Monday, May 19, 2014

Growth of Islam and Freedom of Man

                  My plea to Islam in my previous blog, “Is Islam the World’s FastestGrowing Religion?” was two-fold: (A) to offer Muslims the legitimate option to reject Islam (without any dangerous consequences - expressed or tacit), and (B) to remove all barriers - incarnational or digital - for a Muslim to explore any worldview. This naturally suggests removal of all legal barriers in countries subscribing to Islam to the proponents of conflicting worldviews.

            First, some clarity with respect to my previous blog:

            (1) Growth of any religion is not a matter of salvific or doctrinal significance for a believer unless he desires to indulge in religious trivia.

            (2) Islamic growth was used as a mere premise to propose a two-fold plea to Islam. Examining the veracity of the Islamic growth statistic was not an intent. Moreover, a subjective belief never denigrates an objective fact i.e. if I do not believe in the Islamic growth; the fact of the growth remains unassailed, as long as the statistic is truthful.

            (3) Condemning Islam was not even an implied intent.

            (4) The two-fold plea is predicated on “freedom.” Anyone should have the freedom to choose or reject Islam and all worldviews should be offered the freedom of vocalized presence in all Islamic countries. 

            (5) The intent is not to judge Muslims but it’s a complementary endeavor to desire for human freedom.

            Certain friendly comments objected my essay. For the sake of space restrictions, parts of their exact responses that reflect the entire theme of their response are shown below. My response to the objections received is as follows:

            Objection #1: “…For the mere fact being just as my India has its divisions n restriction in each district whereby a non Mahrashtran is forced to learn Marathi since they have no choice to reside in Mumbai to fit d Norms, and despise it totally. IT doesn't mean the citizen being Christian, hindu, muslim is being forced by their holy books to be hypocrites. my point here is that u have very conviniently pointed out the hypocrisy u saw n experienced but dint go deep in to ask d question Does Islam force you to do what you are doing?...”

            Response #1: Yes, the holy books should not encourage hypocrisy. In highly conservative Islamic societies, women are forced to go out in traditional Arabic attires only with their eyes exposed. Once again, my point is to offer freedom of attire (and religion), in this context. Of course, decency is mandatory – although it’s an individual’s moral responsibility.

            If people love their traditional attire, then they would prefer that attire when they venture out of their country. If they dislike their traditional attire, they would discard it at the earliest. This is a vital aspect of human freedom.

            I admire the Islamic societies where freedom for attire is offered, where those who do not adhere to the traditional attire are not condemned. 

            Islamic societies are ruled by the Sharia law, and the Sharia law receives its counsel from the Quran and Sunna. So it is reasonable to think that the force is indeed from a specific interpretation of Islamic texts.

            Objection #2: “…And one more thing, Islam has no restrictions, it has guidelines to meet salvation. if you follow it, GOOD FOR YOU N IF YOU NOT THE CONSEQUENCES ARE CLEARLY STATED. it for us to decide. its because of these clear guidelines n logic explanations I chose to convert and many more like me are. So dont doubt the statistics on petty observations, if you have it in you to state the falsehood in the holy Quran , GIVE IT A SHOT. For your satisfaction….”

            Response #2: Theological debate on salvation or other doctrines in Quran or Bible is not the intent. There are conversions in all worldviews, so that levels out in the long run. An undeniable fact is the existence of religious restriction in certain Islamic societies.

            So my question is, “Isn’t it religious restriction when Islam prohibits proclamation of another worldview in their country?” Bahrain and UAE are good case in point for the legal presence of other religions. The legal presence of other religions in Islamic societies is admirable.

            But there are documented instances of religious restriction or persecution of people in these countries - jailed or otherwise persecuted for having proclaimed their faith in the open.1 Restriction of other worldviews implies a lack of freedom.

            What’s wrong if a person offers his religious text, free of cost to those willing to take it? Lack of freedom is when a Muslim cannot explore another worldview or a member of another worldview cannot proclaim their faith in the open in an Islamic society.

