Is the Islamic conception of an ‘All-Loving’ God flawed and incorrect?
Dr William Craig is clearly one of the most prominent Christian philosphers today. He appears extensively in public and on Youtube. He has argued with famous athiests in public places such as in prestigious universities, and he is very sharp and convincing in his arguments in favour of theism.
However, I saw a brief video (attached) on his Youtube channel where he argues against the Islamic conception of God: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OS8_iu3TSWs&list=PLC8A343320FA53BE4&index=4&feature=plpp_video
I have noted done the gist of his argument below (so you don’t have to watch the video):
“Islam seems to have a morally inadequate conception of God. Muslims and Christians agree that God is the greatest conceivable being, by definition. Now, besides being All-Knowing, All-Present, All-Seeing e.t.c, the greatest conceivable being must also be All-Loving.
Dr Craig goes on to show proof from the Bible that Christianity affirms that God is All-Loving, but in contrast, using Ayaat from the Quran, he affirms that God is not All-Loving according to Islam e.g. God does not love sinners, God loves not the proud, God loves not the evil-doers e.t.c.
Conclusion that he makes: as the absolute, perfect being, God’s love must be unconditional (and not just for the good-doers and God-fearing people for instance), thus the Islamic conception of God seems to be morally inadequate, and philosophically unacceptable”.
It’s very surprising to hear the above argument from a ‘philosopher’!
1. Divine love and hatred is not like human ones that stem from our emotions and hence is often completely blind and insensible. God’s love means His mercy, as His hatred means His Wrath.
2. Love in the realm of divinity has two types:
a) An initial and essential love [یحبهم ('whom He will love') see Holy Quran 5:54]:
God in this sense loves all His creation; sinful or sinless. We refer to this kind of divine love ‘Love of Benevolence’ (الرحمن). God is All-Loving unconditionally in this meaning. Thus, He let all live and enjoy His bounty in this world. This is to give them all chances to enjoy His love eternally. But sinners use it as a chance to sin, so they use it to lose His eternal love.
b) Complacent Love; which is a pleasure in, affection for, and admiration of following His Path to reach His eternal love:
قل إن کنتم تحبون الله فاتبعونی یحببکم الله [Say (O Muhammad to mankind): "If you (really) love Allah then follow me, Allah will love you...] – Holy Quran, 3:31.
God has no complacent love for sinners at all. Instead, He has a perfect hatred for them. This is what Imam Ali (a.s) in Nahjul-Balagha quotes from the holy Prophet of Islam (P): “إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْعَبْدَ وَ يُبْغِضُ عَمَلَهُ وَ يُحِبُّ الْعَمَلَ وَ يُبْغِضُ بَدَنَه which means: God love His slave but hates his (evil) deed, as He loves his action but hates (the evil way) he does it.” According to this heavenly narration: God loves a sinner (as being His creation-as per His initial and unconditional love-), but hates his criminal acts. Thus, God hates: killing, stealing, lying, deceiving etc. So, what is conditional is this second type of divine Love, but why?
3. Because God is infinitely good and perfect and so are His attributes. Unlike a mother who loves her son unconditionally no matter how much of criminal he may be, God’s complacent love is conditional, or else, God would not have been perfect and fair. Imagine, God saying: “I love the sinners and all that they do unconditionally.” Yet, He sends them to hell after their death. He would be an imperfect and unfair God! (Glory to Him) because He has deceived the sinners!
A god who loves killing, stealing, lying, deceiving, etc. is the most evil god. Is he the one that Dr. Craig believes in and is the advocate of?! So, either there is no hell in Christian theology or God’s love (complacent love) can’t be unconditional, or their god is unjust! It is impossible for a perfect and infinitely good God to love evils.
Conclusion: God’s (the real perfect God, not the assumed God of Dr. Craig) love for sinners benevolently is unconditional, but His complacent love is conditional, otherwise, He is not a fair and perfect God.
4. In our Prophetic narrations it is narrated from Prophet David that God tells him: “ یا داود لو یعلم المدبرون عنی کیف انتظاری لهم و رفقی بهم و شوقی الی ترک معاصیهم لماتوا شوقا الیّ و تقطّعت اوصالهم من محبتی” ["O David, if only those who turn away from me knew how great my anticipation for them, how great my compassion for them, and how much I love when they turn away from their acts of disobedience, they would have died out of longing for Me, and their limbs would have separated due to their love for Me" (al-Mahajjatul Baydha', 9:62)].
Also, it is narrated that God spoke to Moses: ” عبدی انا و حقی لک محب فبحقی علیک کن لی محبا” (My slave, I, by My Truth, am One who loves you, so, by My right over you, be one who loves Me).
These and many such holy narrations reflect on the infinite love of God for us.
Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei