This FAQ looks at questions and accusations people tend to have about anti-theists (people who are against religion, rather than just not believing in it). I will be adding to it periodically.
Why talk about religion so much if you don't believe in it?
We discuss and debate about religion because religion itself is very real and we oppose its beliefs and overall effects on society. If no one believed it we wouldn’t be so active or passionate about it. Asking why we talk about religion is like asking why conservatives talk about liberalism or vice versa.
Anti-theists are intolerant.
No one is tolerant of everything. We all challenge and criticize ideas and actions we think are harmful.
The accusation of “intolerance” is often hypocritical since the accuser’s tend to agree that it’s ok to criticize what you think is harmful. However they tend to use the accusation to label and demonize people they disagree with on particular issues, thus avoiding a rational debate.
There are certainly atheists who are unnecessarily vicious though, just as there are vicious people who throw around accusations of “intolerance” while also saying shockingly hateful comments about people who they disagree with.
The problem with generalizing anti-theists as intolerant is that it has the implication that any criticism of religious thinking, as an ideology and social influence, makes you akin to a racist who hates human beings. It prevents people from being open to hearing and understanding legitimate points about the effects of religious thinking.
Do you think that everything in religion is bad?
No, not necessarily. There are some positive things which religions do quite well, although I certainly think they are grossly outweighed by the harm they do. My opposition is strictly to irrationality that leads to delusional beliefs about reality. Such irrationality is essentially the defining aspect of religions, but I think that as individuals and societies we can value good ideas from any and all sources where they are found, religious or not. What matters are the merits and effects of each idea itself. I think it is great to take what is good from any religion and also be wise enough to not also believe any of the irrational fantasy. (However it should be noted that even the good ideas within religions are affected by the fantasy doctrines, and thus aren’t always as good as they may appear at face value)
Why don't you just let people be who they are?
Being religious is often not being “who you are”. It is being what culture and family caused you to be due to both active and passive influences. The overwhelming majority of religious people adhere to beliefs indoctrinated in them both actively and passively by their family, culture, and environment. A religion is not your identity. It is a belief you hold, which can change and be replaced with new perspectives. We just want to offer those perspectives and reasons so that the indoctrinated influences of religion are reduced, and for people to learn about our ideas and see if perhaps they feel that “who they are” actually aligns more with some things we think rather than what they grew up believing.
Aren't you being hypocritical by preaching like the people you complain about?
We are not being hypocritical, because we don’t do anything that we criticize religious people for doing.
My problem with evangelists is not that they are passionate about their beliefs or advocating them. My problem with evangelists and fundamentalists is why they have those beliefs; that those beliefs are delusional; and ultimately what the effects of that way of thinking are on people and society.
I don’t have a problem with people expressing and advocating their views in forums like ours and other media. What I have a problem with is the substance of religious views: the reasoning, justification, use of fallacies, lies, gross ignorance and manipulation, and the effects of delusions on society.
I believe that religion should be treated like any other political and social issue: people have differing views and are free to express them, including harsh criticism. But the simple fact that they express their views is not part of the problem. The debate is about the views themselves.
So our issue is with the nature and substance of religious beliefs, not the fact that people preach their views.
There's nothing wrong with religion! Religion can be used for good or bad!
This is easily one of the most confusing yet common “defenses” of religion I hear. The thing is, even if you ignore all other factors that make religion dangerous, and instead just point out this one fact that religion can be used to control or manipulate people for “either good or bad”… then how can you possibly defend it as harmless?
Do you want to kick religion out of schools completely?
No, I just oppose proselytizing, bias, and officially lead prayer. But I think it’s incredibly important for people to learn about the whole variety of beliefs that humans have had throughout history so that people can have a realistic perspective on the history and nature of religion, instead of absorbing a cultural bias for one set of beliefs. Such education reveals the equal, flawed, and very human-derived nature of all religions.
People can believe and teach whatever they want to their own churches and families. That doesn't impact anyone else. We only have to criticize when they try to force it on others!
Believing and teaching creationism and other religious delusions in churches is not a totally disconnected issue from teaching those things in public schools, or wanting to promote those beliefs through government, or have those beliefs impact one’s decisions as a voter or elected official.
Beliefs lead to actions. So while we respect the right of people to teach what they want in their homes and churches, we do not hold their choices and beliefs free from criticism and scrutiny.
