More on the Saudi man sentenced to 10 years in prison and 2000 lashes and fined twenty thousand Riyal, after posting about his atheism on Twitter

Daesh Saudi

According to an Al-Watan report, “religious” police in charge of monitoring social networks in Saudi Arabia have claimed to have found more than 600 tweets denying the existence of God, making fun of Koranic verses, accusing prophets of lies and saying that religious teachings fuelled war.

The 28-year-old behind the tweets admitted being an atheist and refused to recant, saying what he wrote reflected his beliefs and that he had the right to express them.

Once again, the Saudi regime has demonstrated its Wahhabi ideological affinity to Daesh (ISIS/ISIL), shamelessly trampling on human rights guaranteed by the Qur’an. It is a matter of great concern that so many non-Muslim nations around the world are perfectly willing to do business with these barbarians, while they continue to persecute their own citizens with such cruelty. Even more alarming is the fact that, not caring one bit about the future suffering of all those who would fall into the claws of such an evil ideology, the United States actually encouraged the spread of Saudi Wahhabism around the world, as per Hillary Clinton’s own testimony (apologies for the poor video quality):

So, what DOES Islam say about apostasy, or abandoning Islam publicly? A former Judge at the International Court of Justice, in the Hague, the Netherlands, opens up this important issue HERE. The time has come for Muslim-majority nations to shake off the influence of Wahhabism imposed upon them by false champions of Human Rights, and to return to the reasonable and peaceful teachings of their Holy Book.

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Do we all disbelieve in some gods? A countryside story…

Copy of Should Religious Parents leave their kids alone- (2)

I live in a small village in the British countryside. Not much happens. Anything vaguely interesting would be the talk of the town. So I want to give you an example. Imagine that I’m walking down the street, and one of my local friends comes up to me and says that he saw this horse earlier that day, just a few roads away, running wildly up and down, frightening children and pensioners alike. I become concerned, but hey, I’ve got a life to live. I walk on.

An hour later I decide to end my walk by getting some lunch in the village. I run into another group of friends, (I’m a popular guy in my imagination it seems), who tell me they’ve heard there were two or three horses running around the village earlier, wild and free. I shrug, but keep my ears attentive for the sound of hooves just in case.

I finally get to the sandwich shop towards which I’ve been slowly meandering, and settle down to a tuna panini. The cheese and fish medley melts deliciously into my hungry mouth. I eat contentedly for a while and settle down to reading this popular new book my university lecturer recommended. A couple of hours later, just as I’m leaving,  I hear a group to the left of me saying that apparently there was a whole herd of horses surging through the village earlier. My forehead wrinkles. One guy said there was one horse. Then I met a group which said there were a few horses, and now I’m hearing that there was a whole herd of horses?

What should I do with this information? The reports clearly conflict and it’s difficult to tell which one is correct. I could try and investigate further, assuming that there’s some essence of truth, which has maybe become distorted through people mishearing or exaggerating the number of horses as the hours went on.

But after reading that great atheism book at lunch, I decide that there was no horse, everyone in my village is crazy, and that I really need to move out of this town.

Makes sense right?

 

This analogy was adapted from Hadhrat Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, 2nd Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Community. Header image originally from Carlo Scherer.

The present article has been reproduced from the End of Atheism website. End of Atheism is a direct response to the New Atheist movement that began with Sam Harris’ book ‘End of Faith.’ You can find more material here:  www.endofatheism.com

Richard Dawkins & Natural Selection: a Love Affair

Richard Dawkins & Natural Selection (1)

He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decrees a thing, He only says to it, ‘Be!’ and it is. (Qur’an 2:118)

Why is there something rather than nothing? That is the question that has plagued philosophers, scientists, and billions of people, throughout time and space. It is a question that is not only related to the Universe but is related to us on an individual basis, personally. Observing the Universe around us, it lies within our intuition that the Universe too has not existed forever. This observation has recently (as far as Human History goes) been confirmed by scientific, empirical research. The Universe as it is today, has not always existed. It has continuously expanded from a singularity, before which in both space and time, it did not – to our current observation – exist. To surmise that it did would be to assume something for which there is scant evidence currently. In short, the Universe came from a state of nothingness, into a state of existence.

Professor Richard Dawkins does not believe that the question “why is there something, rather than nothing” is worth acknowledging. In his book “The God Delusion”, instead of first solving the riddle of how the Universe came from nothing, he raises the same question against God. What follows is the intriguing construction of a house of cards.

“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house down.”

“The God Delusion” is several hundred pages in length and yet remarkably, it only gives one actual argument against the existence of God, and that too, borrowed from his favourite atheist philosopher, David Hume. There are many pages of his book that talks about why he doesn’t like religion, why he believes you can live without religion, why believers in God are self-deluded fools, etc., etc., but it is only after some one hundred pages on page 138 that the Professor actually shoots the only bullet in the barrel of his gun:

The creationist misappropriation of the argument from improbability always takes the same general form, and it doesn’t make any difference if the creationist chooses to masquerade in the politically expedient fancy dress of ‘intelligent design’ (ID). [i] Some observed phenomenon — often a living creature or one of its more complex organs, but it could be anything from a molecule up to the universe itself — is correctly extolled as statistically improbable. Sometimes the language of information theory is used: the Darwinian is challenged to explain the source of all the information in living matter, in the technical sense of information content as a measure of improbability or ‘surprise value’. Or the argument may invoke the economist’s hackneyed motto: there’s no such thing as a free lunch — and Darwinism is accused of trying to get something for nothing. In fact, as I shall show in this chapter, Darwinian natural selection is the only known solution to the otherwise unanswerable riddle of where the information comes from. It turns out to be the God Hypothesis that tries to get something for nothing. God tries to have his free lunch and be it too. However statistically improbable the entity you seek to explain by invoking a designer, the designer himself has got to be at least as improbable. God is the Ultimate Boeing 747. (The God Delusion, p. 138)

In short, Professor Dawkins’ argument is that if you believe the Universe’s complexity requires a designer, then surely God, who must be as complex or if not, more complex than the Universe, must require a Designer too. Who then, created God? The argument is however, riddled with false assumptions.

The first of these is that believers in God believe that the Universe requires a Designer because it is complex. This is an error. The reason the Universe requires a Designer is because prior to the Big Bang, there was no Universe. As far as current science can tell us, prior to the Universe, this Universe did not exist. It then came into existence. For this process of something coming from nothing, one requires a Designer. Why is this?

