Archive for the ‘Atheism’ Category

Moral atheists?

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

As-Salaam-Alaikum,
I would like to know, what is the Islamic response to those people (atheist, agnostics, etc.) who say that you can be moral without religion?

They say this because since they don’t believe in God or any religion for that matter that that you can be a good moral person without God or religion. In a way I kind of understand where they are coming from but then I kind of feel like something is wrong with their statements.

What is the Islamic response to people who say things like this?

Thanks!

Morality cannot be forced on people but it can be enforced by law. That is, a society can arrange itself such that certain values it considers paramount are upheld and others it considers harmful are stopped by force of law. But that is a different question altogether from people committing themselves willingly to certain moral values. We see all parents raising their children to certain moral values they believe in, but the children may not observe them when they grow up. And we also see the flip side: parents neglecting moral teaching of their children, yet the children acquire moral attitudes when they grow up!

Islam teaches us that non-Muslims can be moral and furthermore can do good. The Quran says, “And verily, among the people of the Book are those whom if you entrust with a Qintaar (a heap of money), he would deliver it to you” (3:75). God also tells us in the Quran that “whatever good they (non-Muslims) do, they will not be denied it” (3:115).

That is why, when non-Muslims do good to us, we are required to reciprocate with good. Asmaa’ bint Abi-Bakr had migrated to Medina, but her mother, Qateela bint `Abdil-`Uzza, remained in Mecca and remained polytheist. Then one day, Qateela traveled to Medina to see her daughter and brought her a gift. Asmaa’, however, wary that she must sever her relationships with polytheists, refused to let her in the house and would not accept her gift! The Prophet (PBUH) heard of this and told Asmaa’, “Accept her gift and be good to your mother.” Narrated by Abdullah ibn Az-Zubayr (Asmaa’s son) and reported by Al-Haythami and has been rated well by Ibn Hubbaan.

So, if religion is not a pre-requisite to morality, then why is religion necessary? Religion’s purpose is not only to establish a moral code, but also to establish a bond between man and God, a bond man feels very strongly. A bond that atheists cannot explain away. That affinity is ingrained in all of us since before we were born. God says in the holy Quran, “And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam – from their backbones – their offspring and had them testify of themselves, [saying to them], ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said, ‘But yes. We have testified.’ [This] – lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, ‘We were of this unaware.'” (3:172)

Besides, moral values vary with people. What is immoral to some may not be to others. And what is moral to some may not be to others. God has given us in the Quran the true moral code to live by. And He had His Prophet (PBUH) teach it to us in the authentic Sunna.

Does analytical thinking reduce religious belief?

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

VANCOUVER — A University of British Columbia study suggests analytical thinking can be harmful to religious faith. The psychology report, published Thursday in the prestigious journal Science, reveals that religious belief drops after subjects perform analytical tasks or are exposed to Auguste Rodin’s sculpture, The Thinker.

However, UBC social psychologists Will Gervais and Ara Norenzayan insist they are not debunking religion or promoting atheism. Instead, they are trying to figure out the psychological origins of spirituality.

Source: UBC study | Holy Post | National Post.

Interesting study, but notice how it does not name the religions espoused by the participants? It means that they bundled all religions together versus atheism. That is an assumption on their part whose validity they first had to prove. Was a wide spectrum of religions represented in the survey takers? If not, the results would be biased.

Those snags aside, it is particularly profound to observe that the Quran keeps prodding its readers to think, reflect, examine, analyze, reason and adopt sound logic in conjunction with having faith and consulting ones heart, conscience, guts and feelings. That is the consistent message of Islam: Balance. Things in life are not “either or”, but rather “both and.” The challenge before each of us in life is how to correctly balance the seemingly opposite demands of aspects of our lives all of which we need. A Muslim finds enormous help on this tough task through the guidance of the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Sunna. In Islam, there is no conflict between science and faith, between scripture and history, between the individual and society, or between the spiritual and the material. They can all coexist and must. So can and must the heart and the mind just like the left brain and the right brain coexist and cooperate!

Blind faith is as bad as atheism. The former cancels the mind. The latter cancels the heart.

A dilemma of faith?