If people are attracted to religion then it is their choice. Why debate about it?
If people are attracted to religion, especially when it is a specific belief system, it is often because they were raised in it and brainwashed. In other words, it was not really a choice.
And the other factor is that people are naturally inclined toward simplified beliefs and emotion-based reasoning. This can be dangerous to society as those sort of beliefs grow in popularity or become energized by national tragedies or political motives.
Just because a type of delusion is something people are naturally attracted to, that doesn’t mean it’s good or necessary. With exposure to new ideas people can find that they are attracted to other things that do not have the dangerous side effects of delusion. It’s important to reform our thinking to improve the world – and to help others do the same.
(Accusation used to label people who criticize Islam and the Quran)
“Islamophobic” is a word invented in order to pretend that people who criticize Islam are doing so only for irrational reasons. Thus the word enables people to dismissively avoid acknowledging the validity of the criticisms.
There are certainly people who blame Islam for things it is not at fault for, but that does not mean we should pretend that Islam and its messages have no negative impact on people or culture.
The purpose of religion is not to deceive people!
I know that isn’t the intended outcome of it, of course. But the problematic concepts in religion – such as faith, assumptions based on “argument from ignorance” fallacies, beliefs in supernatural powers that consciously intervene or control our lives, beliefs based on emotional need, etc – encourage irrational thinking.
And that is how it causes people to deceive themselves. No one in a cult, for example, believes they are deceiving others, regardless of how illogical or unfounded their beliefs are.
Why does it matter if people erect crosses on public property for national tragedies?
The problem with public crosses for major national tragedies (as opposed to personal tragedies) is that psychologically and culturally it connects the religion with the intense nationalistic emotions that people experience after a tragic event.
It identifies the religion as being synonymous with the victims and foments a mindset that the religion is what holds us together and makes us strong; that the religion is “our side” and anything else is the enemy. This was seen in the increase of religiosity and nationalism during the Cold War and after 9/11. That’s the problem with people taking too much comfort in religion.
This drives nationalism and religious belief in their own privilege and inflated sense of importance to the nation as a whole. It’s one of these things which seems so harmless on its face but the more it happens, the more powerful the psychological effect it has on our culture.
You shouldn't hate people just because of their religion!
We don’t hate people. We oppose bad ideas. And that is a fundamental difference which many people have a hard time understanding. It is logically wrong, and even dangerous, to equate ideas with the people who hold them. It stagnates and confuses debate and prevents different people from reaching the truth of matters or understanding each other’s views.
To use an example, if you criticize and oppose conservative or fundamentalist Christian politics then are you being hateful? Do you hate people who believe in those ideas? Hopefully not. Being opposed to the ideas they believe in or have been indoctrinated into certainly does not necessitate that you hate those believers.
What do you think of roadside crosses for lost loved ones?
I don’t mind roadside crosses for personal tragedies. I see them as mostly harmless. What I am disturbed by and want to prevent are religious symbolism and ideas being turned into national icons, monuments, oaths, or mottos. I oppose these because they are intended to represent everyone but are used to promote a certain religion, and most importantly because they can help foment a dangerous link between the comforts of religion and the divisiveness and pride of nationalism.
Why do you care if people have God on money or in the Pledge of Allegiance?
People like myself oppose the mixing of things like “In God We Trust” and “one nation, under God” in our government institutions for these reasons:
1) It presumes that all citizens are religious and it directly associates patriotism and nationalism with belief in God. This fuels perceptions that patriotism and even citizenship is synonymous with belief in God, and can therefore foment religious extremism, as well as hatred against atheists by viewing them as “outsiders” or not American.
2) It gives fundamentalists a psychological and legal foundation to establish more serious intrusions on religious freedom in the future.
3) It is a form of cultural indoctrination. People, especially at a young age, tend to adopt the beliefs to which they are most exposed. Fundamentalists know this all too well, and that is one of the reasons they fight to keep “God” in the Pledge and on our currency, and so on.
The Constitution doesn't say there should be a wall of separation of church and state! That reference was only in a letter from Thomas Jefferson!
