Islam and the Golden Rule
30 May, 2009
Our friend Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, the indefatigable defender of the Western civilization, send me the following email and asked me to answer to the criticism of a Muslim to an article that I wrote four years ago on the incompatibility of Islam and the Golden Rule. Here is this Muslim’s rebuttal and my response to him.
Recently I came across an attack on your piece on Islam and the Golden Rule. These passages below were cited in refutation. Any guidance you can give me on responding to this would be greatly appreciated.
Islamic Text on the Golden Rule:
“Serve God, and join not any partners with Him; and do good - to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess [the slave]: For God loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious” (Q:4:36)
(In fact the Quran goes beyond saying the Golden Rule by stating in more than four places that “Return evil with Kindness.” (13:22, 23:96, 41:34, 28:54, 42:40)
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):
“None of you have faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself” (Sahih Muslim)
“Whoever wishes to be delivered from the fire and to enter Paradise…should treat the people as he wishes to be treated.” (Sahih Muslim)
“None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself” (Forty Hadith-Nawawi)
“None of you is a believer if he eats his full while his neighbour hasn’t anything.” (Musnad)
“Do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourselves.” (Abu Dawud)
“Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.” (Farewell Sermon)
“There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm.” (Ibn- Majah)
The Quran is a book of double standards. Indeed, there are exhortations to Muslims to be kind to the poor, the traveler, the orphan and the sick. This is to be expected. If you want to start a religion you must preach something good or you’d not find anyone to believe you. You cannot preach only evil. In order to attract followers you must teach things that people like and can easily identify as good. Once they accept you as a prophet, guru or their spiritual guide, then you can do whatever you want and get away with it.
The difference between a true spiritual teacher and a conman is in their consistency. There are several teachings of Muhammad that can be compared to those of Jesus, but the teachings of Jesus are consistent while those of Muhammad are not. Even a criminal can give you good advises, this does not mean this criminal is a good person.
When I was young there was a radio show in Iran called A City within Our City. Every week the producer would interview a prison inmate on death roll and the criminal would tell the story of his life and what brought him to crime. At the end of the program the producer would ask, whether the criminal had any advice for young people. These criminals often had the best advises. They knew exactly the difference between right and wrong. I recall thinking, if only someone complied the advices of these criminals he could write the best book of guidance. Good words are dime a dozen. If they are not accompanied by good actions they are worthless. In fact the difference between a great man and a conman is in how much their words and deeds differ. Even Obama came to power by giving good talks. His entire life however was filled with crime and chicanery. Demagogy is the domain of all charlatans and they are good at it.
We find similar good exhortations in the teachings of Jim Jones who actually based his religion on “social justice”. He even adopted children from many races to set the example.
The problem with the good teachings of Muhammad is that they are reserved for fellow Muslims. When the hadith says, “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself,.” it is talking about the fellow Muslims.
The brotherhood in Islam does not extend to everyone. The Quran (9:23) states that the believers should not take for friends and protectors (awlia) their fathers and brothers if they love Infidelity above Islam. In fact there are many verses that tell the Muslims to kill the unbelievers and be harsh to them. A clear example that Islam is not based on the Golden Rule is the verse (48:29): “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; and those who are with him are strong against Unbelievers, (but) compassionate amongst each other.” This is the perfect definition of fascism.
There are many other verses that show the brotherhood in Islam is not universal. The non believers have no rights and should not be treated in the same way that Muslims are to be treated. The entire Quran is a breach of the Golden Rule. The Quran tells Muslims to slay the unbelievers wherever they find them (2:191), do not befriend them (3:28), fight them and show them harshness (9:123), smite their heads (47:4), etc. Are these verses compatible with the Golden Rule?
Islam is the only doctrine, that calls upon its believers to do evil to others for the simple fact that they are not believers.
According to Muslims it is not the Golden Rule that defines the good and bad, it is Muhammad who does it. They believe that what is good for Islam is the highest virtue and what is bad for Islam is the ultimate evil. This is the definition of good and evil in Islam. This is the ethos of all cults. From Asahara’s “Aum Shinrikyo” to Jim Jones’ “People’s Temple”; from Sun Myung Moon’s “Unification Chruch” to David Koresh’s “Davidian Branch”, the recurring theme is that the cult’s interests override the human understanding of right and wrong. In order to advance the interest of the cult, which is regarded as the ultimate good, everything, including lying, and even murder and assassination are permissible. The end is deemed to be so lofty that it justifies the means. This is the same idea of fascism where the glorification of the state and the total subordination of the individual to it are enforced.
None of the verse quoted above have anything to do with the Golden Rule.
Verse 13:22 tells the believers to be patient and generous with their money. This is what all cults demand from their followers. The more sacrifice the cultist make the more he or she can be manipulated. Verse 23:96 asks Muslims to repel evil, whereas the definition of evil for Muhammad was contradicting him. Verse 41:34 is a Meccan verse where Muhammad and his followers were the underdogs and here he preached patience and said repel evil with good so your enemy becomes as friend. Could he have done anything else? These orders changed when Muhammad came to power. In Medina Muhammad banished and massacred entire populations just because he suspected that they may not be friendly to him. 28:54 is a repetition of 23:96 and 42:40 says whoever forgives and amends, he shall have his reward from Allah. However, Muhammad never forgave those who mocked him. As for Muhammad’s unforgiving nature it is enough to recall the fate of Oqba the man who when Muhammad was in Mecca used to mock him and when he was captured in the Battle of Badr, Muhammad ordered his decapitation. He ventured to expostulate, and demand why he should be treated more vigorously than the other captives who were kept for ransom. ‘Because of your enmity to God and to his Prophet,’ replied Muhammad. ‘And my little girl!’ cried Oqba, in the bitterness of his soul, ‘Who will take care of her?’ – ‘Hellfire!’ exclaimed the heartless conqueror; and on the instant his victim was hewn to the ground. ‘Wretch that he was!’ continued Muhammad, ‘and persecutor! Unbeliever in God, in his Prophet, and in his Book! I give thanks unto the Lord that has slain you, and comforted mine eyes thereby.’
How do you reconcile the claim that Muhammad in his farewell sermon said, “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.” With the fact that in his deathbed he said, “No two religions are allowed in Arabia” and ordered the forced conversion, expulsion or ethnic cleansing of the Jews and Christian and the murder of Pagans?
The sura 9, which is the last words of Muhammad, is a manifesto of discrimination and human rights abuses. This sura alone is proof that Islam is against the Golden Rule
The first requisite to feel the pain and suffering of others is to accept that they have feelings like us and they also feel hurt the way we do. If we deny such feelings on others we do not feel any remorse in abusing them. Muhammad claimed all those who disbelieve in Allah are the worst creatures. He even said that all non-believers will end up in hell where they will be tortured for eternity. How then Muslims can treat equally those whom they believe to be worst than beast and that deserve eternal punishment?
There is nothing in the Quran and Hadith that would make us believe that Islam is compatible with the Golden Rule.
Sir William Muir: The Life of Mohamet, Vol. 3 Ch. XII Page 115-116
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Ali Sina is the editor of Faithfreedom.org. He is has contributed in 'Beyond Jihad - Critical Voices from Inside Islam'. His latest book is Understanding Muhammad: The Psychobiography of Allah’s Prophet.