Islam, Jack Chick and the Battle for Souls – Response to the Chick Tract “Your Best Life” (Adapted for Muslims)
Originally posted on the Quran and Bible Blog
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم
“And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah? – and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know.”
– The Quran, Surah Al-Imran, 3:135
This article is a continuation of the series “Islam, Jack Chick and the Battle for Souls”. We will now discuss the tract titled “Your Best Life”.
“Your Best Life” – The Plot
The tract begins by showing a man wearing traditional Arab clothing with vast riches, complete with a mansion, luxury car and a maid. Unfortunately, the Arab man’s life of luxury ends abruptly, as the cold hand of death (literally depicted as a skeleton in a black robe with a scythe…happy Halloween everyone!) comes to take the man’s soul. Chick uses this scene to remind everyone that there is one thing in common to all people, whether the “righteous” or the “wicked”, which of course is death.
At the man’s funeral, the imam declares that “he was a good man”. But Chick quotes a verse from Isaiah (64:6) to say that no one is “good” but rather that everyone is “unclean”. While in the grave, the man is resurrected after a voice declares for him to “arise”.
Joyously, the man looks forward to his resurrection. He realizes his “life is finished” and that he will get to “see the blessed Prophet [Muhammad]”. He declares that his deeds will be “weighed” and that his “good will outweigh” the bad. At this point, an angel takes the man to face his judgement. The man is hopeful that he will be able to “cross over the bridge to Muhammad”, but the angel warns that:
“[i]t will not be what you expect.”
While waiting for his turn, the man is still hopeful that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) will “accept” him because he had “fasted and prayed, given to charity…” and even made the pilgrimage to Mecca. To this the angel simply says that (emphasis in the original) “everything has been recorded”. When his turn comes, the man sees a great multitude of people standing before God, as stated in Revelation 20:12. As he stands before God, the command is given to “review his life”, and we begin seeing different parts of the man’s life on a television screen of sorts.
It begins with his infancy, and then abruptly moves to his teenage years. On one particular day, the teenager was regaling his friends with a “dirty story”. The embarrassing incident causes the man to gasp and beg that the incident not be replayed at his judgement. But this is just the beginning. The scene skips to another incident, where the man was coveting his friend’s wife, who was very beautiful. The man’s excuse for this behavior, though, is frankly bizarre. He states that she was beautiful, but he thought that “no one” saw him!
The man also points out that he was a “good man”. And indeed, we see images of him playing with his son, visiting the sick, giving charity to the poor, and praying in the mosque. But again, Chick quoted Isaiah 64:6 to suggest that no one is really “good” but rather “impure”.
Finally, God responds to the man. He says:
“[t]hat is not what I required. Your friend told you about Me.”
The television screen then shows how a Christian man, the Muslim man’s “only Christian friend”, tried to convert him to Christianity. The Christian had said that only God can make mankind attain perfection. In other words, man’s own actions cannot make man perfect.
The Muslim man counters that he has performed the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) and his “past sins are forgiven”. To this, the Christian retorts that, according to the book of Ezekiel, the one who sins is the one who dies (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). He then asks the Muslim man whether he has sinned since performing the Hajj, to which the Muslim man admits that he has. The Christian man then concludes that “you shall die”. But apparently realizing the hidden contradiction, the Christian says that dying in this life is not enough, and that we need “someone to die in our place”. That someone was Jesus, who was allegedly “God” and “came among us and lived as the perfect man”. The Christian also regales the Muslim with the rest of the story, as told in other Chick tracts. He claims that Jesus “took our punishment by dying on the cross” and then resurrected “3 days later”, which somehow proves that “he is God Almighty” and that only he “will forgive all who trust in [h]im”.
But none of this convinces the Muslim, who begins to think that his buddy “is crazy”. The Muslim flat out rejects the Christian’s message and declares (rather bizarrely for a Muslim):
“I don’t need the prophet Jesus. I will take the way of Islam!”
