Disingenuous Islam

Today, Aljazeera is running this story:





I'm rather cross that Ahmadiyya is being portrayed here as British Islam. It is not. I would argue it is probably what British Islam should be, but the reality is that the opinion among ALL Muslims as to the fact that Ahmadis/ Qadanis are NOT Muslim is unanimous. As such they are NOT allowed entry into any of Islam's holy places, nor participate in prayers or rituals.

This is because one of the basic dogmas of Islam (agreed upon by ALL Muslims regardless of denomination) is that the prophet Muhammad (saws) was the LAST and FINAL prophet: the seal of the Prophets.

This is in stark contradiction to the Ahmadi belief that Mizra Ghulam Ahmad was a prophet, a messiah, and the mahdi; another contradiction to the belief of ALL Muslims which is that the Messiah and Mahdi are two separate people.

In reality, the sad truth is that Ahmadis are being tortured and martyred on a weekly basis in Muslim countries. It's a disingenuous joke that Islamic Britain should try & own this laudable Ahmadi gathering, the Ahmadiyya are more persecuted by Islam than Christians are!

I wish Muslim Britain was following the Ahmadi line, I wish they were gathering to promote tolerance, but the Sunni majority are silent as far as I can see, apart from the brilliant Maajid Nawaz on BBC Question Time last night:



I have spent a lot of time studying & reading about Islam and retain a great deal of interest for the religion (which shares many basic tenets with Christianity & Judaism) as well as respect and admiration for the culture. Initially I was drawn to another scripture based faith. I wanted to see what *their* book says. When I discovered it was basically the Bible stories with a few interpolations about Mohammed's enemies, what women should wear, and date trees speaking to Mary, I was disappointed, and interested as to why anyone would be so convinced of its miraculous nature and passionate about emphasising the fracture between Islamic praxis & Christian doxy rather than celebrating the fact that the fundamental message of human dignity was the same in both faiths.

Anyway, when I look at what Islam continues to mean for the world, I think it is important to look at the basics of the belief and then state unambiguously where it is unworkable and why. I do not seek to stifle or silence Islam, I think everyone should be free to practice their religion. But I think debate and discussion is the way in which we learn and grow as a culture. Islam is a cultural interpretation of the best way to live, and as such needs to be critiqued, just like Christianity is, just like any ideology is. Islam tries to enforce a cultural praxis on foreign societies, and I think this is fundamentally where it falls down. It wants to make the world Mecca. It wants to make the world Saudi Arabia.

Mohammed wrought no miracles, apart from the Qur'an according to Islam (there's also a miracle of the moon, but not all accept this), yet he accepts Jesus did. Jesus performed miracles to demonstrate His divine origin; to show the people the finger of God amongst them. He did not claim to be a prophet, but God Himself. Islam & Christianity are not the same therefore, a parallel between Jesus & Mohammed is not possible. Islamic da'wah always falls down on this and blusters about Christ's humanity, without comprehending the teleology of the Judeo-Christian tradition. 13,000 years building up to the Incarnation give it a depth and context unrivaled in Islamic thought. You find in discussion a Muslim will attempt to humanise Christ, which I always find contemptible to some extent. As Islam hold Jesus as a prophet in His own right, they needs must exalt Him, not denigrate Him, and this is one of the fundamental logical flaws at the heart of a system which, when seen in context, is really nothing more than a Christian heresy.

In this discussion, let me assure you, there is nothing as powerful as the witness of a person freed from the martial theology of Islam to pursue a love affair with the living God.



Comments

  1. I think Christians of all people should understand the situation the Ahmadiyya are facing because they faced an identical situation themselves in the 1st century C.E. at the hands of the Jews. Ahmadi Muslims are ostracised by mainstream Muslims and are not allowed to enter Islam’s holy places (although many still do) in the same manner as the early followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) were ostracised by the Jewish orthodoxy as is evident from John 16:2; John 12:42; and John 9:22. We Ahmadis however will never distance ourselves from the Islam taught and practices by Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the early generations of Muslims. I don’t think Islamic Britain is trying to own this Ahmadi Gathering which is the 46th of its kind in Britain. Extremism is nothing new and is generated by the ever-present causes (usually political) throughout history such as imperialism. You say the Sunni majority are silent, but were the Jewish majority any more vocal in condemning the Zealots in the 1st century and the atrocities committed by certain Jewish groups during the violent rebellions against the Roman Empire during this period? Yet we do not and should not judge Judaism to be a violent religion on account of this.

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    1. Interesting long view you have there. Can we seriously draw parallels between 1st century Judaism & modern Islam? In this society where we have 24 hour reporting, would it not be considered prudent for the Sunni (eg the MCGB) to condemn ISIS?

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    2. Thank you for replying but my comment was not complete before you replied as I can only use a certain amount of words so I have made 3 posts and will wait for your reply to all of them together before responding.

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    3. "I think Christians of all people should understand the situation the Ahmadiyya are facing"
      It would appear you haven't read this blog post at all, because it is sympathetic to Ahmadis and critical of Muslims who persecute them.