To answer this we will have to examine another aspect of Professor Dawkins’ claims, and that is, that besides “design” and “chance” there is a third alternative possibility of the motive force driving the Universe:

A deep understanding of Darwinism teaches us to be wary of the easy assumption that design is the only alternative to chance, and teaches us to seek out graded ramps of slowly increasing complexity. Before Darwin, philosophers such as Hume understood that the improbability of life did not mean it had to be designed, but they couldn’t imagine the alternative. After Darwin, we all should feel, deep in our bones, suspicious of the very idea of design. The illusion of design is a trap that has caught us before, and Darwin should have immunized us by raising our consciousness. Would that he had succeeded with all of us. (The God Delusion, p.138)

Thus Professor Dawkins claims a third type of process: Natural Selection, but on a cosmic scale. He claims that there may be a process whereby different universes of increasing complexity are created, and which are selected for. Those that are unable to survive, due to their physical constants being incompatible with continuation of that universe, automatically die off, while universes which can continue, do, and of them, those that produce life may be a tiny fraction. We just happen to be in a Universe that has produced life. This theory is also called The Multiverse Hypothesis.

The Multiverse (NB: not actually the multiverse).

The Multiverse
(NB: not actually the multiverse – just an artist’s representation)

The gaping hole in this argument, is that how did the laws that govern the creation and selection of the universes, come about? Did they also come about through a process of cosmic selection? Are these laws eternal in and of themselves? If there is a process of producing Universes and selecting for them through a process of graded ramps of slowly increasing complexity then what is the process by which this all occurs? Ultimately therefore, the laws that govern the generation of Universes, or the selection of them, must themselves either be designed, or have come about by chance. Or were the laws and processes which governed the creation and selection of the laws, themselves the product of a similar process of selection? Once again, an infinite regress of absurdity sets in, in which one continues to ask, by which process did the laws themselves that govern correct “selection” come about.

Unfortunately, all Professor Dawkins seems to have is Natural Selection as his hammer, and when all you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.

In short therefore, the notion that there is a third option besides “design” and “chance” is false. All ordered processes must themselves be explained; the very method of Universe production and selection must itself be explained, if it is an ordered process. If it is not an ordered process, then what differentiates it from random chance? If it is a gradual process of possible but improbable steps in a linear fashion – graded ramps of slowly increasing complexity – then this too is illogical, for how did those steps come about in the first place? Did this Universe-producing machine create the laws of cosmic selection which were required to create itself in the first instance?  Did the child give birth to it’s own mother? Did the omelette scramble itself into an egg, and thence into a squawking chicken?

When we look at it this way, and realise that there is only “design” or “chance”, one realises that the very origin of anything can only be “design”. This is because “chance” is defined as the random selection of an outcome from a set of possibilities. If those possibilities do not yet exist, then chance cannot act. Dice which have no sides cannot be rolled and a racehorse without any horses doesn’t offer much of a gamble. Even if one was to apply the theory of cosmic selection, selection is not a creative process, but rather, a culling process. Without an initial creation, there is nothing to cull, nothing to “select” and nothing for “chance” or any other selective process to act upon. When the issue is looked at from this point, the creation or existence of anything which had a beginning and an origin will always be by “design”, not “chance”, “selection” or any other non-creative process. Unsurprisingly, you need a creative process to create something. Neither chance nor any process reminiscent of natural or cosmic selection are adequate.

What, however, if the Universe existed prior to the Big Bang, and then merely came into a new form of existence? Thus the Universe did not come from nothing, but merely was developed from one state into another. One Universe collapsed upon itself, produced another black hole and developed into our current universe.

This too does not satisfy reason. Suppose for a moment that the Big Bang occurred due to something called The Big Cause, and The Big Cause was caused by The Bigger Cause. What then caused the Bigger Cause? This chain of cause and effect cannot extend infinitely, as otherwise, there would be no beginning to the chain of cause and effect, and without a beginning, how would we have reached the present moment? If there wasn’t a beginning to this blog post, how do you find yourself reading in the middle of it (it’s coming to an end soon, don’t fret)? If there isn’t a beginning to a race, how to do you find yourself running in it? In short, an infinite chain of cause and effect can never reach any point anywhere along it’s chain, because it will always be infinitely behind the present position on that chain. You will have an infinite regression of causes.

This indicates that everything that has a beginning is dependent on having originated with an Uncaused Cause. This is because, something that has a beginning cannot have created itself. To create itself, while it didn’t yet exist, would require it to both exist and not exist, simultaneously. Without an Uncaused Cause therefore, anything that has a beginning, cannot exist. Moreover, such an Uncaused Cause does not suffer from the deficiency of requiring a designer, because such an Uncaused Cause did not itself originate from anything, rather, it has always existed. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, David Hume, Julian Baginni, etc., all misrepresent this argument by citing it as stating that everything that exists must have a cause. This is erroneous; the argument states that everything that begins to exist must have a cause. Thus, an Uncaused Cause that does not have a beginning, such as God, does not require a “designer”. An Uncaused Cause is therefore a logical necessity and an imperative.

It is interesting to note that atheists, by assuming the Multiverse argument, have also accepted the belief in an Uncaused Cause. Many atheists accept that the Uncaused Cause is a logical necessity, only they claim that a Universe-generating machine, is the Uncaused Cause. This is logically inconsistent; because if they are willing to accept the existence of an Uncaused Cause, then what is the big leap in saying that such an existence could also be conscious of itself – thus making it a Divine, or Personal Entity. Thus, by assuming the Multiverse hypothesis, they jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. They run into precisely what they wished to avoid.

To Allah belong the East and the West; so withersoever you turn, there will be the face of Allah. Surely, Allah is Bountiful, All-Knowing. (Qur’an 2:116)

To summarise then, something did not come from nothing. Something (the universe) came from something else (an Uncaused Cause). The universe must have had a beginning – an origin, as an infinite chain of cause and effect is an illogicality.

Furthermore, all things that have a beginning, must take their origin in “design”, not “chance”. There is no third alternative such as “cosmic selection” because any process or laws that govern such selection must themselves be either the product of “design” or “chance”, lest a further infinite regression of absurdities be created.

Thus, the only logical outcome for this Universe, which must have began either with the Big Bang or at an event prior to it, is that it came into existence from nothingness, by the Design of an Uncaused Cause.

Gosh. That sounds a lot like God, doesn’t it? Who would’ve thought…

 

The present article has been reproduced from the End of Atheism website. End of Atheism is a direct response to the New Atheist movement that began with Sam Harris’ book ‘End of Faith.’ You can find more material here:  www.endofatheism.com

The Difference between a Divinely-Revealed Economic Programme and a Man-Made one: How Islamic Economic Theory Can Prevent the Looming Global Recession

If they switched to the economic programme revealed in the Qur’an, today’s super-rich in both the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds could still live very comfortable lives, and everyone could be a lot happier. But are they brave enough to want to free themselves from the powerful grip of materialism and greed?

by Syed Muhammad Saleh Nasser & Syed Muhammad Tahir Nasser

Economic inequality is bad news for both rich and poor, as economists are slowly realising. House of Debt, acclaimed by the Financial Times as the “most important economics book” of 2015, by Princeton’s Professors of Economics, Atif Mian and Amir Sufi, demonstrated this well. They showed that the main cause of the 2008 U.S-led global recession was that indebted households pulled back on spending more during an economic downturn than the less indebted, driving businesses big and small into the ground and putting the whole economy into recession. Given that as of December 2015 household debt in the UK stands at a staggering 135% of income, and that U.S household debt is the highest it has been since 2010, we have good reason to worry.

