Debates

Is Hell Just? Abdullah al Andalusi vs Farhan Qureshi

Do sinners deserve to go to Hell forever? Will only one group of people be saved, and the rest damned? Should finite sins merit eternal punishment? Should God punish those who reject him? Is Hell Just? Welcome to the public debate.

Wednesday, 18th January 2012

Abrar House, 45 Crawford Place, London

Guests:

Abdullah Al Andalusi – Portuguese revert to Islam, and International speaker on Islamic thought.

Farhan Qureshi – American Ex-Qadiyani Agnostic speaker on Eastern Philosophy and Universalism.

UPDATE: 11th February 2012

From: Farhan Qureshi 
To: Abdullah MDI
Sent: Saturday, 11 February 2012, 5:28
Subject: Statement for MDI

Here is my statement:

In January 2012 I had the opportunity to engage the entire Muslim Debate Initiative team which was by far a spectacular and spiritual experience for me. MDI showed me nothing but kindness and hospitality and represented their faith and tradition completely in a positive and respectful manner. Being a former Muslim I was absolutely humbled by their character and professionalism throughout my stay in London. I thank them again for their invitation and willingness to engage in debate on controversial issues. This speaks volumes in terms of their genuine faith and dedication.

Farhan Qureshi

Categories: Debates

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24 replies »

  1. Wow, what a great debate! Abdullah Al – Andalusi is totally amazing!

    This is one of the best debates I have seen. Such an unusual subject, not seen it done before.

    Farhan spoke really well, but it seemed he got refuted comprehensively. He was very open about it though.

    • @ Bro Snowcrash,

      Peace be on him who accepts truth,

      Thanks for a VERY vital comment. There is a lot to be deducted from your comments. Muslims, who gave science and technology to the world, are like non-entities in the field now. Its high time we understand the importance of science and technology and our current standing in it otherwise we are heading for some servitude for sure.

      We are so down and such SIMPLETONS that people have even stopped assuming (even wildly) that Muslims can be coherent, cogent and intelluctual. THIS IS A BIG ALARM. Wake up folks. Know your roots, we had scholars in prisons, researching with Charcoals – Ibn Taimiyah (rahimahullah).

      sincerely,
      Q.M.

  2. Wow, a class A fool like Regular John telling OTHER people they have mental problems?!?!

    That guy must be REALLY sick then!

  3. Yeah bro, it must be true if Regular John says it, after all, he is an expert on mental problems having suffered from them for so long.

    I don’t blame him though, I would probably go mad too if I was sitting alone all day in Indonesia with nothing to do except spam this site with dumb comments. I think he is trying to find ‘love’ on here after getting it confused with a dating site or something. You can see he has been trying to seduce some guy called Dr Mustapha on another thread.

    I think he is also in love with me, but unfortunately the feeling is not mutual. You will now see him post a ridiculously long reply in poor English with lots of capital letters and smiley’s.

  4. Agree, this guy is a troublemaker but that does not give you an excuse to behave like that and get personal yourself. You are always giving abuse to posters on this site.

  5. Gentlemen, time to put a stop to this cycle of attack and counter attack. The video addressed these questions:

    Do sinners deserve to go to Hell forever? Will only one group of people be saved, and the rest damned? Should finite sins merit eternal punishment? Should God punish those who reject him? Is Hell Just?

    It was a superb debate & comments on this are welcome. Any more silliness will be deleted without warning

  6. If we believe God to be the origin then we accept that God precedes and defines justice. Thus if God deems Hell to be just, it is so purely on account of him doing so, no matter how heinous it might appear to us in the field. There’s really no way around this without diminishing God.

    If we don’t believe in God however, then we can approach Hell as a man-made idea and compare it with other man-made understandings of justice. I can’t see any middle ground (except perhaps a good gods vs bad gods polytheism). As such it’s not a great debate question; each apprehension of Hell is a category mistake within the other paradigm. I’m surprised Fahran accepted the offer of this debate- it’s not an easy one for an agnostic unsure which paradigm he’s operating within!

