Muslims attempt to please God – as they understand Him from the Quran – largely by performing prescribed religious duties. In public, Muslims fear what others think of them. They dare not do anything to bring shame on their family. Beatings, shunning, and even death can be the result. Women are especially susceptible to these fears. They can be beaten for liking the wrong boy, the wrong music, or voicing the wrong opinion.
In private, Muslims fear God and wonder whether they are doing enough to please him. The Quran teaches that God is always watching (4:1, 33:52). Muslims hope that when they die their good deeds will outweigh their bad deeds – and even then, salvation is never assured.
Everyone will be rewarded or punished based on how well they performed the prescribed duties. They will be made to cross a razor-thin wire over the inferno that is hell, either entering paradise safely or falling off into hell. Its horrors are vividly described in Quran 3:91, 4:56, 4:145, 17:97, 22:19-20, 23:104, 40:70-72, and 70:11-16.
I come from a very wealthy family in Saudi Arabia. I’ve been afraid of Allah for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, my Quran tutor drilled into me all the verses about hell – how we’d better not do anything to make God angry. He told me I must obey my father and brothers, too, and not make them angry, either. They all scared me: my tutor, my father, my brothers, and God.
There was an Ethiopian maid in our household who didn’t seem afraid of anything. She had the worst life, since we all treated her like a slave, but she always had a smile on her face and was often humming a song while she worked. One day, in private, I asked her about this. “Jesus,” she whispered. “Jesus gives me joy!”
After many months and many more secret conversations, I, too, found joy in Jesus! I read the Bible on my phone every day now, and I am no longer afraid.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
...Do not fear, only believe.
I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you… Genesis 26:24
You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’ Lamentations 3:57
Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’
...for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
1 John 4:18
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth…