On Revising Bigotry

The Conference unfolds to the balanced mind. Its soul is the honor of the search, the equanimity of judgment and the breath of beauty. Beauty is an intricate state of balance weighed by the scales of the Lord. The essence of beauty is balance, like the equipoise of sight, the restitutions of love and the harmony in the Divine word.

I sit unfolding on the pages of the Conference uncovering the power of beauty to restore the imbalance of the mind. It is love, which I nurture in myself for it guards the scales. But if love has the power to guard the scales, bigotry is the ugliness colonizing the feeble soul. Bigotry is an infection of fear or hate, pillaging through the immunities of the heart. Bigotry is the quintessential disruption of the magnanimity of the mind. It was the bigotry of colonialism that once intruded upon our existence and ravished our lives. It severed us from our Conference, and persuaded us that our heritage is but a lie. The disease of colonialism had infected our hearts, our minds, our limbs and our sight. We saw our history as a corruption and aberration to be apologetically denied. Infected with bigotry, in our imbalance, we idealized the beginning of our history, and the rest — we demonized.

>Whether it is the bigotry of fear or hate, the bigotry of the colonizer or colonized, the bigotry of friend or foe, the same ugliness corrupts the scales of the Lord.

A new piece of bigotry by Daniel Pipes, and the intrusion disrupts you. It is not that the bigotry is novel or original, but the very fact that you take time to respond is an annoying chore. What can one say to bigotry that could possibly help it restore the imbalance in its soul? What can one say to those who project their ugliness unto existence, and come to believe that history is like a painted whore – it exists for their pleasure, for their whims, and exists to service their political goals.

Pipes’ new revelation about Islam and Muslims is that their history is quite possibly a lie. Misery loves misery, and so Pipes teams up with Ibn Warraq, a pitiful figure inviting Muslims to liberate themselves from their religion and their Lord. Earlier on, Ibn Warraq fascinated us with his ranting about why he is not a Muslim. Of course, his title came from Bertrand Russell’s Why I am Not a Christian, but while Russell wrote philosophy, what Ibn Warraq wrote is an inanity, and an utter intellectual bore. This time the man with the funny name collected a bunch of articles and published them under the title The Quest for the Historical Muhammad. One of the two introductions to the book is written by a fellow with the pathetic pseudo-name Ibn Rawandi. Perhaps, our contemporary authors are alluding to friendship between the historical Ibn Rawandi and al-Warraq, both from the third Islamic century. The Manicheism and heresy of the historical figures is debated, but compared to the originals, our modern authors are unfortunate mutations and intellectual trolls. Perhaps, our two authors could not imagine that a Muslim writer could be named anything except the “Ibn” or “Abu” of something, and thought the pseudo-names sounded really cool. Perhaps, our authors simply sought to hide behind their bigotry, and sought to create with their pseudo-names their own mysterious lore.

Pseudo-names betray the lack of conviction and cowardliness of their adopters. At any case, the issue is not the facetious name holders; the issue is our ostentatious long-time friend Daniel Pipes. Pipes, like his jovial friends, contends that Arabic sources on Islam are inherently unreliable, and so what we think we know about Islam is not what we should know. Pipes claims that Arabic sources were written a century and a half after the Prophet’s death. Furthermore, non-Muslim sources dramatically contradict the standard Muslim biography of the Prophet Muhammad, and when a Muslim and a non-Muslim speak, of course, we all know who we should believe. Pipes applauds the efforts of revisionist historians such as John Wansbrough, Yehuda Nevo, Judith Koren and Patricia Crone. According to Pipes, historical revisionism challenges the idea that Muhammad preached in Mecca, that Arabic was the language of early Arabia, that Arabic was the language of early Muslims, that there was ever such a thing as early Muslims, that the Prophet was born in 570 or, for that matter, Muhammad existed at all. The Quran was not the product of the Prophet or even Arabia, but is nothing more than liturgical material stolen from the Judeo-Christian tradition, stitched together at a late point. Islamic history, as found in Muslim sources, is no more than a pious lie, a salvation history, by a rootless people, a soul-less people trying to invent a unique identity of their own.

Discharging the White Man’s Burden, Pipes, may God bless his merciful soul, advises Muslims that revisionism is a school that they can no longer afford to ignore. According to Pipes, revisionism is a toothache, and those poor pious Muslims, immersed in their delusions and superstition, think that the toothache will disappear on its own. But Pipes, like my kind mother who taught me oral hygiene and the importance of a daily shower, teaches Muslims that toothaches don’t just go away. Toothaches, you silly willy-nilly Muslims need doctors, need rationalists, need Pipes because, darn it, they just don’t go away on their own! Thank God for Pipes, who like his colonial predecessors, guides us to the truth of history, the falsity of our piety and the fact that the objectivism of science is the cure for our superstitious souls. Without the cant of our masters how could we have ever figured out what to do with toothaches, headaches or any other ache or sore?

Revisionism, like all forms of incipient or established bigotry, rests on several peculiar assumptions. Assumption number one is that Muslims invariably lie. Perhaps the genetic pool of Muslims is the culprit or perhaps it is that Muslims are prone to conspiratorial delusions, and can hardly distinguish fiction from fact. According to Pipes and his revisionists, Muslims have no qualms about inventing, lying or cheating as long as it serves their salvation goals. The second assumption follows from the first. A non-Muslim source is inherently more reliable because non-Muslims have a notion of historical objectivism. Therefore, if, for instance, a hundred Muslim sources say one thing and one Syriac source says another, it is an open and shut case. The Syriac source is inherently more reliable because those pesky Muslims cannot help but lie. The third assumption is no less interesting. Muslim history is “salvation history” written by the self-serving unreliable faithful. Muslims are biased who are persistent in their search for their ever-allusive identity. Non-Muslims, on the other hand, are fair-minded even if non-Muslims have their own set of interests because, after all, non-Muslims have no need for salvation; their Lord has already salvaged their blessed souls. So the methodology of revisionism is simple: ignore what Muslims say about themselves or others, and believe what non-Muslims say about themselves or Muslims. The fourth assumption of revisionism is the one least confessed, but is unmistakable in methodology and conclusion. Muslims are a barbaric people; whatever good they might have produced, they must have conveniently borrowed from Judaism, Christianity or some other more civilized source. Whatever barbarism Muslims might have produced, that, naturally, comes from the depth of their hearts and souls, but whatever beauty they may have possessed they simply stole.

But revisionists will say, “No, you misguided emotional Muslim friend. You simply don’t realize that Islamic history was composed in the context of intense partisan quarrels. Knowing how emotional Muslims can be, Muslims simply wrote their history to affirm their beliefs.”

But if there was no Prophet or Quran or even history, what was the cause of the partisan quarrels? Well, perhaps nothing more than the well-known Arab hunger for money and wealth, or the Arab inability to transcend their ethnic divisions and pedantic tribal lusts. The fact that Syriac or Jewish sources had their own partisan interests and biases is immaterial, of course, because non-Muslims invariably speak the truth. Furthermore, the fact that a Greek source might be reporting on rumors or on corrupted transmissions received from Muslims themselves does not at all impeach their reliability. We can never forget; Muslims lie and non-Muslims speak the truth.

Of course, Pipes, and his funny named friends, conveniently ignore that accounts of the Prophet’s life were written in the first century after his death. While they love to claim the authoritativeness of papyri and coinage to their side, they never explain what coinage or papyri they are talking about. Are papyri or coinage reliable sources regardless of the source? Even more, they ignore papyri written in the first century documenting traditions about the Prophet, and Umayyad and Abbasid coinage supporting Muslim historical accounts. They also ignore papyri documented by Sezgin and others demonstrating the existence of the Quran in the first century of Islam in its current form. Furthermore, they ignore that the Quran does not reflect the historical context of the second or third Islamic centuries, but shows an overwhelming pre-occupation with the affairs of Quraysh, Mecca, Medina, the hypocrites and the Prophet. According to the revisionists, in the time of the Abbasids, Muslims fabricated the Quran in the second and third centuries. But apparently they did not find a better way to reflect their historical context than to talk about Quraysh or Mecca, concepts which the revisionists believe were invented and which, if one accepts the revisionist logic, no one understood or cared about. Not only that, but even more, those lying cheating Muslims instead of relying on their own poetry or mythology, they could not find something better than the Judeo-Christian liturgy. In short, such are the sad affairs of Muslims, they lie and eventually believe their own lies.

But Pipes, and his friends, will surely say, “Muslims don’t have a history, and so history Muslims cannot understand. You poor ahistorical Muslim here you go again with your emotions getting out of hand. Don’t you realize that historical revisionism assaulted Christianity and Judaism as well? Don’t you realize that both religions survived, but profoundly changed, as Islam surely will?”

“Well, of course I thank you for assuring me that Islam will survive. But revisionism in the case of non-Muslim history is a critical skepticism as to institutional and official histories, but in the case of Islam it is outright bigotry. What school of historical revisionism has ever claimed that all Jewish, Christian, British or French sources cannot be believed? What school of revisionism has branded an entire people as compulsive liars?”

The truth is that revisionists dealing with Islamic history are ideologues without the critical integrity of scholars. We can take one example of Pipes methodology and ponder his style. Pipes claims that an unspecified inscription and a Greek account leads Lawrence Conrad to fix the Prophet’s birth at 522 not 570. Apparently, Pipes did not bother reading Conrad’s study. Conrad heavily relies on debates in Muslim sources concerning the dating of the Year of the Elephant. He also relies on debates in Muslim sources regarding whether the Prophet was born in the Year of the Elephant or on an earlier date. Conrad analyzes the claim that the Prophet received revelation at the age forty, and simply points out that the age forty was considered a literary topoi for maturity in Arabic and non-Arabic literature. Therefore, the argument that the Prophet was forty when he started his mission could possibly be a symbolic usage signifying that the Prophet had reached an age of maturity. Significantly, Conrad does not reach a conclusion about the date of the Prophet’s birth. Rather, he argues that Beeston’s and Kister’s conclusion that the Year of the Elephant was in 522, is supported by strong evidence. He then, appropriately, emphasizes the complexity of establishing the Prophet’s date of birth. This is a far cry from Pipes’ misrepresentation of Conrad. But Conrad is a scholar, and Pipes is an ideologue.

Many of Pipes’ delusions are fed by the infamous book Hagarism. Yet, very few people in the scholarly community take that book seriously. Even later works by the authors of Hagarism demonstrate a greater degree of fair mindedness and scholarly integrity. If Hagarism was written in a fit of indulgent fantasy, the same cannot be said about works that followed in its footsteps. Much of the work of revisionism was spearheaded by scholars with a regrettable political agenda. Like vulgar forms of Orientalism, revisionists sought to de-legitimate and deconstruct the tradition of their perceived enemies. The bigotry of the Israeli scholars Koren and Nevo is evident. They contend that any Arabic source must be corroborated by a non-Arabic source, and if the two sources conflict, as a matter of course, the non-Arab is to be believed. Wellhausen and Wansbrough were biblical scholars, and their circumspect methodology with Jewish and biblical studies contrasts sharply with their speculative fancies with Islamic history.

The truth is that the fanaticism of revisionism in doubting Islamic history is the opposite side of the coin of the fanaticism of pietistic sanctifications of Islamic history. Each is an imbalance, each is extreme and each is ugly. But the distinguishing feature of revisionism is its bigotry. Imagine if European history was written only by reliance on Muslim sources. Imagine if the Jewish history of the Second Temple was written only by reliance on Roman sources. Imagine if Christian history was written only by reliance on Jewish sources. Imagine if the history of the American Revolution was written only by reliance on British sources. Imagine if Israeli history was written only through the eyes of Palestinians. But it is impossible to write these histories in this fashion because no respectable historian would claim the inherent inaccuracy of all European, American, Jewish, Christian and Israeli sources. What would Pipes think of revisionist historians who claim that the Exodus of Jews from Egypt is a myth, and that the First or Second Temple never existed because Jews never lived in Palestine at any point in their history? The truth is that the bigotry of revisionists is like the anti-Semitism of Holocaust-deniers who write the history of Jews by relying on the sources of their German enemies.

No, revisionism is not a toothache; it is an insolent attempt to deny a people their very identity, it is the ugliness of Colonialism, and the imbalance of fear and insecurity. Revisionism is the heartache of simple bigotry. bismika-tombstone On Revising Bigotry

26 Comments

  1. aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”You can call it revisionism if you want. What I object to is the implication that we Muslims somehow twist the historical evidence to come in line with our claims, or that we are denying the obvious implications of conclusive evidence, or that we say that Christians and Jews always lie, and hence reject their scripture as evidence entirely.”

    If you are going to get upset at implications that do not exist I think you will not have a happy like. Given I have clearly and repeatedly said that I don’t think there is any historical evidence for many Muslim claims, I don’t see how you could think I have said otherwise. Nor do I see that I have said any of the other claims. What I have said is that Muslims claim Jews and Christians lie (not all the time) and hence reject any part of the scripture that does not agree with what Muslims believe.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”I don’t see any Muslim claiming that archaeology or first-hand, eyewitness, primary documents support the Muslim claim of Abraham sacrificing Ishmael in Mecca. It is a theological view, one that hinges on the veracity of the Prophet Muhammad’s prophethood.”

    Who said there was? We seem in total agreement here.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”It would be a different matter of course, if conclusive evidence turns out which runs counter to Islamic claims. That’s why I’m asking you for conclusive evidence supporting the claims of Judaism and Christianity. You haven’t shown any conclusive evidence in support of their claims, and which runs counter to specifically Muslim claims. As such, there is no point in saying that Islam is a revisionism of Judaism and Christianity in the context the article is objecting to. And it really smacks of antagonism to Islam to imply that it is revisionism of the two religions while the same could be said of the two using exactly the same line of reasoning.”

    Why would I want or need to produce “conclusive” evidence? Revisionism of Judaism and Christianity is exactly what Islam is. I do not see your objection and perhaps you do not mean what I mean by “Revisionism”? It is a simple statement of fact, not antagonism to Islam. How could Judaism be revising anything as it pre-date the other two? You have made a case that Christianity is with respect ot Judaism and I am happy enough to go along with that a little way.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”Well it doesn’t need to be a massive conspiracy if it can begin with one person. Let’s take a look: a text was transmitted through one man. He transmits it to another. The man he transmitted it to mishandles the text. Afterwards, thousands of copies of the mishandled text were made. And those wrong copies were transmitted for 4 thousand years.”

    One person with one text, perhaps. If only one copy of it exists. But for those Muslim-specific practises, thousands of manuscripts would have to have been edited and manipulated over the last 2000 years or more. They are constantly digging up new quasi-Biblical or Biblical texts. Look at the Dead Sea Scrolls. So the conspiracy has to be on-going and involve, for the DSS alone, the people who first bought them and recognised what they were which would include the leadership of the Syrian Orthodox Church and the American School of Oriental Research, the entire project staff, all the archaeologists and Biblical scholars who have ever worked on the project, the states of Israel and Jordan, the Rockefeller Museum, the French École Biblique, the Palestine Archaeological Museum, and the American Library of Congress. And the Vatican of course. To suppress the Truth, as Muslims see it, requires such a massive effort it is, in my opinion, beyond the bounds of reason.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”It is good that you want a fair standard for all. I also don’t think that revisionists have proven their claim. At least, not according to the evidence that we have.”

    Well the real problem remains we don’t have any evidence, or not much, and so any story could be true. But then any story might be false. The revisionists can never prove their claim in a strong sense without real evidence.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”But if you’re really interested in a fair standard for all, why not say that Christianity is a revisionism of Judaism, and Judaism a revisionism of polytheistic Mesopotamian religion? Why attack only Islam? Why resort to the claims of revisionists (for example, regarding Muslim masses at the time of Caliph Uthman), and then suddenly switch arguments when you can’t disprove the Muslim claims regarding Abraham, by citing Occam’s Razor?”

    There is a theological argument about what the Christians are doing. I am not convinced that their reinterpretation is revisionism, but if it will make you happier let’s agree it is. So what? I don’t think a sensible case can be made that Judaism is revision of anything. It looks radically new and probably was. What resort to the claims of revisionists? I do not see that I am switching arguments at all.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”Now here is where the circularity comes in. If Christ made a promise to the church, then the question has to be asked as to the specifics of the promise he allegedly made. We assume that this is made in the Christian scriptures. Apparently, it is not. Anyway, if a Christian says that yes, it is in the scriptures, well this is where the ‘isnads (or any method to verify how transmission was made) comes in. Which refutes your point that it is irrelevant to Christianity.”

    Well no because a Christian will still claim that the presense of Christ in the world and in the Church is what counts. I do not see the circularity. Again the Bible is clearly like the Quran in that believing it does not require an isnad but Faith. However even if it did not, Christianity would be more like visiting a Sufi pir who can demonstrate his Faith by the performance of magic. The Church re-enacts the central miracle of Christ’s life every week. Christians can see, feel and experience the miracle. Islam only has the text. Christianity is a different religion and as I keep pointing out, it needs a different approach.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”However, it should be conceded by Christians that what they believe in is what the Church says, and not necessarily what Jesus said, while a Muslim would accept nothing less than something grounded in some way on what the Prophet taught.”

    Christians would flatly deny there is a difference between what the Church says and what Jesus said. The stronger Christians would point to the Holy Ghost working within the Church every day.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”This is why I made a comment that you also use revisionism. Anyway, most scholars (not just Muslim scholars, who are equally capable, by the way) are in agreement that, at least in basic outline, the traditional Muslim account of the Qur’an’s preservation is correct.”

    I do not deny reading and being impressed by the revisionists. And actually no, the Muslim scholars I have seen are certainly talented in their own way and in doing their own thing, but when it comes to textual criticism or scholarship, they are weak. They are, after all, by and large, believers. What they do is theology. I am unconvinced most non-Muslim scholars accept that the traditional Muslim accounts are correct. There are obvious problems with it. What most seem to do is admit the problems but say in the absence of proof it is sensible to keep it for now.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”Only a few scholars reject it, rejecting all of the hadith, or accepting parts which could potentially undermine Muslim claims.”

    I don’t think anyone rejects all the aHadith except of course for some Muslims.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”Well, you’re wrong about the text of the NT. Why do scholars such as Bruce Metzger and Kurt Aland have to vote to decide on which particular word to include in their critical text of the NT? Precisely because different manuscripts say different things, and it is up to the text critic to decide which reading best represents the autograph. Of course, they have to take new manuscripts and fragments into consideration if new ones come in. That’s why the text is fluid. It’s not just a matter of telling us more about the time in which it was compiled. It’s a matter of what the text really says. Most of the times the variations are minor, no problem with that. But sometimes, some significant variations emerge. Jesus could become God, just a man, (or maybe even a woman!) just by the difference of a word.”

    You are confusing translating with editing. Metzger is a Biblical scholar who works on translations and admittedly there are problems in that the Bible was not written with punctuation for instance. As he says:

    ‘You have to understand that the canon was not the result of a series of contests involving church politics. … . You see, the canon is a list of authoritative books more than it is an authoritative list of books. These documents didn’t derive their authority from being selected; each one was authoritative before anyone gathered them together.’

    Why do you think they have to take a new text into account from any other point except scholarship? Can you show where in any newer Bible a fragment has been incorporated and changed the text? In the end most arguments come down to translations, not the texts.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”The difference is this: there are a few controversial scholars who attempt a revisionism of Islam, and reject the broad outline of the traditional Muslim account regarding the Qur’an’s standardization and compilation. On the other hand, there is no massive conspiracy theory regarding the Bible, as the text critics themselves (some of which are devout Christians) will candidly point out that some changes took place on the text of the NT. If you disagree with this, kindly present the text of the Bible, of which you believe each and every word to accurately represent the autograph. I will do this gladly with the text of the Qur’an we have today (the Uthmanic text). Well, a text claiming that the Prophet never went near Mecca will not matter, because it is not tawwatur. So, whatever objections you have regarding the tawwatur of the Qur’an, the other texts wouldn’t be tawwatur, and hence irrelevant to Muslim claims.”

    As I keep pointing out, the Bible is not central to Christianity in the same way the Quran is to Muslims. I do not know of many people who would claim it was inerrant although no doubt there are some. That is not the issue – to return to my earlier point, you cannot judge Christian texts by Muslim standards. As for the Revisionists, of course they are not trying to revise Islam. They are trying to study the origins of Islam and the relevant texts. You cannot confuse theology with historical scholarship. The fields are distinct although of course Christian theology has been enriched by textual scholarship. At some point most Faiths, when faced with a conflict between evidence and theology, opt for the evidence. I do not agree with you on the likely consequences of any substantial and proven recasting of Muslim history. The truth is that the West shapes Islam all the time in part through scholarship. Muslims are welcome to deny what they like, but they have to convince each other as well.

    Me:“There is simply no evidence of that and on the contrary we know that at least part of the Quran was transmitted through *two* people. Presumably if it was only transmitted through one that text would not have been included. We also know, with the verse on rajam, that it used to have parts it does not any more. Muslims can come up with religious reasons for that, but scholars are unlikely to accept them. ”

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”Then again, Muslim tradition is some sort of evidence. You have to reject it completely for you to say that there is no evidence for that. And the article we’re commenting to did a pretty good job of responding to some of their claims. Again, the parts which the Qur’an used to have are mentioned in the ahadith. While you apparently accept the hadith regarding the verse of rajam, you reject the rest of the ahadith, and even claim that there is no evidence for the Qur’an’s tawwatur status.”

    Except it is the Muslim tradition that provides the proof of the change. I do not reject it completely. I do not believe the theological claims Muslim makes about many of their texts but no more. To claim that the Quran has never been changed is not a scholarly claim, it is a theological one. I still don’t reject aHadith completely.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”Renegades are able to kill the head of the state for petty reasons, and you find it easy for them to accept brazen disrespect for versions of the Qur’an, which may support (or be made to support) any claim of theirs? The people clamored against the Caliph Uthman when a certain ascetic died, and you expect them to stand idly while something they are willing to die and kill for is being tampered?”

    But how would they know it was tampered? There was no copy until Uthman – apart from claims that Abu Bakr and Umar had worked to compile one. It was not a public document. It was a private possession. Where would they find an original to compare it to? You are also asserting a love of Islam which is somewhat lacking in the evidence. They did not so love the text they put it on their tombstones, for instance, or at least none that have been found, for about 75 years. This suggests ignorance of the text and hence ease with which it could be “corrected”. How do you know they were willing to die for the Quran? Did anyone?

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”And though Arab society is admittedly not very literate (which also explains the lack of written documents from the era), they have the capacity for oral transmission. Claiming that preserving the Qur’an is not high priority is revisionism, and again implies a rejection of the entire corpus of hadith material and Muslim tradition.”

    It is actually pretty much what the Muslim tradition says. Muhammed did not bother to collect it. Abu Bakr and Umar did not bother much. Uthman did but by then it may have been important to do so for political reasons. Even when it was supposedly collected, it was a low priority because they gave the job to such a minor person – there were many scholars, allegedly, by then, but they were not given the task. And I have to correct myself – part of the Quran was only found in one person:

    Sahih Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 201:

    Narrated Zaid bin Thabit Al-Ansari:

    … I found with Khuzaima two Verses of Surat-at-Tauba which I had not found with anybody else, (and they were):–

    “Verily there has come to you an Apostle (Muhammad) from amongst yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty He (Muhammad) is ardently anxious over you (to be rightly guided)” (9.128)

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”Admittedly, I am not an expert in the concept of naksh. But some Islamic scholars have classified precisely this kind of abrogation, where the words are abrogated, and the ruling remains. I never said that this was an exception.”

    Well I know of no other but that is not saying much. But what is their basis for making that claim? Perhaps Bukhari is just wrong? Which is the true Revisionism I wonder, those that say what the aHadith say, or those that say that the aHadith must say what they say it says. The aHadith for instance clearly show Muhammed could read and write. The Quran does not contradict this – it calls him Ummi which might mean anything but Muslims have interpreted as illiterate. Islam claims it is based on the text but the role of the scholars in saying what the text says is enormous. Even when the text does not say what they say it should.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”Odd, but not impossible. It is found in the Bible. You’re saying that no evidence of the massacres remain, but apparently you want us to accept it on authority of the Bible. That they did not do it on the Palestinians (Sabra, Shattila and Jenin seem to indicate otherwise) is not relevant. What if they wanted to do it once? It is not odd at all, but exactly what you would expect if someone wants to put something in the mouth of an authority. Of course, it doesn’t have to be the entire Jewish people who wanted to put it on Prophet Moses’ mouth.”

    Surely if I wanted you to accept it on the authority of the Bible I would argue you should accept it on the authority of the Bible. What I did say was that this is something that makes Judaism look so bad it is hard to believe anyone made it up. No more than that. Arabs murdered people in S&Sh and the number killed in fighting, not massacres, in Jenin was and is small despite attempts to make propaganda about it. If they wanted to do it once, why didn’t they? It would surely be simpler to assume that they did it as opposed to claiming a baroque story “they wanted to but probably didn’t and haven’t ever since but haven’t bothered to re-edit the Bible or enforce the provision they invented”? Of course you come to this with Faith and so we are unlikely to agree.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”Merely opposing? More like attempting to kill the Prophet.”

    Muhammed ordered two slave girls killed for singing mocking songs about him. How did they attempt to kill him? As far as I can see Abu Rafi only mocked Muhammed too.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”No. God did not order Khalid to kill them. Despised Jews? Some of them are despised for treachery, but not all of them, as treaties continue with other Jews except for the treacherous tribes. If the Prophet was not responsible for it, as he clearly says, then no problem for me.”

    And yet he was not punished for what he did. When Muhammed was dying with his last breath more or less he ordered those treaties broken and the Jews driven out of Arabia. Muhammed may not have been responsible for it, and I agree he claims he was not, but he did not punish the killer from what I can see or reject the benefits that accrued to the Muslims. Can you see why that might look like a retrospective endorsement even if he did not order it?

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”They could hardly expect to be left alone since they betrayed the Muslims and they are fully aware of it. You are making it sound as if the Muslims besieged them for no reason at all. They were not just minding their own business- they left their Muslim allies to be exposed to danger even though there is a treaty between them.”

    You assert that they betrayed the Muslims and I have seen no evidence of it. One of their leaders perhaps talked about it but no more. They certainly did not lift a finger against the Muslims during the Battle or let the Quraysh into Medina – why not if they were betraying the Muslims? Nor do I see any evidence that they were fully aware of it – not the slightest attempt to flee for instance. Surely if they were going to do something bad they would have fought and then fled? I do not say there was no reason at all. I say the reason was only apparent to God who told Gabriel who told Muhammed. Muhammed was utterly unaware of any wrong-doing. How did they leave any Muslims exposed to danger and how would that amount to a crime anyway?

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”What other contexts? This is just conjecture. Why did the Jews choose him, then? Did the Prophet somehow influenced their choice? I don’t think so, and neither would they have listened to him.”

    In the context of the allegations made about Aisha for instance. According to the Sahih Bukhari that so enraged Sad he agreed to kill any of his tribesmen for spreading the rumor:

    “Sad bin Mu’adh got up and said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! by Allah, I will relieve you from him. If that man is from the tribe of the Aus, then we will chop his head off, and if he is from our brothers, the Khazraj, then order us, and we will fulfill your order.'”

    He was such a devoted Muslim that he snuck into Mecca to go to the Kaba and loudly threatened Abu Jahl (Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 56, Number 826). Even more telling of the nature of his real character is that he was staying with a friend whom he knew Muhammed was going to kill and it was only when he argued with him and lost his temper that he told the friend that little fact. Clearly Sad was extremely loyal to Muhammed and prone to outbursts of anger.

