Muhammad in the Quran, Vol. 4: Chapter 84
15 Dec. 2015
Section VIII: MUHAMMAD AND MORAL POINTS IN HIS RELIGION AND WORDS AND DEEDS
The weight-laying on charity is one of Islam's and Muhammad's (too few - sorry) good sides. But the positive moral on this point is sullied by 2 facts:
- The main goal is to acquire/buy points from Allah, not empathy with the needy.
- There are two main kinds of economical charity: Zakat (or zakah) - a compulsory tax paid by all Muslims who are not too poor. It is 2.5% each year of what you own. And then there is Sadaqah - freely made offerings of f.x. expiation for sins. At least the Zakat can be and was/is used for many other things than charity, included spreading Islam/war.
001 2/83d: "- - - treat with kindness - - - those in need - - - and practice regular charity". The Quran's point of view on charity is a plus-point. This point is, however, blunted by the fact that the main thing is to gain merit in heaven, not empathy with the needy fellow human being, and by the fact that you gain as much merit from helping your own family members as from helping strangers. (At least from Scandinavia it has been reported in the papers that Muslims give little or nothing to international help/relief work - with the possible exception of to pure Muslim organizations working among Muslims.)
002 2/110a: "- - - charity - - -". One of the positive sides of the Quran is its stressing on charity. But the effect is reduced by 2 facts: The main thing is not to help, but to gain merit in Heaven - not empathy, but selfishness. And: You get just the same merit from helping your nearest as when you help strangers - then why help strangers? (In Scandinavia it f.x. is the experience that Muslims give little or nothing to the big help or aid organizations - perhaps to the Muslim ones mainly helping Muslims, but not to others).
003 2/215a: "Whatever ye spend (in charity/alms*) that is good, is for parents and kindred and orphans and those in want and for wayfarers". Abrogated in the meaning making "wider" - may be by a god not able to make the perfect rules at his first try? - by:
- 9/60: Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth (Muhammad often used "gifts"/bribes to keep new followers*); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer - - -". ("those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth) = new Muslims*)
Charity is one of the positive sides with Islam. But it has 2 "special" points which reduces its effect: For one you do not help others out of compassion or empathy or even sympathy, but to gain merit in Heaven. The lack of compassion and empathy - and not too much sympathy - makes the Quran an even colder book and Islam an even colder religion. And for another you get the same merit from Allah whether you help your nearest family or strangers - then why help strangers? (How many of the big international - not inter-Muslim, but international - help or aid organizations have started in Muslim areas? Or another example: After the tsunami in 2004 many needed help - mostly Muslims, but some Buddhists and Hindus and a "few" others. The country who donated most compared to its number of inhabitants, was the mainly Christian Norway - nearly 50 US dollar on average from each and every inhabitant and immigrant and baby and old one just the first very few days and weeks. How much did the golden Gulf states give their Muslim brothers and sisters before they were forced by international opinion to give more? Another fact: In some Scandinavian papers this year (2010 AD) it was reported that when there were collection to help or aid organizations, Muslims give little or nothing (an exception may be for organizations working explicit among Muslims).
004 2/264b: "Cancel not your charity by reminders of your generosity - - -". Do not boast about your generosity - the reward for generosity is for the next life, and if you use your generosity to gain esteem in this life, you "spend" your merit for this, and will get little or no merit for your charity in the (possible) next one.
005 2/271a: "- - - (charity*) will remove from you some of your (stains of) evil." Charity as a means for gaining merit with Allah is quite central in Islam. The effect, though, is dampened by the fact that the main thing is the merit you gain, not to help fellow humans, and by the fact that you can as well give to your wife or children, etc., as to strangers - the merit you gain will be the same. And then why help strangers? As for gaining merit, charity also is way behind waging war "for Allah and for Muhammad" in gaining merit.
006 2/271b: "- - - (charity*) will remove from you (Muslims*) some of your (stains of) Evil". Good deeds may work as a kind of expiation simply. The Quran preaches something of the same as Catholicism (especially in the older times): If you do bad things, you just can pay expiation and go to Paradise anyhow.
007 2/277b: "Those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and establish regular prayers and regular charity, will have their reward with their Lord". Well, this only to remind you that the Quran contains lots of nice claims and promises - you find plenty if you look in the book - but Muhammad was able to prove not one single of them. All was just words - included some fast ones and many which sounds like cheap ones - - - plus a lot wrong ones.
