Islam: A Fundamental Flaw
By: Deji Yesufu
Those who read what I write on social media will notice that the development of my thoughts, particularly my theology, has been public. I make most of my theological thinking open because I am open to learning and I want the best thinkers to challenge my positions so that whatever I end up holding to can stand up to scrutiny. In this guise, I wish to make it known that my most recent theological fascination is with Islam. I confess that I am not an authority on the subject at all and I remember that a Muslim colleague at work had challenged me to at least find a Qur’an and read it. Well, I have finally done that. I downloaded an English translation of the Qur’an recently and I plan to read all the 114 Suras, along with some trusted Hadiths. I wish to also make the confession that my teachers on the subject of Islam are Christian men. They are Dr. James R. White, Dr. Tony Costa and Dr. David Wood. You may consider this a bias on my part; I would not dispute that. But you should understand that my thoughts are developing and those who I would wish to learn from are those of my own theological bent. I trust God, though, to still read works written by Muslim scholars too. I am sure that Muslims who are reading this would gladly make recommendations.
One Muslim teacher that I find most likeable and might possible get to read his works in the future is a man called Shabir Ally. Dr. Ally has been named one of the best Muslim apologist and debater of our day. The little that I know of him comes from the numerous debates that he has held with David Wood. Unlike some other Muslim apologists, whose diction are impeded by their Middle Eastern languages, Shabir Ally speaks with flawless American ascent, so it is quite easy to understand him . Shabir Ally has had no less than ten publicly moderated debates with David Wood and the discussions are such a delight to watch. I hope you would spend some time (and data) to look up those debates on YouTube. In a debate I watched just yesterday, where David Wood and Shabir Ally debated the topic “Did Jesus Christ Rise from the Dead?”, I saw a fundamental flaw in a position that Dr. Ally took that I wish to shed some light on in this essay.
After the debate had worn on for some two hours, it was now time for the audience to ask the individual debaters questions. A Christian man stepped up to the mic and asked Shabir Ally this questions – see timeline 2:30:42 on the debate (I paraphrase):
“As Christians, we believe that we have the assurance and blessing of eternal life because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Dr. Ally, you reject this premise. What promise does Allah, in the Qur’an, give you for an assurance of salvation and eternal life?”
Shabir Ally responds:
“God gives the Muslim assurance that if he were to live uprightly in this life, at death the angels of God will be with him and guide him into eternal life where God will give him all that his heart desires. This is a statement of faith that the Qur’an gives to adherents of Islam and it is our confidence.”
David Wood, on his part, said:
“The question suggests the matter of assurance of salvation, which Islam has no theology on. Sura 46:9 of the Qur’an reads in part of Prophet Mohammed ‘…nor do I know what will be done with me or with you…’A trusted Haddit, Sahir Buk’hari, tells the story of how this Sura came about. One Uthman had died and he was known to be an upright person in life. A woman then exclaimed ‘blessed be God, Uthman has gone to paradise…’ Mohammed responded that you cannot say for sure where that man is going in spite of how righteous he had lived. It was this incidence that led to the revelation of Sura 46:9 where Mohammed said that he himself was not sure what Allah will do with him in the afterlife.”
Now, except Muslim scholars are able to offer another insight into what these scriptures in the Qur’an are saying, we must conclude that Islam does not assure any of its adherents eternal life following death. This, I think is a fundamental flaw in the Muslim religion and it is something worth discussing. In contrast, Christianity offers its adherents a solid dose of assurance of salvation and this assurance is premised primarily on the fact of Christ’s resurrection. Our Lord said because I live, you will live also (John 14:19).