    Did Muhammed influence their choice? How do you know they made the choice? Againm, this looks like interpretation to me. Perhaps they negotiated it. Notice what the Sahih Bukhari says:

    Volume 5, Book 59, Number 447:

    Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

    The people of (Banu) Quraiza agreed to accept the verdict of Sad bin Mu’adh. So the Prophet sent for Sad, and the latter came (riding) a donkey and when he approached the Mosque, the Prophet said to the Ansar, “Get up for your chief or for the best among you.” Then the Prophet said (to Sad).” These (i.e. Banu Quraiza) have agreed to accept your verdict.” Sad said, “Kill their (men) warriors and take their offspring as captives, “On that the Prophet said, “You have judged according to Allah’s Judgment,” or said, “according to the King’s judgment.”

    Not “they asked for” Sad, or “they wanted” Sad, but the more passive “they agreed to accept” Sad. Which suggests that Muhammed proposed him and they agreed. And after all, their options were limited. Only by negotiating could they get terms. That requires compromise. Notice Muhammed’s endorsement of the verdict by the way.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”Again making saints of the poor, innocent Banu Qurayzah. They betrayed the Muslims, and they knew it, that’s why they immediately sought refuge in their fortress.”

    I don’t think that sarcasm helps your argument. I am doing no such thing. How do you know they betrayed the Muslims and in what form did that betrayal come? Not in the form of letting the Quraysh into Medina at any rate. They sought refuge when they saw a lot of armed men coming to kill them. You call that guilt? Why? If they betrayed and knew it, why didn’t they flee with the Quraysh?

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”Well, why did ‘they’ agree with their leader then? No, they didn’t help the Quraysh, but they abandoned the Muslims in the battlefield.”

    The battle field was Medina. In what sense did they abandon them? Where did it say they had to fight – where did it say anyone had to fight? How do you know they agreed with their leader? What is the evidence they did?

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”There are indications that you want to accept that the Prophet ordered the execution of boys who have grown a few pubic hairs (while the traditions say it was Sa’d, and not the Prophet who made the order), but do not accept that the Banu Qurayzah acted treacherously, or that it was Sa’d who made the order, not the Prophet. The Prophet was able to make sure because the Jews chose Sa’d! He didn’t choose for them. And now you’re looking for a Jewish view when you find out that it was really the Jews who chose Sa’d, thus sealing their own fates with their own hands.”

    If it will make you happier I’ll agree that Muhammed’s ordered Sad’s judgement be carried out – and that he thoroughly approved of it. Not only calling it “God’s judgement” but lauding Sad after his death in dozens of Hadith stating openly that he was in Heaven for instance:

    Volume 7, Book 72, Number 727:

    Narrated Al-Bara:

    The Prophet was given a silk garment as a gift and we started touching it with our hands and admiring it. On that the Prophet said, “Do you wonder at this?” We said, “Yes.” He said, “The handkerchiefs of Sad bin Mu’adh in Paradise are better than this ”

    I wonder how he knew. Or:

    Volume 5, Book 58, Number 147:

    Narrated Jabir:

    I heard the Prophet saying, “The Throne (of Allah) shook at the death of Sad bin Muadh.” Through another group of narrators, Jabir added, “I heard the Prophet : saying, ‘The Throne of the Beneficent shook because of the death of Sad bin Muadh.”

    I have seen no evidence that the Jews commited a crime. I have seen no evidence they picked Sad. That is not to say I reject the possibility of either, but the strength of your claims is interesting given the weakness of the evidence.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”If the Bible will be used to judge, then yes, those Muslims deserve it.”

    And if the Sunna is used? If the British apply “God’s judgement” to their own Muslims for 7-7? Would they deserve it then?

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”That’s the point! Only Jews have the authority to kill men and enslave women. Yet you don’t seem outraged at all by this. If Sa’d misinterpreted the Bible, that’s his problem.”

    Well it is not his problem because God obviously liked his judgement and he is sitting on His right hand – or at least Muhammed liked his judgement and said he was. Jews have orders to kill those men and enslave those women. I am not sure God forbids everyone else from it all the time. No one is threatening me with the fate of the Amelekites. That is ancient and dead history. I stand a fair chance of being the victim of people who do not think the Jews of Medina are dead history.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”Mind if I ask which manual? Besides, are you sure it represents the totality of Islamic jurisprudence? The hadith is clear: the Prophet explicitly forbade the killing of women and children in a war, unless they are doing the fighting themselves. I don’t see any such prohibition from the OT.”

    Abu’l-Hasan al-Mawardi’s Al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah. Does it matter if it represents the totality of Islamic jurisprudence? If I want to do something is it wrong to look for a mufti who will give me the opinion I want?

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”It is okay if Jews do it, but not if is to be done to Jews, right?”

    Jews seem to think so. Both Judaism and Islam are biased religions in that sense with different laws for non-believers.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”And mind if I ask you what will happen when they accept the terms? Will there be peace and coexistence between the Jews and the Goyim? I don’t think so. The verse is clear: if they accept, they will be forced to labor as slaves. If non-Muslims accept the jizyah, of course they must recognize Muslim authority, but what’s clear is that they will not be treated as forced laborers. The Jews in Spain would hardly reach their Golden Age if they were treated as slaves and forced laborers by the cruel Muslims. You are attempting to use an Islamic term to make a harsh biblical sentence look soft.”

    Where does it say slaves? If the People of the Book accept the jizyah they have to spend some considerable portion of their lives working for the Muslims. The Jews of Khaybar had to give the Muslims half their date crop. Clearly they labored in the fields for the Muslims. Maimonides writes on what the text means and he was probably influenced by the Muslims of his time, but his rules are very similar to Muslim ones for the Jewish equivalents of dhimmis.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”In any case, I think it is a case of selective amnesia on your part, since apparently you forgot that you wrote this: “Muhammed’s practice was more brutal than the Bible”. Even if you were referring to the specific instance of the Banu Qurayzah, you’re still wrong.”

    Well I was refering to this specific case and I am not. There was no chance for them to accept a truce.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”The worst that you could take from the Qur’an and the Sunnah would not amount to an explicit order to massacre infants, and rape virgin women.”

    I agree about the massacre of infants but I don’t about the virgins. Where does the Bible say to do that? It allows it, as the Sunna does, but does it command it?

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”Is Resurrection a ritual? I find more of it in the Qur’an than I do in the OT. Are the Attributes of God rituals?”

    No but they are not philosophical statements. Or even moral ones. They are statements of facts, I assume.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”I’m not an expert in Islamic law. But the point is that you said that in Islamic law, human life is just worth 50 camels. Clearly, it is not. You’re sarcastic comment was not even worth responding to, but some people might be led into thinking that that’s how it is in Islam.”

    How can you say clearly it is not? Let us assume that Islamic law does not distinguish very clearly between intentional and unintentional killings. And so the diya applies to all killings. What is the rate that Muslims apply to the value of a Muslim life if the family is inclined to be merciful? Jewish law explicitly forbids blood money by saying every human life is priceless and so no amount of money can remove the guilt or make up for the sin. Islamic law does not.

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”It is applicable to those who knowingly worship idols and are given a chance to come to the true teaching of ‘islam’.”

    Is that more scholarship or what the Quran actually says?

    aian jaafar said on 21 October 2006:”Then their religion is clearly not for me, since I’m not a Jew. It’s not for a substantial portion of humanity either.”

    You only have to obey the Seven Noachide laws given to Noah.

  2. HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “Well we are clearly on some common ground – enough to prove the original claim that it is Revision. But when Muslims say that Abraham went to sacrifice Ishmael in Mecca, that is more than reintepretation.”

    You can call it revisionism if you want. What I object to is the implication that we Muslims somehow twist the historical evidence to come in line with our claims, or that we are denying the obvious implications of conclusive evidence, or that we say that Christians and Jews always lie, and hence reject their scripture as evidence entirely. I don’t see any Muslim claiming that archaeology or first-hand, eyewitness, primary documents support the Muslim claim of Abraham sacrificing Ishmael in Mecca. It is a theological view, one that hinges on the veracity of the Prophet Muhammad’s prophethood. It would be a different matter of course, if conclusive evidence turns out which runs counter to Islamic claims. That’s why I’m asking you for conclusive evidence supporting the claims of Judaism and Christianity. You haven’t shown any conclusive evidence in support of their claims, and which runs counter to specifically Muslim claims. As such, there is no point in saying that Islam is a revisionism of Judaism and Christianity in the context the article is objecting to. And it really smacks of antagonism to Islam to imply that it is revisionism of the two religions while the same could be said of the two using exactly the same line of reasoning. So, let me ask you, is it just a matter of ‘I am not really a Jew or Christian. I just hate Islam’? then?

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “So either a vast conspiracy is at work or Islam is wrong. You have prejudged that based on your religious beliefs. I have not. It is true that religions start with one man, but the conspiracy theory you are talking about requires the thousands. To come up with a new story, to suppress the truth, to burn documents. All over the last 4000 years. That requires a lot more than one man. Occam’s Razor is often applied to the theories of the revisionists and I think it is highly credible and convincing when it does. I don’t think the revisionists have proved their case and some of them are clearly wrong. I have no problems with equal standards being applied to all.”

    Well it doesn’t need to be a massive conspiracy if it can begin with one person. Let’s take a look: a text was transmitted through one man. He transmits it to another. The man he transmitted it to mishandles the text. Afterwards, thousands of copies of the mishandled text were made. And those wrong copies were transmitted for 4 thousand years.

    It is good that you want a fair standard for all. I also don’t think that revisionists have proven their claim. At least, not according to the evidence that we have. But then again, I originally objected to your post saying that Islam is also a revisionism of Judaism and Christianity. I object that it is, from a historical perspective. If you’re saying it from a theological perspective, fine, feel free to call Islam revisionism. But if you’re really interested in a fair standard for all, why not say that Christianity is a revisionism of Judaism, and Judaism a revisionism of polytheistic Mesopotamian religion? Why attack only Islam? Why resort to the claims of revisionists (for example, regarding Muslim masses at the time of Caliph Uthman), and then suddenly switch arguments when you can’t disprove the Muslim claims regarding Abraham, by citing Occam’s Razor?

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “You would have to ask a Christian to be sure but I assume from the promise that Jesus would never abandon His Church and would come again. If revelation has primacy over religion that means that rational thought is not important for Muslims as it is for Christians. The Pope’s point.”

    This raises the question of why you had to raise an apparent defense of Christianity with your previous posts. Is this just to annoy Muslims? I hope not.

    Now here is where the circularity comes in. If Christ made a promise to the church, then the question has to be asked as to the specifics of the promise he allegedly made. We assume that this is made in the Christian scriptures. Apparently, it is not. Anyway, if a Christian says that yes, it is in the scriptures, well this is where the ‘isnads (or any method to verify how transmission was made) comes in. Which refutes your point that it is irrelevant to Christianity.

    We don’t have any guarantee except for what the supposedly infallible church claims. So, the reductio ad Deum of traditional, orthodox Christianity would be that the teaching came from God through the church, and not necessarily from Christ, in contrast to the Muslim reductio ad Deum which claims that the teaching came from God through the Prophet, whom we believe to be a messenger and divinely-inspired. Now, I understand that if this is the case, both Christians and Muslims still have very similar claims, that what they belive in is divinely-inspired. However, it should be conceded by Christians that what they believe in is what the Church says, and not necessarily what Jesus said, while a Muslim would accept nothing less than something grounded in some way on what the Prophet taught.

    Now, I don’t think many Christians will be willing to accept that what they believe in doesn’t necessarily come from Jesus. Of course, Muslims have been telling them this for quite some time.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “Except you would have to prove that the Uthmanic version’s tawwatur is correct – not just that it is correct according to the standards of Muslims because we know the answer to that. And as the oldest copy of the Quran is not that old, it is also true that no problem quasi-isnad can be given for it. It is not a fallacy to apply the methods of Textual Criticism to the Quran. So far Western scholars have not been interested in doing so but the same techniques can be applied. I don’t see that the text of the NT is fluid. It looks pretty fixed to me. New findings simply tell us more about the time in which it was compiled. It is absurd to say that if a text turned up showing that Muhammed lived and died in southern Syria and never went near Mecca this would not have an impact. Not on those who believe perhaps, but on the scholarship in general.”

    This is why I made a comment that you also use revisionism. Anyway, most scholars (not just Muslim scholars, who are equally capable, by the way) are in agreement that, at least in basic outline, the traditional Muslim account of the Qur’an’s preservation is correct. Only a few scholars reject it, rejecting all of the hadith, or accepting parts which could potentially undermine Muslim claims. Strangely enough, some reject ahadith but come to the conclusion that what we have today is the mushaf of the Prophet. Hence, there is no need in applying the technique you were mentioning. Well, you’re wrong about the text of the NT. Why do scholars such as Bruce Metzger and Kurt Aland have to vote to decide on which particular word to include in their critical text of the NT? Precisely because different manuscripts say different things, and it is up to the text critic to decide which reading best represents the autograph. Of course, they have to take new manuscripts and fragments into consideration if new ones come in. That’s why the text is fluid. It’s not just a matter of telling us more about the time in which it was compiled. It’s a matter of what the text really says. Most of the times the variations are minor, no problem with that. But sometimes, some significant variations emerge. Jesus could become God, just a man, (or maybe even a woman!) just by the difference of a word.

    The difference is this: there are a few controversial scholars who attempt a revisionism of Islam, and reject the broad outline of the traditional Muslim account regarding the Qur’an’s standardization and compilation. On the other hand, there is no massive conspiracy theory regarding the Bible, as the text critics themselves (some of which are devout Christians) will candidly point out that some changes took place on the text of the NT. If you disagree with this, kindly present the text of the Bible, of which you believe each and every word to accurately represent the autograph. I will do this gladly with the text of the Qur’an we have today (the Uthmanic text). Well, a text claiming that the Prophet never went near Mecca will not matter, because it is not tawwatur. So, whatever objections you have regarding the tawwatur of the Qur’an, the other texts wouldn’t be tawwatur, and hence irrelevant to Muslim claims.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “How so?”

    Because by claiming it, you are rejecting all of the ahadith (which, you have to agree, is definitely evidence of a sort), imply that everything the Muslims document about themselves are lies, and adopt the very line of the revisionists.

    “There is simply no evidence of that and on the contrary we know that at least part of the Quran was transmitted through *two* people. Presumably if it was only transmitted through one that text would not have been included. We also know, with the verse on rajam, that it used to have parts it does not any more. Muslims can come up with religious reasons for that, but scholars are unlikely to accept them. ”

    Then again, Muslim tradition is some sort of evidence. You have to reject it completely for you to say that there is no evidence for that. And the article we’re commenting to did a pretty good job of responding to some of their claims. Again, the parts which the Qur’an used to have are mentioned in the ahadith. While you apparently accept the hadith regarding the verse of rajam, you reject the rest of the ahadith, and even claim that there is no evidence for the Qur’an’s tawwatur status. So, you accept ahadith if it apparently shows a change in the Qur’an and reject it if it shows that the Uthmanic text is tawwatur (‘preserved in the breasts of Muslims’)? This is why the article was titled ‘On Revising Bigotry’.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “There is no reason to even suspect that it would have been difficult. Muslims had a promise from God that He would not allow any part of the Quran to be forgotten without a new part to replace it. Therefore Muslims had to believe they could not supress any part of the Quran even if they wanted to. Therefore anyone could because no Muslim could accept that it was even possible without blaspheming. I make no claim as to what Ali had and it might have been too late by then anyway. Arab society was not very literate and the process of compiling the Quran was not a high priority so who knows what might have been done.”

    Renegades are able to kill the head of the state for petty reasons, and you find it easy for them to accept brazen disrespect for versions of the Qur’an, which may support (or be made to support) any claim of theirs? The people clamored against the Caliph Uthman when a certain ascetic died, and you expect them to stand idly while something they are willing to die and kill for is being tampered? And though Arab society is admittedly not very literate (which also explains the lack of written documents from the era), they have the capacity for oral transmission. Claiming that preserving the Qur’an is not high priority is revisionism, and again implies a rejection of the entire corpus of hadith material and Muslim tradition.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “That is a religious point of view. I am not a Muslim and I do not accept that God ordered it. It certainly looks like it was not properly kept track of and bits went missing.”

    If you accept the ahadith as some sort of evidence, then you will find something similar. Even the Qur’an refers to abrogation. So there’s no possibility that it was not properly kept track of as regards to the abrogated verses, since even the text itself recognizes the principle of abrogation.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “I think it matters to a lot of people. Other verses were abrogated without their ruling remaining. How do you know this one is the exception?”

    Admittedly, I am not an expert in the concept of naksh. But some Islamic scholars have classified precisely this kind of abrogation, where the words are abrogated, and the ruling remains. I never said that this was an exception.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “Archeological remains often remain. None have been found.”

    “It may but there is no evidence that they are. You would, for instance, expect the Jews to say it about others who persecute them. Europeans for instance. But they do not. You might even expect them to say it about, and do it to, Palestinians. But they have not. Where you would expect them to leap on a justification for what they do, they don’t. This suggests they are not willing to do so. So if they don’t want to do it, and did not do it as far as anyone can tell, why would they claim to have done it? It is odd.”

    Odd, but not impossible. It is found in the Bible. You’re saying that no evidence of the massacres remain, but apparently you want us to accept it on authority of the Bible. That they did not do it on the Palestinians (Sabra, Shattila and Jenin seem to indicate otherwise) is not relevant. What if they wanted to do it once? It is not odd at all, but exactly what you would expect if someone wants to put something in the mouth of an authority. Of course, it doesn’t have to be the entire Jewish people who wanted to put it on Prophet Moses’ mouth.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “Yes but that is not what they actually did as we know they executed people secretly for merely opposing Muhammed”

    Merely opposing? More like attempting to kill the Prophet.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “Yes but that story is somewhat problematic isn’t it? Did Muhammed execute Khalid for what he did? Of course not. What does that imply? Did he even deny justice to the survivors? Did that apply to Arabs and not the despised Jews? Did God tell Khalid to kill these Arabs?”

    No. God did not order Khalid to kill them. Despised Jews? Some of them are despised for treachery, but not all of them, as treaties continue with other Jews except for the treacherous tribes. If the Prophet was not responsible for it, as he clearly says, then no problem for me.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “Actually I expect they desired to be left alone, but arbitration was the best offer on hand. As for the offer of asylum, clearly there was none. They were minding their own business – once the state of war that was the Battle of the Trench was over – when a new seige began.”

    They could hardly expect to be left alone since they betrayed the Muslims and they are fully aware of it. You are making it sound as if the Muslims besieged them for no reason at all. They were not just minding their own business- they left their Muslim allies to be exposed to danger even though there is a treaty between them.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “Well he always did in other contexts and Muhammed appears to have known, as the Jews did not, that he was dying from his wounds. And had express a desire to get even. ”

    What other contexts? This is just conjecture. Why did the Jews choose him, then? Did the Prophet somehow influenced their choice? I don’t think so, and neither would they have listened to him.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “They are attacked and you claim that locking themselves in their houses is a sign of guilt? Why?”

    Again making saints of the poor, innocent Banu Qurayzah. They betrayed the Muslims, and they knew it, that’s why they immediately sought refuge in their fortress.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “I think by the time they were being beseiged common sense would tell them they had to protect themselves. How many Muslims died in the seige?”

    “don’t know what this “they” is doing there. At most one of their leaders had talks that might have lead to treason. They did not actually lift a finger to help the Quraysh.”

    Well, why did ‘they’ agree with their leader then? No, they didn’t help the Quraysh, but they abandoned the Muslims in the battlefield.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “According to the Muslim tradition. A pity no Jewish account has survived. How did Muhammed make sure of that?”

    Well, I’ll leave you with your revisionism. There are indications that you want to accept that the Prophet ordered the execution of boys who have grown a few pubic hairs (while the traditions say it was Sa’d, and not the Prophet who made the order), but do not accept that the Banu Qurayzah acted treacherously, or that it was Sa’d who made the order, not the Prophet. The Prophet was able to make sure because the Jews chose Sa’d! He didn’t choose for them. And now you’re looking for a Jewish view when you find out that it was really the Jews who chose Sa’d, thus sealing their own fates with their own hands.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “Evident high treason? British and French Muslims have not only conspired with foreign powers, they have killed British and French citizens. It is self-evident that all their men deserve to die and their women become slaves?”

    If the Bible will be used to judge, then yes, those Muslims deserve it.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “As I have pointed out, no he did not. That does not apply here or to Jews at all.”

    That’s the point! Only Jews have the authority to kill men and enslave women. Yet you don’t seem outraged at all by this. If Sa’d misinterpreted the Bible, that’s his problem.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “I don’t think that is what Islamic law says as it happens. My manual of Islamic law says that if a Harbi soldier shelters among civilians you must kill the soldiers even if it means killing all the civilians.”

    Mind if I ask which manual? Besides, are you sure it represents the totality of Islamic jurisprudence? The hadith is clear: the Prophet explicitly forbade the killing of women and children in a war, unless they are doing the fighting themselves. I don’t see any such prohibition from the OT.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “It says what it says and I think it says what I said it says. What is clear is that either way it was not applied in Medina”

    No, it doesn’t. A dhimmi, or one who pays the jizyah is not a slave. You may have lots of objections about how they were treated, but they definitely were not slaves. And they were not forced laborers. Hmm, you seem to like to soften up verses of the Bible, and highlight only the potentially bad parts of the hadiths for Muslims.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “But not the Jewish men and only after certain conditions have been met – such as offering them terms.”

    It is okay if Jews do it, but not if is to be done to Jews, right? And mind if I ask you what will happen when they accept the terms? Will there be peace and coexistence between the Jews and the Goyim? I don’t think so. The verse is clear: if they accept, they will be forced to labor as slaves. If non-Muslims accept the jizyah, of course they must recognize Muslim authority, but what’s clear is that they will not be treated as forced laborers. The Jews in Spain would hardly reach their Golden Age if they were treated as slaves and forced laborers by the cruel Muslims. You are attempting to use an Islamic term to make a harsh biblical sentence look soft.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “I do not see how this helps you myself. This does not apply to Jews nor to the situation in Medina.”

    “The gall of us kafirs is amazing isn’t it? However to come to this conclusion you have to pretty much ignore everything I have said and so unless you have a relevant point that refers to something I said, I don’t see the point of replying to it. Where did I say that the wider question of the general practise of one, as opposed to the specific instance, was more brutal than the other?”

    I don’t know if it holds true for all kafirun, but it holds true for you in this particular situation. Even if I believe what you’re saying about the Banu Qurayzah, this is the worst that I can paint of the picture: The leader of the Banu Qurayzah acted treacherously. The Muslims besieged them. The Banu Qurayzah agreed to arbitrate, and chose someone whom they taught would be lenient to them. That person, whether rightly or wrongly, used the Bible as justification for his sentence (at least he thought he did): Kill all the adult males (those who have reached puberty), and enslave the women and children. 400, or 700 Jews were executed, some who have just reached puberty. It’s an entirely different level from what I find in the Bible. In any case, I think it is a case of selective amnesia on your part, since apparently you forgot that you wrote this: “Muhammed’s practice was more brutal than the Bible”. Even if you were referring to the specific instance of the Banu Qurayzah, you’re still wrong. The worst that you could take from the Qur’an and the Sunnah would not amount to an explicit order to massacre infants, and rape virgin women.Your statement that “Muhammed’s practice was more brutal than the Bible” is completely wrong. I see that you’re very eager to call the Prophet’s practice (whether specific or not doesn’t matter) brutal, but very, very soft when it comes to the Bible. Yet you deny you’re a Christian, and clearly you are not a Jew. Are you just a Muslim-hater then? I hope not.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “I think we would have to have very different views about what “teachings” are in that case. Jesus makes His views very clear and I don’t see how anyone can miss them.”

    Whatever you’re view of “teachings” is, the fact is that we have very little of what Jesus himself supposedly said, and hence very little of his teachings. This has proven to be a problem for Christians, what with all the excommunications, anathema, and even persecution of each other.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “No. It says a lot about rituals but not a great deal else. Some things about being good to orphans I admit.”

    Is Resurrection a ritual? I find more of it in the Qur’an than I do in the OT. Are the Attributes of God rituals? Haven’t you read about the value of human life in the Qur’an? Of patience in adversity? How about belief in Angels, descriptions of them, as well as Jinn? Descriptions of previous nations? Teaching that blood is not needed for forgiveness, is that a ritual? Teaching that God excels in pardon, that God has prescribed Mercy for Himself? You know I could go on and on, and find many things aside from being good to orphans. If you have such a myopic view of Islam, then it’s not my problem.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “No you have not shown it above. You have simply cut and paste from a Muslim apologist site without reading the passages or their context. You don’t support it? You think Muhammed was wrong?”

    I have read those passages many times. I don’t support the Bible in that. The Prophet was not wrong, he was not the one who made the judgment. I don’t support the judgment because of what the Bible says, but I do believe that Sa’d judged by God’s judgment (as the Prophet said) in that he judged according to the religious law of the Jews, whether such laws are wrong or not.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “I am not sure that was my position but it is good to see you are taking such a Christian position. I have no desire to shift you from it.”

    I don’t see how it is just a Christian position. I don’t deny that it is a Christian position, but then again, I used a Muslim standard of using my reason regarding what He has revealed about Himself. I cannot explain them all, but some contradictions are obvious if you ask me. By the way, why were you citing the example of the tsunami if you don’t agree with the utter destruction of populations through the hands of other people?

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “I do not see the words “unintentional homicide” in the Quran or in books of Islamic law. Are you saying that the family of the deceased cannot offer mercy in cases of outright murder? Are you claiming that there are still consequences, perhaps in the next life, for people to pay a diya? If so, what?”

    I’m not an expert in Islamic law. But the point is that you said that in Islamic law, human life is just worth 50 camels. Clearly, it is not. You’re sarcastic comment was not even worth responding to, but some people might be led into thinking that that’s how it is in Islam.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “The mere fact you call them prophets is revisionism. No one can verify what they said. It is ultimately a matter of faith. I don’t see how that helps your argument.”

    But I don’t claim to deduce the term ‘Prophets’ from first-hand, primary source documents. So, I could hardly call it revisionism. Yes, it is ultimately a matter of faith.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “But then of course you are a Muslim and so you would believe that anyway”

    But then again, I could also say that since you are a ‘kafir’ (that’s what you called yourself) you’d reject everything and anything in favor of Islam, but that is besides the point.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “I would be interested in an opinion on this subject. Especially given the Quran specifically says those that worship idols will burn in Hell which must apply to a lot of those who never got the message. Or if they had, they had forgotten it.”

    It is applicable to those who knowingly worship idols and are given a chance to come to the true teaching of ‘islam’.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “But that has never been a problem for Jews because most Jewish law only applies to Jews. Non-Jews only have to avoid certain obvious things which virtually no one disagrees about. Not committing murder for instance.”

    Then their religion is clearly not for me, since I’m not a Jew. It’s not for a substantial portion of humanity either.

    HeiGou said on 19 October 2006:
    “No Christianity has a theology for them as well. A limited one but no Christian theologian I can think of offhand has ever denied that those born before Christ would not necessarily burn in Hell. ”

    Yes, they have a ‘harrowing of Hell’ theology for that. But it further proves that Christianity is not a necessity for those persons who predate the Resurrection, since they would be saved without accepting Christianity. But ‘submission to the Will of God’ is, was, and forever will be a necessity in the presence of Messengers, Books, and adequate reason, for those endowed with them, among human beings.

