Three Quran Verses Every Christian Should Know (David Wood)

Three Quran Verses Every Christian Should Know (David Wood)

The folly of interfaith cooperation between Christianity and Islam

I use the word folly purposely because it is utter folly.  It is folly to believe the Islamic lie that Islam is part of the Abrahamic line of revelation and that Muhammad is the last and ultimate prophet sent by God (Arabic Allah) to clear the mess that both Jews and Christians had made of his revelation to man by giving us the Quran.

The first verse that David Wood quotes should put any thought of Christian/Muslim cooperation to bed for good.  Take Wood’s advice to heart and learn these verses by heart and they will steer you away from the folly that is Islam.

Study brings knowledge, knowledge brings understanding and understanding brings wisdom
 

 

Was Muhammad a Pedophile?

Was Muhammad a Pedophile?

David Wood, Tuesday, October 29, 2013

For the Western mind, one of the most disturbing facts about Islam is that its founder had a sexual relationship with a nine-year-old girl. Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha has even led some critics to refer to him as a “pedophile.” This is, of course, extremely upsetting to Muslims, who view their prophet as the ideal servant of God and as the greatest example of what a man should strive to be (see Qur’an 33:21). Nevertheless, Muhammad’s relationship with a young girl presents a problem for Muslims, especially for those who want to share their faith with others.

Some Muslims are so embarrassed by their prophet’s marriage to a prepubescent girl that they are attempting to rewrite history, claiming that, contrary to all available sources, Aisha must have been much older than history demands. Other Muslims appeal to moral relativism, suggesting that, while sex with young girls may be wrong today, it wasn’t wrong in seventh-century Arabia. Still other Muslims try to offer morally sufficient reasons for their prophet to marry Aisha (i.e., some good state of affairs that could only be attained through Muhammad’s relationship with Aisha).

Since pedophilia is one of the most serious charges that can be leveled against a person, the term “pedophile” should not be used lightly. With that said, let us carefully examine Muhammad’s relationship with Aisha, recalling the Western principle that a man is innocent until proven guilty.

FIRST MUSLIM DEFENSE: Aisha was older than nine when Muhammad first had sex with her.

Faced with the arguments of Western critics, Muslim apologists sometimes creatively piece together information from various accounts in an attempt to deny that Aisha was as young as critics often claim. Maulana Muhammad Ali writes:

The popular misconception as to Aishah’s age may be removed here. . . . Isabah, speaking of the Holy Prophet’s daughter Fatimah, says that she was about five years older than Aishah. It is a well-established fact that Fatimah was born when the Ka’bah was being rebuilt, i.e., five years before the Call. Aishah was therefore born in the year of the Call or a little before it, and she could not have been less than ten years at the time of her marriage with the Holy Prophet in the tenth year of the Call. . . . And as the period between her marriage and its consummation was not less than five years, because the consummation took place in the second year of the Flight, it follows that she could not have been less than fifteen at that time. The popular account that she was six years at marriage and nine years at the time of consummation is decidedly not correct because it supposes the period between the marriage and its consummation to be only three years, and this is historically wrong. (Ali, pp. 183-184)

RESPONSE: The historical evidence for Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha when she was still a child is too strong to be ignored.

Notice that Ali hasn’t offered a single quotation from any Muslim source claiming that Aisha was a teenager when Muhammad first had sex with her. Why not? Because there are no such sources. The problem with Ali’s selective and carefully edited defense (other than the complete lack of references) is that it ignores the numerous accounts we possess which record Aisha’s age when her marriage was consummated. Many of these accounts are from Aisha herself. Indeed, the evidence for Muhammad’s marriage to the young Aisha is as strong as the evidence for just about any other fact in Islam. We have copious traditions from Islam’s most trusted historical sources reporting Muhammad’s marriage proposal when Aisha was six or seven years old, as well as his consummation of that marriage when she was nine:

Sahih al-Bukhari 3896—Narrated Hisham’s father: Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Al-Madina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he wrote the marriage (wedding) contract with Aishah when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consummated that marriage when she was nine years old.

Sahih al-Bukhari 5158—Narrated Urwa: The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).

Sahih Muslim 3310—Aisha reported: Allah’s Apostle married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old.

Sahih Muslim 3311—Aisha reported that Allah’s Apostle married her when she was seven years old, and she was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls were with her; and when he (the Holy Prophet) died she was eighteen years old.

Sunan Abu Dawud 2116—Aishah said: The Apostle of Allah married me when I was seven years old. (The narrator Sulaiman said: Or six years.) He had intercourse with me when I was nine years old.

This is just a sample of the early Muslim traditions reporting Muhammad’s marriage to the young Aisha, but it is sufficient to show that she certainly wasn’t fifteen years old at the time of the consummation, as some Muslims claim.

(For a fuller treatment of the early evidence regarding Muhammad’s marriage to the young Aisha, click here.)

In addition to traditions concerning Aisha’s age, various ahadith also provide details about how the relationship began and progressed:

Sahih al-Bukhari 3895—Narrated Aishah that the Prophet said to her, “You have been shown to me twice in my dream. I saw you pictured on a piece of silk and someone said (to me), ‘This is your wife.’ When I uncovered the picture, I saw that it was yours. I said, ‘If this is from Allah it will be accomplished.’”

After having this dream about Aisha (who couldn’t have been more than six years old at the time), Muhammad proceeded to ask her father Abu Bakr for her hand in marriage. Abu Bakr understandably objected at first, but Muhammad was able to persuade him to consent.

Sahih al-Bukhari 5081—Narrated Urwa: The Prophet asked Abu Bakr for Aishah’s hand in marriage. Abu Bakr said, “But I am your brother.” The Prophet said, “You are my brother in Allah’s religion and His Book, but she (Aishah) is lawful for me to marry.”

The marriage contract was subsequently written. However, Aisha became extremely ill, so she wasn’t taken to his house for consummation until three years later:

Sahih al-Bukhari 3894—Narrated Aishah: My marriage (wedding) contract with the Prophet was written when I was a girl of six (years). We came to Al-Madina and we dismounted at the place of Bani Al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on, my hair grew (again) and my mother, Umm Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became normal, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, “Best wishes and Allah’s Blessing and good luck.” Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah’s Messenger came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age.

Once Aisha was a part of Muhammad’s household, she became his favorite wife, even after he had married several other women. Indeed, Muhammad’s other wives had to plead with him for equal treatment (to no avail):

Sahih al-Bukhari 2581—Narrated Urwa that Aishah said: “The wives of Allah’s Messenger were in two groups.” Urwa added: One group consisted of Aishah, Hafsa, Safiyya and Sauda; and the other group consisted of Umm Salama and the other wives of Allah’s Messenger. The Muslims knew that Allah’s Messenger loved Aishah, so if any of them had a gift and wished to give to Allah’s Messenger, he would delay it till Allah’s Messenger had come to Aishah’s home and then he would send his gift to Allah’s Messenger in her home. The group of Umm Salama discussed the matter together and decided that Umm Salama should request Allah’s Messenger to tell the people to send their gifts to him in whatever wife’s house he was. Umm Salama told Allah’s Messenger of what they had said, but he did not reply. Then they (those wives) asked Umm Salama about it. She said, “He did not say anything to me.” They asked her to talk to him again. She talked to him again when she met him on her day, but he gave no reply. When they asked her, she replied that he had given no reply. They said to her, “Talk to him till he gives you a reply.” When it was her turn, she talked to him again. He then said to her, “Do not hurt me regarding Aishah, as the Divine Revelations do not come to me on any of the beds except that of Aishah.”

Thus, Aisha held a place of special favor among Muhammad’s wives, which caused a great deal of tension among the women. Since it may be taken as historically certain that Aisha was very young when her marriage to Muhammad was consummated, critics sometimes charge that Muhammad’s preference for Aisha reveals his preference for young girls. We find some amount of support for this view in Sahih al-Bukhari:

Sahih al-Bukhari 2967—Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah: . . . When I took the permission of Allah’s Messenger, he asked me whether I had married a virgin or a matron and I replied that I had married a matron. He said, “Why hadn’t you married a virgin who would have played with you, and you would have played with her?” I replied, “O Allah’s Messenger! My father died (or was martyred) and I have some young sisters, so I felt it not proper that I should marry a young girl like them who would neither teach them manners nor serve them.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 6130—Narrated Aishah: I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah’s Messenger used to enter (my dwelling place), they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me. (The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for Aishah at that time, as she was a little girl, not yet reached the age of puberty.)

Nevertheless, it must be noted that, if Muhammad had truly been obsessed with young girls, he could have taken many others as his wives. Muhammad eventually held complete power in Medina and later in Mecca, yet he didn’t build himself a harem of young girls. Since there isn’t enough evidence to support the charge that Muhammad had a perverted obsession with prepubescent girls, critics should be careful when making such a claim.

To sum up, the evidence makes it abundantly clear (1) that Muhammad had sexual intercourse with Aisha when she was very young, (2) that this relationship was pursued by Muhammad after he had dreamed about her, and (3) that she was his favorite wife. With so much historical data concerning the age of Aisha, it should be obvious that Muslims who deny her young age do so out of embarrassment.

SECOND MUSLIM DEFENSE: Morality is relative to one’s culture.

Another method of defending Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha is the Muslim appeal to moral relativism. According to this view, since different cultures have different standards of morality, it is wrong to criticize the standards of others based on one’s own ethical system. Consider the following responses by Maqsood Jafri and Abdur Rahman Squires:

The Arabs practiced polygamy. In the wake of custom the Prophet Muhammad married some ladies. Hazrat Khadijah was fifteen years older [than] him at the time of marriage. Most of them were his age sake. In his fifties he married Hazrat Aiysha, the daughter of Hazrat Abu Bakr when she was just bloomed to youth. Hinting this marriage some of the orientalists charge Prophet Muhammad as a “pedophile”. It was not only the Prophet Muhammad who had married a young girl [but] even the father of Hazrat Aiysha, Hazrat Abu Bakr had also married a young girl in his sixties. It was . . . part of the prevalent Arab culture and custom. Hence not to be taken seriously. (Source)

The large majority of Islamic jurists say that the earliest time which a marriage can be consummated is at the onset of sexual maturity (bulugh), meaning puberty. Since this was the norm of all Semitic cultures and it still is the norm of many cultures today—it is certainly not something that Islam invented. (Source)

Thus, since the practice of marrying young girls was “part of the prevalent Arab culture and custom,” it is “not to be taken seriously” as a criticism of Islam.

RESPONSE: Islam is utterly inconsistent with moral relativism.

This defense is truly amazing, for, when defending Muhammad’s moral perfection, Muslims often maintain that Muhammad condemned the Arab culture for its immorality. Abul A’la Mawdudi describes Muhammad’s moral stance as follows:

After spending his life in such chaste, pure and civilized manner, there comes a revolution in [Muhammad’s] being. He wearies of the darkness and ignorance, corruption, immorality, idolatry, and disorder which surround him on all sides. . . . He wants to get hold of that power with which he might bring about the downfall of the corrupt and disorderly world and lay the foundations of a new and better one. . . . He wanted to change the whole structure of society which had been handed down to them from time immemorial. (Mawdudi, pp. 53, 56)

Muslims are quick to point out immorality around the world, especially in the West. It seems, then, that they are presenting a very inconsistent message. When confronted with an immoral practice in another culture, Muslims cry out in one accord, “We condemn these practices, for they are against the eternal, perfect, and unalterable Law of God!” Yet, whenever the moral character of Muhammad is being scrutinized, Muslims suddenly say, “Don’t judge Muhammad! You should remember that he was from a different culture! Marrying young girls was common in Arabia, and it still is, thanks to Muhammad’s precedent. Different people have different moral standards, so no one should worry about Muhammad’s sexual relationship with a nine-year-old girl.”

This convenient switch from moral absolutism to moral relativism is logically unacceptable. If it is wrong to judge the practices of another culture, then both Muhammad and the Qur’an were wrong for condemning immoral practices in Arabia. But if condemning immoral practices is acceptable, then Muslim apologists need a better response to criticisms of Muhammad’s relationship with Aisha.

We should also note that, because Muhammad is described as the ideal pattern of conduct in the Qur’an (33:21), Muhammad’s actions, according to Islam, can never be wrong. In other words, if Muhammad is the pattern of conduct that Muslims are supposed to follow, and Muhammad had sex with a nine-year-old girl, then marriage to young girls can’t even be wrong in our day, since Muhammad is still the pattern of conduct for Muslims. This is precisely why the practice of marrying child-brides continues in the Muslim world. Islamic clerics recognize that the practice can’t be condemned without thereby condemning Muhammad.

THIRD MUSLIM DEFENSE: Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha was part of God’s plan.

Muslim apologists have developed another answer to Muhammad’s critics, namely, that Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha was part of God’s divine plan (i.e., God had an important reason for it). Consider two such responses by Abdul Hamid Siddiqi and Abdur Rahman Squires:

It should be borne in mind that, like all acts of the Holy Prophet, even this marriage had a Divine purpose behind it. Hazrat Aisha was a precocious girl and was developing both in mind and body with rapidity peculiar to such rare personalities. She was admitted to the house of the Holy Prophet just at the threshold of her puberty, the most impressionable and formative period of her life. It was the Holy Prophet who nurtured her sensibilities and directed the growth of her faculties to the most fruitful channel and thus she was made to play an eminent role in the history of Islam. Moreover, she was the only virgin lady to enter the House of the Holy Prophet and was thus very competent to share the feelings of other ladies of younger age who had numerous questions to ask from the Holy Prophet with regard to sexual ethics and morality. These ladies felt shy of asking them through the elderly wives of the Holy Prophet out of modesty. They could speak out their minds comparatively more freely to Aisha who was more or less of their own age group. (Siddiqi, Note on Sahih Muslim 1860)

Puberty is a biological sign which shows that a woman is capable of bearing children. Can anyone logically deny this? Part of the wisdom behind the Prophet Muhammad’s marriage to Aishah just after she reached puberty is to firmly establish this as a point of Islamic Law, even though it was already a cultural norm in all Semitic societies (including the one Jesus grew up in). (Source)

Here Muslim apologists argue that Muhammad married Aisha for a divine purpose. Young girls who had questions about sex needed someone to talk to, and who better for this task than the young wife of the Prophet? Further, Muhammad wanted to establish puberty as an appropriate age for marriage, so he decided to demonstrate this rule by marrying Aisha.

RESPONSE: Muslims have failed to offer a sufficient reason for God to ordain the marriage.

There are numerous problems with this line of defense. First, such a response could be used to justify nearly any behavior. Consider a husband on trial for beating his wife. When he takes the stand, he explains, “Your Honor, many women are victims of spousal abuse, and they need someone to talk to. Out of the kindness of my heart, I decided to beat my wife, so that she would be able to comfort other women whose husbands beat them.” This explanation would never be accepted (except, perhaps, in countries under Islamic rule, where Qur’an 4:34 guarantees a husband’s right to beat his wife). Besides, if Muhammad had simply outlawed sex with children instead of becoming a willing participant, little girls wouldn’t have to worry about sex, and they wouldn’t need to question Aisha.

Second, it isn’t necessary for a lawgiver to institute laws by performing actions that create a precedent. In other words, Muhammad didn’t need to marry a young girl in order establish a law about marrying girls who had reached puberty. Muhammad, as Islam’s lawgiver, could have simply issued a decree. For instance, Muhammad allowed husbands to beat their wives. Was it necessary for Muhammad to beat his wives in order to establish this as a law? Certainly not (even though he did beat Aisha in Sahih Muslim 2127). Similarly, when an American lawmaker says that killing someone in self-defense is acceptable, no one argues that the lawmaker must go out and kill someone in self-defense for his law to stand. Hence, the argument that Muhammad needed to marry a young girl to establish puberty as the appropriate age for marriage completely fails.

Third, the Muslim claim that Aisha was a “precocious child” strains the evidence. As we have seen, Aisha herself reports that, when she was taken to Muhammad’s house, she was playing on a swing with her friends. She was also still playing with dolls. Based on the evidence, Aisha sounds like a normal little girl, not like a young adult. Moreover, Muhammad didn’t marry her because she was precocious; he married her because he was dreaming about her.