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  2. Your assertion that ‘Mohammed wrought no miracles’ is absolutely unfounded. Firstly it is based on the false premise that people produce miracles by themselves. It is however God alone who produces miracles in support of his chosen ones. God is Omnipotent and His Powers are unlimited therefore he does not merely repeat the same miracles shown by previous prophets, but displays fresh signs with every prophet. One such sign in the case of Muhammad (peace be upon him) was at the battle of Badr when he took a handful of sand and pebbles and threw them towards the enemy as a signal that the help of God was about to arrive just as Moses had lifted up his rod and stretched out his hand over the sea signaling that God’s aid was about to arrive (Exodus 14:16-21). When he threw the sand, a strong wind blew in the direction of the enemy which filled their eyes mouths and noses and thus contributing to their discomfiture and the victory of the Muslims. What transpired at Badr was truly a miracle when a destitute and ill-equipped army of 313 overcame a well-equipped army of 1000. Early into his prophecy, during the Meccan period he had prophesied Islam’s imminent triumph at a time of utter despair and apparent failure, when Muslims were sorely persecuted and such prophecies were completely opposed to prevailing conditions.

    Apart from this thousands of miracles shown by Muhammad (peace be upon him) are spoken of in the Ahadith. Another miracle was the extraordinary spiritual and moral transformation he brought about in his companions which is beyond human power alone when one looks at the social condition, the morals, behaviour, beliefs, conduct and practices of the Arabs before and after Islam. It was his spiritual and moral training of them which turned a most wild and corrupt people into the most Godly and enlightened people within a space of about two decades.

    The Qur’an is another miracle in itself which contains within it all verities relating to truth and wisdom. For example, fundamentally, The New Testament does not even deal with the fundamental religious question of whether God exists or not and what are the poofs of his existence, but because it is centred around the Jews who already believed in God, His existence is therefore implied and taken for granted. In contrast the Quran (where God reveals Himself to mankind in a direct and structured manner and in a way that appeals directly to the human psyche) not only deals with the existence of God but gives extensive proofs thereof, thus the very first question or interrogation mark that appears towards the beginning is: “How can you disbelieve in Allah?” (Qur’an 2:28). The miracles of Muhammad (peace be upon him) are not merely tales of the past they can be seen and felt in this age too. By following the teachings of the Qur’an one can attain nearness to God; one witnesses His continuous support and acceptance of prayers out of the ordinary and is blessed with divine revelations even today.

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    1. "Your assertion that ‘Mohammed wrought no miracles’ is absolutely unfounded."

      I would argue that it is the rather explicit teaching of the Qur'an that Muhammad performed no supernatural, verifiable miracles apart from the inspiration that he received. Would you like me to cite verses?
      "it is based on the false premise that people produce miracles by themselves. It is however God alone who produces miracles"
      That's the point I was making, which you agree with. Good.
      You say God does not repeat the same miracle, then you cite Muhammed repeating the miracle prescribed to Moses in Exodus? I am left wondering how exactly would you define a miracle, because there are a number of examples throughout history were the less well equipped and outnumbered have beaten the favorites...but that doesn't mean that they are miraculous events. What do you think, for example, of the recent ISIS 800 vs 40,000 or so in the Iraqi army who mostly fled? Was that miraculous? Surely that's analogous to the event that happened at Badr? What about all the Arabs who ran away from tiny Jewish forces in '48 & '67?
      We have just had the 700 year anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn in Scotland where a heavily outnumbered Scottish force (7-10,000 men) overcame the English army which contained two or three times that number. Not a miracle - just a smart couple of Scottish commanders, a good choice of battle field and an incompetent English king (Edward II).
      The Qur'an is the best proof that Muhammed did no miracles:
      "Naught prevented Us from sending the signs (bial-ayati) but that the ancients cried lies to them; and We brought Thamood the She-camel visible, but they did her wrong. And We do not send the signs, except to frighten." S. 17:59
      This last passage is one of the clearest proofs that Muhammad did absolutely no miracles whatsoever. The text says that Allah refrained from providing miracles, which would make no sense at all if Muhammad did indeed perform signs and wonders. Regarding this verse, the late Sunni scholar Muhammad Asad candidly admitted:

      "This highly elliptic sentence has a fundamental bearing on the purport of the Qur'an as a whole. In many places the Qur'an stresses the fact that the Prophet Muhammad, despite his being the last and greatest of God's apostles, WAS NOT EMPOWERED TO PERFORM MIRACLES similar to those with which the earlier prophets are said to have reinforced their verbal messages. His ONLY miracle was and is the Qur'an itself - a message perfect in its lucidity and ethical comprehensiveness, destined for all times and all stages of human development, addressed not merely to the feelings but also to the minds of men, open to everyone, whatever his race or social environment, and bound to remain unchanged forever… (Asad, Message of the Qur'an [Dar Al-Andalus Limited 3 Library Ramp, Gibraltar rpt. 1993], p. 427, fn. 71

