Islam's Green
Travels, thoughts, talks of Abdur-Raheem Green
I had a group of GCSE students in the mosque the other day. Nothing out of the ordinary, but one of the boys asked a question and it is not the first time that I heard it.

"Isn't a person who does something just because it is good not expecting any reward better than a person who does something because they want Allah to reward them with paradise."

So my response was something like this:

This is a good question, and its not the first time I have heard it asked. I rather suspect that it's one of those arguments put forward by secular humanism that seems to be popular these days.

My answer to this is from two angles.

The first is that I don't believe that there is any such thing as a truly selfless act. It is true a believer is seeking God's pleasure and His paradise, but even a person who is doing good for no other reason than it is good gets something from that. For example, they get a feeling of satisfaction, a sense perhaps of being noble and just and fair and good . The conscience is satiated. So this is in no way selfless. In fact it could even be argued that this is the ultimate in selfishness. Such a person puts themselves at the centre of the universe. Indeed, such an attitude could even breed arrogance and pride! Hardly "good" characterisitics. As for the believer, God is the centre of all. No good deed is ever accomplished except by the grace of God and an essential component of the deed is that it is done with the pure intention to please God alone. So arguably the believers act is truely more selfless, although he or she still hopes to gain something from it.

The second angle is, who defines what is good? If this person doing good just because it was good was a Fascist in Nazi Germany then herding Jews into gas chambers would make him a highly commended individual. Even recently we can see some Serbs have virtually canonized Slobadan Milosovich. I have even seen paintings of him with a halo and wings like an angel, yet he was responsible for the murder, rape and torture of thousands of Bosnian Muslims. Can we accept that this is good? I think not. So it comes back to this essential matter, who decides?

In Islam there is an absolute standard of morality that has been determined by the Creator. In fact, it is for God alone to determine what is good and evil, right and wrong. Allah, unlike humans, has no vested interest. Allah does not need our obedience and worship. He is self-sufficient, free of wants and needs. What is revealed by way of guidance is because He knows from His perfect wisdom that that is best us.

He thought it was a good answer!

Wednesday, 20 December 2006 in Uncomfortable Questions | Permalink | Comments (6)

Do Good People go to Hell!
As salam alaykum!

Hi Brother Green!

I've got a question from a non-muslim who is interested in Islam. Can you please answer his question. If you could please spare a few minutes, jazakallah khair.

His mail to me as follows:

Regarding Islam and the day of judgement and the afterlife, I read with interest in the "Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam" pages 50 & 51 that in short, anyone not a Muslim or not believing that there is no true God but God, will lose Paradise forever and will be sent to Hellfire.

This I find somewhat radical when we consider people of other faiths have devoted their lives to the study, worship and practice of their respective religions. They have lived their lives by similar principles to Islam of good over evil and the ultimate respect for life and the wonders of this earth e.g. Mother Teresa of Calcutta who spent her life devoted to working and assisting the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta. She was not a Muslim but a Christian. She lived her life by the grace of others, in poverty as a missionary devoted to helping others. By my literal reading from the extract quoted in the Qur'an 3.85 (And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him and he will be one of the losers in the Hereafter.), we can therefore conclude that Mother Teresa seems to have been doomed to hellfire for not being a Muslim, irrespective of all the good she has done while on this earth and the sacrifice and pain she endured. This I find harsh and hard to believe.

Furthermore, if we take say the population of China being around 1.3Billion, and the respective religions found therein (Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism), am I to believe that they are all doomed to hell. If so, why did God not send another prophet to China, Japan etc to relay the word of God with their own respective "copy" of the holy book?

Apologies if the above comes across somewhat intense. In my little understanding of Islam, I just seem to find it somewhat inflexible to other faiths. God, as we read in the various ******ures and holy books available, is all wise, all caring, all compassionate..... I therefore feel that compassion should extend outwith the realm of Islam irrespective of one's own faith, colour or believes, as long as we live honourably respecting each other, God and life itself.

