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Comfort in the Quran?

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islam hell

So far in this blog I’ve hardly spoken about the Quran. It is a touchy subject. But that can’t continue, it is the very essence of the religion, it is the most important thing to learn. Forget about the prayers, the head scarf, the fast, saying alhamduallah and inshallah, they all came about due to the message, the book… the word of God?

On Wednesday I was at hospital waiting to go under general anaesthetic to have my wisdom teeth removed. I was scared. No, not about the teeth, it was being put to sleep that concerned me. The night before my fears drove me to a point that I made my final wishes known to my husband, right down to which songs I want at my funeral. On the actual day there was a lot of waiting on my alone, allowing me to over think such thoughts. A perfect time to read a holy book, this time not just to learn, but perhaps to seek comfort and to sooth.
Well that was the hope.
Although England is pretty secular, it is still a Christian country and must grow up knowing an idea about the religion, and the concept that Jesus loves us. Jesus hates the sin but not the sinner. Jesus sacrificed himself for us. Whatever we do, whoever we are, we are loved by Jesus- in fact, God IS love.
That is quite comforting stuff. I could have done with a bit of that from the Quran. But I didn’t get it.
Reading the sura’s (chapters) of the Quran I didn’t feel like God was trying to coax me to him with a bear hug, I felt like he was trying to make me run to him because there was an angry mob with torches behind me.
Again and again and again the Quran reminds us that if you don’t believe you will have agonising torment, you will be fuel to the fire, you will have humiliating punishment. My mouth actually dropped open when I read: “We shall send those who reject our revelations to the fire. When their skins have been burnt away, we shall replace them with new ones so that they may continue to feel the pain” (4:56).
I wasn’t comforted, I wasn’t soothed. Where was the love?
People shouldn’t be scared into belief, it doesn’t work, and why would God want people to believe in him simply because they were too afraid not to? It is Pascal’s Wager: it is better to believe in God as if you are wrong you lose nothing, but if you disbelieve and are wrong you are punished.
I could write a lot about the errors in the wager, but most people don’t need to know religious debate 101 to see the flaws in such an argument.
You cannot scare someone who doesn’t believe into believing, it isn’t a switch. I have said it before and I will say it again: Atheists do not deny God, we haven’t turned away from him, we have no control over our disbelief just as a believer has no control over their belief.
And apparently because of this, God doesn’t love us. He will torture us, forever.
No, I wasn’t comforted, I wasn’t soothed.
Maybe a believer finds soothing words in the book (I should add I still have a way to go before I finish it, so can only talk about what I have so far read). But with all that negativity in there, do they just skim by it? Do they just not see it as it doesn’t apply to them? And what parts of it do believers find comforting? I decided it might help if I read it from a believers point of view, but even then I wasn’t filled with much uplifting joy.
Heaven, a place of gardens and flowing streams according to the Quran. Doesn’t that seem like the type of heaven those in the desert would picture? I can get that by going to the Lake District! Ok, yes believers I hear you scream “it will be a hundred times more beautiful”. But, well, I don’t *need* more beautiful. The idea that heaven is perfection for ever and ever and ever doesn’t really appeal to me, especially not when people are being tortured, loved ones, good people whose only crime was being atheists or polytheists. And let’s just say when in heaven I lose that human compassion and do not care about them, the idea of eternity of bliss actually sounds quite boring. Anything I want I can have? So what is the point? Everything becomes meaningless.
No, I didn’t feel comforted, I didn’t feel soothed. I felt disconnected.

Well obviously I came through the operation alive and well. The post op tablets I have to take mean I cannot fast for five days as they have to be taken with food. There are no slaves nearby that I can free to make up for these lose of days, but I can make them up after the month, or feed the hungry. Freeing slaves and feeding the hungry, admirable. The Quran is also very focused on being just to orphans. There is good in there I know there is, I just wish it would ease off the fire and brimstone talk.

An atheist’s view on Islam

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Gharqad tree

“There is a Jew behind me!”

I have purposely not written a hypothesis as I don’t want to see it as an aim, instead I want to go into this with a complete open mind and absolutely no premeditated conclusions.
What I will do however is write my current feelings on the religion, to see if at the end of the month they have altered at all.

This post will be completely honest, please don’t bother reading if you will be offended by anything short of adoration.

Before I met my husband I never really thought much about Islam, I had my hands full with Christianity. I’m not the type to be suckered into media manipulation, but at the same time I was very anti religions and what I did know about that one I thought was very “cult’ish”.
Fast forward to meeting my husband and experiencing an Islamic society and I no longer view it on the same level as Scientology (for any scientologists out there that was a joke, please don’t hunt me down Mr Cruise ;-)) but as a religion as developed and varied as Christianity.
But that isn’t always a good thing.
On the one hand I get told something I can get my head around, and then the next there is something that has me shaking my head with disbelief.
Recently someone told me how the Hadiths predict the end of times will be- Jesus will come kill pigs, break crosses, and raise up Muslims to hunt down Jews who will hide behind talking trees, oh but the “Jew trees” wont tell on them (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 4, Book 55, No. 657; Fateh-ul Bari, Vol. 7, P. 302/ Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Fitan wa Ashrat as-Sa’ah, Book 41, 6985/ Kitab al-Fitan, hadith. 2239) Let me point out that not all Muslims believe this, but it does worry me that many however do.
I also find the way atheists, and disbelievers in general, are seen as quite unnerving. To have someone stare me straight in the face and tell me that of course I deserve to burn in hell simply for a disbelief, nothing to do with how I am as a person, doesn’t exactly scream “friendly religion” to me.
However, I am certainly not of the mind that Muslims are all terrorists and hijackers. Some of the nicest people I have ever met have been Muslims and they have all told me that Islam is a religion of peace, something that I hope to find out for myself when I read the Quran over Ramadan.
Another thing is separating Islam from Muslims. “Thank God I found Islam before I found Muslims!” exclaims one of my converted friends whenever she hears yet another Muslim cleric talking tripe, from warning the danger of phallic foods or saying it is ok to sleep with a dead partner. I didn’t have such luck. I have been surrounded by Muslims, be it in the media or in person, born or convert, but have actually spent very little time with Islam. How much of the negative views I have come from misguided individuals and Hadiths?
From where I stand now Islam seems very picky (I have just read a long conversation about the dangers of colourful head coverings), but maybe it is certain Muslims who have too much time on their hands that have actually degraded the religion far more than the Daily Fail, erm Mail, can ever do? After all, I am married to a wonderful Muslim man, someone who I’m proud to have as the father of my child, how can I not believe there must be at least some good in the religion when he would adamantly declare all the good he has comes from it? Just don’t talk to me about talking trees…