I received an odd question today at the Center for Pluralism, asking me to send material against Atheism. Here was my response.
Atheists, once we’re belligerent, and persecuting others, they got the wrong label for doing that and unfortunately it has stayed with them. But Atheists of today are as humanistic as Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, and others.
Indeed, there is 1% of belligerent extremists among all groups from Atheist to Zoroastrians – not because of their religions but because they did not get their religions right.
I was an atheist once, then learned first hand about Islam by rejecting all that was said in the marketplace. Finding the truth was essential to me as it brings relief to the soul. I chose to be a Muslim, and I have nothing against Atheists and defend their right to be who they are.
I firmly believe in one of the oft-cited verses of the Quran’ “I don’t worship what you worship, nor you worship what I worship” and ends with “your faith is dear to you as mine is dear to me.” There are six verses in chapter 109 – the Kafirun. Not one verse suggests or hints that others’ belief is anything less.
Those of you who jump to cite verses without thinking, I have a suggestion for you, for your peace of mind. If a verse troubles you, the best way to understand it is to read three verses before and three after, and at least 4 translations to weed out 2 (out of 75) bad translations that are dead wrong. Those authors are dead, if I meet them now, I will sit down with them and explain Islam. Islam in every which way is about creating peace, mitigating conflicts, and nurturing goodwill for all of God’s creation. If you don’t get this, then you are not following Islam. I say, “If it is not common sense, then it is not Islam.”®
Islam emphasizes free will many times, but I will be happy to cite 4 concrete examples. Quran also reminds you frequently to think, question, and reason. Once again, I reiterate, “If it is not common sense, then it is not Islam.”®
We do workshops on understanding each one of the traditions from Atheists to Zoroastrians, and last year, a Christian man posted hateful messages on my Facebook for talking about Atheism. We have to defend the sanctity of every tradition, they are not wrong, it is the evil side in us that sees a fault in religions.
I don’t have any material against Atheism, nor will I support ridiculing Atheism. On the other hand, I have defended their right and will continue to do so. As a Pluralist, I consider it my sacred duty to stand up for the rights of all humans and as a Muslim, I defend the sanctity of every religious tradition. However, as a Pluralist and a Muslim, I will stand against those who hurt, harass, rape, lynch, murder, beat, burn, denigrate and destroy others’ right to be who they are.
You want to learn more about the Quran – please come to the workshop on the Quran coming soon, watch for the date at the Center for Pluralism site. Truth relieves one from apprehensions. I will be joined by experts in the Quran and follow the guidelines we have set.
Mike Ghouse is the founder and president of the Center for pluralism and director at the World Muslim Congress. We are deeply committed to building cohesive societies where every human feels secure about his (or her) faith, race, ethnicity, culture, and other uniqueness. More about Mike at TheGhouseDiary.com