A Question for the Religion of Peace

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.


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 bTahrike Tarsile Qur'an; 25 edition.


About Maria Greene

Maria Greene's picture

Maria Greene is the UU Humanist Association's former part-time Executive Director. (Maria has stepped down at the end of 2017 to attend to some extended family health issues.) Maria is also a professional web developer who lives in Massachusetts with her husband, their three busy kids and assorted pets. Maria's home congregation is the First Parish Church of Stow & Acton, she helps coordinate the Concord Area Humanists, a UUHA local group and chapter of the American Humanist Association that meets in Concord, MA, she is a volunteer with the Secular Coalition for Massachusetts, and with the Boston Coalition of Reason.


OK if they leave it up to Allah - but when ISIS shows up at your door and plans to slit not only your throat, but those of your children as well, what do you plan to do?