Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Unforgiven

As the blow landed his head snapped back and he felt a hot burning tear as his lip split, the metallic taste of his own blood made its way into his mouth against his will. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it.... I am sorry!", he cried, desperate.

Another blow landed with a wet thud, and a sharp dagger like pain shot into his ribs, making his breathing painful. It was followed closely by another to the same area of rib-cage but this time accompanied by a wet-crack, making him double-over. The sharp edges of the broken ribs piercing muscle and spraying sharp spasms of electricity with each jagged breath.

The two burly men holding his arms behind his back, yanked him hard upright again, as the man facing him flexed his gloved fingers, readying for another blow.

"Pleeeaaasseeee.....", he said, almost a whisper now, desperation having given way rapidly to despair. "Pleeease."

"You know how it works fool, everybody knows how it works!", the contempt was palpable in the deep guttural voice. The man leaned in close to him, breathing acridly into his face, "You broke the rules, you broke my rules, my rules! So, now, somebody's gotta pay and that somebody is you!"

He sank down in the arms of his restrainers, sobbing forcefully, "Forgive me..., please.... have Mercy", he whispered, blood from his mouth dripping in thick drops onto the alley floor.

The gloved man paused, regarding the slumped figure of the man in from of him said, "This aint no Hollywood boy, this is the streets. Obey or pay, thats the rules, my rules." He glanced at his two burly colleagues, "It's you or someone else... I dont care who! I got a rep to uphold."


In discussions with my respected Christian friends a number of topics come up repeatedly; Original Sin, the Trinity, Divine Sacrifice and Atonement or Forgiveness etc etc. These topics are obviously inter-related to a degree that makes a compartmentalized discussion of any one topic difficult, ironically, exactly what I am about to attempt.

Whenever I do have any conversations with Christians it makes sense that we discuss our differences, I mean the real differences. Not the typical lets-cut-down-the-tree-by-pulling-off-the-leaves approach that I encounter ad nauseum; "you treat your women bad", "you is all terrorists", "your prophet was x,y,z", "Islam is evil" etc etc etc... this brings to mind what the friendly giant in Roald Dahl's the BFG called "frobscottle and whizzpopping", except that that was an enjoyable process for the BFG. But "whizzpopping" is an apt description type of approach used by some against Islam.

The real differences are around the following ideas:

To blame all of Mankind for the sins of just two people is not a Just act by any standards, lets alone the standards of God*. Islam of course teaches that every individual is responsible for their own sin and can not be held accountable for the sins of others.

It would be a further Injustice that God taught people a way to be in the world (Laws and Non-Trinitarian Theology) that was not the way to attain Paradise, as Christians maintain that only through accepting Jesus' (pbuh) sacrifice upon the cross can salvation be given. This mis-information went on for millennia until Jesus (pbuh) was born and thus, many, many died before ever having even heard of Jesus (pbuh).

Islam of course teaches that God sent Messengers to all people with the same message, the same method of attaining His Paradise: Worship God Alone without partners.

The Trinity, of course is always discussed, sometimes as a way of trying to establish the point that the Trinity is inexplicable, in terms of "How". Although numerous futile attempts are made, there actually is no example of anything that is one indivisible thing but three other individual things (that are not each other) at the same time and those three other things individually are also equal to the whole.

I tend to try and discuss the Trinity in terms of "Why". Why do we need a Trinity? Usually the conversation heads towards the "God is Holy and Man is a sinner" [say it with a Southern American twang] and the idea that God can not stand to be "in the presence of Sin", which makes a mockery of God then manifesting Himself on earth (the quintessential location of sin) in the form of a man.

But I am then bludgeoned with the necessity of a Divine Sacrifice to pay for the Sin as "the wages of sin is death" and [here comes the twang again] "God is Perfectly Just and Man is a sinner".

It is from this stage of the hypothetical discussion that I attempt to illustrate my perception of Atonement Vs Forgiveness and yes, I am afraid it is a "Vs", as I will endeavour to explain further.

To believe that God is so Just, that He must punish sin in order to uphold His Perfect Justice, is in actual fact to deny the following; One, that to Forgive something is Merciful as well as Just and two, that God possesses the ability to Forgive.

So the Muslim is left thinking that his Christian friends hold that God can not forgive sin as that would make Him unjust and that as God can not (so does not) forgive sin He would therefore not be either Merciful or Forgiving..

Is that not a sad state of affairs?

My Christian colleagues then tend to put forward the idea that God killing an innocent man (or Himself) to pay the price (atone) for sin is Merciful and Forgiving. This idea does not sit well with most Muslims and I am sure with people of other faiths and no faith.

Why? Quite simply, there is either payment (atonement) or there is forgiveness. You can not have both at the same time. Either something is forgiven and so does not have to be paid for or something is paid for so was not forgiven. Needless to say, that the death of a innocent man in the place of a guilty sinner is another travesty of justice.

I am left with the following conclusion, that it appears that those that believe that Jesus Christ (pbuh) died on the cross to pay for their sins believe that God can not forgive sin and so acknowledge that they are, truly, the Unforgiven.

Peace, fot
May God guide us all always closer to His Truth. Ameen.

*Note: "God" as used by me is strictly used in the Islamic sense of Monotheism, to the exclusion of anthropomorphism, as is nicely put forward in this paraphrase of Chapter 114 (The Purity) of the Quran, taken from a Children's Nasheed:

Say He is Allah the Only One,

We all need Him and He needs no-one,

He has no parents, no daughter, no son,

Nobody is like Him and He is like no-one.


  1. You have some seriously good writing skills. If you'd written a book, I'd have bought it. My advice is, write an adventure thriller or a murder mystery. Apart from that advice, your post was insightful.

  2. Hi,
    How r U?
    I like to discuss the concept of God in christinity and muslim. I am a christian and do Belivie in one God in three person.That is God the Father and of The SON(Jesus) and Holy spirit.
    I like to know why muslim have problem with it, Y do muslim reject it, who told and U to reject it, does Ur quran teaches to do so? I like to debate on this topic first then will go on to any other, but let us reason this out and hope that V will come to the truth, cause the is no 2 truth, but one is a false one. my email is