The root of this problem is debt and the consequent wealth-gap between creditors and debtors. Interestingly, Islamic economic theory addresses such inequality and provides real solutions. Did you even know that Islam teaches economics?

Islamic economic theory differs from our current model in two particular ways: firstly, capital taxation, known as zakat (meaning: “that which purifies”) is advocated over income taxation, and secondly, interest is prohibited. In truth, these two mechanisms go hand in hand. Here’s how.

There are two things in an economy: 1) money; 2) goods (like ice cream) and services (like launderettes). The value of money is only in its ability to obtain goods/services. Beyond this, it has no value in and of itself. This is the basic premise of money and the basic premise of Islamic finance. It is this principle that is violated by interest.  How so?

Let’s take a society comprised only of 100 bottles and £100. 1 bottle = 1 pound. If the number of bottles increases by 50 but the amount of money in society increases by £200, then we will have 150 bottles and £300. Now 1 bottle = £2. The value of each bottle has gone up but the value of £1 has gone down. Now £1 only gets you half a bottle, whereas before you could get a whole bottle. This is called Inflation and occurs when the amount of money in society rises quicker than the goods/services. This process results in 1) goods/services getting more expensive and 2) money becoming relatively devalued.

Interest is the key driver of inflation. This is because interest results in money multiplying itself without any increase in goods/services. An individual with £100,000 in the bank gets an increase on his savings of £2000-£3000/year at an interest rate of 2-3%. His money has grown without any commensurate increase in the goods/services of society at all. This is the key driver of inflation: as the money of the rich grows exponentially and since sale is always to the highest bidder, the price of goods/services increases exponentially too.

The key to understanding how inflation drives wealth inequality in society is to understand that the rich live on their assets (acquired goods/services) through the generation of money via interest and inflation, not on their income. On the other hand, the poor live on their income, as they don’t have assets to any great extent. As inflation pushes the value of assets up while devaluing cash, the rich who hold assets get richer, while the poor, who live on cash from their incomes, have rising interest-driven debts to pay with a currency that is increasingly devalued, while trying to buy assets that are continuously increasing in price. Is it any surprise then that the wealthiest sixty-two individuals in the world hold as much wealth as the poorer 50% of humanity?

Islamic teachings address these issues very simply. Instead of taxing income, it advocates capital taxation of assets unused for one year (zakat). At the same time, it prohibits the system of interest, thus preventing inflation and preventing the devaluation of the income of the poor. Instead of providing loans with interest, Islam encourages banks to make investments, meaning that money would only be printed if a commensurate increase in goods/services were to occur. In cases where interest-free loans are made, it encourages debt-forgiveness as healthier than debt-enforcement – something that governments are today catching on to.

By taxing assets unused for one year instead of income, the poor, who live on their income, are freer to spend, thus driving the wheel of economic consumption, keeping businesses big and small, afloat. Capital taxation would also drive economic growth as it would be an incentive to invest into businesses. Furthermore, it would enrich the government, as demonstrated by Daniel Altman of the New York Times, who showed that a capital taxation rate of 1-2% on wealth over $500,000 would generate more tax for the U.S Treasury than their current income taxation rates. 0% taxation on assets up to $500,000 would also give ordinary individuals the freedom to build wealth. Additionally, by ridding us of interest, the indebted would be more able to move out of debt. Finally, given that the Qur’an commands that zakat money be used to aid social mobility, through distribution to the poor, needy, imprisoned, indebted etc., the gap between the rich and the poor would be further rapidly reduced.

So if a capital taxation, non-interest based system is so much better for 99.9% of people, why don’t we use it? Why have we got a system that works for only the 0.1%? Simple: the 0.1% have access via back-channels to the law-makers of our nations. If anything the Sanders-Clinton race has exposed, it is the degree to which financial manipulation of our representatives is occurring behind the scenes. If such an unjust system in which the poor continuously feed the rich continues, then the dissatisfaction of the masses, epitomized in the rise of such leaders like Corbyn in the U.K and Sanders in the U.S, will inevitably get worse.

So there you have it, the difference between an economic system revealed by God and a worldly economic system built on the backs of the poor, now on the brink of collapse. Given however, that “Muslim” countries don’t even practice these economic principles though, I wouldn’t hold out much hope that anyone else will either before the economic recession we are about to slide into, takes hold.

On that note, here’s a good website for calculating how much food to stock up on.

Reproduced from http://www.patheos.com/ where it appeared under the title of “Can Islamic Economic Theory Prevent the Looming Global Recession?” posted by Qasim Rashid. For the original article, click HERE.

 

Is Secularism Sacred? A Response to Matt Ridley

Should Religious Parents leave their kids alone- (1)

By Ayesha Malik

In his recent piece in The Times, Matt Ridley speaks of how Muslims are “turning away from Islam.” In a scathing and passionate article, he chastises jihadism and militant Islam and suggests humanism and secularism as antidotes to the same. I stand with Mr. Ridley in rebuking all forms of extremism and violent jihad and share his views that these must be seriously tackled. However, I take issue with the manner in which Mr. Ridley seems to paint 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide with the same brush. His powerful narrative places militant Islamism concomitant with Islam, effectively disenfranchising the more than a billion moderate Muslim voices worldwide – that not only condemn terrorism but are in fact victims of it.

Let’s put Mr. Ridley’s claims in perspective. He argues that, “The fastest growing belief system in the world is non-belief,” adding that the, “humanists are winning, even against Islam.” The gist of his arguments runs something like this: that atheism is on the rise globally, with an increasing number of people turning away from religion, in particular Islam; that this phenomenon is panning out in spite of the fact that atheists do not proselytise; that estimates forecast a decline in fertility rates amongst Muslim populations that have until now determined their increased market share; that atheists are persecuted in Muslim-majority lands; that jihadists are inspired by a desire, “to prevent the Muslim diaspora [from] sliding into western secularism” and that secularism can ultimately win against jihadism.

Mr. Ridley either intentionally or unintentionally indulges in classic othering discourse – the them againstus approach – Islam against the West. His account is a quintessential example of partisan scholarship – one that entrenches misplaced stereotypes within society and paves the way towards a civilisational divide. There is no informed or reasoned analysis on the causes of terrorism, the geopolitical factors that have shaped its trajectory and importantly how Muslims, too, are victims of extremism. Is terrorism really a religious cult? Why do people like Mr. Ridley forget that the Taliban were really a creation of the Americans, known as freedom fighters at the time, and engaged to fight the Soviets during the Soviet War in Afghanistan – something Hilary Clinton has admitted on national television. Clinton sums it up quite well – you harvest what you sow. Moreover, it is also an open secret that the so-called Islamic State, who took responsibility for the recent attacks in Paris, was a creation of the Iraq War. As such, the motivations of terrorists are not quite religious as Mr. Ridley contends; they are more political than anything else. The Paris assassins shouted how France should not have gone into Syria, as they carried out their cold-blooded acts of murder. Karen Armstrong, in her recent talk at Saint Anthony’s College Oxford, outlined how each of the two British men who went to fight in Syria recently,ordered ‘Islam for Dummies’ on Amazon. This alone, makes a travesty of the claim that extremists hold intensely religious passions.

