Once upon a time in a universe exactly like ours in every way, except for the fact that in this other universe Herman Sharkster and Charles Dumbwin can construct complete thoughts and present them clearly to the class, two souls are sent to Earth. One ends up in the Middle East while the other finds itself in Texas.
Our Middle East soul is born into the physical realm a son to a devout Muslim couple. This couple resides in a remote little village that has little or no contact with the rest of the world due to the conflict in the surrounding areas. This child is recognised in the customs of Islam and his parents begin teaching him the Muslim ways and prayers as soon as he can talk.
He grows up surrounded by Muslim brothers and sisters at home, surrounded by Muslim friends in his Muslim school with Muslim teachers and he encounters Muslim neighbours who call out their Muslim greetings and offer their blessings from Allah.
He attends mosque every Friday with his father and brothers and bows down to the west on his prayer mat 6 times a day every day. He reads at least one verse from his Quran and contemplates it every night before bed. His prayers are never selfish, asking only wisdom for himself and blessings for others. These rituals are continued for the rest of his life.
The boy comes of age and his parents organise a marriage to a nice Muslim girl who he comes to love and treats her exactly as his Muslim custom dictates. They have three children and immediately begin raising them in the Muslim faith.
To provide for his family he herds goats and slaughters them in the Halaal fashion in order to trade with the rest of the village. Pork, shellfish and alcohol never pass his or his families lips.
He lives a good life for many years, treating others with respect, his faith never wavering, never questioning that Allah would provide through good times and bad. He is a good man.
Now our Texas soul is born into the physical realm a son to a devout Christian couple. This couple live on a farming community in the deep south, they only get one TV station which is 24/7 Christian shows and no outsiders visit due to there being nothing but cattle for as far as the eye can see. This child is baptised in the Christian faith the very next Sunday and his parents begin teaching him the Christian way as soon as he can talk.
He grows up surrounded by Christian brothers and sisters at home, surrounded by Christian friends at his Christian school with Christian teachers and he encounters Christian neighbours who call out their Christian greetings and offer their blessings from God.
He attends church every Sunday with his entire family and prays to Jesus before every meal and before bed. He reads at least one verse from his Bible and contemplates it every night after his bedtime prayers. His prayers are never selfish, asking only wisdom for himself and blessings for others. These rituals are continued for the rest of his life.
The boy comes of age and meats a nice Christian girl at church and they fall in love, they eventually marry and he treats her exactly as his Christian custom dictates. They have three children and immediately begin raising them in the Christian faith.
To provide for his family he herds and slaughters cattle in as humane a way as he knows how. No alcohol ever passes his lips.
He lives a good life for many years, treating others with respect, his faith never wavering, never questioning that God would provide through good times and bad. He is a good man.
One fateful day it comes to pass that both these men move on from this physical realm.
Our Muslim friend falls from a cliff while trying to rescue a goat that got itself stuck on a ledge, his neck is snapped. But he dies in the reassuring comfort that he has lived his life right and followed the true teachings of Allah. He believes he will spend an eternity in paradise alongside Allah and 72 virgins.
Our Christian friend’s horse is startled by a snake in the grass while out herding cattle and rears up, throwing him to the ground, also breaking his neck. But he dies in the reassuring comfort that he has lived a good life and followed the true teachings of Jesus and God. He believes he will spend an eternity in heaven alongside Jesus, God and the rest of his family when their time comes.
Both claimed to have followed the one true god, both had no knowledge of the other’s religion, both claim that they and all mankind were given free will. Yet both claimed that all who did not follow their particular god would surely perish in the fires of hell while the true believers would be glorified in heaven by their god. Who is right? Where is their free will to choose the correct path if the option is never given to them? Surely one of them is going to receive unjust treatment based purely on the location and the circumstances of their birth?