“That is the Book, without any doubt. It contains guidance for those who have God-consciousness, those who have belief in the Unseen and establish prayer and spend from what We have provided for them….” (Holy Qur’an 2:2-3)
I often too often see those of us who are callers to Islam, well meaning teachers and people of influence get caught up in the minutia of issues concerning jurisprudence, oral traditions, and so forth and not really focusing on the big picture.
It makes no sense to try and convince a person about the truth claims of Islam if that person doesn’t believe in God to begin with!
You can’t pitch to someone anything if they don’t see the need or necessity of the thing to begin with.
So the first stage and most obvious place to start is with the necessarily existent one-Allah. To bring forth our arguments both logical and philosophical to show that the competing narratives from Atheist that we were created by hyper intelligent machines or our universe simply popped into being (universe from nothing) is deeply problematic.
“Were they created of nothing, or were they themselves the creators?” (Holy Qur’an 52:35)
Subhan’Allah! It is amazing and cause for reflection for the doubters that the author of the Holy Qur’an anticipated the arguments of today!
1) The idea that we were created ex nihilo (out of nothing).
The idea that we are created from nothing is the Atheist counter argument the empirical scientific data that there is cause and effect in the universe. It also is created to argue against the idea of ‘infinite regress’.
2) That we ourselves are the creators.
This can can tackle a number of belief systems:
a) That we are God. As held by Pantheism. It is an increasingly popular view in the New Age Movement.
It should be noted that Atheist spokesperson Richard Dawkins didn’t have anything to offer on that perspective other than “it’s sexed up Atheism”.
The point being is that these people believe in the unseen.
For an excellent debate between Muslims and Atheist I would recommend the following:
The one problematic aspect of this debate is the topic itself. It is too broad and does not allow for a focused discussion. This allowed Dr. Colin Brewers to ask Abdullah Al Andalusi on how did he know for certain that the Blessed Prophet (saw) was a historical reality
Now the Prophet Muhammed (saw) doesn’t need to exist in order for Allah to be a factual reality. However the scope of that debate allowed for such questions.
However, in the end I believe that Mohamed Hijab and Abdullah Al Andalusi made their case that the Islamic world view in a Creator without beginning or origin is the most internally cogent argument out there.
Once a person is convinced of the initial stage he/she may wonder ‘but why One God?’ It is a fair question and thus we would need to address on that level. We might even have a discussion since our argument that God is singular means that God is one. So we may ask… ‘one what’ ? What does one mean?
So this brings us to the second stage.
A brilliant argument against the idea of polytheism is to be found here:
As regards as to what One means even Muslims have theological divisions on this important issue. With the vast majority of Muslim scholars today ascribing themselves to either the Ashari, Athari or Maturdidi schools of theology they have come to accept some type of plurality in this oneness. Or as Christians who believe that God is ‘one team’. There is a plurality in the oneness of the divine.
Some could argue that this should be after the next stage.
The third stage would be to actually know what is meant by God. In other words what makes God actually God? The necessary attributes. What is meant by One? One what? Is God one in essence and attributes or one in essence but not attributes is God one being like Muslims and Jews assert or is God one team like our Christian brothers/sisters assert.
So what do we mean by necessary attributes? In order for the Islamic view on the divine to stand up to scrutiny there would have to be certain qualities of the divine that are necessarily true
Examples being that the divine would be self existing especially if our initial argument is to hold up. The divine would be all knowing. The divine would be all powerful.
At this juncture perhaps a discussion and understanding of the nature of ‘all powerful’. As there are some unfortunately among the Muslims who believe that this means Allah (swt) can do anything (will himself out of existence), will himself to not be all powerful, lie, etc.
Just as there are among our Christian brothers and sisters there are among Muslims those who believe that Allah (swt) occupies space/time.
Fourth stage would be to address Deism. O.K so maybe there is a divine being and this divine being is one, but what makes one so sure that this divine being interacts with humanity? What if the Divine just sets up the cosmos and lets it all unfold , like a great experiment and the Divine is a passive observer?
At this stage would be appropriate to discuss the fitra-natural disposition of human nature. The idea of Al Anbiya (The Prophets). Issues like objective morality vs subjective morality. What is reason if reason itself does not have self imposed parameters. In other words who/what determines what is or is not reasonable.
Guidance given by the Creator and the chosen examples sent for us to emulate.
Fifth stage would be to actually get into what 90% of the daees , teachers and Ustaz are actually doing (Without starting with stage 1)…. They are trying to convince skeptics, atheist, agnostics, of the truth claims of Islam with out these people being convinced that there is a Creator. The success rate with this approach has been and will continue to be abysmally low. However, if you get through stages 1-4 than you can with the Why Islam. At that point it makes sense.