  3. aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”I would agree if you say that Islam reinterprets the history. But rewrite it? We’re really not very concerned with Jewish and Christian scriptures right now. We’re more concerned about what the Qur’an says.”

    Well we are clearly on some common ground – enough to prove the original claim that it is Revision. But when Muslims say that Abraham went to sacrifice Ishmael in Mecca, that is more than reintepretation.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”I would disagree that the suppression is a 100 percent successful, as there are traces of tampering over this issue in Genesis, such as Hagar carrying Ishmael on her shoulder, putting him under a bush, watching him cry, and him growing up later even though he’s supposed to be at least 16 yrs old during the time. Then again, even if such difficulties do not exist, it would mean just that- the suppression is successful. Well, you forgot that the beliefs of the hundreds or thousands also probably began with one man. If the story, as it is related, can be traced back to the Prophet Abraham, then no problem. But it cannot be. Also, Occam’s Razor is also applicable to the revisionism of Islam(such as when you claimed that the censorship of Uthman was very successful)- which you sometimes resort to.”

    So either a vast conspiracy is at work or Islam is wrong. You have prejudged that based on your religious beliefs. I have not. It is true that religions start with one man, but the conspiracy theory you are talking about requires the thousands. To come up with a new story, to suppress the truth, to burn documents. All over the last 4000 years. That requires a lot more than one man. Occam’s Razor is often applied to the theories of the revisionists and I think it is highly credible and convincing when it does. I don’t think the revisionists have proved their case and some of them are clearly wrong. I have no problems with equal standards being applied to all.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”Well you still avoid my question as to where the church derives its claim of infallibility. And rational thinking has a place in Islam, though revelation always has primacy over reason.”

    You would have to ask a Christian to be sure but I assume from the promise that Jesus would never abandon His Church and would come again. If revelation has primacy over religion that means that rational thought is not important for Muslims as it is for Christians. The Pope’s point.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”I am not referring to the text. I was referring to copies, presumably manuscripts. You were saying that we cannot make reasonable comments about the Qur’an’s uniformity because material is lacking, and also since we don’t have the destroyed versions anymore. What I’m saying is we have no need of what those copies say. Even if you could show a codex purporting to be a different version of the Qur’an dating from the Prophet’s time, or a hadith saying that the Qur’an was changed, it still doesn’t change the Uthmanic recension’s tawwatur status. It would not be enough to turn the process on it’s head, as you were saying. It is a fallacy because you’re trying to apply the methodology being applied to the New Testament to the Qur’an. The Qur’ an was standardized early. The New Testament was not. Hence the need for a critical text of the NT. Hence the fluidity of the text of the NT, especially since new manuscripts and manuscript fragments are being discovered, which differ vastly from the received text. And as to the serious questions regarding the Qur’an’s origins, the article we’re commenting to has already responded to many of them.”

    Except you would have to prove that the Uthmanic version’s tawwatur is correct – not just that it is correct according to the standards of Muslims because we know the answer to that. And as the oldest copy of the Quran is not that old, it is also true that no problem quasi-isnad can be given for it. It is not a fallacy to apply the methods of Textual Criticism to the Quran. So far Western scholars have not been interested in doing so but the same techniques can be applied. I don’t see that the text of the NT is fluid. It looks pretty fixed to me. New findings simply tell us more about the time in which it was compiled. It is absurd to say that if a text turned up showing that Muhammed lived and died in southern Syria and never went near Mecca this would not have an impact. Not on those who believe perhaps, but on the scholarship in general.

    HeiGou said:“There is little evidence there was a text to tamper with.”

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”This is revisionism.”

    How so?

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”Again it wouldn’t matter what any version would say, because the current version is mass-transmitted.”

    There is simply no evidence of that and on the contrary we know that at least part of the Quran was transmitted through *two* people. Presumably if it was only transmitted through one that text would not have been included. We also know, with the verse on rajam, that it used to have parts it does not any more. Muslims can come up with religious reasons for that, but scholars are unlikely to accept them.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”The available evidence shows that it would be very difficult to suppress anything in Islam- the one doing the censorship could get killed, same as Caliph Uthman, the most powerful person back then. Besides, Imam Ali managed to rise to power, and could have promulgated his own copy then, if he really had something different.”

    There is no reason to even suspect that it would have been difficult. Muslims had a promise from God that He would not allow any part of the Quran to be forgotten without a new part to replace it. Therefore Muslims had to believe they could not supress any part of the Quran even if they wanted to. Therefore anyone could because no Muslim could accept that it was even possible without blaspheming. I make no claim as to what Ali had and it might have been too late by then anyway. Arab society was not very literate and the process of compiling the Quran was not a high priority so who knows what might have been done.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”Yes, it changed, by the order of God, by the foreordained knowledge of God, not through the hand of man, unlike the Johannine comma in the NT, tampered by the infallible church.”

    That is a religious point of view. I am not a Muslim and I do not accept that God ordered it. It certainly looks like it was not properly kept track of and bits went missing.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”Whether the ruling remains or not is not the point. In fact I have already said precisely what you’re asking, that the verse (words) was abrogated! Meaning to say, God, for whatever reason, does not want the verse to remain, but wants the ruling to remain. I cannot answer why though.”

    I think it matters to a lot of people. Other verses were abrogated without their ruling remaining. How do you know this one is the exception?

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:Well no sign of killing will remain if no sign of them at all remains.”

    Archeological remains often remain. None have been found.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”I’m saying this because you were saying that it’s hard for you to see how they could have claimed something like that if they really did not do it. Well, if they never did it, and they claimed it, it may mean that their willing to do it. I mean, why claim such a thing?”

    It may but there is no evidence that they are. You would, for instance, expect the Jews to say it about others who persecute them. Europeans for instance. But they do not. You might even expect them to say it about, and do it to, Palestinians. But they have not. Where you would expect them to leap on a justification for what they do, they don’t. This suggests they are not willing to do so. So if they don’t want to do it, and did not do it as far as anyone can tell, why would they claim to have done it? It is odd.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”Verses in the Holy Qur’an order Muslims to not transgress limits, and slay only those who were engaged in combat.”

    Yes but that is not what they actually did as we know they executed people secretly for merely opposing Muhammed.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”When we reached the Prophet, we mentioned to him the whole
    story. On that, the Prophet raised both his hands and said twice, “O Allah! I am free (or innocent or not responsible for) from what Khalid has done.” (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 628)””

    Yes but that story is somewhat problematic isn’t it? Did Muhammed execute Khalid for what he did? Of course not. What does that imply? Did he even deny justice to the survivors? Did that apply to Arabs and not the despised Jews? Did God tell Khalid to kill these Arabs?

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”Lest it be asked why there is no offer of asylum for the Banu Qurayzah, well, there is the arbitration already. The siege (and hence the state of war, in which case the usual rules of war in Islam applies, which allows asylum for non-hostile unbelievers) was ongoing when the Jews expressed a desire for arbitration.”

    Actually I expect they desired to be left alone, but arbitration was the best offer on hand. As for the offer of asylum, clearly there was none. They were minding their own business – once the state of war that was the Battle of the Trench was over – when a new seige began.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:Besides, the decision was out of the Prophet’s hand the moment the Jews chose their judge. Saying that that man did what the Prophet wanted is nothing but conjecture on your part.”

    Well he always did in other contexts and Muhammed appears to have known, as the Jews did not, that he was dying from his wounds. And had express a desire to get even.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”They themselves know of their guilt when they immediately sought the protection of their fortresses.”

    They are attacked and you claim that locking themselves in their houses is a sign of guilt? Why?

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”Sa’d, the arbitrator chosen by the al-Aws and the Banu Qurayzah ordered to take their armors off. If they were not fighting, why would they wear their armor? The narrations also state that a few javelins and stones were also thrown by each side.”

    I think by the time they were being beseiged common sense would tell them they had to protect themselves. How many Muslims died in the seige?

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”They may have not participated in the battle of the Trench, but they acted treacherously, and broke a treaty with the Muslims, thus exposing their allies’ lives to danger.”

    I don’t know what this “they” is doing there. At most one of their leaders had talks that might have lead to treason. They did not actually lift a finger to help the Quraysh.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”Secondly, they were the ones who chose the judge, and the Prophet made sure that the arbiter chosen is acceptable to both sides.”

    According to the Muslim tradition. A pity no Jewish account has survived. How did Muhammed make sure of that?

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”The Prophet was very merciful indeed to agree to arbitrate regarding a case of evident high treason.”

    Evident high treason? British and French Muslims have not only conspired with foreign powers, they have killed British and French citizens. It is self-evident that all their men deserve to die and their women become slaves?

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”And that man (Sa’d bin Muadh, who was mortally wounded) whom they chose judged according to the Bible (Deuteronomy 20:12-14.)”

    As I have pointed out, no he did not. That does not apply here or to Jews at all.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”I find it odd that you find the Prophet’s practice more brutal than the Bible.”

    I never made that claim.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”What conditions? So then you admit that in some conditions it would be permissible to kill babies then. Well, we say that it is never permissible to kill a baby in war.”

    I don’t think that is what Islamic law says as it happens. My manual of Islamic law says that if a Harbi soldier shelters among civilians you must kill the soldiers even if it means killing all the civilians.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”And you attempt to distort the biblical verse by saying that there is an offer for a truce on payment of “jizyah”. The biblical passage clearly says that there would be no truce, but forced labor for enemy captives.”

    It says what it says and I think it says what I said it says. What is clear is that either way it was not applied in Medina.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”And Sa’d bin Muadh’s (not the Prophet’s) judgment is taken from verse 13, specifically commanding to put to the sword all the men.”

    But not the Jewish men and only after certain conditions have been met – such as offering them terms.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”Numbers 31:7, 17-18 “They fought against Midian, as the LORD commanded Moses, and killed every man…….Now kill all the boys [innocent kids]. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.””

    I do not see how this helps you myself. This does not apply to Jews nor to the situation in Medina.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”I have given you references where the Prophet forbade the killing of the women and children of the enemy, and I have provided you references where the Bible orders the massacre of infants and sucklings, and the rape of virgin women, but you still have the gall to say that the Prophet’s practice is more brutal than the Bible.”

    The gall of us kafirs is amazing isn’t it? However to come to this conclusion you have to pretty much ignore everything I have said and so unless you have a relevant point that refers to something I said, I don’t see the point of replying to it. Where did I say that the wider question of the general practise of one, as opposed to the specific instance, was more brutal than the other?

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”I should say that Christianity is not a religion based upon Christ’s teachings then, since I find so little of his teachings in the NT.”

    I think we would have to have very different views about what “teachings” are in that case. Jesus makes His views very clear and I don’t see how anyone can miss them.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”I have read about monotheism, the attributes of God, how we should behave, how we should act, speak and think, how we should pray, the consequences of thoughts and actions, the afterlife, sincerity, purity of heart, and many others, in fact, about all the aspects of my life I could think of, from the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet, and yet you insist that Islam says so little about the Prophet’s teachings.”

    No. It says a lot about rituals but not a great deal else. Some things about being good to orphans I admit.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”If you accept the authority of the Bible and the relevant passages I quoted, then I should say you support those acts then.”

    If.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”And no, I don’t support the execution of the men of the Banu Qurayzah, the Bible does, as shown above.”

    No you have not shown it above. You have simply cut and paste from a Muslim apologist site without reading the passages or their context. You don’t support it? You think Muhammed was wrong?

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”It is ironic because of the claims that Christianity is more rational than Islam, and yet basically you are arguing that we cannot question God about anything He orders, while I, a Muslim, am arguing that though God is entirely above reason, we could use our reason for what He has already revealed regarding Himself. Since He revealed that He is Merciful, and commands that no one may take a human life without justification, how can He contradict Himself by ordering the slaying of infants?”

    I am not sure that was my position but it is good to see you are taking such a Christian position. I have no desire to shift you from it.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”A misunderstanding of the concept of blood money for an unintentional homicide, which is a recognition of the financial and material damage incurred. It is not a payment for a life.”

    I do not see the words “unintentional homicide” in the Quran or in books of Islamic law. Are you saying that the family of the deceased cannot offer mercy in cases of outright murder? Are you claiming that there are still consequences, perhaps in the next life, for people to pay a diya? If so, what?

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”And now it is revisionism to ask for what the Prophets really said? This just reflects your inability to verify what they really said.”

    The mere fact you call them prophets is revisionism. No one can verify what they said. It is ultimately a matter of faith. I don’t see how that helps your argument.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”This is where you are really wrong. In fact, this is one of the reasons why I believe that Islam is more logical than Christianity and Judaism.”

    But then of course you are a Muslim and so you would believe that anyway.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”Islam doesn’t just claim to be for all people. It claims it has always been for all people. The Qur’an explicitly states that God doesn’t punish unless an admonition has been sent to the people concerned. You forgot that Islam believes that never has there been a time or nation where no Prophet was sent. If that happens, then God would not hold those people without a Prophet or Book accountable for their actions. They are considered Ahl al-Fitrah.”

    I would be interested in an opinion on this subject. Especially given the Quran specifically says those that worship idols will burn in Hell which must apply to a lot of those who never got the message. Or if they had, they had forgotten it.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”The difficulty you are pointing to exists not in Islam, but in Judaism and Christianity. Why? You forgot the fact that Judaism doesn’t say anything about Holy Books other than the Bible. Since only Israelites were graced with the Prophets, and hence the Books (the exception is apparently Prophet Jonah, an Assyrian. There was some contact with other nations, but that was very minimal. What about the Australian Aborigines? Would Yahweh throw them to Sheol?).”

    But that has never been a problem for Jews because most Jewish law only applies to Jews. Non-Jews only have to avoid certain obvious things which virtually no one disagrees about. Not committing murder for instance.

    aian jaafar said on 16 October 2006:”The problem is just as bad in Christianity, as billions of souls who had the misfortune of being born before the Resurrection will be doomed to Hell. I have never claimed that I could explain everything in Islam, hence the absurdities, due to my limited capacity of explanation. But I believe that Islam claims it has always been for all, in contrast to Judaism for Israelites, and Christianity for those who post-date the Resurrection.”

    No Christianity has a theology for them as well. A limited one but no Christian theologian I can think of offhand has ever denied that those born before Christ would not necessarily burn in Hell.

  4. HeiGou said: “So, as I said, you have to accept the Quran without arguing because God said so.”

    HeiGou said: “Yes but that is my argument, not yours. You are demanding isnads for the Bible. Why not for the Quran?”

    I have already provided you with the isnads for the Qur’an. And I am not looking exclusively for an isnad for the Bible. I am looking for a method of verification for what the Prophets really said, aside from the claims of the infallible church. And I have already provided you with the reason why I cannot just accept everything the infallible church says. It is a Muslim assumption that since Christians claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, then everything they teach should be grounded on some teaching of Jesus Christ himself. This includes the infallible church. Where would the church’s infallibility come from, if not from Jesus Christ? So then, the infallible church should show us just where Jesus taught that this particular church is infallible.

    HeiGou said:
    “Well no it is not. I can trivially point out that the Jewish and Christian traditions are a lot older than the Muslim one. I can trivially point out that from the beginning of History to the birth of Muhammed there is precisely no evidence of any of the specifically Islamic claims Muslims now claim. So it follows that Islam is Revisionism. It is re-writing an older tradition. That is not to argue over who is right or wrong, but to simply state the obvious. It does not even imply that Jewish and Christian history is correct – just that Islam takes that history at a later point in time and re-writes it.”

    No, I would agree if you say that Islam reinterprets the history. But rewrite it? We’re really not very concerned with Jewish and Christian scriptures right now. We’re more concerned about what the Qur’an says.

    HeiGou said:
    “Or any evidence outside the Quran at all in fact. No archaeology. No mention of it in any other texts. But I agreee I cannot claim it is impossible. However Occam’s Razor does suggest that we should keep complexity to a minimum and so if the choice is a vast conspiracy over the last 3000 years to suppress the Truth – with 100 percent success at that – or one man was wrong, then I think logic would suggest the one man, not the hundreds or thousands, was wrong.”

    I would disagree that the suppression is a 100 percent successful, as there are traces of tampering over this issue in Genesis, such as Hagar carrying Ishmael on her shoulder, putting him under a bush, watching him cry, and him growing up later even though he’s supposed to be at least 16 yrs old during the time. Then again, even if such difficulties do not exist, it would mean just that- the suppression is successful. Well, you forgot that the beliefs of the hundreds or thousands also probably began with one man. If the story, as it is related, can be traced back to the Prophet Abraham, then no problem. But it cannot be. Also, Occam’s Razor is also applicable to the revisionism of Islam(such as when you claimed that the censorship of Uthman was very successful)- which you sometimes resort to.
    HeiGou said:
    “It is not that Jesus is Living, but that He lives and works in the Church today. According to the more traditional Christian, the Church cannot be wrong because it is the embodiment of Christ on Earth. I don’t think that Muslims can make the same claim although Muhammed did say that his community would never agree on an error. I don’t see how my standard would lead you to do that. I don’t think that there is much in the way of distinguishing prophets from one another so that much is true, but that would lead me to suggest you are very careful before you follow any. What else do Muslims have apart from the text? Muhammed is dead. God’s ways are mysterious and not open to intepretation. God is not actually present in the mosque on Friday. I don’t think I have claimed that Christianity is rational. I think I have said that the Pope said rational thinking has a place in the Church it does not in Islam. Fundamentally they all come down to Faith.”

    Well you still avoid my question as to where the church derives its claim of infallibility. And rational thinking has a place in Islam, though revelation always has primacy over reason.

    HeiGou said:
    “I fail to see how that is a fallacy. For a text-based religion like Islam, the text is important. Refute what? There is no denying that for the first few generations Muslims seem uninterested in Islam or in Muhammed – they do not leave any evidence to the contrary anyway apart from much older historical traditions. I am not so sure the Quran is on firmer ground in general. I agree there is only one copy but that simply points to the successful censorship. There are serious questions about the Quran’s origins including whether it was written down under the Rashiddun or not until the mid-Umayyad period or even the Abbasids. Whether it referred to Arabia or somewhere else. There must have been a longer gap between Revelation and codification because there is a problem with the language – even Muslims do not really know what it all means and the aHadith say there was dispute over the dialect at the time Umar ordered it written. That suggests a big change in Arabic and too big to have happened in three rulers.”

    I am not referring to the text. I was referring to copies, presumably manuscripts. You were saying that we cannot make reasonable comments about the Qur’an’s uniformity because material is lacking, and also since we don’t have the destroyed versions anymore. What I’m saying is we have no need of what those copies say. Even if you could show a codex purporting to be a different version of the Qur’an dating from the Prophet’s time, or a hadith saying that the Qur’an was changed, it still doesn’t change the Uthmanic recension’s tawwatur status. It would not be enough to turn the process on it’s head, as you were saying. It is a fallacy because you’re trying to apply the methodology being applied to the New Testament to the Qur’an. The Qur’ an was standardized early. The New Testament was not. Hence the need for a critical text of the NT. Hence the fluidity of the text of the NT, especially since new manuscripts and manuscript fragments are being discovered, which differ vastly from the received text. And as to the serious questions regarding the Qur’an’s origins, the article we’re commenting to has already responded to many of them.

    HeiGou said:
    “There is little evidence there was a text to tamper with.”

    This is revisionism.

    HeiGou said:
    “Except from the early days the Shia claimed that Ali had another, different, Quran – and so there are Sunni aHadith that specifically claim otherwise. The tradition of more than one Quran was present in the early days. Besides, you are arguing the wrong way around – if the proto-Sunnis managed to suppress all other copies of the Quran, not hard to do at the time, the Shia would not have any other Quran. But if they had doubts about what it said, because they thought they used to have a different copy which has been destroyed, they would be forced to rely on the opinion of Imams who are still in touch with God in some way who could tell them what the Quran “really” meant before the Sunnis tampered with it. They would become Batinis. Surviving Shia are not always like that, but the early ones often were.”

    Again it wouldn’t matter what any version would say, because the current version is mass-transmitted. The available evidence shows that it would be very difficult to suppress anything in Islam- the one doing the censorship could get killed, same as Caliph Uthman, the most powerful person back then. Besides, Imam Ali managed to rise to power, and could have promulgated his own copy then, if he really had something different.

    HeiGou said:
    “The mass transmitted reports only indicate what the scholars of a later period thought. They do not necessarily tell anyone what people at the time thought. It is the small exceptions that prove the rule. A scientigic theory may have a mass of supporting evidence, but it is the little things it cannot explain that proves whether it is true or not. There is no assumption that Muslims always lie. Just that history is not theology and historians have to approach historical texts from that point of view. The aHadith claim that there used to be a passage on stoning in the Quran. When Umar came to power it was no longer there:
    Sahih Volume 8, Book 82, Number 816:
    Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:
    ‘Umar said, “I am afraid that after a long time has passed, people may say, “We do not find the Verses of the Rajam (stoning to death) in the Holy Book,” and consequently they may go astray by leaving an obligation that Allah has revealed. Lo! I confirm that the penalty of Rajam be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if he is already married and the crime is proved by witnesses or pregnancy or confession.” Sufyan added, “I have memorized this narration in this way.” ‘Umar added, “Surely Allah’s Apostle carried out the penalty of Rajam, and so did we after him.”
    Volume 8, Book 82, Number 817:
    Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:
    ….
    In the meantime, ‘Umar sat on the pulpit and when the callmakers for the prayer had finished their call, ‘Umar stood up, and having glorified and praised Allah as He deserved, he said, “Now then, I am going to tell you something which (Allah) has written for me to say. I do not know; perhaps it portends my death, so whoever understands and remembers it, must narrate it to the others wherever his mount takes him, but if somebody is afraid that he does not understand it, then it is unlawful for him to tell lies about me. Allah sent Muhammad with the Truth and revealed the Holy Book to him, and among what Allah revealed, was the Verse of the Rajam (the stoning of married person (male & female) who commits illegal sexual intercourse, and we did recite this Verse and understood and memorized it. Allah’s Apostle did carry out the punishment of stoning and so did we after him.
    I am afraid that after a long time has passed, somebody will say, ‘By Allah, we do not find the Verse of the Rajam in Allah’s Book,’ and thus they will go astray by leaving an obligation which Allah has revealed.”
    ….
    “So at one point the Quran contained the Rajam verse. Now it does not.”
    “So the Quran has changed.”
    Yes, it changed, by the order of God, by the foreordained knowledge of God, not through the hand of man, unlike the Johannine comma in the NT, tampered by the infallible church.

    HeiGou said:
    “How do you know that God ordered the ruling to remain? That does not apply to abrogated verses, so how do you know the verse on stoning has not been abrogated?”

    Whether the ruling remains or not is not the point. In fact I have already said precisely what you’re asking, that the verse (words) was abrogated! Meaning to say, God, for whatever reason, does not want the verse to remain, but wants the ruling to remain. I cannot answer why though.

    HeiGou said:
    “Except there is no sign they ever did kill them, or that they wanted to, or that when the OT came to be written down there were even any left. It is a mystery.”

    Well no sign of killing will remain if no sign of them at all remains. Whether they existed or not is not the point. What I’m saying is that anything could be made up, for any reason, by any people. If what you’re saying is true, it could even be said that perhaps they made the Amalekites up so that they could potentially justify genocide then. I’m saying this because you were saying that it’s hard for you to see how they could have claimed something like that if they really did not do it. Well, if they never did it, and they claimed it, it may mean that their willing to do it. I mean, why claim such a thing?

    HeiGou said:
    “Where is the evidence that they would have been granted that if they asked for it? What they asked for was mediation but picked the wrong man who did what Muhammed wanted. There is no sign in the text I can see there was an offer of asylum. One converted and was spared. The rest remained loyal and were martyred. None of them participated in the battle. Not one. Their guilt was not in the realm of deeds – after all the Muslims, including Muhammed did not think they did anything wrong because they went home after the battle and took their armor off. It was only then that an angel told Muhammed they were guilty that the Muslims attacked them.”

    Verses in the Holy Qur’an order Muslims to not transgress limits, and slay only those who were engaged in combat. O Prophet! say to those who are captives in your hands: ‘If Allah findeth any good in your hearts, He will Give you something better than what has been taken from you, and He will Forgive you: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. But if they have treacherous designs against thee, (O Messenger!), they have already been in treason against Allah, and so hath He given (thee) power over them. And Allah is He who hath (Full) knowledge and wisdom. (The Noble Quran, 8:70-71)”
    Narrated Salim’s father: “The Prophet sent Khalid bin Al-Walid to the tribe of Jadhima and Khalid invited them to Islam but they could not express themselves by saying, “Aslamna (i.e. we have embraced Islam),” but they started saying “Saba’na! Saba’na (i.e. we have come out of one religion to another).” Khalid kept on killing (some of) them and taking (some of) them as captives and gave every one of us his Captive. When there came the day then Khalid ordered that each man (i.e. Muslim soldier) should kill his captive, I said, “By Allah, I will not kill my captive, and none of my companions will kill his captive.” When we reached the Prophet, we mentioned to him the whole story. On that, the Prophet raised both his hands and said twice, “O Allah! I am free (or innocent or not responsible for) from what Khalid has done.” (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 628)”
    “They perform (their) vows, and they fear a Day Whose evil flies far and wide. And they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive — (Saying), ‘We feed you For the sake of Allah alone: No reward do we desire from you, nor thanks.’ (The Noble Quran, 76:7-9)”

    Lest it be asked why there is no offer of asylum for the Banu Qurayzah, well, there is the arbitration already. The siege (and hence the state of war, in which case the usual rules of war in Islam applies, which allows asylum for non-hostile unbelievers) was ongoing when the Jews expressed a desire for arbitration. Besides, the decision was out of the Prophet’s hand the moment the Jews chose their judge. Saying that that man did what the Prophet wanted is nothing but conjecture on your part. They themselves know of their guilt when they immediately sought the protection of their fortresses. Sa’d, the arbitrator chosen by the al-Aws and the Banu Qurayzah ordered to take their armors off. If they were not fighting, why would they wear their armor? The narrations also state that a few javelins and stones were also thrown by each side.

    In fact, four converted and were spared, and three more were spared, due to the intervention of the Companions, though they did not convert. Only one woman was killed, who killed a Muslim with a millstone. They may have not participated in the battle of the Trench, but they acted treacherously, and broke a treaty with the Muslims, thus exposing their allies’ lives to danger. Secondly, they were the ones who chose the judge, and the Prophet made sure that the arbiter chosen is acceptable to both sides. The Prophet was very merciful indeed to agree to arbitrate regarding a case of evident high treason. And that man (Sa’d bin Muadh, who was mortally wounded) whom they chose judged according to the Bible (Deuteronomy 20:12-14.)

    HeiGou said:
    “Well no because that is not what the Bible says. Even if you take the worst passage you can, that only applies to non-Jews, it includes an offer of a truce on payment of jizyah, and it only refers to specific conditions which did not occur in this case. Muhammed’s practice was more brutal than the Bible.”
    I find it odd that you find the Prophet’s practice more brutal than the Bible. What conditions? So then you admit that in some conditions it would be permissible to kill babies then. Well, we say that it is never permissible to kill a baby in war. And you attempt to distort the biblical verse by saying that there is an offer for a truce on payment of “jizyah”. The biblical passage clearly says that there would be no truce, but forced labor for enemy captives. And Sa’d bin Muadh’s (not the Prophet’s) judgment is taken from verse 13, specifically commanding to put to the sword all the men. Now I can read other passages where Yahweh ORDERS (not just permits) his prophets and kings to slay everything that breathes, even infants and sucklings, and to take “any woman that has not slept with a man”. On the other hand, the Prophet Muhammad explicitly forbade the killing and targetting of women and children in a war:
    Deuteronomy 20:11-14: 11″ If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies”. This is taken from the New International Version.