As the stroll down memory lane ends, the Muslim man realizes that he made a huge mistake and laments that his “pride destroyed” him. And when “God” orders the “book of life” to be opened, the Muslim man’s name does not appear (duh!), which means that he will be consigned to hell. God then declares, in typical Chick fashion:
“[d]epart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
As he is thrown into the lake of fire, the Muslim man exclaims:
“I should have believed in Jesus!”
But then the tract shows the other possibility. In this version, instead of rejecting his Christian friend’s message, the Muslim man repents and accepts Jesus as his “Savior”. After converting to Christianity, he tries to show others the way, including his family and friends and the sick. And when the cold hand of death touches him, he is welcomed in the afterlife by God, who says:
“[w]ell done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
Analysis of “Your Best Life”
By now, we should be used to the fact that Chick tracts are poorly thought-out propaganda works which reasonable people will not find convincing. So, let’s just get into tearing this particular tract apart, as we have done with others already.
The first thing that sticks out is how the tract was described by Chick himself. In the “Description”, Chick wrote:
“[t]he most popular Chick tract, This Was Your Life, adapted for Muslims, not just in the Middle East, but also Europe and the Americas.”
And yet as soon as the tract begins, we see the typical Chick caricature of Muslims, which is an Arab man! In this case, the man is filthy rich, which certainly would not apply to the average Muslim or any average person from any religious background for that matter. So how exactly is this tract “adapted for Muslims” the world over? From the get-go, this tract is doomed to fail!
Chick then alluded to the “common destiny” of all mankind, which is death (duh!). He quoted Ecclesiastes 9:2, which states:
“[a]ll things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.”
This “common destiny” being death is stated in verse 3:
“[t]his is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.”
But besides this resignation, Ecclesiastes 9 has other interesting observations on life and death. For example, it bizarrely refers to this life as “meaningless” (verse 9). It also states that a person should eat his food and drink his wine with “gladness” and “a joyful heart”, because “God has already approved what you do”. This seems to fly in the face of the Christian concept of original sin, as well as the basic concept of the afterlife. In fact, the author of Ecclesiastes explicitly states that it is not known what will happen to the righteous. He states that:
“…the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them.”
It is also interesting that Chick quoted the book of Proverbs to criticize the wealthy Arab man, yet quoted Ecclesiastes to remind his readers that death comes to all, whether rich or poor. The irony of this is that the author of Ecclesiastes (“Qoheleth”) actually concluded that since death will come to all, whether rich or poor, righteous or wicked, the best thing to do is to enjoy life with the gifts that God has given to each person. This is stated in chapter 5, verse 19:
“…when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.”
In fact, in the very next chapter (6:2), the author referred to the “evil” that he had seen when someone who had been given “wealth, possessions and honor” by God was unable to “enjoy them” because God had not permitted it. Instead, “strangers” ended up enjoying the gifts that God had given to that person.
Continuing with the story, we find ourselves at the Arab man’s funeral, where the imam described him as “a good man”, but Chick countered this assessment with Isaiah 64:6, which states:
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
But as was Chick’s habit, he took this verse completely out of context to anachronistically force the Christian concept of “original sin” into the text. Verse 5 shows the correct context:
“Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.”
So, it was because of committing sins that people became “unclean”. In other words, “righteousness” was replaced by wickedness. This does not mean that there were no “righteousness” people. As stated in Isaiah 1:21:
“How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.”
In addition, Isaiah 3:10-11 states that the “righteous” and the “wicked” shall each receive what they have earned:
“Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.”
Why was such a differentiation made if, as Chick suggested, all people are “unclean” in the first place?
Moving on, the Arab man was inevitably made to resurrect from the grave. Chick quoted Daniel 12:2 in this regard:
“And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
But, as usual, there is a problem. Daniel 12, when read in its historical context, is a false prophecy. When read in context with chapter 11, it becomes clear that Daniel 12:2 is not referring to a general resurrection of the dead, but rather to a specific event that should have happened more than 2,000 years ago. As we discussed in the article The Book of Daniel: A Critical Examination, chapter 11 provides:
“…a detailed chronology of events, which have been conclusively linked with actual events during the period of Seleucid domination of Palestine.”