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    2. "Apart from this thousands of miracles shown by Muhammad (peace be upon him) are spoken of in the Ahadith. Another miracle was the extraordinary spiritual and moral transformation he brought about in his companions which is beyond human power alone when one looks at the social condition, the morals, behaviour, beliefs, conduct and practices of the Arabs before and after Islam. It was his spiritual and moral training of them which turned a most wild and corrupt people into the most Godly and enlightened people within a space of about two decades."
      I have to say, I am a little shocked that you feel you can make such an assertion! Have you never read an objective source about Islam? Have you never been interested? Lets have a look at the Islamic “Royal Family” and see if you're correct:
      ALI’S FRUIT
      Ali, Muhammad’s son in law, married to Muhammad’s daughter Fatima, raised by Muhammad from the age of five. At the battle of Khaibar Muhammad attested to Ali’s love of Allah, and Allah’s love of Ali. He was the fourth of the “rightly guided Caliphs” and had two sons: Hasan and Husayn (both are important later on). Eventually Ali became a co-Caliph. A few years later he was murdered by a fellow Muslim.
      The day after Muhammad’s death, Ali’s greed surfaced and he demanded that Abu Bakr give him a share of Muhammad’s ample wealth. His greed motivated him to move against Muhammad’s commands regarding his inheritance. Abu Bakr refused and Ali was enraged. He even stated that Muhammad himself did not know the Qur'an (in this Ali was correct) because the Qur'an details prophets leaving an inheritance to their sons (as does the Old Testament). As a result, Ali hated Abu Bakr deeply. He thought Abu Bakr to be “sinful, treacherous, dishonest, and a liar.” Remember, Abu Bakr was Islam’s 1st “Rightly Guided” Caliph. Obviously Ali did not think he was so “rightly guided!” When Muhammad’s daughter Fatima died, Ali was so embittered towards Abu Bakr that he did not bother to tell him, rather he buried Fatima in secret. Ali was censored by the people for his hatred towards Abu Bakr, therefore he went through the false motions of reconciliation with Abu Bakr to regain favor with the Muslim community.
      Following Abu Bakr’s death, Ali made the same financial demands upon Umar. Umar told Ali to his face that he knew he hated him and that he knew Ali thought him to be a “sinful treacherous dishonest liar”. However, under Ali’s pressure, Umar relented, compromised Muhammad’s commands, made some trite stipulations, and gave a share of the wealth to Ali.
      Following Uthman’s murder Ali did not attempt to punish the murderers. Instead he acted lamely, claiming he did not have sufficient force to deal with the murderers. Later when he had ample troops, instead of punishing Uthman’s murderers, he incorporated them into his service.
      After he became Caliph he used compulsion and forced az-Zubayr and Talha to give him allegiance. When it became apparent that not all thought he should be Caliph, instead of working to keep unity within the Islamic community, he demanded allegiance. His lust for power caused him to go to war to force all Muslims to obey him. This caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Muslims through various battles. Later, Ali murdered Muslims who had converted to Islam, realised it was a big mistake, and reverted back to Christ.
      FATIMA’S FRUIT
      One of Muhammad’s daughters, later married to Ali. The day after her father died, she went against her father’s wishes and demanded a share of his wealth. She hated Abu Bakr for refusing her demand. She thought him to be a “sinful, treacherous, dishonest, liar.” She died some 6 months after Muhammad died.

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    3. IBN ABBAS’ FRUIT
      Like Ali and Fatima, Ibn Abbas was greedy and made a demand upon Abu Bakr, and later Umar, for the inheritance. Ibn Abbas thought them to be “sinful, treacherous, dishonest, liars.” He did not care to respect Muhammad’s wishes. In his lust for the money, he even cursed Ali in front of Umar. Later in life he betrayed Ali, stole from the public treasury, lied about his actions, and murdered those that opposed him.
      ABU SUFYAN’S FRUIT
      Abu Sufyan should not be considered as part of the Royal family or one of the best Muslims. However, he became prominent even during Muhammad’s lifetime. I’ve noted him here because of the position his sons were to occupy later. After forcing Abu Sufyan to convert to Islam, Muhammad gave him financial rewards for accepting Islam and foolishly appointed him as a governor over a city. Muhammad’s corrupt folly here proved to be fatal to his own family not many years later.
      Islam’s Royal family knew of Sufyan’s intentions, for they heard him say, “By God, I see a cloud of smoke,” which nothing but blood will clear”, but they did nothing to check this. And, Sufyan’s prophecy proved true. Sufyan held malice against Abu Bakr and denigrated the choice of Bakr as Caliph. He considered himself and his clan to be superior to Abu Bakr. Later, his family destroyed Muhammad’s family, and took the Caliphate for themselves.
      AL-ZUBAYR’S FRUIT
      He was a very prominent Muslim, a close friend of Muhammad’s, and a leader in the Islamic community. After Muhammad died, he was willing to murder those that opposed Ali as Caliph. However, he desired the Caliphate and when he thought the time was right he rebelled against Ali. His leadership also caused the deaths of thousands of Muslims in the Battle of the Camel.
      UTHMAN’S FRUIT
      Uthman was the 3rd “Rightly Guided Caliph”. His caliphate marked the inward deterioration of the Islamic community. By this time, Muhammad’s empty legalistic rule had run its course and the Muslim community began to live in the flesh to the fullest. Uthman was a weak, corrupt leader and allowed the corruption to flourish throughout the Islamic empire. Uthman was murdered by Muslims, Abu Bakr’s son was one of the ringleaders of the murder. When his final crisis occurred, he lied to Ali and the people by saying he wanted time to set good things in order. Instead he prepared for war.
      TALHA’S FRUIT
      Another prominent Muslim, a close friend of Muhammad’s, and a leader in the Islamic community. He his desire for the Caliphate he rebelled against Ali. His leadership also caused the deaths of thousands of Muslims in the Battle of the Camel.
      MUAWIYAH’S FRUIT
      Muawiyah was Abu Sufyan’s son and was appointed to the governorship of Syria by Umar. He went to war with Ali. He later became the 5th Caliph of Islam. He treated Uthman with duplicity by not sending help when he needed it most. In his deceit and lust for power he rebelled against Ali. He led thousands of Muslims to their deaths in his war with Ali. He lied about seeking peace while all the while he moved against Ali. Later he lied to Hasan in promising Hasan that he would have a council held to determine the next Caliph. Instead, prior to his death, he installed his son Yazid as Caliph.
      AISHA’S FRUIT
      She was Muhammad’s 9 year old child bride. She hated Ali for most of her life. She was one of the leaders in Islam’s first civil war. She had previously despised Uthman, but she used his murder as a pretense to move against Ali. Her hatred and rebellion toward Ali led to the deaths of some 15,000 Muslims. In her bitterness towards Ali, she rejoiced when Ali was murdered.
      HASAN’S FRUIT
      Hasan was Ali’s older son and initially claimed the Caliphate for himself following his father’s murder. However, just as things went wrong for Ali, so things deteriorated for Hasan very quickly. He sold out his “birthright” for a large sum of money. Thereafter he spent his wealth on debauchery with women.

