Years ago, a man who was visiting a friend for the first time asked a stranger for directions. He confidently told him to keep driving straight on. It was a wrong direction; he only needed to turn to the right. The man reached the outskirts of town before he realised he had been misled.
Following a wrong direction and 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 even more terribly perilous and has grave eternal consequences.
When Muslims are confronted with evidence showing that Muhammad was a false prophet, they console themselves by appeal to population in Islam and knowing the truth in the afterlife. Even in day-to-day situations, it’s dangerous to have such blind faith in claims.
If someone offers you a medicine and said “This may kill you, I’m not sure, just have faith,” would you accept it? If a driver told you “I don’t know my way around, I’m just following what I heard,” would you let him drive you? If an unidentified stranger smoking marijuana tells you he’s a policeman, would you believe him? What if he says “Just have faith in me; I am one,” you would wonder if he’s mentally okay.
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, facts-finding and reason when it comes to religion? God said to His people, “Come now, let us reason together” (Isa. 1:18). He doesn’t 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. Muhammad said in the Quran:
“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. A way to verify this is to compare the teachings of the Quran with what the prophets and apostles in the Bible taught, and when we find discrepancies, we reject the lies and cleave to the truth. Unless a Muslim has done this, he has no valid criteria to determine whether Islam is true or false.
Muhammad said “nor do I know what would be done to me.” We must not gloss over this statement. When a person you put your faith in as the way to heaven is expressing doubts or uncertainty, don’t ignore it. 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 or his followers’ fate in eternity, 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? Certainly not 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 even make sense? Imagine the pilot of an aircraft carrying passenger saying “If I take a wrong route and crash into a lake, it’s to my own loss.” Is that true? Muhammad was 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. It’s a scary but blunt truth.
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 al-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 you have no business following him – unless you want to knowingly go into eternal perdition.
Jesus asked “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” Jesus is the true Saviour. He is “the light of the world” and those who follow Him “will never walk in darkness” (Lk. 6:39; Jn. 8:12)