by Khaled Hammad
A Journey Through Hell Fire
Chapter 6: “We Must Kill Your Friend!”
I went home that day in a state of confusion. I felt alone and scared of my own thoughts. But there was a voice inside me, very deep down, that I did not like the sound of, a voice which asked, “Why not listen to him?” Perhaps it came from the devil. Or perhaps my own self. The Quran says, “Whatever good befalls you, is from Allah. And whatever bad befalls you, is from yourself. We sent you to humanity as a messenger, and Allah is enough as a Witness”. (4/79) and also says, “The soul commands to evil, except those on whom my Lord has mercy. My Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.” (12/53).
I knew, then, that this temptation could be from Satan or my sinful soul. What if my mum and dad found out that I had been friends with a “molhed”? But wait, that should not be my worry now. What about God? Is God upset with me? Is Prophet Mohammed upset with me? ‘Oh, I need to put an end to this long night,’ I convinced myself and went to bed. I lay in bed; the room was dark, and I was terrified. Thoughts were going at it hammer and tongs. ‘There is no God! Oh My God. If that is true, who do we pray to? To whom do we ask for forgiveness, success and relief from pain? Why would we do good deeds in this life? And what happens after death? But hold on, wouldn’t that solve the old dilemma that had been lurking in my head since childhood? Free will versus predetermination! Do we have free will, or did God know our future since he created us and programmed our minds with the absolute knowledge he possesses? With his absolute knowledge, God has deprived us of having free will; we are just like actors, really, aren’t we? We are committed to a scenario that we cannot change; consequently, he shouldn’t punish us after death. He cannot claim to know the future if he gave us free will. Then, he does not possess absolute knowledge. God must be absolute on all levels.’
I started to remember having my first reasoning with my dad when I was in primary school. He was on his afternoon nap, and I kept asking questions and arguing my point until my dad got fed up with my argument and said, ”Khaled, he is not going to punish anyone; he will give us all a good surprise and get us into heaven. Ok? Let me sleep now, please, and go to your room.” (Dialogue, so punctuation inside the quotation mark.) It didn’t help that I was stigmatised in the family for asking too many questions and in the classroom for embarrassing my teachers, something I still did at the university four decades later when I studied for my second degree and something my mum reminds me of till this very day. Anyway, my dad’s answer was not, particularly what I sought from the most knowledgeable man on earth. I mean, who knows everything in the universe more than your own dad?
That situation with my dad came to mind that night when I imagined how life would be perceived without God. If Ahmed was right and there was no God, then the free will equation would be easier to understand. No God means no confining scenario and no punishments. We have free will. But then that is not fair. Life would have no meaning for the poor and the health-deprived. Who is going to compensate these people for their struggles? Well, Khaled, it might not be fair, but at least it would make logical sense. Fair is not given if there is no God. Who cares about fairness if there is no God? Yes, but….’ The buts and ifs were in the battle of wills in my mind the whole night.
On the morning of the next day, my mind was set to speak to Mustafa, a religious friend of mine at the university, to seek reassurance. Mustafa listened to me as if I told him something very ordinary and changed the subject. But the next day, he approached me and said, ‘Khaled, I have spoken to people that I know, righteous people, people of God.’ We need information about your friend. ‘Your friend is an apostate. He must die!’
[To be continued]