Jefferson’s phrase “wall of separation between church and state” in that letter was a description directly referring to the establishment clause in the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This means that the intention of the establishment clause was a wall of separation between church and state. Jefferson’s letter only helps us interpret it properly and his phrasing has become popular, but the concept in terms of law is one and the same. Also, if you read the Founders’ views on orthodox religion and their animosity towards Christianity especially, then you would see it was obvious that they opposed religion and preferred reason to guide the nation.
This is Jefferson’s statement from that letter:
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
– Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists, 1 January 1802
People who homeschool their children should be allowed to teach them creationism instead of evolution. It's everyone's right to impose their worldview on their kids.
You can impart your worldview to your kids all you want, but you should not be allowed to only impart your worldview when it comes to scientific education. It is about evidence, critical thinking, and achieving an objective, reliable understanding of reality.
So you can teach your kids creationism if you choose, but you do not have the right to prevent them from also learning about the real science.
If practiced in moderation and alongside reason, faith can be a beautiful thing.
The problem with faith is that it is the anti-thesis of reason. So how do you keep your ideas and attitudes in line with reason if you give credibility to non-rational thinking? How can you even determine what counts as “moderation” between the two when you have two competing standards of what is even valid belief in the first place?
The faith-based beliefs are given equal or superior validity in the mind of the believer. And on a cultural level this appears to have detrimental effects and is not easy to keep in check. So it is best to not adopt any such beliefs at all. We should always strive to guide our beliefs by the total available evidence, and proportion our confidence in those beliefs accordingly.
Just because someone wants to believe in something larger than themselves doesn't make them an idiot.
First, basing your actual beliefs about what is true on what you want to be true is logically flawed. It means that you are being irrational, although the word “idiot” is rather strong. And most importantly, irrational thinking tends to have significant negative consequences, especially on a cultural level.
Second, the phrase “something larger/greater than yourself” is very vague. I think many atheists “believe in something larger/greater than themselves” in the general sense, like a belief that we need to help humanity progress towards peace and rationality for example. But the problem with the phrase is that people usually use it as code for believing in some “divine conscious being” with certain properties and attitudes. And they use the words “believe in something bigger than themselves” to act as if that phrase somehow logically justifies their specific beliefs, or imply that anyone who disagrees with them is inherently arrogant and prideful, thus pressuring them to agree with their beliefs regardless of any objective reason. To do such things is to be presumptive and irrational.
Tons of religious people are very moral and don't act crazy. Therefore religion is harmless.
The irrational thinking in religion is one influence in a person’s life; it is not the only influence. So being religious in some degree will not definitely make you act absurdly or dangerously. But it is an influence that pushes people and cultures in that direction, and it needs other cultural or rational factors to offset its influence on our beliefs and ways of thinking.
Also, the most sensible and morally good religious people tend to hold views that are not at all unique to the religious and which are often even contrary to much of their religious texts and fundamental tenets of their own religion, whereas the most hardcore believers, whose views more closely match their holy texts and which are unique to their religion, and generally have the same total attitudes and opinions that their holy text espouses and they act accordingly. This further indicates that religion is not a harmless factor.
Religious people who are anti-gay are just bad people who use religion as an excuse to hurt others!
Not necessarily. Many religious people who we think cause harm are people who do not think they are being hurting anyone – or they think that they are doing what is necessary to prevent greater overall harm. They honestly believe that they are helping people and the world by condemning homosexuality (and this argument applies to anything else religious people do which causes harm).
They even think that they are being loving by trying to help people escape sin and become closer to Christ. Remember that according to their beliefs, homosexuality is a choice of behavior, not who a person really is. They liken it to alcoholism in that some people have greater weakness for a bad behavior than others.
Most people who have opposed gay marriage, or burned witches, etc were people who earnestly genuinely believed that what they were doing was right, because of the deluded worldview that religious belief gave them – especially adherence to Biblical belief.
So we need to be honest and admit that religion can cause harm, otherwise not only will we keep dealing with problems caused by religion, but also you will end up misunderstanding others and being hateful against them as people, when in reality they have been indoctrinated with a false worldview.
Why are Atheist so often posting about how stupid Christians are our beliefs but I have rarely, if ever, seen or heard those same people saying such things about other religions. Why do you think that is?