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    4. YAZID’S FRUIT
      Yazid was Muawiyah’s son. By using threat of death Yazid tried to force many Muslims to accept his Caliphate. Those that refused were tortured and killed. Entire towns of people were persecuted and oppressed. Yazid was a drunkard. It was Yazid’s forces that killed Husayn. Yazid, the Caliph of Islam desecrated the head of Muhammad’s grandson – Husayn. He was rebuked by another Muslim who told him that he had seem Muhammad kiss the lips of that severed head!
      ABDALLAH IBN AL-ZUBAYR’s FRUIT
      Ibn Zubayr was the son of Az-Zubayr, one of Muhammad’s most prominent Companions. Following Husayn’s death Ibn Zubayr also claimed the Caliphate. He died during another later civil war in 692. Ibn Zubayr was the son of one of the most prominent Companions. When he was persecuted by Yazid he fled as Husayn but even in this dire time, jealousy of Husayn and selfish ambition ruled in his heart. Deep down he coveted the prize of ruling the Muslims as Caliph.
      THE ISLAMIC COMMUNITY’S FRUIT
      We must not forget how the Islamic community behaved after Muhammad’s death. The day after Muhammad died they nearly came to war trying to choose the next Caliph. The Muslims were already ready to fight and kill each other. As things deteriorated under Uthman’s reign, from all over the Islamic empire they rebelled against him and journeyed to Medina to fight him. In the end many of Uthman’s closest friends deserted him. The son of the 2nd Rightly guided Caliph – Abu Bakr, was one of the ringleaders in Uthman’s murder. Following that, these renegade Muslims threatened Medina with annihilation if they did not quickly choose another Caliph. Throughout the times sons of Caliphs fought against sons of other Caliphs. Even the sons of a prominent Companion (Az-Zubayr) hated and fought against each other. During Ali’s through Yazid’s reign the Muslims fought war after war, carried out assassinations, rebelled against and betrayed each other. As time wore on they made war in Mecca and destroyed their own Kaba. Thousands of Basrans died, thousands of Kufans died, thousands of Syrians died, thousands of Meccans died, thousands of Medinans died, thousands of Yemenis died, and thousands of Egyptians died. The early Muslims were no more dependable and virtuous than a nest of poisonous snakes.
      This is nothing more than the fruit of some honest and objective research. It is this research that has led me to conclude that Islam is, at best, a very rosey interpolation of a man who preached a version of the Gospel he heard from contemporaries.
      I have to conclude that the only way you could believe what you have written here is if you were taught it as a child from a biased source and chose never to read any critical historic sources.

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    5. As for these specific allegations against the companions you have cited no source. However there are indeed such false narrations coming from those who out of their ego, personal enmities and vested political interests sought to malign the characters of these companions as Islam began to spread outside Arabia. Non-Muslim historians have either singled out such malignant narrations or have drawn false conclusions from true events and unfortunately some Muslims have followed them. Indeed details of the lives of the companions show that these were such people as would even sacrifice their own rights so as to prevent discord within the early Muslim community. These were not like the arrogant community of Moses (peace be upon him) who turned against him (Numbers 14) or the disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him) one of whom gave him away for money (Mark 14:10) another denied having known him (Maththew 26:69-74) and the rest were conspicuously absent at the most critical time of his life. In contrast the companions of Muhammad (peace be upon him) were such as assured him: ‘we did not know you so well before, now that we do, if we have to fight, we will fight to your right, to your left, in front of you and behind you’. (Bukhari and Hisham). In his lecture delivered in 1919, the second Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community addressed this subject extensively and exonerates the companions, particulary Uthman and Ali (Allah be pleased with them both) from such objections levelled against them and has outlined a number of factors which led to the discord in early Islam. To my knowledge no one has dealt with this subject in this way before him. It has been translated into English as “The Outset of Dissension in Islam” and can be found at the following link:
      http://www.alislam.org/library/books/Outset-of-Dissension-in-Islam.pdf