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Have you ever read Narcissus and Gouldmond by Hesse?
I think we are focusing too much on the interpretation of the scholar. I do not see a balance in the wise man. A forum I follow is stuck on scholars and fatawas. I see a lack of independent thought. That scares me. In simple words: we choose to be Believers. We have to be true to ourselves as to why we choose to be Believers. I understand that scholars help us to arrive at an understanding.

In essence faith is the most intellectual pursuit we have and at the same time faith is the most anti-intellectual endeavor we face. You need to write on this one.

An interesting characterization of faith as a dilemma. The way most people view faith, it is a dilemma. The way Islam defines it, it is far from it.

Most people, when they think of faith, they think of blind trust. They trust a book, a preacher, a parent, a peer. Most of them do not pause to ask themselves the simple question, “Do I know that this is true?” Many of them are too scared to ask that question, or too timid.

They take one side of the dilemma as you described it: the anti-intellectual side. Atheists, on the other hand, take the other side. They will tell you that there is no rational reason to believe in God and that’s why they don’t.

Islam, as usual, solves the dilemma and comes in the middle of these two extremes. In Islam, faith is not blind; it’s educated! By that I mean that you first are asked to read the Quran and think deeply about what you read. Does it ring true to both your heart and your mind? The Quran keeps asking its reader, “Little that you remember!” (27:62), “If only you would remember!” (56:62), “Should you not then remember?” (32:4), “So that perhaps they would remember” (39:27)

Remember what? Remember the truth about God which you were born with. Remember the covenant with God that you agreed to before you were born. When you do, your faith is then a confirmation of what you already know to be the truth. Nothing blind about that.

It’s not the people who make you faithful, it’s your innate knowledge.

What to tell a pantheist?

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

My older brother who’s 18 years old just left Islam. Now he’s a pantheist. Would you please help me to give a beautiful explanation, so he’ll think of Islam again? What should I say to him? What would YOU say to him if you were my parent? I don’t understand his philosophy very well, except that he believes in impersonal god and everything occurs in the universe has always been a mere mechanical process (not God’s will). He’s trying to convert me, my sisters, and my mother, a few days ago older sister’s starting to believe his conversion was making sense.

Sorry to hear that. I know you must be feeling terrible.

God is not a person, but He is not impersonal either! These terms apply to creatures only. He is above and beyond everything that we can imagine or conceive of. Everything in the universe did develop in a mechanical way, but it was God who created the mechanical and physical laws, right? God says in the holy Quran,

“[Pharaoh asking Moses and Aaron] saying, “Who then is your Lord, O Moses?” He said, “My Lord is He who gave everything its form and then guided [it]” (20:49-50)

The main question that no atheist has been able to answer is: who created the laws that operate everything? They say they don’t know how any law evolved and may never know. God tells us in the Quran that it is He and no one else who created all, including the laws by which all operate.

Why do these laws operate so orderly and so consistently? Has your brother ever been wounded? Did he ever reflect on how the wound heals? What tells scar tissue to form, just above new skin cells that are too ripe still to be exposed to air?! How does scar tissue know that new skin cells are ready and thus it drops off having served its purpose?! Isn’t this a sign of God, the Healer?

Atheists may think that they are intellectuals, but they really are irrational. Their motivation, IMHO, is one or more of three things: (a) Resentment of God for His Power over them, (b) resentment of God for allowing imperfections in this world, or (c) evasion of religious obligations. All three reasons are ill conceived. God’s power over us is a good thing, because we tend to abuse our powers while God never does, so He is the Balance in the universe. Imperfections in this world is the result of the exercise of the free will. Without the free will, no atheist would have been able to reject God! Finally, religious obligations are for our own benefit. They are our connection to God and the food for our souls.

Remain a good brother to your brother, and pray for him, but educate yourself and him. I suspect that the main reason he veered from Islam is that he knew little or knew wrong about Islam. Yes, many Muslims are ignorant about their religion, I’m sad to say.