Do you know what the proof of this is? The proof of this is that what disturbs or bothers one person may not bother another person. There are countless Muslims who have entered Islam and have no issue with the allegation that the Blessed Prophet (saw) had marriage and intimacy with a girl as young as 6 or 9. They have never had an issue with that.
However, they may take issues with something entirely different.
There are people who are left brain/right brain. There are people who enter Islam simply from hearing the call to prayer. Simply watching people pray together in the Masjid. They feel it resonates with the core of their being. There are people that enter into Islam because they feel it is logical and reason based. Some people enter Islam because its a requirement to marry a Muslim woman (usually a recipe for disaster) but it happens.
>However, it should be noted that no matter the reason that a person enters into Islam if the teachers do not go through the stages of 1-4 you are asking for an attrition rate for converts.
Of course Muslims (both raised and converts) leave Islam because the community often treats them awful, is unforgiving and unloving. Doesn’t give a strong support network and many other reasons.
However, I have found that even Muslims (both converts and raised who went through horrible experiences at the hands of Muslims would remain Muslims because of two reasons.
1) They have a solid foundation of steps 1-4
2) They have a strong connection to Allah (swt).
At this Fifth stage you can learn specialized techniques when dealing with various groups. Example being like in this video:
Now notice that this man is quite combative. His body language , invading personal space everything about him is combative. He is trying to corner this Muslim brother Sabeel Ahmed on the age of Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her).
Sabeel Ahmed is of course of those Muslims who are apologist who often don’t state plainly their view on something. Now notice that at 14:30 the whole flow of this exchange completely changes for a moment. Once the man made the mistake of saying ‘according to this book (the Bible) marriage to a child is wrong’ Sabeel asked him simply to show him where this is stated? Show him one verse. The man IMMEDIATELY disengaged eye contact and turned towards the other man.
Sabeel Ahmed (may Allah bless him for his efforts) did not do two things here
1) He didn’t stay focused on that point! 16 minutes of intense discussion and he let that man right off the hook. If he could get the man to admit that the Bible does not give an age for marriage he could have:
a) Ask the man on what basis does he object?
b) Get the man to realize that he made an error and is it possible he is wrong on other matters?
The other point is that no matter whom you speak with you have to have something in common. If you don’t speak Mandarin or Khmer you will not be able to communicate with that person effectively.
So there has to be common points.
So in the case of the video
1) Sabeel and the Christian believe that there is a God.
2) Sabeel and the Christian believe that there is only one God.
4) Sabeel and the Christian believe that this God communicates to humanity through revelation and messengers.
However, Sabeel and the Christian are not in agreement on point 3 and if you notice after the discussion about the age of Ayesha (which went no where) you can see that that’s exactly the point that was brought up!!
However, in this case it is best to disengage with the man. He was belligerent in his tone and could have easily become violent.
Sixth stage you can discuss the minutia, competing historical narratives, schools of jurisprudence. The necessary tenets of faith , the ancillary and minutia.
Usually at this point it is an intra-Muslim dialogue, discussion and debate. For example Prima-Qur’an puts some focus on this.
In fact stage Sixth is a great place to bring Muslims who maybe involved with infighting to bring them back to stage 5. Why Islam? What is Islam in its essence. So that they themselves see the larger picture. That Muslims be united on over arching principles. Again Prima-Qur’an focuses on the unity of Muslims.
Insh’Allah there is always room for improvement but it is my hope that many will find it beneficial.
The problem today with daees and teachers (especially those engaging Atheist and Agnostics) is that spend way too much time entertaining such people at stage 5 and stage 6. It make no sense!
You really going to try and convince an Atheist why we pray 5 times a day and not 7 or 3? Why the Holy Qur’an has 114 chapters and not 1008 or 47? Why pork is forbidden? Why we wash our hands and face with dry earth when no water is available for ritual cleansing?
With Atheist is usually ‘well what about this’ and ‘well what about that’ and ‘well what about this’.
You can spend all the time in the world answering objections to certain verses in the Qur’an or addressing statements in the oral traditions. You can answer objectives to the veracity of the Qur’an it’s compilation and transmission.
However, if you if answered all of those points it doesn’t establish stage 1. Addressing all those points, giving atheist a platform none of it establishes the proof for the necessarily existent one.
With Atheist is usually ‘well what about this’ and ‘well what about that’ and ‘well what about this’.
Also a very powerful from Allah (swt).
“Surely you do not guide whomever you love, but Allah guides whomever He decides, and He knows best the ones (who are) rightly-guided.” (Holy Qur’an 28: 56)
Learn to understand the difference between planting seeds and trying to guide people to Islam. The difference between giving food for thought and egotistical jostling.
“And if We show you some of what We promise them or if We let you pass away, then you are only to deliver the message while for Us is the reckoning.” (Holy Qur’an 13:40)