Can you have a philosophical argument with anyone about this without being told to go away and read more about Islam?

The belief that we are ‘special’ simply because we are following the ‘right’ religion is not uncommon. Most religions in their essence want us to believe that we are following the right path and by doing so you will get to heaven.

I was told once, why would you then follow one religion when all paths could lead to the heaven?

So, one must be steadfast in ones belief that this is the path of the chosen few. The problem I have is when we become obsessed with telling others within our community that non-Muslims are going to hell.

I call it an obsession because that is what it is. I have heard this on many occasions.

Modern day Britain may well be a secular place to live but I do find some of us would simply wish it wasn't secular at all.

I was coaxed into one such discussion recently and the following points were raised.

The first was that it clearly states that you can only reach heaven if you follow the teaching laid out in the Quran and believe that the Prophet (PBUH) was the final messenger.

Secondly, those who knew of the religion of Islam and chose not to follow it are destined to spend eternity in hell.

Thirdly, when told that those of faith would reach heaven I was then told that faith had to be Islam.

What about a really good charitable person who has done nothing wrong with his or her life? Hell was the answer.

What about someone who behaved better than a Muslim through his life, committed no evil acts but did not believe in God? Hell was the answer. The evil Muslim though would reside in hellfire but would later be granted a path to heaven.

So, we were happy committing five billion people to hellfire because they were not Muslim? ‘Yes’, was the answer.

It was that simple.

Some readers might suggest that things are not that simple but there are a growing number of people who are quite happy to sit in discussions and argue this point.

It comes from a lack of knowledge and a steadfast belief that by not stating this they are in some way straying from the true word of Islam.

I would find others are likely to suggest we have some scholars advise me on this. But I am keen to know what the answer to this question would be.

The major issue I have with this notion is that many scholarly debates will reach the same conclusion. But we won’t say it in public as that might well upset the locals.

Privately though we are happy to commit millions of people to hell.

I would not worry about this idea too much, because like I said most religions at their base also share this notion. What I do find worrying is how this belief is fast being used to define us as Muslims.

And in doing so we may well repel anyone who wanted to find out more about the religion.

Should young people really be growing up in believing that all non-Muslims are going to hell? And should they be taught this?

Or should we able to comfortably state that hell and heaven is not in the hands of us mere mortals and will be decided by a higher power?