He went back to atheism

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

A 17-year old atheist young man chronicled his experience with conversion to Islam briefly as follows,

Day 1: I haven’t looked into the basic pillars of Islam, but I assume I will find out by reading the Qu’ran? I have begun, and I am currently reading the second Sura (Chapter). I am finding it hard to understand but no doubt I will understand in time.
Day 2: I have changed. I have accepted Islam as my religion and Allah as my God. I have much to learn, but I will be a good Muslim, in time.
Thank you to those who gave me advice and kindness.
Alhamdulillah (Praise to God) for changing me in such a profound way.
Day 3: Thank you all who welcomed me with kind words. I now feel that I have opened my mind and I have found purpose. I know it seems a fast reversion to Islam, but truth be told, I have always, deep down felt an attraction to it in some way.
Day 4: I went to a mosque today and had an awesome experience there. Everybody was kind and helpful.
I do, however, have many questions and need a mentor.
Day 30: I attended the mosque and such, but, after a while, I realized that I never truly believed in this religion. I am an atheist, and I always was, because when I took shahadah (testimony of faith) I didn’t do it with belief and sincerity. And now, while I respect and admire this religion, I can not be a Muslim. I do not believe.
However, I wanted to thank everyone here and at the mosque for being so incredibly kind and welcoming. May your lives be filled with faith.

Obviously, you are free to make that decision. However, forgive me for saying, the way you proceeded with your journey was like a homework assignment, rather than a lifelong matter of the utmost import.

You did not ask about the things you do not understand. You hastily decided to convert, without sufficient knowledge and with many questions remaining unanswered. While such a sudden conversion does and has occurred, you did not tell us why you accepted Islam, or how did you understand Chapter 2 which you just the day before could not.

Attraction is not a solid foundation on which to found the most important part of your life. Being so young, I’m not too surprised though, because the youth tend to act on impulse.

My humble comment is that you were looking for a religious experience, a spiritual wow. While that does and has happened to many people, one of them is a well known American Professor of Mathematics and author, Dr. Jeffrey Lang, who was atheist, it is rare. You could have contacted him, read his books, or asked us the questions that bothered you or discussed with us the issues that make you lean toward atheism. There is no guarantee that any of that would have helped persuade you, but you should have tried.

I hope that you consider Islam again in the near future and give your quest a no-holds-barred approach, i.e., ask all the questions and get all doubts out of the way, so that you do not keep fluctuating like this.

Help me answer these anti-religion questions.

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

I’ve been in discussion with an atheist who rejects religion. Can you help me answer some of his questions and accusations? For instance:

  • “Religion is used to control the masses of people,
  • Other religions maybe but not Islam, because God has told His Prophet, peace be upon him, in the Quran,

    “So remind. You are but a reminder. You are not over them a controller. However, he who turns away and disbelieves; God will torment him the biggest torment. Verily, to Us is their return. Then, verily, upon Us is their accounting.” (88:21-26)

    Thus, Islam was meant to remind each of us of God, so that we can lead a balanced life. If anybody abused their authority and imposed Islam on people, it’s their fault, not Islam’s.

  • Religion makes people humble, worship God,
  • Yes. Is that bad? I guess the atheist would rather have a world of arrogant people who worship their desires. He would be their first victim.

  • Religion does not allow people to ask any questions except for priest (Shiekhs/scholars), and the average person’s opinion is not taken in consideration.”
  • As our brother Professor Jeffrey Lang put it in his book, “Even Angels Ask,” Muslims are supposed to ask, study and analyze. It’s called Ijtihaad (Analysis), and it carries a reward even if the answer obtained is wrong! The fact that Ijtihaad has been suspended is the fault of Muslims, not of Islam.

    Islamic history has many events, starting with the life of the Prophet (PBUH), proving that the average person’s opinion was honored. Ignorance of those events is no excuse. Some of those events are the soldier who criticized the Prophet’s command to camp at one location and suggested another and the Prophet (PBUH) agreed and followed him. Another example is the woman who corrected Umar ibn Al-Khattaab, may God have been pleased with him, when he commanded a cap on dowries and showed him evidence from the Quran that there is no limit to a bride’s dowry. The fact that Muslims have discouraged individual opinions and preferred Taqleed (blind following) and a clergy system is their error, not Islam’s.

    Are these scientific inaccuracies in the Quran?

    Monday, September 6th, 2010

    I’ve been debating an atheist on a discussion forum and been telling him about the many scientific miracles of the Quran. So, he came back with what he claimed were scientific inaccuracies in the Quran. Can you help me refute them?

  • By the sun and its brightness (1) And [by] the moon when it follows it (2) And [by] the day when it displays it (3) And [by] the night when it covers it (4) And [by] the sky and He who constructed it (91:1-5).