 

ridley

Furthermore, Mr. Ridley’s predictions that atheism will ultimately overtake Islam must be taken with a pinch of salt. His assertions sit in contradiction with a report published earlier this year by the Pew Research Center that reveals how by 2050 Islam is forecasted to be the fastest growing religion – the Muslim population estimated to increase by 73% in the next 35 years. It states how Muslims will grow from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.76 billion in 2050, with Islam being the only religion to surpass the global rate of population expansion. It would also place Islam for the first time at par with Christianity in numbers. By contrast, the study suggests that while the number of non-believers including atheists and agnostics will rise in countries such as the United States and France, the total rise in non-believers is estimated at a 100 million – rising merely from 1.1 billion in 2010 to 1.2 billion in 2050 – and by those numbers, this would actually mean a drop in the total population of atheists – from 16% of the total population in 2010 to 13% of the total population globally in 2050.

While I celebrate the secular values of democracy and the rule of law, these ideals do not suffice on their own if their overriding premise is not justice. Secular jurisprudence testifies to this, John Rawls arguing for example that, “legitimacy is only the minimal standard of political acceptability; a political order can be legitimate without being just,” adding that it is justice that provides, “the maximum moral standard: the full description of how a society’s main institutions should be ordered.”

If secular ideals were sufficient on their own, we would not have lost 60 million people in the mass destruction of the Second World War – a war that was clearly not fought for any religious reasons.

If secular ideals were sufficient on their own, we would not have lost 60 million people in the mass destruction of the Second World War – a war that was clearly not fought for any religious reasons. Hence, I am not convinced that secularism is as sacred as Mr. Ridley makes it out to be. Such overly simplistic, lop sided rhetoric reduce his scholarship to the ranting of an angry man, which does not behove a person of Mr. Ridley’s intellect and educational background.

When extremists kill, humanity suffers – not a particular cultural or religious demographic. Since 2003, in Pakistan alone, more than 20,000 civilians have perished in terrorism related violence. Similarly, thousands have lost their lives in Nigeria in terrorist attacks carried out by Boko Haram, a group claimed to be deadlier than ISIS. Even still, people like Mr. Ridley continue to assert that extremists are somehow more of a threat to the West than they are to the rest of the world. If anything, Muslims themselves are the biggest victims of extremism, and unless we unite against terrorism by considering it a global problem, it will only fuel more extremists on both sides of the religious and political spectra. And if secularism – the long championed beacon of liberty cannot unite us in this cause, then it is as dogmatic as radical ideology.

Ayesha Malik is a lawyer and writer, currently serving as Deputy Editor of the Law & Human Rights Section of the Review of Religions.

The present article has been reproduced from the End of Atheism website. End of Atheism is a direct response to the New Atheist movement that began with Sam Harris’ book ‘End of Faith.’ You can find more material here:  www.endofatheism.com

 

AYESHA’S AGE AT THE TIME OF HER MARRIAGE – A RESPONSE TO “INNOCENCE OF MUSLIMS”

by Qasim Rashid

Ayesha’s Age: A response to the allegation made by atheists and non-Muslims in general that Ayesha was 6 or 9 when her marriage was consummated with Prophet Muhammad

The vitriolic anti-Islam film, “Innocence of Muslims” caused quite a worldwide uproar. Newsweek seemed to add to that uproar with their “Muslim Rage” edition. Fortunately, it backfired and #MuslimRage became the hottest new trend on Twitter. (Follow me@MuslimIQ) Still, Innocence of Muslims makes numerous vile accusations against Islam and its Noble Prophet (sa). One of these allegations is that the Prophet (sa) married Ayesha (rz) when she was underage. I have taken some time to quickly compile two arguments, one my own and one well-researched by another Muslim.

Together, these arguments demonstrate that the allegations levied against both Prophet Muhammad (sa) and Ayesha (rz) are meritless and based wholly on ignorance. The below evidence shows that far from being 6 or 9, Ayesha was likely 15-16 at the time of her consenting marriage, or as old as 18-20. Some scholars assert that she was actually only 12. Even if Hazrat Ayesha (rz) was only 12 at the time of her marriage and consummation, this should not be a cause for alarm for the clear reasons mentioned below.

The First Set of Arguments

The First Argument

The Catholic Encyclopedia says Mary Mother of Jesus (as) was 11 (and Joseph was 90) upon their marriage. [The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Reference of Work on the Constitution, Doctrine, Dicipline, and History of the Catholic Church, New York Robert Appleton Company, Vol. VIII, Pg. 505]. Yet, we do not hear anti-Islam elements raise objection to this recorded fact of history. If Ayesha (rz), even at age 12, was too young to be married, then certainly Mary Mother of Jesus was too young. Likewise, if Prophet Muhammad (sa) at the age of 53 was too old to marry Ayesha, then Joseph at age 90 was certainly too old. Yet, such objections do not exist, demonstrating the double standard anti-Islam individuals assert against Muslims.

The Second Argument

The law of the Talmud holds that a woman is of marriable age when she is 12 yrs and 6 months old and “Marrying off one’s daughter as soon after she reaches adulthood as possible, even to one’s Slave.” Talmud, Pesachim 113a]. Hasidic Jews still practice this tradition that spans back thousands of years. In fact, the Talmud presents some shocking guidance on marriage, also stating, “A maiden aged three years and a day may be acquired in marriage by coition, and if her deceased husband’s brother cohabits with her, she becomes his.” [Talmud, Sanhedrin 55b].

Again, no objections are known from anti-Islam individuals to this practice, once again demonstrating the double standard. Historically speaking, Jews, Christians, and Muslims each held a social construct that permitted a person to be married at what our society considers young.

But, recognizing that things like life expectancy and social behavior were much different than they are now, two individuals in their pre or early teens marrying was not at all obscure. This is a fact that Jews, Christians, and Muslims each demonstrated. Most importantly, the concept of social construct must be reiterated. It was not just ancient Jews, Christians, and Muslims that recognized earlier teens or younger as acceptable ages for marriage. This is a concept that permeated our Western societies until only very recently, as explained next.

The Third Argument

For centuries in Scotland, the age of consent for girls was 12—and parental consent was unnecessary. [G T Bisset-Smith. 1st edition. Edinburgh: William Green & Sons, (1902)]. Only in 1929 was the age raised to 16 for girls. [Id.] Consider the facts of appropriate ages to marry of American State Laws. In New Hampshire, the legal age for girls is 13 with parental consent. In Massachusetts, the legal age for girls is 12 with parental consent. In Mississippi, there isno age minimum for girls, as long as there is parental consent. In California, there is no age minimum for girls, as long as there is parental consent. And of course, as we know, Ayesha (rz) certainly had parental consent. This information is available at: http://topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/table_marriage#g

So the reality is that only recently has social construct decided that 18 is the age of maturity among men and women. Nothing says that 18 is the wrong age, or the right age across all times and places. We can only state that it is the correct age for our time and place, because this is the age we have agreed upon as a society. Thus, in our age, marriage below 18 is either forbidden, or requires certain highly controlled conditions to ensure the rights of the persons under 18 are not usurped. But, to make the jump to accuse Prophet Muhammad (sa) of acting inappropriately, simply because our social construct disagrees with a social construct that our American forefathers, ancient Christian and Muslim cultures, and contemporary Hasidic Jewish cultures practice—such a jump is unqualified and meritless.

