With regard to Islam, it seems the religion shows a worldly image of
heaven. This thought came to mind when I looked at your power point on
Islam at the web site. I think Muhammad wanted to build on people’s
darkest desires in order to make converts, while still trying to keep some
kind of moral code as he was making up all these things. An eaxmple is
when in the Qur’an it says “You shall have dark eyed virgins waiting on
you.” It seems Muhammid was appealing to peoples darkest desires. This
view of heaven seems to me to be racist as it specifically mentions dark
eyed virgins. What about light eyed virgins. What do you think of this?
I would say that your characterization of the Qur’an that it gives a
rather “worldly” view of heaven is accurate. Heaven is described as a
place of fountains and feasts and being waited on by beautiful virgins. I
would not necessarily say that this pleasure-oriented picture of heaven
plays toward people’s “darkest desires.” The desire to have comfort and
pleasure is something given to us by God, not Satan. Even the sexual
desire is given to us by God. The desires fulfilled by the Qur’an’s
description of heaven are only evil if over indulged or sought for selfish
purposes, to the exclusion of helping others. God gave us good-tasting
food to eat and a desire for pleasant climate and an appreciation of
beauty. The “darkest desires,” in my opinion are those to abuse others or
to take advantage of them, or to exercise power over them for our own
Personally, I would be a little careful about criticizing the Qur’an for
its picture of heaven, even though I agree with your basic thesis. Let me
be the “devil’s advocate” and defend the Qur’an for just a second. I
could imagine an islamic person defending the passages in question by
saying, “Well, obviously, this is just a metaphorical description in our
scripture. The prophet Muhammad is telling us that heaven is a wonderful
place to be, and he is describing this in a way that an Arabic person in
the seventh century AD would understand it. It is a place of great
reward, very much like the heaven described in the Bible.” So I guess I
can say that I agree with you to some extent, but would be careful not to
take it too far. We should, in the words of Jesus, treat others as we
would want to be treated. We should treat the “scriptures” of other
people by giving them the benefit of the doubt, even if we are convinced
in the end, that they are not from God at all.
For example, I do not see the description of dark-eyed women as racist.
That simply is not fair. Apparently, to the recipients of these verses,
this color of eye represented beauty. Rather than racist, I would say
that the description might better be described as sexist!!! What is the
role of women in heaven in this picture? To say that Islam treats women
unfairly is a criticism easier to prove than to say that it is racist.
Sorry for a somewhat mixed summary, but I agree that the description of
heaven in the Qur’an is uncomfortably worldly from my perspective.
However, I would concede that one could see this metaphorically without
doing too much damage to the text. I agree with you that the description
of heaven in the Qur’an could be described as a way to get converts, but
then again, we could certainly say that about the description of heaven in
the Bible! I think that to call it racist or to say that it appeals to
our darkest desires is probably a bit too strong.
In the end, what it comes down to is that the Bible shows every sign of
being inspired by God, but the Qur’an does not. You can find a few
articles on the evidence for inspiration or lack thereof at my website by
using the search option.