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    6. It is pretty obvious that the event of Badr was not a repetition of the one in Exodus, neither did I say it was, I said it was like it. They are certainly similar in principle and form not in content in as much in the case of both prophets their actions signalled the arrival of God’s help against their enemies, Moses (peace be upon him) striking the waters of the sea with his rod and Muhammad (peace be upon him) throwing the pebbles towards the enemy. The battle of Badr was not miraculous merely because the Muslims overcame an army three times their size, but if we consider the course of the battle, Divine support is manifest within it. Firstly it is related to the revelation received much earlier: “And surely to the people of Pharaoh came Warners. They rejected all Our signs. So we seized them like the seizing of One Who is Mighty, Omnipotent. Are your disbelievers better than those? Or have you an exemption in the Scriptures? Do they say, ‘We are a victorious host?’ The hosts shall soon be routed and will turn their backs (in flight). Aye, the Hour is their appointed time; and the Hour will be most calamitous and most bitter” (Qur’an 54:41-46). This was said in Mecca at least 3 years and at most 8 years before the migration at a time when the Muslims were being severely persecuted and were utterly helpless. Then at Badr, the Meccans had 700 camels, 100 horses, all of the riders, and most of those on foot clad in armour and well equipped with weapons. In contrast the Muslims had 70 camels and 2 horses which they rode in turns including the Prophet (peace be upon him), had meagre weapons and were mostly inexperienced with only 6 or 7 people clad in armour. One companion relates that he looked on his right and left and found two youngsters on both sides which worried him. It was only God who instilled awe in the minds of the Meccans, upon appraising the Muslim army one of them said ‘it is not men who ride on these camels but death’, another fled upon his heels saying to the Meccans “I see that which you do not”. However the outcome of the battle remained ambiguous for some time due to the superior strength and numbers of the Meccans. It was only after Muhammad (peace be upon him) came out from the tent reciting the verse “The hosts shall soon be routed and will turn their backs” and threw a handful of pebbles at the enemy that they fled in miserable haste due to the wind, leaving behind their dead as well as prisoners in accordance with the prophecy. According to some narrations some Muslims even saw the angels who came to support them

      As for verse 17:59 It is evident from both the Bible and Quran that there are 2 kinds of signs (1) those consisting of warning or punishment and (2) those of mercy and glad-tidings. Verse 17:59 and its preceding verse together make it abundantly clear that the signs spoken of relate to signs of chastisement and warning only and only those signs of chastisement which were shown and rejected in the past. The verse conveys that it is futile to send again those signs of chastisement which have been witnessed and rejected by earlier people. The reference to the she-camel of Thamud further clarifies this meaning. It is certainly not a general negation of signs as Mark 8:11-12 is. If anything the verse grammatically affirms the showing of miracles as the definite article ‘Al’ in ‘al-ayat’ indicates. There is not a single verse in the Qur’an which negates signs for Muhammad (peace be upon him) you may cite the verses which you think do. On the contrary there are verses which speak of his signs that were dismissed as ‘feats of magic’ by disbelievers.

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  3. With Muhammad (peace be upon him) we only have a denial of miracles on part of those who opposed him which could be biased and contrary to facts, however with Jesus (peace be upon him), according to the gospels, he himself refuses to show miracles when asked (Mark 8:11-12) and the ones he supposedly did show were of no avail to the Jews who rejected him despite having witnessed those miracles as is evident from John 12:37. Indeed those who are spiritually blind, it is of little benefit to them no matter how many miracles are wrought before them, they would not believe because they cannot see them.

    You claim that Jesus claimed to be God Himself and are perturbed when Muslims humanise Jesus. Besides the point that Muslims equally find it contemptible when Christians try to deify him, there are fundamental problems even if he is taken as God. To Believe in a God who is maltreated by the Jews, humiliated, is tempted by Satan, is subject to hunger, thirst and other human weaknesses and is made to die an accursed death indeed defies human nature, natural human inclination is adverse to accept such a God. To say he was both fully man and fully God is neither here nor there. As opposed to this the God presented by the Qur’an is that Perfect Being who is free from all defects. It is not Islam that denigrates Jesus (peace be upon him) but Christians who denigrate him by attributing to him an accursed death. In the Qur’an he is saved from becoming accursed and is instead exalted.

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    1. The Bible cautions us to recognise our human limitations.

      "Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens - what can you do? They are deeper than the depth of Sheol - what can you know?"

      Job 11:7-8

      What more perfect way to convince us of our divine destiny than for God to unite Himself with man? The bridge between the ultimately transcendent God and His creation was wrought through the Incarnation.