Since allusions to historical events during the Seleucid domination of Palestine are clearly shown in the text (e.g., Daniel 11:6-7 refers to the murder of Berenice, the daughter of Ptolemy II [the “king of the south”]), it follows that the event of the resurrection described in Daniel 12 should have occurred in that time (i.e., the 2nd-century BCE).
Indeed, the death of the “king of the north” in Daniel 11:45 was also a false prophecy. This king was none other than Antiochus IV, the infamous tyrant who erected the “abomination that causes desolation” (a statue of Zeus) in the temple of Jerusalem. While Daniel 11 prophesies that Antiochus would die as a result of his military activities, the reality is that he died as a result of an illness in Persia. He did not die during battle (Daniel 11:44-45).
Regardless, Daniel 12 prophesies that after the death of Antiochus, the archangel Michael would arise, and the dead would be resurrected. The text even states “[a]nd at that time” (Daniel 12:1), so there is no doubt that the resurrection of the dead should have occurred sometime after the death of Antiochus. In short, Daniel 12 is not referring to a general resurrection of the dead in the future but an event in the past and in a very specific historical context that never happened.
In any case, the Arab man was taken by an angel for judgement. He was confident and happy that his “good will outweigh my bad” and that he will “cross over the bridge to Muhammad”. These are promises made to faithful Muslims in the Islamic sources. Of course, since this is a Chick tract, we know that the poor Muslim man was in for a horrible surprise.
When his turn arrived, his life was “reviewed”. All things were revealed, from his time as an infant, to his teenage years and a specific incident where he told a “dirty story” to his friends, and a time when he was attracted to his friend’s wife. Ironically, the Muslim man, who seemed to have followed Islam and was aware of the teachings regarding judgement day, somehow tried to excuse his impure thoughts about his friend’s wife by saying:
“[b]ut no one saw me!”
But being a faithful Muslim, he would know that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) would have seen him. No faithful Muslim would ever deny that. But again, this IS a Chick tract, so plot holes are par for the course!
Chick also appealed yet again to Ecclesiastes, quoting chapter 12, verse 14:
“For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
But there is a problem here as well (hey, it’s the Bible; get used to it). While Chick’s precious “King James” Bible contains no note, it is a consensus among scholars that the last part of chapter 12 was not written by the same author (Qoheleth) as the previous chapters but by a different author. Christian sources tend to assume that the second author was a “disciple” of Qoheleth. For example, the Catholic NABRE translation has a footnote for verse 9 which states:
“[a] disciple briefly describes and praises the master’s skill and reputation as a sage.”
Similarly, in a footnote for verses 13-14, it states that:
“[a]lthough the epilogue has been interpreted as a criticism of the book’s author, it is really a summary that betrays the unruffled spirit of later sages, who were not shocked by Qoheleth’s statements.”
Regardless of who the real author was or what his intent was (whether criticism of Qoheleth or his defense), it is not a matter of debate that this author was not the same as the one who wrote most of the book.
But the real irony in Chick’s appeal to Ecclesiastes 12:14 is how he tried to again ignore the proper context. When read in context, the entire premise of Chick’s tract falls apart! The previous verse, verse 13, contains a clear reminder to keep God’s “commandments”:
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”
And this is exactly what the Arab man did! Certainly, he did sin on occasion, but as stated in Ecclesiastes 7:20 (emphasis ours):
“…there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”
A man could be “just” yet still occasionally commit sins. What matters is whether that man repented of his sins and returned to God. This concept of repentance is demonstrated in 1 Kings 8:50:
“And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion…”
This concept of God’s compassion and forgiveness is also found in the teachings of Islam:
“And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah? – and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know.”
“And [there are] others who have acknowledged their sins. They had mixed a righteous deed with another that was bad. Perhaps Allah will turn to them in forgiveness. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”
“Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.””
“Those who avoid the major sins and immoralities, only [committing] slight ones. Indeed, your Lord is vast in forgiveness. He was most knowing of you when He produced you from the earth and when you were fetuses in the wombs of your mothers. So do not claim yourselves to be pure; He is most knowing of who fears Him.”
