Pondering the Invitation to Convert to Islam

Dallas M. Roark, Ph.D.

Recently, the President of Iran sent President Bush a long letter involving a number of things, but one of the items was an invitation for Bush to convert to Islam. I began to wonder about the issue of conversion. What advantage is there in becoming a Muslim? After thinking about the issue and reflecting on various passages in the Qur’an and the Hadiths, I concluded for a variety of reasons that there would be no advantage in becoming a Muslim. Check the following hadith and ponder the observation made about it:

Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 567:

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

The Prophet said, "Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection), ‘O Adam.’ Adam will reply, ‘Labbaik wa Sa’daik,’ and all the good is in Your Hand.’ Allah will say: ‘Bring out the people of the fire.’ Adam will say: ‘O Allah! How many are the people of the fire?" Allah will reply: ‘From every one thousand, take out nine-hundred-and ninety-nine.’ At that time children will become hoary headed, every pregnant female will have a miscarriage, and one will see mankind as drunken, yet they will not be drunken, but dreadful will be the Wrath of Allah." The companions of the Prophet asked, "O Allah’s Apostle! Who is that (excepted) one?" He said, "Rejoice with glad tidings; one person will be from you and one-thousand will be from Gog and Magog."

The Prophet further said, "By Him in Whose Hands my life is, hope that you will be one-fourth of the people of Paradise." We shouted, "Allahu Akbar!" He added, "I hope that you will be one-third of the people of Paradise." We shouted, "Allahu Akbar!" He said, "I hope that you will be half of the people of Paradise." We shouted, "Allahu Akbar!" He further said, "You (Muslims)(compared with non Muslims) are like a black hair in the skin of a white ox or like a white hair in the skin of a black ox(i.e.your number is very small as compared with theirs)."

The world population has been growing exponentially, let’s just say that today’s population is about 1/5 of all people who ever lived (1/2 or 1/3 would probably be more realistic). Thus, out of thirty billion people, only 30 million make it to paradise, that is, about 2.5% of all Muslims living today! If we consider this percentage in terms of today’s population only, and assuming that only Muslims will make it, then we are looking at a maximum of 6 million Muslims entering paradise as opposed to 1.2 billion Muslims living worldwide!

Or expressed differently, something Muslims do not tell in their Da’wah: everyone converting to Islam today has a chance of about 1/200 to go to paradise. And as the percentage of Muslims in the total world population rises, the probability for each individual Muslim to make it to paradise is diminishing even further. (Source)

Let’s suppose that I converted to Islam and became a very obedient Muslim. What are my chances of making it to Paradise? Given these odds, one can conclude it would be very, very slim. Not only do the odds go against me, but Allah may also be against me in a very arbitrary way. The crux of the issue is that it depends on Allah, not on me. One cannot change Allah’s mind. This is one of the reasons that Muslims say "Insha Allah" meaning "if Allah wills."

This is borne out in the following quotes from the Qur’an.

11:119 "Save him on whom thy Lord hath mercy, and for that He did create them. And the Word of thy Lord hath been fulfilled: Verily I shall fill hell with the jinn and mankind together." A similar idea is expressed in 7:178-179, "He whom Allah leadeth, he indeed is led aright, while he whom Allah sendeth astray—they indeed are losers."

"Already have We urged unto hell many of the jinn and humankind, having hearts wherewith they understand not, and having eyes wherewith they see not, and having ears wherewith they hear not. These are as the cattle-nay, but they are worse! These are the neglectful." See also 14:4; 74:56; 76:29-30.

The issue depends on the whim of Allah. The first quote includes mankind as a whole along with devils. Many Muslim commentaries affirm that all shall go to hell, believers will pass through it. None shall miss it. However, the odds come into play concerning who is going to pass through it.

The second quote is equally disturbing. Allah leads astray whom he will! This is bad enough to suggest that Allah does lead people astray. The mystery of it is this: whom did he lead astray? Mohammed has in mind the Jews who rejected him, but if Allah leads astray whom he will, what keeps one from asking the question of whether Mohammed was led astray?

This raises the question, if Allah has willed that the infidel goes to hell, why must the jihadist take innocent lives right now. Why not let them enjoy life before going to hell? Why not let Allah do his own work?

Who can change Allah’s mind? From the above quoted passages it appears that Allah has mercy on whom he will and those on whom no mercy is shown are destined for hell. If the decision is up to Allah, there is no place for a human decision. Why force someone to convert if the decision of Allah is unchanging. It becomes meaningless to coerce people to remain Muslims or cause them to convert to Islam. Whether one converts or not makes no difference. However, it does make a difference in the life style one lives based on that decision to convert or not to convert. More on this implication coming up.

Contrast this with the words of Jesus: "A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest. I am the good shepherd and the good shepherd gives his life for his sheep." (John 10:10-11) Again, ‘I tell you for certain that everyone who has faith in me has eternal life." (John 6:47)

If we think about the two options here there is a vast psychological difference. For the sake of reasoning let’s suppose that Islam is really the true faith. I would live my life in strict obedience to the precepts of Islam, but I am living in hope of something that is probably not really going to happen—getting to Paradise. The odds are against me. One out of 200 is not a good bet. What frustration! What disappointment! What futility! What hopelessness! What fear fills my life as I anticipate the future! The fear of hell is always stalking me. I will never know the outcome until Allah points his finger to me and directs me to hell.