    Numbers 31:7, 17-18 “They fought against Midian, as the LORD commanded Moses, and killed every man…….Now kill all the boys [innocent kids]. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

    And let’s see what the Bible has to say regarding babies in wartime:

    Samuel 15:2-3 (New International Version)
    2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy [a] everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’ ”
    Footnotes:
    1 Samuel 15:3 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the LORD, often by totally destroying them; also in verses 8, 9, 15, 18, 20 and 21.

    Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: ” The Messenger of God (peace be upon him) saw the corpse of a woman who had been slain in one of the raids, and he disapproved of it and forbade the killing of women and children”.
    When the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) sent out a raiding party, he would say to them, “Make your raids in the name of God, in the way of God. Fight whoever denies God. Do not steal from the booty, and do not act treacherously. Do not mutilate and do not kill children” (Sahih-ul-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 257 and 258. Also, Mutta Malik, Book 21, Section 3, Number 9.)

    I have given you references where the Prophet forbade the killing of the women and children of the enemy, and I have provided you references where the Bible orders the massacre of infants and sucklings, and the rape of virgin women, but you still have the gall to say that the Prophet’s practice is more brutal than the Bible.

    HeiGou said:
    “God decided to kill those people in the Tsunami. He knew what it would do and He ordered it done. God kills innocent people. God in the Christian tradition is slightly more rational – which was, after all, the Pope’s point.”

    I should say that death is surely from God, though murder is from man. Yes, God is the One Who Takes Away Life, but He never ordered his servants to take away innocent life on purpose.

    HeiGou said:
    “But you can’t discover much about what Muhammed thought. Islam is not a religion in that manner.”

    I should say that Christianity is not a religion based upon Christ’s teachings then, since I find so little of his teachings in the NT. I have read about monotheism, the attributes of God, how we should behave, how we should act, speak and think, how we should pray, the consequences of thoughts and actions, the afterlife, sincerity, purity of heart, and many others, in fact, about all the aspects of my life I could think of, from the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet, and yet you insist that Islam says so little about the Prophet’s teachings. In fact, I can read more of Christology (a subject of vital importance to Christians of any denomination) in the Qur’an and ahadith than in the words of Jesus himself! And I find more references to the subject of the afterlife and resurrection in the Qur’an and ahadith than in the OT, a subject of pivotal importance for Christians in support of their claims.

    HeiGou said:
    “I fail to see how you can conclude I support the massacre of anyone. Although you presumably support the massacre of those Jews. How is it ironic?”

    If you accept the authority of the Bible and the relevant passages I quoted, then I should say you support those acts then. And no, I don’t support the execution of the men of the Banu Qurayzah, the Bible does, as shown above. It is ironic because of the claims that Christianity is more rational than Islam, and yet basically you are arguing that we cannot question God about anything He orders, while I, a Muslim, am arguing that though God is entirely above reason, we could use our reason for what He has already revealed regarding Himself. Since He revealed that He is Merciful, and commands that no one may take a human life without justification, how can He contradict Himself by ordering the slaying of infants?

    HeiGou said:
    “And yet He kills innocent people a la the Tsunami. Babies die during birth all the time. God is responsible for that. And His messenger killed quite a few people who look pretty innocent to me. His followers even more so. No doubt you have been taught to reconcile that contradiction, but I, of course, have not.”

    I have already said, death is from God, but murder is from man. There is no contradiction to reconcile at all. The judgment was not the Prophet’s, but Sa’d’s. Of course you’re free to assume that that’s what the Prophet wanted anyway. But it would only remain a conjecture.

    HeiGou said:
    “Besides, we know what Islamic law really thinks of human life. It is worth, what?, 50 camels?”

    A misunderstanding of the concept of blood money for an unintentional homicide, which is a recognition of the financial and material damage incurred. It is not a payment for a life. On the other hand, I’ve already mentioned that the Qur’an considers human life (not just Muslim life) to be of paramount importance and sacredness. Of course, the Bible considers human life sacred as well. But it seems that the Bible in the OT does not consider non-Jews human….

    HeiGou said:
    “Well no it is not. There is no dispute within Churches but there were hundreds of small Churches back then.”

    And one of those churches is the infallible church. Each of those churches may well have an equal claim of authenticity with the other. Who’s telling the truth, then?

    HeiGou said:
    “Well Moses could hardly believe in something that had not happened yet. I have never claimed to be a Christian. Is it revisionism? I would deny it as it is an attempt to radically rethink, but not re-write, the message. But the distinction is minor. If you want to think of it as Revisionism please feel free to do so. Does that change what Islam is? I have no problems understanding, I just do not accept there is a logical reason to believe the Muslim claims.”

    I am referring, not to Christ’s alleged Resurrection, but to the resurrection after Doomsday. Prophet Moses doesn’t seem to teach about the afterlife in the OT. Yes, I call it revisionism. The Christian claim is very similar to the Muslim claim, in that Christianity attempts to deny the Jewish explanation of the Torah, and seeks to find the Passion of Christ in every verse of the OT they could possibly bend and re-interpret. The Jewish claim is not much different, as some older, Mesopotamian stories seem to have been recast in a specifically Jewish and monotheistic light (Ut-Napishtim and the Flood, the Tower of Babel, the Garden of Eden, etc). Islam avoids these difficulties by saying that the covenant between God and mankind is as old as mankind itself, hence the similarities between Islam and the previous religions. It did not begin on Mount Sinai.

    HeiGou said:
    “I did not make that claim of course.”

    But you implied it when you said that verifying what the Prophets really said is specifically a Muslim standard, and it is irrelevant to Judaism and Christianity.

    HeiGou said:
    “It may but it wouldn’t. There is clearly “a people” before Sinai. They are not Jews in the sense they are bound to God by the convenant, but they are certainly not muslims.”

    Neither are they Jews. But you admitted that they were”muslims” in the sense of being submissive to the will of God. While you permit them being Jews though not in the sense of being bound to the covenant, you don’t permit that they are muslims, though not in the sense we understand today.

    HeiGou said:
    “The problem is understanding what is being said. Abraham lied when he said she was his sister. By “daughter of his father” he means a paternal relative in the way many cultures use “brother” and “cousin” in a broader sense. You may not, in Jewish law, marry your half sister. There is no reason to think she was or it would not have been a lie on Abraham’s part.”

    In a hadith, I read that the Prophet Abraham really lied to save his life this instance, so I don’t see that as a problem. But that’s not the point. The point is that Abraham did not do everything specifically “Jewish”, as there is no biblical evidence he did anything specifically “Muslim”. Muslims, Christians. and Jews are of course more or less agreed that he believed in God, His Angels, Messengers (he was one), Books (if there were messengers, then there’s the possibility of written or orally-transmitted teachings) and the Day of Judgment. This makes him a “muslim”. Of course you could claim that this is not just specifically “muslim” but also “jewish”, but that’s the point. You’re making a big fuss about the labels. Is this just a hatred of Islam? I hope not.

    HeiGou said:
    “In the sense the term “muslim” does not seem to have existed before Muhammed and the hanif heard the term hanif somewhere themselves. So I would argue that Muhammed did make the distinction because the hanif had never heard of the term “muslim” until later.”

    Quibbling about labels again. Mind if I ask you if the term “Jew” existed during Abraham’s time?

    HeiGou said:
    “Revisionism at work.”

    And now it is revisionism to ask for what the Prophets really said? This just reflects your inability to verify what they really said.

    HeiGou said:
    “Their existance is not the point. The fact that God would knowingly sentence millions of people to low and slow tortures in Hell because He would not preserve or spread His message is. Why is it odd to think that God should have decided that the course of history had to be fundamentally changed? As compared to a God who abrogates His text piecemeal and only remembers to include women in His Quran when prompted by some Arab women? No tradition can claim to be absurdity-free. ”

    This is where you are really wrong. In fact, this is one of the reasons why I believe that Islam is more logical than Christianity and Judaism. Islam doesn’t just claim to be for all people. It claims it has always been for all people. The Qur’an explicitly states that God doesn’t punish unless an admonition has been sent to the people concerned. You forgot that Islam believes that never has there been a time or nation where no Prophet was sent. If that happens, then God would not hold those people without a Prophet or Book accountable for their actions. They are considered Ahl al-Fitrah. The difficulty you are pointing to exists not in Islam, but in Judaism and Christianity. Why? You forgot the fact that Judaism doesn’t say anything about Holy Books other than the Bible. Since only Israelites were graced with the Prophets, and hence the Books (the exception is apparently Prophet Jonah, an Assyrian. There was some contact with other nations, but that was very minimal. What about the Australian Aborigines? Would Yahweh throw them to Sheol?). The problem is just as bad in Christianity, as billions of souls who had the misfortune of being born before the Resurrection will be doomed to Hell. I have never claimed that I could explain everything in Islam, hence the absurdities, due to my limited capacity of explanation. But I believe that Islam claims it has always been for all, in contrast to Judaism for Israelites, and Christianity for those who post-date the Resurrection.

  5. aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”We have to accept the Qur’an is divine because the Prophet said so. And the Prophet, we believe, does not speak on his own, but speaks the Word of God. IF a Hadith is proven to have been spoken by the Prophet, then what is spoken by the Prophet specifically concerning religious matters is divine as well.”

    So, as I said, you have to accept the Quran without arguing because God said so.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”There is no double standard here. The reductio ad Deum you were mentioning applies here as well.”

    Yes but that is my argument, not yours. You are demanding isnads for the Bible. Why not for the Quran?

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”Which means if you are claiming that we are ‘revising’ (while I am saying we are not, you’re just misinterpreting theological doctrines here) Jewish and Christian history, then it is your burden to furnish the proof that Jewish and Christian history is definitive and conclusive.”

    Well no it is not. I can trivially point out that the Jewish and Christian traditions are a lot older than the Muslim one. I can trivially point out that from the beginning of History to the birth of Muhammed there is precisely no evidence of any of the specifically Islamic claims Muslims now claim. So it follows that Islam is Revisionism. It is re-writing an older tradition. That is not to argue over who is right or wrong, but to simply state the obvious. It does not even imply that Jewish and Christian history is correct – just that Islam takes that history at a later point in time and re-writes it.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”If the Qur’an or ahadith claim that Prophet Abraham went to Mecca and sacrificed Ishmael, you could say that we cannot prove it by way of the “conclusive” evidence I was mentioning above. But neither can you prove that it is an impossibility. Hence the demand for such a conclusive evidence which runs counter to our claims.”

    Or any evidence outside the Quran at all in fact. No archaeology. No mention of it in any other texts. But I agreee I cannot claim it is impossible. However Occam’s Razor does suggest that we should keep complexity to a minimum and so if the choice is a vast conspiracy over the last 3000 years to suppress the Truth – with 100 percent success at that – or one man was wrong, then I think logic would suggest the one man, not the hundreds or thousands, was wrong.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”No. We believe that everything is for the Living God as well. I wouldn’t care if I find the truth in the Bhagavad Gita or the present-day Gospels, as long as the Truth about the Beloved, God Almighty, is there. But the problem is, I could just believe any charlatan claiming to be a Prophet of God or the Pope of the infallible church if I blindly follow your standard. What you’re saying is a clear distortion of Islamic beliefs. I could just easily claim what you’re claiming, that you need the text as well. Which takes me back to a point you did not respond to: what is the source of the claims of the supposedly infallible church? Is it also a reductio ad Deum as well? If it is, could you still claim that the Christian religion is rational?”

    It is not that Jesus is Living, but that He lives and works in the Church today. According to the more traditional Christian, the Church cannot be wrong because it is the embodiment of Christ on Earth. I don’t think that Muslims can make the same claim although Muhammed did say that his community would never agree on an error. I don’t see how my standard would lead you to do that. I don’t think that there is much in the way of distinguishing prophets from one another so that much is true, but that would lead me to suggest you are very careful before you follow any. What else do Muslims have apart from the text? Muhammed is dead. God’s ways are mysterious and not open to intepretation. God is not actually present in the mosque on Friday. I don’t think I have claimed that Christianity is rational. I think I have said that the Pope said rational thinking has a place in the Church it does not in Islam. Fundamentally they all come down to Faith.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”Again, the fallacy of surviving copies. Well, it would be unfair for me to ask you to refute those links, as apparently you are not an expert on this field, same as me. But regarding manuscripts, then what do those early manuscripts say? Compare them to what you’re New Testament manuscripts and manuscript fragments say, and you’ll find that the Qur’an , as the Encyclopedia Britannica says, has a text which is remarkably much firmer than the New Testament. Keep in mind that the Encyclopedia Britannica did not approach this from a Muslim standard.”

    I fail to see how that is a fallacy. For a text-based religion like Islam, the text is important. Refute what? There is no denying that for the first few generations Muslims seem uninterested in Islam or in Muhammed – they do not leave any evidence to the contrary anyway apart from much older historical traditions. I am not so sure the Quran is on firmer ground in general. I agree there is only one copy but that simply points to the successful censorship. There are serious questions about the Quran’s origins including whether it was written down under the Rashiddun or not until the mid-Umayyad period or even the Abbasids. Whether it referred to Arabia or somewhere else. There must have been a longer gap between Revelation and codification because there is a problem with the language – even Muslims do not really know what it all means and the aHadith say there was dispute over the dialect at the time Umar ordered it written. That suggests a big change in Arabic and too big to have happened in three rulers.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”He was killed over moral issues but not over the issue of the Qur’an. None of the Uthmanic regicides were able to prove that he did something to tamper the text.”

    There is little evidence there was a text to tamper with.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”And we also have the Battle of Siffin, the most opportune time to raise the issue of textual tampering, especially by those who claim to be the Shia of Ali. But the Sunni “winners” were not able to exterminate the Shia, who, quite interestingly, have the same Qur’an as the Sunnis. Most of their scholars reject the ‘tampering’ traditions you mentioned (otherwise, they should reject the Qur’an they have right now, which is the same as the Sunni Qur’ans).”

    Except from the early days the Shia claimed that Ali had another, different, Quran – and so there are Sunni aHadith that specifically claim otherwise. The tradition of more than one Quran was present in the early days. Besides, you are arguing the wrong way around – if the proto-Sunnis managed to suppress all other copies of the Quran, not hard to do at the time, the Shia would not have any other Quran. But if they had doubts about what it said, because they thought they used to have a different copy which has been destroyed, they would be forced to rely on the opinion of Imams who are still in touch with God in some way who could tell them what the Quran “really” meant before the Sunnis tampered with it. They would become Batinis. Surviving Shia are not always like that, but the early ones often were.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”Why rely on a small amount of controversial material and ignore mass-transmitted reports? Precisely because of the assumption that Muslims always lie, therefore, anything they say needs to be verified by some outside source. Same goes for ahadith. But where do the ahadith claim that the Qur’an has been changed?”

    The mass transmitted reports only indicate what the scholars of a later period thought. They do not necessarily tell anyone what people at the time thought. It is the small exceptions that prove the rule. A scientigic theory may have a mass of supporting evidence, but it is the little things it cannot explain that proves whether it is true or not. There is no assumption that Muslims always lie. Just that history is not theology and historians have to approach historical texts from that point of view. The aHadith claim that there used to be a passage on stoning in the Quran. When Umar came to power it was no longer there:

    Sahih Volume 8, Book 82, Number 816:

    Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:

    ‘Umar said, “I am afraid that after a long time has passed, people may say, “We do not find the Verses of the Rajam (stoning to death) in the Holy Book,” and consequently they may go astray by leaving an obligation that Allah has revealed. Lo! I confirm that the penalty of Rajam be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if he is already married and the crime is proved by witnesses or pregnancy or confession.” Sufyan added, “I have memorized this narration in this way.” ‘Umar added, “Surely Allah’s Apostle carried out the penalty of Rajam, and so did we after him.”

    Volume 8, Book 82, Number 817:

    Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:
    ….
    In the meantime, ‘Umar sat on the pulpit and when the callmakers for the prayer had finished their call, ‘Umar stood up, and having glorified and praised Allah as He deserved, he said, “Now then, I am going to tell you something which (Allah) has written for me to say. I do not know; perhaps it portends my death, so whoever understands and remembers it, must narrate it to the others wherever his mount takes him, but if somebody is afraid that he does not understand it, then it is unlawful for him to tell lies about me. Allah sent Muhammad with the Truth and revealed the Holy Book to him, and among what Allah revealed, was the Verse of the Rajam (the stoning of married person (male & female) who commits illegal sexual intercourse, and we did recite this Verse and understood and memorized it. Allah’s Apostle did carry out the punishment of stoning and so did we after him.

    I am afraid that after a long time has passed, somebody will say, ‘By Allah, we do not find the Verse of the Rajam in Allah’s Book,’ and thus they will go astray by leaving an obligation which Allah has revealed.
    ….

    So at one point the Quran contained the Rajam verse. Now it does not.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”God will allow the verse to be in the text of the Qur’an for the time He wishes it to be in His Book (I cannot answer why), and then order it to be removed once the foreordained time of its abrogation comes. Same applies for the past Holy Books.”

    So the Quran has changed.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”It remains if God orders for the ruling to remain, even if the words itself do not remain.”

    How do you know that God ordered the ruling to remain? That does not apply to abrogated verses, so how do you know the verse on stoning has not been abrogated?

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”Of course I am a bit being sarcastic here, just to point out that they could have any reason as to why they would make up something like that, if those orders by Prophet Moses were really made up by them. Islamic extremists think on similar lines, by the way, targetting Jews, Christians, and even Muslims.”

    Except there is no sign they ever did kill them, or that they wanted to, or that when the OT came to be written down there were even any left. It is a mystery.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”But none of those Jews executed asked for asylum, which they would have been granted if they did, or pleaded that they did not participate in the battle.”

    Where is the evidence that they would have been granted that if they asked for it? What they asked for was mediation but picked the wrong man who did what Muhammed wanted. There is no sign in the text I can see there was an offer of asylum. One converted and was spared. The rest remained loyal and were martyred. None of them participated in the battle. Not one. Their guilt was not in the realm of deeds – after all the Muslims, including Muhammed did not think they did anything wrong because they went home after the battle and took their armor off. It was only then that an angel told Muhammed they were guilty that the Muslims attacked them.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”Also, the punishment fits very well with what the Jews themselves have on their Bibles. In fact, if the Bibles they have are to be followed, then all of them, including the women and the children, should be massacred.”

    Well no because that is not what the Bible says. Even if you take the worst passage you can, that only applies to non-Jews, it includes an offer of a truce on payment of jizyah, and it only refers to specific conditions which did not occur in this case. Muhammed’s practice was more brutal than the Bible.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”Yes, God is not bound by anything. But it is an impossibility that He contradict Himself, because He is the Truth. A tsunami is a force of nature, not a human being who was ordered never to take innocent life by the very same God. Anyway, this would take us to another topic, one of which I am also willing to discuss, though I don’t believe this is the proper place to do so.”

    God decided to kill those people in the Tsunami. He knew what it would do and He ordered it done. God kills innocent people. God in the Christian tradition is slightly more rational – which was, after all, the Pope’s point.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”Well, I can read more of what the Prophet taught in any Hadith book than what Jesus himself is presumed to have taught. I can read many of what other people say about Jesus in the Gospels, though. But not much of what he himself said. Not much.”

    But you can’t discover much about what Muhammed thought. Islam is not a religion in that manner.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”We Muslims believe that God is above reason, laws, logic, and natural law because he is the Souce and Cause of everything. He is entirely above them. Quite ironic. You are trying to say (as I understand it) that there is nothing wrong with entire populations massacred in the hands of a chosen race if God ordered it because God is presumably not bound by what He says even in the Holy Writ, all the while claiming that He obeys the laws of logic, reason and natural law.”

    I fail to see how you can conclude I support the massacre of anyone. Although you presumably support the massacre of those Jews. How is it ironic?

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”Now He revealed in the Qur’an the sanctity of human life, ordering that human life cannot be taken except for a just cause, and that whoever saves a human life, it is as if he saved the entire human population. He stated it not just an order, but as a matter of fact that human life is sacred. It is sacred now, it was sacred back then, and will continue to be sacred until the end of time, God willing. Thus, though it will not be tyranny for Him to order anything He wants, He is not a liar that He will go against what He revealed about Himself.”

    And yet He kills innocent people a la the Tsunami. Babies die during birth all the time. God is responsible for that. And His messenger killed quite a few people who look pretty innocent to me. His followers even more so. No doubt you have been taught to reconcile that contradiction, but I, of course, have not.

    Besides, we know what Islamic law really thinks of human life. It is worth, what?, 50 camels?

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”You say that there is no dispute within the churches, but you also say it is hard to know what the Christians have accepted as canonical… this is a contradiction.”

    Well no it is not. There is no dispute within Churches but there were hundreds of small Churches back then.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”Any teaching or book which cannot be traced back to Prophet Jesus may well be a joke, at least from a Muslim standard regarding his teachings, unless it came from someone else who is divinely-inspired. Again, the Gospel of Thomas is not the point (it just happened to be the first one I thought of), but there are many other works, which could have been included, but was excluded by the infallible church.”

    Sure but the Muslim standard is still irrelevant to Christians. The claim would be that the Text is divinely protected. There was a debate over the canon in the early days of the Church. As I assume there was among the Muslims who compiled the Quran. The Christians have just never bothered to destroy all the extra texts as the Muslims did.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”And Christians know better about Jewish scripture than the Jews themselves, right? Otherwise, they shouldn’t be Christians. They should be Jews.”

    Well no they argue that they understand the inner meaning in a different way and have made a new convenant with God. Christians tend not to claim to know what the OT means better than Jews. They have claimed they have a special relationship with God.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”Is there anything conclusive which could prove that he couldn’t have done those?”

    Is there anything conclusive to prove that the Invisible Pink Unicorn did not create the entire Universe last Tuesday?

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”But as it is, I have no one to trust that he really said that but the infallible church, right? I’d rather believe a Prophet from God.”

    I don’t see that you are better off either way. Either you accept one set of Divinely protected books or another set. On the whole I would tend to find the Christian message more convincing, more plausible and above all morally superior (as well as far more successful). But then I was not raised a Muslim.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”Well, actually, the claim is more of: “this (the Qur’an) is an authentic text from God, so therefore it must be true (basically a reductio ad Deum)”. Then we could proceed to verify the claim (which would establish if it is authentic, or unauthentic as you say), if that is possible.”

    But I am pointing to the absense of any supporting evidence whatsoever. Muslims cannot verify a thing the Quran says because there is no evidence for it outside the Quranic tradition. At least we can be reasonably sure that Jesus was a Jew and so part of that cultural and religious tradition. We have no such assurances for Muhammed.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”And we never claimed anything specifically “Muslim” regarding the previous Ummahs, unless it is the doctrines I mentioned, quite the contrary, we believe the Jews were enjoined to commemmorate the sabbath, but this present Ummah is not .”

    Well when Muslims claim that Abraham went to sacrifice Ishmael, not Isaac, in Mecca, not Jerusalem, they are claiming quite a lot. And that is just to start with. When they specifically claim that the Trinity is shirk they are claiming a lot. When they claim Christians worship Mary or the Jews think that Ezra is the Son of God, they are also claiming a lot. All these things are specifically Muslim.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”You could just easily say, well, no, Moses did not believe in the resurrection, so he does not fit the description of what you call a generic “muslim”. It is quite interesting that you (apparently a Christian) believe in the concept of an Old Covenant and New Covenant, which is also revisionism according to your terms, but cannot understand the Muslim claim regarding this present Ummah being the Final Covenant.”

    Well Moses could hardly believe in something that had not happened yet. I have never claimed to be a Christian. Is it revisionism? I would deny it as it is an attempt to radically rethink, but not re-write, the message. But the distinction is minor. If you want to think of it as Revisionism please feel free to do so. Does that change what Islam is? I have no problems understanding, I just do not accept there is a logical reason to believe the Muslim claims.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”Thank you for admitting that the words of the Prophets and saints are not relevant to your religions, which just proves that Islam is really much needed to guide people about what they said and taught.”

    I did not make that claim of course.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”But then again, the term “Jew” has some baggage. It does not simply mean “Son of Isaac”. We have already defined this: it could either mean a descendant of Judah, someone from the tribe of Judah, or from a theological perspective, someone who participates in the covenant made between the Israelites and God at Mount Sinai. The first definition needs little comment. But the second definition is timebound and historical, as well as religious. Any attempt to stretch it before the event at Mount Sinai would be a revisionism too. It may even carry the same definition as “muslim”!”

    It may but it wouldn’t. There is clearly “a people” before Sinai. They are not Jews in the sense they are bound to God by the convenant, but they are certainly not muslims.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”Quite interesting. You’ve heard what the rabbinical tradition says, but haven’t read these verses yet.”

    The problem is understanding what is being said. Abraham lied when he said she was his sister. By “daughter of his father” he means a paternal relative in the way many cultures use “brother” and “cousin” in a broader sense. You may not, in Jewish law, marry your half sister. There is no reason to think she was or it would not have been a lie on Abraham’s part.

    HeiGou said: ‘And yet of the four hanifs of Muhammed’s time mentioned in the literature they all seem to have become Christians or at least not Muslims. Waraqa did talk to Muhammed after his first visions so his death did not come after. He was a Christian. How is that generic “islam”?’

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”But the hanifs made the distinction, not the Prophet Muhammad, between the terms.”

    In the sense the term “muslim” does not seem to have existed before Muhammed and the hanif heard the term hanif somewhere themselves. So I would argue that Muhammed did make the distinction because the hanif had never heard of the term “muslim” until later.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”If you mean that we agree with what the Prophets really said, then that is true.”

    Revisionism at work.

    aian jaafar said on 14 October 2006:”The previous books still exist, in Heaven. But then, if the message has already been announced to the particular time, place and people it was intended for, then there is no point in pointing out what those scriptures said in particular. It is also odd that God makes an everlasting covenant of circumcision in Abraham’s flesh, only later to abrogate it with a new, better, but still everlasting covenant through the Crucifixion… But then again, I am not the one to point out what is odd or not regarding his commandments.”

    Their existance is not the point. The fact that God would knowingly sentence millions of people to low and slow tortures in Hell because He would not preserve or spread His message is. Why is it odd to think that God should have decided that the course of history had to be fundamentally changed? As compared to a God who abrogates His text piecemeal and only remembers to include women in His Quran when prompted by some Arab women? No tradition can claim to be absurdity-free.