Fourth, God couldn’t have been using Muhammad’s relationship with Aisha to establish puberty as the minimum age for marriage, since the Qur’an clearly allows marriage to prepubescent girls. According to Surah 2:228, if a Muslim man wants to divorce his wife, he should wait until she has gone through three monthly cycles (i.e., three periods) in order to make sure that she isn’t pregnant. But the question later arose: What about wives who do not have monthly cycles? How long should their husbands wait to divorce them? The Qur’an answers this question in Surah 65:4, where it gives divorce rules for (1) women who do not have monthly cycles because they are too old, (2) girls who do not have monthly cycles because they are too young, and (3) women and girls who do not have monthly cycles because they are pregnant. The verse declares that, if Muslim men want to divorce girls who haven’t yet reached puberty, they must wait three months (after having sex with them). The verse reads:

Qur’an 65:4 (Hilali-Khan)—And those of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the ‘Iddah (prescribed period), if you have doubts (about their periods), is three months, and for those who have no courses [(i.e. they are still immature) their ‘Iddah (prescribed period) is three months likewise, except in case of death]. And for those who are pregnant (whether they are divorced or their husbands are dead), their ‘Iddah (prescribed period) is until they deliver (their burdens), and whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make his matter easy for him.

In case there is confusion about the meaning of this verse, here are three classic Muslim commentaries on 65:4:

Tafsir Ibn Kathir—Allah the Exalted clarifies the waiting period of the woman in menopause. And that is the one whose menstruation has stopped due to her older age. Her `Iddah is three months instead of the three monthly cycles for those who menstruate, which is based upon the Ayah in (Surat) Al-Baqarah [see 2:228]. The same for the young, who have not reached the years of menstruation. Their `Iddah is three months like those in menopause.

Tafsir al-Jalalayn—And [as for] those of your women who (read allà’ï or allà’i in both instances) no longer expect to menstruate, if you have any doubts, about their waiting period, their prescribed [waiting] period shall be three months, and [also for] those who have not yet menstruated, because of their young age, their period shall [also] be three months.

Tafsir Ibn Abbas—(And for such of your women as despair of menstruation) because of old age, (if ye doubt) about their waiting period, (their period (of waiting) shall be three months) upon which another man asked: “O Messenger of Allah! What about the waiting period of those who do not have menstruation because they are too young?” (along with those who have it not) because of young age, their waiting period is three months.

Hence, unless Muslims expect us to believe that God wanted Muhammad to marry Aisha in order to refute the Qur’an, they must abandon this response. (I could also point out that, according to Muslim sources, Aisha hadn’t reached puberty by the time Muhammad consummated his marriage with her. Click here for sources proving that Aisha was still prepubescent when she was taken to Muhammad’s house.)

Fifth, Muslims search for reasons that would justify Muhammad’s relationship with Aisha because they are convinced that everything Muhammad did had a divine purpose behind it. When critics point out Muhammad’s numerous murders and assassinations, Muslims claim that these violent acts were fair and just. When critics note the extent of Muhammad’s polygamy, or his participation in the slave-trade, or his countless robberies (click here for references), Muslims provide answers based on the view that Muhammad was an outstanding moral example. Similarly, when Muslims are confronted with the evidence for Muhammad’s sexual encounters with Aisha, they assume that there must have been a reason for it. They then invent reasons for Muhammad’s behavior (i.e., the other little girls needed someone to talk to about sex), and they offer these reasons as a defense of Muhammad’s morality. However, non-Muslims do not share this confidence in Muhammad’s moral perfection. When non-Muslims hear about Muhammad’s violence, his greed, his polygamy, and his support of spousal abuse, we aren’t as quick to exonerate Muhammad as Muslims are. Because of this, Muslim justifications for Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha sound hollow when presented as a defense of his actions.

Finally, Muslim explanations for Muhammad’s behavior fail to take into account the dangers that accompany sex at a young age. Many Muslims assume that, as soon as a young girl gets her first period, she is suddenly ready to bear children. This “old enough to bleed, old enough to breed” mentality, aside from being disgusting, is completely false. A nine-year-old girl isn’t ready for sex or childbirth, even if she reaches menses earlier than other little girls. Children that young are still growing. When they become pregnant, their bodies divert nutritional resources to the developing fetus, depriving the growing girls of much-needed vitamins and minerals. Further, complications often result from adolescent pregnancies, because the bodies of the young girls simply aren’t ready to give birth.

(For a discussion of child-brides, click here.)

Western nations, unfettered by blind allegiance to seventh-century Arab ethics, have long discerned the dangers posed by adolescent pregnancies. Muslim apologists often claim that marriage to young girls was common in biblical times. This may be correct, but it has nothing to do with God endorsing the practice. Whereas many Christian countries have recognized the potential harms brought on by pregnancies among adolescent girls and have raised the legal age for marriage, Muslim countries are often kept from such advancements specifically because of Muhammad. This is very interesting, for Muslims frequently claim that Muhammad was scientifically enlightened and that the Qur’an is a scientific masterpiece. In reality, Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha is causing health problems (and even death) for young girls across the Middle East and North Africa, and has been doing so for nearly fourteen centuries. The dangers have even been noted by the United Nations, which issued the following report in an attempt to curb Islamic child marriage:

Traditional cultural practices reflect values and beliefs held by members of a community for periods often spanning generations. Every social grouping in the world has specific traditional cultural practices and beliefs, some of which are beneficial to all members, while others are harmful to a specific group, such as women. These harmful traditional practices include female genital mutilation (FGM); forced feeding of women; early marriage; the various taboos or practices which prevent women from controlling their own fertility; nutritional taboos and traditional birth practices; son preference and its implications for the status of the girl child; female infanticide; early pregnancy; and dowry price. Despite their harmful nature and their violation of international human rights laws, such practices persist because they are not questioned and take on an aura of morality in the eyes of those practicing them.

Child marriage robs a girl of her childhood-time necessary to develop physically, emotionally and psychologically. In fact, early marriage inflicts great emotional stress as the young woman is removed from her parents’ home to that of her husband and in-laws. Her husband, who will invariably be many years her senior, will have little in common with a young teenager. It is with this strange man that she has to develop an intimate emotional and physical relationship. She is obliged to have intercourse, although physically she might not be fully developed.

Health complications that result from early marriage in the Middle East and North Africa, for example, include the risk of operative delivery, low weight and malnutrition resulting from frequent pregnancies and lactation in the period of life when the young mothers are themselves still growing.

Early pregnancy can have harmful consequences for both young mothers and their babies. According to UNICEF, no girl should become pregnant before the age of 18 because she is not yet physically ready to bear children. Babies of mothers younger than 18 tend to be born premature and have low body weight; such babies are more likely to die in the first year of life. The risk to the young mother’s own health is also greater. Poor health is common among indigent pregnant and lactating women.

In many parts of the developing world, especially in rural areas, girls marry shortly after puberty and are expected to start having children immediately. Although the situation has improved since the early 1980’s, in many areas the majority of girls under 20 years of age are already married and having children. Although many countries have raised the legal age for marriage, this has had little impact on traditional societies where marriage and child-bearing confer “status” on a woman.

An additional health risk to young mothers is obstructed labor, which occurs when the baby’s head is too big for the orifice of the mother. This provokes vesicovaginal fistulas, especially when an untrained traditional birth attendant forces the baby’s head out unduly. (Source)

Contrary to Muslim claims, a nine-year-old girl just isn’t ready for sexual intercourse or for its possible ramifications (i.e., pregnancy, giving birth, breast-feeding, and raising a child). It is unnecessarily dangerous, for a much safer relationship could be crafted if the marriage were to take place several years later, when the girl reaches her late teens. Muslims may respond here by arguing, “But Aisha never became pregnant, so none of this matters.” Yet it does matter. Every year, countless young girls, still playing with dolls, are taken to live with much older husbands. If these husbands were to be challenged, they wouldn’t respond by saying, “But it’s part of Arabic culture”; instead, they would reply, “It can’t be wrong, because Muhammad did it.” In other words, even if we grant the bizarre claim that Aisha was somehow ready for sex and marriage, most nine-year-old girls aren’t ready for sex and marriage. But the practice of marrying children continues to this day in many Muslim countries, largely because Muslims hold up Muhammad as their highest role model.

FOURTH MUSLIM DEFENSE: The average lifespan in Muhammad’s day was so low that people had to marry young.

Muslim debater Osama Abdallah argues that Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha was justified, because people in Muhammad’s day needed to marry early:

Life 1400 years ago was very rough in the too hot desert. From my personal knowledge, the average life span back then was 50 years. People used to die from all kinds of diseases. Both parents of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) for instance, died natural deaths before he even knew them. (Source)

On this view, since people could die at any time in the “hot desert,” they would get married at a very early age to make sure they had as many years together as possible.

RESPONSE: Muhammad was already more than fifty years old when he consummated his marriage to Aisha, so there was no need for him to marry such a young girl.

Abdallah’s claim might make sense if Muhammad had been nine or ten years old when he married Aisha. But the Prophet of Islam was already well advanced in years. He was far closer to death than most available women, so why not marry an adult instead of a child? At the very least, why not marry a fully developed twenty-year-old instead of a little girl playing on a swing? By marrying Aisha when she was so young, Muhammad was, in effect, condemning her to a life of widowhood, for the Qur’an barred Muslims from marrying Muhammad’s widows (33:53). Beyond all this, Abdallah’s argument ignores the facts. Muhammad didn’t marry Aisha because the average life span was fifty years old; instead, he married her because (1) he had been dreaming about her, and (2) he had the power to persuade Abu Bakr to give him his daughter in marriage.

FIFTH MUSLIM DEFENSE: Other people have done it too—even Christians!

Abdallah also employs an “everybody’s doing it, so it’s okay” defense:

Not only was it a custom in the Arab society to Engage/Marry a young girl, it was also common in the Jewish society. The case of Mary the mother of Jesus comes to mind. In non biblical sources she was between 11-14 years old when she conceived Jesus. Mary had already been “BETROTHED” to Joseph before conceiving Jesus. Joseph was a much older man. Therefore Mary was younger than 11-14 years of age when she was “BETROTHED” to Joseph. We Muslims would never call Joseph a Child Molester, nor would we refer to the “Holy Ghost” of the Bible, that “Impregnated” Mary as a “Rapist” or “Adulterer.” (Source)

RESPONSE: Besides committing the “tu quoque” fallacy, this defense misses the point of the criticism against Muhammad.

Tu quoque is a type of fallacy that attempts to ignore a criticism because of some hypocrisy found in the critic. For instance, suppose I’m a thief. One day, I catch someone stealing my car, and I say, “Stop, Thief!” If the person stealing my car turns to me and says, “But you’re a thief too, so it’s not wrong for me to steal,” he will be committing the tu quoque fallacy. (It’s not okay to steal just because other people steal.)

Muslims rely heavily on the tu quoque. When people criticize Islam for terrorism, it’s common to hear Muslims say, “But Americans are killing Arabs!” as if this were a meaningful response to the charge. Likewise, when someone says, “Look at all the people Muhammad killed,” Muslims respond by saying, “But people were killed in the Bible too.”

To say that Joseph married a young girl in the Bible does nothing to address the problem of Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha. At best, such a defense would only show that Christians are being inconsistent. But in reality, the Muslim defense doesn’t even show this, since their comparison fails, for several reasons.

First, there is no real historical data reporting the age of Mary when she married Joseph. True, given the custom of the time, she was probably fairly young, perhaps as young as twelve or thirteen. But since we have no historical references to her age, we can’t rule out the possibility that Mary was twenty years old. The point here is this: people criticize Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha based on what we know (i.e., that Aisha was nine years old), whereas Muslims reply based on what we don’t know (i.e., the age of Mary).

Second, we must not forget that, biologically, thirteen-year-old girls are very different from nine-year-old girls. Nine-year-old girls typically haven’t reached menses. In a best-case scenario for Abdallah’s defense, a girl this young may have just entered the beginning stages of puberty (note: puberty is a process that lasts several years). A thirteen-year-old girl, on the other hand, may be coming to the end of puberty. Thus, even if we grant a young age for Mary, there would still be a world of difference between her and Aisha.

Third, Muslim apologists seem to miss the fact that Joseph is not the standard of morality in Christianity. When critics point to the age of Aisha, they are arguing something like this: “You’re trying to tell me that Muhammad was the greatest moral example of all time and that I should believe everything he says? I can’t believe that a person who would have sex with a little girl was the greatest man ever.” More simply, Muhammad is foundational to Islam. If there is a problem with Muhammad, there is a problem with Islam. If Muhammad was immoral, then it becomes difficult to take his teachings seriously. Thus, it makes no sense for a Muslim to say, “Well, Joseph married a young girl too.” Joseph isn’t foundational to Christianity. If an ancient text were found tomorrow, and this ancient text proved that Joseph was an axe-murderer, Christianity wouldn’t be affected at all, because Christians don’t consider him to be a prophet, or a bringer of revelation, or even an important figure in Christianity. Thus, if Muslims want to show that Christians are being inconsistent, they need to show that Jesus, or Peter, or Paul, or someone central to Christianity, did the things that Muhammad did. Fortunately, Jesus was sinless, and the apostles lived exemplary lives once they had committed themselves to Jesus.

The Internet is filled with examples of Muslim responses of this sort. Muslim websites constantly note that young girls are married in various countries and that these young girls sometimes give birth. No one doubts this. The problem is that this has nothing to do with whether or not marriage to a nine-year-old girl is morally acceptable for a mighty prophet. The fact that Muslims are forced to resort to an “everyone’s doing it” defense shows that they have run out of responses.

ASSESSMENT: Two Interpretations of “Pedophile.”

Muhammad unquestionably had sex with Aisha when she was nine years old. Does this make him a pedophile? Our answer to this question will depend on our definition of “pedophile.” In common usage, as well as in some dictionaries and even certain medical dictionaries, a “pedophile” is defined as anyone who is attracted to a young girl or boy. Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, for instance, defines “pedophilia” as “the act or fantasy on the part of an adult of engaging in sexual activity with a child or children” (Source). Since Muhammad had sex with a child, he been called a “pedophile” in this sense in numerous writings, sermons, and conversations.

The term “pedophile” has a more specific clinical use, however, where a “pedophile” is someone who has an exclusive or primary sexual interest in children. For example, The Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders defines “pedophilia” as “a psychosexual disorder in which the fantasy or actual act of engaging in sexual activity with prepubertal children is the preferred or exclusive means of achieving sexual excitement and gratification” (Source). Because Muhammad was sexually attracted to women and girls of various ages (including Khadijah, who was 15 years his senior), he would not be a pedophile in this more specific sense.

Hence, given the ambiguity of the term, care should be used when applying it. Indeed, since the term is commonly understood in the narrower sense, critics of Islam may be better off not using it at all. (Needless to say, people who are interested in maintaining an ongoing discussion with Muslims should avoid emotionally charged terms whenever possible.)

Nevertheless, Muslims are too hasty in dismissing objections to Muhammad’s relationship with Aisha. When Muslims tell us to convert to Islam, we can’t simply ignore their prophet’s marriage to a nine-year-old girl. Muslims view Muhammad as the highest example of a moral life, but his marriage to Aisha conflicts with that view. If they want to put Muhammad forward as the pattern of conduct for all humanity, Muslims need to come to terms with the many questionable things he did, as well as the catastrophic impact of his actions.

There is, of course, a simple (but highly explicit) way to evaluate the importance of Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha. We must begin by trying to get a mental picture of a morally perfect man. For Muslims, this will include all the things they have been taught about Muhammad. According to their picture, he is kind, generous, patient, humble, and trustworthy. He protects orphans and widows, endures persecution, helps the needy, and promotes justice. He prays faithfully, fasts regularly, and obeys God in everything. He is loyal to his friends and patient with his enemies. He never gives in when tempted with evil. Now we must picture this same man in a room with an innocent little girl. He takes away her doll, climbs on top of her, and forces his penis inside her. She doesn’t know what is happening because she is too young to know much about sex. Frightened and confused, she cries because of the pain and bleeds on her bed, but she tries to remain quiet out of respect for her new husband, who, in return, endangers her life.