      Several of the books by Imams I have read on Islam wrestle with the idea of a creative God who is utterly transcendent. Why does He need to create? The standard answer is because He is love, but it makes little sense that God can be single and alone through all the vastness of time and space and eternity. It makes much more sense if we consider God to be relationship (i.e. agape in Greek). We all seek perfection in community, certainly it is a big part of Islam. Think about the uni-personal models of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. These are probably the best help to us in our human way to see what God is. Through these models we can start to grasp the Trinity as the Exemplar for the inter-personal project...as the transcendent Archetype of unity-in-diversity, or, to use a more personal expression, as communion-in-love-without-rivalry. It is as such that the Trinity draws human communities, and the Church, to the goal of communion-in-love-without-rivalry: we are to cherish each one's gifts and individuality in the Body in such a way that he or she can "become more him or herself" in the growth of non-oppressive unity.

      My study of Islam leads me to conclude that rather than see these God-sized mysteries as something revealed, which we must try to wrestle with, like Jacob at the Jabbok (Genesis 32.22-32).

      Please do think about this.

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    2. Dear Mark, all this is of secondary importance, surely before any discussion of the nature of God, the fundamental question in religion is whether God even exists or not. This is a question which the Qur’an addresses in a number of places (the very first question to appear in the beginning of the Quran addresses it as I cited above) for it is a universal scripture which covers the entire field of human conditions and appeals to people of all temperaments everywhere in the world. However the New Testament is completely silent on this issue and the question of God’s existence is not taken up for it was a scripture centred around the Jews who already believed in God. By the way, God does not need to create. He is above any need, creation is one of His attributes and He is Ever-Creative, the question of need does not arise. Even with love there is never a question of need, rather the act of creation is spontaneous. It is His creation that needs Him not the other way round. He is not such as would undergo birth from a womb of a woman; He does not turn to anything out of need, rather everything is in need of Him. The doctrine of Trinity would attribute to God an element of need and this is one of the major stumbling blocks of Christianity. If a metal is placed in fire for some time it acquires the attributes of fire such as heat and light yet we cannot call it fire, it remains a piece of metal. Similarly when a person becomes as holy and pious as to acquire the attributes of God in him and becomes lost in Him, we cannot call such a person God, he remains a creation of God and the distinction between Creator and created remains. Yet the Christians have made precisely this mistake with Jesus (peace be upon him).

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    3. "However the New Testament is completely silent on this issue and the question of God’s existence is not taken up"— Sorry brother but you are hugely mistaken! The Bible is not that sort of tome. It is not an attempt to convince anyone of anything; nothing so contrived. Rather it is a record of a people (the Old Testament) and the deeds and actions of one man (the New Testament). The Christian faith is not dependent on this record, rather it has a try-fold source of revelation: Scripture, Tradition (from the Latin "tradere"—which means to hand on), and the Magisterium. Part of the problem here is that you haven't understood hardly anything about Christianity, rather you had been taught, or built up a straw man of your own design.
      "It is His creation that needs Him not the other way round." We agree on this point. I explain like a parent who's child picks a flower for them. They do not need the flower, but accept it for love of the child.
      I love the way you say "He would not…" how do you know? Because you read some stuff about Him in the Qur'an? Immediately you face a philosophical contradiction, because you cannot limit God who is limitless. The doctrine of Trinity does not attribute need to God. It is a human way of understanding the effusive nature of love. The record speaks of Jesus as God, indeed attributes claims that He is God to His own words. I assume you dismiss this by saying it is a corruption in the text, but how then has almighty God allowed such a mistake to proliferate and become the largest religion in the world? Why indeed, would God get it wrong?

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    4. I think it’s extremely modest to say the Bible is merely ‘a record of a people’ and the ‘deeds and actions of one man’. Although it corroborates my point that it was meant only for a certain people. However, you would overlook such parts as the Psalms, the Book of Proverbs, and in the New Testament, the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles etc. which deeply traverse through Christian doctrines. There is much in it by way of moral teachings, theology and doctrine. The Catholic Encyclopedia, under the article on The New Testament, states that:

      “The "Theologies of the New Testament", of which so many have been written during the nineteenth century, are a proof that we can with canonical texts build up a compact and fairly complete doctrinal system.”

      My case is simply this: A religion must have revelation at its fountain-head otherwise it is man-made. If it claims to be based upon revelation and at the same time claims to be universal then that revelation must be a complete guidance on all fields, it must cover the entire field of human conditions and dispositions including the (dis)belief in the existence of God as there are many in the world who even question His existence. Christian sources of revelation whether written (scriptural), oral or practical do not as much as take up this most fundamental question because they were centred around the Jews for whom it was irrelevant, they already believed in Him, while Islam at its source – The Quran does address this question for it is meant for all mankind.

      Your analogy of the child picking a flower for the parent is beautiful but again misses the point which was why does God need to create? My answer was He does not NEED to create; He is above any need and doesn’t create out of any need but because to create is one of His everlasting attributes. A correct analogy to this should have been whether the parent needs the child itself, the flower is but incidental. Although I agree God would lovingly accept from us anything we offer Him, but that too would have been ultimately given to us by Him we couldn’t have created it ourselves. The doctrine of Trinity necessarily attributes need to God for He had to be begotten as the Son as normal humans do spending nine months in a womb being nourished on blood, then being born through the usual channel and turning to its mother for milk, then growing into a man who was in need of food, drink, rest etc. Can reason accept such a God? If God turns to anything out of need or undergoes birth from a woman He ceases to be God just as He ceases to be God if He is evil or forgetful or can lie or can die, if He can die temporarily how is He Eternal? Thus of course He is limitless but there are certain things which if attributed to Him He cannot be God and neither can reason accept such a being as God.