Meanwhile, as an obedient Muslim I have taken time to pray 5 times a day because the Qur’an says I should. If I neglect to pray in public for more than two days in some countries I would be shot. Year after year I have fasted in the month of Ramadan denying myself because it is imposed on me by someone else rather than a voluntary act I choose and when I choose. I am required to go to Mecca once in my lifetime to observe a ritual carried over from the pagan history of Mecca. My mind is compromised by the imposition of imams and mullahs who control my "correct" thinking. If I seek to do independent thinking on the Qur’an I may be killed for heresy. If I resist the Muslim culture I may be killed also. As a Muslim I probably have an absurd sense of honor concerning my family. If my daughter is found in the company of a man who is not a relative I would probably have to kill her for the family honor. This is a terrible evil that I would have to do for an irrational and indefensible sense of honor.

There is only one sure way to get to paradise and that is be killed while trying to kill unbelievers. Sura 3:169 says, "Think not of those, who are slain in the way of Allah, as dead. Nay, they are living. With their Lord they have provision." (Pickthall) This is part of the motivation of jihadists. Only by doing a rationally immoral evil deed can one think of being assured of paradise. What a contradiction of values!! Moreover, if I converted and really believed the Qur’an I would have to fight against unbelievers, like killing my family members. Check this page for stories of threats, persecutions, and deaths. Moreover I could conceivably be working to overthrow a freedom loving country to be replaced by an Islamic authoritarian rule.

On the other hand, let us suppose for a moment that Christian faith is not really true and I am deceived. Yet because I believe I live my life based on Jesus’ words. I live in anticipation of everlasting life in the presence of God. I rejoice in what I think of God. I live in the idea that He loves me, that he entered into human form to live among men as Savior. I seek to live the words of Jesus, "love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself." I live with the idea that He forgives me and I should forgive others. I rejoice in the great promises He has made to me as His follower. I delight in the world He has made with its beauty and his provisions for every thing for life and godliness right now and I anticipate that the greatness of this world will be followed by a world unbelievably more wonderful, a world in God’s presence. I live in the belief that my faith in Jesus really connects with the real world of God. I have made a decision and commitment that is life changing.

Now if Christianity is not true, I am not worse off than the Muslim who believed his religion to be true, but who will not make it to paradise because the odds are against him as well as because Allah alone makes the decision. So as a Muslim I would lose in this life AND the next. People can bear a miserable life as long as they have hope that it is going to get better, but in Islam the committed believers are given no assurance that they will enter paradise; on the contrary they are told they have very little chance of doing so. The odds are against it.

Now if a woman were to consider converting to Islam, it is even more depressing. Consider the following hadith.

Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol 7, Book 62, Number 124

Narrated Usama;

"The Prophet said, "I stood at the gate of Paradise and saw that the majority of the people who entered it were the poor, while the wealthy were stopped at the gate (for the accounts). But the companion of the Fire were ordered to be taken to the Fire. Then I stood at the gate of the Fire and saw that the majority of those who entered it were women."

The majority of women will be in hell. There is no need to go back and figure out what they did wrong, whether good or bad, they will be in hell. On top of this one may raise the question of the position of women in Islam.

A women is a deprived citizen in Islam. She has to cover herself from head to toe in many countries, imprisoned in a black garb that is hot and degrading. This denies her personhood. She has fewer rights than men, she cannot inherit as much property as a man. In many Islamic countries she cannot go out in public without father, brother, husband, or some relative. If she even looks at another man she may be killed by her father or relatives for shaming their "honor." There are so many "honor" killings in Muslim cultures that police never investigate them. Women are denied all kinds of freedom. One can continue to describe the second rate position of women in many Islamic cultures and after all this she still winds up in hell because that is where the majority of women will be. Someone described the situation as hell on earth and hell hereafter.

Consider the place of women in the life of Jesus and the New Testament. After the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, "The apostles often met together and prayed with a single purpose in mind. The women and Mary the mother of Jesus would meet with them, and so would his brothers." Acts 1:14 There was no segregation of women from men. The relationship of Christ to the church is likened to the relationship of husband and wife. Eph. 5:25-28 says, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Even so ought husbands also to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself."

So from the standpoint of the Christian faith it is theoretically and psychologically better to be a Christian than a Muslim even if Christianity were not true. The status of women in the New Testament is much to be preferred. In summary, there is no benefit in converting to Islam even if it were true. There would be great psychological benefit in converting to Christianity even though it might be false.

Fortunately, the good news is that the Gospel is true. We are not left in the dark on the issue whether Islam or Christianity is true. We do not need to base our decision on speculative thoughts or a statistical limitation. The testimony of history, pagan, Jewish, and Christian confirm that Jesus was crucified. The testimony of the Gospels and the documents of the early church confirm that Jesus rose from the dead. The testimony of the Holy Spirit of God confirms in the believers’ heart that Jesus is Lord.

Look at the gracious words in the New Testament: "God has done it all! He sent Christ to make peace between himself and us, and he has given us the work of making peace between himself and others. What we mean is that God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace. We were sent to speak for Christ, and God is begging you to listen to our message. We speak for Christ and sincerely ask you to make peace with God." (2 Cor. 5:-18-20 CEV)

We will not only gain great psychological benefits but also have the full assurance of living a life committed to Jesus that is based on solid truth. God has come in human form in Jesus the Christ, and in his death and resurrection He made a New Covenant which is for all who will accept it. Remember the words of Jesus, "I tell you for certain that everyone who has faith in me has eternal life." (John 6:47) What joy!

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Articles by Dallas M. Roark
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