If a person is able to keep the same vision of moral perfection throughout this description, he may have the faith necessary to be a Muslim. But if his vision of the perfect man is at odds with what Muhammad did on numerous occasions, he will need to look elsewhere for an ideal human being.

WORKS CITED

Ali, Maulana Muhammad. Muhammad the Prophet (St. Lambert: Payette and Sims, 1993).
Mawdudi, Abul A’la. Towards Understanding Islam (Islamic Circle of North America, 1986).
Sahih al-Bukhari, Muhammad Muhsin Khan, tr. (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 1997).
Sahih Muslim, Abdul Hamid Siddiqi, tr. (New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 2000).
Sunan Abu Dawud, Ahmad Hasan, tr. (New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 2000).

By David Wood

Don’t Lose Your Head! – Four Reasons for the Early Spread of Islam

Don’t Lose Your Head! – Four Reasons for the Early Spread of Islam

By David Wood

Muslims often cite the early spread of Islam as evidence of its divine origin. While history shows that Islam spread rapidly, many Muslims (and many non-Muslims) have a distorted picture of why it spread rapidly. For instance, in a popular Islamic apologetic, Mawdudi claims that Islam spread because of Muhammad’s eloquence and conviction:

When [Muhammad] began preaching his Message, all of Arabia stood in awe and wonder and was bewitched by his wonderful eloquence and oratory. It was so impressive and captivating that his worst enemies were afraid of hearing it, lest it should penetrate deep into the recesses of their hearts and carry them off their feet making them forsake their old religion and culture. . . . He came before them as an illustrious politician, a great leader, a judge of the highest eminence, and an incomparable general. . . . A nation which for centuries had produced not one single great man worthy of that name now gave birth, under his influence and guidance, to thousands of noble souls who were to travel to far-off corners of the earth to preach and teach the principles of religion, morality and civilization. He accomplished this feat not through any lure, oppression or cruelty, but by his captivating manner, his winsome personality, and the conviction of his teachings. With his noble and gentle behavior, he befriended even his enemies. He captured the hearts of the people with his boundless sympathy and human kindness. . . . By his forceful personality, he made a permanent impression on the hearts of thousands of his disciples and molded them according to his liking. . . . Can anyone cite another example of a maker of history of such distinction, another revolutionary of such brilliance and splendor?[1]

Mawdudi apparently finds it impressive that early Muslims converted to Islam because of Muhammad’s “eloquence and oratory,” “his captivating manner,” and “the conviction of his teachings.” Yet these are feeble motives for conversion: many Germans committed themselves to Adolf Hitler’s political movement for the exact same reasons. Nevertheless, even if these grounds were entirely justified, Mawdudi still presents us with an incomplete picture. There are many other reasons for the rapid spread of Islam, but Muslims are understandably ashamed of acknowledging them. Let us briefly discuss four such reasons.

Reason One: Muhammad’s Ability to Breed Rage in His Followers

Historically, we know of at least one individual who was so impressed by Islam’s ability to inspire men to kill without question that he concluded that Islam must be true:

The apostle said, “Kill any Jew that falls into your power.” Thereupon Muhayyisa bin Mas’ud leapt upon Ibn Sunayna, a Jewish merchant with whom they had social and business relations, and killed him. Huwayyisa was not a Muslim at the time though he was the elder brother. When Muhayyisa killed him Huwayyisa began to beat him, saying, “You enemy of God, did you kill him when much of the fat on your belly comes from his wealth?” Muhayyisa answered, “Had the one who ordered me to kill him ordered me to kill you I would have cut your head off.” He said that this was the beginning of Huwayyisa’s acceptance of Islam. The other replied, “By God, if Muhammad had ordered you to kill me would you have killed me?” He said, “Yes, by God, had he ordered me to cut off your head I would have done so.” He exclaimed, “By God, a religion which can bring you to this is marvelous!” And he became a Muslim.[2]

In this passage, Muhammad tells his followers to “Kill any Jew that falls into your power.” Muhayyisa, acting on Muhammad’s orders, kills a Jewish merchant named Ibn Sunayna. Huwayyisa doesn’t understand how Muhayyisa could turn against a friend of the family so quickly, so Muhayyisa explains it to him. Essentially, Muhayyisa’s justification for the murder is that Muhammad told him to do it, and that, if commanded by Muhammad, he would murder anyone, even his own family. Huwayyisa is much impressed by his brother’s willingness to mindlessly follow the orders of Muhammad, so he converts to Islam, shouting, “By God, a religion which can bring you to this [i.e. a readiness to kill your own family] is marvelous!”

Huwayyisa’s admiration for his brother’s dedication was probably shared by many in the early hours of the Islamic Empire. Young men without direction were suddenly transformed into ardent followers of a new system of belief, and they would do anything for their prophet. “Surely there must be something to this new religion,” people would think. Even so, the devotion of believers is not an infallible test for truth. If it were, we would have to conclude that Christianity, Mormonism, Islam, Buddhism, communism, and Nazism are all true, for all of these systems have produced dedicated adherents.

Reason Two: Patently False Prophecies

Many people were impressed when Muhammad spoke. He seemed to know everything, and he confidently answered difficult questions that no one else could answer. The problem is that many of his answers later turned out to be completely false. Consider the following answers given by Muhammad:

When Abdullah bin Salama heard of the arrival of the Prophet (the blessing and peace of Allah be upon him) at Madina, he came to him and said: “I am asking you about three things which nobody knows but a prophet: What is the first portent of the Hour? What will be the first meal taken by the people of Paradise? Why does a child resemble its father, and why does it resemble its maternal uncle?” Allah’s Apostle (the blessing and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Gabriel has just now told me of their answers.” . . . “The first portent of the Hour will be a fire that will bring together the people from the east to the west; the first meal of the people of Paradise will be extra-lobe of fish-liver. As for the resemblance of the child to its parents: If a man has sexual intercourse with his wife and gets discharge first, the child will resemble the father, and if the woman gets discharge first, the child will resemble her.” On that Abdullah bin Salam said: “I testify that you are the Apostle of Allah.”[3]

Here Muhammad is presented with three questions: (1) What is the sign that the end is coming? (2) What will the first meal in Heaven be? (3) How come a child sometimes looks like its father, but other times resembles its mother’s family? Notice that Muhammad’s answers to the first two questions—a great fire in the end-times and fish-liver in heaven—are utterly unfalsifiable; that is, it is impossible to test them or prove them wrong. Muhammad could have just as easily claimed that the “portent of the hour” will be that three frogs will recite the Qur’an, and that the first meal in heaven will be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. In other words, we have no reason to think that Muhammad’s answers are correct, for we have no way to test their accuracy. Even so, Muhammad’s third answer is falsifiable; it can easily be tested in the light of modern science. So how does Muhammad’s answer stand up to criticism? Not very well. Women don’t have a “discharge” that contributes to the appearance of the offspring. They have an egg, but this isn’t a discharge. Further, a child’s appearance has nothing to do with which parent has the first discharge. Muhammad’s answer, as it turns out, is wrong.

But notice that his answer won him an important Jewish convert, who was amazed at Muhammad’s brilliance. One of Muhammad’s greatest strengths was that he had complete confidence in his own answers, yet this confidence was misplaced. His assurance led others to believe that he must be correct, but he wasn’t. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Muhammad’s proclamations is that Muslims have never recovered from their awe at his claims, even though many of these claims have been shown to be false. To this day, Muslims retain their misplaced confidence in the sayings of their prophet, and Muhammad’s answers are still winning converts.

(For more on Muhammad’s scientific blunders, see “Talking Ants and Shrinking Humans.”)

Reason Three: Boundless Greed

Muhammad made an enticing guarantee to those who joined him in his struggle:

[Muhammad said]: “The example of a Struggle in Allah’s Cause—and Allah knows better who really strives in His Cause—is like a person who fasts and prays continuously. Allah guarantees that He will admit the Struggler in His cause into Paradise if he is killed, otherwise He will return him to his home safely with rewards and war booty.”[4]

[Muhammad] said: “Khosrau will be ruined, and there will be no Khosrau after him, and Caesar will surely be ruined and there will be no Caesar after him, and you will spend their treasures in Allah’s Cause.”[5]

If a seventh century pagan Arab rejected Islam, he was guaranteed nothing. He may be poor all his life, and he wouldn’t know what would happen to him when he died. But Muhammad guaranteed that if a person dies fighting Islam’s enemies, he will enter Paradise, and that even if he survives, he will return home “safely with rewards and war booty.” Either way, pagans were much better off (financially) if they became Muslims.

This promise of rewards and war booty was an important factor in the early spread of Islam. Indeed, using war booty to win converts was part of Muhammad’s strategy. For example, when Muhammad was accused of distributing the spoils of war unevenly, he replied, “Are you disturbed in mind because of the good things of this life by which I win over a people that they may become Muslims while I entrust you to your Islam?”[6] Imam Muslim adds: “[W]hen the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) conquered Hunain he distributed the booty, and he bestowed upon those whose hearts it was intended to win.”[7]

Muhammad’s promises of wealth were so great that, when difficulties arose, his followers sometimes complained that he wasn’t delivering on all that he had promised:

The situation became serious and fear was everywhere. The enemy came at them from above and below until the believers imagined vain things, and disaffection was rife among the disaffected to the point that Ma’attib bin Qusyahr brother of B. Amr bin Auf said, “Muhammad used to promise us that we should eat the treasures of Chosroes and Caesar and today not one of us can feel safe in going to the privy!”[8]

These passages stress the importance of wealth and booty as a motive for conversion. Muhammad promised his followers that they would one day spend the treasures of Caesar. He distributed war booty after every military campaign, and he used his wealth to win converts. Thus, many early Muslims embraced the religion with impure motives, yet Muhammad saw nothing wrong with such conversions.

Reason Four: Fear of Death

Muhammad’s personality, conviction, and eloquence certainly played a role in winning people to Islam. However, he won few supporters when he relied on his “winsome personality” and sincerity to spread Islam. It is only when Muhammad turned to violence and oppression that we find large conversions to Islam. For instance, Muslim writings report a large number of conversions that took place after the assassination of a woman who had criticized Islam:

When the apostle heard what she had said he said, “Who will rid me of Marwan’s daughter?” Umayr bin Adiy al-Khatmi who was with him heard him, and that very night he went to her house and killed her. In the morning he came to the apostle and told him what he had done and he said, “You have helped God and His apostle, O Umayr!” When he asked if he would have to bear any evil consequences the apostle said, “Two goats won’t butt their heads about her,” so Umayr went back to his people. . . . The day after Bint Marwan was killed the men of B. Khatma became Muslims because they saw the power of Islam.[9]

Whereas the men of Khatma became Muslims when they saw Islam’s power over others, many individuals converted because their own lives were in danger. Ka’b bin Zuhayr heard from his brother that Muhammad “had killed some of the men in Mecca who had satirized and insulted him and that the Quraysh poets who were left . . . had fled in all directions.”[10] The brother then suggested that Ka’b go to Muhammad and convert before it was too late. Ka’b heeded his brother’s advice:

When Ka’b received the missive he was deeply distressed and anxious for his life. His enemies in the neighbourhood spread alarming reports about him saying that he was as good as slain. Finding no way out, he wrote his ode in which he praised the apostle and mentioned his fear and the slanderous reports of his enemies. Then he set out for Medina and stayed with a man of Juhayna whom he knew, according to my information. He took him to the apostle when he was praying morning prayers, and he prayed with him. The man pointed out the apostle to him and told him to go and ask for his life. He got up and went and sat by the apostle and placed his hand in his, the apostle not knowing who he was. He said, “O apostle, Ka’b bin Zhayr has come to ask security from you as a repentant Muslim. Would you accept him as such if he came to you?” When the apostle said that he would, he confessed that he was Ka’b bin Zuhayr.[11]

History also shows that some were directly threatened with death (in the presence of Muhammad) if they didn’t convert:

[Muhammad] said: “Woe to you, Abu Sufyan, isn’t it time that you recognize that I am God’s apostle?” He answered, “As to that I still have some doubt.” I said to him, “Submit and testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the apostle of God before you lose your head,” so he did so.[12]

Abu Sufyan doubted the prophethood of Muhammad, yet he was told to convert before he lost his head. Fully aware of the countless people that had been murdered by Muhammad, Abu Sufyan submitted to the Prophet.

Thus, fear of death played a crucial role in converting people to Islam. Since Islam didn’t really take root until Muhammad began spreading it through violence, fear of death may have been the single most important factor in the early spread of Islam.

(For more on Muhammad’s violence, see “Murdered by Muhammad.”)

Assessment

There are many reasons for the early spread of Islam. Muhammad won numerous converts due to his conviction and sincerity, and many were impressed by his acts of kindness, charitable deeds, and dedication to prayer. Nevertheless, these aren’t necessarily good reasons to convert to a religion. We might reasonably infer that a true prophet will be sincere and dedicated to his religion, but we can’t thereby conclude that a sincere and dedicated individual must be a true prophet. Many religious leaders throughout history have shared certain admirable qualities; this doesn’t mean that they were all speaking the truth.

In choosing a religion, a person’s soul may very well hang in the balance; it is therefore not a matter to be taken lightly. Conversion should be a turn towards the truth, not merely a turn towards a “winsome personality.” As we have seen, people dedicated themselves to Islam because they were impressed by its ability to inspire men to commit murder. They chose Islam because Muhammad had complete confidence in his revelations, even though many of these revelations turned out to be false. Muhammad won converts by enticing them with riches and by threatening them with death. These aren’t good reasons to adopt a system of belief.

This isn’t to say that there are no good reasons for committing oneself to a religion. I’m only suggesting that we must be very careful about where we place our faith, for false teachings and false teachers abound in our world. But the truth is out there; it’s simply not found in Islam. However, there is another religion that, like Islam, spread very rapidly. Like the early Muslims, its followers were dedicated. Like Muhammad, its founder was sincere and eloquent. Yet it didn’t spread through violence,[13] or through false prophecies, or through the enticement of worldly riches. Instead, it spread because its founder, Jesus of Nazareth, had risen from the dead. This miracle showed that God had approved of Jesus’ teachings, and that we should all therefore give heed to his message. But what was his message? Jesus said that he would die on the cross for the sins of the world, and that, by putting our faith in him, we would gain eternal life. Christianity is the only religion that has this historical verification to prove its authenticity. It is the only religion we can know is true. The early Christians, then, unlike the early Muslims, had a very good reason for converting.


This article is a revised version of an essay that originally appeared on www.answeringinfidels.com.


Notes:

1 Abul, A’la Mawdudi, Towards Understanding Islam (New York: Islamic Circle of North America, 1986), p. 58, 59, 67.

2 Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah (The Life of Muhammad), A. Guillaume, tr. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), p. 369.

3 Sahih Al-Bukhari, Dr. Muhammad Matraji, tr. (New Delhi: Islamic Book Service, 2002), Number 3329.

4 Sahih Al-Bukhari, Number 2787.

5 Ibid., Number 3027.

6 Ibn Ishaq, p. 596.

7 Sahih Muslim, Abdul Hamid Siddiqi, tr., Number 2313.

8 Ibn Ishaq, pp. 453-454.

9 Ibid., p. 676.

10 Ibid., p. 597.

11 Ibid., p. 598.

12 Ibid., p. 547.

13 Muslims may respond by arguing that Christianity used violence during the Crusades, Inquisition, etc. However, it must be noted, first, that Christianity only used violence after it merged with the Roman Empire. Once the Church was in league with the Roman emperors, it opted for the Roman way of doing things. This was an error on the part of Christians, but it has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus. Violence had no part in the early spread of Christianity. Second, this use of violence was contrary to Jesus’ teachings (see Matthew 5:38-47). Hence, whereas violence is completely consistent with both the words and deeds of Muhammad, it is inconsistent with the words and deeds of Jesus.

