Years ago, a friend who was visiting me for the first time asked a man for directions to my street. The man confidently told him to keep driving straight on. It was a wrong direction; he only needed to turn to the right. My friend had reached the outskirts of the town before he realised he had been misled. Following a wrong direction and the pain of trusting a deceiver can be very distressing, but there is a lesson: we cannot face the wrong direction and reach the right destination.
Putting blind trust in a dubious religious figure or authority is more terribly perilous and has grave eternal consequences. When most Muslims are confronted with evidences showing Muhammad was a false prophet, they appeal to population, “proof” in the afterlife and belief.
Even in day-to-day situations, its foolishness to have blind faith in a person or his claims. If someone gave you a medicine and said “this may kill you or cure you, I’m not sure, just have faith,” would you accept it? If a mechanic told you “I don’t know about cars, I’m just following what I heard,” would you let him fix your car? If a man without any sort of identification, smoking a joint, tells you he is a policeman, would you believe him? What if he says “just have faith I am one,” won’t you wonder if he’s insane?
We don’t rely on blind belief when it comes to our physical health and safety. We investigate matters, scrutinise people and question claims. Why then, should we throw away investigation, scrutiny and reason when it comes to religion? God said to His people, “Come now, let us reason together” (Is. 1:18). He does not compel us to believe anything but rather wants us to apply our reason in arriving at truth. We are not just to follow a faith with our hearts, but also with our minds. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to Islam.
“I am no bringer of new-fangled doctrine among the apostles, nor do I know what will be done with me or with you. I follow but that which is revealed to me by inspiration; I am but a Warner open and clear” (Q 46:9).
But how can we verify that he didn’t come with a new-fangled doctrine different from what the Apostles of the Bible brought? By accepting what he said just because he says he’s a prophet? No, that’s unreasonable. The only way to verify this is to compare the teachings of the Quran with what is already taught by the prophets and apostles in the Bible and when we find discrepancies, we find out which is telling the truth. Until a Muslim has done this investigation, he has no valid criteria to determine whether Islam is true or false.
Muhammad also said “nor do I know what would be done to me.” We must not gloss over this statement. When a person we have put our faith in as the way to heaven is honestly expressing doubts or uncertainty, we must never ignore them. In the hadith, he said: “By Allah, though I am the Apostle of Allah, yet I do not know what Allah will do to me” (Bukhari 5:266). If the man you are following says he doesn’t know his own fate in eternity or that of his followers, what do you do? Do you say “it doesn’t matter, we will still follow him because we love him. We were born in this religion and we must remain it?” That would be a display of foolishness.
If you find out eventually that all your life you had been deceived by fangled doctrines in the name of Islam, who will you blame? You can’t blame God or Muhammad or anybody. Muhammad already gave you the warning signs. He said: “If I go astray, I go astray only to my own loss. If I am guided, it is by what my Lord reveals to me…” (Q 34:50).
Does this make sense? Imagine a pilot saying “if I take a wrong route or crash into a lake, its to my own loss.” Is that true? Muhammad is a founder and an “excellent example” to Muslims, if he was deceived, it means all who have followed his teachings and practices in the last 14 centuries have gone into eternal perdition. It means he has succeeded in keeping over a billion people worldwide in spiritual and mental bondage. It implies that those fighting and dying for him today are dying for nothing. If he was astray, it wasn’t to his own loss alone, but to the loss of all his followers. Its a scary but blunt fact.
Abu Huraira said shortly before Muhammad’s death, he summoned his tribesmen and called out specific people: “B. Abd Shams, deliver yourself from hell; Fatima [his favourite daughter] deliver yourselves from hell, for I have nothing which can avail you against God’s punishment…” (Mishkat Masabih, 118).
If the man you follow told his closest and most devoted followers that he had nothing to avail them of God’s wrath, then its useless for you to follow him, unless you want to knowingly follow him into eternal perdition. “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” asked Jesus. He is “the light of the world” and those who follow Him “will never walk in darkness” (Lk. 6:39, Jn. 8:12).