            If there is no religious freedom, then there is a restriction. This is an undeniable fact.

            If religious persecution occurs in more progressive Islamic societies, one can only imagine the amount of religious persecution in conservative Islamic societies. Nine out of top ten countries where Christians are persecuted most are Islamic countries.2

            Objection #3: “…My suggestion for anyone who wishes to know what Islam is that you read and understand the Holy Quran rather than judge how the so called Islamic countries conduct their government and their laws or whatever...becuz at the end of the day, NOT a SINGLE person can ever claim to be the ultimate flagbearer of Islam or Christianity or Judaism or any other religion-not even the highest mullah,or reverend or rabbi….”

            Response #3: Couple of quotes from the Quran referring to man’s freewill was quoted by another reader, they are: “Indeed, We guided him to the way, be he grateful or be he ungrateful” (Quran 76: 3) and “Rather, man, against himself, will be a witness, Even if he presents his excuses” (Quran 75: 14-15).

            If the Quran asserts man’s freewill, then Islam ought to practice it by offering religious freedom for man to exercise his freewill. Religious restriction in any form or size denies human freewill, and contradicts the Quranic assertion of human freewill.  

            Objection #4: “…Islam is the most righteous religion I hav ever seen .I'm in america. The most Christians here have broken all rules of morality. But did I blame your religion ??...”

            Response #4: Blaming Islam was and is not the intent. The only intent is a friendly and a civil discussion.

            Christianity may have the largest following in the USA, but America does not endorse any one particular religion as an official state-endorsed religion. America loves and embraces moral relativism. So any moral aberration in America is to be credited to moral relativism and the depravity of mankind.

            Objection #5: “…Islam from day 1 of its existence encouraged people to question nd seek knowledge...infact from my own personl experienc...d more i questiond d teachings of my religion...d more i learnt...nd dts wt made me respect and love islam more….”

            Response #5: While this may be true to an extent, what would happen to anyone who would step into an Islamic country and explicitly question the Islamic faith in both polite and impolite terms? Would the much acclaimed bulldog of atheism - Richard Dawkins, have the courage to question Islam in his own inimitable and impolite style as he questions the Christian faith? 3

            Would Islam tolerate higher and lower criticism of the Quran as how Christianity tolerates the criticism of the Bible? Is legitimate freedom offered whereby the Quran can be questioned for its credibility?

            When a fatwa was issued against Salman Rushdie for “Satanic Verses,” did any other Islamic country offer him asylum? Even if they had offered him asylum would he have had the courage to take it up? Why was Islam unable to tolerate Rushdie’s thoughts? All these questions are predicated on basic human freedom that every human is entitled to and its infringement by Islam.

            Objection #6: “…The freedom that Islam grants is based on commitment and responsibility without which there can be no true freedom. Freedom without restraints leads only to nihilism, the consequence of which is the complete breakdown of the moral and social order. The irresponsible concept of freedom expounded by existentialism, democracy and modern theories of freedom of expression lead only to corruption and immorality since they are not tied to any concept higher moral values or self control. For Islam, freedom lies in commitment and responsibility. They form an integral part of each other and can in no way be separated. There is no freedom of choice without responsibility; no responsibility without freedom…”

            Response #6: True freedom should be free of all restraints. Permit me to respond through the Christian worldview.

            The God of the Bible allows man to freely choose or reject HIM. The God of the Bible does not restrict a Christian from sinning.

            The Christian voluntarily offers his life to God and subsequently continues to overcome his frailty with God’s help. Thereby he gains his true freedom, which remains subject to God’s sovereignty.

            So we agree that freedom does come with commitment and responsibility. But this is merely one aspect of freedom.

            Every human being should possess true freedom – without any restraints whatsoever and at any point in time. True love is the supreme means by which God demonstrates HIS love for mankind. True love entails acceptance or rejection of that very love. Thus man should be allowed to accept or reject God at any time of his life.

