July 2, 2006
Dialogue with a Saudi Muslim (6)By James Arlandson and Soliman albuthe
This part completes the seven questions and concerns found in Part Five.
JA (2005) 4: You write [in your Open Letter quoted in Part Five] that Christian fundamentalism is tolerated at 'the highest echelons of the
SaB (2005): Yes, and I am only repeating what some of Western religious leaders and churches say about him:
'The Church Report magazine is pleased to announce the 50 Most Influential Christians in
Just recently the news media carried the story that Bush said that God instructed him to bomb
JA (2006): The link you provide says nothing about 'fundamentalism.' President Bush is a Methodist. The denomination is liberal. It is true that the President is an Evangelical and takes his faith seriously (perhaps more so than some of his critics on the Religious Left), but this does not mean that he is a fundamentalist.
As for the report that God told Bush to 'bomb
JA (2005) 5: You say that 'Saudi fundamentalism is not based on a dispensationalist theology that seeks Armageddon
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Muslim records this saying of Muhammad:
SaB (2005): We interpret these sayings in the light of Islamic teachings about what the Qur'an refers to as 'People of the Book,' i
JA (2006): My comment here comes in four numbered points.
(1) First, you say that Muslims may marry 'their women,' meaning Christian and Jewish women. It is equally true that Christian or Jewish men are not permitted by sharia (Islamic law) to marry Muslim women. So the marriages go in only one direction, which puts Muslim men in control, according to traditional Islam, especially the Islam of Saudi Arabia. Please see my article on Muslim—Christian marriages, here.
Second, you say that Islam never advocates the indiscriminant killing of Jews and Christians. In reply, however, the Quran endorses the mass execution of Qurayza men and pubescent boys and the mass enslavement of the women and children, after the
33:25 And All�h drove back those who disbelieved in their rage, they gained no advantage (booty, etc.). All�h sufficed for the believers in the fighting (by sending against the disbelievers a severe wind and troops of angels). And All�h is Ever All—Strong, All—Mighty. 26 And those of the people of the Scripture who backed them (the disbelievers) All�h brought them down from their forts and cast terror into their hearts, (so that) a group (of them) you killed, and a group (of them) you made captives. (Hilali and Khan)
What could be more 'indiscriminant' than killing a whole tribe, that is, every one of the boys and men? For Muhammad's troubled relations with the Jews of Medina, see this article. For his massacre of the Qurayza Jews of Medina, go here. I have read Muslim explanations for the massacre, but they do not hold up, in my opinion.
(2) You write, 'It is a well—known historical fact (which many orthodox Jews admit) that the Jews were never treated better or with more tolerance anywhere in the world than during the days of the Muslim Empire.' In reply, no one should deny simple facts. Sometimes a Muslim ruler was kind to Jews (and Christians), but the full story is that sometimes a ruler was oppressive.
However, Bostom also reports on the indiscriminant killing of Jews and others in
The Muslim historian Baladhuri (d. 892 C.E.) maintained that 30,000 Samaritans and 20,000 Jews lived in
We have invited a friend and colleague, originally from
In citing this article, my goal is to balance out your positive picture with hard reality. Please see Robert Spencer's book The Myth of Islamic Tolerance.
(3) Five quick responses to your bringing up the holocaust: First, yes, it is true that the holocaust occurred in the West. But the leaders of
The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says that
Next, one of Ahmadinejad's advisors says that the 'Holocaust issue will result in the destruction of
On June 9, 2006, the reformist online daily Rooz reported that during a visit with students at Gilan University in Rasht, Iran, Mohammad Ali Ramin, advisor to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, discussed historical accusations against the Jews and questioned the Holocaust.
"Claiming that the Holocaust was the principal reason why
Our Saudi friend and colleague reminds us of these verses: "Compare that to what Psalm 83:1—5 says about
But what about today in
Friday Sermons in Saudi Mosques: Review and Analysis
(Source; this link has further ones to various sermons in the footnotes.)
Whether these preachers of hatred, regression, and bigotry are Wahhabi or not is irrelevant to me, when it comes to violence. The bedrock fact is this: these are the views of religious leaders who preach in main mosques throughout
Our Saudi friend and colleague adds:
When I used to go to the mosque on Fridays, it was no more than a rally speech that ignited hatred in you towards those who do not believe in Allah, including the Christians and the Jews. In fact, historically, the Friday prayer was used by Muhammad and his followers as a means to encourage his followers to fight by reminding them of their earthly and heavenly rewards, a tradition that is still being carried out to this day in many mosques, especially in
(4) These hadiths that say that stones and trees will betray Jews hiding behind them are used often by radicals to drum up hatred of the Jews generally, not only of specific Jews who commit aggression against Muslims. The following radical leaders (not just obscure crackpots) do not make such fine—line distinctions.
