Wow!! I don't mean to be sarcastic, but you guys made wonderful, profound replies to my questions. Especially Ishina and 247read.
Before I try to answer any of your queries, let me give you a little information about myself.
I am an American of Pakistani descent. Born and raised in America. I have read and seen how all of the Muslim countries have their problems exacerbated by the degree of Islam present in the region.
I am also purportedly a Syed (A descendant of Prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatima) which makes it really difficult to leave Islam because its been a part of my culture for so long. Now I know that people fake being Syeds for social reasons, but I come a Shia/Sunni background and we have a genealogy book that tells me where I am in the descendants of Prophet Muhammad. Also, if it wasn't for Islam, my paternal grandparents would have stayed in India instead of Pakistan during the partition of India. So for me, even if I have doubts about Islam from time to time, I still feel like I don't want it to leave because its been part of my culture for so long.
Before coming to this forum I was banned by Ummahforums and Sunniforums for asking too many questions after having my doubts on Islam and particularly about Muslims. For example, how is it that Muslims can mobilize themselves and protest when it comes to a cartoon of the Prophet or Salman Rushdie's knighthood, but they could not do the same when it comes to condemning Islamic terrorism worldwide? So I really appreciate that I can have a calm, rational conversation with you people.
Now I will try to reply to any questions that I have seen in my page:
@yeezevee: You've asked "What is good about Islam that you cannot find in other religions?". Well I agree with you that there is no one faith that supersedes all others in terms of being good, doing the right thing, doing charity etc. I am not in Islam looking for truth or morals. I am just here because this is my family religion.
You've asked me: "And what is good about any religions that you cannot live without a blind belief?"
Religion provides me with a false sense of certainty to prevent me from asking the deeper questions about life. Now I know this sounds stupid because it is. But thinking about "Why am I here?" or "Where am I going?" or "What will happen to me when I die?" are questions I don't want to think about. I guess religion takes care of those problems while I focus on the real world and its problems.
By the way, I already watched the video by Lawrence Krauss a while back. He's awesome!!!
@zooby: You have said that Islam having sects is a big weakness. That's true, but that depends on your frame of reference. To people, in general, belonging to one sect of Islam, they don't think they are in a sect. They think that there is only one path to Islam and a bunch of other people deviated from that path. Whereas the people who do not belong to that one sect of Islam think that the person who does is wrong and should be killed.
It's all a matter of perspective. People who belong to a sect, don't think they are in a sect.
You've also asked: "Where does a person go if they've only heard about Islam through a biased source and dismissed it?"
Well, seeing as how as the Quran states (somewhere in Surah Nisa) that God doesn't commit a single iota of injustice to his creation(I'm paraphrasing here), I doubt that God would be an idiot and send a person to hell just because he didn't hear the message of Islam properly or through biased source.
I also agree with you that it would be stupid to send non-believers who are good people into hell simply because they were non-believers. I think the verses in the Quran concerning hell for unbelievers (Mushriks and Ahl-e-kitab) were for a particular context in Muslim history. If what Jews and Christians and Mushriks did 1400 years ago, should affect those same groups of people today then that's stupid, in my opinion. Especially if the non-believers are good people who are following what's morally right in Islam like doing good.
You've also asked: ("Isn't it common sense that the majority of the world would bow down to god if they truely knew he was there? In that case why did Allah do such a bad job" and "Why do some meet to criteria for heaven easier than others?")
I really don't think that God would be that unjust. Maybe I just have better faith in God being good than most other Muslims. I just a common sense view of God or Allah than most Muslims I see.
Questions by Jinn And Tonic(Are you from the Jinnandtonicshow?):Everything in islam is based on the planet earth,
its directions and known knowledge of the time. To include the sun not
only revolving around the earth, but also sets in the mud. Doesnt that cause
anything unsettling with you?
I think that the sun setting on the mud was a translation error on the part of Abdullah Yusuf Ali. The reason I think why the Quran doesn't mention things that weren't available at that time was because He was talking to Arabs.
Imagine if you were a human and you were given the ability to speak to ants. You wouldn't tell them about the string theory or the universe. You would start small. You would talk about the ant's environment before moving on to cities outside of the environment and the countries and the continents etc. Similarly, the reason why I think the Quran appears to be geocentric is because the Arabs would not have understood anything at that time that would be beyond the reach of Arabia. God had to talk to them using images and religions that they already knew.
Hope that's a satisfactory answer, because I have a bad feeling that it wasn't.
You've also said: "I am not impressed
with a tomato, calf, or anything else that APPEARS to have arabic
"Allah" written on them."
I would say same here brother. You are just projecting an image that is biased at that point. I am sure that a Christian, a Jew, or an Atheist would have seen something different that what the Muslim was seeing.
@Azdaha ExMuslim: Hell is a very unsettling concept for me to handle as well. That's why I don't think the Quran is very stagnant when it comes to the concept of Hell. When hell is described in the Quran, it's never the same details. It's usually based on whatever happened in Mecca and Medina at that time. So based on that, I am not sure that God would make hell eternal in 2012 because times have changed. People are not moral because they happen to follow the religion of their forefathers. Their moral because that is how they want to be treated.
@Ishina: I really enjoyed your long response. It made me a think a lot about how Islam negatively affects Muslim's lives especially in Britain or the States.
As far as the supposed miracles of the Quran are concerned, I don't really believe in them. The Quran was not supposed to be used a miracle pointing to God. People like Hamza Andreas Tzortzis and Adnan Rashid are just plain opportunists trying to make money on miracles that are purported to be in the Quran.
However, I disagree when it comes to you not liking the Quran's stories of Prophets. What about Surah Yusuf or the allegory of Moses and Khidr. They seem to be really good stories and have some good lessons for me at least.
@247read: I don't think the Prophet was to be the best example for all times. Maybe for his but I am not sure for all times to come. Because let's face it, science and technology are changing rapidly. As a result, morality has to accommodate the changes that accompany the times we live in. There is no such thing as objective morality. I wish more Muslims would realize that.
@li: I would make the old "people have free will to do what they want" argument and people can do good things and commit terrible atrocities, but I am sure you've already heard this by now.
Anyways, I know I probably didn't satisfy everyone's queries. But I do hope that I can engage in more dialogue with people on this forum. Even though most of you are either Agnostic or Atheist, I feel like I have more in common with you than most Muslims I see.
Thanks for hearing me out. Looking forward to your replies.