The Quran: The dialogue has become repetitive

February 28, 2015

Dear Mr. Ashraf,

It seems this dialogue has exhausted its possibilities. We seem to be repeating ourselves.

The dialogue started with my claim that Quran sanctions violence against non-believers, whom you like to call rejecters. Your argument seems to have four vital points:

  1. That what non-believers see as threats of violence by Allah in this life and hereafter are both justified because the rejecters broke the covenant.
  2. The fight of Muhammad and other messengers against the rejecters was justified because they were acting on the direct command of the Allah, they were responsible for implementing Allah’s judgment on this earth.
  3. The duty to fight and kill the rejecters was only of the messengers, and Muhammad was the last messenger; therefore, no believer has that duty now, nor the believers’ killing of non-believers is justified.
  4. This requires a contextual interpretation of the jihad verses in the Quran, that means that those verses were a duty for the followers of Muhammad at the time and in the circumstances where and when they were revealed; and are not eternal commands of Allah.

A rational dialogue, Mr. Ashraf, is possible only if the participants accept certain rules to conduct it. A tentative list of such rules, to my mind, could be as below.

Possible rules for a rational dialogue:

  1. When any participant asks the other to accept a claim s/he presents evidence /argument /reasons /grounds for that acceptance; nothing is asked to be accepted without adequate grounds.
  2. All participants try to understand each other’s language and claims as far as possible in the sense they are made by relevant interlocutor; and spare no efforts in achieving a common understanding of them.
  3. Each one of the participants remains consistent in the total claims s/he makes in the discussion at all levels. That is, does not make contradictory claims.
  4. If anyone makes two contradictory claims, and the other pints out the contradiction; then either the one who made the claim proves that there is no contradiction or reject one of the claims to make the totality of his/her own claims internally consistent.
  5. When authority (or testimony) is used it should be accepted to all.

If we go by these rules there are certain problems in your position. I will list some, not all, such problems below.

  1. Covenant with Allah

One, there is no justification for the covenant apart from Allah being the creator and all powerful. He simply created people and forced them into the covenant (as per your theory) without any choice reject this very deal and live peacefully. If the humans were given the power to think and make their own decisions then this act of Allah is inexplicable and self-contradictory. In this interpretation the Allah (actually most of the punishing Gods) is bordering on torturing people for self-glory and simple enjoyment of power.

Two, the only evidence of such a covenant you are providing is the claims of Quran or other religious books like Bible. Why should any non-believer in Islam should accept the authority of Quran? No grounds at all. Even the claim that Quran is the book given by Allah rests only on the claims of Quran itself. If the authority of the Quran is rejected by a non-believer then that claim is of no rational value. And there is no independent argument that the Quran is revealed by Allah.

  1. Muhammad as messenger

The fight of Muhammad against the rejecters is justified on the assumption of accepting him as the Messenger. But why should a non-believer accept that? Again on the authority of Quran, which itself is questionable.

Second, the only ground for acceptance of Muhammad as messenger of God outside Quran you have provided is the claim that “[w]hen Allah sends a messenger, he is like a sun in the sky which can’t be denied by anyone having eye sight. Such a denial is a willful rejection of truth.” Well this is spacious. Those who deny—and there were who denied in Muhammad’s life time—are declared either as not having eye sight or wilful rejecters; actually in Quran both simultaneously. Declaring them both as not having eye-sight and rejecters is self-contradictory. In any case such a declaration can be no ground in a rational sense to believe in his messenger-hood. Anyone can claim such messenger-hood or god-hood. There have been plenty of people before and after Muhammad who have claimed this. Some of them are even living today. This needs an argument or evidence that is independent of Quran and other religious books.

Till such evidence is available it could only be considered as fictitious self-justification by Muhammad, as the Quran was revealed to him.

  1. The Quranic verses should be interpreted contextually

This would be a welcome reading of Quran. And that is how all religious texts should be read. But then immutability and eternality of Quran will have to be compromised. Unfortunately many believers do not accept it.

Unless this dialogue answers these questions without using the authority of Quran we both are repeating ourselves.

As per your comments on what is religion and what it does, etc.; please read on the same blog.

With regards