Why Islam Fails as a Moral Philosophy: Part 1
If you were reading a math book and you came across an equation saying 2+2=4 on one page, but on the very next page, you discovered another equation saying 2+2 =5, what would you think? Most of us know the answer is four, and it could never be five. However, young children would be more naïve. Consider for a moment the impact of consistently holding this book up as the standard for math. As these children developed into mature men and women, they would most likely live in a state of confusion concerning mathematics. What if the children were taught this is not just any book, but a book from God Himself, and they are not allowed to question or critique it? Would this add to the confusion? Perhaps by now, it is obvious that the math illustration parallels the standard of morality as taught by traditional Islam.
At the heart of this Seventh Century religion there is the belief in one God (Allah), Muhammad is the prophet of God, and the Qur’an is the word of God. Apart from these three, there’s no such thing as Islam. Obviously disagreements exist among Muslims in regards to what Allah has revealed in the Qur’an, or what accurately represents the example of Muhammad, but most of the Muslim world is built on this foundation in some way. Any concept of proper Islamic behavior must be connected and supported by at least one of these three.
One of the most significant problems for Islam as a viable belief system is that it lacks a clear and consistent standard for ethical behavior. Even if the majority of Muslims in the world today are peaceful, they have placed their trust in a system that is vague and inconsistent. The information here is not an attempt to label these passive followers as violent extremists, but only to evaluate Islam as a moral philosophy and demonstrate how the God of the Bible reigns supreme.
Is Allah a Sufficient Source for Morality?
It’s crucial to consider how important this question is. If the conclusion to this question is based on strong evidence, then surely it would overshadow or minimize the questions concerning Muhammad and the Qur’an. An examination of the prophet of Allah and the word of Allah would only make sense if the results were conducive with the Islamic concept of God. Serious problems with Allah as a moral standard would have a “Domino effect” on the other two. If Allah is indeed a sufficient and reasonable standard, then Muhammad and the Qur’an should remain standing as well.
There is Some Evidence Suggesting the Answer is “Yes.” Among the ninety-nine names of Allah you will find him referred to as “Al-Barr,” communicating “the source of all goodness .” Other names, such as “The Most Kind” (Al-Ra’uf), and “The Loving One” (Al-Wadud), correspond with and support this concept. Nabeel Qureshi has rightly said, “Love is the root of all that is good.” Goodness flows out of love and is primarily focused on the well-being of someone else.
Ideally, love is reciprocal, requiring a lover and a beloved who are good to each other. This seems to be the intention of Allah when he says, “He will produce a people whom he will love as they will love him” (Surah 5:54). The Qur’an also indicates that Allah is close to humanity and he responds “to the invocation of the supplicant” when called upon (Surah 2:186). Practically no one in the Islamic world would claim to have a personal relationship with Allah because such an idea is blasphemous, but these verses are pointed out in order to be fair. As vague and unsupported as they are, the implications of mutual love and goodness can be found in Islamic literature.
There is Some Evidence Suggesting the Answer is “No.” Despite the evidence in favor of Allah as a Good God, the idea is not reasonable considering the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
From a Christian perspective, The Moral Law reflects the Goodness of God who compels believers to act in a proper way. Jesus said, “The greatest and foremost commandment” is to love God, and “The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:36-40). In other words, Christians should be like Christ in how they relate to the Supreme Source of all that is good. Abiding in the love of God is the key to living in right relationship with the rest of humanity (Jn. 15:1-17). Everything stands or falls on love.
From an Islamic perspective, the emphasis is on submission to Allah. The term “Muslim” refers to “one who submits” to the will of Allah. Here, the emphasis is on the greatest of all sins, shirk (Surah 4:48). This doctrine forbids attaching any partner at all to Allah, such as father and son, since Islam is considered to be pure monotheism. To make matters worse, at the heart of Islam is the doctrine of “tawhid,” which speaks of the absolute and indivisible unity of Allah. Surah 112 is considered as the equivalent of a third of the entire Qur’an because of its Unitarian monotheistic message. It cannot be overstated how important the absolute “oneness” of Allah is in Islamic theology. The Islamic deity will not forgive those who refuse to submit to his will and compromise his unity.
