non-Muslims

Does being a Muslim make us better humans than non-Muslims?

Does being a Muslim make us better humans than disbelievers?

First, note that the word “disbeliever” as it is used in Quran translations does not refer to all non-Muslims as explained here. It only refers to someone who believes in God but knowingly disobeys Him and denies His blessings and scriptures.

The attributes that make some humans better than others are mercy, compassion, submission to God and fear of Him, generosity and other attributes that God teaches us to try to have. Any human who has more of these attributes is superior to those who have less of them.

It is quite possible for a non-Muslim to be more kind than a particular Muslim. In that case they are superior to the Muslim when it comes to kindness, but they may be inferior when it comes to submission to God (maybe they believe in God but knowingly reject following Him).

Some people believe that merely entering the fold of Islam automatically makes one a superior species of human compared to everyone else. But the Quran seems to reject that view. The Quran says:

13. O people! We created you from a male and a female, and made you races and tribes, that you may know one another. The best among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is All-Knowing, Well-Experienced.

14. The Desert-Arabs say, “We have believed.” Say, “You have not believed; but say, ‘We have submitted,’ [i.e. we have entered Islam] for faith has not yet entered into your hearts. But if you obey God and His Messenger, He will not diminish any of your deeds. God is Forgiving and Merciful.”

15. The believers are those who believe in God and His Messenger, and then have not doubted, and strive for God’s cause with their wealth and their persons. These are the sincere.

16. Say, “Are you going to teach God about your religion, when God knows everything in the heavens and the earth, and God is aware of all things?”

17. They regarded it a favor to you that they have submitted. Say, “Do not consider your submission a favor to me; it is God who has done you a favor by guiding you to the faith, if you are sincere.” (The Quran, verses 49:14-17)

These verses criticize the Bedouins for claiming to have faith when they do not. They accepted Islam but they have only done so out of political and material considerations–they have not become believers yet. ﻹhe verses imply that their being merely “Muslim” has little value if they do not believe and strive in the way of God.

That teaches us that being Muslim is not automatically a ticket to being superior to others. A Christian who better embodies the attributes of submission, piety, fear of God and kindness seems to me a superior human in the Quranic view compared to a cruel and evil-doing Muslim. The Quran says:

146. Those to whom We have given the Book [Jews, Christians and followers of other Abrahamic religions] recognize it as they recognize their own children. But some of them conceal the truth while they know.

147. The truth is from your Lord, so do not be a skeptic.

148. To every community is a direction towards which it turns. Therefore, race towards goodness. Wherever you may be, God will bring you all together. God is capable of everything. (The Quran, verses 2:146-148)

Verse 148 above says “race towards goodness”. The call may be directed towards Muslims, telling them to race with one another in goodness, or it could be a call to Muslims, Jews and Christians to race each other. This second interpretation follows more logically from the context, since in 148 it says “Therefore, race towards goodness” right after it means “every community” (meaning Muslims, Jews, Christians, etc.). Now, if there is to be a race towards goodness between Muslims, Jews, Christians, and others, that means it is possible that some Jews and Christians may win the race and some Muslims may lose the race. If Muslims were supposed to always win just by the virtue of being Muslim, then there would be no point in a race. The race would be won by default every time before it even begins.

So the concept that Muslims, Jews and Christians can race one another in goodness suggests that it is goodness that matters, not the mere fact of being Muslim.

Of course, merely being Muslim comes with its own virtues, but it is only one attribute among other equally important attributes.

In summary, being Muslim does not necessarily make every Muslim automatically superior to every non-Muslim.

The real meaning of kāfir and the difference between small kufr and big kufr

Is not wearing hijab kufr if the person knows and accepts that it's God's command but has a hard time fighting his nafs [ego]?

Kufr has two meanings when used in the Quran:

  • To deny a truth
  • To deny a blessing

The best translation of kufr might therefore be “denial”, a denial that includes both the denial of truth and the denial of blessings. Technically, any sin is to some degree kufr, because any sin we commit is a denial of God’s blessings. But since it does not contain a denial of truth, it is only what we may call “small kufr” in English. Not wearing hijab is a sin like any other and there may be acceptable excuses for it in the short-term.

There is also “big kufr”. When people think of kufr and kāfirs, this is what they usually think about. To commit big kufr is to turn your back against God, fight against Him and deny the truth of His scriptures and the truth of His blessings despite believing deep in your heart that God exists and that His scriptures are true.

When the Quran speaks of kāfirs it is not speaking of just any group of non-Muslims (as too many Muslims unfortunately think). A kāfir is one who believes in God but fights against Him, and the archetypal example of a kāfir is Satan, who lived in God’s presence and fully believed in His power and greatness, yet he disobeyed Him. A human kāfir is guilty of the same sin. They believe in God but deny His truth and His blessings.