    For me Fr Frank’s question was highly significant- a debate on whether literal interpretations of Hell are rational would be interesting.

    I also think the L word needs discussing. Submission to and worship of a God that maintains a Hell is understandable, but how can we love such a God?

  7. In the U.K Abdullah is a big deal, I think people are going to hear about this guy internationally if he comes up with stuff like this. There is supposed to be a Sami Zatari debate with the same guy on this subject.

  8. Quran 51:56 I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me.

    Why does the creator of our majestic universe need animals (humans) to worship him?

    If the animals (humans) don’t worship him, why does the creator feel the need to punish them?

    Kind Regards,
    Farside

  9. Dear Farside,
    You have raised an interesting point.
    Before anybody answers your questions, I would like to ask YOU several questions.

    1.Do you believe that there is an Almighty God?
    2.What do you understand by worship?
    3.What is the Muslim concept of worship?
    4.Is there any difference between humans and other animals?

    Thanks.

  10. The question on the table is “Is Hell Just?” and not “What is the belief system of Farside?”

    Let me rephrase my two questions.

    Why does the creator, an entity of vast unimaginable intellect and with 99 attributes, need animals (Homo sapiens or primates) to worship him?

    If the primates do not worship him, why does the creator upon their death torment them for eternity in his dungeon called Hell?

    P.S. Humans belong to the order of Primates.

    Kind Regards,
    Farside

    • “Why does the creator…need animals (Homo sapiens or primates) to worship him?”

      He doesn’t. The Quran is quite clear that He does not need our praise (or help).

      “Why does the creator upon their death torment them for eternity in his dungeon called Hell?”

      er…you obviously have not watched the video yet. Watch it first then revisit your question.

      “Humans belong to the order of Primates.”

      LOL you might, but the rest of us certainly don’t.

  11. Thank you for providing the debate. I have uploaded it on my blog aswell.

    Here are some thoughts.

    Firstly there are many unstated assumptions. An interesting debate might also be “Does Hell even exist?” or “Do Muslims correctly interpret the Quranic concept of Hell?” Both debaters seem to assume all the orthodox notions of Sunni Islam in assuming that hell is everlasting, perpetual and contains severe physical punishment for disbelief in Islamic ideology.

    Another assumption seemingly made by Mr Andalusi is something like: “Whatever God does is just, God doesn’t measure by a fixed criterion and he judges by individual circumstances”

    So for Mr Andalusi humans torturing humans is immoral, but God is above the law, and above the rules that he gave us humans. I noticed Farhan never challenged this assumption directly, but it is as if Andalusi thinks God being bigger and better, or if might makes right and therefore God’s ontological superiority denotes his moral superiority which is just a non-sequitor.

    It also appears to be incorrect to say God doesn’t judge by a fixed criterion. There are certain explicit conditions that Mr Andalusi mentions, such as knowing the truth and still rejecting God. This is an explicitly clear criterion and condition

    If Mr Andalusi thinks for example that the people of the scripture who have not heard the message of Islam are judged by a distinct criterion to that of Muslims, then they are still ruled over by a fixed criterion for their particular circumstances. That criterion might be genuine belief in God and good deeds. But there is some sort of criterion, indeed multiple criterions.

    However the ideal of multiple criterions for difference peoples and circumstances pressupose God’s conception of justice is that of ours. For it is the human who in his righteousness objects to the notion of punishing the innocent. To send children to hell for the crime of being taught the wrong mental beliefs by the parents is fundamentally unjust. However if we able to conceive of different individual circumstances in which injustices are made then surely “Cruel and Unusual Punishment” is one of these circumstances.

    And by what right do you say God is merciful and just to judge people by different circumstances, but then say hell merits everlasting punishment for those with different mental beliefs? It cannot be might is right. It has to be: “the punishment fits the crime” but a punishment does not fit the crime simply because “God says so and he is the boss”. So the burden of proof is on Al Andalusi to show that different mental beliefs warrant everlasting punishment.