But so far, we have only demonstrated that if Ayesha (rz) was married when she was as young as 11 or 12, history and our American forefathers demonstrate that such a marriage was not out of the norm. The next section demonstrates that Ayesha (rz) was 15-16 at the time of her marriage to Prophet Muhammad (sa), and possibly as old as 18-20.

The Second Set of Arguments

*Disclaimer – I am not the author of the below scholarship. I am reposting because it is excellently researched, appropriately referenced, and repudiates the baseless allegations that Prophet Muhammad (sa) married Ayesha (rz) when she was underage. Please read each of the arguments as it soundly responds from every angle to the allegations that Ayesha was under age at the time of her marriage.

The First Argument

Though some of these narratives are reported in Bukhari, most of these narratives are reported only by Hisham ibn `urwah reporting on the authority of his father. An event as well known as the one being reported, should logically have been reported by more people than just one, two or three.

The Second Argument

It is quite strange that no one from Medinah, where Hisham ibn `urwah lived the first seventy one years of his life has narrated the event [from him], even though in Medinah his pupils included people as well known as Malik ibn Anas. All the narratives of this event have been reported by narrators from Iraq, where Hisham is reported to have had shifted after living inMedinah for seventy one years.

Again, the argument that all those who heard this narrative from Hisham ibn `urwah were Iraqis, is a simple statement of fact. This can be checked in the biographical sketches of these narrators in any of the books written on the narrators.

The Third Argument

Tehzeeb al-Tehzeeb, one of the most well known books on the life and reliability of the narrators of the traditions of the Prophet  (pbuh) reports that according to Yaqub ibn Shaibah:“narratives reported by Hisham are reliable except those that are reported through the people of Iraq.” It further states that Malik ibn Anas objected on those narratives of Hisham which were reported through people of Iraq (Vol. 11, pg. 48 – 51).

The actual statements, their translations and their complete references are given below:

Yaqub ibn Shaibah says: He [i.e. Hisham] is highly reliable, his narratives are acceptable, except what he narrated after shifting to Iraq. (Tehzeeb al-TehzeebIbn Hajar Al-`asqalaaniy, Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-Islami, Vol. 11, pg. 50)

I have been told that Malik [ibn Anas] objected on those narratives of Hisham which were reported through people of Iraq. (Tehzi’bu’l-tehzi’bIbn Hajar Al-`asqala’ni, Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-Islami, Vol. 11, pg. 50)

All the hadith Hisham related regarding the age of Ayesha are from the time he was in Iraq. From a historical and evidentiary perspective, this already puts into severe doubt the veracity of such claims.

The Fourth Argument

Meezaan al-Ai`tidaal, another book on the [life sketches of the] narrators of the traditions of the Prophet  (pbuh) reports that when he was old, Hisham’s memory suffered quite badly (Vol. 4, pg. 301 – 302)

The actual statement, its translation and its complete references is given below:

When he was old, Hisham‘s memory suffered quite badly (Meezaan al-Ai`tidaalAl-Zahabi, Arabic, Al-Maktabah al-Athriyyah, Sheikhupura, Pakistan, Vol. 4, pg. 301).

So now we have evidence that when Hisham related the traditions related to Ayesha’s age, he did so while his memory suffered severely. Already, no court of law would consider such testimony valid, not even in a civil court where the burden of proof is quite low compared to a criminal court.

The Fifth Argument

According to the generally accepted tradition, Ayesha (ra) was born about eight years beforeHijrah. But according to another narrative in Bukhari (Kitaab al-TafseerAyesha (ra) is reported to have said that at the time Surah Al-Qamar, the 54th chapter of the Qur’an , was revealed, “I was a young girl”. The 54th Surah of the Qur’an was revealed nine years before Hijrah. According to this tradition, Ayesha (ra) had not only been born before the revelation of the referred surah, but was actually a young girl (jariyah), not an infant (sibyah) at that time. Obviously, if this narrative is held to be true, it is in clear contradiction with the narratives reported by Hisham ibn `urwah. I see absolutely no reason that after the comments of the experts on the narratives of Hisham ibn `urwah, why we should not accept this narrative to be more accurate.

The actual statements referred to in the above paragraph, their translations and their complete references are given below:

Ayesha (ra) said: I was a young girl, when verse 46 of Surah Al-Qamar, [the 54th chapter of the Qur’an ], was revealed. (Sahih BukhariKitaab al-Tafseer, Arabic, Bab Qaulihi Bal al-saa`atu Maw`iduhum wa al-sa`atu adhaa wa amarr)

Ayesha was married after Hijrah (migration). Thus, if she could recall that Chapter 54 was revealed, she must have been at least 3-5 years old, plus the 9 years before hijrah, which places her at 12-14 before Hijrah and at least 14-16 before marriage. This makes it impossible that she was 9.

The Sixth Argument

According to a number of narratives, Ayesha (ra) accompanied the Muslims in the battle ofBadr and Uhud. Furthermore, it is also reported in books of hadith and history that no one under the age of 15 years was allowed to take part in the battle of Uhud. All the boys below 15 years of age were sent back. Ayesha‘s (ra) participation in the battle of Badr and Uhudclearly indicate that she was not nine or ten years old at that time. After all, women used to accompany men to the battle fields to help them, not to be a burden on them.

A narrative regarding Ayesha‘s (ra) participation in Badr is given in MuslimKitaab al-jihaad wa al-siyar, Arabic, Bab karahiyah al-isti`anah fi al-ghazwi bikafirAyesha (ra) while narrating the journey to Badr and one of the important events that took place in that journey, says:

When we reached Shajarah.

It is quite obvious from these words that Ayesha (ra) was with the group traveling towardBadr.

A narrative regarding Ayesha‘s (ra) participation in the battle of `uhud is given in Bukhari,Kitaab al-jihaad wa al-siyar, Arabic, Baab Ghazwi al-nisaa wa   qitalihinna ma`a al-rijaal.

Anas reports that On the day of Uhud, people could not stand their ground around the Prophet  (pbuh). [On that day,] I saw Ayesha (ra) and Umm-e-Sulaim (ra), they had pulled their dress up from their feet [to save them from any hindrance in their movement].”

As far as the fact that children below 15 years were sent back and were not allowed to participate in the battle of `uhud, it is narrated in BukhariKitaab al-maghaaziBaab ghazwah al-khandaq wa hiya al-ahzaab, Arabic.