 

By David Wood

Nadir Ahmed: Taqiyya Incarnate

Nadir Ahmed: Taqiyya Incarnate

By David Wood

I’ve known for a long time that Nadir Ahmed’s debate career would be coming to an end. Thus, I’ve never really felt it necessary to stress his efforts to deceive Christians. Nadir believes that it is acceptable to lie to his debate opponents in a desperate attempt to gain an advantage over them. Moreover, even when his deceptions are pointed out, he lies to cover them up. When Nadir’s dishonesty is combined with his despicable debate etiquette, his poor debate performances, his constant insults, his complete lack of credentials, and his total lack of standing in the Muslim community, it’s no wonder that few people are willing to deal with him.

Nevertheless, Nadir will continue to have occasional speaking/debate opportunities, for four reasons. First, some have agreed in the past to set up a debate with Nadir, and they feel morally obligated to honor their agreement, despite the fact that virtually no one on the planet is interested in seeing Nadir debate. This is the situation with Ministry to Muslims, an organization which hosted Nadir’s humiliating defeat against Sam Shamoun. After the debate, the ministry decided to give Nadir a chance to redeem himself. Later, Nadir completely embarrassed himself and his religion in his debate with James White, and even Muslims turned their backs on him. The ministry knows that Muslims won’t be interested in watching any debates with Nadir; however, they feel obligated to go through with the debate because they gave their word. Second, some people have no clue who Nadir is, so they believe him when he sends them emails claiming to be a respected Muslim debater. They may, then, arrange a debate because they are ignorant of the fact that Nadir has absolutely no credibility among Muslims or Christians. Third, some organizations want to schedule debates in which the Christian debater can achieve a landslide victory against a weak opponent. I am not a fan of this tactic; I would rather see debaters of comparable skill debate the issues. Yet it is a simple fact that some people want to see the Muslim side humiliated. Thus, instead of arranging a debate with a reputable Muslim scholar, some organizations will arrange a debate with Nadir Ahmed, giving the Christian debater an easy victory. Fourth, new Christian debaters, with little or no debate experience, won’t want to jump into the ring with respected Muslim debaters such as Shabir Ally. Hence, they may want to get some debate practice by taking on weak, unknowledgeable opponents such as Nadir.

With these things in mind, I thought it might be important to share something I learned in my dealings with Nadir. Anyone who debates him must utterly refuse to exchange arguments with him, for he lacks the integrity necessary to honor such agreements. Prior to our debate, Nadir demanded that I exchange criticisms with him ahead of time. He sent me the four criticisms he would be raising against Christianity, and I sent him the four criticisms I would be raising against Islam. I then spent most of my preparation time studying for the four criticisms he had sent me. Amazingly, by the time we debated, Nadir had changed most of his criticisms! That is, the criticisms he brought against Christianity in our debate were almost completely different from the ones he had sent me. Since Nadir has repeatedly denied any guilt in this matter, I will carefully lay out the evidence.

NADIR’S DECEPTION

On June 11th, 2006, Nadir said the following in an email:

All my arguments and source material will be provided to David ahead of time, so that he can be properly prepared. Thus, no material in this debate will be discussed without being submitted prior to David.

On June 12th, I told Nadir that I would rather not have him send me his arguments ahead of time, since I knew he would insist that I share my arguments as well. I’m not opposed to the idea of exchanging arguments prior to a debate, but I would only be willing to exchange arguments with someone I actually trust (i.e. not Nadir). With that in mind, I said to Nadir, “Don’t worry about sending me your arguments and source material. I’d like to see how well I respond off the cuff.”

On June 17th, Nadir rejected my attempt at avoiding the argument-exchange. He said this:

As for presenting my arguments ahead of time, I believe this is normal protocol for debates, I would insist that you take them because I want to eliminate any possibility of the speakers not knowing how to respond to a particular issue which will make it appear as if his opponent has ‘won’ and soundly refuted him. When in reality, the answer to such arguments can be very easily given if only the speaker prepared ahead of time. This takes away from the quality of the debate. Please keep in mind that these subjects are vast, and no one knows all there is to know in the issues. As for seeing how you respond off the cuff, then this is not the time for such a test, perhaps you can practice before the day of the debate.

Notice that Nadir claims he is against using arguments that are meant to catch an opponent off guard. Also note that, according to Nadir, exchanging arguments is standard practice (this is a complete lie). I still didn’t want to exchange arguments with him, but on June 30th, Nadir claimed that refusing to exchange arguments is unethical. He said:

I feel that trying to take advantage of someone’s ignorance to a particular subject does not make what you are saying true. We should find more ethical means to score points for our faiths.

Since I didn’t want Nadir accusing me of being unethical, I reluctantly agreed to exchange arguments. (Notice that Nadir says that it is unethical to use arguments meant to catch an opponent off guard.)

On July 21st, Nadir sent me his arguments. He began his email with the following:

Here are the questions which I would like to ask you in our discussion. I think it is a good idea to submit them to you ahead of time, so you can have time to think about them and prepare for us. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Nadir then gave me the four arguments he would supposedly be bringing against Christianity. First, he said that he would be using passages such as, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He said that he would be doing this to show that Christianity really teaches polytheism, and that the only difference between a Trinitarian and a pagan is that the Christian claims there is only one God.

Second, he said that he would be raising issues such as man-worship and the “resurrection” of Osiris, which somehow shows that Christians stole their views from other people.

Third, he said he would be questioning me about Jesus’ infancy, and how it is possible to view Him as God.

Finally, he said that he would ask me about Melchizedek in Hebrews 7:3-5. According to Nadir, Melchizedek has the attributes of God, and this is a problem for Christianity.

I was happy with this list, since it meant that Nadir didn’t want to exchange all our arguments. Instead, he only wanted to exchange criticisms. A few days later, Nadir asked for my objections against Islam [bold mine]:

Would it be possible to send over your objections against Islam in today or tomorrow? As you know, the debate is less than 2 weeks away, and I would like to enough time to look over the material.

As for the material I sent you, that will cover all my comments or objections which I will raise against Christianity, meaning that I will mention nothing in my presentation which I have not already submitted to you prior. Therefore, that will give you adequate preparation to respond.

Later the same day, I told Nadir that my objection to Islam is that every time I’ve gone to Islam looking for evidence, I’ve come up empty-handed. I also explained that I have problems with the reliability of Muhammad, so that I don’t trust anything he says about God. Nadir responded by requesting that I limit myself to five criticisms, and that I send them to him ahead of time:

I would request David to please document the 5 objections he would like to raise in the debate and send it to me as soon as possible so I can prepare.

I have already sent David my objections, all of them related to the concept of God in Christianity. As I mentioned, I will not be raising any other issues. I ask that David will do the same. [Bold mine.]

I was even more generous than Nadir requested: I limited my objections to four (instead of five), and I sent them to him ahead of time.

Many other things were said in our exchanges, but this is enough to prove that my initial apprehension at exchanging arguments with Nadir was entirely correct. Anyone who reads our exchange and then listens to the debate will immediately notice something. While I criticized Islam using the arguments that I submitted to Nadir ahead of time, Nadir only used his second argument! What happened to the “My God, My God” passage? What happened to the issue about Jesus being a baby? What happened to Melchizedek? Nadir simply didn’t use the objections he said he would use. Indeed, he replaced these criticisms with other objections to Christianity. He attacked the New Testament for lacking scientific evidence, archaeological evidence, and prophetic evidence. He also attacked Christianity for allowing people to drink alcohol, which, he argued, causes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in infants. All of this was, of course, completely unexpected.

This helped Nadir in two ways. First, whereas he knew my criticisms ahead of time, I didn’t know his. This meant that he was able to prepare his responses to my criticisms, while I was responding off the top of my head. Second, by sending me arguments that he never used, Nadir was able to make most of my preparation meaningless. I studied the book of Hebrews almost every day while preparing for the debate. Why? Because Nadir said that he would be asking me about a passage in Hebrews 7. But Nadir never brought up this passage in the debate. Nor did he bring up most of the arguments he sent me. Thus, much of my preparation time was wasted, for I ended up preparing for the wrong criticisms.

This was a brilliant series of deceptions on Nadir’s part (keep in mind the fact that his beliefs teach him that it’s okay to lie). He pressured a Christian into exchanging criticisms ahead of time, and he used the Christian’s reluctant trust to gain an unfair advantage. But Nadir’s deceptions didn’t stop there. He went on to deny any wrongdoing on his part!

FURTHER DECEPTIONS (TO COVER UP HIS ORIGINAL DECEPTION)

Nadir offered four main justifications for the fact that he had changed the criticisms he had sent me.

First, he said that he was only doing what I had requested. After the debate, my friend Nabeel asked Nadir why he had changed his criticisms. Nadir responded, “Because David said that he wanted to see how he would respond off the cuff.” (Note that Nadir admitted here that he had deliberately changed his criticisms in an effort to catch me off guard.) This response just didn’t work, however. While I had initially said that I would rather respond off the cuff (because I didn’t want to exchange arguments with Nadir), I later agreed that I would exchange criticisms. As the excerpts above show, Nadir promised that he would bring up four issues, and no others. This was a lie, and his pathetic excuse only added to his deception.

Second, when I confronted Nadir about his deception, he changed his response. He said that I had claimed in my emails that the Holy Spirit would give me all of the answers I needed and that Nadir was free to change all of his criticisms. I told Nadir that he was a liar and I challenged him to produce the email where I had said this. He couldn’t produce the email, because I had never said it. (Notice again that Nadir admitted that he had deliberately changed his criticisms.) Hence, this further deception fails as well.

Third, several months later, Nadir came up with a further justification. He said that my friend Nabeel had claimed that we didn’t need to exchange arguments. Since Nabeel said that we didn’t need to exchange arguments, Nadir argued that he was free to say whatever he wanted to say. (Notice that Nadir again admitted that he had changed his criticisms.) This justification was similar to the first. When I was giving my reasons for not wanting to exchange arguments with Nadir, my friend Nabeel sent several emails to him defending my point of view. But when Nadir suggested that I was trying to score cheap points for my religion, I finally agreed to exchange criticisms. My agreement with Nadir took place after Nabeel objected to the exchange. So let’s look at the progression here. (1) Nadir says we should exchange arguments. (2) I say that I don’t want to. (3) Nadir demands that we exchange arguments. (4) Nabeel says that we don’t need to exchange arguments. (5) Nadir says that we’re trying to score cheap debate points. (6) I finally agree to exchange arguments. (7) Nadir sends me his criticisms. (8) I send Nadir my criticisms. (9) During the debate, Nadir uses different criticisms in order to score cheap debate points. (10) I confront Nadir about the way he deceptively changed his criticisms. (11) Nadir, after his other excuses fail, claims that, since Nabeel said we didn’t need to exchange arguments, he was free to change his criticisms! Nadir’s reasoning is simply amazing. There seems to be no end to his lies.

Finally, once Nadir realized that his third excuse had failed miserably, he came up with a fourth excuse (which was probably his best). He said that, since I had claimed in my opening statement that there is evidence for the reliability of the Bible, he was free to attack the Bible with whatever criticisms he wanted to bring, and he was under no obligation to stick to the criticisms he had sent me ahead of time. Now let’s think about this. Nadir knew ahead of time that I would be appealing to the reliability of the New Testament, and he sent me a list of all the criticisms he would be using. Yet he came with different criticisms, and justified the switch by claiming that I had opened the door by appealing to the reliability of the Bible!

I must say here that I partially agree with Nadir’s reasoning. If I bring up a specific argument in a debate, Nadir would be free to respond, whether or not he had sent me his objection ahead of time. But that’s not what Nadir did. Indeed, he answered practically nothing I said in my opening statement. The criticisms that he gave me ahead of time would have been far more relevant to my case. And yet he changed his criticisms anyway.

But it gets worse, for I have proof that Nadir was planning this all along. Prior to our debate, he emailed me and asked whether I agree that the Bible allows people to drink in moderation. I agreed that this is the position of the Bible. I then said, “Why are you asking me about this?” but he wouldn’t tell me. It wasn’t until the debate that I found out the purpose of his question. Nadir’s main argument against Christianity was that it ultimately leads to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Hence, Nadir was planning to use this criticism all along, even though he promised that he would only use the criticisms he had sent me.

Nadir’s fourth justification, then, is further deception. It also makes no sense. According to Nadir, if two parties agree to exchange criticisms, and one party claims that there’s evidence for his position, the other party is free to bring up any and all criticisms and to abandon the criticisms they had previously agreed to. But if this is the case, then it’s pointless to exchange criticisms! In a debate, both sides are going to claim that there is evidence for their positions, and so, according to Nadir, both sides will be free to change all of their criticisms! Why, then, make an agreement in the first place? Taqiyya, my friends. Taqiyya.

ASSESSMENT

The point of this article is not to show that Nadir Ahmed is dishonest. No one is going to dispute that. Nor is the point to complain that Nadir tricked me, for I learned a great deal from this ordeal. When Nadir and I debated, I knew next to nothing about taqiyya (lying for Islam), but now I know that I must be very careful about trusting Muslims, many of whom will not hesitate to deceive non-Muslims (see here and here for additional examples). It was better that I learn this early on (in my first debate) than much later with a more experienced Muslim opponent. I also learned that many Muslims share Nadir’s view of deceiving non-Muslims. Several Muslims have read about what Nadir did, and all of them have so far defended Nadir. They just don’t see a problem with his actions. (For the record, if a Christian were to do what Nadir has done, Christians would be completely appalled.) But again, none of this is my reason for writing this article.

The purpose of this article is simply to stress to Christian debaters that they must be wary of trusting their Muslim opponents, especially when that opponent is Nadir Ahmed. As I said earlier, Nadir will certainly have some debate opportunities in the future, despite the fact that his career ended several months ago. When Nadir contacts his opponents, claiming that he wants to exchange arguments so that no one is caught off guard, opponents beware! Nadir has absolutely no personal integrity, and he will gladly tell a million lies to further his religion.

By David Wood

Deceptive God, Incompetent Messiah

Deceptive God, Incompetent Messiah

What Islam Really Teaches About Allah and Jesus

By David Wood

For nearly two thousand years, Christians have proclaimed Jesus’ death and resurrection. Islam rejects both of these doctrines and offers a different account of what happened at the cross and afterwards. However, the Muslim explanation comes at a tremendous price: Their version of the story portrays God as a horrible deceiver, and Jesus as the most stupendous failure in the history of the prophets. Hence, while Muslims claim that “Allah is Truth”[1] and that Jesus is to be revered as one of Allah’s mightiest prophets, these claims are hollow, for Islamic dogma comes with a great deal of heresy.

Allah Starts Christianity . . . By Accident

If we examine the teachings of Islam, we find that Allah not only started Christianity, but also made Christianity the world’s dominant religion. This fact should seem strange to everyone, for Muslims believe that Christianity is a false religion. Of course, Muslims will respond by arguing that Christianity is a false religion because it was corrupted by man, but that in its original state it was the message of Allah given to Jesus the son of Mary.

While there isn’t a shred of evidence that the followers of Jesus ever believed anything similar to Islam, this is beside the point. According to Islam, Christianity was corrupted by Allah himself. To understand why Islam demands such a view, let us review a few facts.

FACT #1: The Qur’an states that Jesus was a messenger of Allah and a prophet of Islam. Indeed, Surah 19 tells us that Jesus began preaching Islamic theology the moment he was born:

And the throes (of childbirth) compelled [Mary] to betake herself to the trunk of a palm tree. She said: Oh, would that I had died before this, and had been a thing quite forgotten! Then (the child [i.e. the infant Jesus]) called out to her from beneath her: Grieve not, surely your Lord has made a stream to flow beneath you; And shake towards you the trunk of the palmtree, it will drop on you fresh ripe dates: So eat and drink and refresh the eye. . . . Surely I am a servant of Allah; He has given me the Book and made me a prophet; And He has made me blessed wherever I may be, and He has enjoined on me prayer and poor-rate so long as I live; And dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me insolent, unblessed; And peace on me on the day I was born, and on the day I die, and on the day I am raised to life.[2]

Jesus continued to preach the message of God throughout his life, until he was taken to heaven. According to the Qur’an, the Gospel that Jesus brought was no different from the message of the prophets before him. Jesus, a servant and prophet of God, preached Islam:

The same religion has He Established for you as that Which He enjoined on Noah—That which We have sent By inspiration to thee—And that which We enjoined On Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely, that ye should remain Steadfast in Religion, and make No divisions therein.[3]

[Jesus] was no more than A servant: We granted Our favour to him, And We made him An example to the Children of Israel. . . . When Jesus came With Clear Signs, he said: “Now have I come To you with Wisdom, And in order to make Clear to you some Of the (points) on which Ye dispute: therefore fear Allah And obey me. For Allah, He is my Lord And your Lord: so worship Ye Him: this is A Straight Way.”[4]

Thus, Jesus spent approximately 33 years, from his birth to his ascension, preaching Islam to the children of Israel. Prior to his apparent crucifixion, his preaching was moderately successful, as the conversion of some of his listeners indicates.

