The Qur’ān, translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali
with minor alterations by Tahrikke Tarsile Qur’an, Inc.

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Book of Mormon

[Online Editor: My comments and questions appear in pale yellow.]


Al-Baqara, or the Heifer

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
2:1A. L. M.
2:2This is the Book: in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah.

Why ought we fear Allah/God?  Is God a bad person, looking to hurt us?  If not, then it would seem that we have no reason to fear; and if so, it would seem we have no reason to worship.

How do we know this is “the book”?  Perhaps it is not the book, and is only claiming to be the book so as to confuse us.  If I write a book about how hoards of aliens attacked the planet Earth in 1492, you would likely say that what I have written is fictional.  Would it cease to be fictional if a passage were included claiming that one can know with certain fact that Earth really was attacked by aliens in 1492 by virtue of the fact that the claim is “verified” by the very same book?

2:3Who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them.

Who is this “We,” and what have I (or we) been given by “We”?

Some things that are unseen can be discovered through reason.  For example, see Bastiat’s broken window fallacy, which explores the unseen economic activity that would take place were it not for the seen activity of destructive forces.  But do I have a reason to believe in Santa, whose person, home, and activity remain constantly unseen?  I am not wise enough to know whether or not there is a God, and see no justification for contriving a belief at this time in either direction (theism or atheism).  I would certainly enjoy an afterlife in Heaven if it exists and if I am welcome, but that fact does not somehow magically make me wise enough to make a decision.

I have to wonder why a God would want us to believe in Her, Him, or It without evidence.  For example, if I were God, I think I would prefer those who do not merely believe to believe, as I consider rationalism very valuable.  Moreover, with regards to non-theists who live a good, virtuous life, they would be far easier to judge, for you would not have to worry that perhaps the person led a good life merely to achieve a desirable afterlife; this would be harder to judge in the case of theists.  (This is, of course, assuming God even cares why one lives a good, virtuous life.  Perhaps She, He, or It merely cares that you do.)

2:4And who believe in the Revelation sent to you, and sent before your time, and (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter.
This book is “guidance sure” for those who believe in a revelation sent to me prior to my birth, and who have assurance of an afterlife?  I do not know what revelation is being referred to here, or whom it was from.  How does one gain assurance of the Hereafter?
2:5They are on (true) guidance, from their Lord, and it is these who will prosper.
In what sense do they prosper?
2:6As to those who reject Faith, it is the same to them whether you warn them or do not warn them; they will not believe.
2:7Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a veil; great is the penalty they (incur).

Why do they incur any penalty at all?  Let us say I have a neighbour named Fred.  One day, I decide to cease believing in my neighbour.  I never see him mowing his lawn, I never see him washing his car—for all I am concerned, there is no Fred.  Does Fred have the right to impose some sort of penalty upon me for my disbelief?  Absolutely not.

Now, if I go over to Fred’s home and try to homestead his property, under the false assumption that he does not exist and therefore cannot possess ownership, then it could be said that I am aggressing against this neighbour, and that he has a right to seek redress or restitution for my aggression.  But as far as I can tell, this does not apply to God, for no one is aggressing against Her, Him, or It in the name of Her, His, or Its non-existence.

Perhaps one could argue that, since God created the universe, it is Her, His, or Its primary property, and therefore our presence on or in it without Her, His, or Its consent constitutes aggression.  In the same way, Fred might have a contract with me declaring that I may tread his property for as long as I believe in him.  By failing to believe in him and treading upon his property nonetheless, I would be violating the contractual agreement and thereby aggressing against my neighbour.  But then, we must acknowledge that we have made no contract (to our memories) with God of this nature.

Let us say Fred has a daughter.  She is born on his property, is raised there, and has never in fact step foot off of it.  She has also signed no contract with her father.  Is her father free to eject her from his property?  Yes, and this seems to be the one rational we can give for God’s alleged provision of penalty against the non-believers.  Fred is free to eject his daughter from his property at any time and for any reason because that property is his to fully control in any way he so chooses, so long as he does not violate the equal, negative, inalienable rights of anyone else in society, his daughter included.  And thus, it could be said that God may eject us from Her, His, or Its property for whatever arbitrary reason She, He, or It contrives.

But even if we accept this, we cannot accept the claim that a Just God would throw innocent people into an eternal pit of Hellfire for arbitrary reasons, since such an action would be aggressive, and aggression (i.e., the initiation, rather than mere use, of force) is inherently unjust.  The most a Just God can inflict upon a non-believer who lives an otherwise good life is eternal absence of the universe or metaverse (or meta-metaverse, or meta-meta-metaverse, et cætera) She, He, or It created, along with an eternal absence of God’s own presence.

Does this constitute a “great” penalty?  Perhaps it does.

But I remain unsatisfied.  We have concluded that this ejection from the universe, or anything else God created and thus owns, is just so long as it does not go so far as to violate the non-aggression axiom.  (Fred, for example, may only use that amount of force requisite to eject his daughter from his property, and no more than that.  If there are only two exits from his property, one leading to a street and the other to a pit of flames, he must provide the daughter with access to this street exit.)  We have concluded that God may commit this arbitrary action.  But, I remain unsatisfied because I question: why would God do this?

It is clearly arbitrary to eject a person from the universe, especially if the Creator has not informed—in no uncertain terms—the coming penalty.  The Qur’ān, for better or worse, is not a legal document, and cannot be held up in a just court of law as a document spelling out the legal obligations of anyone.  Thus, if God ejects non-believers, She, He, or It is doing so without having made the arbitrary penalty clear in no uncertain terms.  Does God have the right to do this?  We have concluded that She, He, or It does, but that still does not make the choice rational.

If I were God, I would let anyone and everyone into the afterlife who lived a relatively ethical life, ethics being defined by one’s proclivity to abide by the non-aggression axiom—regardless of whether the person believed in me or not.  I’d do this because it seems so abundantly rational.  So, my question remains:  Why do non-believers incur any penalty at all?


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