Opinion

Scaring people into submission

OCT 21 — Just as the body was being lowered into the ground to be buried, dozens of snakes start to crawl out filling up the grave.

They pull out the body and the brave ones who are standing around start to chase and clear the snakes away from the grave.

They try again to lower the body into the grave, but again, the snakes appear from everywhere inside, finally stopping the funeral.

Apparently, the deceased had been a very bad Muslim during his life and now that he has died, the earth doesn’t want to accept his body.

Another popular story is of an old woman (or man, as the stories do vary) who is at her deathbed surrounded by friends and family.

She is about to die but seems to be struggling and in tremendous discomfort. The story continues to explain that this goes on for weeks.

Then it is discovered that she had led a sinful life and used to (insert dreaded sin of your choice) and she is now being punished for it.

They had to do special prayers to ask for forgiveness and only then did the old woman die, and into the next life where she will presumably be punished again.

Recently, stories like these have been making its rounds on FaceBook and as spam emails and the senders always make comments like “repent now!” or “fear Allah!”.

After reading one too many of these stories whenever I log on to FaceBook, it’s actually making me want to repent of all my sins… NOT!

I wonder if it’s desperation that Muslims are trying to preach to other fellow Muslims to repent and return to the right path.

How low do you have to be when you feel the only way to pull somebody back to Islam is by scaring them witless?

Come on! Muslims can’t be that dumb. I’m sure there has to be a better luring strategy into the religion than that!

You don’t even have to be really creative. All you need to do is look within Islam itself to find more enticing ways to get people to do good.

Surah Al-Fatin in the Quran states of people who are virtuous:

“They will enter the gardens of Eden wherein they will be decked with bracelets of gold, pearls and silk garments. They will say, ‘It is only God who deserves all praise. He has removed all of our suffering. Our Lord is certainly All-forgiving and All-appreciating.”

That sounds so much nicer than telling someone their grave is going to be filled with venomous serpents if they were bad!

There are actually many more surahs in the Quran that are positive rather than negative in nature.

There is Surah Al-Fussilat which states:

“To those who have said, ‘God is our Lord,’ and who have remained steadfast to their belief, the angels will descend saying, ‘Do not be afraid or grieved. Receive the glad news of Paradise which has been promised to you. We are your guardians in this world and in the life to come, where you will have whatever you call for, a hospitable welcome from the All-forgiving and All-merciful God.”

The word “Islam” itself may mean “submission”, but I don’t think it’s literal meaning is to scare people into submission.

God gave human beings intelligence and free will. Hence, I’d like to believe that people are invited to submit to the goodwill of God and to be Muslim.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

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