I would be very interested to hear your views to this regard.

Many thanks and best wishes

Dear Geoff,
Thank you asking these questions and raising these issues. I’m happy to able to try and clarify these matters for you. As a Muslim, or someone who has surrendered his will to the will of God, we can only answer truthfully and explain to you what God has taught us. He knows himself the best. He decides what do with His creatures, whom to punish and whom to forgive and reward. This is of course what the religion of Islam is based upon. God is all Knowing and Most Wise and He has revealed from His perfect knowledge guidance for us.

I think that the purpose of the booklet, although far from comprehensive, is to illuminate some reasons why Muslims are convinced, and also to indicate to others how they can be convinced that Islam and the Quran is from God. Once one is convinced of that, then one needs to understand that what is contained in the Quran is guidance from the Creator about how we should live our lives, and what are the benefits that we get from doing that and what are the consequences for those who fail to do that. Once one has realised this fact, then there is nothing left for an intelligent person except to follow Gods’ guidance and wisdom.
I think your first question can be answered very easily. In fact I’m sure you could answer it yourself!
Similar does not mean the same. In fact one simple, yet fundamental matter, can make a huge difference. You might take the example of two soldiers. Both carry guns, both shoot people, both wear uniforms, both march and call the commander of their unit sergeant., but one belongs to an army that is invading, with the intent to conquer and plunder and in the process massacres civilians, the other is defending his land and fights only those that fight him. Surely that simple difference is in fact fundamental, and makes the two soldiers quite unlike each other!

At the deepest level, the very basis of everything that one does are one’s beliefs. It is what we believe that fundamentally dictates what we do and how we behave and in fact how we judge others and ultimately how we are judged by God. In Islam it is what we believe rather than what we do that is at the heart of everything. If our beliefs are wrong and corrupt, they make everything wrong and corrupt. If the intentions that drive the person are evil and the cause is evil then the “good” we do can even reach the stage of “working to promote evil”.

Let us take your example. It may seem that Mother Teresa of Calcutta, or many other Christians, Jews, Sikhs and Hindus share common values and practices and attitudes to Muslims, and of course they do. In the case of Mother Teresa we should have no doubt that her life was spent propagating, calling to, and trying to convert people to the Catholic faith. This was the basis of her work, not the grace of others as you have claimed. She took people who were dying on the street with the express purpose and intent of “saving their souls” and bringing them to Christianity before they died. You may wonder what is wrong with that. What is wrong is the basis.

The Quran makes it clear that what God wants from us is that we recognise Him and obey His commands. A person who knowingly turns away from this rejects God and has no right to claim His Mercy and Reward. A person who chooses to insult and disobey God can, and should, expect nothing except His punishment.

Let us give some simple analogies.

You have a business and employ a person paying them a good salary to do a simple job. Then you discover this person is in fact taking your money and all the while was working for someone else during the hours they should have been working for you. There is no doubt that this is a great type of wrong from that employed person, who deserves nothing except disgrace. This is the example of those who worship others along with God, although they should worship Him alone, and He alone is worthy of it. This includes, for example, worshipping Jesus. Islam teaches, and we believe all the Prophets, including Jesus himself taught that we should worship only God. To worship something along with God is in fact the greatest sin a person can commit as far a God is concerned. To claim that some human, that breaths God’s air and eats His food and who is just a small creature, on a tiny planet in a universe that is in fact itself no more than a spec compared to God’s Throne is in fact the same as and equal to God, is not only an absurdity but in fact it the gravest of insults and the greatest of injustices!

Or take another example. You employ a person to do some specific work, say to paint your house white, and they paint it red. When you ask “Why did you do that?, the person replies that they thought it was better. Does this person deserve reward or punishment? This is the example of a person who worships only God, but thinks they can do it in anyway they please, and imagines they don’t have to follow Gods commands.