Ibn `umar (ra) states that the Prophet  (pbuh) did not permit me to participate in Uhud, as at that time, I was fourteen years old. But on the day of Khandaq, when I was fifteen years old, the Prophet (pbuh) permitted my participation.”

This battle took place before Ayesha’s marriage to Prophet Muhammad, so now we see that she was at least 15-16 years old.

The Seventh Argument

According to almost all the historians Asma (ra), the elder sister of Ayesha (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha (ra). It is reported in Taqreeb al-Tehzeeb as well as Al-Bidaayah wa al-Nihayahthat Asma (ra) died in 73 hijrah when she was 100 years old. Now, obviously if Asma (ra) was 100 years old in 73 hijrah she should have been 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrah. IfAsma (ra) was 27 or 28 years old at the time of hijrahAyesha (ra) should have been 17 or 18 years old at that time. Thus, Ayesha (ra), if she got married in 1 AH (after hijrah) or 2 AH, was between 18 to 20 years old at the time of her marriage.

The relevant references required in this argument are provided below:

For the Difference of Ayesha’s (ra) and Asma’s (ra) Age:

According to Abd al-Rahman ibn abi zannaad:

Asma (ra) was ten years older than Ayesha. (Siyar A`la’ma’l-nubala’Al-Zahabi, Vol. 2, pg. 289, Arabic, Mu’assasatu’l-risala’h, Beirut, 1992)

According to Ibn Kathir:

She [i.e. Asma] was ten years elder to her sister [i.e. Ayesha]. (Al-Bidaayah wa al-NihaayahIbn Kathir, Vol. 8, pg. 371, Arabic, Dar al-fikr al-`arabiyAl-jizah, 1933)

For Asma’s (ra) Age at Her Death in 73 AH

According to Ibn Kathir:

She [i.e. Asma] witnessed the killing of her son during that year [i.e. 73 AH], as we have already mentioned, five days later she herself died, according to other narratives her death was not five but ten or twenty or a few days over twenty or a hundred days later. The most well known narrative is that of hundred days later. At the time of her death, she was 100 years old. (Al-Bidaayah wa al-NihaayahIbn Kathir, Vol. 8, pg. 372, Arabic, Dar al-fikr al-`arabiy,Al-jizah, 1933).

According to Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalaaniy:

She [i.e. Asma (ra)] lived a hundred years and died in 73 or 74 AH.” (Taqreeb al-TehzeebIbn Hajar Al-Asqalaaniy, Pg. 654, Arabic, Bab fi al-nisaa, al-Harf al-alif, Lucknow)

The Eighth Argument

Tabari in his treatise on Islamic history, while mentioning Abu Bakr (ra) reports that Abu Bakrhad four children and all four were born during the Jahiliyyah – the pre-Islamic period. Obviously, if Ayesha (ra) was born in the period of jahiliyyah, she could not have been less than 14 years in 1 AH – the time she most likely got married.

The original statement in Tabari, its translation and reference follows:

All four of his [i.e. Abu Bakr’s] children were born of his two wives – the names of whom we have already mentioned – during the pre-Islamic period. (Tarikh al-umam wa al-mamloo’kAl-Tabari, Vol. 4, Pg. 50, Arabic, Dar al-fikr, Beirut, 1979)

The Ninth Argument

My ninth argument was:

According to Ibn Hisham, the historian, Ayesha (ra) accepted Islam quite some time before`umar ibn al-Khattab (ra). This shows that Ayesha (ra) accepted Islam during the first year of Islam. While, if the narrative of Ayesha‘s (ra) marriage at seven years of age is held to be true, Ayesha (ra) should not have been born during the first year of Islam.

According to Ibn HishamAyesha (ra) was the 20th or the 21st person to enter into the folds of Islam (Al-Sirah al-NabawiyyahIbn Hisham, Vol. 1, Pg. 227 – 234, Arabic, Maktabah al-Riyadh al-hadithahAl-Riyadh) While `umar ibn al-khattab was preceded by forty individuals (Al-Sirah al-NabawiyyahIbn Hisham, Vol. 1, Pg. 295, Arabic, Maktabah al-Riyadh al-hadithahAl-Riyadh).

The Tenth Argument

Tabari has also reported that at the time Abu Bakr planned on migrating to Habshah (8 years before Hijrah), he went to Mut`am – with whose son Ayesha (ra) was engaged – and asked him to take Ayesha (ra) in his house as his son’s wife. Mut`am refused, because Abu Bakr had embraced Islam, and subsequently his son divorced Ayesha (ra). Now, if Ayesha (ra) was only seven years old at the time of her marriage, she could not have been born at the time Abu Bakr decided on migrating to Habshah. On the basis of this report it seems only reasonable to assume that Ayesha (ra) had not only been born 8 years before hijrah, but was also a young lady, quite prepared for marriage.

Unfortunately, I do not have the primary reference to this argument at the moment. The secondary reference for this argument is: Tehqiq e umar e Siddiqah e Ka’inatHabib ur Rahman Kandhalwi,Urdu, Pg. 38, Anjuman Uswa e hasanah, Karachi, Pakistan

The Eleventh Argument

According to a narrative reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, after the death of Khadijah (ra), whenKhaulah (ra) came to the Prophet  (pbuh) advising him to marry again, the Prophet (pbuh) asked her regarding the choices she had in her mind. Khaulah said: “You can marry a virgin (bikr) or a woman who has already been married (thayyib)”. When the Prophet (pbuh) asked about who the virgin was, Khaulah proposed Ayesha‘s (ra) name. All those who know the Arabic language, are aware that the word “bikr” in the Arabic language is not used for an immature nine year old girl. The correct word for a young playful girl, as stated earlier is “Jariyah“. “Bikr” on the other hand, is used for an unmarried lady, and obviously a nine year old is not a “lady”.

The complete reference for this reporting of Ahmad ibn Hanbal is: Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Vol 6, Pg 210, Arabic, Dar Ihya al-turath al-`arabi, Beirut.

The Twelfth Argument

According to Ibn HajarFatimah (ra), the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, was five years older than Ayesha (ra). Fatimah (ra) is reported to have been born when the Prophet (pbuh) was 35 years old. Thus, even if this information is taken to be correct, Ayesha (ra) could by no means be less than 14 years old at the time of hijrah, and 15 or 16 years old at the time of her marriage.

Ibn Hajar‘s original statement, its translation and reference follows:

Fatimah (ra) was born at the time the Kaa`bah was rebuilt, when the Prophet  (pbuh) was 35 years old… she (Fatimah) was five years older that Ayesha (ra). (Al-Isabah fi Tamyeez al-SahaabahIbn Hajar al-Asqalaniy, Vol. 4, Pg. 377, Arabic, Maktabah al-Riyadh al-Hadithaal-Riyadh, 1978)

These are all the references for the material I provided in my initial response.