The man’s good deeds were also shown. He was a good father. He visited the sick. He helped the poor. He prayed to God. But according to Chick, this was not what God “required”, and he again quoted Isaiah 64:6 to prove his point. But as shown above, this verse does not teach the Christian concept of original sin or the Pauline idea that no man is righteous.
Chick’s comic-book “God” responded to the Arab man’s appeals to his good deeds by reminding him of how a Christian friend had told him about God. According to the Christian, since even after performing the Hajj and Umrah, the man had sinned, he was still going to “die”. That was the price of sin. Chick quoted Ezekiel 18:4, 20 to support this claim, which is ironic because these verses refute the Christian concept of original sin. In fact, Ezekiel 18 clearly differentiates between those who are “just” and those who are “sinners”, something Chick neglected to mention:
“But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,
And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour’s wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman,
And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment;
He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man,
Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God.”
Moreover, in verse 21, God declares that the wicked man who “turns from all his sins” and keeps the “statutes” and does all things that are “lawful and right” will “surely live”. This directly contradicts the concept of original sin!
The Christian man then claimed that humans needed someone to die in their place. That someone was Jesus (peace be upon him), who “lived as the perfect man”. There are a few problems with this view:
- It contradicts Ezekiel 18, which states that the one who sins is the one who dies. It does not say anything about a substitutionary death.
- Even if Jesus “died” for the sins of humanity, that does not change the fact that we still…die. So, what was the point of “dying” to pay for our sins (the price for which is death), and yet we die anyway? Furthermore, in the afterlife, there is either eternal salvation or eternal damnation. There is no death. But if we die as a result of our sins, then it should end there and there should be no punishment in the afterlife.
- It is a subjective opinion that Jesus “lived as the perfect man”. We can find a few instances in the New Testament where Jesus’ behavior seems less than “perfect”. He seems to have sinned on a few occasions:
- Destruction of the property of others, as in the incident of the pigs and the demons (Matthew 8:28-34).
- Lying to his “brethren” that he would not go to the “feast of tabernacles”, but then going in “secret” after they had departed (John 7:1-10).
Then, the Christian talked about how Jesus “is God Almighty” because he supposedly “rose from the dead”. This too is a problematic and logically-flawed argument since the New Testament itself states that Jesus did not rise from the dead of his own accord. Acts 2:32 states:
“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.”
So, if Jesus rose from the dead (an event which cannot be proven), it was not by his own power but by that of God. Thus, using the Christian’s own logic, Jesus could not be God!
Not surprisingly, the Arab man was not persuaded by the Christian’s arguments. But it’s what he said in response that shows the absurdity of Chick’s arguments against Islam. The man said that he didn’t need “the prophet Jesus” and would instead “take the way of Islam”. Yet, a faithful Muslim would never say of the prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) that he doesn’t “need him”. As Muslims, we respect and believe in all the prophets. While it is true that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the leader of the prophets and that the Quran replaces all previous revelation, that does not mean we can simply cast the previous prophets aside. Of course, Muslims do not believe the myths that Christians have applied to Jesus’ life and teachings. So, we rightfully reject the “false” Jesus promoted by Christianity.
Once the stroll down memory lane ended, the “book of life” was opened and the Arab man’s name was not found written in it. Thus, “God” spoke the dreaded words from Matthew 25:41 that Chick loved to misquote:
“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire…”
As we have noted in previous articles, this verse is quoted out of context. The reality is that it serves to refute Chick’s brand of Christianity. In Matthew 25, Jesus (peace be upon him) was talking about the judgement of the righteous (the “sheep”) and the sinners (the “goats”). But this distinction was not based on which religion people followed or if they believed that the Messiah “died” for their sins, but rather if they fed and clothed the poor, showed hospitality to strangers, and cared for the sick. The “righteous” would be rewarded for being charitable, whereas the sinners would be punished for neglecting their charitable duties.
