How can an Atheist be a Good Man ?
I have come to learn that the British Foreign Minister, David Milliband, is an Atheist. I have observed that many Atheists show great love for humanity and are morally upright. They perform much better morally than many Muslims. I had always thought that one could only respect human values out of fear of Allah and accountability before Him on Judgment Day. How do Atheists like Milliband become such good humans without the advantage of faith?
The understanding that good human behavior can only result out of fear of Allah has not been presented by the Qur’an. On reading the Qur’an one concludes two things:
i) Good moral behavior comes naturally to humans. One becomes a bad individual only on corrupting one’s God-given morals. If David Milliband is a good human, it is because he is taking care of what God has given him, even though he doesn’t acknowledge that fact.
ii) Fear of God promises to make us good humans because we realize that our innate goodness is not just a fluke phenomenon; it has been given to us by our creator who knows how we are dealing with it and He is going to hold us accountable if we will cause it to be corrupted.
Those who claim that they fear God may not necessarily be fearing Him despite their claims. They can therefore still be immoral people. Those who claim that they don’t believe in God do still enjoy the privilege of the innate God-given goodness in them. And therefore they could be good humans.
How is God going to decide on the Day of Judgment as to who performed better? He will keep the following principle in consideration while deciding: “We shall not make anyone accountable (for anything) beyond his/her potential.” (Qur’an; 7:41) So if David Milliband will deserve to be a winner because of the limitations that were preventing him from believing properly, God will not punish him. And if he will turn out to be a criminal, despite his apparent good behavior, nobody will be able to stop him from being punished. The same principle shall be applied on Muslims who claimed that they feared God but didn’t perform well morally. The Almighty will not deviate an inch from His declared policy: “I am not going to be unfair, even slightly, on (My) servants.” (50:29)