FACT #2: The Qur’an states that Jesus won a number of followers. Since Jesus spent his entire life preaching an early form of Islam, his message to his disciples must have centered around the basic tenets of Islamic theology. These disciples would have become something similar to Muslims, which is exactly what Islam teaches about Jesus’ followers:

When Jesus found Unbelief on their [i.e. the Jews’] Part He said: “Who will be My helpers to (the work Of) Allah?” Said the Disciples: “We are Allah’s helpers: We believe in Allah, And do thou bear witness That we are Muslims.”[5]

And behold! I inspired The Disciples [of Jesus] to have faith In Me and Mine Messenger; They said, “We have faith, And do thou bear witness That we bow to Allah As Muslims.”[6]

Then, in their wake, We followed them up With (others of) Our messengers: We sent after them Jesus the son of Mary, And bestowed on him The Gospel; and We ordained In the hearts of those Who followed him Compassion and Mercy.[7]

If the Qur’an is correct, then Jesus converted at least some of the children of Israel to Islam. Though there is absolutely no historical evidence for any such conversions, let us assume for the sake of argument that there were first century Jews who believed the message of Jesus and became Muslims. As we shall see, this assumption only presents problems for Muslim apologists.

FACT #3: If there were first-century Jews who converted to Islam at the preaching of Jesus, they didn’t last very long. The idea that Jesus’ earliest followers were Muslims raises an obvious question: Why have we never heard of any Muslims existing in the first century? We have a great deal of historical information about Jesus’ first-century followers, but we have no evidence at all of any Muslims. Defenders of Islam will most likely claim here that Christianity wiped out all the records of Jesus’ non-Christian followers, but such a view is absurd. We have both Christian and non-Christian sources that report early Christian beliefs, yet none of these sources mention the existence of any Muslim-Christians. At the very least, we can say with absolute certainty that Jesus’ death was well-known among ancient authorities, and that Jesus’ earliest followers—including Peter, James, and John—came to believe that Jesus had died on the cross for their sins and that he had risen from the dead. (We also know that the disciples held Jesus to be the divine Son of God, but this isn’t necessary for my argument.) All four New Testament Gospels confirm the early Christian belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection, as does the book of Acts. Paul’s letters also repeatedly proclaim Jesus’ death and resurrection. Further, an ancient creed recorded in 1 Corinthians 15 has been dated to within a few years of Jesus’ life and therefore provides extremely early testimony about Christian beliefs during the time of the apostles. It reads:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve.[8]

We also have early Christian writings from outside the New Testament that report the beliefs of Jesus’ followers. For instance, Clement of Rome, who was ordained as Bishop of Rome by the Apostle Peter, writes about the apostles’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.[9] Polycarp, who was ordained by the Apostle John, mentions Jesus’ resurrection numerous times.[10] There are even several ancient non-Christian sources that report crucial information about Jesus and the apostles. According to both the Jewish historian Josephus and the Roman historian Tacitus, Jesus was crucified during the reign of Pontius Pilate.[11] Lucian of Samosata, a Greek satirist, states, “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account.”[12] Even the Jewish Talmud reports the crucifixion of Jesus.[13]

Hence, the most reasonable interpretation of the data is that the Qur’an is wrong when it says (1) that Jesus never died and (2) that Jesus’ early followers were Muslims. Nevertheless, let us be generous and grant, in spite of the facts, that there were a number of first-century Muslims, but that all evidence of their existence was later destroyed by Christians. Even if we grant such an outlandish assumption, this still presents Muslims with an enormous problem: What happened to these first-century Muslims? Why was Islam replaced by belief in Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection from the dead? Why didn’t Jesus’ 33 years of preaching amount to anything that lasted?

Muslims will most likely respond to these questions by arguing, once again, that Christianity corrupted Jesus’ message and that the Christian church erased all memory of Jesus’ Islamic teachings. However, no true Muslim should accept this position, for it conceals the true Qur’anic account of what happened.

FACT #4: The Qur’an states that Allah deceived people into believing that Jesus had died on the cross. According to the Qur’an, Jesus was able to convert at least some Jews to Islam. But we know from history that Jesus’ early followers became convinced of his death and resurrection. Hence, the obvious reason that there were no Muslims after Jesus ascended into heaven is that all of Jesus’ followers came to believe that he died on the cross and rose from the dead. And where did they get this idea? According to Islam, the idea that Jesus died on the cross was started by Allah:

That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus The son of Mary, The Messenger of Allah”—But they killed him not, Nor crucified him, But so it was made To appear to them, And those who differ Therein are full of doubts, With no (certain) knowledge, But only conjecture to follow, For of a surety They killed him not—Nay, Allah raised him up Unto Himself; and Allah Is Exalted in Power, Wise.[14]

Even if we allow that Allah’s only goal was to deceive the people who wanted to kill Jesus, it is clear that the disciples also fell for Allah’s deception. So who is responsible for the Christian belief that Jesus died on the cross? If Islam is correct, God started this idea when he decided to trick Jesus’ enemies into thinking that they had killed Jesus. This leads to even more problems. If the deception of the disciples was unintentional, then we must conclude that God didn’t realize that he was about to start the largest false religion in the world. If it was intentional, then God is in the business of starting false religions. Therefore, the God of Islam is either dreadfully ignorant or maliciously deceptive.

Muhammad’s position also means that Jesus was the greatest failure in the history of the prophets. He spent 33 years preaching (again, he began preaching Islamic theology at birth), yet shortly after his death, the children of Israel were divided into two broad camps. Those who believed his message became Christians, all of whom were guilty of the worst sin imaginable (shirk[15]), while those who rejected his message were guilty of rejecting one of God’s greatest messengers. Thus, whether people believed in Jesus or rejected him, everyone would ultimately be condemned and cast into the hellfire. It’s strange, then, that Muslims consider Jesus to be one of the greatest prophets ever. It seems that he should have been able to win at least one lasting convert to Islam. But he didn’t. Further, a true prophet of Islam should have warned his followers not to turn away from Islam by falling for God’s deception. But Jesus never got that message across. Indeed, millions of people from around the world now refuse to accept Islam because they believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins, a teaching that goes back to a deceptive God and an incompetent Messiah.

Allah Spreads the False Religion He Accidentally Started

If we follow the teachings of Islam through to their logical conclusion, we see that God either intentionally or unintentionally started Christianity. But the Qur’an doesn’t stop there. Instead of correcting the mess he made, Allah took Christianity to the next level.

FACT #5: The Qur’an states that Allah helped spread Christianity. Once God had caused belief in Jesus death and resurrection, he then worked diligently to aid the Christians in spreading their false message:

O you who believe! be helpers (in the cause) of Allah, as [Jesus] son of Marium said to (his) disciples: Who are my helpers in the cause of Allah? The disciples said: We are helpers (in the cause) of Allah. So a party of the children of Israel believed and another party disbelieved; then We aided those who believed against their enemy, and they became uppermost.[16]

This verse is extremely important, for it means that Allah helped the followers of Jesus against the Jews who rejected Jesus, and that these followers “became uppermost.” So who were these followers of Jesus who became stronger than the Jews? The only people in history who fit such a description are orthodox Christians, who believe in Jesus’ death, resurrection, and divinity. In other words, Muslims can’t claim here that Jesus’ message was corrupted and that the true Gospel was wiped out, because that clearly isn’t the group that the Qur’an refers to in this passage. Even if there was a group of first century Muslim-Christians, this group never gained an upper hand over anyone. Indeed, they must have been snuffed out immediately. The only group of Jesus’ followers that ever became strong enough to overshadow the Jews was composed of Christians, once Christianity had spread throughout the Roman Empire. These Christians believed in the foundational doctrines that Christians hold even today. Yet, according to the Qur’an, Allah helped these people rise to power!

How, then, did Christianity spread and become the dominant world religion? It spread by the power of Allah! And who started the Christian message about Jesus’ death on the cross? God invented this message! Even non-Christian historians are convinced that Jesus’ death is one of history’s best-established facts.[17] Where did historians get this idea? They got it from God, who tricked so many people into believing in Jesus’ death that we now have tons of historical evidence for this event. Since there are roughly two billion Christians on earth at the present moment, it seems that Jesus and God are responsible for starting the only religion in the world that overshadows Islam.

If Islam Is True . . .

Needless to say, I think the Islamic view is extremely problematic. It requires us to believe that God deceived billions of people. God even led Jesus’ followers astray by tricking so many people into believing that Jesus died. This could have been avoided if God hadn’t been so intent on deceiving people. But this leads to more questions: Why would God want people to believe that Jesus was dead when he really wasn’t? Muslims can’t argue that God did it to protect Jesus from the Jews or Romans, since God was taking Jesus away safely anyway. So, why would God want to give Jesus’ enemies the satisfaction of seeing Jesus killed? Why not raise Jesus up without deceiving everyone about it? There seems to be no reason at all for God to deceive these people, especially since such a deception would soon lead to the formation of Christianity.

This is a difficult pill to swallow, yet Islam forces us to view the origin of Christianity in this way. If Islam is true, God deceives people who believe the prophets he sends. If Islam is true, God spreads false teachings until they become dominant in the world. If Islam is true, Jesus, the Messiah, was completely incompetent and should never have been sent by God, since Jesus’ life ended up leading more people astray than any other life in history. Because the Muslim view is at odds with any traditional understanding of God’s nature (including the Islamic understanding), Islam is an incoherent religious system, which should be rejected by all rational people. Islam has a poor and contemptible explanation for the origin of Christianity. If Islam is true, the existence of Christianity makes no sense at all.

If Christianity Is True . . .

Christianity, on the other hand, easily accounts for the rise of Islam. Indeed, if Christianity is true, the rise of Islam makes perfect sense. If it isn’t immediately clear why Christianity entails the rise of religions such as Islam, consider the following line of thought.

If Christianity is true, then the following statements are also true:

(1) People can only come to God through Jesus Christ.
(2) Satan is a real spirit being who wants to keep people from God.
[18]

With these statements in mind, let’s see if we can figure out a little something about Satan. Now, if Satan wants to keep people from God, and if the way to God is through Jesus Christ, what would Satan’s highest priority be? His main goal wouldn’t be to get people to lead immoral lives (though he would prefer that we do, since this corrupts God’s created order); instead, his primary aim would be to incite people to reject Christ, for this rejection is what keeps them separated from God.

But how would Satan convince people to reject Christ? We should note here that there are plenty of people in the world who simply don’t care about God. Satan doesn’t have to worry about them, because they aren’t interested in salvation anyway. Since his goal is to keep as many people from God as possible, we would expect Satan to be more focused on people who are to some extent concerned with religious matters. There are two ways to keep such people from God. Satan would either have to convince them that all “religious talk” is nonsense (i.e. by spreading secularism, which we see around the world) or he would have to offer them a substitute for the truth (i.e. a religion that rejects what is necessary for salvation).

Thus, if Christianity is true, we would expect Satan to inspire religions that reject Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection, even though these religions may be similar to Christianity in other (non-essential) respects. Now that we have a clear picture of what we would predict if Christianity were true, let us see how Islam matches up with our prediction.

The message of Islam is something like this: “Believe in God. Do good deeds. If you do enough of them, you’ll get to heaven. Respect Jesus, for he was a mighty prophet, who delivered God’s message to the children of Israel. Also believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, that he performed many miracles, and that he was the Messiah. But whatever you do, don’t believe that he died on the cross for your sins. And don’t believe that he rose from the dead. In fact, the worst possible sin you can commit is to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” Notice that Islam rejects Christianity’s essential requirements for salvation while accepting certain other doctrines. For instance, Muslims are commanded to believe in God, but even Satan and his demons believe in God. Muslims are commanded to do good deeds, but all religions teach this. Muslims are allowed to believe certain things about Jesus (such as his prophet status and virgin birth), but these beliefs do not save a person. Yet when we come to beliefs that are essential for salvation—the deity of Christ, his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead—we find that Islam is violently opposed to these crucial doctrines.[19] Islam, then, looks exactly like the religion we predicted that Satan would form, for it denies what is necessary for people to come to God.

There is, of course, an easier way for us to see that Christianity predicts the rise of Islam. We can look at some of the prophecies in the Bible. For example, Jesus said that “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.”[20]Paul added that some people would follow “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”[21] (The phrase “deceitful spirit” is reminiscent of the Qur’anic claim that Allah deceived people about the death of Jesus.) The Bible warns over and over again that false teachers and false prophets would come in order to distort the Gospel. Apparently, few people in Muhammad’s time heeded this warning.

Final Thoughts

Throughout history, many people have claimed to be prophets. Indeed, there are many self-proclaimed prophets even today, and there will be more tomorrow. Suppose a prophet arises at some point in the future, one who claims to have a new revelation from God.[22] Both Muslims and Christians would reject him. But suppose this prophet says to Muslims, “Brothers, you have believed in the teachings of Muhammad, but I’m here to tell you that Islam was started by God to deceive people. The pagans in Arabia were doing awful things, such as killing their daughters and marrying hundreds of women. God decided to punish them by leading them astray and making all of you believe something that isn’t true. But I’m here to tell you the truth! I am God’s greatest prophet, sent to rescue you from evil!” Would Muslims believe him? Most certainly wouldn’t. But why would Muslims reject this new prophet? They would reject him because they would refuse to believe that God knowingly deceived millions of people. Yet this is exactly what Muslims believe when it comes to the death of Jesus. So if Muslims believe in a God who deceives people, even those who follow his prophets, how can Muslims be confident that they have been given the truth?

Muslims boast about their reverence for God and their respect for the prophets. Yet, upon closer examination, we see that Islam accuses God of one of the greatest religious deceptions ever. This should cause us to pause and think for a moment. Why would a religion that prides itself on its view of God proclaim that God starts false religions? Why would people who claim to respect Jesus suggest that he was a tremendous failure? It appears that Islam is so incredibly desperate to destroy Christianity, that it doesn’t mind destroying itself. In other words, Islam can only explain away Jesus’ death and resurrection by making God out to be a deceiver, which destroys the Islamic conception of God. This desperation only makes sense if Christianity is true, and if Islam was designed by Satan to keep people from being saved.

Muslims can object to this all they want. They can continue to proclaim their devotion to God and their respect for his prophets. But there’s something strange about the way they explain Christianity. There’s something very odd about a God who leads the world astray. If Islam is true, God and Jesus are failures. But if Christianity is true, God and Jesus were victorious at the cross, for the door to salvation was opened to all, in spite of those who tried to keep the door shut.

Jesus warned his followers that false prophets would come. He also commanded us not to believe them. One of the ways we can spot false prophets is by carefully discerning when their teachings lead to unacceptable beliefs about God. God is Truth, and he is Love. Islam, when carefully examined, would have us believe otherwise.


The author has developed his argument further and produced a video on this topic, posted here.


Notes:

1 See Qur’an, 24:25. Unless otherwise noted, Qur’an quotations are taken from The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, tr. (Beltsville: Amana Publications, 1989).

2 Qur’an 19:23-26, 30-33, M. H. Shakir, tr. (Elmhurst: Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an Inc., 2002).

