Critical Analysis: Miscellaneous
Importance of Prayer in Islam
If one prays to live to 300 years, or prays to win the lottery tomorrow, it is doubtful that one’s prayer would be fulfilled. If one prays for 10 things and 3 are fulfilled, a religious person is likely to give God credit for the 3 and rationalize the other 7.
"Understanding the Hadith: The Sacred Traditions of Islam" by Ram Swarup elaborates on Sahih Muslim:
Presumably, an all-knowing God does not need a person’s guidance on how to run the world. Some argue that prayer is to give people direction on what to strive for, but the Quran gives little guidance as to the content of prayer.
The Quran very often mentions peace, belief and separates the world into believers and unbelievers. How do we achieve Peace? Believe in what? The definitions of believer and unbeliever are unclear and why is that so important?
If we have trouble applying the Quran in cases it constantly mentions, it becomes harder to extrapolate the Quran on topics it barely mentions.
What the Quran Does Not Discuss
Below are important issues that are hardly discussed in the "complete and clear" Quran:
3. Being healthy
5. How to raise a child
6. Type of political system
7. Peaceful trade between nations
8. How a society should be organized to produce wealth
9. Eradicating various mental and physical illnesses
10. World hunger
12. Dealing with disasters
13. Environmental issues
14. Obtaining world peace
In order to get along with others one should be able to be exposed to their ideas and beliefs. In order to determine which set of ideas are true and which are false one should be exposed to a diversity of views. Islam tries to shut Muslims off from being exposed to other ideas and people. It threatens its victims with severe punishment for being influenced by foreign ideas.
For example, when scanning for words that begin with "believe" in the Quran there were 714 matches as well as 125 matches for "unbelieve" and 271 for "disbelieve".
[2.99] And certainly We have revealed to you clear communications and none disbelieve in them except the transgressors.
[2.161] Surely those who disbelieve and die while they are disbelievers, these it is on whom is the curse of Allah and the angels and men all;[4.144] O you who believe! do not take the unbelievers for friends rather than the believers; do you desire that you should give to Allah a manifest proof against yourselves?
Also, the Quran claims to be complete and clear and often discourages questioning its worldview. This can cause people to just be exposed to Islam and not bother learning other materials as well as preventing Muslims from critically evaluating and questioning their own worldview.
A politician may feel reluctant to openly discuss her unpopular views. Similarly, a religious leader may not openly discuss certain unpopular theological views. And when such behavior goes on for centuries, the religion evolves over time. Hence, a society that believes in women’s rights, may interpret women’s role in Islam differently than another society that does not. It is hard to determine the unbiased version of a faith. Even the most sincere religious leaders may have relied on biased religious leaders, and religious leaders are limited in understanding.
Many Muslims feel the importance of a united ummah but they cannot accept heretics as Muslims. Should a Muslim unite with jihadists that don’t accept various Islamic sects? Should a Muslim unite with reformed Muslims?
The lack of unity is a direct result of the Quran constantly emphasizing its hatred of disbelievers without ever clearly defining "disbeliever".
[40.35] Those who dispute concerning the communications of Allah without any authority that He has given them; greatly hated is it by Allah and by-those who believe. Thus does Allah set a seal over the heart of every proud, haughty one.[61.3] It is most hateful to Allah that you should say that which you do not do.
If one believes that God created all humans, then why not be concerned about the well-being of all humans? By not expanding the ummah to all people, Muslims must determine whether jihadist-Muslims, peaceful Muslims, women’s rights Muslims, reformed-Muslims, Quran-only Muslims, Shiites, Sunnis, non-practicing-Muslims, etc. are really Muslims. Then a peaceful Muslim may not accept a jihadist, and a right-wing Muslim may not accept a reformed Muslim. So while most Muslims support the ummah, they each have a different definition of ummah. Hence, the concept of ummah causes both unity and division amongst Muslims and creates distance between Muslims and non-Muslims.
The definition of unbeliever is unclear. It is tempting for a Muslim to assume that very few people or Muslims are unbelievers, as this would make Islam respectful of most people and would make it seem like few people would go to hell. Such a view would expand the Ummah. However, the Quran does not want Muslims to take unbelievers as friends and the Quran exhibits hatred against unbelievers. So a Muslim that takes unbelievers as friends is taking a big risk, and a Muslim that preaches an expanded ummah but doesn’t befriend unbelievers risks being a hypocrite. Also, why should the Quran constantly threaten and instill fear of unbelievers if they really don’t exist?
[17.44] The seven heavens declare His glory and the earth (too), and those who are in them; and there is not a single thing but glorifies Him with His praise, but you do not understand their glorification; surely He is Forbearing, Forgiving.
[23.17] And certainly We made above you seven heavens; and never are We heedless of creation.[23.86] Say: Who is the Lord of the seven heavens and the Lord of the mighty dominion?
[67.3] Who created the seven heavens one above another; you see no incongruity in the creation of the Beneficent God; then look again, can you see any disorder?
[71.15] Do you not see how Allah has created the seven heavens ,~ one above another,[41.12] So He ordained them seven heavens in two periods, and revealed in every heaven its affair; and We adorned the lower heaven with brilliant stars and (made it) to guard; that is the decree of the Mighty, the Knowing.
The seven heavens are the 7 planets (using the term loosely as the sun and moon are not considered planets) visible to the naked eye. Modern science claims that there are many additional planets.
 (Richard Carrier) writes:
Note: Some Muslims argue that the seven heavens are the seven layers of the earth’s atmosphere. However, the number of layers and the size of each layer are arbitrary and different web sites differ as to the names, number of layers and the size of each layer. However, it seems very safe to assume that the lower atmosphere is within 1,000 kilometers from the earth. However, the sun is the nearest star to the earth and is roughly 150,000,000 kilometers from the earth.
- http://quod.lib.umich.edu/k/koran/simple.html This includes all words that begin with “believe” such as believer or believed.
- [12.111] In their histories there is certainly a lesson for men of understanding. It is not a narrative which could be forged, but a verification of what is before it and a distinct explanation of all things and a guide and a mercy to a people who believe
- Islamic community