  6. HeiGou said (regarding Luke): ‘Of course it would and Christians tend not to argue that Luke was not written by Luke. It is not a circular argument but a sort of reductio ad Deum. It is true because God says so. You must accept it without asking why. Which is why the Bible is like the Quran not the aHadith. Muslims have to accept that the Quran is divine, Christians have to accept that the Bible is.’
    We have to accept the Qur’an is divine because the Prophet said so. And the Prophet, we believe, does not speak on his own, but speaks the Word of God. IF a Hadith is proven to have been spoken by the Prophet, then what is spoken by the Prophet specifically concerning religious matters is divine as well.
    HeiGou said: ‘OK I think I have misunderstood what you mean by “conclusive evidence”. In which case I would simply claim you are applying a double standard. You demand a level of proof from the Bible that you do not from the Quran.’
    There is no double standard here. The reductio ad Deum you were mentioning applies here as well. If the Bible claims something which cannot be verified by conclusive evidence, the claim is not necessarily false. But the same goes for the Qur’ an. Which means if you are claiming that we are ‘revising’ (while I am saying we are not, you’re just misinterpreting theological doctrines here) Jewish and Christian history, then it is your burden to furnish the proof that Jewish and Christian history is definitive and conclusive. If the Qur’an or ahadith claim that Prophet Abraham went to Mecca and sacrificed Ishmael, you could say that we cannot prove it by way of the “conclusive” evidence I was mentioning above. But neither can you prove that it is an impossibility. Hence the demand for such a conclusive evidence which runs counter to our claims.
    HeiGou said: ‘How is claiming that Jesus lives and works in the world today outrageous?’
    It isn’t outrageous necessarily. I apologize if I offended you, as that was not my intention. What I meant by ‘outrageous’ is in consideration of the beliefs common between Muslim and Christian orthodoxy. And I was referring to claims made by a certain person here in my country that he is God the Father.
    HeiGou said: ‘I would if I thought I was making that argument and I don’t think I am.’
    “Well that person could hardly claim to have risen from the dead unless He rose from the dead.”. I think you did make a similar argument as to the one I was mentioning.
    HeiGou said: ‘Absolutely. As I have said all along, there is a fundamental difference here: Muslims only have the text and so the text is important to them. Christians have the living God which is more important. Mind you, I don’t see how Muslims can claim to have a reliable record but that’s another argument.’
    No. We believe that everything is for the Living God as well. I wouldn’t care if I find the truth in the Bhagavad Gita or the present-day Gospels, as long as the Truth about the Beloved, God Almighty, is there. But the problem is, I could just believe any charlatan claiming to be a Prophet of God or the Pope of the infallible church if I blindly follow your standard. What you’re saying is a clear distortion of Islamic beliefs. I could just easily claim what you’re claiming, that you need the text as well. Which takes me back to a point you did not respond to: what is the source of the claims of the supposedly infallible church? Is it also a reductio ad Deum as well? If it is, could you still claim that the Christian religion is rational?
    HeiGou said:’ I don’t think it does. A few of those links did not work for me but I think I have read them before. There is no surviving copy of the Uthmanic text. The Samarkand Quran is early but not Uthmanic. The Ottoman one is probably even later but still not Uthmanic. Egypt used to have a few very early texts but most of them appear to have been destroyed when the Muslim authorities realised what the Christians were saying about them. It is actually odd that until about the reign of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan there is virtually no mention of anything Islamic at all. Tombstones do not mention the Muslim Muhammed. There are no surviving texts. Muhammed seems to be utterly ignored in fact with no effort to preserve his tomb or his effects. I do not think that you can reliable trace anything back to Muhammed.’
    Again, the fallacy of surviving copies. Well, it would be unfair for me to ask you to refute those links, as apparently you are not an expert on this field, same as me. But regarding manuscripts, then what do those early manuscripts say? Compare them to what you’re New Testament manuscripts and manuscript fragments say, and you’ll find that the Qur’an , as the Encyclopedia Britannica says, has a text which is remarkably much firmer than the New Testament. Keep in mind that the Encyclopedia Britannica did not approach this from a Muslim standard.
    HeiGou said: ‘Well I don’t see that. He did, as it happens, have problems getting the mass (not that there were masses at that point) of Muslims to accept his own version and indeed he was killed over moral issues. The early Muslim community is marked by division and the “winners”, not surprisingly, are the Sunnis who are basically the party of people who accept whoever holds power. So for them the fact that he won the battle to be Caliph is proof in itself he was right.’
    He was killed over moral issues but not over the issue of the Qur’an. None of the Uthmanic regicides were able to prove that he did something to tamper the text. And we also have the Battle of Siffin, the most opportune time to raise the issue of textual tampering, especially by those who claim to be the Shia of Ali. But the Sunni “winners” were not able to exterminate the Shia, who, quite interestingly, have the same Qur’an as the Sunnis. Most of their scholars reject the ‘tampering’ traditions you mentioned (otherwise, they should reject the Qur’an they have right now, which is the same as the Sunni Qur’ans).
    HeiGou said: ‘Except it would matter enormously because the whole process of study would be turned on its head by the extra material unless, of course, Muslims accept what they should be trying to prove – that the Quran is perfectly and unchanged. A claim that the aHadith seem to dispute.’
    I have already mentioned that it wouldn’t matter what the extra material would say, because it wouldn’t be mass-transmitted. And this is what the article we’re commenting to has already responded to. Why rely on a small amount of controversial material and ignore mass-transmitted reports? Precisely because of the assumption that Muslims always lie, therefore, anything they say needs to be verified by some outside source. Same goes for ahadith. But where do the ahadith claim that the Qur’an has been changed?
    HeiGou said: ‘There is no need for Muslims. In fact it would utterly destroy Islam as Islam has nothing but the text. If the text is not infallible and linked back to Muhammed, Islam has nothing. So for the purposes of your religion, the one copy is fine. But to comment on what those other texts may have said is another matter. We cannot make sensible comments because we have a silence. The burnt pages may have said anything, or nothing, or anything in between. No one can say.’
    At least you got the fact that we don’t need those other texts, whatever they said. But even if they exist right now, I don’t agree that it would destroy Islam, since we have the Uthmanic recension.
    HeiGou said: ‘I don’t think that is true.’
    You just need to read the preface of your Bibles and you’ll see that. What I am referring to as problems is that on many places Christian Bible scholars have a problem deciding what the text really said. If what I’m not saying is true, could you show us a manuscript, or a copy of the Bible, of which you believe each and every word to be original, true, and inspired by the Holy Spirit? I would gladly do it with the Arabic text of the Uthmanic recension. Could you claim the same with your Bible, say for example, for the earliest extant manuscript of the entire New Testament, which is Codex Sinaiticus?
    HeiGou said: ‘When did he order it removed? It is odd that the hole remains, but the text is gone. Let me ask you, most Muslims argue that the Quran was written by God before Muhammed was born, so did the verse on rajam exist in the text before Muhammed was born or not? It looks like quite a bit got forgotten and lost – but luckily God promised that He would replace everything with something better.’
    Well what you’re asking is far from the point we’re talking about. But yes, all the verses of the Qur’an existed before the Prophet was born, including what was to be abrogated. But God has also deemed that those verses will be abrogated on certain times even before the Prophet was born also. Let’s say that a certain verse has been abrogated. Now, that verse has existed before the Prophet was born. God will allow the verse to be in the text of the Qur’an for the time He wishes it to be in His Book (I cannot answer why), and then order it to be removed once the foreordained time of its abrogation comes. Same applies for the past Holy Books.
    HeiGou said: ‘But would the ruling remain?’
    It remains if God orders for the ruling to remain, even if the words itself do not remain.
    HeiGou said: ‘Prayers? Muslims cannot even work out which passages are abrogated by other passages without extra-Quranic texts. It contains virtually no place names. Virtually no proper names. Little legal instruction. It may contain the “fundamentals” but without the aHadith and scholars how would you know what those are?’
    And neither is it that way with Islam. You agreed that the fundamentals are there. About prayers, well you are correct, we need the Sunnah. Again, it is remarkably consistent that the Qur’an refers to the Sunnah (not just ahadith).’
    HeiGou said: ‘Except there is no evidence that the Amalekites existed and the Canaanites appear to have spoken Hebrew and been close relatives of the early Jews. There is no extra-Biblical evidence of them being exterminated at any rate. At least that I know of. So if you’re not going to commit murder and it does not appear you did, why would you claim to have done so?’
    Maybe for future use? Your question as to why they would claim they have done so presupposes that they think the same way we do (‘we’, in view of the agreement, at least between Orthodox Christians and Orthodox Muslims, that killing non-combatants is not good). Well, why would they be ashamed of killing those Canaanite dogs anyway? They are scum. They deserve only the crumbs falling from the master’s table. Who are these uncircumsised Philistine dogs to Yahweh, anyway? To kill these dogs is not murder. It’s doing God’s work.
    Of course I am a bit being sarcastic here, just to point out that they could have any reason as to why they would make up something like that, if those orders by Prophet Moses were really made up by them. Islamic extremists think on similar lines, by the way, targetting Jews, Christians, and even Muslims.
    HeiGou said: ‘How can you say that when there is ample evidence that God does it and orders other people to do it? Muhammed killed all the Jewish men left in Medina after the Battle of the Trench down to children with a few pubic hairs. There is no evidence I know of that they all, or even mostly, did a thing. God regularly punishes entire peoples. So did Muhammed. God sent a Tsunami recently after all. Besides, surely Muslim belief is that God can do whatever He likes and is unbound by even what He said in the Quran.’
    But none of those Jews executed asked for asylum, which they would have been granted if they did, or pleaded that they did not participate in the battle. Also, the punishment fits very well with what the Jews themselves have on their Bibles. In fact, if the Bibles they have are to be followed, then all of them, including the women and the children, should be massacred. Anyway, even if I take your description of it, men who have grown pubic hair do not constitute an entire population. Yes, God is not bound by anything. But it is an impossibility that He contradict Himself, because He is the Truth. A tsunami is a force of nature, not a human being who was ordered never to take innocent life by the very same God. Anyway, this would take us to another topic, one of which I am also willing to discuss, though I don’t believe this is the proper place to do so.
    HeiGou said: ‘Actually he would. Because Moses and Abraham are part of the same culture and the same people. There is a blood link there. Oral stories were, presumably, passed down. Muhammed, on the other hand, was not part of the same culture or the same people, or even the same country. He did not speak the same languages, there is no blood tie at all. You can trace a family tree from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to Levi to Kohath to Amram to Moses. There’s 700 years between Muhammed and Jesus.’
    But he still wouldn’t be an eyewitness. And now you’re willing to trust oral transmissions, though you’re complaining about the Qur’an (which was transmitted, in large part, orally, but also with mutawwatir chains for each and every verse, according to the Muslim standard) and the ahadith (with the isnads, which shows how the oral transmission was made).
    HeiGou said: ‘Which is my point – Jesus rejects Orthopraxy and hence so does Christianity. Muslims do not so the aHadith are so much more important when it comes to details of acts. They are less clear on what Muhammed thought. Which is handy for Muslims today because they can argue Muhammed meant something entirely different to what people traditionally have said.’
    Well, I can read more of what the Prophet taught in any Hadith book than what Jesus himself is presumed to have taught. I can read many of what other people say about Jesus in the Gospels, though. But not much of what he himself said. Not much.
    HeiGou said: ‘From the Muslim perspective most of it would have to be superfluous or they would have to stop being Muslims. The nature of Christ is not a moral problem and hence is more or less irrelevant. It is important enough for Christians to die and kill for, but it hardly says much about how to be a good Christian.’
    No point for you pointing out that we have a problem since the Qur’an presumably says too little of this or that. I could poke holes in the Bible as well. I could say that Jesus in the NT says too little or is too vague about Christology (which, as I understand, is of central importance to a person’s salvation, at least for most Christian denominations) and the OT says too little or too vague about the Resurrection and the afterlife.
    HeiGou said: ‘Well not really. Again this is the point that the Pope was trying to raise. Christians believe that God obeys the laws of logic, reason and natural law. Natural law is an especially important concept because Christian philosophers and theologians have to produce a detailed system of right and wrong that is right and wrong even if you are not a Christian. Muslims seem to have a more disjoint, piecemeal approach because it depends on what Muhammed did not on the larger picture.’
    We Muslims believe that God is above reason, laws, logic, and natural law because he is the Souce and Cause of everything. He is entirely above them. Quite ironic. You are trying to say (as I understand it) that there is nothing wrong with entire populations massacred in the hands of a chosen race if God ordered it because God is presumably not bound by what He says even in the Holy Writ, all the while claiming that He obeys the laws of logic, reason and natural law. While I am saying that yes, He is not in theory bound to what He said, but in order for His attribute of Truth to be manifest, He cannot contradict what He said, not through being bound, but through being the Truth. Now He revealed in the Qur’an the sanctity of human life, ordering that human life cannot be taken except for a just cause, and that whoever saves a human life, it is as if he saved the entire human population. He stated it not just an order, but as a matter of fact that human life is sacred. It is sacred now, it was sacred back then, and will continue to be sacred until the end of time, God willing. Thus, though it will not be tyranny for Him to order anything He wants, He is not a liar that He will go against what He revealed about Himself. Here is where our reason comes in, but it should still be gauged in the measure of revelation. Thus the primacy, but eventual compatibility, of revelation over reason. The sanctity of human life is of course mentioned in the Bible in a lot of places. That’s why I find it hard to believe that a great Prophet like Moses would order anything which contravenes the sanctity of innocent human life. Unless of course those Amalekites, Canaanites, and others are not considered human…. or those verses were added or edited by parties with vested interests, put in the mouth of a great prophet like Moses, to advocate genocide of a despised enemy.
    HeiGou said: ‘Within the Churches there are no differences of opinion. There is still no agreement between Churches. I don’t see the problem here at all. What that means in practice is that in the 15th or 16th centuries the Protestants edited their Bible. The mainstream of Christianity, the Catholics, do not and never have had any dispute over their canon. It is hard to know what Christians have accepted at canonical and the fact that the CS contains some excess material does not mean that they thought they were canonical. They may just have been bound together as was common in the medieval period.’
    You say that there is no dispute within the churches, but you also say it is hard to know what the Christians have accepted as canonical… this is a contradiction.
    HeiGou said: ‘But they do not need any other claim so the point is irrelevant. Not that the Gospel of St Thomas illustrates that given it was never ever considered for inclusion. There is no evidence that it was the work of St Thomas. The time of its discovery is important because it disappeared from human knowledge from the time it was written until 1945. Which suggests it may have been a joke rather than a serious text.’
    Any teaching or book which cannot be traced back to Prophet Jesus may well be a joke, at least from a Muslim standard regarding his teachings, unless it came from someone else who is divinely-inspired. Again, the Gospel of Thomas is not the point (it just happened to be the first one I thought of), but there are many other works, which could have been included, but was excluded by the infallible church.
    HeiGou said: ‘Interesting. It still does not change the fact that Islam is revisionism in the sense it claims it know better what the Jewish texts mean than the Jews do.’
    And Christians know better about Jewish scripture than the Jews themselves, right? Otherwise, they shouldn’t be Christians. They should be Jews. And to top that, the Christians call the Jewish scriptures ‘old covenant’ or ‘old testament’, meaning it is not sufficient, hence the need for a new one. Would any Jew accept this? Isn’t Christianity a revisionism too, an attempt to deny the Jewish meaning behind the Jewish rites and Jewish scriptures, as the Jews see it?
    HeiGou said: ‘Well claiming that Abraham built the Kaba or that Ishmael was sacrificed im Mecca is vastly more than a new convenant. The Quran surely does refer to these doesn’t it?’
    Is there anything conclusive which could prove that he couldn’t have done those?
    HeiGou said: ‘I did hear you. And I continue to point out that is revisionism. What can be common between Muslims and Jews? Well nothing much as it happens. What can be common between Muslims and Christians? Virtually nothing at all. If you insist that Jesus did not claim to be the Son of God, you are trying to negate Christianity. At best it is blasphemy. And the Quran specifically claims that Jesus said He was not the Son of God. When you say He was a muslim you mean He was not a Christian. There is no common ground there.’
    Well, the Qur’an could be wrong if Jesus himself really said that he is the Son of God in the sense you intend. But as it is, I have no one to trust that he really said that but the infallible church, right? I’d rather believe a Prophet from God.
    HeiGou said: ‘Well Jesus does in the Bible. I am pretty sure I could find others.’
    Mind if I ask which verses?
    HeiGou said: ‘So we are agreed that Islam is an attempt to claim the Jewish and Christian narratives as Islamic it seems – and so the proper “heirs” of those earlier “prophets” are, according to you, the Muslims. There is no scholarly justification for that because there is no non-theological evidence whatsoever that Muhammed didn’t just make it all up. Whatever is specifically “Muslim” in his teaching has no proven existence before his time and what is known to exist before his time has no Arab or Muslim content at all. You cannot claim that those semi-authenic texts have problems so therefore this utterly unauthentic text must be true.’
    Well, actually, the claim is more of: “this (the Qur’an) is an authentic text from God, so therefore it must be true (basically a reductio ad Deum)”. Then we could proceed to verify the claim (which would establish if it is authentic, or unauthentic as you say), if that is possible. But that is a different matter already, and it is not the point here. Why does that claim strike a chord in you? I assume because you think that such a claim has implications which would run counter to established facts. And we never claimed anything specifically “Muslim” regarding the previous Ummahs, unless it is the doctrines I mentioned, quite the contrary, we believe the Jews were enjoined to commemmorate the sabbath, but this present Ummah is not . You could just easily say, well, no, Moses did not believe in the resurrection, so he does not fit the description of what you call a generic “muslim”. It is quite interesting that you (apparently a Christian) believe in the concept of an Old Covenant and New Covenant, which is also revisionism according to your terms, but cannot understand the Muslim claim regarding this present Ummah being the Final Covenant.
    HeiGou said: ‘Which is interesting but still irrelevant from the Christian or Jewish perspective. You are demanding they meet an entirely Muslim standard of proof which is irrelevant to their claims. On top of which, of course, you cannot even show the same is true for the Quran or the aHadith. Which modern scholar has shown that any changes took place under the infallible Church?’
    Thank you for admitting that the words of the Prophets and saints are not relevant to your religions, which just proves that Islam is really much needed to guide people about what they said and taught. You have just admitted that it is entirely a Muslim standard to separate what forgers have said in the name of the Prophets from what they really said. Regarding changes under the infallible church: ever heard about the Johannine comma?
    HeiGou said: ‘Well it is unlikely to be a prediction of Islam as later texts make it clear that Ishmael sold his birthrate and so the convenant was only made with the sons of Isaac. There is no specific mention of Jews, but the convenant is mentioned. I would argue that Jewish claims are not irrational and are well thought out so if you had an argument here there would be a Jewish reason for why it was wrong.’
    Genesis xxi. 13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.
    Well I was just stretching your line of reasoning to a breaking point. Besides, it was not Ishmael who sold his birthright, it was Esau, you’re wrong there. The Jewish objection to Prophet Ishmael is that he was the son of a slave, and hence should not inherit. This is very interesting, and we Muslims have objections to the Jewish claims as well, but that is already a different topic. Now you’re adopting the very same line of reasoning that I’m applying. The claim is not irrational, and there is no conclusive evidence to prove otherwise. But it doesn’t prove that Abraham saw himself as a Jew. A Hebrew, maybe, but a Jew, no.
    But then again, the term “Jew” has some baggage. It does not simply mean “Son of Isaac”. We have already defined this: it could either mean a descendant of Judah, someone from the tribe of Judah, or from a theological perspective, someone who participates in the covenant made between the Israelites and God at Mount Sinai. The first definition needs little comment. But the second definition is timebound and historical, as well as religious. Any attempt to stretch it before the event at Mount Sinai would be a revisionism too. It may even carry the same definition as “muslim”!
    HeiGou said: ‘I am unconvinced that Sarah was his half-sister. Where in the Bible does it claim that? Rabbinical scholarship claims she was his neice but I am unconvinced by that as well. So I don’t see the problem. Besides, you have just accepted that before Muhammed, muslims could do things allowed before but forbidden by Muhammed. Why would Abraham be any different?’
    In Genesis 20:2, we are told, “And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, she is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.” God came to Abimelech in a dream and told him that Sarah was Abraham’s wife. “Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done” (Gen. 20: 9), and then again, “Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake. And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife” (Gen. 20:11-12). Quite interesting. You’ve heard what the rabbinical tradition says, but haven’t read these verses yet.
    Well, I have no problem with this, at least you got the point that the ‘muslims’ back then may have different rules than Muslims now.
    HeiGou said (regarding Abraham being a Christian): ‘But no one does.’
    Because he wasn’t.
    HeiGou said: ‘And yet of the four hanifs of Muhammed’s time mentioned in the literature they all seem to have become Christians or at least not Muslims. Waraqa did talk to Muhammed after his first visions so his death did not come after. He was a Christian. How is that generic “islam”?’
    But the hanifs made the distinction, not the Prophet Muhammad, between the terms.
    HeiGou said: ‘Which is my point. Muslims do not accept any of the Bible except what they agree with already.’
    If you mean that we agree with what the Prophets really said, then that is true.
    HeiGou said: ‘It is odd that God was so lax on preserving His message before Muhammed and so good at it after.’
    The previous books still exist, in Heaven. But then, if the message has already been announced to the particular time, place and people it was intended for, then there is no point in pointing out what those scriptures said in particular. It is also odd that God makes an everlasting covenant of circumcision in Abraham’s flesh, only later to abrogate it with a new, better, but still everlasting covenant through the Crucifixion… But then again, I am not the one to point out what is odd or not regarding his commandments.

  7. HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Christianity and Judaism are literate religions in a way that Islam is not.”

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”I assume that your statement that “it is not as if there is a 200 year gap of oral transmission” is a reference to the ahadith. If it is, then i believe that you have a wrong analogy. If Luke was an eyewitness, then he is not comparable to Imam Bukhari (if you are referring to Imam Bukhari’s collection by your statement). He would be comparable to the first link in a hadith, say for example Hadhrat Abu Hurayrah. So then this raises another relevant question: how did Luke’s (or any of the books in the bible) reach us in its form today? You already know that we have our isnad. What is your method to verify then?”

    Well I would argue it applies to the Quran as well. In fact it is at least fifty years after the death of Muhammed before there is much in the way of specifically Islamic references to much at all. But the case is stronger for Bukhari. I think I have said all along that Luke is in no way comparable to Bukkari. He would be comparable to Aisha, perhaps, or at worst someone like Abu Hurraira who did not hear or see everything but was divinely protected. There is a lonmg tradition of Biblical scholarship. The Christian Bible was set by the Church Councils – and for Christians the key part is the on-going presence of Jesus within the Church so that those Councils were, by definition, infallible and Divinely protected. Jesus lives and works in the world today, if you are a Christian, through His Church.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”Here in the Philippines some persons have claimed such a thing, (other claims more outrageous than rising from the dead, such as claiming that he is God the Father) and it is safe to assume that others have claimed it,and will claim it on other places as well.”

    How is claiming that Jesus lives and works in the world today outrageous?

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”Of course you have to admit that the reasoning “if someone claims to have done something, then that person really did it” is circular.”

    I would if I thought I was making that argument and I don’t think I am.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”If Luke is unknown, that would greatly affect the nature of his testimony. If he is unknown, how could we establish if he really was an eyewitness or not? here is another circularity- that the Text is protected by God, and the Church cannot go wrong. Again, it is not necessarily false, but that remains to be seen.”

    Of course it would and Christians tend not to argue that Luke was not written by Luke. It is not a circular argument but a sort of reductio ad Deum. It is true because God says so. You must accept it without asking why. Which is why the Bible is like the Quran not the aHadith. Muslims have to accept that the Quran is divine, Christians have to accept that the Bible is.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”That’s why in the absence of conclusive evidence on the part of the scriptures recognized by the “People of the Book”, we believe from a theological perspective things that he, praise and peace be upon him, said which might run counter to jewish and christian orthodoxy.”

    OK I think I have misunderstood what you mean by “conclusive evidence”. In which case I would simply claim you are applying a double standard. You demand a level of proof from the Bible that you do not from the Quran.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”the Muslim expectation is that everything you believe in must have a basis, explicit or implicit, on some teaching of Jesus Christ. In order for this to happen, you must have a reliable record of what he really said. so, your explanation regarding the infallibility of the Christian Church will hardly satisfy a Muslim, or anyone who wishes to know what Jesus actually said. Your explanation presupposes that the Christian Church is infallible.”

    Absolutely. As I have said all along, there is a fundamental difference here: Muslims only have the text and so the text is important to them. Christians have the living God which is more important. Mind you, I don’t see how Muslims can claim to have a reliable record but that’s another argument.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”Yes, it all comes down to that act. So all we have to do is to examine if the Uthmanic version can be traced back to the Prophet then. And the link I posted shows that it can be traced back to him.”

    I don’t think it does. A few of those links did not work for me but I think I have read them before. There is no surviving copy of the Uthmanic text. The Samarkand Quran is early but not Uthmanic. The Ottoman one is probably even later but still not Uthmanic. Egypt used to have a few very early texts but most of them appear to have been destroyed when the Muslim authorities realised what the Christians were saying about them. It is actually odd that until about the reign of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan there is virtually no mention of anything Islamic at all. Tombstones do not mention the Muslim Muhammed. There are no surviving texts. Muhammed seems to be utterly ignored in fact with no effort to preserve his tomb or his effects. I do not think that you can reliable trace anything back to Muhammed.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”It wouldn’t matter if Hadhrat Uthman was able to destroy all other opposing versions, because he still has the problem of proving his own version to the masses of the Muslims, some of which were very critical of him. So, it doesnt matter what the destroyed versions say.”

    Well I don’t see that. He did, as it happens, have problems getting the mass (not that there were masses at that point) of Muslims to accept his own version and indeed he was killed over moral issues. The early Muslim community is marked by division and the “winners”, not surprisingly, are the Sunnis who are basically the party of people who accept whoever holds power. So for them the fact that he won the battle to be Caliph is proof in itself he was right.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”Even if you will be able to bring up an alternate version of the Qur’an supposedly from, say, Hadhrat Abu Bakr, it wouldn’t matter, because the level of tawwatur is necessary for each and every verse.”

    Except it would matter enormously because the whole process of study would be turned on its head by the extra material unless, of course, Muslims accept what they should be trying to prove – that the Quran is perfectly and unchanged. A claim that the aHadith seem to dispute.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”To say that we need the alternative copies to make sensible comments about the Qur’an’s uniformity is fallacious. the Qur’an is not the New Testament. The difference is that there is no need for a critical text of the Qur’an, precisely because of the Uthmanic ‘censorship’ and standardization of the Qur’anic texts.”

    There is no need for Muslims. In fact it would utterly destroy Islam as Islam has nothing but the text. If the text is not infallible and linked back to Muhammed, Islam has nothing. So for the purposes of your religion, the one copy is fine. But to comment on what those other texts may have said is another matter. We cannot make sensible comments because we have a silence. The burnt pages may have said anything, or nothing, or anything in between. No one can say.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”In fact, the critical scholars of the NT are having a problem because of the sheer number of variants of the NT text.”

    I don’t think that is true.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”Well, we have the concept of abrogation in the Qur’an. The Qur’an does not contain the verse anymore, because the Prophet Muhammad ordered for it to be removed from the Qur’an, since God abrogated the verse (but not the ruling).”

    When did he order it removed? It is odd that the hole remains, but the text is gone. Let me ask you, most Muslims argue that the Quran was written by God before Muhammed was born, so did the verse on rajam exist in the text before Muhammed was born or not? It looks like quite a bit got forgotten and lost – but luckily God promised that He would replace everything with something better.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”And even if it wasn’t then the missing verse is not mutawwatir, so it would still have to be removed from the Qur’an.”

    But would the ruling remain?

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”As for the Qur’an not saying much, well i find all the fundamental beliefs of my faith there. it is sufficient for me.”

    Prayers? Muslims cannot even work out which passages are abrogated by other passages without extra-Quranic texts. It contains virtually no place names. Virtually no proper names. Little legal instruction. It may contain the “fundamentals” but without the aHadith and scholars how would you know what those are?