3 Qur’an 42:13.

4 Qur’an 43:59, 63-64.

5 Qur’an 3:52.

6 Qur’an 5:111.

7 Qur’an 57:26.

8 1 Corinthians 15:3-5. All Bible quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.

9 See 1 Clement 42:3.

10 See Polycarp, To the Philippians 1:2, 2:1-2, 9:2, 12:2.

11 See Josephus, Antiquities 18.64, and Tacitus, Annals 15.44.

12 Lucian of Samosata, The Death of Peregrine, 11-13.

13 Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a.

14 Qur’an 4:157-158. According to Muslim tradition, Allah made Judas Iscariot look like Jesus, so that Judas was crucified in Jesus’ place.

15 To associate partners with God is to commit the sin of shirk.

16 Qur’an 61:14, M. H. Shakir Translation.

17 For instance, John Dominic Crossan, of the notoriously anti-Christian “Jesus Seminar,” says “That [Jesus] was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be” (Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography [San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991] p. 145).

18 This spirit being is not to be confused with the popular image of a harmless red figure with a pointy tail and a pitchfork!

19 One may wonder why I have not included belief in God among the doctrines necessary for salvation. I’m certainly not denying the necessity of belief in God. However, I do draw a distinction between a necessary doctrine and a necessary and sufficient doctrine. Belief in God is necessary for salvation, but it is not sufficient to produce it. In contrast, the Christian doctrines of confession of the lordship of Christ and belief in his resurrection from the dead are necessary and sufficient. That is, these doctrines are sufficient to guarantee the salvation of the Christian. Yet it is these doctrines that Islam most vehemently opposes.

20 Matthew 24:11.

21 1 Timothy 4:1.

22 Even Islam has had its share of self-proclaimed new prophets. Most notably, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad announced his prophethood towards the end of the 19th Century. He also claimed to be the second coming of Jesus. Millions of people have followed him. However, the vast majority of Muslims consider these “Ahmadiyyas” to be a heretical sect. The Ahmadiyyas, though they profess to be Muslims, aren’t even allowed to take the pilgrimage to Mecca. The Ahmadiyya movement is significant in that Ahmadiyyas say that true Islam was corrupted, just as Muslims claim that Christianity was corrupted. Hence, Ahmadiyyas claim that God sent another prophet to restore the true message of God. Muslims reject this, because they don’t believe that Islam has been corrupted. They conclude that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad must have been a false prophet. But this is the same reason Christians reject Muhammad. We don’t believe that Christianity has been corrupted, so Muhammad must have been a false prophet.

 

By David Wood

Linda Sarsour Caught Lying about Female Genital Mutilation in Islam

Linda Sarsour Caught Lying about Female Genital Mutilation in Islam

Female Genital Mutilation is a barbaric practice that is rightly illegal in western countries and practice of and can lead, and should lead, to a prison sentence.  In most cases that come to light, no charges are brought and this gives the green light for the continuation of the barbaric practice.
Many a Muslim living in the West (like Linda Sarsour) loudly tell us that FGM has nothing to do with Islam and is, rather, a cultural problem.  David Wood, as usual, takes us to the Islamic sources and destroys this argument and illustrates that it is an Islamic practice.  It may have been a cultural practice inMuhammad’s day but he embraced it as the truth of Allah and gave his stamp of approval to the barbaric practice.  Hardly surprising from a man whose very nature was barbaric.
Published on 25 Apr 2017

After learning that a female genital mutilation gang had been arrested in Michigan, faux feminist Linda Sarsour tweeted: “Female genital mutilation has no place in Detroit or anywhere else in the world. Female genital mutilation is barbaric and is not an Islamic practice.”

In this video, our hero David Wood turns to Muslim scholars and Islam’s most trusted sources to see if female genital mutilation (female circumcision) is prescribed in Islam.

Muhammad in the Bible?

Muhammad in the Bible?

An Analysis of the Muslim Appeal to Biblical Prophecy

By David Wood

According to many Muslims, the Bible is full of prophecies about Muhammad.[1] Christian apologists have spent a great deal of time refuting this claim, but, as the following account will demonstrate, the Bible does contain clear prophecies about Muhammad. Nevertheless, the Muslim search for prophecies supporting Islam has been sloppy; as a result, defenders of Islam have failed to provide a single well-evidenced example of a Biblical prediction about their prophet. Thus, after briefly examining the Qur’anic claim to Biblical support, I will show (1) that the standard Biblical verses used by Muslims to support this claim are extremely problematic for Islam, and (2) that Christian apologists are wrong when they claim that the Bible is silent when it comes to Islam.

The Qur’an expressly states that both the Old and New Testaments contain references to Muhammad:

Those who follow the Messenger, The unlettered Prophet, Whom they find mentioned In their own (Scriptures)—In the Law and the Gospel— … It is they who will prosper. (Qur’an 7:157)[2]

And remember, Jesus, The son of Mary, said: “O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (Sent) to you, confirming The Law (which came) Before me, and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger To come after me, Whose name shall be Ahmad [i.e. Muhammad].” (Qur’an 61:6)

Similarly, early Muslim writings suggest that the Bible contains numerous prophecies about Muhammad:

Ata Ibn Yasar narrated: “I met Abdullah bin Umar bin Amr bin Al-As and asked him: ‘Tell me about the description of Allah’s Apostle (the blessing and peace of Allah be upon him) which is mentioned in the Torah (i.e. Old Testament).’ He replied: ‘Yes, By Allah, he is described in the Torah with some of the qualities attributed to him in the Qur’an.’”[3]

I was told the story of Abdullah bin Salam, a learned rabbi, by one of his family. He said: “When I heard about the apostle I knew by his description, name, and the time at which he appeared that he was the one we were waiting for, and I rejoiced greatly thereat. . . . I emerged and said: ‘O Jews, fear God and accept what He has sent you. For by God you know that he is the apostle of God. You will find him described in your Torah and even named.’”[4]

Among the things which have reached me about what Jesus the Son of Mary stated in the Gospel which he received from God for the followers of the Gospel, in applying a term to describe the apostle of God, is the following. It is extracted from what John the Apostle set down for them when he wrote the Gospel for them from the Testament of Jesus Son of Mary: “He that hateth me hath hated the Lord. And if I had not done in their presence works which none other before me did, they had not had sin: but from now they are puffed up with pride and think that they will overcome me and also the Lord. But the word that is in the law must be fulfilled, ‘They hated me without a cause’ (i.e. without reason). But when the Comforter has come whom God will send to you from the Lord’s presence, and the spirit of truth which will have gone forth from the Lord’s presence he (shall bear) witness of me and ye also, because ye have been with me from the beginning. I have spoken unto you about this that ye should not be in doubt.”[5]

So Heraclius ordered the Roman generals [who were Christians] to assemble in a room and commanded that the doors should be fastened. Then he looked down on them from an upper chamber (for he was afraid of them) and said: “O Romans, I have brought you together for a good purpose. This man [i.e. Muhammad] has written me a letter summoning me to his religion. By God, he is truly the prophet whom we expect and find in our books, so come and let us follow him and believe in him that it may be well with us in this world and the next.”[6]

Recognizing the importance of the Qur’anic assertion that the Bible contains clear prophecies about Muhammad, Muslims have spent nearly fourteen centuries trying to find these prophecies. While hundreds of verses have been suggested as candidates, only a handful are now being seriously put forward as Biblical references to Muhammad. Of this handful, two are most common: Moses’ prophecy of a prophet similar to himself and Jesus’ prediction of the coming “Comforter.” Since these are Islam’s most significant examples of Biblical support for Muhammad, we shall call these two prophecies the “Major Prophecies.” The remaining, less important ones shall be referred as the “Minor Prophecies.”

The Major Prophecies

In his note on verse 7:157 of the Qur’an, commentator Yusuf Ali offers the following evidence for the claim that Muhammad is mentioned in “the Law and the Gospel”:

In this verse is a prefiguring, to Moses, of the Arabian Messenger, the last and greatest of the Messengers of Allah. Prophecies about him will be found in the Tawrah and the Injil [Gospel]. In the reflex of the Tawrah as now accepted by the Jews, Moses says: “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me” (Deut. 18:15): the only Prophet who brought a Shari’ah [Law] like that of Moses was Muhammad al Mustafa, and he came of the house of Isma’il, the brother of Isaac, the father of Israel. In the reflex of the Gospel as now accepted by Christians, Christ promised another Comforter, (John 14:16): the Greek word Paraclete which the Christians interpret as referring to the Holy Spirit is by our Doctors taken to be Periclyte, which would be the Greek form of Ahmad.[7]

Hence, to defend the validity of the Qur’an on this issue, Ali offers a single prophecy from the Old Testament and another from the New Testament. Together, these two predictions form the “one-two punch” of the Argument from Biblical Prophecy. Yet Muslims have to tear both prophecies out of context in order to make them conform to the Islamic interpretation. (This is why Islamic books and pamphlets rarely quote entire passages; to do so would expose the context and would refute the argument.) A careful analysis reveals the truth about these texts.

The first of the Major Prophecies comes from Deuteronomy, where Moses predicts the rise of another prophet:

The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; according to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19)[8]

Muslims argue that this prophecy could only have been fulfilled by Muhammad, who, like Moses, was a lawgiver, a prophet, and a military leader. Further, this Prophet was to come from the brethren of the Israelites, which must be a reference to the Ishmaelites (Muhammad’s purported ancestors), for Ishmael was the brother of Isaac, the father of Israel. These facts, along with other similarities between Muhammad and Moses, support the identification of “the Prophet” with Muhammad.

If we were to take Deuteronomy 18:15 by itself, completely ignoring the rest of the book, we might have some reason to agree with the Muslim apologists on this issue. However, even a cursory examination of the context of this prophecy demonstrates the flaws in the Islamic position.

First, the passage says that God will raise up a prophet like Moses, because the Israelites didn’t want to speak directly with God. The Israelites said, “Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God … that I die not,” and God replied, “They have well spoken that which they have spoken.” Hence, when verse 18:15 is taken in context, we see that the Jews were asking for a mediator, someone to stand between them and God just as Moses did. The ultimate fulfillment of this passage would be someone who stands as a permanent mediator between God and man. While Muhammad could certainly be viewed as an intermediary of some sort, the passage seems to fit more comfortably if the Prophet is Jesus. At best, one could argue that Muhammad was a link in the chain of transmission from the Qur’an, from Allah, to Gabriel, to Muhammad, to mankind. But this doesn’t fulfill the prophecy. Muslims don’t believe in the sort of mediator required by Deuteronomy 18. In Christianity, however, Jesus is a permanent mediator: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

Next, Moses says that God will raise up a prophet “from the midst of thee.” Since he is talking to Israelites, it sounds as if God is telling them that he will raise up a prophet from the midst of Israel. In any case, Muhammad surely wasn’t raised up from the midst of Jews. Jesus, on the other hand, was born and raised in Israel, so the context again fits more comfortably if Moses is referring to Jesus.

Third, although Muslims often claim that the term “brethren” must refer to the Ishmaelites, the Book of Deuteronomy shows that this claim is completely false. To be sure, “brethren” can be used to refer to people other than the Jews, and it is used in this manner with the Edomites earlier in Deuteronomy (see 2:4). However, the term “brethren” is most commonly used when referring to other Israelites:

If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother. (Deuteronomy 15:7)

That this verse refers to fellow Israelites is clear from the verses that follow, for Moses tells his listeners not to ignore the brother just because the year for canceling debts is near (the year of debt-cancellation was meant for fellow Israelites).

“Brethren” is also used regarding the selection of a king:

When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. (Deuteronomy 17:14-15)

The Jews obviously weren’t being commanded to seek an Arab king here. Rather, they were commanded to get a king “from among thy brethren,” meaning a fellow Jew. The term “brethren” is even used as a reference to other Israelites in Deuteronomy 18, the same chapter from which the prophecy is taken:

The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel: They shall eat the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and his inheritance. Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the LORD is their inheritance, as he hath said unto them. (Deuteronomy 18:1-2)

The Levites were to have no inheritance among their brethren (the other tribes of Israel). This is how chapter 18 begins, and we’re never given so much as a hint that the meaning of “brethren” has changed so that, by verse 15, it refers to Ishmaelites. Given this repeated use of “brethren” to refer to Israelites, it is disturbing to read Muslim polemics which claim that “Ishmaelites” is the only possible interpretation of “brethren.” Consider, for instance, what Deedat says about “brethren”:

The children of Isaac are the brethren of the Ishmaelites. In like manner Muhammed is from among the brethren of the Israelites because he was a descendent of Ishmael the son of Abraham. This is exactly as the prophecy has it—”FROM AMONG THEIR BRETHREN”. (Deut. 18:18). There the prophecy distinctly mentions that the coming prophet who would be like Moses, must arise NOT from the “children of Israel” or from “among themselves”, but from among their brethren. MUHAMMAD THEREFORE WAS FROM AMONG THEIR BRETHREN![9]

Contrary to what Deedat suggests, Moses’ prophecy doesn’t say that the prophet must not come from the children of Israel. Indeed, given the repeated use of “brethren” to refer to Israelites in Deuteronomy (especially in chapter 18), it is a wonder that anyone would interpret it otherwise. Deedat is therefore either completely ignorant of how “brethren” is used in Deuteronomy, or deliberately deceptive towards his Muslim readers (knowing that few of them will actually examine his absurd claim).

Fourth, the conclusion of the Book of Deuteronomy tells us how we should interpret Moses’ phrase “like unto me”:

And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses. And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel. (Deuteronomy 34:9-12)

Here the phrase “like unto Moses” suggests a prophet who would speak with God face to face and perform signs and wonders “in the sight of all Israel.” Muhammad doesn’t fit either of these criteria. He claimed to have received his revelations from Gabriel, not directly from God, and he admittedly could not perform miracles.[10] Jesus, however, both performed miracles (as even the Qur’an acknowledges[11]) and spoke directly with God:

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. (John 5:19-20)

Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lift up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. (John 8:28)

For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. (John 12:49)

He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. (John 14:24)

Finally, while Muslims appeal to Deuteronomy 18:15-19 as evidence for their prophet, they would do well to read the next verse, which, when combined with a certain embarrassing event from Muhammad’s life, turns out to be proof against the prophet of Islam. In Deuteronomy 18:20, God declares:

But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

Here God gives us two criteria for recognizing a false prophet: (1) If a person delivers a revelation which doesn’t come from God, the person is a false prophet; and (2) if a person speaks in the name of other gods, the person is a false prophet. Interestingly, Muhammad meets both criteria, for he delivered the infamous “Satanic Verses” (i.e. verses he gave to his followers as part of the Qur’an but later claimed were inspired by Satan). Since these verses did not come from God, Muhammad meets the first criterion. And since the verses promoted polytheism, Muhammad meets the second criterion as well. Hence, the very passage that Muslims claim as their primary Biblical prophecy about Muhammad turns out to proclaim that Muhammad can’t be a prophet at all! (For a much fuller treatment of Deuteronomy 18:20 as evidence against Muhammad, see “The Deuteronomy Deductions.”)

True, Moses and Muhammad had some similarities. Nevertheless, when we examine the context in Deuteronomy, we find that these similarities count for little. Moses told the Israelites that God would send them another intercessor; in the New Testament, Jesus is the mediator between God and man. Moses told the Israelites that God would raise up a prophet from the midst of them; whereas Jesus was born in Israel, Muhammad was born in what is now Saudi Arabia. Moses told the Israelites that the prophet would come from among their “brethren,” a term that is used over and over again to refer to their fellow Israelites; Jesus was a Jew, yet Muhammad was an Arab. Moses was known as a miracle worker who spoke directly to God; it is Jesus, not Muhammad, who was like Moses in these respects. On top of all this, Deuteronomy 18:20 rules out Muhammad as a prophet.

Of course, Muslims are free to believe that Moses’ prophecy in Deuteronomy 18 refers to Muhammad. But when they offer this verse as evidence of Muhammad’s prophethood, the burden of proof of is on them. Since the major characteristics of the Prophet in Deuteronomy apply most directly to Jesus, Muslims need to find another Major Prophecy to sustain the Qur’anic claim to Biblical support.