            Yes, man could be irresponsible with his freedom. His freedom may lead to, as you accurately said, nihilism and all other evil-isms. But this is inevitable for it is the logical outworking of true love that grants true freedom, which consequently could lead to rejection of God.

            Conclusion: Most Islamic countries subscribe to the Sharia or the Islamic law. The Quran and the Sunna contribute primarily to the Sharia law.4

            Therefore, when Islamic nations force religious restrictions to restrict human freewill, which even the Quran asserts, then a reasonable conclusion is that the Islamic societies are either contradicting or affirming the Quran through an interpretation that logically contributes to the restriction of human freedom.

            The fact remains that religious freedom is largely nonexistent in Islamic countries. And as long as religious freedom is restricted, mankind is subjected to religious slavery - undesirable in any context.

            Whatever the case may be, man’s inherent freedom (heart’s disposition) cannot be eliminated. It may be confined for a period of time, but it can never be purged. The society may incarcerate man’s tangible freedom, but any society can never deny the freedom of his heart.  


3 “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” - Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion


Anonymous said...

Have you read the Qura'an My friend.. Your ignorance fiends me.. I was asked to say something to shut you up but my friend, your reasoning with ignorance astonishes me.. I'm sorry, but a persons intellect is judged whether he's gone through the texts himself before debating.. and unfortunately, you havent.. Best of Luck in convincing the Masses.. and for crying out loud.. your ranting is only heard in this page..

Ignorance is bliss.. or is it..

Raj Richard said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for your passionate comment. I sure appreciate it. You would help your cause and mine if you make concrete references and assertions.

Thanks again, friend. God bless.

N K said...

That's a sharp rebuttal indeed !!!

Anonymous said...

Take the time out from the extra time yoy play with your kids or grand kids, the extra time for your work, the extra time you spend on sunday to chill/relax/unwind(whatever floats your boat.. Go the extra mile in researching our religion with its text.. Islam is perfect, Muslims aren't.. I wouldn judge you as a christian and certainly not judge the counties*cough, Crusaders, Barbaric, Ruthless* *wink* coz lets be honest, you weren't brought into this world to die for someones sins let alone yours.. so, judge me with my holy book and not me the sinner who has vices in me just as any person does.

So if you want references, Holy Qura'an is your best bet. :) Happy researching..

PS - DO travel outside the world, especially the Americas and Britain.. DO ask the converts what makes them tick when posed a question as to why their previous religion which they adopted since birth didn work for them..

Raj Richard said...

Dear Anonymous,

It's a very interesting point you are msking - to research the Quran. If anyone wants to research the Quran, then they may have to ask difficult questions of the Quran.

It is for this exact reason I have asked whether Islam would be tolerant in academic circles where people can have a real go at the Quran, without being abused or threatened.

History does answer this question well.

Appreciate your comments. God bless.

Anonymous said...

Offcourse.. just come out of your cocoon already Raj.. Islam is not only the narrow minded middle east.,. Islam is around the world which gives justice to muslims and non muslims alike and also for the sake of argument, if i have to agree that islam is unjust, then you or your family would be extinct from the face earth coz when mughals came in and if they had the same ideology which you preach off then you, your religion, your fathers would be no where in site.. Islam code of peace is evident and shows the reality when you travel the mughals rule of how they served and kept the hindus in their era and the testament is the fact that 80% of indians are muslims. If mughals had your understanding of Islam, then i would 80% of it being muslims and no temples in varnasi or wherever the ancient temples have prominence..

let me gather up links and send you for your disposal to free your mind and save you from ignorance. Ironically, the first word revealed to Muhammed PBUH of the Qura'an was 'Read'..

Peace be on you!

Raj Richard said...

Dear Anonymous,

The point I am making is, as I stated in my blog, the example of Salman Rushdie, who had to go into hiding because of the fatwa issued against him. Why? Because he questioned Islam.

