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Why Do Islamic Beliefs Appear Irrational to an Outsider?

31 January, 2018
Q Some of the core beliefs in Islam, common with other Abrahamic religions, are: Eternal Hell & Eternal Heaven; Angels & Satan; Day of Judgment; Creation from nothing (ex-nihilo); a God out there in a throne (Creation separate from Creator). To an outsider these appear to be irrational beliefs; the first 3 designed to infuse fear and obedience and the last 2 illogical and contradictory.


Short Answer:  Muslims believe that God is different from us. He is not a human being. He is Eternal and there is to Him no equivalent. So understanding what He tells us is limited by our own human senses and God uses human words and human imagery to explain eternal and Divine things. No wonder they may seem strange.


Salam (Peace) Dear Velupillai,

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

There is something illogical in life about love, isn’t there?

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If real love is about putting other people before us, then that is quite illogical.

Surely, it is of the essence of humans to look after themselves and to preserve themselves at all costs, yet if you love someone you are even prepared to put them before you think of yourself.

In such a case, a husband might choose to give his wife the only remaining life-jacket, thus condemning himself to die.

In another case, proving that someone loves you is also rather difficult to do.

There aren’t any proofs we can put forward to prove beyond doubt that someone loves us. We can go on their actions thus far, but we have no certainty they will continue to love us forever.

How can you prove to someone else that your mother loves you?

In the same way, the questions you pose are very difficult to answer in a logical way.

For many millions of people, it is as obvious as the air they breathe that there is a God, but most people would find it difficult to prove beyond any shadow of doubt.

Perhaps that’s why we call it faith.

Just as in loving someone else, you take a leap of faith in loving them and hope that they will always continue to love you back. So it is with religious belief.

This is at the heart of your question.

The details and the specifics are just a manifestation of the main question: How can we prove it?

Fear or Love of Allah?

As far as fearing God is concerned, for people of faith there is no dichotomy between their faith and the thing they have faith in.

A little boy might love his father, but he also fears being punished by his father for doing wrong, even though he knows his father is not being cruel or arbitrary in punishing him.

In fact, he knows somehow that the punishment stems from the father wanting what is best for his son and not wanting him to put himself in any harm or danger.

Muslims believe two very conflicting things about the God they call Allah.

First of all, they learn from the Quran that He is totally different from them in every way. “He created the heavens and the earth and everything in between” and is totally different from His Creation.

On the other hand, He “knows every leaf that falls from every tree” and that He is so close to His Creation that He knows everything about it.

Yes, this is a contradiction in terms of what we, as humans, can do. But our very belief in God is that He is different from us. He is not a human being.

Judging Him by what human beings can do will inevitably not make sense – because He is not human.

All we know about Allah is what He tells us about Himself.

Our understanding of what He tells us is also limited by our own human senses. They are all we have got to understand the things around us with, so this God uses human words and human imagery to explain eternal and Divine things. No wonder they seem strange.

It is indeed illogical and strange that this God should care for us at all, yet the experience of many millions of people down through the ages is that He does just that.

His messages down through the ages through Prophets and Messengers have told us precisely that He does care for us and wants the best for us.

Like loving another human being, faith is indeed difficult to explain and to put into words. It’s a bit like trying to explain to someone else a film they have not seen or a taste they have not experienced.

The fact that someone else hasn’t experienced it, though, does not make it any less real for the person who has.

Maybe we call it “faith” for the simple reason that there are not clear and obvious proofs. If there were such proofs, the whole world would believe.

Or maybe they still wouldn’t!

I hope this helps address your concerns.

Salam and please keep in touch.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Belief in God is Illogical – Says the Atheist?

Belief in the Hereafter: Any Benefits?

Islam: A Natural Belief in God?

Does Firm Belief in God Come from Heart or Mind?

What Are the Benefits of Religion?

The Concept Of The Soul In Religion And Science?

About Idris Tawfiq
Idris Tawfiq was a British writer, public speaker and consultant.He became a Muslim around 15 years ago.For many years, he was head of religious education in different schools in the United Kingdom.Before embracing Islam, he was a Roman Catholic priest.He passed away in peace in the UK in February 2016 after a period of illness.May Allah (SWT) have mercy on him, and accept his good deeds. Ameen.