined to list names of jurists in this manner when relating who held a specific legal opinion. One reason for this is that it creates the mistaken illusion that every one of these jurists came to this conclusion on the basis of their individual ijtihād when it may in fact simply be an exercise in taqlīd. Thus, one finds that most of these authors merely relate verbatim those who preceded them without any additional comments. However, it still indicates that these jurists accepted the ruling in question as the position of the school without qualms.

[18] When does a fetus qualify as a ‘person’ or a ‘human’? What are the necessary and sufficient features for personhood? Does personhood correspond to the beginning of life? If not, when does life begin? How is this connected to ensoulment? When does ensoulment occur? When does a fetus have moral standing? What is the nature of this moral standing over the course of a pregnancy? These are central questions in classical and modern debates on abortion. Sometimes, one finds that ‘person’, ‘human’, ‘life’, and related terms, are not properly defined, which is a problem given that conclusions regarding abortion are often premised on their proper conceptualization. Further, when attempts at proper definition are undertaken, people naturally come to different conclusions. For example, some modern pro-life philosophers argue that ‘persons’ are individuals of a rational nature and a fetus has no capacity for sentience, at least not until mid-gestation. Conception, therefore, cannot mark the beginning of a person. Yet even here, some scholars note that the fetus is a potential person. Therefore, it has some moral value and standing, but others counter with a “person-affecting restriction” that argues that merely potential people possess no moral claims. Some people work under material assumptions regarding the nature of the mind and opine that a moral person must be a ‘self’ and a necessary condition for something to be a self is some form of electrical brain activity. The bioethicist, Baruch Brody (d. 2018), also relied on this criterion of brain waves in his conception of personhood. Jane English presents a range of features or ‘factors’ that she views as being found in typical conceptions of a person: biological, psychological, rationality, social, and legal. There are religious conservative thinkers who define being human on the basis of genetics. John T. Noonan stated, “The positive argument for conception as the decisive moment of humanization is that at conception the new being receives the genetic code. It is this genetic information which determines his characteristics, which is the biological carrier of the possibility of human wisdom, which makes him a self-evolving being. A being with a human genetic code is man.” Many religious conservatives also maintain that there is no moment during pregnancy that can be identified as conferring moral significance on the unborn, i.e. it possesses moral standing before birth and after. Thus, brain waves, sentience, quickening, viability, physical human form, etc., are given no consideration as points at which moral standing is affirmed for the fetus and prior to which it is denied. For important early works on this topic see John T. Noonan, The Morality of Abortion: Legal and Historical Perspectives (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970); Jane English, “Abortion and the Concept of a Person,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 5, no. 2 (1975): 233-43; Baruch Brody, Abortion and the Sanctity of Life (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1975); Stephen Buckle, “Arguing From Potential,” Bioethics 2, no. 3 (1988): 226–253; Mary Anne Warren, Moral Status: Obligations to Persons and Other Living Things (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000); Michael Tooley, Abortion and Infanticide (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983); Richard Warner, “Abortion: The Ontological and Moral Status of the Unborn,” Social Theory and Practice 3 (1974). The literature on this is vast.

Classical jurists of Islam were guided fundamentally by revelation in their answers to these questions, but they still had substantial disagreements. Some identified a fetus as a person from the moment of conception, others as potentially so, yet others as a person only when its physical features became discernible, while some seemingly assigned no status to it at any fetal stage prior to ensoulment. When it came to ensoulment, the majority said this occurred at 120 days, while others said 40 days. Some equated ensoulment with personhood, while others distinguished between them. There were other conceptual frames utilized in discussions concerning the fetus as well, such as dhimma and ḥuqūq, being ‘animate’ or ‘inanimate’, a constituent part (juz’) of the mother or a separate self (nafs), and so forth. This occasioned a degree of ambiguity regarding the moral standing of the fetus at various stages of pregnancy. For example, Imām al-Ghazālī prohibited abortion at all stages of pregnancy but stated that the sin of doing so is less severe in earlier stages than later ones. Some jurists deemed it permissible to undergo an abortion due to a minor excuse in the first 40 days, requiring a more serious excuse from that point up until 120 days, and impermissible in all but the direst of situations following ensoulment. The fetus, therefore, seems to have a diminished moral standing at the beginning of the pregnancy and full moral standing post-ensoulment even in the eyes of jurists who affirmed personhood from conception. This is also reflected in rulings concerning financial compensation (ghurra) and expiation (kaffāra) owed by someone who causes a woman to miscarry. Meanwhile, many Ḥanafīs seemed to have assigned no moral status to the fetus before it had a discernible human form. The moral standing of the fetus was also influenced by the manner of conception with some jurists suggesting that a fetus conceived out of wedlock was not similar to a fetus that was conceived through a religiously sanctioned relationship. Besides revelation, observation played an important role in these determinations, as did the specific legal traditions jurists operated within. Today, science and embryology have guided the conclusions of many scholars, which has raised questions regarding the epistemological and interpretive value of the former. There is arguably a need to go beyond limited legal conceptions of personhood and life and engage in deeper theological and philosophical discussions on this matter.

