The following is the question I asked at the “Meet the Muslims” panel discussion that was sponsored by our church. My aim was to see how they would answer the question but also to raise their consciousness about the presence of a substantial constituency of non believers in the general population and to face them with the implications of their scripture for that constituency.
A QUESTION FOR THE RELIGION OF PEACE
My name is David Miller and I am Minister Emeritus of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester. We are sponsoring this panel discussion in the spirit of the verse in Quran 49:13 that says “…we…made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other).” (Abdullah Yussuf Ali translation)
This winter I have been re-reading the Holy Quran to refresh my memory about its contents.
I am finding that in surah after surah and page after page it voices condemnation of non believers. It speaks of the dire punishments Allah has in store for non believers. It describes non believers as “companions of the fire,” who will be constrained to drink boiling water and will be tortured throughout eternity in the flames of hell.
Concurrently I am aware that last year in Bangladesh Islamic radicals murdered four secular authors, Niloy Neal, Avijit Roy, Ananta Bijoy Das, and Washiqur Rahman.
This is a matter of deep and painful concern for me because I happen to be a non believer. Many of my friends are non believers. Some members of my church are non believers. Many members of my family are non believers. We are decent, law abiding, peaceable people who have done nothing to deserve being murdered or being tortured throughout eternity.
What does the religion of peace have to say to us? What place do we have in your world view?
Rev. David J. Miller, Minister Emeritus, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester
February 16, 2016
The panel’s answer was essentially that it is not the place of Muslims to stand in judgment on other people, including non believers and “That is between you and Allah.” This is similar to the answer that I received on a previous occasion when the imam told me “We will leave that up to Allah.”
This answer evades the issue of the Quran’s cruel doctrine but is, nevertheless, reassuring. Where Muslims are taking it upon themselves to do something about people like me as they are in Bangladesh, I am in danger. Where Muslims are content to “leave that up to Allah,” I am safe.
Image credit: The Qur'an: A Translation, translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an; 25 edition.