One of the objections raised by Ibn Warraq (http://www.secularhumanism.org/wtc.htm) is that in Al-Nisaa 4: 56, the Qur’an says that the non-Muslims are to be greatly tormented.
Please explain the referred verse of the Qur’an.
The referred verse reads as:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِنَا سَوْفَ نُصْلِيهِمْ نَارًا كُلَّمَا نَضِجَتْ جُلُودُهُم بَدَّلْنَاهُمْ جُلُودًا غَيْرَهَا لِيَذُوقُوا الْعَذَابَ ۗ (النساء ٤: ٥٦)
Those who reject Our signs, We shall soon burn them in a [huge] fire. As their skins are completely scorched, We shall give them fresh skins, so that they keep tasting the punishment.
Firstly, it is important to note that the referred verse relates to the punishment in the Hereafter. The verse does not relate to any punishment in the life of this world.
Secondly, the verse does not relate to the torment of non-Muslims, but that of the ‘rejecters’. It is quite clear that a person can be a non-Muslim and yet not be a rejecter. A ‘rejecter’ is a person, who refuses to accept the truth, even after it has become completely apparent to him. A non-Muslim, in contrast to a rejecter, can be a true believer in God and the Day of Judgment, who may have honest unanswered questions regarding the prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh), which may have held him back from accepting Islam. This punishment is for those people, who refuse to accept God’s signs, after being fully convinced of the validity of these signs. These are the people, who shall be faced with the stated punishment in the Hereafter.
Finally, if this is a point of criticism on Islam, then this is a common point shared by all the Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Each of these religions ascribes to the belief that the rejecters of God’s guidance shall be thrown in the Hellfire on the Day of Judgment.
I hope this helps.
September 30, 2001