    Did he show this? His fundamental argument was that from shirk. That many place limitations on God offending him or don’t give him the due worship he is deserved and often even give this to something or someone else. But surely this is the assumption that God alone is worthy of worship. Mr Andalusi doesn’t even attempt to show how is this true. Even if God exists, why would he want his creatures worshiping him alone or at all for that matter? No reasons are provided.

    God might be perfectly acceptable with allowing his creatures to worship his creation since he did such a marvelous handy work, he might want his creatures to honor and respect this planet above all else. In fact it’s quite imaginable if God being an infinite being having no desires, wants or needs would not demand our groveling as he simply wouldn’t care for it.

    Well there is alot more that could be said about this conversation, but this is enough for now.

    Derek Adams
    http://www.AnsweringAbraham.com

    • Hi Derek,

      Thanks for your comments. I don’t usually comment much (no time), but I will humour a brief discussion with you on this, since you raised some intellectual points. I do think, they have all been already answered in my presentation and discussion, but I will re-iterate and remind you again.

      I will quote you, and then respond underneath. Here is the what you wrote:

      Firstly there are many unstated assumptions. An interesting debate might also be “Does Hell even exist?”

      Obviously there are ‘givens’ here, the debate was not a debate on ‘Does God exist?’, ‘Is the Quran from God?’, or ‘How do we know that reality is not a delusion?’ – mainly because Farhan’s contention with Islam was with only specific aspects of Islam, in this case, Hell.

      Another assumption seemingly made by Mr Andalusi is something like: “Whatever God does is just, God doesn’t measure by a fixed criterion and he judges by individual circumstances”

      It is not an assumption to say that what God does is just, when you consider the definition of justice. Justice is defined as treating something as it deserves (according to a rule). But the rule of desert only can exist if it possesses an objective metaphysical existence (i.e. God Will or Purpose). Justice does not exist outside our imagination, in the material realm. The only one who can define what is deserved by created objects, is the same One which created them in the first place. Since the Will of God, the Creator, can be the only criterion to define Desert, it would be meaningless to ask if God could will inJustice.

      Therefore the only thing that can make any sense to us, is to examine if the theology about God is consistent with regards to his Will in his creation and subsequent treatment towards created things (i.e. he does not contradict himself or applies double standards to equal things).

      Secondly, I do not know where you pulled out the notion I was arguing that God doesn’t have a fixed criteria. You can have a fixed criteria, and still judge people taking into account their circumstances – I went to your blog, you seem smart, so I’m surprised your scrapping the bottom of the barrel with that argument.

      So for Mr Andalusi humans torturing humans is immoral, but God is above the law, and above the rules that he gave us humans…but it is as if Andalusi thinks God being bigger and better, or if might makes right and therefore God’s ontological superiority denotes his moral superiority which is just a non-sequitor.

      Again incorrect, Were you watching the same video? God doesn’t possess moral superiority because he is more powerful, that is a strawman (and you know it). God Will defines morality. So His Will can never be immoral. Again, as I said in my presentation, the question is whether there is consistency in Islamic Theology about the Will of God. And in Islam, I argue there is full consistency.

      And by what right do you say God is merciful and just to judge people by different circumstances, but then say hell merits everlasting punishment for those with different mental beliefs? It cannot be might is right. It has to be: “the punishment fits the crime” but a punishment does not fit the crime simply because “God says so and he is the boss”. So the burden of proof is on Al Andalusi to show that different mental beliefs warrant everlasting punishment.

      Again, you weren’t paying attention to the debate – it is not the circumstances you are born into that merit punishment or not, it is your DECISIONS that you are accounted on (and no, Children do not get punished as they are not adults, and are not mature enough to make proper accountable decisions). And the punishment does fit the crime – since denying the Right of your Creator for gratitude and recognition of his eternality Infinitude warrants a punishment of an appropriate nature.

      But surely this is the assumption that God alone is worthy of worship. Mr Andalusi doesn’t even attempt to show how is this true. Even if God exists, why would he want his creatures worshiping him alone or at all for that matter? No reasons are provided.