Take another example. You as the boss and manager of growing company decide that the firm is need of new directives for its continued smooth running. So you send out new directives essential for the smooth future running of the company, but half the employees purposefully and continually ignore these directives and continue along the old pattern. Are such employees of any use to you? This is example of those who reject Prophet Mohammed and the guidance given to him by God, claiming they are following the previous message.

Let is take one final example.

You have in your business a voluntary pension scheme. So your employees can invest a small sum throughout their working life and reap huge returns when they retire, or they can keep the money, but have then they can have no claim to the pension.

This is the example who good deeds purely for Allah’s pleasure, seeking reward in the afterlife. They sacrifice a little in this life and reap the rewards in the next. As for those who refused the scheme are like those who worshipped Allah alone in the right way, but looked only for worldly benefit. So that is all they got. What right do they have to claim or expect more?

Is any of this really radical or harsh?

It is incidental as to how charming and polite and friendly and helpful such individuals were to those around them. In fact in many ways if they are like that it makes their crime even more appalling. In fact this very mannerism may encourage others to follow their example in disregarding the manager’s directives, doing the wrong work and not investing in the pension scheme. This is what I mean that their “goodness” can in fact become a call to evil.

Recently my parents agreed to let a friend of theirs do some building work for them. They even paid him above the going rate. He had many of the characteristics I just mentioned. He then swindled my parents, did a shoddy job, used rotten wood, and much of the work in fact had to be redone by someone else. Would it be “radical” or harsh to take this man to court, for him to be fined or put in jail?

I think, therefore, that there is nothing “radical” or harsh about what the Quran teaches at all. In fact it makes perfect sense. What is radical is thinking that a person can do what they like, insult and reject God and His guidance and oppose His Messengers and none of that matters just as long as they are “nice” to others? To treat such people in the same way as those who have truly obeyed God, accepted His Messenger and tried to follow His commands, now that would be unfair and unjust.

This brings us onto the matter of God’s justice. They maybe many people in the world to whom God’s message has not yet reached, and Allah does not punish a people until He has sent them a Messenger. No one goes to Hell by mistake. People go there because they chose to take that path, and rejected the path to Paradise. This is what is meant by:

“…whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him and he will be one of the losers in the Hereafter”

Allah’s Message comes to people when and where He wills, according to His knowledge and wisdom. For those who have not received it then Allah will judge them justly.

At the end of the day we cannot make any judgements upon individuals. God alone knows the inner condition of the hearts. We can only go on what is apparent to us. Islam means willing submission to God and that is the way of living that Allah has revealed from His wisdom and Knowledge. How could any right minded person seek to live according to anything else?

Yours truly,
Abdurraheem Green

Saturday, 01 April 2006 in Uncomfortable Questions | Permalink | Comments (8)

Quran as Furqan over the Bible
Mashallah, here is good example of dawa through letters. The brother asked me for some pointers, but the hard work is all his:

Hi Arthif (I hope I spelt your name right),

Long time. I really enjoyed the talk I went to in the
Islam awareness week. You haven't heard from since
because my life right now is just work work work as I
expect is the same for you.

I came across this reading in the Bible. The part of
interest is the bit in brackets. As you clearly know,
we Christians use the cross to symbolise that. On the
night of the talk a fellow muslim said to me that at
the time of trial the cross will be burnt down 'as
there is no such thing as the Son and Holy Spirit'

I just wanted to confirm if this is what you believe
as muslims and when you read that bit of ******ure,
please tell me your thoughts on it. Do you agree or
disagree and please tell me why.

I hope you hear from you soon.
Take care and God bless.


Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20, when he told his

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given
to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the (Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Spirit), and teaching them to obey
everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with
you always, to the very end of the age."