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  4. Christians may only conclude that Mohammed was deluded, used by Satan or was an evil man who invented the Koran from his own mind using Christian and Jewish Scriptures.No other possibility exists for a Christian who would otherwise cease to be Christian. It is time that the hierarchy acknowledged this truth and bravely taught it as the Pope's saintly namesake did.

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  5. Allegations of plagiarism from Christian and Jewish sources are of three kinds, (1) either he used Christian and Jewish sources and incorporated them in the Quran, (2) he heard the Gospel stories from contemporaries and preached them as his own revelation and (3) he was taught the Torah and Gospels by his contemporaries and used them in his revelations. There is overwhelming evidence to the contrary in all three cases. For example, it was impossible for him to use any textual source as the Bible was not translated into Arabic at the time and he did not know Greek or Hebrew. The earliest Arabic translation dates back to the 8th century and if the Bible wasn’t it would be highly unlikely that the Talmud was either. The argument that he was taught is similarly feeble and falsifies itself because the Qur’an refutes the doctrines central to Christianity. It is illogical to suggest that Christians had taught him and helped him against their own religion. To argue this is just as bad as the Pharisees who alleged that Jesus Christ drove out devils with the help of Satan (Matthew 12:24), would Satan work against himself? Thirdly, it is said that he heard these Gospels from contemporaries and used them in his revelations. However there is not a shred of evidence that his contemporaries had the same view. Indeed if it be true than the foremost people to point it out should have been his contemporaries. They did have the view that he is taught whether by one or many and that the Quran is nothing but ‘stories of the ancients’ which the Quran itself counters, but there was never a Jew or Christian, Nestorian or otherwise, who came forth at the time and declared that he has learned this from us, or presented passages from the Bible that were supposedly plagiarised. This is especially significant as he was claiming the Qur’an to be unparalleled. To argue this now is to cry over spilled milk. The Quran merely being in agreement with some past scriptures is no evidence of plagiarism. After all there are also striking parallels with the New Testament and the Talmud.

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  6. Moreover the people about whom it is said he could have heard the Gospels from were either Muslim converts, in which case it cannot be them for what then led them to accept Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) truth to an extent were they were ever-ready to sacrifice their lives and endure every kind of hardship for his sake if they were the ones who taught him? Or they were such as could not speak Arabic or knew only very little of it and were inarticulate in speech. There was then no means of imparting any intricate narrative or complex ideas to him because of the language barrier. There is even a narration about two Christian swordsmiths in Mecca who used to read passages from the Gospels (undoubtedly in a language other than Arabic) while at work. Muhammad (peace be upon him) would often stop by for a while (because of his interest in their religious fervour). However when one of them was asked if he taught Muhammad, he replied ‘No, rather he teaches me’. (Ruh-al Ma’ani vol.14). The most he could have learned here was to memorise some Greek or Hebrew passages from them, which would have been no good for him. Further, some early chapters of the Qur’an (TaHa, Al-Furqan, Al-Khaf, Maryam, Bani Israel etc.) which contain plenty of Christian and Jewish accounts were uttered much before he came into contact with these people.
    Apart from this there are many things in the Quran which he could simply not have known at the time they were uttered. The prophecy relating to Badr has been cited above. Then he foretold his return to Mecca (Quran 28:85) at a time when he hadn’t even emigrated from it and the Meccans later tried their wits end for him not to escape but rather attempted to kill him. The Qur’anic narrative of Pharaoh’s body being preserved (Qur’an 10:90-92) (not to satisfy his own vanity and pride but as a sign for posterity) is not to be found in any scripture before it. The Talmud apparently contains a similar narrative but even there no specific reference to his body being saved is given. The practice of mummification may be common knowledge now, however it was certainly not known to the Arabs of that time and was little known elsewhere. Exactly which pharaoh it was who confronted Moses (peace be upon him) is debatable, but that one of the bodies recovered from the Valley of the Kings is of the one of them is no longer disputable.

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  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjUXd4qW9mg

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  8. I take your response as an implicit acceptance of the points I have made above, for you have not addressed them and have instead moved on to offer a random video which has no bearing on any of them. A good thing about interfaith dialogues is that one learns more about one’s own faith as well as the other’s. If one does not know the answer to a particular question one has the opportunity to seek it and thereby gain in knowledge. Similarly one may learn the response to a particular question or objection one might have regarding a given aspect of the other’s faith. It hardly helps when a comment is on a particular topic and the response is completely unrelated, such behaviour only demonstrations that you have nothing much to say in response and what is gained by it is nothing but an endless bandying around of different unrelated issues without reaching any conclusions on previous ones. I am disappointed as I was hoping to be challenged on at least some of the points I have made in the previous posts, but you have not addressed them and have tried to move away. I can also present inspirational videos of people who have converted from Catholicism to Islam in general and specifically to Ahmadiyya Islam but it has no bearing on our discussion, nor are such accounts conclusive in my opinion for they are mutual.