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “But what need? Very few religions order or justify genocide. The existence of Moses is unsupported by the evidence, apart from the Bible, and so if there never was any genocide, the Jews have not tried to commit one since, and are not intending to commit one in the future, why would they claim one occurred? It does not make sense to me.”

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”Perhaps the need to justify extermination of the canaanites, amalekites and others?”

    Except there is no evidence that the Amalekites existed and the Canaanites appear to have spoken Hebrew and been close relatives of the early Jews. There is no extra-Biblical evidence of them being exterminated at any rate. At least that I know of. So if you’re not going to commit murder and it does not appear you did, why would you claim to have done so?

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”Well what I am simply saying is that in Islamic belief that God would never order a human being to purposefully kill innocent persons without justification, since He will contradict Himself regarding what He said in the Noble Qur’an.”

    How can you say that when there is ample evidence that God does it and orders other people to do it? Muhammed killed all the Jewish men left in Medina after the Battle of the Trench down to children with a few pubic hairs. There is no evidence I know of that they all, or even mostly, did a thing. God regularly punishes entire peoples. So did Muhammed. God sent a Tsunami recently after all. Besides, surely Muslim belief is that God can do whatever He likes and is unbound by even what He said in the Quran.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”Take the example you cited, that of Abraham and Isaac. Even if we are to assume that Moses is the author of the Torah we have today, he still wouldn’t be an eyewitness, right? His position would not be much different from the Prophet Muhammad’s, vis-a-vis Jesus Christ.”

    Actually he would. Because Moses and Abraham are part of the same culture and the same people. There is a blood link there. Oral stories were, presumably, passed down. Muhammed, on the other hand, was not part of the same culture or the same people, or even the same country. He did not speak the same languages, there is no blood tie at all. You can trace a family tree from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to Levi to Kohath to Amram to Moses. There’s 700 years between Muhammed and Jesus.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”yes, it is more detailed. just compare how much of the Gospel purportedly reports what Jesus said, and compare it with the volumes of hadith, regardless of your objections to the hadith methodology. the hadith even says how the Prophet tied his turban. And a substantial portion of the Prophet’s teachings are embodied in his acts, as he is the model for every Muslim to follow.”

    Which is my point – Jesus rejects Orthopraxy and hence so does Christianity. Muslims do not so the aHadith are so much more important when it comes to details of acts. They are less clear on what Muhammed thought. Which is handy for Muslims today because they can argue Muhammed meant something entirely different to what people traditionally have said.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”I would have to agree with the OT being a much more thorough book of law. However, from the Qur’anic and Muslim perspective, a portion of this thorough book maybe superfluous. But I disagree with the NT being a more detailed moral and theological guide. The divisions in christianity about the nature of Christ stem precisely because of the ambiguity of the NT verses. but that is a minor point.”

    From the Muslim perspective most of it would have to be superfluous or they would have to stop being Muslims. The nature of Christ is not a moral problem and hence is more or less irrelevant. It is important enough for Christians to die and kill for, but it hardly says much about how to be a good Christian.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”But that is the point. the Church has already endeavored to decipher the meaning behind Jesus’ words without being sure what those words really were. We’re back to square one.”

    Well not really. Again this is the point that the Pope was trying to raise. Christians believe that God obeys the laws of logic, reason and natural law. Natural law is an especially important concept because Christian philosophers and theologians have to produce a detailed system of right and wrong that is right and wrong even if you are not a Christian. Muslims seem to have a more disjoint, piecemeal approach because it depends on what Muhammed did not on the larger picture.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”And they were never agreed, until quite recently. Different churches have different canons, with almost the same level of authenticity to support their respective texts. Not to mention that there were some books that were previously accepted as canonical by some Christian communities, which are not accepted today. Just check the Codex Sinaiticus, and you’ll be able to find some extra books there.”

    Within the Churches there are no differences of opinion. There is still no agreement between Churches. I don’t see the problem here at all. What that means in practice is that in the 15th or 16th centuries the Protestants edited their Bible. The mainstream of Christianity, the Catholics, do not and never have had any dispute over their canon. It is hard to know what Christians have accepted at canonical and the fact that the CS contains some excess material does not mean that they thought they were canonical. They may just have been bound together as was common in the medieval period.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”The Gospel of Thomas is just an example to illustrate that besides claiming that the Church is Divinely-inspired to protect the text, the Christians have no other means to verfiy what’s in the Bible. Besides, if the Gospel was really Saint Thomas’- why not include it? The time of its discovery is not relevant. And why was it lost in the very first place?”

    But they do not need any other claim so the point is irrelevant. Not that the Gospel of St Thomas illustrates that given it was never ever considered for inclusion. There is no evidence that it was the work of St Thomas. The time of its discovery is important because it disappeared from human knowledge from the time it was written until 1945. Which suggests it may have been a joke rather than a serious text.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”Well, roses, if called by any other name, would smell just as sweet. The concept is not new, and that is what I think the Qur’an means when it says that Abraham is not a jew nor a christian, but a devout muslim. If some muslims claim that the prophets before Prophet Muhammad practiced all the Muslim practices that we have right now, then they’re wrong.”

    Interesting. It still does not change the fact that Islam is revisionism in the sense it claims it know better what the Jewish texts mean than the Jews do.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”Sure. But I would like to point out that whatever you might come up with, the Qur’an did not refer to that. Our concept is somewhat similar to what you said about a new covenant. Some old rules are abrogated, some new ones brought up.”

    Well claiming that Abraham built the Kaba or that Ishmael was sacrificed im Mecca is vastly more than a new convenant. The Quran surely does refer to these doesn’t it?

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”Not really. as I have pointed out repeatedly, the term muslim as regards to the previous Prophets is a Qur’anic call to jews and christians to what is presumably common between us and them. That is, the Qur’an enumerates some basic beliefs, adherence to which qualifies one as a muslim according to its terms. it matters not to us if you accept the term or not.”

    I did hear you. And I continue to point out that is revisionism. What can be common between Muslims and Jews? Well nothing much as it happens. What can be common between Muslims and Christians? Virtually nothing at all. If you insist that Jesus did not claim to be the Son of God, you are trying to negate Christianity. At best it is blasphemy. And the Quran specifically claims that Jesus said He was not the Son of God. When you say He was a muslim you mean He was not a Christian. There is no common ground there.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”and there is no record that any prophet called himself jew or christian”

    Well Jesus does in the Bible. I am pretty sure I could find others.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”and even if they did, then that’s no problem on our part. as long as you believe in the beliefs i have enumerated in my previous posts, then you qualify as a muslim, at least before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad, in which case you would have to follow all the teachings he brought, including his abrogation of some of the old rules, and modifying, changing, or bringing up new ones. And the scholarly justification of this essentially theological ‘revisionism’ (as you call it) is precisely the weakness of certain portions of the jewish and christian scriptures, as pointed out by the modern scholars.”

    So we are agreed that Islam is an attempt to claim the Jewish and Christian narratives as Islamic it seems – and so the proper “heirs” of those earlier “prophets” are, according to you, the Muslims. There is no scholarly justification for that because there is no non-theological evidence whatsoever that Muhammed didn’t just make it all up. Whatever is specifically “Muslim” in his teaching has no proven existence before his time and what is known to exist before his time has no Arab or Muslim content at all. You cannot claim that those semi-authenic texts have problems so therefore this utterly unauthentic text must be true.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”That is why I mentioned modern scholarship. Basically the demand on our part is for each and every word of the Jewish and Christian scriptures as having come from the Prophets and holy men it was ascribed to, or a means to determine which words are really their words in the case of variants. What modern scholarship shows is that some changes occurred to the text (some of which occured under the infallible church!), and hence, not meeting the Muslim demand.”

    Which is interesting but still irrelevant from the Christian or Jewish perspective. You are demanding they meet an entirely Muslim standard of proof which is irrelevant to their claims. On top of which, of course, you cannot even show the same is true for the Quran or the aHadith. Which modern scholar has shown that any changes took place under the infallible Church?

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”I could say that this is a kind of revisionism too, and say that the claim is merely eisegetical in nature. There was no mention of “jew” in the verses you cited. On closer examination, one may even point out that these verses could well be a refutation of the jewish claim regarding an exclusive covenant between them and God, as Abram was to be the father of “many nations”. It could even be taken as a prophecy for Islam, as Arabs are a nation from “Abram”, and there is supposed to be more than one nation, and probably more than two ! but then again, you might reason out that this is jewish scripture so they aught to know better about it.”

    Well it is unlikely to be a prediction of Islam as later texts make it clear that Ishmael sold his birthrate and so the convenant was only made with the sons of Isaac. There is no specific mention of Jews, but the convenant is mentioned. I would argue that Jewish claims are not irrational and are well thought out so if you had an argument here there would be a Jewish reason for why it was wrong.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:” but you’re “revising” the bible yourself when trying to fit “Abram” into the context of being a Jew, which he clearly isn’t.”

    I don’t accept that “clearly”. Moses has not been up to Sinai yet, but God still has a convenant with Abraham and his descendents.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”For example, he married his half-sister Sarah, an act cursed in the Torah by Moses. An interesting paradox arises then: whoever curses Abraham shall himself be cursed. Moses cursed an act committed by Abraham, in effect, cursing Abraham himself. In effect, Moses is himself accursed by cursing Abraham. The difficulty could be solved by claiming that marrying half-sisters were allowed back in Abraham’s time, but not in the Judaic Covenant (which I don’t agree to. I believe that it could be deduced from the OT that marrying half-sisters was also forbidden, or at least frowned upon, even back in Abraham’s time, but that is not the point here) Well, of course, this is irrelevant, but the point is Abraham did not practice all Jewish-specific practices, but you still insist on calling him a jew in some sense, while implying revisionism when Muslims call him ‘muslim’ in some sense.”

    I am unconvinced that Sarah was his half-sister. Where in the Bible does it claim that? Rabbinical scholarship claims she was his neice but I am unconvinced by that as well. So I don’t see the problem. Besides, you have just accepted that before Muhammed, muslims could do things allowed before but forbidden by Muhammed. Why would Abraham be any different?

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”Agreed. So, can we call Abraham a Christian, then, according to the definition you agreed to? I don’t think so.”

    But no one does.

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”Probably because Islam has not been expounded in that way back in Waraqa ibn Nawfal’s day. In a sense, hanif is equivalent to muslim, as Abraham was called a hanif and a muslim. besides, it was Waraqa who made the distinction, not the Prophet Muhammad. Also, the Prophet’s call came after Waraqa’s death, which would render him incapable of following the Prophet, and “Islam” proper. But he was definitely a follower of the generic “islam” though.”

    And yet of the four hanifs of Muhammed’s time mentioned in the literature they all seem to have become Christians or at least not Muslims. Waraqa did talk to Muhammed after his first visions so his death did not come after. He was a Christian. How is that generic “islam”?

    aian jaafar said on 8 October 2006:”Well, Jews lying or not has little relevance here, except when some of them lie about the scriptures.”

    Which is my point. Muslims do not accept any of the Bible except what they agree with already.

    It is odd that God was so lax on preserving His message before Muhammed and so good at it after.

  8. to the bismika allahuma admin: as salamu alaykum wa rahmatu Allah wa barakatuhu, please discard the first version of my new post, as i was unable to edit the paragraph spacing. please show the second one i submitted, should you deem it worthy for my post to be shown on your excellent site. many thanks in advance.

  9. HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Where did Luke say he didn’t? It seems to me that he did not claim he did, but that is not to say that he didn’t. But there are also accounts in Mark, Matthew and John as well. Luke also clearly saw part of the events he described. You have to say that you can attack many things about the Gospels, but as eyewitness testimony goes they look good. You’re safer claiming Luke did not write them. Luke was there so how could you have an isnad anyway? If not right at Golgotha then not far away – it is not as if there is a 200 year gap of oral transmission. Christianity and Judaism are literate religions in a way that Islam is not. We are having a lot of agreement! I do not think that the apriori rejection of the supernatural is unscientific – on the contrary a good scientist should never look for or accept such explanations. If there is something he does not understand he needs to work harder to understand.”

    I assume that your statement that “it is not as if there is a 200 year gap of oral transmission” is a reference to the ahadith. If it is, then i believe that you have a wrong analogy. If Luke was an eyewitness, then he is not comparable to Imam Bukhari (if you are referring to Imam Bukhari’s collection by your statement). He would be comparable to the first link in a hadith, say for example Hadhrat Abu Hurayrah. So then this raises another relevant question: how did Luke’s (or any of the books in the bible) reach us in its form today? You already know that we have our isnad. What is your method to verify then?

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Well that person could hardly claim to have risen from the dead unless He rose from the dead. But OK let’s leave that. What evidence indicates that they were not eyewitnesses? Even if they were unknown, as Luke is more or less, how would that affect the nature of their testimony? You ask a good question but the Christian answer would be that the text is protected by God – and also that the accounts were written down in the very early period by people who were there. The nature of Christ for Christians is that He is alive and working within His community. The text is not as important as that fact. However Christians also have something like an isnad but a short one – Luke is supposed to have written his Gospel because Paul told him to – or even that Paul dictated it. Mark, Peter’s interpreter, is supposed to have written it after hearing from Peter. Matthew and John were presumably both there. If you are not a Christian I doubt there is any certainty but a Christian would point to the promise of Christ remaining within His Church. The Church cannot go wrong.”

    Here in the Philippines some persons have claimed such a thing, (other claims more outrageous than rising from the dead, such as claiming that he is God the Father) and it is safe to assume that others have claimed it,and will claim it on other places as well. Of course you have to admit that the reasoning “if someone claims to have done something, then that person really did it” is circular. If Luke is unknown, that would greatly affect the nature of his testimony. If he is unknown, how could we establish if he really was an eyewitness or not? here is another circularity- that the Text is protected by God, and the Church cannot go wrong. Again, it is not necessarily false, but that remains to be seen. You admit, as we shall see later, that this is a circularity. I must admit that there is a circularity within our claims as well. I mentioned that we believe whatever the Prophet Muhammad said, since we believe that he says only what God commanded him to say. That’s why in the absence of conclusive evidence on the part of the scriptures recognized by the “People of the Book”, we believe from a theological perspective things that he, praise and peace be upon him, said which might run counter to jewish and christian orthodoxy. but here is the muslim problem with your circularity regarding the Church: the Muslim expectation is that everything you believe in must have a basis, explicit or implicit, on some teaching of Jesus Christ. In order for this to happen, you must have a reliable record of what he really said. so, your explanation regarding the infallibility of the Christian Church will hardly satisfy a Muslim, or anyone who wishes to know what Jesus actually said. Your explanation presupposes that the Christian Church is infallible. “Trust in the christian scriptures. why? because the church says so. so what? because the scriptures say so”. So, what do I have to verify then? aside from numerous questions which this raises (which, i assume, are not relevant here), it begs the question as to what basis does the Church claim such an infallibility? if not Jesus Christ, then it does not matter to a Muslim then.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Except that it all comes down to one act – the compiling of the Uthamic version, the recall and destruction of all other versions. All you have proven is that the Caliphate was very thorough in destroying all other copies of the Quran. Even so the aHadith show that it used to contain a verse on stoning but it does not any longer and there is a persistent Shia tradition that Ali had his own Quran which, not surprisingly, Sunni hadith specifically reject. The one surviving copy proves the efficiency of the censorship but nothing much else. If those alternative copies had survived and we could judge that they said that was different, we could make sensible comments on the uniformity of the Quran but because none have, the different versions could have said anything.”

    Yes, it all comes down to that act. So all we have to do is to examine if the Uthmanic version can be traced back to the Prophet then. And the link I posted shows that it can be traced back to him. The Uthmanic recension’s strength is not the fact that it is the only version available, but the fact that it can be traced back to the Prophet. It wouldn’t matter if Hadhrat Uthman was able to destroy all other opposing versions, because he still has the problem of proving his own version to the masses of the Muslims, some of which were very critical of him. So, it doesnt matter what the destroyed versions say. Even if you will be able to bring up an alternate version of the Qur’an supposedly from, say, Hadhrat Abu Bakr, it wouldn’t matter, because the level of tawwatur is necessary for each and every verse. Quite the contrary. the ‘censorship’ achieved what it purports to do: that is to prevent Muslims from differing over their scriptures, “as the christians and jews are differing over theirs” to quote a Companion of the Prophet Muhammad. To say that we need the alternative copies to make sensible comments about the Qur’an’s uniformity is fallacious. the Qur’an is not the New Testament. The difference is that there is no need for a critical text of the Qur’an, precisely because of the Uthmanic ‘censorship’ and standardization of the Qur’anic texts. I would like to emphasize that the Uthmanic version is a mutawwatir version, which, as the link posted above shows, can be traced back to the Prophet. Quite unlike the New Testament. In fact, the critical scholars of the NT are having a problem because of the sheer number of variants of the NT text.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Well no, whether he made it up or not is the key issue. You have not explained to me how Umar could stand up and say that the Quran used to contain the verse on rajam but does not any more. The other problem being that the Quran just does not say much. For Muslims to know what Islam is, they need the Hadith which does not have a guarantee. Christians have the authority of the Church so they do not need it.”

    Well, we have the concept of abrogation in the Qur’an. The Qur’an does not contain the verse anymore, because the Prophet Muhammad ordered for it to be removed from the Qur’an, since God abrogated the verse (but not the ruling). As to why, I don’t know, and neither is that the point here. The point is even the abrogation was done upon orders of the Prophet. And even if it wasn’t then the missing verse is not mutawwatir, so it would still have to be removed from the Qur’an. As for the Qur’an not saying much, well i find all the fundamental beliefs of my faith there. it is sufficient for me. And i find a remarkable consistency when it says that we should look to the example of the Prophet. I am in no position to dictate to God what He should include or not include in His Book. But you already said that the Hadith gives us some assurance about what the Prophet said, and now you’re saying that the Hadith does not have a guarantee.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “It would depend on how they determined their Truth. There are any number of stories of people converting in Africa and South-East Asia because Muslim Sufis performed miracles. If you see a miracle you are likely to convert no matter what the logic of the religion is. Theology is, after all, just a way of rationalising remaining within a religion. Not for joining it. All religions need a way to distinguish between real and fake revelation. Usually with soldiers. In the real world this problem is unsolveable.”

    Agreed. And perhaps my ancestors were among those converted by those Muslim Sufis you were mentioning. Muslims also believe that conversion is a grace of God. However, a minor point, and one not entirely relevant. Miracles are not a reliable standard, unless it is what we Muslims call a mujizah, that is an inimitable miracle made through the hands of a Prophet of God. Anything else can be imitated by demons. so, just as there is fake revelation, there are also false miracles, made in the Name of God (or someone else), done through the hands of Satan.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “But what need? Very few religions order or justify genocide. The existence of Moses is unsupported by the evidence, apart from the Bible, and so if there never was any genocide, the Jews have not tried to commit one since, and are not intending to commit one in the future, why would they claim one occurred? It does not make sense to me.”

    Perhaps the need to justify extermination of the canaanites, amalekites and others?

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Well that just means you are in a different bind because you have to believe Muhammed did things that were, by most standards, bad. I assume you just do what many Jews do and rationalise them. You have the luxury of denying the bad elements of other Faiths, but not your own.”

    Well what I am simply saying is that in Islamic belief that God would never order a human being to purposefully kill innocent persons without justification, since He will contradict Himself regarding what He said in the Noble Qur’an. It is a Muslim standard. If you’re saying that that’s not a Jewish standard, that’s fine. As I mentioned, and as you have pointed out, I am approaching this from a theological perspective, not a historical one. What I’m saying is that you could tell us Muslims that ‘hey, you have a fantasy version of Moses’ if there is conclusive evidence that he did order those acts.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Those modern scholars that reject the Bible are one thing, but most people would accept that the Bible contains historical material of a sort. The distinction here is that the Quran was written by Arabs and for Arabs centuries after the events it claims to describe. The OT and the NT are in the same cultural tradition – they claim to be the records of their own histories, not someone else’s. That is a fundamental difference in credibility. The Bible is really sure about Abraham and Isaac.”

    Again it is a theological perspective. I wouldn’t tell a christian to believe the muslim version of Joseph or other prophets unless I have proven to him that the Qur’an is a Book sent by God. But we have the leeway to make our claims from a theological perspective precisely because the historical evidence is not strong enough to fly in the face of the Qur’anic claim. Take the example you cited, that of Abraham and Isaac. Even if we are to assume that Moses is the author of the Torah we have today, he still wouldn’t be an eyewitness, right? His position would not be much different from the Prophet Muhammad’s, vis-a-vis Jesus Christ. But if someone believes in the OT’s reliability in reporting what Prophet Moses said as it is today, then he would have no problem believing what the Prophet Moses supposedly said about the Prophet Abraham, even though they are hundreds of years apart.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Except the aHadith are not divine Texts in that sense. I am not convinced they tell you in more detail – they are concerned more with Orthopraxy not Orthodoxy and so concentrate on what Muhammed did, not necessarily what he thought. Another important difference with Christian thought.”

    yes, it is more detailed. just compare how much of the Gospel purportedly reports what Jesus said, and compare it with the volumes of hadith, regardless of your objections to the hadith methodology. the hadith even says how the Prophet tied his turban. And a substantial portion of the Prophet’s teachings are embodied in his acts, as he is the model for every Muslim to follow.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “The problem for Muslims is that the Quran says so little. The OT is a much more thorough book of law and the NT a much more detailed moral and theological guide. Muslims need the aHadith or they would be stuck.”

    I would have to agree with the OT being a much more thorough book of law. However, from the Qur’anic and Muslim perspective, a portion of this thorough book maybe superfluous. But I disagree with the NT being a more detailed moral and theological guide. The divisions in christianity about the nature of Christ stem precisely because of the ambiguity of the NT verses. but that is a minor point.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “I am not sure that canon law and Sharia are comparable. Jewish and Islamic law are, but canon law owes more to Greece and Rome if you ask me.”

    thank you for pointing out to me a new and apparently fruitful line of research regarding canon law.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “No but they are vital to understanding what they meant. If you do not know why Jesus did something it is hard to understand the purpose behind it. Again the difference between Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy.”

    But that is the point. the Church has already endeavored to decipher the meaning behind Jesus’ words without being sure what those words really were. We’re back to square one.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “As long as they post-date Uthman. This is just a reflection of the poor documentary record and the thoroughness of the Uthmanic censorship. Besides, the extremists have such violently differing interpretations of the Quran, and supplement it with things like the opinion of the Aga Khans, that it is hard to make that claim. The words may be the same, but the Qurans are very different.”

    Why is it necessary to predate Khalifa Uthman, may Allah be pleased with him? If it predates him, then we have the Prophet Muhammad already, which is much better. Well it is up to the Aga Khanis and other extremists to trace their claims back to the Prophet Muhammad, the same way we trace back the Uthmanic recension back to him.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “It is hardly begging the question. The process is well known – Christians claim the Church agreed in a series of Synods and their work is Divinely Inspired. Jesus works within the Church to this day. As the Gospel of Saint Thomas was not discovered until 1945, I don’t think there was ever any question of why it was not included. No one seems to have known about it, it does not appear in any commentaries for instance, and so it was not considered. Christians have a simple circular argument here – if it was genuine, God would have included it. As the text is Divinely protected.”

    I have dealt with this above. And they were never agreed, until quite recently. Different churches have different canons, with almost the same level of authenticity to support their respective texts. Not to mention that there were some books that were previously accepted as canonical by some Christian communities, which are not accepted today. Just check the Codex Sinaiticus, and you’ll be able to find some extra books there.

    The Gospel of Thomas is just an example to illustrate that besides claiming that the Church is Divinely-inspired to protect the text, the Christians have no other means to verfiy what’s in the Bible. Besides, if the Gospel was really Saint Thomas’- why not include it? The time of its discovery is not relevant. And why was it lost in the very first place?

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Sorry but what term would that be? The term “Muslim”? That term is as far as I can see entirely new with Muhammed even if the concept is not – as you would not expect it to be. The term, as I have pointed out before, is irrelevant because it comes with baggage. Christians and Jews may understand the concept of being a “muslim” but there is no evidence of anyone being “Muslim” before Muhammed.”

    Well, roses, if called by any other name, would smell just as sweet. The concept is not new, and that is what I think the Qur’an means when it says that Abraham is not a jew nor a christian, but a devout muslim. If some muslims claim that the prophets before Prophet Muhammad practiced all the Muslim practices that we have right now, then they’re wrong.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “I am sure if I thought about it I could think of other options – praying towards Mecca, the Kaba, non-infant circumcision, the rejection of Judaism. Any number of things really.”

    Sure. But I would like to point out that whatever you might come up with, the Qur’an did not refer to that. Our concept is somewhat similar to what you said about a new covenant. Some old rules are abrogated, some new ones brought up.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Well no because that “less” implies a value judgement. It certainly means that there is no evidence that they were Muslims apart from claims made by Muslims. As I said the true Revisionists are Muslims who insist that they own the Jewish and Christian narratives and they know better what they are about than Jews and Christians. It is the exact equivalent of Western scholars who claim that they know what the Quran really says and which aHadith are true, except without the scholarly justification.”

    Not really. as I have pointed out repeatedly, the term muslim as regards to the previous Prophets is a Qur’anic call to jews and christians to what is presumably common between us and them. That is, the Qur’an enumerates some basic beliefs, adherence to which qualifies one as a muslim according to its terms. it matters not to us if you accept the term or not. the argument of the qur’an is regarding the beliefs of the prophets, not necessarily what they called themselves. and there is no record that any prophet called himself jew or christian, and even if they did, then that’s no problem on our part. as long as you believe in the beliefs i have enumerated in my previous posts, then you qualify as a muslim, at least before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad, in which case you would have to follow all the teachings he brought, including his abrogation of some of the old rules, and modifying, changing, or bringing up new ones. And the scholarly justification of this essentially theological ‘revisionism’ (as you call it) is precisely the weakness of certain portions of the jewish and christian scriptures, as pointed out by the modern scholars. That is why I mentioned modern scholarship. Basically the demand on our part is for each and every word of the Jewish and Christian scriptures as having come from the Prophets and holy men it was ascribed to, or a means to determine which words are really their words in the case of variants. What modern scholarship shows is that some changes occurred to the text (some of which occured under the infallible church!), and hence, not meeting the Muslim demand.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “In the strictest sense of the word Jew – and it is the subtle difference I referred to above – you have a point. But that convenant was implied before Sinai,
    Gen.17
    [1] And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
    [2] And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
    [3] And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
    [4] As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
    So the Jewish people existed as such, more or less, before Sinai. Hence the two meanings of Jewish for Abraham.”

    I could say that this is a kind of revisionism too, and say that the claim is merely eisegetical in nature. There was no mention of “jew” in the verses you cited. On closer examination, one may even point out that these verses could well be a refutation of the jewish claim regarding an exclusive covenant between them and God, as Abram was to be the father of “many nations”. It could even be taken as a prophecy for Islam, as Arabs are a nation from “Abram”, and there is supposed to be more than one nation, and probably more than two ! but then again, you might reason out that this is jewish scripture so they aught to know better about it.

