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Why must I embrace religion as long as I’m a good person?

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Jul 04, 2017

Question

I'm a MONOTHEIST. I believe that there is ONE GOD who created everything. I believe that our primary purpose in this life is to worship GOD and do good for the betterment of humanity and the world. I always try my best to be a good person and try to help others as much as I can, because I believe that this pleases GOD. However, unlike most people, I DO NOT BELIEVE IN ANY RELIGION. I'm not a member of any religious group. I've been studying history for a long time and I have come to the conclusion that religion is evil, because it has caused so much suffering in this world. It divides people instead of bringing them together. I've talked with many people from different religions (including Islam) and they have tried to convince me to join their religion, but I'm still not convinced. No matter how they try to tell me how good their religion is, I'm still strongly convinced by what I've learned from history: that RELIGION IS EVIL, RACIST, HOMOPHOBIC, and CLOSED-MINDED (forgive me if I sound harsh, but that's what I honestly believe). I'm a strong believer in HUMAN RIGHTS, but Religion has violated so many fundamental human rights throughout history. I'm an open-minded person. I believe in the GOLDEN RULE and I also believe that everyone should have the freedom to do whatever they want, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone or interfere with other people's freedom to do whatever they want. According to your religion (Islam), will I go to hell just because I am not a member of your religion? Even though I try my best to be a good person?

Consultant

Answer


not religious

Salam Dear Sister,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

The key question here is: who defines what a good person is? “Good” and “bad” can be relative terms; What is good for one can be bad for another.

If the majority opinion is to be the determining factor of what is good or bad, then the majority can often be wrong and multitudes can be easily swayed.

Were one to argue that each individual decides what is right or wrong—or everyone is free to do whatever they want, so long as they don’t hurt others—this can lead to anarchy.

In that situation, there are no real limits to individual behavior, something we are not far from today.

In that situation, there are no real limits to individual behavior, something we are not far from today.

Those who strive to bring people together and to hold each other to account for their treatment of each other are those who make this world a better place.

People of religion are more often than not found in this group. The closest equivalent of The Golden Rule in Islam comes from a saying of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him,

“Love for your brother what you love for yourself”

It is not possible to claim Islam as your faith if you do not seek peace, prosperity, and justice for others, regardless of their religious beliefs or even their absence of faith.

Their membership in humanity is reason enough to treat them with the utmost respect, generosity, and kindness.

Religious doesn’t have to mean harsh

Membership in a religion is not a road that leads to war and oppression unless an individual has the intention to use it for this purpose. It is God who is worshiped, but different religions claim to have the best path to reaching God.

Only Islam makes acknowledging the truth in other religions a tenet of faith. 

To claim that all religions are the same and evil is to avoid the hard work of seeking the truth and trying to determine what it is that God wants, likes, dislikes, allows and forbids. It is an attempt to refuse control over our wants and desires from anyone or anything, to take oneself as one’s own Lord, but this is a true recipe for disaster.

Speaking of this trend of making oneself one’s God, Allah says:

Have you seen he who has taken as his god his [own] desire, and Allah has sent him astray due to knowledge and has set a seal upon his hearing and his heart and put over his vision a veil? So who will guide him after Allah? Then will you not be reminded? (Quran 45:23)

 

Don’t judge a religion by its followers

Should one whose understanding is limited, imprison himself in his own understanding? Religions preach similar messages of peace, charity, forgiveness, truth, justice, etc. This cannot be evil. We should never blame the shortcomings of individuals or groups within a religion on the religion itself.

With that being said, if someone chooses to criticize a religion, it should not be for what those who claim to follow its practices but for what the religion preaches to its followers.

The reason that almost half the world’s population follows Christianity and Islam is that they have an appeal to humanity. Nothing that unifies that many people–literally billions–can be inherently evil.

Anyone who claims that Islam teaches hatred toward non-Muslims is either ignorant or a liar. The same goes for any such claims against Christianity, Judaism, or any major world religion.

Some people are not good, regardless of religion

Not all human beings have universal peace, respect, and kindness in their hearts. Very few are endowed with wisdom and love for humanity. Furthermore, there are even fewer still are willing to sacrifice for the sake of others.

Many people perform terrible acts upon others in the name of their religion, but they do not represent what the religion teaches.

Painting everyone with the same brush is an easy way to avoid the hard work of getting to know someone intimately, on a personal level. This is unfair and shows a true disinterest in getting to know people as individuals.

Many believe that terrorism is a pillar of Islam and that Jihad is synonymous with it, but the truth is that terrorism goes against the very core of Islamic teachings.

We must strive to avoid painting the masses of peace-loving followers of a religion with the brush of the misguided, narrow-minded individuals that happen to be members of a particular religious group. One can find people like this in every religion, culture, or ethnic group, unfortunately.

Only Allah judges

Regarding whether or not Islam teaches that you as a non-Muslim are destined for Hell, I will say this: It is only for God to decide who will enter the Hellfire, for how long, or who will be saved from it.

The Quran is the unfiltered, untainted Word of God and the criterion for determining what is right and wrong for all humanity, not just those who believe in it. The Truth is not affected by the failure of some to recognize it for what it is.

We must take the message of the Quran as a whole, not pick it apart and use verses to justify evil practices. By the same token, it is not merely membership in Islam that grants one admission to Paradise.

It is only God’s Mercy that saves an individual from the Hellfire. Only God, in His Mercy, grants one admission to Heaven.

Islam teaches that many Muslims will enter the Hellfire, some will stay for a short time. Some Muslims will stay for a long time and some will even stay forever as a result of their hypocrisy. Some will be fortunate enough to avoid the Hellfire completely.

Only Allah can judge the contents of a person’s heart and He is the Most Just.

 

I hope this has been helpful to you. Please keep in touch.


This response is from About Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.

Satisfy your curiosity and check out these other helpful links:

 

Is It OK to Believe in God But Not in Islam‏?

 

The Foundation of Islamic Ethics

 

God Is Merciful: Why Hell?

 

Remember That Allah is Most Merciful

 

How Do We Know that Islam is the Truth?

 

 

 

 

 




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