By that definition, the majority of the world’s non-Muslims are likely not kāfirs, because they are not convinced in their hearts of the truth of God’s scriptures. A real kāfir knows the truth but denies it. A non-Muslim who has only heard negative things about religion and never gets a chance to fully explore it is a completely different type of person.

Regarding wearing the hijab, God does not ask you to do more than you are able. Wearing the hijab requires courage and it can be difficult if there is no one around you doing the same and supporting you in it. There are people who cruelly condemn Muslim women who do not wear the hijab. Know that God is kinder than humans, so do not let people’s cruelty make you think negative thoughts about God.

Hanging out with other hijabis can give you the courage and motivation to wear it. If you have a mosque near you, find out if they have a sisters’ circle and join them in their weekly gatherings. Belonging to the community can make it much easier to start wearing the hijab.

For more articles about the hijab please see this page.

On the Shia and their fate according to Sunni Islam

What are your views on Shia and their beliefs? And are they among the 70+ sects that are doomed?

First, the notion of the “72 doomed sects” is false, as I explain here. It is based on fabricated evidence.

As for the Shia, I believe that anyone who believes in God and His Books and does their best to follow Him, sincerely and in good faith, will be rewarded by Him, as the Quran promises:

Those who believe, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians—whoever believes in God and the Last Day, and does what is right—they have nothing to fear, nor shall they grieve.1

The above verse and those like it have been interpreted in various ways. The fate of ‘others’ in Islam, whether non-Muslims or Muslims belonging to sects considered non-orthodox, is a contentious issue that lends itself to many interpretations. Those interested can read professor Mohammad Hassan Khalil’s book Islam and the Fate of Others: The Salvation Question, which is a study that shows that there is sufficient room within Islam for what I mentioned above.

While it is common for Muslims to complain about Islamophobia in the West and the fact that people refuse to try to understand Islam, they themselves unfortunately act in very much the same way toward other Muslims. I have talked to some Sunni Muslims who have never met a Shia Muslim in their lives and who have the most absurd misconceptions and prejudices about the lives and thinking of the Shias. The Iranian government, in the name of Shia Islam, has committed a great deal of injustice and oppression against the Sunnis (a glaring example being that Sunni Muslims are not allowed to pray the Friday prayers in cities like Tehran, in their sectarian chauvinistic view only Shia mosques should have the right to hold Friday prayers). But many Iranian Shias do not support the actions of the government, or are simply busy making a living and not having the time to worry about what their government is doing, similar to the attitude of many Americans toward their government’s mass-murder of innocent people overseas. Among the Shia there are those who do their best to hold onto the Quran and to follow it in their lives, and God is generous and intelligent enough to understand and appreciate the efforts of such people even if they have beliefs and attitude that Sunnis would consider wrong. The Quran says the following about Jews and Christians, and I believe the same applies to the Shia:

113. They are not all alike. Among the People of the Scripture is a community that is upright; they recite God’s revelations throughout the night, and they prostrate themselves.

114. They believe in God and the Last Day, and advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and are quick to do good deeds. These are among the righteous.

115. Whatever good they do, they will not be denied it. God knows the righteous.2

So my view is that God holds each soul according to the knowledge He has given it:

God never burdens a soul beyond what He has given it.3

God will not hold a Shia Muslim responsible for what Sunnis consider wrong beliefs if they really think what they believe is true, if they follow the Quran in good faith, and if they do not knowingly do evil.

By saying that, I do not mean to say that Sunni and Shia Islam are equally good religions. Religions are tools toward understanding and worshiping God, and the best tool is the one that helps the most people worship God in the best way possible. We can judge a religion by the number of pious, self-less and devout people it can produce, and I believe Sunni Islam comes out on top according to this measure.

The fate of atheists in Islam

Are all atheists going to hell?It seems unfair to me for anyone to spend an eternity of suffering because they didn't believe in God, specially if beside that they are nice people. Its been really hard for my iman. In the past it was draining. I spent pretty much all day thinking about the billion of people and all their suffering. I couldn't even watch movies to keep my mind occupied as i would start thinking how all these people were doomed.

I try to read the quran but then i get to the part where they describe hell in details and i just cant finish reading. The only way to stop feeling the stress and anxiety was to read them in a meta a terrifying reality? Sorry for the long askphorical sense but im not sure if its permissible. If atheist are indeed all going to hell in your opinion, how to deal which such

The truth is that we do not for certain. One theory says that all humans have the power to know God and believe in Him. According to this theory, anyone who does not believe in God is automatically punishable by God.