    So then, it would have to be conceded that “Abram” never called himself jew, christian or muslim, at least according to the bible. But you are also willing to accept the term “muslim” (in terms of one being submissive to the will of God, which he, peace be upon him, definitely is) for him, albeit complaining about the baggage- and also saying that it is too general and irrelevant. but you’re “revising” the bible yourself when trying to fit “Abram” into the context of being a Jew, which he clearly isn’t. Using the same line of reasoning, it could be claimed that “Abram” was an Arab as well (regarding the second definition of “Jew”, which is racial). You see, the term Jew also has some “baggage” in it, which, even if accepted, will not fit Abraham. For example, he married his half-sister Sarah, an act cursed in the Torah by Moses. An interesting paradox arises then: whoever curses Abraham shall himself be cursed. Moses cursed an act committed by Abraham, in effect, cursing Abraham himself. In effect, Moses is himself accursed by cursing Abraham. The difficulty could be solved by claiming that marrying half-sisters were allowed back in Abraham’s time, but not in the Judaic Covenant (which I don’t agree to. I believe that it could be deduced from the OT that marrying half-sisters was also forbidden, or at least frowned upon, even back in Abraham’s time, but that is not the point here) Well, of course, this is irrelevant, but the point is Abraham did not practice all Jewish-specific practices, but you still insist on calling him a jew in some sense, while implying revisionism when Muslims call him ‘muslim’ in some sense.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Totally. No Resurrection, no Christianity.”

    Agreed. So, can we call Abraham a Christian, then, according to the definition you agreed to? I don’t think so.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Well there is still more to it than that because Khadija’s hanif cousin was a Christian who supposedly said he would become a Muslim if only he was not so old. No he probably did submit to the Will of God, but he also specifically did not become a Muslim. There is a difference between a Jew and a Christian and a Muslim in which Muhammed plays a very large role.”

    Probably because Islam has not been expounded in that way back in Waraqa ibn Nawfal’s day. In a sense, hanif is equivalent to muslim, as Abraham was called a hanif and a muslim. besides, it was Waraqa who made the distinction, not the Prophet Muhammad. Also, the Prophet’s call came after Waraqa’s death, which would render him incapable of following the Prophet, and “Islam” proper. But he was definitely a follower of the generic “islam” though.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “In effect it is limited to Muhammed because Muslims have no other sources except the Quran. What do Muslims know about Joseph apart from what the Quran (and aHadith etc) tells them? Well they can’t trust Jews because they lie. So it is pretty much limited to what Muhammed brought or did.”

    Well, Jews lying or not has little relevance here, except when some of them lie about the scriptures. But there is no claim on my part that they never tell the truth, or that ALL of the bible cannot be trusted. Islam in its final form is definitely limited to the Prophet Muhammad, agreed on that. But what he expounded is that there were prophets known, or unknown to us. And these Prophets taught the things necessary to become a “muslim”- belief in God, His Angels, Books, Prophets, and the Day of Judgment. anything extra could either be a corruption, intentional or unintentional, or something of little significance in comparison to these core doctrines, or a special commandment or provision for that nation. Any omission may be an omission committed by the persons who claimed to be the followers of these Prophets, or maybe the result of historical processes. And this is one of the reasons why, we Muslims believe, that the Last Prophet Muhammad was sent to the worlds.

  10. HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Where did Luke say he didn’t? It seems to me that he did not claim he did, but that is not to say that he didn’t. But there are also accounts in Mark, Matthew and John as well. Luke also clearly saw part of the events he described. You have to say that you can attack many things about the Gospels, but as eyewitness testimony goes they look good. You’re safer claiming Luke did not write them. Luke was there so how could you have an isnad anyway? If not right at Golgotha then not far away – it is not as if there is a 200 year gap of oral transmission. Christianity and Judaism are literate religions in a way that Islam is not. We are having a lot of agreement! I do not think that the apriori rejection of the supernatural is unscientific – on the contrary a good scientist should never look for or accept such explanations. If there is something he does not understand he needs to work harder to understand.”

    I assume that your statement that “it is not as if there is a 200 year gap of oral transmission” is a reference to the ahadith. If it is, then i believe that you have a wrong analogy. If Luke was an eyewitness, then he is not comparable to Imam Bukhari (if you are referring to Imam Bukhari’s collection by your statement). He would be comparable to the first link in a hadith, say for example Hadhrat Abu Hurayrah. So then this raises another relevant question: how did Luke’s (or any of the books in the bible) reach us in its form today? You already know that we have our isnad. What is your method to verify then?

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Well that person could hardly claim to have risen from the dead unless He rose from the dead. But OK let’s leave that. What evidence indicates that they were not eyewitnesses? Even if they were unknown, as Luke is more or less, how would that affect the nature of their testimony? You ask a good question but the Christian answer would be that the text is protected by God – and also that the accounts were written down in the very early period by people who were there. The nature of Christ for Christians is that He is alive and working within His community. The text is not as important as that fact. However Christians also have something like an isnad but a short one – Luke is supposed to have written his Gospel because Paul told him to – or even that Paul dictated it. Mark, Peter’s interpreter, is supposed to have written it after hearing from Peter. Matthew and John were presumably both there. If you are not a Christian I doubt there is any certainty but a Christian would point to the promise of Christ remaining within His Church. The Church cannot go wrong.”

    Here in the Philippines some persons have claimed such a thing, (other claims more outrageous than rising from the dead, such as claiming that he is God the Father) and it is safe to assume that others have claimed it,and will claim it on other places as well. Of course you have to admit that the reasoning “if someone claims to have done something, then that person really did it” is circular. If Luke is unknown, that would greatly affect the nature of his testimony. If he is unknown, how could we establish if he really was an eyewitness or not? here is another circularity- that the Text is protected by God, and the Church cannot go wrong. Again, it is not necessarily false, but that remains to be seen. You admit, as we shall see later, that this is a circularity. I must admit that there is a circularity within our claims as well. I mentioned that we believe whatever the Prophet Muhammad said, since we believe that he says only what God commanded him to say. That’s why in the absence of conclusive evidence on the part of the scriptures recognized by the “People of the Book”, we believe from a theological perspective things that he, praise and peace be upon him, said which might run counter to jewish and christian orthodoxy. but here is the muslim problem with your circularity regarding the Church: the Muslim expectation is that everything you believe in must have a basis, explicit or implicit, on some teaching of Jesus Christ. In order for this to happen, you must have a reliable record of what he really said. so, your explanation regarding the infallibility of the Christian Church will hardly satisfy a Muslim, or anyone who wishes to know what Jesus actually said. Your explanation presupposes that the Christian Church is infallible. “Trust in the christian scriptures. why? because the church says so. so what? because the scriptures say so”. So, what do I have to verify then? aside from numerous questions which this raises (which, i assume, are not relevant here), it begs the question as to what basis does the Church claim such an infallibility? if not Jesus Christ, then it does not matter to a Muslim then.

    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Except that it all comes down to one act – the compiling of the Uthamic version, the recall and destruction of all other versions. All you have proven is that the Caliphate was very thorough in destroying all other copies of the Quran. Even so the aHadith show that it used to contain a verse on stoning but it does not any longer and there is a persistent Shia tradition that Ali had his own Quran which, not surprisingly, Sunni hadith specifically reject. The one surviving copy proves the efficiency of the censorship but nothing much else. If those alternative copies had survived and we could judge that they said that was different, we could make sensible comments on the uniformity of the Quran but because none have, the different versions could have said anything.”
    Yes, it all comes down to that act. So all we have to do is to examine if the Uthmanic version can be traced back to the Prophet then. And the link I posted shows that it can be traced back to him. The Uthmanic recension’s strength is not the fact that it is the only version available, but the fact that it can be traced back to the Prophet. It wouldn’t matter if Hadhrat Uthman was able to destroy all other opposing versions, because he still has the problem of proving his own version to the masses of the Muslims, some of which were very critical of him. So, it doesnt matter what the destroyed versions say. Even if you will be able to bring up an alternate version of the Qur’an supposedly from, say, Hadhrat Abu Bakr, it wouldn’t matter, because the level of tawwatur is necessary for each and every verse. Quite the contrary. the ‘censorship’ achieved what it purports to do: that is to prevent Muslims from differing over their scriptures, “as the christians and jews are differing over theirs” to quote a Companion of the Prophet Muhammad. To say that we need the alternative copies to make sensible comments about the Qur’an’s uniformity is fallacious. the Qur’an is not the New Testament. The difference is that there is no need for a critical text of the Qur’an, precisely because of the Uthmanic ‘censorship’ and standardization of the Qur’anic texts. I would like to emphasize that the Uthmanic version is a mutawwatir version, which, as the link posted above shows, can be traced back to the Prophet. Quite unlike the New Testament. In fact, the critical scholars of the NT are having a problem because of the sheer number of variants of the NT text.
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Well no, whether he made it up or not is the key issue. You have not explained to me how Umar could stand up and say that the Quran used to contain the verse on rajam but does not any more. The other problem being that the Quran just does not say much. For Muslims to know what Islam is, they need the Hadith which does not have a guarantee. Christians have the authority of the Church so they do not need it.”
    Well, we have the concept of abrogation in the Qur’an. The Qur’an does not contain the verse anymore, because the Prophet Muhammad ordered for it to be removed from the Qur’an, since God abrogated the verse (but not the ruling). As to why, I don’t know, and neither is that the point here. The point is even the abrogation was done upon orders of the Prophet. And even if it wasn’t then the missing verse is not mutawwatir, so it would still have to be removed from the Qur’an. As for the Qur’an not saying much, well i find all the fundamental beliefs of my faith there. it is sufficient for me. And i find a remarkable consistency when it says that we should look to the example of the Prophet. I am in no position to dictate to God what He should include or not include in His Book. But you already said that the Hadith gives us some assurance about what the Prophet said, and now you’re saying that the Hadith does not have a guarantee.
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “It would depend on how they determined their Truth. There are any number of stories of people converting in Africa and South-East Asia because Muslim Sufis performed miracles. If you see a miracle you are likely to convert no matter what the logic of the religion is. Theology is, after all, just a way of rationalising remaining within a religion. Not for joining it. All religions need a way to distinguish between real and fake revelation. Usually with soldiers. In the real world this problem is unsolveable.”
    Agreed. And perhaps my ancestors were among those converted by those Muslim Sufis you were mentioning. Muslims also believe that conversion is a grace of God. However, a minor point, and one not entirely relevant. Miracles are not a reliable standard, unless it is what we Muslims call a mujizah, that is an inimitable miracle made through the hands of a Prophet of God. Anything else can be imitated by demons. so, just as there is fake revelation, there are also false miracles, made in the Name of God (or someone else), done through the hands of Satan.
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “But what need? Very few religions order or justify genocide. The existence of Moses is unsupported by the evidence, apart from the Bible, and so if there never was any genocide, the Jews have not tried to commit one since, and are not intending to commit one in the future, why would they claim one occurred? It does not make sense to me.”
    Perhaps the need to justify extermination of the canaanites, amalekites and others?
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Well that just means you are in a different bind because you have to believe Muhammed did things that were, by most standards, bad. I assume you just do what many Jews do and rationalise them. You have the luxury of denying the bad elements of other Faiths, but not your own.”
    Well what I am simply saying is that in Islamic belief that God would never order a human being to purposefully kill innocent persons without justification, since He will contradict Himself regarding what He said in the Noble Qur’an. It is a Muslim standard. If you’re saying that that’s not a Jewish standard, that’s fine. As I mentioned, and as you have pointed out, I am approaching this from a theological perspective, not a historical one. What I’m saying is that you could tell us Muslims that ‘hey, you have a fantasy version of Moses’ if there is conclusive evidence that he did order those acts.
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Those modern scholars that reject the Bible are one thing, but most people would accept that the Bible contains historical material of a sort. The distinction here is that the Quran was written by Arabs and for Arabs centuries after the events it claims to describe. The OT and the NT are in the same cultural tradition – they claim to be the records of their own histories, not someone else’s. That is a fundamental difference in credibility. The Bible is really sure about Abraham and Isaac.”
    Again it is a theological perspective. I wouldn’t tell a christian to believe the muslim version of Joseph or other prophets unless I have proven to him that the Qur’an is a Book sent by God. But we have the leeway to make our claims from a theological perspective precisely because the historical evidence is not strong enough to fly in the face of the Qur’anic claim. Take the example you cited, that of Abraham and Isaac. Even if we are to assume that Moses is the author of the Torah we have today, he still wouldn’t be an eyewitness, right? His position would not be much different from the Prophet Muhammad’s, vis-a-vis Jesus Christ. But if someone believes in the OT’s reliability in reporting what Prophet Moses said as it is today, then he would have no problem believing what the Prophet Moses supposedly said about the Prophet Abraham, even though they are hundreds of years apart.
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Except the aHadith are not divine Texts in that sense. I am not convinced they tell you in more detail – they are concerned more with Orthopraxy not Orthodoxy and so concentrate on what Muhammed did, not necessarily what he thought. Another important difference with Christian thought.”
    yes, it is more detailed. just compare how much of the Gospel purportedly reports what Jesus said, and compare it with the volumes of hadith, regardless of your objections to the hadith methodology. the hadith even says how the Prophet tied his turban. And a substantial portion of the Prophet’s teachings are embodied in his acts, as he is the model for every Muslim to follow.
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “The problem for Muslims is that the Quran says so little. The OT is a much more thorough book of law and the NT a much more detailed moral and theological guide. Muslims need the aHadith or they would be stuck.”
    I would have to agree with the OT being a much more thorough book of law. However, from the Qur’anic and Muslim perspective, a portion of this thorough book maybe superfluous. But I disagree with the NT being a more detailed moral and theological guide. The divisions in christianity about the nature of Christ stem precisely because of the ambiguity of the NT verses. but that is a minor point.
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “I am not sure that canon law and Sharia are comparable. Jewish and Islamic law are, but canon law owes more to Greece and Rome if you ask me.”
    thank you for pointing out to me a new and apparently fruitful line of research regarding canon law.
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “No but they are vital to understanding what they meant. If you do not know why Jesus did something it is hard to understand the purpose behind it. Again the difference between Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy.”
    But that is the point. the Church has already endeavored to decipher the meaning behind Jesus’ words without being sure what those words really were. We’re back to square one.
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “As long as they post-date Uthman. This is just a reflection of the poor documentary record and the thoroughness of the Uthmanic censorship. Besides, the extremists have such violently differing interpretations of the Quran, and supplement it with things like the opinion of the Aga Khans, that it is hard to make that claim. The words may be the same, but the Qurans are very different.”
    Why is it necessary to predate Khalifa Uthman, may Allah be pleased with him? If it predates him, then we have the Prophet Muhammad already, which is much better. Well it is up to the Aga Khanis and other extremists to trace their claims back to the Prophet Muhammad, the same way we trace back the Uthmanic recension back to him.
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “It is hardly begging the question. The process is well known – Christians claim the Church agreed in a series of Synods and their work is Divinely Inspired. Jesus works within the Church to this day. As the Gospel of Saint Thomas was not discovered until 1945, I don’t think there was ever any question of why it was not included. No one seems to have known about it, it does not appear in any commentaries for instance, and so it was not considered. Christians have a simple circular argument here – if it was genuine, God would have included it. As the text is Divinely protected.”
    I have dealt with this above. And they were never agreed, until quite recently. Different churches have different canons, with almost the same level of authenticity to support their respective texts. Not to mention that there were some books that were previously accepted as canonical by some Christian communities, which are not accepted today. Just check the Codex Sinaiticus, and you’ll be able to find some extra books there.
    The Gospel of Thomas is just an example to illustrate that besides claiming that the Church is Divinely-inspired to protect the text, the Christians have no other means to verfiy what’s in the Bible. Besides, if the Gospel was really Saint Thomas’- why not include it? The time of its discovery is not relevant. And why was it lost in the very first place?
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Sorry but what term would that be? The term “Muslim”? That term is as far as I can see entirely new with Muhammed even if the concept is not – as you would not expect it to be. The term, as I have pointed out before, is irrelevant because it comes with baggage. Christians and Jews may understand the concept of being a “muslim” but there is no evidence of anyone being “Muslim” before Muhammed.”
    Well, roses, if called by any other name, would smell just as sweet. The concept is not new, and that is what I think the Qur’an means when it says that Abraham is not a jew nor a christian, but a devout muslim. If some muslims claim that the prophets before Prophet Muhammad practiced all the Muslim practices that we have right now, then they’re wrong.
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “I am sure if I thought about it I could think of other options – praying towards Mecca, the Kaba, non-infant circumcision, the rejection of Judaism. Any number of things really.”
    Sure. But I would like to point out that whatever you might come up with, the Qur’an did not refer to that. Our concept is somewhat similar to what you said about a new covenant. Some old rules are abrogated, some new ones brought up.
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Well no because that “less” implies a value judgement. It certainly means that there is no evidence that they were Muslims apart from claims made by Muslims. As I said the true Revisionists are Muslims who insist that they own the Jewish and Christian narratives and they know better what they are about than Jews and Christians. It is the exact equivalent of Western scholars who claim that they know what the Quran really says and which aHadith are true, except without the scholarly justification.”
    Not really. as I have pointed out repeatedly, the term muslim as regards to the previous Prophets is a Qur’anic call to jews and christians to what is presumably common between us and them. That is, the Qur’an enumerates some basic beliefs, adherence to which qualifies one as a muslim according to its terms. it matters not to us if you accept the term or not. the argument of the qur’an is regarding the beliefs of the prophets, not necessarily what they called themselves. and there is no record that any prophet called himself jew or christian, and even if they did, then that’s no problem on our part. as long as you believe in the beliefs i have enumerated in my previous posts, then you qualify as a muslim, at least before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad, in which case you would have to follow all the teachings he brought, including his abrogation of some of the old rules, and modifying, changing, or bringing up new ones. And the scholarly justification of this essentially theological ‘revisionism’ (as you call it) is precisely the weakness of certain portions of the jewish and christian scriptures, as pointed out by the modern scholars. That is why I mentioned modern scholarship. Basically the demand on our part is for each and every word of the Jewish and Christian scriptures as having come from the Prophets and holy men it was ascribed to, or a means to determine which words are really their words in the case of variants. What modern scholarship shows is that some changes occurred to the text (some of which occured under the infallible church!), and hence, not meeting the Muslim demand.
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “In the strictest sense of the word Jew – and it is the subtle difference I referred to above – you have a point. But that convenant was implied before Sinai,
    Gen.17
    [1] And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
    [2] And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
    [3] And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
    [4] As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
    So the Jewish people existed as such, more or less, before Sinai. Hence the two meanings of Jewish for Abraham.”
    I could say that this is a kind of revisionism too, and say that the claim is merely eisegetical in nature. There was no mention of “jew” in the verses you cited. On closer examination, one may even point out that these verses could well be a refutation of the jewish claim regarding an exclusive covenant between them and God, as Abram was to be the father of “many nations”. It could even be taken as a prophecy for Islam, as Arabs are a nation from “Abram”, and there is supposed to be more than one nation, and probably more than two ! but then again, you might reason out that this is jewish scripture so they aught to know better about it.
    So then, it would have to be conceded that “Abram” never called himself jew, christian or muslim, at least according to the bible. But you are also willing to accept the term “muslim” (in terms of one being submissive to the will of God, which he, peace be upon him, definitely is) for him, albeit complaining about the baggage- and also saying that it is too general and irrelevant. but you’re “revising” the bible yourself when trying to fit “Abram” into the context of being a Jew, which he clearly isn’t. Using the same line of reasoning, it could be claimed that “Abram” was an Arab as well (regarding the second definition of “Jew”, which is racial). You see, the term Jew also has some “baggage” in it, which, even if accepted, will not fit Abraham. For example, he married his half-sister Sarah, an act cursed in the Torah by Moses. An interesting paradox arises then: whoever curses Abraham shall himself be cursed. Moses cursed an act committed by Abraham, in effect, cursing Abraham himself. In effect, Moses is himself accursed by cursing Abraham. The difficulty could be solved by claiming that marrying half-sisters were allowed back in Abraham’s time, but not in the Judaic Covenant (which I don’t agree to. I believe that it could be deduced from the OT that marrying half-sisters was also forbidden, or at least frowned upon, even back in Abraham’s time, but that is not the point here) Well, of course, this is irrelevant, but the point is Abraham did not practice all Jewish-specific practices, but you still insist on calling him a jew in some sense, while implying revisionism when Muslims call him ‘muslim’ in some sense.
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Totally. No Resurrection, no Christianity.”
    Agreed. So, can we call Abraham a Christian, then, according to the definition you agreed to? I don’t think so.
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “Well there is still more to it than that because Khadija’s hanif cousin was a Christian who supposedly said he would become a Muslim if only he was not so old. No he probably did submit to the Will of God, but he also specifically did not become a Muslim. There is a difference between a Jew and a Christian and a Muslim in which Muhammed plays a very large role.”
    Probably because Islam has not been expounded in that way back in Waraqa ibn Nawfal’s day. In a sense, hanif is equivalent to muslim, as Abraham was called a hanif and a muslim. besides, it was Waraqa who made the distinction, not the Prophet Muhammad. Also, the Prophet’s call came after Waraqa’s death, which would render him incapable of following the Prophet, and “Islam” proper. But he was definitely a follower of the generic “islam” though.
    HeiGou said on 7 October 2006: “In effect it is limited to Muhammed because Muslims have no other sources except the Quran. What do Muslims know about Joseph apart from what the Quran (and aHadith etc) tells them? Well they can’t trust Jews because they lie. So it is pretty much limited to what Muhammed brought or did.”
    Well, Jews lying or not has little relevance here, except when some of them lie about the scriptures. But there is no claim on my part that they never tell the truth, or that ALL of the bible cannot be trusted. Islam in its final form is definitely limited to the Prophet Muhammad, agreed on that. But what he expounded is that there were prophets known, or unknown to us. And these Prophets taught the things necessary to become a “muslim”- belief in God, His Angels, Books, Prophets, and the Day of Judgment. anything extra could either be a corruption, intentional or unintentional, or something of little significance in comparison to these core doctrines, or a special commandment or provision for that nation. Any omission may be an omission committed by the persons who claimed to be the followers of these Prophets, or maybe the result of historical processes. And this is one of the reasons why, we Muslims believe, that the Last Prophet Muhammad was sent to the worlds.

  11. aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”Luke himself admitted that he was not an eyewitness. So, he got his information from someone else. And this is where the concept of “isnad” comes in (which you say is not needed by Christians). What is the source of his information? Yes, the Gospels are evidence of a sort, but a portion of it is doubtful (which doesnt necessarily translate into “false”). However, I would have to agree with you that some “modern” criticism of the Bible (and Islamic texts as well) are based on an a priori denial of anything divine or supernatural, which of course, is unscientific. On that, I agree with you.”

    Where did Luke say he didn’t? It seems to me that he did not claim he did, but that is not to say that he didn’t. But there are also accounts in Mark, Matthew and John as well. Luke also clearly saw part of the events he described. You have to say that you can attack many things about the Gospels, but as eyewitness testimony goes they look good. You’re safer claiming Luke did not write them. Luke was there so how could you have an isnad anyway? If not right at Golgotha then not far away – it is not as if there is a 200 year gap of oral transmission. Christianity and Judaism are literate religions in a way that Islam is not. We are having a lot of agreement! I do not think that the apriori rejection of the supernatural is unscientific – on the contrary a good scientist should never look for or accept such explanations. If there is something he does not understand he needs to work harder to understand.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”However, my point is quite different. It is not a question of do people really rise again from the dead (I believe that they do, by the will of God), it is a question of did that particular person claim that he rose from the dead (if he claims such a thing, of course it still remains to be proven if his claim reflects reality). which takes me to the second part, “the evidence says that…”. but the evidence indicates that the authors were not eyewitnesses (luke) or, at best, unknown (the “beloved disciple”, commonly thought of as john). which leads to the natural question: how can i be sure that the information came from jesus himself, peace be upon him? that is why i am asking you for a chain of transmission, or anything comparable to that, so i can verify. but i have no problem even if the evangelists were not eyewitnesses. i just want to know where they got their information about jesus, so as to be sure that i get what he really taught. the same applies for every prophet or holy man.”

    Well that person could hardly claim to have risen from the dead unless He rose from the dead. But OK let’s leave that. What evidence indicates that they were not eyewitnesses? Even if they were unknown, as Luke is more or less, how would that affect the nature of their testimony? You ask a good question but the Christian answer would be that the text is protected by God – and also that the accounts were written down in the very early period by people who were there. The nature of Christ for Christians is that He is alive and working within His community. The text is not as important as that fact. However Christians also have something like an isnad but a short one – Luke is supposed to have written his Gospel because Paul told him to – or even that Paul dictated it. Mark, Peter’s interpreter, is supposed to have written it after hearing from Peter. Matthew and John were presumably both there. If you are not a Christian I doubt there is any certainty but a Christian would point to the promise of Christ remaining within His Church. The Church cannot go wrong.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”Each and every verse of the Qur’an is deemed to have reached the level of tawwatur, that is, so many people has narrated every verse that it is impossible for them to have contrived a lie. that is, the very same principle for hadith applies to the Qur’an. in fact, it’s more rigorous. chains of transmission are not necessary anymore, due to the sheer number of persons testifying for each and every verse. no faithful muslim, since the earliest of times, would accept anything less. hence, even muslims slaying each other on the battle of siffin agree on one qur’an. however, there are chains of transmission for the qur’an. here they are: http://www.islamic-awareness.o…..fs.html#4.”

    Except that it all comes down to one act – the compiling of the Uthamic version, the recall and destruction of all other versions. All you have proven is that the Caliphate was very thorough in destroying all other copies of the Quran. Even so the aHadith show that it used to contain a verse on stoning but it does not any longer and there is a persistent Shia tradition that Ali had his own Quran which, not surprisingly, Sunni hadith specifically reject. The one surviving copy proves the efficiency of the censorship but nothing much else. If those alternative copies had survived and we could judge that they said that was different, we could make sensible comments on the uniformity of the Quran but because none have, the different versions could have said anything.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”so, we have an assurance that what we are reciting today is the qur’an of Muhammad, praise and peace be upon him. whether he is making up what’s in the Qur’an is besides the point. the point is we know what he actually taught. quite unlike a portion of the bible, where we can’t tell if the words are actually from a prophet or not.”

    Well no, whether he made it up or not is the key issue. You have not explained to me how Umar could stand up and say that the Quran used to contain the verse on rajam but does not any more. The other problem being that the Quran just does not say much. For Muslims to know what Islam is, they need the Hadith which does not have a guarantee. Christians have the authority of the Church so they do not need it.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”Yes, we all need one. any religion just claiming that something came from God without verification is simply begging the question. What if it is not true that God protects a certain text? any liar could then claim that he brought something from God (a common accusation against the Beloved Prophet), then someone simply believes in him, since God protects what he says.”

    It would depend on how they determined their Truth. There are any number of stories of people converting in Africa and South-East Asia because Muslim Sufis performed miracles. If you see a miracle you are likely to convert no matter what the logic of the religion is. Theology is, after all, just a way of rationalising remaining within a religion. Not for joining it. All religions need a way to distinguish between real and fake revelation. Usually with soldiers. In the real world this problem is unsolveable.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”why is it so hard to believe that someone would invent it? a bigot and racist would have been happy to read a text which advocates and justifies genocide. well, there’s a need… perhaps someone ventured to supply the need?”

    But what need? Very few religions order or justify genocide. The existence of Moses is unsupported by the evidence, apart from the Bible, and so if there never was any genocide, the Jews have not tried to commit one since, and are not intending to commit one in the future, why would they claim one occurred? It does not make sense to me.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”I’m not sure how and why it was invented. and i must confess that i am approaching it from a theological perspective, which is why i am unable to believe that any prophet could have ordered such acts. but in the absence of conclusive evidence from Moses himself, i have the luxury to deny it, and believe what the Prophet Muhammad said, whom I believe to be a prophet.”