Hi Oprah
I hope you are well.
To answer your question, it is well known amongst modern scholars that this passage is an addition, and is not found in the most ancient manu******. That means that many Christian scholars of the Bible consider it to be a fabrication.
In addition, and most importantly, we as Muslims, although we believe Jesus (peace be upon him) to have had a ******ure revealed to him, we do not believe that that ******ure that is pertained today is as how it was revealed to him from God Almighty. We therefore don't hold the Bible to be from God. We believe that much alterations took place, additions, subtractions and therefore it is corrupt.
We agree with what is in the Quran, disagree with that which disagrees with the Quran, and neither confirm or deny the rest.
Because the Quran was sent as a Mohayminan (trustworthy in highness and a witness) over the previous ******ures, as they had been tampered by man. As God Almighty says in the interpretation of the meaning):
And We have sent down to you (O Muhammad ) the Book (this Qur'ān) in truth, confirming the ******ure that came before it and Mohayminan (trustworthy in highness and a witness) over it (old ******ures). (5:48)
For example:
The Bible says that the heavens and the earth were created in 6 days.
What does the Quran say? It says (interpretation of the meaning):
Allāh it is He Who has created the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them in six Days. (32:4).
Therefore we accept that as the truth.
The Bible claims that God had a 'rest' on the seventh day.
What does the Quran say? It says (interpretation of the meaning):
Allāh! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists. Neither slumber, nor sleep overtake Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His Permission? He knows what happens to them (His creatures) in this world, and what will happen to them in the Hereafter . And they will never compass anything of His Knowledge except that which He wills. His Kursī extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. And He is the Most High, the Most Great. (2:255)
Therefore we do not recognise this as the truth but a fabricated statement.
The Bible says that Jesus was born of a miraculous birth.
What does the Quran say? It says (interpretation of the meaning):
16. And mention in the Book (the Qur'ān, O Muhammad , the story of) Maryam (Mary), when she withdrew in seclusion from her family to a place facing east.
17. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent to her Our Ruh [angel Jibrael (Gabriel)], and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects.
18. She said: "Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Beneficent (Allāh) from you, if you do fear Allāh."
19. (The angel) said: "I am only a Messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son."
20. She said: "How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?"
21. He said: "So (it will be), your Lord said: 'That is easy for Me (Allāh): And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (Allāh), and it is a matter (already) decreed, (by Allāh).' "
22. So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a far place (i.e. Bethlehem valley about 4-6 miles from Jerusalem). (19:16-22)
Therefore we accept this as the truth.
The Bible speaks of Jesus being God.
What does the Quran say? It says (interpretation of the meaning):
30. "He ['Iesa (Jesus)] said: Verily! I am a slave of Allāh, He has given me the ******ure and made me a Prophet;"
31. "And He has made me blessed wheresoever I be, and has enjoined on me Salāt (prayer), and Zakāt (charity), as long as I live."
32. "And dutiful to my mother, and made me not arrogant, unblest.
33. "And Salām (peace) be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!"
34. Such is 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary). (It is) a statement of truth, about which they doubt (or dispute).
35. It befits not (the Majesty of) Allāh that He should beget a son [this refers to the slander of Christians against Allāh, by saying that 'Iesa (Jesus) is the son of Allāh]. Glorified (and Exalted be He above all that they associate with Him). When He decrees a thing, He only says to it, "Be!" and it is.
36. ['Iesa (Jesus) said]: "And verily Allāh is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him (Alone). That is the Straight Path. (Allāh's Religion of Islāmic Monotheism which He did ordain for all of His Prophets)." [Tafsir At-Tabarī]
37. Then the sects differed [i.e. the Christians about 'Iesa (Jesus)], so woe unto the disbelievers [those who gave false witness by saying that 'Iesa (Jesus) is the son of Allāh] from the meeting of a great Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection, when they will be thrown in the blazing Fire).
38. How clearly will they (polytheists and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allāh) see and hear, the Day when they will appear before Us! But the Zalimūn (polytheists and wrong-doers) today are in plain error.
39. And warn them (O Muhammad ) of the Day of grief and regrets, when the case has been decided, while (now) they are in a state of carelessness, and they believe not. (19:30-39).

