Friday, August 26, 2011

The Most Important Question In The World Today: "Does True Islam Require Freedom Of Religion?"

The Most Important Question In The World Today: "Does True Islam Require
Freedom Of Religion?"
by Rev. Bill McGinnis, Director -

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The case of Christian convert Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan has sharply
focused international attention on what may be the most important question
in the world today: Does true Islam require freedom of religion, or not?

The government of Afghanistan had been preparing to bring Rahman to trial
on the criminal charge of renouncing his former religion of Islam to
become a convert to Christianity. According to some authorities, this act
of apostasy violates Islamic law and is punishable by death. Other
authorities believe that true Islamic law requires freedom of religion and
that Rahman and everybody else should be free to follow whatever religion
(or none at all) they choose, without fear or penalty.

The importance of this question could not possibly be greater, because if
true Islam requires freedom of religion, then there is no theological
basis for militant action against people of other religions, merely
because of their religion. Islamic Democracy becomes a possibility, and
long-term peaceful co-existence for Muslims and non-Muslims seems likely.
The supposed justification for terrorism largely disappears, and a new era
of hopefulness in the world can soon begin.

But if true Islam does not require freedom of religion, then Muslims are
theologically justified in using violence against non-Mulims, Islamic
Democracy becomes totally impossible, and anti-Western terrorism can can
continue, with some apparent theological justification -- all on the basis
of spreading Islam, by force if necessary. This would also place Islam in
direct opposition to the United Nations' "Universal Declaration Of Human
Rights," which guarantees freedom of religion to all people in United
Nations member countries.

In the immediate case of Abdul Rahman, the best outcome, with benefit for
all people, would be for a high Islamic court to rule that the case should
be dismissed because true Islamic law requires freedom of religion. This
decision would be based mainly on Qur'an 2.256, which plainly says, "There
is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly
distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves in the Shaitan (note:
Satan) and believes in Allah he indeed has laid hold on the firmest
handle, which shall not break off, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing."

Source: Qur'an (Koran) as shown at

This reading from the Qur'an is confirmed by another one, the entire
chapter (Sura) 109, called "The Disbelievers," which concludes, "You shall
have your religion and I shall have my religion."

The Disbelievers
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
[109.1] Say: O unbelievers!
[109.2] I do not serve that which you serve,
[109.3] Nor do you serve Him Whom I serve:
[109.4] Nor am I going to serve that which you serve,
[109.5] Nor are you going to serve Him Whom I serve:
[109.6] You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion. and elsewhere.
The theological basis for the prosecution of Rahman apparently comes from
a misreading of Qur'an 16.106, which says, "He who disbelieves in Allah
after his having believed, not he who is compelled while his heart is at
rest on account of faith, but he who opens (his) breast to disbelief-- on
these is the wrath of Allah, and they shall have a grievous chastisement."

Immediately we can see two theological errors in prosecuting Rahman on
this basis: First, he is not "disbelieving in Allah." Allah is the creator
of the universe, and there is only one Allah. We Christians call Him,
"God," or "Heavenly Father." But we are talking about the same One
Creator, who has revealed Himself to different people in slightly
different ways, for His own good reasons. As a Christian, Rahman still
believes in Allah, as do I myself. And second, the "grievous punishment"
is supposed to come from Allah Himself, on Judgment Day, not from fallible
humans today. Furthermore, everyone should keep in mind that all
punishments specified in the Qur'an may be moderated and reduced by
applying the oft-stated principle that "Allah is forgiving, merciful," as
stated in Qur'an 2.173 and seventy-six other places in the Qur'an. Allah
knows your heart. In Islam, if you have a really good reason, Allah will
overlook or forgive almost anything.

(Also note that this verse confirms the invalidity of compulsion in
religion, when it says, "not he who is compelled.")

So we see that the prosecution of Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan for
converting from Islam to Christianity, in supposed violation of "Islamic
law," is itself a violation of Islamic law, the highest written authority
in which is the Qur'an.

But if this is true, then why is there any question? Why does anyone even
think that converting from Islam to another religion might be a sin? The
reason is that some non-Qur'anic secondary written authorities seem to say
that it is a punishable sin for Muslims to convert away from Islam.

