A Muslim Defends His Worldview
I was gratified to receive the following message via the Contact form:
Sir, I’m a Muslim, and I’ve read the Islam section in your book What’s Your Worldview. However, to say the least, I haven’t found any of the objections therein to be tenable:
He goes on to give brief responses to two of the “objections” I raised. (In the book, I really presented them only as food for thought, as prompts for readers to think more critically about the Islamic worldview. But still, it’s fair to call them objections.) In this post, I’ll reproduce the relevant sections from What’s Your Worldview? along with his responses, and then reply to them. (In the quotations from WYW, I’ve omitted the endnotes, most of which provide references to verses in the Quran.)
From WYW, pp. 65-66:
One of the central teachings of Islam is that there will be a final day of judgment. On that day, all of our words and deeds will be weighed in the balance of divine justice. Those who have believed in Allah and lived good enough lives will be rewarded with pleasures in paradise, while the rest will be punished with torments in hell.
Muslims don’t think that you have to live an absolutely perfect life to enter paradise. They insist that Allah is compassionate and merciful, and can forgive the sins of those who believe in him and love him (though no one should ever presume upon Allah’s forgiveness). However, there seems to be a tension within Islam between the justice and the mercy of Allah. If justice is to be satisfied, every violation of the law should receive its just penalty. Therefore, an absolutely perfect judge would ensure that no crime goes unpunished. According to Islam, however, Allah simply chooses to overlook some people’s sins. How, then, can he be an absolutely perfect judge? Does Allah consistently uphold his own just laws? The problem for Islam is that, unlike Christianity, it has no doctrine of atonement that could explain how God could forgive human sins without violating his own principles of justice.
Our Muslim friend responds:
1. “First, anyone who acts unjustly towards any person or being would fall short of being perfectly good. So, if there are cases in which God needs to prioritize being just over being, say, forgiving, God’s perfect goodness requires him to do what is just in that case. Second, justice reflects the balance and harmony between God’s moral attributes. Hence, the cases in which God deems it more appropriate to be forgiving over treating people as they deserve, He concedes justice and acts mercifully. However, in those cases, justice is at work in a different way, as God judges it to be more harmonious or appropriate to be forgiving over doing what justice––in its first sense––requires to do.” – Seyma Yazici: Is God perfectly good in Islam?