The subject of this lecture is life in the shadow of today's apocalypse. We are going to use Islam as the template for analyzing the situation. Looking back through history, so much of it is not a happy story. In the case of Islam you look at the destruction of Baghdad, the center of Islamic civilization and the wholesale slaughter of the inhabitants by the Mongols and so on and so forth, whose troops were led by a Christian general by the way. That's a fact that's not that well-known and other disasters.


Now the obvious question people ask is how could God allow a disaster like this to take place? Since we are not God, we cannot give a definitive answer to that question. However we need to look at life from a different point of view, the point of view that is expressed in the Koran. Islam is the world's simplest religion and it is in many ways the world's most scientific religion. Life is very simple. You serve God. That is the bottom line. Now the details of what you do and so on are defined in the Koran but it's a very clear and simple agenda. That is the be-all and end-all of life.


Now when you talk about the mercy of God, you have to think about who God is. He is the master of reality. He rules billions of galaxies. So why should he pay any attention to you? It's an act of mercy that he even notices that you exist. In light of the failings of humanity, it's an act of mercy that he has not wiped the entire human race off the planet many times over.


We want to talk about a problem that many Americans have in trying to understand Islam. Americans like to talk about rights. "People have a right to this and a right to that," and so on and so forth. Part of it comes from the really rather nonsensical Declaration of Independence with a claim that God has given them rights including every person having a right to pursue happiness. No, every person does not have a right to pursue happiness. These are nonsensical statements that are completely in contradiction to not only Islam, but most other great religions of the world.


You have to step back and realize that the so-called "Enlightenment" in Europe in the 18th century was not really much of an enlightenment and is a highly arbitrary collection of ideas with little track record in history. You need to keep that in mind people don't have rights. They have obligations. They have a responsibility to serve God. Perhaps jumping through a series of intellectual hoops, you could say they have rights insofar as of God the Almighty has promised them Paradise in accordance with following the will of Allah. I guess you could call that a right. But it's really much more of a responsibility and it is the insight of Allah that judges people. Islam contains rituals and rituals matter but rituals do not get you into paradise. It is intentions and it is the sincerity and reality of intentions that get you into paradise. We need to clarify in the shadow of the apocalypse that's taking place today, we need to clarify what Islam does and does not promise. Islam promises people the doors of paradise if they follow and serve the Almighty. That's it. Islam does not promise you to become a billionaire.Islam does not promise you goodies in this world. The master of reality can make you a billionaire if He wants to, but that is not promised. The only promise is paradise if you serve God here. That's it.


Now this also involves making decisions because this is another problem left over from the 18th century. Now you have got to understand the 18th century was a reaction to the disasters of Christianity in Europe, culminating in the Thirty Years War, where one third to one half of the population of Germany ended up getting killed off as the various followers of Jesus slaughtered each other in a totally chaotic mess. After that is when we got the age of so-called reason where people would make decisions on the basis of reason or science and so forth

Here's the problem with that. In making decisions in life, science and reason go only so far. It's like the fog of war. You have to guess and this is where prayer comes in. Prayer is the communication—it's like your cell phone line to the Almighty and how you make decisions. You can know the answers to a lot of things, but sometimes you have to guess. And this is where the help of the Almighty comes in. But why is He going to help you? The only reason He's going to help you is you serving Him.


So this is a short lecture but we just wanted to clarify the point that you don't have rights. You have responsibilities. Your value as an individual outside of Allah is zero. It's nothing. It's absolutely nothing. You have no value by yourself. The only value you have is as an extension of Allah.

This also goes by the way with politics, which probably should be the subject of another lecture. It is anything but clear that Western-style democracy is somehow the divine agenda ordained by Islam like some people claim. This is all unclear. We don't pretend to suggest that this or that political system is the system ordained by Allah in politics. However, in politics, there is a sort of critical mass of people who are enlightened, people who are good, who keep society together. What percentage and what level of influence they have, we don't know. But at a certain point a society becomes viable or not viable, and history is a process of thousands of years. The fact that a false system might've arisen for 100 years is largely irrelevant. But it's important to understand the beginning and the end of the vision of Islam, which is the service to the Almighty, the living God, the master of reality.