[19] This ruling was consistent with several others in the school regarding whether a miscarried fetus is named, shrouded, and washed, whether a miscarriage concludes the waiting-period of a pregnant woman, and even whether a fetus is resurrected in the next-life. These rulings, among others, returned to whether the miscarried or stillborn fetus was actually considered a child/person, which in turn related to the formation and discernibility of its physical features. I believe this strengthens the view that discernibility of physical features was the main criterion for personhood in the Ḥanafī school. For some of these rulings see Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Shaybānī, al-Aṣl, ed. Mehmet Boynūkālin (Beirut: Dār Ibn Ḥazm, 2012), 1:296, 4:415, 481, 5:144. This interconnectedness of legal doctrine, or its organic unity, is expressed in a famous aphorism, “The law is a seamless web.” These discussions are also present in the other three legal schools.

[20] Abū Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Wahhāb ibn Wahbān, ʿIqd al-Qalā’id wa-Qayd al-Sharā’id, ed. ʿAbd al-Jalīl al-ʿAṭā (Damascus: Maktabat al-Fajr, 2000), 195.

[21] Zayn al-Dīn ibn Nujaym, al-Baḥr al-Rā’iq (Cairo: al-Maṭbaʿa al-ʿIlmiyya, 1893; reprint by H.M. Saeed, n.d.), 3:215.

[22] Muḥammad Amīn ibn ʿĀbidīn, Radd al-Muḥtār (Būlāq: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Kubrā al-Amīriyya, 1323 A.H.), 2:388-89.

[23] The Hidāya mentions that a child conceived out of wedlock is still muḥtaram and so cannot be aborted. Imām ʿAbd al-Ḥayy al-Lakhnawī mentions that this only applies to a fetus that has reached the stage of post-discernibility. He then goes onto state that the fatwā position in his time is that it would be permissible pre-discernibility and post-discernibility. See Burhān al-Dīn al-Marghinānī, al-Hidāya Sharḥ Bidāyat al-Mubtadī maʿa Sharḥ al-ʿAllāma ʿAbd al-Ḥayy al-Lakhnawī, ed. Naʿīm Ashraf Nūr Aḥmad (Karachi: Idārat al-Qur’ān wa’l-ʿUlūm al-Islāmiyya, 1417 A.H.), 3:25.

[24] Muṣṭafā Zarqā, Fatāwā (Damascus: Dār al-Qalam, 2010), 285.

[25] Maḥmūd Ḥasan Gangohī, Fatāwā Maḥmūdiyya (Karachi: Idārat al-Fārūq, 2009), 18:321.

[26] Sayyid Muḥammad Salmān Manṣurpūrī, Kitāb al-Nawāzil (Muradabad: al-Markaz al-ʿIlmī lil-Nashr wa’l-Taḥqīq, 2016), 16:248-81.

[27] Muftī Raḍā’ al-Ḥaqq, Fatāwā Dār al-ʿUlūm Zakariyya (Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, 2015), 6:756.

[28] Ibid., 6:755.

[29] Ibid., 6:763.

[30] Zubayr Aḥmad Qāsmī, “Khāndānī Manṣūbabandī,” in Jadīd Fiqhī Mabāḥith (Karachi: Idārat al-Qur’ān, 2009), 1:332.

[31] Ibid., 1:331-32.

[32] Khālid Sayf Allāh Raḥmānī, Kitāb al-Fatāwā (Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, 2008), 6:218-226

[33] The relied-upon position in the Mālikī school prohibits abortions almost entirely even if done prior to ensoulment, which Mālikī jurists opine as occurring at 40 days.


[35] Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī, Fatāwa al-Muʿaṣara (Cairo: Dār al-Qalam, 2005), 2:541-50.

[36] ʿAbd Allāh ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā wa-Fiqh al-Aqaliyyāt (UAE: Masār lil-Tibāʿa wa’l-Nashr, 2018), 577-78.

[37] Wahba al-Zuhaylī, al-Fiqh al-Islāmī wa-Adillatuhu (Damascus: Dār al-Fikr, 1985), 3:557.

[38] The delineation and explanation I have presented here should not be seen as a comprehensive exposition of the concepts being discussed. Rather, it should be seen as a basic explanatory framework to understand the problem I wish to highlight in the next section. I have intentionally left out many details surrounding fatwā, siyāsa, taqlīd, etc., for the sake of the average reader.

[39] Muḥammad Kamāl al-Dīn al-Rāshidī, al-Miṣbāḥ fī Rasm al-Muftī wa-Manāhij al-Iftā’ (Deoband: Ittiḥād Book Depot, n.d.), 61-62 in the Takmila; Ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā, 28-29, 230.