The following [is an excerpt] from a television program with Sheikh Yousef Al—Qaradhawi, aired on Qatar TV on
"Everything will be on our side and against Jews on [Judgment Day]; at that time, even the stones and the trees will speak, with or without words, and say: 'Oh servant of Allah, oh Muslim, there's a Jew behind me, come and kill him.' (Source)
The next example repeats the first, but from a Palestinian:
The day will come when everything will be relieved of the Jews — even the stones and trees which were harmed by them. Listen to the Prophet Muhammad, who tells you about the evil end that awaits Jews. The stones and trees will want the Muslims to finish off every Jew." (Source)
The Prophet said, as reported in the book of Al—Muslim: "Judgment day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims kill the Jews, and then the Jews will hide behind stones and trees, and Allah will make the stones and trees speak, saying: 'Oh Muslim, the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him', except for the Gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews." Since the Jews believe the Prophet Muhammad, they have planted Gharqad trees throughout
These three 'Jew haters' do not come from
JA (2005) 6: This online booklet, 'The Day of Wrath,' was written by Sheikh Safar Ibn Abd al—Rahman al—Halawi, head of the department of theology at Umm al—Qura University in Mecca. This booklet has a lengthy discussion of End Time prophecies. (Is it true that he was arrested in 1994, not for his booklet, but for his opposition to the Saudi government when it supported the South in Yemen's civil war?) How do you match this booklet by a popular preacher and department chair of theology at a
SaB (2005): First, All Muslims, not only Saudis, believe in the prophetic texts that include prophecies (also mentioned in the Bible) regarding events expected to happen in future
JA (2006): I appreciate your assertion that Muslims do 'not seek the creation of circumstances that materialize these prophecies; rather, we are told to believe and deal with the prophecies as they are fulfilled.' This is precisely what prophecy—believing Christians do, contrary to what your linked article says. It may be true that some Christians become extreme in their beliefs, but they do not represent the mainstream. All religions have the overzealous.
Those Christians aside, I have kept track of some End Time prophecy teachers, and they do not want to bring about the end of the world. However, they indeed support
Ed Lasky interviews David Brog, author of the book Standing with Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State. Both are Jews, not Christians, who are enquiring into Christian Evangelical support for
Lasky asks Brog about the motives of these Christians. Do the motives include, at least in part, the belief that they can speed up the Second Coming? Brog replies:
Christians do believe that the return of Jews to their ancestral land is a 'sign of the times,' i.e. a sign that the Second Coming may be drawing near. Yet this does not mean that Christians believe that they can speed the Second Coming by accelerating the pace of this return. Christian theology is clear that man cannot speed the Second Coming. Even Jesus said, 'But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.' If one cannot speed the Second Coming, then Christian beliefs about the end times cannot serve as a motive for supporting
Brog, who is not a Christian, it must be re—emphasized, is almost one hundred percent correct. No practical effort will speed up the Second Coming. In fact, these prophecy—believing Christians often say that prophetic events are now happening rapidly. This means that the believers do not need to do anything to hasten them, except for possibly one way. I heard a TV evangelist quote Jesus who says the end will not come until the gospel is preached around the world (Matthew 24:14). Thus, Christians should work to fulfill this goal of only preaching, so said the evangelist.
However, End—Time teachers certainly do not want to cause or get involved in a nuclear conflagration, as Dr. al—Hawali seems to say in his radical pamphlet. He has extreme views, which are not adequately researched in the first place, regardless of his specific religious affiliation. He is also a scholar at a
JA (2005) 7: You say that Muslims revere and love Jesus. Would you please provide a fuller description of the Islamic Jesus? Do you know whether it matches up with the description in the Four Gospels?
SaB (2005): First, I do not think the Four Gospels are consistent with one another!
Second, If the Biblical books are not historically authentic, their de
JA (2006): The belief that the Gospels are historically inauthentic is widespread among Muslims, but it is factually erroneous. I have already presented some evidence of their historical authenticity in Part Two (scroll down to 'Is the Bible reliable and accurate?') and in Part Three (scroll down to Point D).
The New Testament manuscripts far outnumber other manuscript traditions of ancient non—Christian books. And the chronological gap between the New Testament manuscripts and the events themselves and original writings is much, much shorter. This short article has a Comparative Table of New Testament and non—Christian manuscripts.
In the link to Part Two, above, I also challenge the incorruptibility and absolute historical purity of the Quran (scroll down to 'Is the Quran pure and uncorrupted?'). It is beyond belief, swerving over into childlike na�vet�, to assume without checking the facts that the Quran came out of the ancient world perfectly preserved after its journey through history. This report says that 15,000 sheets of some Qurans (note the plural) were discovered in 1972. But the Muslim authorities will not allow their publication. What are they afraid of?