88. And they say: "The Most Beneficent (Allāh) has begotten a son (or offspring or children) [as the Jews say: 'Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allāh, and the Christians say that He has begotten a son ['Iesa (Christ)], and the pagan Arabs say that He has begotten daughters (angels, etc.)]."
89. Indeed you have brought forth (said) a terrible evil thing.
90. Whereby the heavens are almost torn, and the earth is split asunder, and the mountains fall in ruins,
91. That they ascribe a son (or offspring or children) to the Most Beneficent (Allāh).
92. But it is not suitable for (the Majesty of) the Most Beneficent (Allāh) that He should beget a son (or offspring or children).
93. There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes unto the Most Beneficent (Allāh) as a slave. (19:88-93)
Therefore we do not recognise this as the truth but a fabricated statement.
In fact even the Bible does not affirm this fact. For example it says:
A ruler questioned Him, saying, "Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. (Luke18:18-22).
And that is the 1st commandment ... 'Thou shalt not worship others besides God.'
Anyway, with respect to the ******ures the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
Whatever the people of the Book [Jews and Christians] tell you, do not verify them, nor falsify them, but say: We believe in Allah and His Apostle. If it is false, do not confirm it, and if it is right, do not falsify it.
'Do not believe the people of the Book, nor disbelieve them, but say, 'We believe in Allah and whatever is revealed to us, and whatever is revealed to you.' '
So this is our stance to the Torah and Gospels of today. And that is precisely the reason God Almighty sent the Quran as the final revelation, which God himself promised to perserve.
Verily We: It is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur'ān) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption). (15:9)
It is not that God Almighty 'never cared' about the previous ******ures and thus allowed for them to be tampered with. But because this responsibility had been given to mankind.
Verily, We did send down the Taurāt (Torah) [to Mūsa (Moses)], therein was guidance and light, by which the Prophets, who submitted themselves to Allāh's Will, judged the Jews. And the rabbis and the priests [too judged the Jews by the Taurāt (Torah) after those Prophets] for to them was entrusted the protection of Allāh's Book, and they were witnesses thereto. (5:44)
But with the Quran, He, the Almighty, took this responsibility upon Himself. Which is why you will find that history bears witness to this fact that the Quran has been not changed or altered and is exactly as to how it was 1400 years ago. You will find that if someone was to read the Quran, a specific verse of a specific chapter, if you were to get 100 people from all over the globe, they will recite to you even by memory that exact verse, word for word, letter by letter.
It is an established fact that the Quran which we read today is exactly what was revealed to the last messenger of God, Muhammed (peace be upon him). This view is held not only by those who believe in the Quran but also by those who have scrutinised this aspect of the Quran purely from the research point of view. The famous orientalist Caroness Margaret Von Strein writes:-
"Though all the Divine ******ures were revealed by God yet the Quran is the only ******ure which has not undergone even the slightest alteration and is safe in its original form."
Hortwig Horchfeld writes in his book entitled: New Researches into the Composition and Exegeses of the Quran-
"The research workers of the modern age agree on the point that the present version of the Quran is the exact copy if the original ****** which was written by Zaid Bin Sabit and its **** is exactly the same as was given by Muhammed".
It is stated Encyclopedia Britannica, under the heading of Quran:-
"All efforts of the European research workers to prove later additions in the Quranic **** have proved absolutely futile."
Sir William Muir writes in his book titled, Life of Muhammed:-
"Otherwise all sorts of external and internal evidence in there to prove that we have exactly the same Quranic **** which Muhammed gave (to his followers) and used himself."
That the Quran remained absolutely safe and unaltered, since it was revealed, is thus a proved fact admitted even by the non-Muslim research scholars.
Above-described is the direct evidence in support of the safety of the Quran, from the Quran itself and also the views of the non-Muslim research workers.
Please continue to do your reading, Oprah, and do so with an open mind and open heart. Be sincere because sincerity to the truth is of paramount importance.
If you would like to read the translation of the Quran, I can get you a copy. Meanwhile you can access it online:
Also, below are some Q&A you may find interesting to read:
Question #42573: Discussion with a Christian about the Christian doctrine ofcan come close to matching.