As for the value of prayers in Islam, also see 62/9c. And if you combine 62/9c with 67/9c - a strong one - you get something thought-provoking. (And relevant here: Muslims often are taught that a question or problem can have 2 or more true and correct solutions - Islam is forced to teach this, because if not many of the mistakes and contradictions in the Quran become too obvious. But this ONLY is true if parallel true solutions are possible. In cases where 2 or more possible solutions are mutually excluding each other, maximum 1 of the mutually excluding ones can be true. It should be a bit thought provoking for Muslims, that just this "small" difference in theoretical thinking and teaching, was one of the reasons (there were several of course) for why Europe and the West exploded into the Technical Revolution, while the Muslim area stagnated). Two star examples are: 1) Full predestination is not possible even for an omnipotent god to combine with even the smallest piece of free will for man - the two are mutually excluding. The same for full and unchangeable predestination long time before combined with any claimed effect of prayers - the two are mutually excluding each other.)
008 2/277d: "- - - regular charity - - -". One of the positive points of the Quran, it it’s weight-laying on charity. As mentioned other places the moral and personal value is reduced, though, by 2 facts: The main reason for charity is not empathy or something with the ones needing help, but to gain merit in Heaven. And you get just the same merit from helping your nearest ones, as from helping total strangers - then why help strangers?.
009 2/280: "- - - charity - - -". One of the positive points of the Quran, it it’s weight-laying on charity. As mentioned other places the moral and personal value is reduced, though, by 2 facts: The main reason for charity is not empathy or something with the ones needing help, but to gain merit in Heaven. And you get just the same merit from helping your nearest ones, as from helping total strangers - then why help strangers?. (It is not that none of them helps strangers, but it for many is far from 1. priority.)
010 4/114aa: "- - - to him who does this (charity or justice), seeking the good pleasure of Allah - - -". Here is one of the central differences between daily life in Christianity and daily life in Islam: In the Bible charity partly is from empathy and sympathy with the one in need and partly to gain merit from Yahweh. In Islam it mainly is to gain merit from Allah. And something similar - fair justice vs. merit - when it comes to justice.
011 22/78k: "- - - give regular charity - - -". The demand for charity is one of the positive sides of the Quran. It is marred, though, by the fact that the main thing is not to help people in difficulties, but to gain merit in Heaven, and by the fact that you gain as much merit from helping your nearest (which in f.x. Christianity is a matter of course, not charity) as from helping strangers - which easily puts strangers low down on the priority list.
012 23/4: "- - - active in deeds of charity". The Quran's standpoint when it comes to charity is one of it’s (too few) positive sides. This aspect is weakened, though, by 2 facts: One is that the reason for charity mainly is not empathy or sympathy with the ones who need help, but the wish to gain points in Heaven. The other is that you get the same points from Allah if you help your wife or son, as when you help others - and then why help others?
013 23/60a: "And those who dispense their charity with their hearts full of fear, because they will return to their Lord (Allah*)- - -". Muslims. It is symptomatic that the main point for Muslims' charity is that it is "because they will return to their Lord (Allah*) - - -". Sympathy or empathy with the poor ones is not central in the Quran - see 23/60b just below.
014 24/37b: "- - - regular Charity - - -". One of the good sides with the Quran, is its weight laying on charity. The moral value is reduced, however, by the fact that the main thing is not to help others, but to gain merit in Heaven, and also by the fact that you gain just as much merit from helping your nearest, as from helping strangers - which may move strangers far down on the priority list.
015 24/56b: "- - - give regular Charity - - -". This is one of the positive sides with Islam - its stressing charity. But it is marred by two facts: The charity is for gaining merit in Heaven, not because of empathy with the needy. And you get as much merit from helping members of you family as from helping strangers - and then it is tempting to help the family mainly.
016 25/67b: "Those (Muslims*) who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not niggardly (included in charity*), but hold a just (balance) between those (extremes) - - -". This - "the Middle Way" is the ideal of the Buddhists. The Arab tradesmen had connections with India and perhaps already then even with China. India was partly Buddhist (like China) until Muslims later killed the Buddhist monks and lots - to say the least of it - of other Buddhists and mostly finished off Buddhism in India by means of the sword - the famous "Let there be no compulsion in religion". Can Muhammad have got this idea from Buddhism? And another thing: This is the Muslim ideal about f. x. charity. The Christian ideal is the old widow and the small coin (she was the best, because she gave everything she owned - Mark 12/44). The same god making these ideals? Definitely no.
017 27/3c: "- - - regular charity - - -". One of the good aspects with the Quran is its weight laying on charity. But the moral effect is reduced by the fact that the main thing is not to help others, but to gain merit in Heaven, and by the fact that you gain as much merit from helping your nearest family, as from helping strangers - which often pushes strangers far down on the priority list.
018 28/54e: "- - - (in charity) - - -". One of the plus points for Islam, is its stressing of charity. But with the minuses that the main point is not to help persons in need, but to gain marks in Heaven, and the fact that you gain as good marks from helping your nearest family, as from helping strangers. Strangers then easily end up a bit down on the priority list.
Sub-total Chapter 84 = 18 + 8.281 = 8.299.
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This work was upload with assistance of M. A. Khan, editor of islam-watch.org and the author of "Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism, and Slavery".