At this point, Muslims turn to the book of John, where Jesus predicts the coming “Comforter”:

If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:15-18)

These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:25-26)

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:26-27)

Oddly enough, Muslims see these passages as predictions of the coming of Muhammad. Indeed, after quoting all three passages about the Comforter, Maulana Muhammad Ali maintains, “All these prophetic words predict in unequivocal terms the advent of another prophet after Jesus.”[12] Muslims reason that, since the Comforter will not come unless Jesus returns to the Father, this prophecy cannot possibly be referring to the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit was already present in Jesus. Thus, Jesus must have been predicting the rise of another prophet, and (for some reason) Muhammad is the only possible candidate. Such a claim is, to say the least, quite baffling to anyone familiar with John’s Gospel.

First, Muslims draw this prophecy from a book that begins by declaring that Jesus is God and that he created all things (John 1:1-3). In the Book of John, Jesus claims to have existed before Abraham (8:58) and describes himself as the ladder between heaven and earth (1:51; cf. Genesis 28:10-17). A blind man who receives his sight worships Jesus (9:35-38), and Thomas calls Jesus “My Lord and my God” (20:28). Jesus is crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected, events that are at odds with the Qur’an. Further, in the very chapters to which Muslims appeal for their predictions about Muhammad, Jesus proclaims that he is the only way to God (14:6), that anyone who has seen him has seen the Father (14:9), that he is “in the Father” and that the Father is in him (14:11), that he can answer prayers (14:14), and that we cannot bear fruit unless we abide in him (15:4). We might wonder why Muslims appeal to a book that is so diametrically opposed to Islam. However, we must remember that Muhammad declared that there are prophecies about him in the New Testament. Muslims are thus forced into grasping at anything that will help them vindicate Muhammad’s claim.

Second, the three passages from John repeatedly identify the Comforter as the Holy Spirit (or the “Spirit of Truth”). Yet Muslims argue that these verses simply can’t refer to the Holy Spirit:

The terms of the prophecy do not warrant the conclusion that they are applicable to the Holy Ghost. “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you” are words too clear to need any comment. The New Testament says that John was filled with the Holy Ghost even before he was born. Then it speaks of Jesus himself as receiving the Holy Ghost in the shape of a dove. Thus the Holy Ghost used to visit men before the time of Jesus as well as in his own time.[13]

This argument clearly misses the point of Jesus’ prediction. Jesus acknowledges that the Spirit was already with them: “… for he dwelleth with you.” The prophecy was that the Spirit would be in them and dwell with them forever. This was something entirely new, and it was by no means invalidated because the Spirit was already in Jesus.

Third, as we just saw, Jesus says that the Comforter would be with his disciples forever. In no sense was Muhammad ever with Jesus’ disciples, let alone with them permanently.

Fourth, according to the prophecy, the world cannot receive the Comforter because it cannot see him. Thousands of people saw Muhammad during his lifetime, for he was visible. Thus, the invisible Comforter cannot be the visible Muhammad.

Fifth, Jesus tells the disciples that the Comforter was already with them. While the Holy Spirit was with Jesus’ disciples, Muhammad wasn’t born for more than five centuries after this prophecy and therefore couldn’t have been with them.

Sixth, the Comforter was to be in the disciples. Muhammad is not in Jesus’ followers and never will be. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, filled the believers at Pentecost and has been in Christians ever since.

Seventh, Jesus said that he would send the Comforter from the Father. Muslims do not believe that Muhammad was sent by Jesus; they believe that Muhammad was sent by God. So, unless Muslims are willing to admit that Jesus is God, they should not accept this as a prophecy about Muhammad.

Finally, prior to his ascension, Jesus predicted that his followers would “be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:5). The Holy Spirit came to Jesus’ followers shortly after his ascension to the Father:

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)

Thus, the fulfillment of this prophecy came within a matter of days. Muhammad came more than five hundred years later.

Putting all of this together, we see that Muhammad could not have been the Comforter. He was not with the apostles, he was not in the apostles, he was not with them forever, he was not invisible, he was not sent by Jesus, and he did not come quickly, as Jesus said he would. Yet the Holy Spirit matches this description perfectly. Jesus identified the Comforter as the Holy Spirit, who was with the disciples, was in them at Pentecost, was invisible, came quickly, was sent by Jesus, and has been with Christians for nearly two thousand years. Given the facts, Muslims who apply these verses to Muhammad should be ashamed of themselves.

The Minor Prophecies

Although the most popular Muslim prophecies completely fail upon closer inspection, Muslim apologists have offered a number of other weaker examples of predictions about Muhammad. They are less common because, in context, they typically have nothing to do with a coming prophet or the rise of another religion. Muslims therefore have to force their own meaning into these prophecies, but they do so at the expense of their own integrity.

In addition to the prophecies discussed above, Maulana Muhammad Ali offers three other Biblical prophecies about the rise of Muhammad. Yet he begins, oddly enough, by quoting some verses from the Qur’an regarding the coming of a final prophet, and he goes on to argue that only Muhammad fits the description of the “Messenger” in these verses. Ali thus quotes verses given by Muhammad as evidence that Muhammad was the one proclaimed in the verses![14]

After engaging in this bit of circular reasoning, Ali offers a promise made to Abraham (cleverly combined with a later promise about Ishmael) as the first prediction of the rise of Islam:

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3)

And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. (Genesis 17:20)

Ali considers this to be the first “prophecy announcing the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.”[15] However, while I quoted the first passage in context, I left the second passage as it appears in Ali’s book. Watch what happens when we include the surrounding verses:

And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. (Genesis 17:18-22)

Hence, to support his case, Ali quotes a promise that God made to Abraham, then quotes a verse about Ishmael, claiming that it shows that the promise refers to Ishmael and his descendents (i.e. Muhammad). Yet, in quoting the verse, he leaves out all the surrounding material, which states that the covenant was to be made, not with Ishmael, but with Isaac. Knowing that few of his readers will be so bold as to actually look up the references he cites, Ali has no difficulty wrenching this verse from its context, giving it a meaning far different from the one expressed in Genesis.

Nevertheless, Muslims still argue that this passage predicts the rise of a nation from Ishmael’s descendents, and that such a prediction can only refer to the rise of Islam. However, the fulfillment of this prophecy took place in the Book of Genesis, not twenty-six centuries later in Mecca:

Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid, bare unto Abraham: and these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphich, and Kedemah: these are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations. (Genesis 25:12-16)

Ali’s second example is Moses’ prediction of a prophet like himself, which we have already addressed. His third prophecy also comes from Deuteronomy:

And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, And rose up from Seir unto them; He shined forth from mount Paran, And he came with ten thousands of saints: From his right hand went a fiery law for them. (Deuteronomy 33:1-2)

Notice that this passage says nothing about prophets. It is a description of God’s victory in bringing the Israelites into the Holy Land. God was with them as they passed Sinai, Seir, and Paran. Indeed, the language used by Moses to describe God’s help is common in the Old Testament:

LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, When thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, The earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, The clouds also dropped water. The mountains melted from before the LORD, Even that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel. (Judges 5:4-5)

O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, When thou didst march through the wilderness; Selah. The earth shook, the heavens also dropped At the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved At the presence of God, the God of Israel. … The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: The Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place. (Psalm 68:7-8, 17)

Yet Muslim apologists claim that Moses’ words at the beginning of his blessing aren’t a description of God’s victory; instead, they are a prediction of three great prophets. Ali argues:

“Coming from Sinai” refers to the appearance of Moses, while “rising up from Seir” refers to the conquest of Seir by David. Now Paran is admittedly the ancient name for the land of Hijaz, where arose Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) from among the descendents of Ishmael.[16]

Most Muslim commentators, however, believe that “Seir” refers to the prophethood of Jesus, not to the conquest of Seir by King David. Thus Badawi claims:

Deuteronomy 33:1-2 combines references to Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. It speaks of God (i.e. God’s revelation) coming from Sinai, rising from Seir (probably the village of Sa’ir near Jerusalem) and shining forth from Paran. According to Genesis 21:21, the wilderness of Paran was the place where Ishmael settled (i.e. Arabia, specifically Mecca).[17]

These interpretations are fraught with difficulties. Moses’ blessing begins by saying that the LORD (not the prophets) came from Sinai, rose up from Seir, and shined forth from Mount Paran. To say that this really refers to prophets requires an unjustified leap of interpretation, especially since similar language is used elsewhere in the Old Testament to describe God’s victories over Israel’s enemies. Further, while God gave a revelation at Sinai, the Muslim interpretations of “Seir” are problematic. Ali holds that it refers to David’s conquest of Seir, but what does this have to do with the rise of a prophet or the giving of revelation? Badawi says that the reference to Seir probably refers to the village of Sa’ir near Jerusalem. But this view is preposterous. The Pentateuch mentions Seir numerous times as the place where the Edomites settled, and the same word is used in Deuteronomy 33. Needless to say, the Edomites didn’t settle in the village of Sa’ir near Jerusalem, which makes it impossible to link Jesus to Seir. Additionally, Paran (near Mecca, according to Muslims) is also mentioned several time in the Torah:

And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud [i.e. the glory of the LORD] rested in the wilderness of Paran. (Numbers 10:12)

And afterward the people removed from Hazeroth, and pitched in the wilderness of Paran. (Numbers 12:16)

And Moses by the commandment of the LORD sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel. (Numbers 13:3)

And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. (Numbers 13:26)

These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab. (Deuteronomy 1:1)

Mount Paran is in northwestern Sinai, a great distance from Mecca. However, even if Paran were the land of Muhammad, as Badawi claims, the Torah would simply be telling us that the Israelites spent time there during their flight from Egypt, and that the fiery pillar of the glory of God rested there for a time. It makes sense, then, to think that Moses’ report that the LORD “shined forth from mount Paran” refers to the LORD literally shining forth from Mount Paran, not to Muhammad figuratively shining forth with the Qur’an in Mecca.

Ali’s final prophecy (other than Jesus’ prediction of the coming Comforter) is taken from Isaiah:

The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye traveling companies of Dedanim. The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, They prevented with their bread him that fled. For they fled from the swords, From the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, And from the grievousness of war. (Isaiah 21:13-15)

According to Ali, this “burden upon Arabia” is a clear prophecy about Muhammad:

In the first place the word “Arabia” is by itself significant enough. Then the mention of one who fled sheds still further light on the object of the prophecy. The history of the world records but one such flight that has won the importance of a red-letter event—the flight of the Holy Prophet Muhammad from Makkah. … A yet clearer testimony, however, is contained in the words, “he fled from drawn swords.” History confirms that the Holy Prophet Muhammad fled from Makkah while his house was still surrounded by blood-thirsty enemies with drawn swords ready to fall upon him in a body as soon as he came out. … These two authoritative facts of history, supplemented by a direct mention of the land of Arabia as the birth-place of the Promised Prophet, furnished an indisputable clue that the prophecy refers to the Holy Prophet Muhammad.[18]

Before we agree with Ali that this prophecy is “indisputable,” perhaps we should read the next two verses, which he conveniently leaves out of his quotation:

For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of a hireling, And all the glory of Kedar shall fail: And the residue of the number of archers, The mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: For the LORD God of Israel hath spoken it. (Isaiah 21:16-17)

The verses that Ali omits provide a timeframe for when the prophecy was to be fulfilled. The fulfillment was to take place within a year of the prophecy! While we cannot be certain when the prophecy was made, we know that Isaiah wrote during the expansion of the Assyrian empire, and that the Assyrians began invading Arabia in 732 B.C. Further, the inhabitants of Tema lived approximately four hundred miles north of Mecca, so it is difficult to imagine how the prophecy could apply to Muhammad’s flight from Mecca. It seems most reasonable, then, to conclude that Isaiah prophesied about the Assyrian empire’s attacks on Arabia that occurred during his own lifetime, not about Muhammad’s flight from Mecca more than a thousand years later.

This concludes Ali’s evidence that the Bible speaks about Muhammad. Other Muslim apologists offer a few additional prophecies, but they all suffer from the same problems. After examining five Biblical “prophecies” about Muhammad, we can see that the method Muslims use in their Argument from Biblical Prophecy consists of the following steps:

Step One: Find any verse in the Bible that can be interpreted, by a stretch of the imagination, as a prophecy about Muhammad;

Step Two: Wrench the verse from its context, ignoring the verses that precede it and those that follow;

Step Three: Ignore all obvious, common-sensical interpretations of the prophecy, especially those that were fulfilled shortly after the prophecy was given;

Step Four: Popularize the prophecy and the Muslim interpretation in books, pamphlets, sermons, and internet articles, knowing that few people will ever critically examine the passage.

While such a method appears detestable to the uninitiated, it comes quite naturally to many Muslim apologists. Nevertheless, it isn’t really their fault. Muhammad claimed that the Bible is full of prophecies about the rise of Islam, so Muslims are doing their best to find those prophecies. They’ve spent nearly fourteen centuries searching for at least two unambiguous predictions (one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament), yet all their attempts have failed. This presents an enormous problem for Islam, for this lack of Biblical support leads to a devastating conclusion. Since Muhammad claimed that the Bible predicts the rise of Islam, the following syllogism refutes Muhammad’s prophethood:

Premise One: If Muhammad was a true prophet, the Bible must contain numerous clear prophecies about him (for this is what he claimed).

Premise Two: There are no clear prophecies about Muhammad in the Bible.

Conclusion: Therefore, Muhammad was not a true prophet.

Of course, this means that the Muslim search for Biblical support has actually backfired and shown the religion to be false. However, such a conclusion may be too hasty, for, in reality, the Bible does contain prophecies about Muhammad. Muslims have simply overlooked them.

The True Prophecies

Consider the following passages drawn from the New Testament:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? (Matthew 7:15-16)

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:9-11)

And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron. (1 Timothy 4:1-2)

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

These verses need not be applied solely to Muhammad. Yet, without a doubt, Muhammad is a fulfillment of many New Testament prophecies. First, Jesus said that false prophets come in sheep’s clothing, but are actually ravening wolves. Muhammad fits this criterion better than anyone else in history. He convinced his followers that he was the greatest moral example in history, yet he murdered countless people, took part in the slave trade, allowed husbands to beat their wives, allowed his men to have sex with their female slaves, had at least nine wives at one time, admittedly proclaimed verses from Satan, and had sex with a nine-year-old girl.[19] If Muhammad doesn’t fulfill Jesus’ prophecy, then who does?

Next, Jesus said that false prophets would arise, and that they would deceive many. There are currently more than a billion Muslims in the world, and Islam is one of the world’s fastest growing religions. This means that Muhammad is the greatest false prophet of all time, and the most obvious fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy.

Third, the Apostle Paul said that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. If Muhammad had been aware of this, perhaps he would have trusted his first instinct when a spirit claiming to be Gabriel suddenly appeared to him. (Muhammad’s first impression of his revelations was that he was under demonic attack.[20]) This is a clear fulfillment of Paul’s words.

Fourth, Paul said that people would give heed to “seducing spirits” and “doctrines of devils.” Muhammad’s infamous “Satanic Verses” provide a striking example of this. The Prophet of Islam received revelations saying that it was okay for his followers to pray to gods besides Allah. Later, he claimed that Satan had put those words on his lips.[21] Muhammad was therefore seduced by the doctrines of Satan, just as Paul predicted.

Fifth, Paul predicted that a time would come when people would not listen to sound doctrine. Instead, they would turn their ears away from the truth and listen to fables. An application of this prophecy can be made to Muslims today. While there are many Muslims who seek the truth, there are also many who don’t seem to care where the evidence points. Instead of acknowledging that Islam is an untenable religion, they go to teachers like Jamal Badawi and Shabir Ally, who tell them what they want to hear.