SaB (2005): Third, the Qur'an differs with Christianity on its most central belief about Jesus, i
JA (2006): First, it is unclear to me why the Christian belief in the Son of God is 'harmful.' Surely this doctrine does not, by itself and of necessity, translate into physical and material harm in some way, does it? I would not say that tauhid (strict oneness) causes 'harm' by itself and of necessity. Perhaps you mean 'harm' in the afterlife. However, since I am unclear on what you mean by the word in this context, I pass to the next issue.
Second, one of the main 'arguments' that the Quran puts forward against Jesus being the Son of God is the mere assertion that God must have a wife or consort to beget a child. This has already been answered in Part Two, under the section 'Does the Quran have a mysterious mother?' This Quranic assertion seems to be culture bound. That is, Muhammad seems to be reacting against seventh—century Arab polytheism, which says that the gods have children because of marriage or sex. Both notions, one in the Quran and the other in Arab polytheism, are rejected by Christian theology.
SaB (2005): Fourth, the Qur'an tells us that Jesus was not killed, but that he left
JA (2006): I must be honest here. This is a strange and farfetched belief. The Quran says that Jesus was made to appear crucified, but he was not actually crucified, according to Sura 4:157, which reads:
4:157 That they [the Jews] 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:— (Yusuf Ali)
What is so interesting about this verse is the epistemology behind it. (Epistemology studies how we acquire our knowledge.) The relevant phrase says about those who are full of doubts concerning Muhammad's declaration of the non—crucifixion: the doubters are 'with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow.' Muhammad lived six hundred years after Jesus. The prophet of Islam was no scholar or historian or researcher. Therefore, how is he so certain ('of a surety') about his belief that Christ was not actually crucified? A revelation or historical evidence? How are Muslims so certain that Jesus 'left
However, even the harshest critics of the New Testament do not deny that Christ was crucified. They may doubt his bodily resurrection or his miracles, such as walking on water, but his crucifixion? None of them doubt this.
For more criticism of this 'revelation' in the Quran, please see this article. I have a short section on the topic in this article. It tentatively advances the idea that Muhammad may have picked up his belief in the mere appearance (not reality) of the crucifixion from Docetism, which had been circulating along the trade routes in the greater Mediterranean world for centuries. Docetism comes from the Greek word meaning 'to seem' or 'to appear.'
SaB (2005): Fifth, we do not only love Jesus, we believe that one cannot be a Muslim if one doesn't
Six, The Qur
JA (2006): Much of your allusion to Sura 3:49 agrees with the New Testament, except for Jesus speaking as a baby. This comes from the apocryphal gospels. See my article here), which shows that Muhammad claims revelations about events in young Mary's life (see Sura 3:44) and, by extension, in the life of baby Jesus. But the evidence is that the Quran gets this specific information from non—canonical gospels. It is true that a few New Testament authors quote a line or two from non—Christian Greek poets, but the authors do not claim that they got this specific information only from Gabriel or only from a heightened state of ecstatic inspiration. Nor, especially, do they claim that they knew, whether by inspiration or Gabriel or other means, anything about the childhood of the Greek poets whom they cite.
SaB (2005): Seven, The Qur'an also tells us about dialogue between Jesus and God in the Hereafter
Please see We Believe in Jesus) by Soliman H. Albuthi
JA (2006): I have read your article. Again, Muhammad lived six hundred years after Jesus. So how does the prophet of Islam receive this specific knowledge about Jesus? From historical research, down here on earth? From fragments of knowledge and stories circulating over the trade routes for centuries? From revelations? I prefer the teaching of the New Testament. These authors were apostles who knew Jesus up close and personal, or they came under the authority of the apostolic community. They had clear and direct knowledge of the events in Christ's life.
And now it becomes clear why polemical Muslims must discredit the New Testament, which has passed the test of the severest of criticisms from western scholars. I again quote from these two reputable ones:
The overwhelming majority of the text of the Greek New Testament is firmly established. Where uncertainties remain, in no case is any doctrinal matter at issue. (D.A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed. Zondervan, 2005, p. 30)
But this historical authenticity does not deter polemical and missionary Muslims. Why not? The Quran and the New Testament contradict each other on essential doctrines about Christ. So they believe that the Quran—it must be believed!—corrects the New Testament, even though it is much, much closer to the life of Christ than the Quran is.
In a certain sense, I am glad that Muslims love Jesus. And your article shows respect for him. However, since Islam came six hundred years after him, the Quran and the hadith are confused about him, as revealed in the following list, taken from the Conclusion of a long article. In most cases, each point (or two or three) alternates between one Islamic doctrine and an opposite one or an outright contradiction (note the first two and then the second pair, for example).
Sam Shamoun concludes from his research:
1. The Quran denies that Jesus is God or the Son of God.
2. At the same time the Quran applies specific titles and functions to Jesus which clearly show that he is more than human, strongly supporting his Divinity and prehuman existence.
3. The Quran says that those objects that are wrongly worshiped by others are unable to create, therefore disqualifying them from being worthy of such adoration and devotion.
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