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When Stones are worth Gold – Answering Criticism on Islam

by | Oct 24, 2021

When facing criticism, there are three possible reactions: accept it, ignore it, or refute it. But when it comes to Islam, the first option is void, since any criticism towards the religion that Allah has chosen for His servants is futile (However, it is important to note the difference between Islam and Muslims). Therefore, ignoring it or answering it are your choices.

Now, there are different degrees of response according to the level of criticism faced. And one must know how to answer if one is to answer at all. So, as a founding rule, a Muslim does not need to validate his religion; a Muslim does not need approval from anyone except from his Creator. The following verse sums up this attitude.

“… There is no [need for] argument between us and you. Allah will bring us together, and to Him is the [final] destination.”

Surah Ash-Shura (42 – 15)

Why is there no argument, because the truth has been made clear, and truth itself is self-sustainable, so it does not require justification (only explanation). Therefore, whoever refuses it, does so out of ignorance/arrogance or interest.

This however does not mean to keep all information to yourself, and not to respond to questions. On the contrary, all inquisitions (when asked out of curiosity and not disdain) lead to the truth. So answering these interrogations are essential in Islam. In the end, it is understanding that leads to belief.

On the other hand, discussing the issue of faith is important; not everyone is raised as a Muslim. When you think about it, practically every single Sahabi (Companion of the Prophet Muhammad ppuh) was an idolater. So spreading the word, discussing, exchanging points of view are primordial; and don’t think that with one answer, session, or argument, that that person is going to become the most pious in a snap. It’s a process.

So when discussing, this is the mindset to have:

The ˹true˺ servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk on the earth humbly, and when the ignorant address them, they respond with ˹words of˺ peace.

Surah Al-Furqan (25 – 63)

Therefore, for someone who is not aware (ignorant) of Islam, stay on topic, speak surely, don’t waver, keep speaking the message of Allah with his words and the words of the Prophet (ppuh). Just as Moses did when facing Pharaoh.

Pharaoh asked, “And what is ‘the Lord of all worlds’?”

Moses replied, “˹He is˺ the Lord of the heavens and the earth and everything in between, if only you had sure faith.”

Pharaoh said to those around him, “Did you hear ˹what he said˺?”

Moses added, “˹He is˺ your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers.”

Pharaoh said ˹mockingly˺, “Your messenger, who has been sent to you, must be insane.”

Moses responded: “˹He is˺ the Lord of the east and west, and everything in between, if only you had any sense.”

Pharaoh threatened, “If you take any other god besides me, I will certainly have you imprisoned.”

Surah Ash-Shua’ra (26 – 23-29)

However, when one starts acting ignorant (i.e. arrogant, aggressive, etc.), there is no more discussion to be had with that person. So in that case:

Be gracious, enjoin what is right, and turn away from those who act ignorantly.

Surah Al-A’raf (7 – 199)

Just ignore them. If they ever become receptive again, discuss once more. If they revert to the same attitude, ignore them once again. The Prophet (ppuh) did it for 23 years, I think we can put up with a few ignorant foes a couple of times.

This attitude actually reminds me of a proverb that my grandfather used to say often:

“If you were to throw a stone at every dog that barked, stones would be worth as much as gold.”

In sum, you answer rightfully and you ignore.

Next week, In Sha Allah, we shall talk about how to conduct a discussion/debate.

Is there Anything Bad in the Quran? – Existential Questions

Is there Anything Bad in the Quran? – Existential Questions

When I mean bad, I mean something that everyone will agree to as fundamentally wrong. I don’t mean what is acceptable to modern standards, but fundamentally evil. Not only there is no evil within what is ordained, but it can only be depicted as righteous and good when looked at as a whole. Here are some Islamic principles that are listed in the Quran:

Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.”

And do not approach the orphan’s property except in a way that is best until he reaches maturity. And give full measure and weight in justice. We do not charge any soul except [with that within] its capacity. And when you testify, be just, even if [it concerns] a near relative. And the covenant of Allah fulfill. This has He instructed you that you may remember.

And, [moreover], this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you that you may become righteous.

Surah Al-Anam (6 – 151-153)

Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.

Surah An-Nahl (16 – 90)

And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.

And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.”

Your Lord is most knowing of what is within yourselves. If you should be righteous [in intention] – then indeed He is ever, to the often returning [to Him], Forgiving.

And give the relative his right, and [also] the poor and the traveler, and do not spend wastefully.

Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful.

And if you [must] turn away from the needy awaiting mercy from your Lord which you expect, then speak to them a gentle word.

And do not make your hand [as] chained to your neck or extend it completely and [thereby] become blamed and insolvent.

Indeed, your Lord extends provision for whom He wills and restricts [it]. Indeed He is ever, concerning His servants, Acquainted and Seeing.

And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.

And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way.

And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden, except by right. And whoever is killed unjustly – We have given his heir authority, but let him not exceed limits in [the matter of] taking life. Indeed, he has been supported [by the law].

And do not approach the property of an orphan, except in the way that is best, until he reaches maturity. And fulfill [every] commitment. Indeed, the commitment is ever [that about which one will be] questioned.

And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with an even balance. That is the best [way] and best in result.

And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.

And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height.

All that – its evil is ever, in the sight of your Lord, detested.

That is from what your Lord has revealed to you, [O Muhammad], of wisdom. And, [O mankind], do not make [as equal] with Allah another deity, lest you be thrown into Hell, blamed and banished.

Surah Al-Isra (17 – 23-39)

Most of the accusations come from people who do not agree with the standard of morality or virtue that is ordained in Islam. For instance, the Hijab for women; not being allowed to have a sip of wine or not even having a girlfriend… These practices have become customary in “modern” civilizations, yet they are considered illicit in Islam. Society is always faced with dumbing down standards and laws to curtail the desires of the majority. But the fundamental question remains; what makes it right now but made it wrong before (and vice versa)? This type of thinking induces decadence. Virtues and morals become trivial, unattainable utopias, unrealistic… mockeries.

This was the same discourse used by the people of Lot thousands of years ago when they wanted him and his family out of their city.

But the answer of his people was only that they said, “Evict them from your city! Indeed, they are men who keep themselves pure.”

Surah Al-Aaraf (7 – 82)

Wow! Accused of being too pure… It’s like someone who says: “Ah! He gets on my nerves because he is too polite.” or: “look at her; she thinks she is so superior! She doesn’t even want to dress like us.” and the classic: “Look at that geek; he thinks that his A+ is going to stop him from that face pounding.” What is it that makes that person’s conduct wrong in the first place; what did he do to deserve this reprimand? Is it high self-esteem (or lack of it)? Is it because a person is different (where his difference is not accepted)? Is it because of jealousy (or more likely envy)?

It is sad to see that we have reached a point where righteous conduct is ridiculed and marginalized. Someone who gives his seat on the bus is looked at awkwardly; a student who says Mam and Sir is called a suck-up; a 16-year-old virgin is made fun of. But, as we have seen, this attitude has been present for millennia, all depending on the context and stage in which a society is to be found.

But in the end…

And it will be said to those who feared Allah, “What did your Lord send down?” They will say, “[That which is] good.” For those who do good in this world is good; and the home of the Hereafter is better. And how excellent is the home of the righteous –

Surah An-Nahl (16 – 30)

Faith

the process of belief