Friday, January 30, 2015

Allah's QC 1.1: Hell

Does the Qur'an promote peace?

Detractors usually refer to its explicit endorsements of violence. However, recent centuries have seen astonishing advances in techniques of interpretation, enabling the superstitious to explain away many of the embarrassments in their superstitions. But a definitive answer, one that won't boil away in the interpretive crock pot, requires that we ask a deeper question.

Does the Qur'an encourage us to respect the lives of our fellow human beings? No. As Muhammad points out quite often, eternity makes human life here on Earth irrelevant. But this is only a partial answer. We must focus the question further and ask whether the Qur'an promotes a respect for suffering; that is, does it promote compassion?

It is said that Muhammad is a model to be emulated by all virtuous people. So if Muhammad himself has no regard for suffering, or worse, lecherously celebrates it, then hateful fanatics can justify any sort of brutality, even without overt encouragement. Our revised question can easily be answered with a quick tour of Muhammad's hell.

Hell is a raging fire that spares nothing, a roaring, crackling, boiling place of scorching wind, scalding water, shadow and smoke. A place of wailing and abandonment. A gated dungeon guarded by angels.

You, infidels, will be driven to hell in hordes, goaded by iron rods with hooks. Chained together, in collars, manacles, fetters, clothed in burning tar. As you arrive, the people already there will blame you for their plight and call on God to double your punishment, but God has already decided that everyone in hell will receive double punishment.

Of course, fire is the primary source of your torment: an awning of fire above and a floor of fire below; a bed, a covering, a tent of fire that encloses you on all sides. Your skin will be burned away, but God will forever make more skin for you, to maintain your agony. You will never get any relief, and of course, you'll never die.

You'll be forced to eat fire, as well as a kind of fruit called Zaqqum, which will choke you, then turn to molten brass in your stomach. As a bonus, these torments will serve to remind you of your terrible hunger. As for your terrible thirst, you'll be forced to drink from a boiling spring, festering water that will tear your bowels.

You'll be relentlessly mocked by unknown voices, relentlessly mocked by God himself. If you try to escape, you will be dragged back into the fire and mocked again.

God especially dislikes your face. You'll be thrown into fire, face-first. You'll be dragged on your face through boiling water, punched in the face by angels. Your face will be blackened, scorched, burned, covered with fire.

This is God's attitude toward suffering. But perhaps the people of God understand basic decency; perhaps they are better than God. Perhaps they will recoil, horrified, and beg God to release you. No, they will join God in mocking you while you suffer unspeakably. Whatever you do, don't cry out to them for help, unless you want them to pour boiling water on...you guessed it--your face.

The Qur'an really does say every word of this, and actually much more, over and over, in 80 of the 114 suras. You might think Muhammad was exceptionally ill, coming up with such lurid fantasies. But he was merely adding a new layer to an already towering edifice, six centuries of tradition built up by Christian theologians such as Ignatius, Tertullian, and Augustine. Clearly, Yahweh is a magnet for psychos.

To endorse a god that will preside over such obscenities, one must harbor a deep-seated, viciously aggressive hatred for one's fellow humans. In a religion that actively encourages this hatred, there is no particular need for explicit calls to violence.

That's 1.1. Thanks for watching.

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