These prophecies may all be applied to Muhammad and to Islam. Thus, when Muhammad claimed that other messengers of God had prophesied about him, he was correct. The problem is that these messengers predicted the rise of false prophets, not the rise of a new religion after Christianity. Tragically, most people haven’t heeded the warnings of the prophets. To this day, many even reject the words of Christ. Yet when a man rises from the dead, vindicated by God, everyone should listen to what he says. And when this risen man tells us that false prophets will come, we should probably be suspicious of anyone claiming to be a prophet—especially one with Muhammad’s character flaws. Indeed, in addition to his other flaws, Muhammad is guilty rejecting one of the clearest prophecies in history, a prophecy about the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth:

Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, And as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; And when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: And we hid as it were our faces from him; He was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, And carried our sorrows: Yet we did esteem him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: The chastisement of our peace was upon him; And with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned every one to his own way; And the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, Yet he opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: And who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: For the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, And with the rich in his death; Because he had done no violence, Neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; For he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, And he shall divide the spoil with the strong; Because he hath poured out his soul unto death: And he was numbered with the transgressors; And he bare the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:1-12)

Notes:

1 “Prophecies about the advent of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, are met with in earlier sacred books and had great currency among the nations. . . . The Qur’an asserts that the appearance of the Holy Prophet was foretold by each and all of the foregoing prophets, through whom the covenant was also made with their respective peoples that they would accept him when he made his appearance” (Maulana Muhammad Ali, Muhammad the Prophet [St. Lambert: Payette and Sims, 1993], p. 22).

2 All Qur’an quotations are taken from the Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation.

3 Sahih Al-Bukhari, Dr. Muhammad Matraji, tr. (New Delhi: Islamic Book Service, 2002), Number 2125.

4 Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah (The Life of Muhammad), A. Guillaume, tr. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), pp. 240-241.

5 Ibid., pp. 103-104.

6 Ibid., p. 656.

7 Yusuf Ali, Note 1127. Ali, like many other Muslim commentators, believes that the Greek Paracletos (comforter, helper, counselor) should be rendered Pariclytos (which, he claims, is the Greek form of Ahmad). However, there are more than 5,000 extant Greek manuscripts of John’s Gospel, and not a single one agrees with Ali’s claim. Muslim apologists fail to realize that, when a claim is made, evidence is required. There is simply no justification for the idea that the verse should read “Periclytos.”

8 All Bible quotations are taken from the King James Version, since this is the version that Muslims typically use in their apologetics.

9 Ahmad Deedat, What the Bible Says About Muhammad (New Dehli: Islamic Book Service), p. 13.

10 “But (now), when the Truth Has come to them from Ourselves, They say, ‘Why are not (Signs) sent to him like Those which were sent to Moses?’ Do they not then reject (The Signs) which were formerly Sent to Moses?” (Qur’an 28:48). Ibn Ishaq adds: “[Muhammad said]: ‘How unfortunate is the death of Abu Umama! The Jews and the Arab hypocrites are sure to say “If he were a prophet his companion would not die” and (truly) I have no power from God for myself or for my companion (to avert death)’” (p. 235).

11 Qur’an 3:49.

12 Maulana Muhammad Ali, Muhammad in the Bible, p. 27.

13 Ibid., p. 27.

14 Ibid., pp. 22-23.

15 Ibid., p. 24.

16 Ibid., p. 25.

17 See Jamal Badawi, “Muhammad in the Bible.”

18 Maulana Muhammad Ali, Muhammad in the Bible, p. 26.

19 For references, see “Islam Beheaded.”

20 For more on this, see “A Bewitched Prophet?

21 See “A Bewitched Prophet?

 

The Two Faces of Islam  – Why All Muslims Benefit From Terrorism

The Two Faces of Islam – Why All Muslims Benefit From Terrorism

While many Muslims are just as horrified by terrorism as the rest of us are, all Muslims nevertheless benefit from Islam. This is because both peaceful and violent Muslims tend to share two important goals: (1) the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam, and (2) the silencing of critics of Islam. Since terrorism helps achieve these goals, all Muslims benefit from Islam.

See also David’s article on this subject here

 

The Two Faces of Islam . . . Still Smiling – Why All Muslims Benefit From Terrorism

The Two Faces of Islam . . . Still Smiling – Why All Muslims Benefit From Terrorism

By David Wood

See David’s recent video on this topic here

My hungry toddler woke me up this morning. After making his breakfast, I turned on my computer and found that London had just been struck by terrorists. As I watched news clips for the next few hours, I noticed that, for many in the West, the terror attacks brought back painful memories of September 11th, 2001. For me it was a little different. My thoughts weren’t drawn to the attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but to an attack on a local mosque that took place shortly thereafter.

Following the 9-11 attacks, a few enraged vandals smashed the windows of the Islamic Center near Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. When the pastor of a nearby church saw the students vandalizing the mosque, he called the police. Later in the day, police and school officials held a meeting to help ease some of the tension. After the meeting, an angry attendee caused a brief panic when he claimed that Islam is a religion of violence and bloodshed, and that the terrorists were only doing what they were commanded to do in the Qur’an. Several people (including myself) argued against him, confidently assuring the man that Islam is actually a religion of peace.

My beliefs about Islam have changed since then (mostly because I’ve studied Islam). Nevertheless, I recently realized why I had been so quick to defend the Muslim religion. Over the years, I’ve known several Muslims, and they have all been kind, peaceful individuals. Indeed, despite the popular portrait of Muslims burning flags and desecrating images of George Bush, the majority of Muslims are normal, faithful, peaceful people, going about their daily lives with no intention of blowing up buildings or of burning anyone’s flag. Many in the West deny this, but they typically do so because they have never so much as talked to a Muslim.

The benevolent nature of these Muslims has a profound psychological effect on Westerners. It causes us to say, “Wait a minute. Islam can’t be bad, because Muslims are such nice people. Thus, the terrorists who blow up buildings and subways must be extremists.” Once we have convinced ourselves of this, we may even find ourselves defending Islam, as I once did. We know that people are angry at terrorists, and we know that some of these angry people may want to take out their anger on Muslims. So we end up defending Islam in order to protect our Muslim friends. While protecting people is certainly a noble goal, defending Islam is an entirely different story.

If someone were to ask me, “David, do you believe that Islam is a religion of peace?” my answer would not be “Yes” or “No.” Rather, my response would be, “First tell me what you mean when you say ‘Islam,’ for it is a term that is used in different ways.” If by “Islam” we mean the religion that is practiced by more than a billion people around the world, I could reasonably answer with a qualified “Yes,” because it is a religion of peace for many people (though not for all). But if by “Islam” we mean the religion taught by Muhammad, I would have to respond with a resounding “No.”

At this point my Muslim readers will be saying to themselves, “What does this infidel mean? There is only one Islam, perfectly preserved in the Holy Qur’an from the time it was given to Prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel.” However, much like the idea that the Qur’an has been perfectly preserved, the idea that Islam has only one face is completely false. There has always been a psychological crisis in Islam, and if I were to diagnose it as having a particular mental illness, I would probably argue that it suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder. Islam has never been able to decide whether it wants to live in peace with unbelievers, or to pile their severed, unbelieving heads into a giant pyramid. I’m sure many would disagree here, but they would be disagreeing with one of the most empirically verifiable facts in the universe. Think about it. One Muslim beheads an innocent woman to protest the war in Iraq, while another Muslim curses him for slaying the innocent. One group of Muslims flies an aircraft into a building, while another group condemns the attack. One Muslim detonates a bomb on a bus filled with passengers, while another Muslim says on the evening news, “Islam is a religion of peace.” Each side quotes the Qur’an to support its actions. However, it may be even more important to note that each of them is following the example set by Muhammad.

The reason that Islam suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder is that its founder also suffered from this disorder. I don’t mean this to be taken literally, of course. It is only meant to describe a peculiar phenomenon that went on in Muhammad’s head. When Muhammad first began receiving his “revelations,” many of his neighbors in the city of Mecca took it upon themselves to mock and persecute him. Muhammad was a threat both to their immoral lifestyles and to their source of wealth (the pagan idols of the city brought plenty of revenue), and so he had to be stopped, or at least discredited. During this period, Muhammad was humble, devout in many ways, obedient to the message handed down to him, faithful in giving to the poor, and, in general, a fine moral example. In essence, he was like the many fine examples of dedicated Muslims we see in the world today. He preached a religion of peace, and the hadiths we have from this period reflect his peaceful temperament.

Then something happened. Muhammad fled Mecca and moved to Medina, where his political power rapidly increased. Soon he and his followers began raiding caravans to support the fledgling religion,[1]and, while Muhammad’s enemies multiplied, so did his followers. What followed can only be described as a reign of terror for those who refused to submit to Islam. Both men and women were slaughtered for writing satirical poems against Muhammad, and those who left the Islamic faith were exterminated. One woman was murdered in the dark for writing a poem against Muhammad; after she was slain, Muhammad declared that “Two goats won’t butt their heads about her.”[2] Hundreds of Jews were beheaded (after surrendering) for standing against Muhammad, and their wives and children were sold into slavery.[3] A blind man who was reportedly more than a hundred years old had his head split open for saying that, if he could only see, he would throw a handful of dust at Muhammad.[4] When a man named Uqba was about to be killed by Muslims and showed concern for his family by asking, “But who will look after my children, O Muhammad?” Muhammad answered by telling the doomed man that Hell would take care of them.[5] (For more on Muhammad’s violent acts, see “Murdered By Muhammad.”)

There are, of course, far more examples of violence than the ones listed here, but these should be sufficient to provide a picture of Muhammad’s idea of how Muslims should treat those who refuse to submit to Islam. Was Islam a religion of peace for the 600-900 Jewish men and boys whose heads were piled into trenches after they had surrendered? Was Islam a religion of peace for the woman who was stabbed to death in the midst of her five children? Was it a religion of peace for anyone who dared to speak out against Muhammad? No, it wasn’t. When Muhammad finally had a band of dedicated followers who would obey his violent commands without question, Islam was not a religion of peace.

Notice that we have approached this question regarding the nature of Islam using a basic historical analysis. Discussions about Islam typically revolve around certain verses in the Qur’an, but such discussions are often fruitless. The reason for this is that the Qur’an is very inconsistent in its approach towards unbelievers, due in large part to Muhammad’s own inconsistency. In conversations about Islam, a Muslim may argue that, according to the Qur’an, “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256). A critic may reply with a very different passage:

 

Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection (9:29).

To this the Muslim replies, “Yes, it says to fight those who do not believe, but it is referring to unbelievers who attack Islam.” Thus, according to many Muslims, Islam fights, but only in self-defense. So who’s right? The solution to the debate can be found in a historical examination of Islam. It is true that Muslims are only permitted to attack when threatened, but history shows what the early Muslims considered a threat. Anything other than complete submission to Islam was regarded as a threat to Islam, and so anything other than complete submission was met with extreme hostility. Even poetry and song lyrics, when used against Muhammad, were enough to warrant a sentence of death.[6]

Hence, the verses in the Qur’an that teach Muslims to live in peace should be examined within the historical context of Muhammad’s life, for it is this life that sheds light on an apparently ambiguous message. This historical context also sheds light on modern aspects of Islam, which ultimately derive from the life of its founder.

For instance, more than thirteen centuries ago, the relatively peaceful Muhammad fled Mecca because of intense persecution. As he fled the city, he left the path of peace farther and farther behind him. He eventually returned at the head of an army, and few were brave enough to oppose him. Islamic law was suddenly supreme, with a host of bloody tales to warn its enemies. A similar phenomenon occurs in the world today. When Muslims are in the minority (as they are in America) the message is always “Let us live in peace with one another, for Islam is a religion of tolerance and understanding.” Then, once Islam has spread throughout the country, the message suddenly changes to “Anyone who stands against the Prophet is worthy of death!”

Oddly enough, this tactic has been remarkably successful for Islam. Despite more than a thousand years of bloodshed, many people are convinced that Muhammad was a gentle, humble man who never harmed anyone, and that Islam teaches its followers to be at peace with everyone who hasn’t declared war on them. Then, when someone like Osama bin Laden organizes a group of Muslims in an attack against thousands of innocent people, everyone says that he must be insane, and people around the world rush to defend Islam.

The result is simply amazing. Muslims commit acts of terror in Russia, Spain, America, England, Israel, and countless other countries around the world, and it actually causes certain people to support Islam even more! Think about it. A Muslim blows up a bus, but people don’t want other Muslims to be persecuted for it, so they start defending Islam. Legislators are among the most active in this regard. Laws threatening free speech about Islam are popping up everywhere (even in the United States and Great Britain[7]), declaring that statements against Islam will not be tolerated. Indeed, Australia is on the verge of sending pastors to prison for quoting passages of the Qur’an![8]

Today’s terrorist attacks in London, strangely enough, will help Islam grow even stronger. There will be a brief period of outrage against Islam, but once the smoke has cleared (both literally and figuratively), the world will once again rush to defend Islam, and more bills will be passed, “protecting” Muslims from those who would speak out against Muhammad’s “religion of peace.” No matter how violent Islam becomes, as long as people fail to recognize that its two faces are part of the same head (and that both faces are calmly smiling as new laws make Islam untouchable), Muhammad’s empire of faith will thrive in a world of false tolerance.

Perhaps Osama bin Laden isn’t as crazy as everyone thinks, for his plan seems to be working perfectly. His attacks are strengthening Islam’s position in the world. In a curious way, bin Laden is more dedicated to true Islam than most Muslims are. If Muhammad told Muslims to fight in the name of God and demonstrated his meaning by killing men, women, and children for even minor resistance, what should a dedicated Muslim do? Should devout Muslims live in peace with the infidels around them, or should they follow Muhammad’s example by murdering the infidels in their beds?[9]

I’m very happy that most Muslims are willing to live in peace with their neighbors. Yet we have to be honest here. Benevolent Muslims aren’t peaceful because they are following the example set by Muhammad. They are peaceful because they’ve chosen to do what’s right, and because they are willing to live far better lives than Muhammad himself lived. In fact, many Muslims are such kind, peaceful, and gentle people that they seem to be following the example set by another great religious leader—one who died on the cross for the sins of the world and rose from the dead to prove his message. This man gave his listeners a sober warning: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:15). And, may I add, we should also watch out for false religions, which come to us crying “Peace! Peace!” when they are built on a foundation of murder and bloodshed.

For Further Reading:

Notes:

Qur’an quotations are taken from the M. H. Shakir Translation. The Bible quotation is from the New International Version.
1 According to Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad’s earliest biographer, Muhammad personally took part in 27 of these raids [Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, (The Life of Muhammad), A. Guillaume, tr. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), p. 659]. I highly recommend Ibn Ishaq’s work for anyone who is interested in early Islam.

2 Ibid., p. 676.

3 Ibid., p. 464: “Then they surrendered, and the apostle [Muhammad] confined them in Medina . . . Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina (which is still a market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches. . . . There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900.”

4 Ibid., p. 372-373.

5 Ibid., p. 308.

6 Thus, if a Muslim were to kill me for writing this article, he would be in keeping with the teachings of Muhammad.

7 For examples of such laws, see “My Right to Offend a Fool” and “Controversial Hate Crimes Law Effective Jan. 1.”

8 See “Death Knell of the West.”

9 For one example of Muslims killing a victim in bed, see Ibn Ishaq, p. 483: “His wife came out and asked who they were and they told her that they were Arabs in search of supplies. She told them that their man was here and that they could come in. When we entered we bolted the door of the room on her and ourselves fearing lest something should come between us and him. His wife shrieked and warned him of us, so we ran at him with our swords as he was on his bed.”

 

By David Wood

Zakir Naik a stellar Islamic theologian and debater or a bad joke?

Zakir Naik a stellar Islamic theologian and debater or a bad joke?

An introduction

Those of us that have studied Islam will have heard of  Zakir Naik, maybe watched some of his lectures or `debates’ on Youtube.  His official website introduces him in the following way:

A medical doctor by professional training, Dr Zakir Naik is renowned as a dynamic international orator on Islam and Comparative Religion. He is the President of Islamic Research Foundation, Mumbai, India. He is 49 years old. Dr Zakir clarifies Islamic viewpoints and clears misconceptions about Islam, using the Qur’an, authentic Hadith and other religious Scriptures as a basis, in conjunction with reason, logic and scientific facts. He is popular for his critical analysis and convincing answers to challenging questions posed by audiences after his public talks. (more…)

Originally posted 2016-08-17 11:54:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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