    The Quran says sunlight is invisible until it hits the atmosphere.

  • Where did he get that? The verses he quotes say that the day makes the sun prominent. Is there any doubt about that? It’s a reminder of His grace that the day makes all the benefits of the sun available, such as light, warmth, sustenance for plants, etc.

  • “Are you the harder to create or the heaven? He built it. (27) He raised( increased) its thickness, then put it into a right good state. (28) And He made dark its night and brought out its light. (27:29).

    This says that the universe is dark.

  • No, it doesn’t. It says He made the night dark and the day bright. A reminder of His grace that makes it possible for us to sleep and rest at night and rise up and be alert so we can work in the day.

  • “Even if We opened out to them a gate from heaven, and they were to continue (all day) ascending therein, (14) They would only say: “Our eyes have been covered: Nay, we have been bewitched by sorcery.” (15:14-15).

    The Quran says the universe is engulfed in darkness.

  • Where did he get that? The verses he quotes continue the theme started four verses earlier (15:10-13) about the disbelievers ridiculing all messengers sent to them. The verses quoted say that such disbelievers would still reject God even if He lets them ascend to heaven to see its wonders. Pretty much what your atheist friend is doing now! God says that they would come up with other explanations for those wonders, such as “Our eyesights have been dimmed, or maybe we’ve been bewitched.” Anything but admit that those signs are God’s wonderful creation.

    Who created God?

    Sunday, April 11th, 2010

    That question is kind of like asking, “What revolves around the moon?” It’s ill-posed. A moon is a celestial being that revolves around a planet; nothing revolves around it by definition. If something revolves around it, then it’s not a moon, it’s a planet (or a star).

    God, by definition, is the Creator of everything and everybody. A god who would be created is not God, but a creature.

    How can she afford a second child?

    Monday, March 16th, 2009

    My daughter is twenty now and has a 6-month old son and she has just found out she is pregnant again. She is very upset; she thinks her life is over. I tried to explain to her that babies were a blessing and it would be rough but it would be ok. She is worried about their money situation and that they cannot really afford another child at this time. I told her not to worry because Allah always provides for children. She said why are there children dying of starvation in the world. I did not know the best way to respond my daughter who is sort of  like an Atheist. Can anyone give me some wise words to say to her?

    Once upon a time a man divorced his wife and left her with a baby son. The wife wondered what will become of her and her son. She practically had nothing but the two of them. Fast forward a few decades. The baby became a prominent scholar whom everybody looked up to. His name was Imaam Maalik ibn Anas, may God have been pleased with him!

    Every child that comes to this world does so by the will of God and for a specific purpose which he or she will fulfill and God takes care of him or her all their lives. Tell your daughter to leave the worry behind and replace it with faith and trust. As long as she is committed to caring for her children, God will open up doors for her.

    Two traps atheists fall into

    Monday, February 16th, 2009

    I honestly believe that Islam is the greatest religion I have ever seen, the proof is undeniable and the miracles of the Quran are there for all to see, but my main two questions are:

    1. How can you be so sure there really is a God, and,
    2. If Allah didn’t want me to do some of the things I do, why make me the way I am? Why make humanity have so many flaws? Why not simply make us perfect servants?

    There have consistently been two traps many atheists have fallen into. One type is resentment of God’s control and the other type is resentment of the ills of this world. Both traps are short sighted and here is why. God’s control, aside from being a fact that nobody can challenge, is the best thing that can happen to the universe! If anybody else had control, the universe would crumble. It’s by God’s grace that you and I can breathe.

    As for the ills of this world; they are the direct or indirect result of wrong choices made by people with their free will. What’s the alternative? No free will? In that case humans would be unnecessary since God already has angels. We have a job to do: establish God’s laws on the earth. God says in the holy Quran that He offered the heavens, the earth and the mountains to keep “the Trust” (Al-Amaana) but they all declined and man volunteered! We are here because we chose to! Now, you may accept this or reject it, but your rejection of it doesn’t change it and doesn’t help your life either. You may not realize it, but your body and your spirit are Muslim. The agony an atheist may feel is the result of the conflict between his conscious mind and his soul. Inner peace can only be achieved when God throws it in our hearts as a reward for doing our assignment. He benefits none from us doing the job; we are the beneficiaries.