Critics cite that Tabari, Abu Dawood, and Bukhari also says Ayesha was 9. Such critics miss the point on Hisham ibn `urwah. They are unaware of the fact that each one these traditions, whether it is from TabariBukhariMuslim or Abu Dawood, is either narrated by Hisham ibn `urwah or is reported to the respective author by or through an Iraqi. Not even a single narrative is free from either of the two problems.

I have quoted Tabari, Bukhari and Muslim to show that even their own information contradicts with the narrative regarding Ayesha‘s (ra) age. Thus, when the narrative of Ayesha‘s (ra) age is not reliable and when there is information in the same books that contradicts the narrative of Ayesha‘s age, I see absolutely no reason to believe that the information on Ayesha‘s (ra) age is accepted (when there are adequate grounds to reject it) and the other (contradictory) information is rejected (when there is no ground to reject it).

Conclusion

Thus, taking all facts into consideration, it is clear that the allegation proposed in Innocence of Muslims is one without merit, one no person of intelligence can accept. Prophet Muhammad (sa) and Ayesha (rz) enjoyed a loving, mutual, consenting, legal, and sincere marriage—one to be emulated by all people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. As a final point, I encourage readers to also check out Myriam Francois-Cerrah‘s excellent piece on Ayesha (rz) published in The Guardian here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/sep/17/muhammad-aisha-truth

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If you are interested in reading more of the work of Qasim Rashid click here

Who Designed the Designer? Atheists’ Arguments Refuted.

Professor Richard Dawkins in his book, “The God Delusion” provides one serious argument as to why God probably doesn’t exist. This argument is examined, dismantled, and demonstrated as deeply flawed.

 

The present article has been reproduced from the End of Atheism website. End of Atheism is a direct response to the New Atheist movement that began with Sam Harris’ book ‘End of Faith.’ You can find more material here:  www.endofatheism.com

Can You Be Good Without God?

Can You Be Good Without God-

Say, ‘O Allah! Originator of the heavens and the earth; Knower of the unseen and the seen; Thou alone wilt judge between Thy servants concerning that in which they differed.’ (Qur’an 39:47)

“A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true” – Socrates

Why is hurting people termed “wrong”? Ask yourself this question and you will find that it is not easy to answer. The answers you may come up with may be along the lines of “you wouldn’t want to be hurt, so why do it to others?” or “doing good to others promotes social cohesion”. However, neither of these two statements answer the question. Why then should you not hurt others, just because you wouldn’t want to be hurt? Why is social cohesion desirable?

These may seem like absurd questions, and on some level, they are. The reason for this is because everyone, universally it seems, knows that hurting people is wrong. Even the hardened thief who has convinced himself that his thievery is justified, would feel aggrieved and wronged if someone stole from him – thus demonstrating that though he has made excuses for his own thievery, he still knows it to be wrong. Yet, if everyone knows that doing wrong is bad, and undesirable, then why do people do it at all? The answer is found in the above example – the thief who justifies his own actions to himself:

Can he, who was dead and We gave him life and made for him a light whereby he walks among men, be like him whose condition is that he is in utter darkness whence he cannot come forth? Thus have the doings of the disbelievers been made to seem fair to them. (Qur’an 6:123)

Thus, a system of morality such as Humanism, which tells people simply to “be good” and “promote the wellbeing of others” not to “hurt others” without defining what “good”, “hurt” and “wellbeing” mean, is a totally meaningless system of morality. The reason for this is that everyone who does wrong, does it, believing it to be good. What is needed in a system of morality is not the end goal, but actually clear directives on which actions are right and which are wrong, covering all conceivable contexts. This is what the Qur’an in particular, claims to achieve.

A Book, the verses of which have been expounded in detail — the Qur’an in clear, eloquent language — for a people who have knowledge… (Qur’an 41:4)

This is what Socrates is talking about when he refers to “relative morality” as an “illusion” and a “thoroughly vulgar conception”. Very strong words – but are they warranted? They are, because what Humanism achieves is that it makes the concept of “right” and “wrong” malleable; with each person free to define “good” and “evil” however they wish, thus giving license for every evil to be conducted under the guise of “goodness”. As pointed out above, this is precisely what happens when a person does evil or harms others; they justify it to themselves and call it “good”. Humanism is therefore no more than a formalised system of convincing yourself that what you are doing is for the betterment and wellbeing of others. People try to claim that it is religion which is utilised as a pious front for the doing of evil, and that more people do evil in the name of God than for any other reason. This may be the case but there is a difference here – people do evil in the name of God, in spite of the clear teachings of various religions on which actions are right and which are wrong. Humanism on the other hand has no teachings which could act as a buffer against the evil done in its name.

It is also worth asking the question that “what makes a good, moral person?” Hitler is famously known to have been a vegetarian, because he believed that eating animals was cruel. Ridiculous as it may sound, it demonstrates that Hitler strived – in his own mind at least – to be, what he thought of, as a good person. We find it difficult to imagine that a person who has committed and authorised such atrocities as he did, loved animals, and, no doubt, loved people also – friends and family etc. Does this make him a good, moral person? Of course it doesn’t, and the reason is obvious: loving one’s friends and families, is a natural condition that is even found among animals. Among animals too, there are many example of creatures that have shown extraordinary love and sacrifice for other animals, both of their own species, and otherwise. A simple search on YouTube would show many filmed examples. This does not make animals moral. This is because a moral quality is defined when reason and reflection are brought into play, and a person acts after deliberated thought. A mother who jumps in front of a car to save her baby has not behaved morally – she has behaved instinctively, on the basis of a natural impulse. Thus, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad explains in the following excerpt:

When (natural qualities) are regulated and are used on their proper occasions, under the direction of reason, they acquire a moral character. Before they are controlled by reason and understanding they have not the character of moral qualities, but are natural impulses, however much they might resemble moral qualities. For instance, if a dog or lamb displays affection or docility towards its master it would not be described as moral or good-mannered. In the same way a wolf or a tiger would not be described as ill-mannered on account of its wildness. A moral state emerges after reflection and regard for time and occasion come into play.(1)

Humanism however, conflates natural impulses with moral actions. As Humanism gives no directives and no instruction on what action is right in which context and which action is wrong in which context, it totally falls short of defining morality. It therefore does not seek to give direction to our natural impulses, thereby converting them into moral qualities, but rather seeks to term our natural impulses of love for our friends and families, and the expression of that love, as moral actions. This is totally erroneous and betrays a fundamental misunderstanding on what morality is.

Thus, a basic moral system requires two things, to make it a valid system that both makes sense and also works effectively:

1) A perspective of absolute morality – a belief that “right” and “wrong” exist outside of our own minds. In religion, “right” and “wrong” are defined by God – and it is God’s perspective that is the only perspective that matters. His perspective can be accessed both through scripture, or on a more basic level, by looking into our own conscience, to the inbuilt signposts God has given us. Humanists can also look to the human conscience, but in doing so, they are admitting that morality is a universal and absolute concept.