The reason you see atheists mostly criticizing Christianity is because we live in countries dominated by Christianity so that is the religion causing the most problems around us and which we see making the most arguments in favor of their beliefs, and which we see condemning non-believers and so on. People who believe in mermaids and Wiccan-ism aren’t nearly as numerous or causing so many cultural problems so obviously we don’t bother talking about them. But we also recognize the flawed nature and harm done by other religions so I think that you will also find many atheists criticizing Islam. And if you search for Indian websites you will find Indian atheists debating and criticizing the problems within Hinduism since they are more exposed to that.
Why ridicule/mock religion?
First, I think the context in which mockery is used matters. I don’t think that using ridicule or mockery in debate or random times on the street is productive unless done in a way that is primarily intended to make a logical point or analogy and it is not insulting to any unnecessary degree (for example, Sam Harris often does this effectively).
I say this because in more “direct” debates and arguments, people view mockery as less acceptable than in other aspects of life and culture; mockery makes them more resistant to seeing your side since in a direct discussion they do not want to feel humiliated and insulted; and mockery in this setting can have the appearance of immaturity and can also potentially distract from the logical point the atheist is trying to make.
However, more severe mockery has an important role within culture as a whole, such as on social media, television shows, YouTube videos, comic strips, statements mocking religious beliefs, etc. In these mediums I think that ridicule of religion can be effective by being more severe than during debates with religious people (Note that people must always retain the RIGHT to mock ideas even regardless of its effectiveness. However that is a separate issue).
I think this is because when mockery of religious beliefs is expressed in these types of ways, people do not feel as directly threatened as they would in person. By comparison, they are more free to absorb the point or joke on its own merits.
But here are the major reasons that I think mockery, ridicule, humor etc is useful and valid as a way of criticizing irrational beliefs:
1. Humor demystifies religion and helps remove its power over us that people sometimes inadvertently give it. It reveals its irrational nature and thus enables us to think about it and debate it on a basis of its actual merits, instead of from a perspective of unfounded reverence or even fear in some cases. People like Seth Andrews say that they ended up becoming atheists ultimately due to seeing aggressive challenges to their beliefs, including ridicule, because it demystified the beliefs and enabled them to look at it more objectively. I think this can be effective both when the humor directly points out logical problems with a belief, but also when it simply treats a subject lightly and humorously even if it does not attempt to make any logical point (for example, consider Family Guy episodes or C&H comics featuring God or Jesus).
2. Humor can be a very effective way to convey the true nature of an idea or issue that you disagree with. Sometimes an idea may so truly ridiculous that the only way to effectively get other people to really grasp the problem with their beliefs is to make the point through what could be considered mockery or ridicule.
3. Everything that is dumb and delusional gets a pass in society when it’s labeled “religion”, but that should not happen. Delusional beliefs should be ridiculed and criticized because such beliefs teach people to think irrationally and believe that illogical reasoning is harmless or even accurate, which can result in irrational thinking in other aspects of human life, or accidentally harming themselves (due to medical beliefs, misjudging causation, etc). Religion is inherently related to politics since it alters people’s beliefs, group affiliation, and behaviors. So there is no reason to treat religion differently from other political matters where people find it perfectly acceptable to use ridicule and mockery of views they oppose.
4. Repeated cultural exposure to ideas and humor pertaining to an issue can change people’s minds simply because the ideas remain present in the society and people become accustomed to that viewpoint, so they may be more likely to identify with it simply due to it being present in their culture.
5. The plain humor of it is valid enough reason to mock religion. This can also help support the atheistic views of people leaving religion since it may be their only outlet on the matter and can help them have fun with a community that they agree with. One of the Facebook pages I have been an admin on focused on humor regarding religion, and we received myriad messages from people who thanked us for making humorous posts about religion for this exact reason.
Paraphrase of recurring argument: 'It's every individual's personal responsibility to change their own beliefs and behavior. People only change if they want to. They don't change when others want them to.'
That is a highly flawed way of thinking that oversimplifies the reasons that people change and what impact others can have on them. People do not exist in a vacuum where their beliefs and behaviors change without any external cause.
Some people can make certain changes due to their own consideration of matters, but it is quite clear in my view that the most widespread and drastic impacts on people’s beliefs and behaviors occur due to heavy exposure to other ideas and social pressures associated with them. This is why different cultures – and subcultures – can have such different common customs and views of acceptable behavior, and why major shifts in cultural attitudes take place through serious and prolonged activism and social pressure, such as advocacy of women’s rights, Black rights, and so on.