[40] al-Rāshidī, al-Miṣbāḥ, 28.

[41] ʿ Abd al-Malik ibn Yūsuf al-Juwaynī, Kitāb al-Irshād ilā Qawāṭiʿ al-Adilla fī Uṣūl al-Iʿtiqād, ed. Aḥmad ʿAbd al-Raḥīm (Cairo: Maktabat al-Thaqāfa al-Dīniyya, 2009), 210-11. This is admittedly a simplification of a very complex debate on the role of reason, its meaning and limitations, its relationship to revelation, deontological vs teleological theories of Islamic normative ethics, and more. These were issues of fundamental debate between the great theological schools, namely the Ashʿarīs, Māturīdis, and the Muʿtazila.

[42] Ibrāhīm ibn Ḥusayn Bīrīzāda, ʿUmdat Dhawī al-Baṣā’ir li-Ḥall Muhimmāt al-Ashbāh wa’l-Naẓā’ir, ed. Ilyās Qablān & Ṣafwat Kawsa (Istanbul: Maktabat al-Rushd, 2016), 2:415.

[43] This is also seen in the tradition of rukhas, or dispensations, and ḥiyal, or legal stratagems/loopholes.

[44] From his Paradigms of Leadership (6) lecture series.

[45] Ibrāhīm ibn Mūsā al-Shāṭibī, al-Muwāfaqāt, ed. Mashhūr Ḥasan (Cairo: Dār Ibn ʿ Affān, 1997), 1:520.

[46] For reference to this see Ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā, 273-75.

[47] One might state that these people are simply engaging in a form of taqlid. This is fair, but there is still a level of diligence and rigor expected from anyone who wishes to publicly opine on a matter of such nature.


[49] Take the following statements made by Judith Thomson in her well-known defence of abortion, which continues to be loudly echoed by the pro-choice movement: “My own view is that if a human being has any just, prior claim to anything at all, he has a just, prior claim to his own body” and “No doubt the mother has a right to decide what shall happen in and to her body.” The violinist analogy she forwards, among others, expresses this point quite clearly. See Judith Jarvis Thomson, “A Defense of Abortion,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 1, no. 1 (1971): 48, 54.

[50] The sociologist Kristen Luker noted over three decades ago that pro-life and pro-choice activists were mainly divided due to their differing views on the meaning of sexuality, motherhood, and the role of women. See Kristin Luker, Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood. Berkeley (California: University of California Press, 1984), especially Ch 7.

[51] Compassion in Dying v. Washington, 850 F. Supp. 1454 (WD Wash. 1994). This was unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court in 1997.

[52] The phrase ‘sanctity-of-life’ has featured prominently in theological, political, and biomedical ethical discussions related to abortion and end-of-life questions. Some members of congress, for example, have tried repeatedly to introduce a ‘Sanctity-of-Life Act’ to protect the unborn. However, the origins, meaning, and application of the phrase remain unclear and heavily debated. For a basic overview see the edited volume Sanctity of Life and Human Dignity (Boston: Springer Dordrecht, 1996).

[53] al-Qaraḍāwī, Fatāwa al-Muʿaṣara, 2:609-13.

[54] Ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā, 273.

[55] The Federal House Bill 1257 that passed in 2015 as the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act cites between 25,000 and 32,000 pregnancies from rape annually but this is almost certainly an underestimate.

[56] For details on these and other related statistics see

[57] For detailed information regarding state statutes and provisions on the termination of pregnancy in contexts of children born as a result of sexual assault see

[58] For statistics on this see the Department of Justice Criminal Victimization analysis (revised, 2018) at There are several reasons why women choose not to report such crimes, which include fear of retaliation, shame and guilt, and a belief that police will not be able to help them.

[59] For a brief discussion on existing research around rape myths see Olivia Smith & Tina Skinner, “How Rape Myths Are Used and Challenged in Rape and Sexual Assault Trials,” Social & Legal Studies 26, no. 4 (2017): 442-45.

[60] Rachael Kessler, “Due Process and Legislation Designed to Restrict the Rights of Rapist Fathers,” Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy, no. 10, vol 1 (2015): 199-229.

[61] There is a sensitive discussion surrounding the definition of rape in Islamic law specifically as it relates to intimate married partners. I have ignored this issue because it would distract from the main purpose of this article.


[63] There have been initiatives in the Muslim community directed at addressing these pressing issues, such as the work of Dr. Aasim Padela of the University of Chicago and his Initiative on Islam and Medicine, Dr. Rafaqat Rashid and the work of al-Balagh Academy, Dr. Mansur Ali of Cardiff University and his research on bioethics, and several others. This is not to mention the many individuals who have tried to create practical spaces to assist people who may find themselves in difficult life circumstances. While there is much more to do, the efforts of these people should not go unnoticed.

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