So, by the standards set in Matthew 25, the Arab man should have been allowed to enter Paradise, since the review of his life showed that he did do all the things he needed to do. Thus, what should been have said to him was:
“Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…”
In short, Chick’s comic book turned Jesus into a liar who went back on his word!
In the alternate version, the Arab man believed in Jesus and became a Christian. Chick once again resorted to quoting Isaiah out of context, this time Isaiah 1:18:
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Contrary to Chick’s implications, this verse does not prove that accepting Jesus would wash away one’s sins. When we read the verse in context, this is made clear:
“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land…”
As we can see, the context shows that the Israelites were being advised to give up their sinful behavior and to follow God’s laws. Doing so would wash away their previous sins. It was not a command to believe in a dying and rising Messiah for the remission of sins. This is also what Islam teaches.
This concludes yet another refutation of the deceitful and inaccurate comic books known as“Chick tracts”. In “Your Best Life”, adapted for Muslims, we have seen more examples of the late Jack Chick’s ignorant propaganda that would only fool the uneducated and gullible. Chick tracts may get read, but only the foolish would believe them or be influenced by them to convert to Christianity.
And Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) knows best!
 Chick quoted Ecclesiastes 9:2, which is part of an interesting passage on the common destiny awaiting all people. We will discuss this in the analysis section.
 As was typical of Chick, he tried to misquote the Tanakh in order to confirm the Christian doctrine of “original sin” and the idea that mankind is born “wicked”. This concept completely contradicts what the Tanakh actually says, and the book of Isaiah is no different, as we shall see.
 Ironically, here too, the Bible itself exposes Chick’s selective quotes as well as the internal contradictions in the Christian religion.
 Chick quotes Ecclesiastes 11:9, which states that God will judge a person for all things he has done. But Chick neglected to mention the next chapter of Ecclesiastes, which clarifies the matter, as we will see.
 Here, Chick indeed quoted the next chapter of Ecclesiastes, but as usual, he skipped a very important part, which completely destroys the entire premise of the tract!
 This is ironic given that he was obviously a religious man who believed that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) was watching him. And thus begin the typical plot holes one usually finds in these abhorrent and poorly-written Chick tracts!
 This statement from “God” is ironic, simply because it actually contradicts what Jesus (peace be upon him) allegedly taught in the gospels.
 But since when was “perfection” the requirement for salvation? Does the Bible actually say this? The answer is no, as we will see.
 It is ironic that Chick even appealed to this verse, since it completely demolishes the concept of “original sin”.
 This contradiction is clearly evident, both in the fact that dying because we sinned should serve as the “punishment” for those sins, and also that even if “someone” dies for us, we still end up dying. We will discuss this conundrum in more detail later.
 Of course, what it means to be the “perfect man” is subjective. What is the standard for perfection? If it is the myth that the Biblical Jesus lived a “sinless” life, then we are all doomed because the Christian “God” failed to live up to his own standards. This will be demonstrated in the analysis.
 Of course, any real Muslim would know that believing in the prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), as well as all the prophets, is a required tenet of Islam. One cannot be a Muslim and not believe that Jesus was a prophet. Chick’s straw man is based on the assumption that the “Jesus” that he believes in is the historical Jesus, but there is no basis for this claim.
 Ecclesiastes 9:1.
 Of course, that the dead will be resurrected to face judgement is explicitly stated in the New Testament, and of course the Quran as well. But Chick erroneously referred to Daniel 12:2 while not realizing its proper context.
 Surah Al-Imran, 3:135 (Saheeh International translation).
 Surah At-Tawba, 9:102.
 Surah Az-Zumar, 39:53.
 Surah An-Najm, 53:102.
 Ezekiel 18:5-9.
 See also Romans 6:4 and Galatians 1:1.
Christians may point to John 2:19, which states:
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
However, this does not solve the problem as John 10:18 states that whatever authority Jesus had was given to him by the “Father”:
“No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
As a side note, notice the contradiction between John 10:18, where Jesus is made to look confident and willingly giving up his life, to Luke 22:41-44, where Jesus is seeking a way out of the predicament he was in:
“And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
 Matthew 25:34.
 Isaiah 1:16-19.