Being vocal and active for a cause can help change attitudes due to exposing them to new information, new arguments (or better explanations of old ones), reducing unwitting bias for a common view, helping people understand the impact of their current behavior, providing new ideas to which people can become emotionally connected, and by even creating social pressures (intentionally or inadvertently) that result in the socialization of new norms.
These factors apply to everything from religious belief, violence and harassment of women, civil rights, treatment of non-human creatures, support or rejection of wars, and more.
So to summarize: we may like the idea of people changing on their own, but without others actively supporting different ideas, change will seldom happen, and will more likely be overrun by different ideas that have supporters who better understand the importance of being vocal.
Religious beliefs are harmless for people to have as long as they keep their religious beliefs out of government.
The problem with that statement is that religion cannot possibly be kept out of governments. Any person’s political attitudes and choices are a result of the various notions they have regarding what is true and what is false, what is ethically correct, what will produce the most favorable results for one’s family and country and the world, and so on.
All these things are influenced by one’s religious beliefs (in addition to other factors of course). So religion cannot be separated from what people vote for or do in government any more than other sorts of ideas.
Regarding the separation of church and state, that principle was intended to prevent explicit endorsement of a particular religious belief by the government, but it cannot remove the influence of religious beliefs from the people who vote, make laws, and hold power. In fact, this influence could lead to people ignoring and undoing even the very laws intended to keep it at bay (and in some cases, it already does).
Why should all Muslims have to apologize for violence caused by extremists, when white people don't need to apologize for violence caused by other white people? And what about atheists who commit violence?
While I agree that Muslims shouldn’t have to apologize for the actions of others, the comparison isn’t analogous. Islam is an ideology; but your race is just a biological trait and doesn’t imply any shared beliefs or attitudes that were responsible for an act of violence.
So the point that I think should be made *instead* are these two points:
1) Although Muslims share a general identification, many of them share very few actual beliefs with others and essentially have a separate ideology from extremists that only shares a few basic components.
2) We should acknowledge that among Muslim communities there are indeed some ideological problems, such as Muslims being overly opposed to even positive depictions of Muhammad (many people who are not “extremists” get very angry over depictions of Muhammad and even justify attacks against people who publish such depictions) and there are high rates opposition to same-sex marriage even compared to Christians.
The bottom line is that people are responsible for what ideological beliefs and attitudes they hold that cause harm or foster support for harmful actions.
In regard to atheism, atheism has no inherent tenets that inspire hatred and harmful acts. It’s one opinion about one thing. But Islam consists of much more: everything in the Quran, plus many Muslims also hold some of the hadiths to be true.
There are some strains of anti-theism however, which I think could be more analogous to Islam. Some atheists I think are not merely critical of Islamic ideology, but they go to the point of hating all Muslims as people regardless of their actual beliefs or if those Muslims have even read the Quran; and some of these anti-theists post the sort of memes and messages that simply express disgust and dehumanize others. I think those those people can indeed be told “You are part of this problem. Let’s debate about what you should change about your views and beliefs.”
To be afraid of Islam is without a doubt moronic, absurd and many other things as well, but it's not an offense. The problem isn't the Quran, nor the Bible, two badly written, incoherent and soporific novels, but the believer who reads the Quran or the Bible like one reads an instruction manual on how to assemble an Ikea shelf.
1. It makes no sense to make a distinction between A) believing the Bible or Quran and B) using them as instruction manuals. The whole point of the books is that they claim to convey deep truth to humans and tell them what to do in order to be rewarded and avoid punishment from God. Thus sincerely believing in those books is the same as thinking they are guides for life.
Implying that the Bible and Quran have no ill effects when believed, is like telling someone to not to let your knowledge of the laws of physics change what you try to do. To a religious believer the situation is the same: you have information about reality and know the consequences of acting certain ways.
2. If a holy book only said nice things and didn’t have dangerous implications that resulted from believing it in a world where it is not true, then taking it as an instruction manual would not be a problem. Sam Harris has made such points about Jainism, a religion where following their holy books results in people being nonviolent to the extreme. But with the Bible and Quran, believing those book’s claims results in many harmful ideas and actions ranging from condemnation of homosexuality, to injustice toward women, to hatred and fear of disbelief, to barbaric animal sacrifices, etc. Positive effects occur as well, such as emphasizing the importance of charity, however this benefit which can also be had in secularism does not outweigh the widespread impact of the negatives which easily lose justification within a secular worldview.