This is where Unitarian monotheism begins to unravel. Here are several reasons to reject Islam based on its lack of a clear and consistent standard for ethical behavior.
a. The Creator’s Love Depends on Creation: Some of the names of Allah, such as “the Loving One” (Al-Wadud) and “The Most Kind” (Al-Ra’uf), make no sense without an object. Who did Allah love before creation? If Allah is going to act in a way that is kind, he must have a partner. The Biblical picture of a Triune God is much more reasonable because He is Love (1 Jn. 4:8). That is, God doesn’t just love His creation, but His Being is the Supreme Standard by which all love is measured. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have loved each other eternally. When God says He “so loved the world” (Jn. 3:16), He speaks of an eternal Love (Ps. 136) that depends on nothing outside of Himself.
b. The Creator’s Love is Changed by Creation: Allah may be known as “the loving one” (Al-Wadud), but his love is conditional, depending on how someone responds. He does not love “transgressors” (Surah 2:190), “those who do mischief” (Surah 5:64), or “ the arrogant” (Surah 16:23). He only loves those “Who put their trust in him” (Surah 3:159), those who “follow him” (Surah 3:31), and perhaps most interestingly, “those who do good” (Surah 2;195). The clear implication here is, if one becomes a Muslim, Allah will change from unloving to loving. This is precisely the type of love Jesus condemned (Matt. 5:46). The God of the Bible does not change (Mal. 3:6), but demonstrated His unconditional love for humanity on the cross (Rom. 5:8). In Christianity believers are changed when they a born again by the Infinite and Holy Spirit of God (Jn. 3:5-7). In Islam, Allah is changed and as Aristotle might say, “He is disqualified as the Unmoved Mover.”
c. The Creator’s Nature is Unknown to Creation: How can an infinitely Good God be both loving and unloving? The typical Muslim response may be, “No one in the heavens or earth knows except Allah” (Surah 27:65), since “there is nothing like him” (Surah 42:11). In this way, Islam holds to a form of agnosticism concerning the essence of Allah. They have no basis to define anything as “loving” or “good.” Dr. Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb speak of this problem in their book, Answering Islam, saying, “For traditional Islam, properly speaking, God does not have an essence, at least not a knowable one. Rather, he is Will .” This concept of God portrays him as so radically transcendent and unlike anything in creation that nothing can be attributed to his being or nature. This point is also confirmed by one of the most prominent and influential Muslims after Muhammad, Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (1058-1111) . Allah is not necessarily good or evil because he is good or evil, but simply because “He hath inscribed for himself” such actions (Surah 6:12). His nature remains unknown.
So, is something good just because Allah wills it, or does he will it because it is good? Either way, Allah is an insufficient standard for morality. If behavior is good just because he arbitrarily wills it as such, then terms such as “love” and “good” have no meaning whatsoever. The Islamic paradigm of “the Good News” (injeel) and good works are hollow and meaningless if they could just as easily be ideas that are evil. If Allah’s will is determined by the good, then he is appealing to something outside of himself and committing the greatest sin according to Islam. Also, if there is something outside of Allah that he must appeal to, that Good would be the real God. O taste and see that the Lord (יְהֹוָה Yĕhovah) is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him (Ps. 34:8).
Al-Ghazali. "The Foundations of the Articles of Faith." Ghazali.org. May 2, 2003. http://www.ghazali.org/works/gz-itiqad.htm (accessed September 22, 2015).
Publications, iqra Islamic. Islam City. Copyright 1995-2015. http://www.islamicity.com/Mosque/99names.htm (accessed September 5, 2015).
Saleem, Norman L. Geisler & Abdul. Answering Islam. Grand Rapids. Michigan: Baker Books, 2002.
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