    If you sought to end it with your last response, fair enough, thank you and I will understand that you have conceded what I have said in my previous posts. If not then please keep your response relevant and address the points I have made. I am not in a position to argue against the personal account of the individual in this video; however I am happy to discuss his points about the Qur’an, which are gravely misrepresented and some of which are patently wrong, but I will only do so after you either confirm that you agree with what I’ve said in my previous posts or explain why you disagree.

    Peace.

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, Rizwan, you're right. My response was flippant & dismissive and I owe you more respect; I did think the video was interesting though as it confirmed the main thrust of my conclusions about Islam, which are that it's is founded on a fundamentally flawed philosophy which divorces faith from reason. This ultimately means that Muslims can justify virtually any evil act by saying it is the will of Allah. We are seeing the repercussions of this played out all over the world right now. That's not to say there are not good people who are Muslims, or that one cannot know God through Islam, but rather that there are clear philosophical and theological problems at the heart of the ideology which cause conflict and disharmony--demonstrably.

      Looking quickly at your defence of Qur'anic integrity vis-a-vis the Bible, you seem to miss the most obvious source, especially for the time and place- oral tradition. You make the fundamental mistake of mis-judging Christianity & considering it is like Islam insofar as it is "book-based". It is not. It is kergyma based, Christ is alive and preached. This is how Christianity spread. The Bible came later. The errors and interpolations in the Bible stories in the Qur'an appear consistent, to my thinking, with stories learnt and repeated.

      Can you explain how the Qur’an refutes the doctrines central to Christianity? I get the dogmatic stuff; Trinity, yes, the divinity of Jesus, yes, but it also confirms many things: the Immaculate Conception, the virgin birth, it goes further with the miracles performed by Jesus. Much of the teaching is intact. Far from it being illogical to have been taught against dogmatic revelation, would it not make more sense that Muhammad simply changed certain tenets to fit in with contemporary Arab culture? In fact this is historically proven as being the case.
      More later!

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    2. Firstly, From my understanding the most basic element in Islam upon which it’s founded is the two-fold creed that ‘there is nothing worthy of worship except God and that Muhammad is His messenger’, the most fundamental principle in Islam, the first part linked to our rights towards God, the latter linked to our rights towards His creation. Every teaching in Islam falls within this fundamental principle, nothing so convoluted as the doctrine of Trinity. I fail to see any flaw or theological problem in it.

      Secondly, the Qur’an repeatedly exhorts us to employ our minds, to observe and ponder over the world around us perhaps more times than the Old and New Testaments do combined and it is a distinctive feature of its style that it always provides justification for its message with logical arguments using the testimony of both revelation and reason. Is it then fair to say that Islam divorces faith from reason? Of course reason on its own is deficient and not enough to know God as a certainty; revelation is a necessary ally to reason in human knowledge. I’m sure you would agree in principle that a religion based on anything other than revelation would be defective and far from sufficient in guiding Man to the truth and certainty in knowledge of God, it would be as good as any other man-made ideology. Your statement about Christianity being Kerygma based seems to confuse what it is based on with how it is preached. How can a religion be based upon how it is preached? That’s quite meaningless. It must be based necessarily on WHAT is being preached whether that be in book form or otherwise and not the act of preaching itself even if the latter is a central duty. It may not necessarily be “book-based” – written down with ink and paper but the content of what is preached, or what is believed to be revelation should be the focus and is what I focus on.

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    3. I have already touched upon the evidence suggesting it was impossible for Muhammad (peace be upon him) to have learnt the Bible narratives from anyone. Learnt from whom? Why didn’t these people come out at the time and claim it? Many early chapters of the Quran which extensively contain biblical accounts and speak of Christian doctrines were uttered way before he came into contact with Jews and Christians and even when he did there were only two types of people, those who were his enemies and those who had started to believe in him. It is absurd to think that he could have approached his enemies to teach him the knowledge of the Bible so he may use it against them. Equally absurd to think that he would have turned to believers in him to impart the knowledge of Christianity to him. He would have been immediately detected and exposed in both cases.

      Moreover, the Qur’an does not merely repeat past narratives, a close study of the common areas covered by past scriptures and the Quran would show a marked difference between their respective styles and details vis-à-vis Biblical figures and events. Some details are omitted others contradicted, yet others not to be found at all anywhere else and all this does not seem to come from a mind that is forgetful or confused but appears to be designed. Not only does the Quran counter the doctrine of Trinity and divinity of Jesus (peace be upon him) but also negates the doctrines of Atonement and Resurrection in rejecting that that he died on the cross and claiming instead that he died a natural death, he is not alive. It certainly does not confirm the Immaculate Conception EXCLUSIVELY for Mary, in Islam every human child is born pure and immaculate and there are differences in the accounts of Jesus’ miracles too.
      It is extremely out of place to say he changed certain tenets simply to fit in with Arab culture while even a cursory glance at his teachings as against the Arab culture of the time would reveal that they were diametrically opposed to it, His whole religious and social outlook was opposed to it, not least the belief in One indivisible God. Indeed the doctrine of Trinity would have been closer to it. In short, the assertion that he learnt these stories just does not hold water from which ever angle it is approached, I have only touched upon it.

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