Another theory is that God will only hold people responsible for going against their conscience, and that the only type of disbelief in God is the one where the person has acquired all of the knowledge necessary to believe in God and believes in God in his heart, but who rejects this belief and lives in a state of denial. The kufr (“disbelief”) literally means “to deny (a blessing)” or “to cover up (a truth)”. According to this latter theory, atheists are only punished if they actually believe in God but wish to deny Him for one reason or another (for example because they dislike submitting to a higher power). This means that an atheist who honestly believes that God does not exist and that religion is a human invention will not be punished for this.

What we know for certain is that God is just, and that:

God never burdens a soul beyond what He has given it.1

From the above verse we can conclude that there will be no unjust punishment of humans. God will only hold humans responsible for the knowledge and powers He has given them. A person who grows up in a secular family and who never learns much about religion may not be punishable by God.

God is the inventor of the concepts of fairness and justice. So it is extremely misguided to think that God can be unjust, that we humans can come up with a fairer system than God has created. God is kinder and more just than any human, therefore it is a falsehood to think that He can punish anyone unjustly. While we do not know the exact fate of atheists, what we do know is that their fate will be fair and just, because it is God who is in charge of them.

The people that we know for certain deserve the Hellfire are those who believe in God, who know right from wrong, yet who engage in the worst evil out of their desire for gain. An example is a rich person who pays a killer to go kill a good man because by killing him his own wealth and power will increase. The world is full of such people, and they deserve God’s punishment.

If you fear that good and innocent people will end up in the Hellfire, then you misunderstand God. God invented your brain; do you think He is incapable of understanding issues that you can understand? Read the Quran and you will never hear about an innocent person being punished (hadith narrations are a different story). If God says He will punish kāfirs, the meaning of the word is not exactly defined for us; it could mean someone who believes in God and His Scriptures but who does evil regardless of their belief. In the past it was common to think that all non-Muslims are kāfirs, but this is not at all what the Quran says. The Quran, for example, refers to “the kāfirs among Jews and Christians”, which logically means that there are Jews and Christians who are kāfirs, and there are Jews and Christians who are not kāfirs. The Quran says, when speaking of Jews and Christians:

113. They are not alike. Among the People of the Scripture is a community that is upright; they recite God’s revelations throughout the night, and they prostrate themselves.

114. They believe in God and the Last Day, and advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and are quick to do good deeds. These are among the righteous.

115. Whatever good they do, they will not be denied it. God knows the righteous.2

I recommend that you continue to read the Quran so that you get a better understanding of God and His thinking. God is not unjust, so if for some reason you imagine Him being unjust or someone mentions something about Him that implies He is unjust, you should think the best of Him and tell yourself that you or someone has misunderstood Him.

Is it forbidden for Muslims to befriend non-Muslims?

Is it true that it's haram for Muslims and non Muslims to be friends. I didn't know this until I read the Qur'an because no one told me about it. It says that the believers can't take non-believers as awliyaa and in my Qur'an the translation says friends. I asked my friend and she told me it means political ally but in 9:71 Allah describes believers that are friends with eachother and there is no political notation there.

As a Muslim you should get into the habit of reading the whole Quran and judging one part in the context of the rest, instead of giving all attention to one verse and forgetting the rest. Verse 60:8 of the Quran says:

As for those who have not fought against you for your religion, nor expelled you from your homes, God does not prohibit you from dealing with them kindly and equitably. God loves the equitable.

This verse was sent to balance out the verse you mentioned, and also to balance out the verse at the beginning of its own chapter:

O you who believe! Do not take My enemies and your enemies for supporters, offering them affection, when they have disbelieved in what has come to you of the Truth. They have expelled the Messenger, and you, because you believed in God, your Lord. If you have mobilized to strive for My cause, seeking My approval, how can you secretly love them? I know what you conceal and what you reveal. Whoever among you does that has strayed from the right way.

Reading the whole Quran, we get the conclusion that we are forbidden from becoming friends with those who harbor resentment against Muslims and who plan and plot against them. An example of such a forbidden friendship would be a Muslim businessman becoming friends with Israeli settler businessmen who have unjustly expelled other Muslims from the lands they live in.

As for those who have not fought us because of our religion and who have not expelled us from our homes, we are allowed to treat them in whatever way is culturally and humanly appropriate.

By being Muslim the Quran does not ask you to stop being a human. It merely tries to reform you and prevent you from doing evil and foolish things (like befriending those who would happily kill you and your family for gain if they got the chance). There is nothing wrong with befriending a good and kind non-Muslim who wishes you no harm; this is what your conscience tells you and this is what the Quran tells you.

I have read the Quran dozens of times in multiple languages and have not found a single thing that goes against my conscience. If you find such a thing in it, it means you haven’t understood it fully, or that you are reading one interpretation of a particular verse or passage when various interpretations are possible.