A Muslim relative of mine arrived Nigeria recently and she got a residence in one of the highbrow areas of Ibadan. I would often visit her, as we tried to catch up with things – having been away from the country for so long. An incident happened while visiting her once that got me thinking very seriously about Islam and what it teaches about assurance of salvation. The road that led out of this woman’s estate snakes through a slump neighborhood. Many of the residents of this neighborhood are carpenters and they specialize mostly in making coffins. You can actually see coffins of various sizes and designs displayed for potential buyers. Once, while driving past these parts, this woman said to me that as good as this neighborhood is, these sellers of coffins have kind of spoilt its ambience. She said looking at those coffins, they give her the creeps. My Muslim relative is well advanced in age and the thought of her own death is freaking her out. The coffin sellers have not made it any easier for her. Suffice to say here that she has long moved out of that neighborhood and found somewhere else to live.
There is a big difference between debates and real life. There is a lot of difference between theoretical facts and practical truths. The problem with debates is that if you know your subject well and you possess the gift of the gab, you can present any issue to a listening audience and make your facts look as plausible as they can possibly be. This fact does not remove the reality on ground. When each of us will stand face to face with our mortality, long arguments – spoken with the smoothest oratory – will not save us from doubts. What will give us confidence in the face of death are two things: First, truth; and second, the blessings of faith that these truths establish in our hearts. The blessing of faith is manifested in a subjective manner – granting peace to a doubtful mind; regardless of the circumstances around the individual. Here is the thing about the practical Christian life: we do not get ready to die in our old ages; rather, we get ready to die every day. The peace that God will grant to me on my deathbed is not something that will come to me on the day I will die; rather, it is a peace that I have made a practice of exercising myself in long before I actually die! It is a peace that I exercised myself in when I was arrested by the police for protesting Apostle Suleiman in University of Ibadan in 2017. I did not know what the outcome of that event was going to be; but I did it anyway – trusting God to bail me out of all consequences (Praise be God – he did). It is a peace that I have exercised myself in as I watch my wife go into the theater to deliver our two children. It is a peace I have had to exercise myself in as I fly airplanes – having the confidence that even if the plane were to crash, I would simply be opening my eyes to my Savior. It is a peace I lay my head to sleep with every night; trusting that either I wake up in this world or in the world to come – all is well. It is the peace that Jesus Christ grants the saints (John 16:33). This peace is etched upon Christians’ scriptures. Paul writes:
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures… Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (2 Corinthians 15:1ff).
Paul is saying that the fundamental truth of the Christian faith is that Jesus Christ died and rose again. While his death and resurrection is a fact of history and faith, it also forms the foundation of our confidence that when we die as Christians, we also would rise from the dead to eternal life. It is intriguing to note that while Islam might agree with Christianity on many points of faith, it appears to dispute Christianity on its most fundamental points. If the doctrine of Christ and his resurrection is rejected, while you might still have Islam; you would no longer have Christianity. But Muslims give up a lot more than Christianity: they give up a solid hope of what life after death will be. While Muslims may confidently affirm that angels will guide them to paradise after death, we have read accounts in the Qur’an and the Haddits that show that the best Muslim is never sure of his eternal state after death. For this reason my Muslim relative has a lot to be afraid of.
A true Christian is never afraid to die. For us, to live is Christ and to die is even better (Philippians 1:21). Our hope of eternal life is etched on the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection – something our scriptures testify about. The Christian, at death, also has the peace of Christ that stands guard on his heart. Amen. Islam, on the other hand, is left to grapple with this fundamental flaw.
To conclude this essay: I want to assume that I might have misrepresented the Muslim position. I have already admitted that I am new to these discussions. I invite rejoinders to the essay and I would publish the first one that I see that is well written. I would expect that those who would respond to my article would do so with decorum – as you can see that this article was not written to disparage Islam or your prophet. If however you do not have a response to my essay, you may wish to consider my argument and the veracity of the Christian position.
(Attached photo are those of Dr. Shabir Ally. Taken off Facebook.)
Text and Publishing is a blog that publishes articles on religion and the humanities. We would be pleased if you will “follow” our blog so that you may receive notifications the moment we publish new articles. Send your feedback to our articles on email@example.com or leave a comment in the comment section below. Thank you for reading.