2) Teachings that define which actions are right in which context, and which are wrong. This is important, because, giving the end goal of “to promote happiness” is a meaningless statement, without teaching people which actions will lead to that end goal. In this regard, many religions also fall short of this ideal. Christianity, for example, which has done away with the “law” of saying which actions are right in which context and which are wrong, by accepting St. Paul’s notion that all you need is “faith” to enter heaven, and actions are not necessary, has undermined this second principle which would uphold a system of morality.

Humanism falls short on both these two principles. Humanism does not advocate that the notion of “right” or “wrong” exist outside of our own minds, nor does it give any specific teachings on which actions are right and which are wrong. Ironically however, the very existence of Humanism is a wonderful proof of the existence of God. How so? Humanism is an example of a group of people (atheists) who believe that there is no God – and therefore no absolute concept of morality, and yet feel an urging within their own hearts to unite on some common values of what is right and what is wrong, and thereby create an artificial concept of absolute morality based on the consensus of a community. They demonstrate by their actions that morality must have some degree of absoluteness, and that relative morality is – as Socrates points out – no morality at all. Thus they prove the need for an absolute perspective on morality and thus prove the need for the existence of God, for a code of morality to exist. This is all the more so because, despite their attempt at creating an artificial basis for absolute morality through common consensus as a community, they know well that just because a community endorses a particular moral action or view, does not make it right or wrong. Many communities there have been in history who collectively, with consensus, perpetrated genocide on other peoples. Does their consensus as to the rightness of their actions, change the fact that their actions were evil?

In short, humanists hear the call of their hearts of what is right and what is wrong, yet, having renounced God, they do not understand where this call is coming from, despite being unable to resist its pull. Indeed, Man admits the existence of God – Who is the basis of morality – despite professing disbelief in Him.

So set thy face to the service of religion as one devoted to God. And follow the nature made by Allah — the nature in which He has created mankind. There is no altering the creation of Allah. That is the right religion. But most men know not. (Qur’an 30:31)

The present article has been reproduced from the End of Atheism website. End of Atheism is a direct response to the New Atheist movement that began with Sam Harris’ book ‘End of Faith.’ You can find more material here:  www.endofatheism.com

 

Should Religious Parents Leave Their Kids Alone?

Image from the GlobalPartnership for Education: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gpforeducation/8370330617/in/photolist-dKE8F8-pbTac6-dKKAQb-61Ss8F-2Wvetu-61Sqb6-oiymuH-61WA4b-pxobgB-7ysSqb-aMqTii-b4Ac92-61WBKd-qKvnbN-61WB25-4Ep6TT-4cDJpU-4ZgTr1-5RFbWQ-5Rhp3D-61Sp76-61T9Mr-7FHDGn-4ZgTnL-83VeBN-61Sq4X-61Sr2M-61SqR6-61WCZN-61WBbh-61Spb4-61SqFM-61WBjd-61SppV-61Sqdx-61WBG5-61WCWb-61WAYS-61WCYN-61WDjA-61Ssj4-61WBqJ-61WBod-61Ssqp-61Sqn6-9stUdD-dScLFR-dKKAQS-dKKAxu-rWBLh2

Religion is a hot topic these days, with Daesh prompting right-wing commentators and New Atheist activists to renew their criticism of religion in general, and Islam in particular. I spied last week a tweet (below) from one such critic Maryam Namazie, which mentioned religion being ‘imposed’ on children. It reminded me of New Atheism’s golden-boy turned embarrassing-uncle Richard Dawkins, who has repeatedly argued that it’s immoral to raise your children as religious and teach them your beliefs, saying earlier this year: “...there really is an important difference between including your children in harmless traditions, and forcing on them un-evidenced opinions about the nature of life or the cosmos.” The argument is that to raise a child as religious is indoctrination, which colours their future unfairly. Instead, we shouldn’t raise them in any religion, and let them wait until they reach intellectual maturity before they choose their own faith or non-faith worldview.

This is a common line amongst New Atheists, and one that to many seems reasonable at first glance. Its logic, however, is deeply flawed. Here are four reasons why religious people have absolutely every right to raise their children according to their own religious convictions:

1 . We all raise our children according to our beliefs- atheists included. When we examine Dawkins’ above statement, the hypocrisy of the stance is immediately apparent. It hinges on the idea that religious people hold“… un-evidenced opinions about the nature of life or the cosmos.” Hold on, that sounds rather like an opinion itself doesn’t it? I don’t think my beliefs are un-evidenced. After all, who does? We can’t all be right, but we all reserve the right to believe that we are! Who’s to say that I don’t deem atheism as an un-evidenced stance that is harmful to the moral and spiritual welfare of my children? If so, how could I, in right conscience, allow my children not to be given the opportunity to spiritually develop in their youth? What Dawkins’ argument boils down to is: your belief is different to mine, and I’m obviously right, so how dare you spread your ignorant beliefs to your children! The whole position flies in the face of the very freedom of conscience it purports to protect.

2. My religion teaches me not to force belief upon my children anyway: There is a huge difference between raising your children in a religion, and forcing that religion on them. The Qur’an (usually the prime target of these criticisms) teaches clearly that “there is no compulsion in religion,” (2:257) and, “whoever follows guidance, follows it for the benefit of his own soul; and whoever goes astray, goes astray only to its detriment. And you are not a guardian over them,” (39:42). In line with this, I plan to raise my children as Muslim, and to teach them why I believe my religious convictions are true. But if, as they reach intellectual maturity they’re not convinced, then so be it- I won’t force them to profess belief, not least because forced belief is hollow. I stand with people of all faiths and none in condemning those who seek to force their religion upon others. As Damir Rafi successfully argued in HuffPost last week, punishment for apostasy is un-Islamic concept, rife though it is in some parts of the Muslim world.

3. Being raised outside religion means you’re not given an informed choice: the premise upon which this idea is built is that it’s fairer for a child to be raised irreligiously, leaving the door open to them to choose a religion in adulthood if desired. This however means that people will end up atheists- and for all the wrong reasons. Religion may have a very rational basis, but many of its fruits are not purely intellectual- they are also experiential. If you grow up without having experienced spiritual satisfaction, answered prayers, and a relationship with God, then how can you possibly make an informed choice about religion’s truth? You can only make an informed choice about religion once you’ve lived in it. If then you decide its promised fruits were non-existent then you’re free to leave- but a rejection of religion without ever endeavouring to truly experience its benefits is meaningless.

4. If a religious upbringing meant permanent indoctrination, there would be no atheists: Perhaps the greatest proof that the whole idea is totally unnecessary is that most of the leading proponents of new atheism were born and raised in religious environments, before leaving religion behind. And we all know that religiosity is on the decline, and atheism on the rise. That simply wouldn’t be possible if raising a child as religious bore some kind of indelible religious streak in them. So what’s all the fuss about?

There you have it. Like so many of New Atheism’s demands, this one too produces more heat than light.

The present article has been reproduced from the End of Atheism website. End of Atheism is a direct response to the New Atheist movement that began with Sam Harris’ book ‘End of Faith.’ You can find more material here:  www.endofatheism.com