3. The holy books tell you to use their messages as an instruction manual. They do not claim to be fictional novels. They claim to be divine revelations from a supremely powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly moral being who tells that what to believe and what to do, and who promises rewards for following him, and warns of punishments for doing otherwise.
First, three examples from the Bible (including the New Testament):
But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will bring on you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and sap your strength. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it.
– Leviticus 26:14-16
If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the Lord gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God in violation of his covenant, and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars in the sky, and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death.
– Deuteronomy 17:2-5
“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’… Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting… If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”
– Matthew 10:7-15
The Quran also very clearly provides instructions, offers rewards and warnings, and says it exists for the purpose of guidance. And due to it being written from the start as a singular book (rather than a series of different texts from different traditions over time like the Christian Bible) it even makes reference to itself and explicitly claims it was sent down by God, thus making the point about following it even more clear:
The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.
Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.
(Note: Quranic commands to fight are usually referring to specific wars in Muhammad’s time. But the point is 1. that the Quran is intended to provide instructions, and 2. these old instructions serve as a precedent for interpreting how devout Muslims should deal with issues today)
These are the limits set by God, and those who follow the commandments of God and the Prophet, will indeed be admitted to gardens with streams of water running by, where they will for ever abide; and this will be success supreme. Those who disobey God and the Prophet and exceed the bounds of law, will be taken to Hell and abide there for ever and shall suffer despicable punishment.
Those who believe fight in the way of God; and those who do not, only fight for the powers of evil; so you should fight the allies of Satan.
Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward
All that is in the heavens and the earth belongs to God. We had commanded those who received the Book before you, and have commanded you too, to obey the laws of God. Even if you deny, surely all that is in the heavens and the earth belongs to God; and God is self-sufficient and praiseworthy.
Say: ‘Should we call in place of God one who can neither help nor do us harm, and turn back after having been guided by God, like a man beguiled by the devils who wanders perplexed in the wilderness while his friends call him back to the right path, saying: ‘Come to us, this way?’ Say: “God’s guidance is (true) guidance, and we have been commanded to submit to the Lord of all the worlds. Observe (your) devotional obligations and fear (God), for it is He before whom you will be gathered in the end).”
And this is a Book which We have sent down, blessed and confirming what was before it, that you may warn the Mother of Cities and those around it. Those who believe in the Hereafter believe in it, and they are maintaining their prayers.
And when you, [O Muhammad], do not bring them a sign, they say, “Why have you not contrived it?” Say, “I only follow what is revealed to me from my Lord. This [Qur’an] is enlightenment from your Lord and guidance and mercy for a people who believe.”
Fight those people of the Book who do not believe in God and the Last Day, who do not prohibit what God and His Apostle have forbidden, nor accept divine law, until all of them pay protective tax in submission.
And when Our verses are recited to them as clear evidences, those who do not expect the meeting with Us say, “Bring us a Qur’an other than this or change it.” Say, [O Muhammad], “It is not for me to change it on my own accord. I only follow what is revealed to me. Indeed I fear, if I should disobey my Lord, the punishment of a tremendous Day.”
These are the verses of the Qur’an and a clear Book as guidance and good tidings for the believers who establish prayer and give zakah, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith]. Indeed, for those who do not believe in the Hereafter, We have made pleasing to them their deeds, so they wander blindly. Those are the ones for whom there will be the worst of punishment, and in the Hereafter they are the greatest losers.
O you who believe, obey the commands of God, and say straightforward things that He may straighten your affairs for you and forgive your sins; and he who obeys God and His Prophet will be successful.
So have We revealed to you the Qur’an by Our command. You did not know what the Scripture was before, nor (the laws of) faith. And We made it a light by which We show the way to those of Our creatures as We please; and you certainly guide them to the right path, the path of God to whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. And will not all things go back to God?
And in Thamud, when We said to them: “Enjoy yourselves for a while;” but they disobeyed the command of their Lord; so they were destroyed by a thunderbolt, and they could only gape, and neither stand up nor defend themselves.
How many habitations rebelled against their Lord’s command and His apostles; but We took them to severe task, and punished them with the harshest punishment. So they tasted the pain of their actions; and the consequence of their deeds was ruin.