I have also referred a newspaper report in my blog about a religious persecution in the UAE - a country that admirably permits legal presence of conflicting worldviews.

Why was this person jailed? Because she gave away copies of the Bible to those who wanted it voluntarily. Is this a crime worthy of imprisonment? I dont think so. Why is there not a freedom in Islamic nations? This is my question now.

I do not think of these actions and more as just or even as an example of justice.

Having said all this, I am deeply grateful to the rulers of the Kingdom of Bahrain and their tolerance towards all religions. I have personally enjoyed the benefits of their extreme love towards foreigners and other faiths.

Some of my very good friends are Muslims and I do have one non-biological brother, who is an Arab. I do miss him greatly, now that I am not in Bahrain.

I say this to place things in perspective. I do not have anything against Muslims, Islam or Islamic nations. But I do have some very genuine thoughts about Islam, which I have honestly shared on the www.

Thanks again for your comments. God bless...:)

Naz S said...

Hello Mr.Richard!!

I would like you to put forward my ideas upon this statement of yours:

"Having said all this, I am deeply grateful to the rulers of the Kingdom of Bahrain and their tolerance towards all religions. I have personally enjoyed the benefits of their extreme love towards foreigners and other faiths."

I being a resident of this island for over two decades whole heartedly agree that Bahrain takes a moderate approach towards other religions..

Despite of being a considerably moderate society I have come across umpteen number of Christians and Hindus who became Muslims..

So keeping the GCC in consideration, apart from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ...all other countries are pretty much tolerant..Why is it that you dont see the Arab or expatriates Muslims leaving their faiths in thousands then ??unlike their western counterparts!!

No matter how tolerant a country is to other religions...a Muslim who has even an ounce of faith and religious understanding will not leave Islam no matter how deviated he/ she is

You are missing the key point here...its not the country that makes a person accept or reject his faith..especially in the 21st centuary , With access to every religious text and information on the internet, it is absurd to say that the lack of evangelistic activity is the root cause of a religion's stagnation!
Or the lack of religious freedom is the cause of stiffled conversion!

If you do your bit of research, you will see that through out history whenever the Arabs were invaded either by the Mongols, or the Turks , and right now the Western world, these people as they learnt of Islam fell in love with its teachings and broad mindedness and eventually became its strongest proponents.

As suggested by Anonymous I request you to have a better understanding of Islam from the Holy Book and authentic Hadiths rather than from human beings who are filled with flaws.

May the Almighty guide you!


Raj Richard said...

Hello Ms. Naz S,

Thank you for your comments.

When you bring conversion into the debate, then we can talk endlessly, for there are conversions on all sides.

I have personally met Muslims who have seen the Lord Jesus in visions and dreams and have converted to Christianity and are extremely happy. So we can go on and on...and of course, we can also debate endlessly about the metaphysics of conversion as well. Even that would be prolonged.

But here is my honest question, while the Islamic countries gladly accept people from other worldviews into Islam, why dont they offer a freehand to Muslims converting to other worldviews?

Even without going into the topic of conversion, why would the Islamic nations not allow a muslim to genuinely explore another worldview?

All I am saying is that every religion should offer man his innate freedom.

Anonymous said...

I am getting in the middle of the debate, but I am on the side of freedom. Isis shows the final fatality of Islam in it's worst form of brutality, but in most Islamic countries, girls are mutilated as preteens which is a form of brutality and torture. Women have no rights and are threatened in many Islamic countries such as Pakistan and kept from having any freedom to read, study, go to school, travel, or have a job. I'm with you sir.

Anonymous said...

I am getting in the middle of the debate, but I am on the side of freedom. Isis shows the final fatality of Islam in it's worst form of brutality, but in most Islamic countries, girls are mutilated as preteens which is a form of brutality and torture. Women have no rights and are threatened in many Islamic countries such as Pakistan and kept from having any freedom to read, study, go to school, travel, or have a job. I'm with you sir.