These secondary written authorities are called called the "hadith," or
"sayings," attributed to the prophet Muhammad, some of which were
reportedly heard by his followers, then told to others who then told them
to others who then wrote them down. But the various hadith differ widely
among themselves, and many are believed by some Muslims but not by others.
Some of these hadith do appear to prohibit freedom of religion in some
cases. But even the most authoritative hadith is never strong enough to
contradict the words of the Qur'an, all of which were reportedly given by
Allah to the Prophet Muhammad and immediately written down under his
direct supervision. In Islam, the Qur'an comes directly from Allah and is
infallible. The hadith come from man and are subject to error. The hadith
are sometimes useful in order to clarify the words in the Qur'an, but
hadith are never strong enough to contradict the clear words of the

If the government of Afghanistan merely yields to Western pressure in this
one case, that doesn't solve anything. The problem will come back again in
future cases. And if they make up some phony excuse for not having the
trial, like "mental incompetence," that is even worse. The fact is that
Abdul Rahman is perfectly competent to stand trial, but the case against
him is not justified under true Islamic law.


I propose that a high-level team of Islamic scholars study this case, and
defend Rahman, and win the legal victory they deserve: "Case dismissed."
This would establish the Islamic legal precedent, on the international
level, that true Islam permits freedom of religion. This might very well
be as important a case for the entire world today as Brown v Board of
Education was for the United States in 1956. And it could be the
foundation of true Christian-Muslim understanding and peaceful
co-existence, as described below.


The world is well aware that a fundamental tension has long existed
between Islam and Christianity, Muslims and Christians. The underlying
theological reason for this tension is best understood by comparing two
verses from Scripture: Sura (chapter) 112 from the Qur'an (Islam's highest
written authority) and John 3:16 from the Bible (Christianity's highest
written authority.) Sura 112 is considered by many Muslims to be the most
important single statement in Islam, and John 3:16 is considered by many
Christians to be the most important single statement in Christianity.

The fundamental conflict is that the Qur'an says Allah (God) did not
father any children in any way, and that no one is like Him; but the Bible
says that Jesus is God's Son and that anyone who believes in Jesus will
have eternal life. Islam accepts Jesus, but only as one of the many
prophets who came before Muhammed, not as the only-begotten Son of God.

[112.1] Say: He, Allah, is One.
[112.2] Allah is He on Whom all depend.
[112.3] He begets not, nor is He begotten.
[112.4] And none is like Him.
Qur'an 112:1-4
(Shakir Translation)

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish but
have eternal life.
Bible: John 3:16
(Revised Standard Version)

The Qur'an and Bible I am using here are the ones available online from
the University Of Michigan by following THIS LINK:

The Revised Standard translation of the Bible (RSV) and the M. H. Shakir
translation of the Qur'an are both widely available and widely accepted.
If you want to consult other translations, you can easily do so by
searching for "Bible online" and "Qur'an online" at
To a Muslim, it is blasphemy to say that Jesus is the Son of God. To a
Christian, it is blasphemy to say that Jesus is not the Son of God. This
is the fundamental conflict between Islam and Christianity, and it cannot
be papered over with smiles and pleasant words.

Nevertheless, it is quite possible for both religions to live side-by-side
in peaceful, even brotherly, co-existence. In fact, the Qur'an
specifically instructs Muslims to accept and tolerate Christians, and the
Bible instructs Christians to live at peace with all people, as we will
show below.

The Way Christians Should Act Toward Muslims

The Bible instructs Christians to live at peace with all people, as much
as it is possible to do so. Further, Christians are instructed not to seek
revenge for personal offenses, but to leave vengeance to God.

If possible, so far as it depends upon you,
live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge
yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God;
for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay,
says the Lord."
Bible: Romans 12:18-19
(Revised Standard Version)

The Way Muslims Should Act Toward Christians

The Qur'an instructs Muslims to give Christians nothing to fear and not to
cause Christians to grieve. Further, the Qur'an instructs Muslims that
there should be no compulsion in religion. Therefore Christians, all of
whom believe in Allah (God), believe in the Last day (Judgment Day) and
try to do good, should be allowed to live in peace, even if they do not
convert to Islam.

[2.62] Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the
Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day
and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is
no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.

[2.256] There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become
clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves in the Shaitan
and believes in Allah he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handle, which
shall not break off, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.

Qur'an 2.62 and 2.256
(Shakir Translation)

Blessings to you. And may God bless us all.
Rev. Bill McGinnis, Director -

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[109.6] You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion.

May the Lord bless this presentation.

Rev. Bill McGinnis <><

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See more pages like this, at our Index of Pearls Of Faith, a treasury of
Biblical truths. =>

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Blessings to you. May God help us all.

Rev. Bill McGinnis, Director -

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