      Derek, the topic of the debate is ‘Is Hell Just?’ – the title alone indicates ‘givens’. Give it a rest. The answers to your other points which you say I don’t answer shows an assumption you have made, as if you go into MDI Video library, you’ll find lectures and debates covering all thoses questions, especially my lecture ‘Does God exist, and How do we know he is one?’.

      In fact it’s quite imaginable if God being an infinite being having no desires, wants or needs would not demand our groveling as he simply wouldn’t care for it.

      Assuming for now, that God exists, the fact that the universe exists should have been proof enough that there is some purpose ‘desired’ by God for creation – and you naively think that He wouldn’t care about us, when he created us (and everything) deliberately. Think through your logic carefully again next time.

      Best regards,
      Abdullah

  12. Hi Abdullah

    Basically your entire response entails that you have already established your assumptions elsewhere.

    These assumptions consist of:

    1) God alone is worthy of worship.
    2) Whatever God does is just.

    I can’t say that it appears to me that Farhan has accepted these two assumptions, if Farhan for example accepted the latter, then the debate wouldn’t have even taken place.

    You even say it yourself:

    “it would be meaningless to ask if God could will inJustice.”

    and

    “God Will defines morality. So His Will can never be immoral.”

    But I sense Farhan is appealing to the colloquial use of the word “justice”. He appears to be saying to me, your God is going to give unthinkable punishments over and over perpetually for actions people have no responsibility over. So the problem is with the very justice of God itself. God is defining what every person ought to deserve, but I say by what right? Cruel and Unusual Punishment is universally condemned as unjust, but God renders this sort of punishment “just”, and by what right? Is God more important than us? Are our opinions valueless? and his almighty? This surely is a right claimed by and from superiority.

    I have a will as well, does that mean I get to decide what is or what is not justice? Does that mean I get to define who deserves and does not deserve justice? This is insufficient grounds to define morality. *God’s will* alone providing the permits and restrictions is just what I had said earlier “God says so and God is the boss”. Of course it also makes a joke out of justice. Because if God says baby torture is right according to his will, then baby torture becomes right. If God says tormenting disbelievers in hell night and day is right then it comes right. And this is a problem Farhan has pointed out elsewhere.

    So even if you may not be saying directly God is omnipotent therefore God decides. This is no doubt a tricky assumption embedded in this framework. As you don’t listen to just anyone’s random will. No you say it must be from God. In fact you explicitly say justice is an immaterial reality, therefore it’s due to God’s omnipotent creative power that this realm of justice even exists and this immaterial justice cannot exist without this. So justice is certainly a direct result of God’s power and God’s directives. Ultimately as I had said, “God says so” or “God defines it that way”. As I said earlier in it’s very essence it’s due to God’s ontological superiority that you follow his very rules, otherwise you would not find your self bound to these rules. If you were to listen to another creature prescribing rules of justice you would disregard them because they are not the “creator, sustainer and definer of the immaterial rules”.

    However I assert what every person deserves is not defined by some random arbitrator making up rules. The crucial part of justice you missed was that the punishment must fit the crime. The crime is measured by the amount of unnecessary suffering provided by the criminal and what he deserves as a punishment. Justice is neither completely “decided” either, it is partially automatic, emotional, reactive, a natural offense and Justice is a natural reaction to a natural pain. So in this sense it is unacceptable to make up rules like “cruel and unusual punishment” is warranted under conditions, A, B and C. When the punishment could never fit the crime.

    In making God the arbitrator the concept of morality and justice, you give God full authority to define justice however he sees fit. Also it’s quite clearly God can be inconsistent with the immaterial rules of justice he gives to his creation, since you yourself admit God is not a creature, and the rules don’t apply to him, rather he directs the rules and decides the rules.

    Finally by defining God as the source and arbitrator of justice you are really just defining yourself out of the problem.

    “Well hell is just, because God says it is just and he made up justice”.

    But hey I know you are busy, so I will most likely let you have the last response, I’m sure we’ll meet some other time.

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