    Well that just means you are in a different bind because you have to believe Muhammed did things that were, by most standards, bad. I assume you just do what many Jews do and rationalise them. You have the luxury of denying the bad elements of other Faiths, but not your own.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”we’re not saying that you should use the Qur’an or the ahadith as primary source material, say for example for the story of Prophet Joseph. no, that’s not how “modern” historical research works. but what we’re saying is that some of the stories in the bible in which the qur’an slightly differs are not conclusive and coherent enough to warrant a rejection of what the islamic texts are saying as a possibility. if the bible is REALLY sure about what it says, and the qur’an contradicts the bible, then i should reject the qur’an.”

    Those modern scholars that reject the Bible are one thing, but most people would accept that the Bible contains historical material of a sort. The distinction here is that the Quran was written by Arabs and for Arabs centuries after the events it claims to describe. The OT and the NT are in the same cultural tradition – they claim to be the records of their own histories, not someone else’s. That is a fundamental difference in credibility. The Bible is really sure about Abraham and Isaac.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”Well, Muslims do not necessarily reject reason. but we give primacy to narration over reason, at least when it comes to our texts.”

    A minor point and I will accept it.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”And i disagree that the ahadith is equivalent to the midrash, mishrah and gemarra. the ahadith is more akin to the Gospels, since it tells us about what the Prophet did, said, or taught, albeit in a more detailed manner than the Gospels. the equivalent to the midrash would be the tafsirs. both are written by learned scholars of the respective faiths as commentaries to the sacred text.”

    Except the aHadith are not divine Texts in that sense. I am not convinced they tell you in more detail – they are concerned more with Orthopraxy not Orthodoxy and so concentrate on what Muhammed did, not necessarily what he thought. Another important difference with Christian thought.

    The problem for Muslims is that the Quran says so little. The OT is a much more thorough book of law and the NT a much more detailed moral and theological guide. Muslims need the aHadith or they would be stuck.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”shariah would be the equivalent of the christian canon law, and kalam would be the equivalent of philosophy.”

    I am not sure that canon law and Sharia are comparable. Jewish and Islamic law are, but canon law owes more to Greece and Rome if you ask me.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”do these sciences you mentioned help you confirm what was actually said by the Prophets Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them?”

    No but they are vital to understanding what they meant. If you do not know why Jesus did something it is hard to understand the purpose behind it. Again the difference between Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”Within their own groups. but not with each other, while all who claim to be muslim, regardless of sect, agree on one text of the Qur’an.”

    As long as they post-date Uthman. This is just a reflection of the poor documentary record and the thoroughness of the Uthmanic censorship. Besides, the extremists have such violently differing interpretations of the Quran, and supplement it with things like the opinion of the Aga Khans, that it is hard to make that claim. The words may be the same, but the Qurans are very different.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”besides, this is again begging the question: what were the standards used to arrive on such an agreement? it doesn’t matter whether the jews, catholics and protestants agree on the very same books. the question is how do they know which books to include, which books to believe in to be protected by God and inspired by Him? this is what i was originally asking you for. for example, why not include the Gospel of Thomas in the canon, since it was purportedly written by a disciple of Jesus himself? what are the considerations for not including such works as this, and including others? why not apply those considerations to the books you have now in your bibles?”

    It is hardly begging the question. The process is well known – Christians claim the Church agreed in a series of Synods and their work is Divinely Inspired. Jesus works within the Church to this day. As the Gospel of Saint Thomas was not discovered until 1945, I don’t think there was ever any question of why it was not included. No one seems to have known about it, it does not appear in any commentaries for instance, and so it was not considered. Christians have a simple circular argument here – if it was genuine, God would have included it. As the text is Divinely protected.

    Me:“You mean there are Jews who believe in God, His angels, their books, their prophets and lots of people who believe the Day of Judgement. Anything specifically Muslim about any of this? For instance, camal is hallal but not kosher. Any Jews who ate camel before Muhammed? The slightest evidence that any Jews or Christians ever practiced the hajj or thought that Abraham went near Mecca?”

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”This is how we determine those who are muslims from what we claim are older ummahs, and it is not our problem if jews and christians object to a term they themselves believe in.”

    Sorry but what term would that be? The term “Muslim”? That term is as far as I can see entirely new with Muhammed even if the concept is not – as you would not expect it to be. The term, as I have pointed out before, is irrelevant because it comes with baggage. Christians and Jews may understand the concept of being a “muslim” but there is no evidence of anyone being “Muslim” before Muhammed.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”and jews not eating camels are besides the point. why? because the Qur’an explicitly stated that some things are forbidden to the previous nations that are now permissible to the Muslims, and vice versa.”

    I am sure if I thought about it I could think of other options – praying towards Mecca, the Kaba, non-infant circumcision, the rejection of Judaism. Any number of things really.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”That does not make the previous nations any less Muslim than us.”

    Well no because that “less” implies a value judgement. It certainly means that there is no evidence that they were Muslims apart from claims made by Muslims. As I said the true Revisionists are Muslims who insist that they own the Jewish and Christian narratives and they know better what they are about than Jews and Christians. It is the exact equivalent of Western scholars who claim that they know what the Quran really says and which aHadith are true, except without the scholarly justification.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”well, as i understand it, you were apparently rejecting the term, claiming that islam is a revisionism too by claiming that the holy personages we have mentioned here are all muslims. you yourself has admitted that the term is too general. but a general claim need not be false.”

    Actually I am objecting to the claim they were Muslims. As above.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”this cannot be compared to the terms jew, christian, or bahai. why? let’s start with judaism. judaism, if defined in terms of a system of beliefs centered around a covenant between God and the Children of Israel on mount sinai would of course be limited to a connection with the event. hence, no covenant on mount sinai, no jew. to explain judaism otherwise would make judaism too general and a ‘revisionism’ too. what is the evidence that Prophet Abraham was a jew?”

    In the strictest sense of the word Jew – and it is the subtle difference I referred to above – you have a point. But that convenant was implied before Sinai,

    Gen.17
    [1] And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
    [2] And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
    [3] And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
    [4] As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

    So the Jewish people existed as such, more or less, before Sinai. Hence the two meanings of Jewish for Abraham.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”same goes for christianity, which hinges on the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. no jesus (or crucifixion), no christianity.”

    Totally. No Resurrection, no Christianity.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”but islam does not just hinge on the Prophet Muhammad alone, at least not before his time. according to islamic beliefs, (which you call revisionism) islam is submission to the will of God, plain and simple. it was already like that before the Prophet, and after it.”

    Well there is still more to it than that because Khadija’s hanif cousin was a Christian who supposedly said he would become a Muslim if only he was not so old. No he probably did submit to the Will of God, but he also specifically did not become a Muslim. There is a difference between a Jew and a Christian and a Muslim in which Muhammed plays a very large role.

    aian jaafar said on 7 October 2006:”of course, belief in the prophet who brought the revelation is incumbent as well, but it is not limited to the Prophet Muhammad.”

    In effect it is limited to Muhammed because Muslims have no other sources except the Quran. What do Muslims know about Joseph apart from what the Quran (and aHadith etc) tells them? Well they can’t trust Jews because they lie. So it is pretty much limited to what Muhammed brought or did.

  12. HeiGou said on 5 October 2006:
    “I do not make any comment on whether they were submissive to God. I continue to point out that only Muslims think they were Muslims. Which is not a denial of what Judaism and Christianity teaches but in fact standard orthodoxy for those two religions. Most people think Moses was a Jew. The Quran insists that he was a Muslim and hence not a Jew. Actually there is no evidence of anyone engaging in Muslim-specific practices before Muhammed. None. I expect that Jewish-specific practices have a much longer and better documented history than Islamic ones. Your view is a theological one, not a historical one.”

    “How do you know that they were not eyewitnesses? And the Gospels are evidence of a sort. There is precisely no evidence for the Quranic view before Muhammed. Find me anyone else who thought that before Muhammed was born. The Bible also claims that He did die and rose again. You are selective in which parts of the Bible you choose to believe. Why? There is modern criticism of a lot of the Bible, but from an evidence-based point of view it tends to derive from “people don’t die and rise again” rather than “the evidence says that…”.”

    Luke himself admitted that he was not an eyewitness. So, he got his information from someone else. And this is where the concept of “isnad” comes in (which you say is not needed by Christians). What is the source of his information? Yes, the Gospels are evidence of a sort, but a portion of it is doubtful (which doesnt necessarily translate into “false”). However, I would have to agree with you that some “modern” criticism of the Bible (and Islamic texts as well) are based on an a priori denial of anything divine or supernatural, which of course, is unscientific. On that, I agree with you.

    However, my point is quite different. It is not a question of do people really rise again from the dead (I believe that they do, by the will of God), it is a question of did that particular person claim that he rose from the dead (if he claims such a thing, of course it still remains to be proven if his claim reflects reality). which takes me to the second part, “the evidence says that…”. but the evidence indicates that the authors were not eyewitnesses (luke) or, at best, unknown (the “beloved disciple”, commonly thought of as john). which leads to the natural question: how can i be sure that the information came from jesus himself, peace be upon him? that is why i am asking you for a chain of transmission, or anything comparable to that, so i can verify. but i have no problem even if the evangelists were not eyewitnesses. i just want to know where they got their information about jesus, so as to be sure that i get what he really taught. the same applies for every prophet or holy man.

    “The Hadith. Not the Quran. I am quite impressed with the methodology of people like Bukhari so it is a surprise to me that he seems to get so much wrong.”

    Each and every verse of the Qur’an is deemed to have reached the level of tawwatur, that is, so many people has narrated every verse that it is impossible for them to have contrived a lie. that is, the very same principle for hadith applies to the Qur’an. in fact, it’s more rigorous. chains of transmission are not necessary anymore, due to the sheer number of persons testifying for each and every verse. no faithful muslim, since the earliest of times, would accept anything less. hence, even muslims slaying each other on the battle of siffin agree on one qur’an. however, there are chains of transmission for the qur’an. here they are: http://www.islamic-awareness.o.....afs.html#4.

    so, we have an assurance that what we are reciting today is the qur’an of Muhammad, praise and peace be upon him. whether he is making up what’s in the Qur’an is besides the point. the point is we know what he actually taught. quite unlike a portion of the bible, where we can’t tell if the words are actually from a prophet or not.

    “Do they need one? Christians, Jews and Muslims are all agreed that their texts are protected by God and need nothing else. Well Muslims have a problem because the Quran tells them so little about their religion, but more or less, all three are on the same page. I am not sure what the Jewish and Christian standard is but as God protects the text it hardly matter does it?”

    Yes, we all need one. any religion just claiming that something came from God without verification is simply begging the question. What if it is not true that God protects a certain text? any liar could then claim that he brought something from God (a common accusation against the Beloved Prophet), then someone simply believes in him, since God protects what he says.

    besides, if it is just theological subjects, then that is certainly beyond the scope of history. And much of what is written in the jewish, christian and muslim texts is about such topics. no problem with that. but our texts are also concerned with history, about what happened in the past.
    “I find it hard to believe anyone would invent them if they were not true. The same approach as a lot of things said about Muhammed. But evidence for them does not appear strong to me. The choice though comes down to whether a very old quasi-historical Jewish text is to be believed or a more modern text written by someone unconnected to the original people involved is. That, to me, is no contest.”

    why is it so hard to believe that someone would invent it? a bigot and racist would have been happy to read a text which advocates and justifies genocide. well, there’s a need… perhaps someone ventured to supply the need? I’m not sure how and why it was invented. and i must confess that i am approaching it from a theological perspective, which is why i am unable to believe that any prophet could have ordered such acts. but in the absence of conclusive evidence from Moses himself, i have the luxury to deny it, and believe what the Prophet Muhammad said, whom I believe to be a prophet. if such conclusive evidence shows up, then my theological perspective, and perhaps even a statement of the Prophet, would be contradicted by cold, historical fact. but there is no such conclusive evidence as of the moment, besides the old testament which you label “quasi-historical”. we’re not saying that you should use the Qur’an or the ahadith as primary source material, say for example for the story of Prophet Joseph. no, that’s not how “modern” historical research works. but what we’re saying is that some of the stories in the bible in which the qur’an slightly differs are not conclusive and coherent enough to warrant a rejection of what the islamic texts are saying as a possibility. if the bible is REALLY sure about what it says, and the qur’an contradicts the bible, then i should reject the qur’an.

    “Actually I have pointed out that they have – they think, like Muslims, that God protects their texts. They do not need the isnads. Muslims do – the more so because Muslims reject reason. The equivalent of the aHadith in Jewish law would be Midrash, the Mishrah and Gemarra (that is, comment on the Bible, the oral law, and commentaries on the oral law). These are not protected in any way but are to be discussed and thought about. They are not sacred. The Christian equivalent would be canon law and philosophy. Again neither of these are sacred or protected. They are all the product of reason and argument. If you reject reason you need something else like an isnad.”

    Ang maybe God protects Simon Magus as well. Again, this is begging the question. Well, Muslims do not necessarily reject reason. but we give primacy to narration over reason, at least when it comes to our texts. And i disagree that the ahadith is equivalent to the midrash, mishrah and gemarra. the ahadith is more akin to the Gospels, since it tells us about what the Prophet did, said, or taught, albeit in a more detailed manner than the Gospels. the equivalent to the midrash would be the tafsirs. both are written by learned scholars of the respective faiths as commentaries to the sacred text. shariah would be the equivalent of the christian canon law, and kalam would be the equivalent of philosophy. do these sciences you mentioned help you confirm what was actually said by the Prophets Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them? of course much of the ahadith can be called a commentary or an interpretation of the Qur’an by the Prophet himself. but the sciences you mentioned were deviced by rabbis and christian scholars, not by Prophets Moses and Jesus.

    “I think you may find that Jews and Christians are fairly agreed, within their own groups, on the Bible. The Jews only have one. The Roman Catholics only have one. The Protestants tend to follow the Jewish books.”

    Within their own groups. but not with each other, while all who claim to be muslim, regardless of sect, agree on one text of the Qur’an. besides, this is again begging the question: what were the standards used to arrive on such an agreement? it doesn’t matter whether the jews, catholics and protestants agree on the very same books. the question is how do they know which books to include, which books to believe in to be protected by God and inspired by Him? this is what i was originally asking you for. for example, why not include the Gospel of Thomas in the canon, since it was purportedly written by a disciple of Jesus himself? what are the considerations for not including such works as this, and including others? why not apply those considerations to the books you have now in your bibles?

    “As far as I know there has never been an argument about Esther among Jews and Christians”
    Yes, there were arguments: http://www.biblecentre.net/ref.....ro233.html. and even if there was not, that is besides the point. my point is how did that book, or any book for that matter, made it’s way in the bible?

    “But you can’t confirm that Muhammed said what he really said either – at least when it comes to the Quran. Isnads only give you some assurance about the aHadith but you cannot compare the Bible to those, but to the Quran. It is not a deficiency because they are not needed. I think it is better for Judaism and Christianity that they have adopted a system of philosophy and logic and rational thought to approach those texts that supplement their religion. Better than the more or less total rejection of rational thought by Muslims.”

    in fact, we can: http://www.islamic-awareness.o.....afs.html#4. i have to repeat, each and every verse of the Qur’an has reached the level of tawwatur, by Muslim standards. also, many ahadith refer to the Qur’an. as for the objections of the revisionists, i think the article we are commenting about has responded to them quite well. again, a portion of the bible (specifically, the four Gospels) can be compared to ahadith.

    “Well no. There wouldn’t be would there as Jesus brings in the New Convenant. The question you have to ask is whether Jesus died and remains at work in the world, especially the Christian Church, today.”

    And we believe that the Prophet Muhammad brought the Last Covenant, the affirmation of the First Covenant between the progeny of Adam and their Beneficent Lord. and yes, i have asked the question whether Jesus died or not.

    “You mean there are Jews who believe in God, His angels, their books, their prophets and lots of people who believe the Day of Judgement. Anything specifically Muslim about any of this? For instance, camal is hallal but not kosher. Any Jews who ate camel before Muhammed? The slightest evidence that any Jews or Christians ever practiced the hajj or thought that Abraham went near Mecca?”

    This is how we determine those who are muslims from what we claim are older ummahs, and it is not our problem if jews and christians object to a term they themselves believe in. and jews not eating camels are besides the point. why? because the Qur’an explicitly stated that some things are forbidden to the previous nations that are now permissible to the Muslims, and vice versa. That does not make the previous nations any less Muslim than us. And neither is it claimed in the Qur’an that the previous “muslim” nations have the same, exact practices that we have right now. Quite the contrary. the Qur’an states that the sabbath was incumbent upon the previous muslim (submissive to God) community of israel, but not to the Muslim followers of Prophet Muhammad.

    “Only the aHadith. Isnads obviously do not apply to the Quran.”

    not true. http://www.islamic-awareness.o.....afs.html#4

    Let me draw a distinction between two uses of the word “muslim”. He may have been submissive of God (muslim) but Jews don’t think he was a Muslim – the term Muslim carries more with it than the idea of being submissive to God. The usage of muslim is irrelevant as far as I am concerned because it is too general. Jews and Christians would not take the claim he was a Muslim as rational so it is not a question of rejecting it. You would not even bother with a claim that Muhammed was a Bahai would you? I assume that Jews think he was a Jew and Christians too by and large – but in the sense of a Hebrew before the Convenant rather than a Jew (there is a subtle theological difference in the term “Jew” which is important to Jews but I suspect irrelevant here).

    well, as i understand it, you were apparently rejecting the term, claiming that islam is a revisionism too by claiming that the holy personages we have mentioned here are all muslims. you yourself has admitted that the term is too general. but a general claim need not be false. this cannot be compared to the terms jew, christian, or bahai. why? let’s start with judaism. judaism, if defined in terms of a system of beliefs centered around a covenant between God and the Children of Israel on mount sinai would of course be limited to a connection with the event. hence, no covenant on mount sinai, no jew. to explain judaism otherwise would make judaism too general and a ‘revisionism’ too. what is the evidence that Prophet Abraham was a jew? same goes for christianity, which hinges on the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. no jesus (or crucifixion), no christianity. but islam does not just hinge on the Prophet Muhammad alone, at least not before his time. according to islamic beliefs, (which you call revisionism) islam is submission to the will of God, plain and simple. it was already like that before the Prophet, and after it. of course, belief in the prophet who brought the revelation is incumbent as well, but it is not limited to the Prophet Muhammad. So, it cannot be said that there could be no islam (in the sense that the Qur’an intended) before the Prophet Muhammad, since he was allegedly the founder of the religion. as for the Bahais, i know very little about their claims. But whatever claims they have regarding the Prophet, i would have to examine it in the light of the Qur’an and ahadith.
    peace.

  13. here’s a good link regarding early hadiths: http://www.islamic-awareness.o.....adith.html.

    take note that the sahifa is a work by Hammam bin Munabbih, a disciple of Hadhrat Abu Hurayrah, who is of course a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, praise and peace be upon him. here is another one, also from the same site: http://www.islamic-awareness.o.....khari.html.

    you can check out the rest of their great site for refutations of revisionists regarding the qur’an and ahadith.

  14. aian jaafar said on 5 October 2006:”Well, if they deny that these prophets are submissive to God, then they deny what their religion preaches. So now you’re saying that Moses is a Jew- even though he does not belong to the tribe of judah. of course the word “jew” has many connotations and many beliefs corollary to the application of the word. if what you mean by jew is someone from the children of israel who took a special covenant with God on mount sinai- how does the Qur’an deny that? we are simply denying practices, beliefs,or even scriptures which cannot be traced back to Moses, to Jesus, or to any prophet,for that matter.”

    I do not make any comment on whether they were submissive to God. I continue to point out that only Muslims think they were Muslims. Which is not a denial of what Judaism and Christianity teaches but in fact standard orthodoxy for those two religions. Most people think Moses was a Jew. The Quran insists that he was a Muslim and hence not a Jew. Actually there is no evidence of anyone engaging in Muslim-specific practices before Muhammed. None. I expect that Jewish-specific practices have a much longer and better documented history than Islamic ones. Your view is a theological one, not a historical one.

    aian jaafar said on 5 October 2006:”well, where is the evidence you were talking about? this is connected to a point i was making about the evangelists not being eyewitnesses. again, the qur’an claims that they thought that jesus died. and that is precisely what i read in the bible, someone claiming to witness the crucifixion from afar, and thinking that jesus died! of course, “john” claimed to be near the cross, but this is where modern criticism of the authenticity of his gospel comes in.”

    How do you know that they were not eyewitnesses? And the Gospels are evidence of a sort. There is precisely no evidence for the Quranic view before Muhammed. Find me anyone else who thought that before Muhammed was born. The Bible also claims that He did die and rose again. You are selective in which parts of the Bible you choose to believe. Why? There is modern criticism of a lot of the Bible, but from an evidence-based point of view it tends to derive from “people don’t die and rise again” rather than “the evidence says that…”.

    aian jaafar said on 5 October 2006:”i am not confusing the two. i just mentioned that some of the findings of modern scholarship tend to confirm the early criticisms of muslims regarding the bible. but it definitely disproves the beliefs of bible inerrantists.”

    Actually it doesn’t. If you pick and choose carefully among the modern scholarship you can find things you like. But the modern view that says “miracles are unscientific and so don’t happen whatever the Bible says about the Resurrection” also applies to the Virgin Birth (which I assume you accept) and so on – to the miracles of Muhammed even. So your approach is inherently flawed in that you are not dealing with the entire argument but only those bits that agree with what you, I assume, have decided is true anyway.

    aian jaafar said on 5 October 2006:”this website, and also islamic awareness.org has already tackled this. i confess that i am not an expert regarding this. but you have admitted that a “highly-flawed” method was developed 200 yrs after the Prophet’s death. so, something was developed to gauge the authenticity of texts then.”

    The Hadith. Not the Quran. I am quite impressed with the methodology of people like Bukhari so it is a surprise to me that he seems to get so much wrong.

    aian jaafar said on 5 October 2006:”could you tell me what the jews and christians developed regarding the authenticity of their sources, besides claiming that God protects the text? we muslims also claim that regarding the Qur’an. you could start by telling us what standards the christians and jews used to determine the books of the biblical canon(s).”

    Do they need one? Christians, Jews and Muslims are all agreed that their texts are protected by God and need nothing else. Well Muslims have a problem because the Quran tells them so little about their religion, but more or less, all three are on the same page. I am not sure what the Jewish and Christian standard is but as God protects the text it hardly matter does it?

    aian jaafar said on 5 October 2006:”no, i don’t believe the prophet moses,peace be upon him, ordered those acts, there is no evidence that he really did, except for the old testament, which is unreliable on some parts. i am not just inclined to believe that is in the bible just because it makes jews look bad. are you a mind-reader now? by the way, since you admit that this makes jews look bad, then it also makes christians look bad, to think that Yahweh ordered such acts, even if they are allegedly already abrogated by the blood of Christ. the real question is, do you believe that he really ordered those acts?”

    I find it hard to believe anyone would invent them if they were not true. The same approach as a lot of things said about Muhammed. But evidence for them does not appear strong to me. The choice though comes down to whether a very old quasi-historical Jewish text is to be believed or a more modern text written by someone unconnected to the original people involved is. That, to me, is no contest.

    aian jaafar said on 5 October 2006:”isnads are irrelevant because judaism and christianity simply does not have a method to disclose the source of the information they believe in. it’s not a question of whether they need to or not. the truth is they won’t and they can’t. this is precisely what i am trying to tell you.”

    Actually I have pointed out that they have – they think, like Muslims, that God protects their texts. They do not need the isnads. Muslims do – the more so because Muslims reject reason. The equivalent of the aHadith in Jewish law would be Midrash, the Mishrah and Gemarra (that is, comment on the Bible, the oral law, and commentaries on the oral law). These are not protected in any way but are to be discussed and thought about. They are not sacred. The Christian equivalent would be canon law and philosophy. Again neither of these are sacred or protected. They are all the product of reason and argument. If you reject reason you need something else like an isnad.

    aian jaafar said on 5 October 2006:”whatever flaws the science of isnad allegedly has, we muslims have developed something to determine what the Prophet said, or did not say. Christians and jews, on the other hand, aren’t even agreed on which bible to read, what to say of what the prophets moses and jesus really said!”

    I think you may find that Jews and Christians are fairly agreed, within their own groups, on the Bible. The Jews only have one. The Roman Catholics only have one. The Protestants tend to follow the Jewish books.

    aian jaafar said on 5 October 2006:”care to tell us about jewish and christian standards? for example, could you tell us why the book of esther was included in the canon(s)?”

    As far as I know there has never been an argument about Esther among Jews and Christians.

    aian jaafar said on 5 October 2006:”it is actually very easy to shut muslims up when we talk about the bible. just prove that moses or jesus REALLY said what you’re claiming they said. but we can’t confirm, can we? it’s because you don’t have an isnad, and that is a deficiency on the part of judaism and christianity, not islam. but you’re talking as if you’re proud that your religion does not have the means to verify what these holy men really said, did, or taught.”

    But you can’t confirm that Muhammed said what he really said either – at least when it comes to the Quran. Isnads only give you some assurance about the aHadith but you cannot compare the Bible to those, but to the Quran. It is not a deficiency because they are not needed. I think it is better for Judaism and Christianity that they have adopted a system of philosophy and logic and rational thought to approach those texts that supplement their religion. Better than the more or less total rejection of rational thought by Muslims.

    aian jaafar said on 5 October 2006:”is there any evidence of “Christian” practices before Prophet Jesus?”

    Well no. There wouldn’t be would there as Jesus brings in the New Convenant. The question you have to ask is whether Jesus died and remains at work in the world, especially the Christian Church, today.

    aian jaafar said on 5 October 2006:”but there is evidence of “islamic” (generic islam) beliefs before “Islam” with the capital “I”. belief in God, His angels, books, prophets, and the day of Judgment. there is the hajj, which is, contrary to being a pagan rite, is a continuation of a much earlier abrahamic rite.”

    You mean there are Jews who believe in God, His angels, their books, their prophets and lots of people who believe the Day of Judgement. Anything specifically Muslim about any of this? For instance, camal is hallal but not kosher. Any Jews who ate camel before Muhammed? The slightest evidence that any Jews or Christians ever practiced the hajj or thought that Abraham went near Mecca?

    aian jaafar said on 5 October 2006:”but we have shown you a clear standard of how we judge what to believe in.”

    Only the aHadith. Isnads obviously do not apply to the Quran.

    aian jaafar said on 5 October 2006:”just a minor point,which i forgot to include in my post. you’re saying that jews and christians flat out deny that abraham was a muslim. so, what was he? was he a jew, or a christian then? or was he submissive to God (muslim)?”

    Let me draw a distinction between two uses of the word “muslim”. He may have been submissive of God (muslim) but Jews don’t think he was a Muslim – the term Muslim carries more with it than the idea of being submissive to God. The usage of muslim is irrelevant as far as I am concerned because it is too general. Jews and Christians would not take the claim he was a Muslim as rational so it is not a question of rejecting it. You would not even bother with a claim that Muhammed was a Bahai would you? I assume that Jews think he was a Jew and Christians too by and large – but in the sense of a Hebrew before the Convenant rather than a Jew (there is a subtle theological difference in the term “Jew” which is important to Jews but I suspect irrelevant here).

  15. HeiGou, it seems that you have not understood the claim I made about Hanafiyya.

    As for the Christians, Hans Kung believes in Muhammad’s prophethood. A christian lady I communicated with several days ago believes in him as well; although she said that the scribes changed the Quran and distorted the image of Jesus.

  16. just a minor point,which i forgot to include in my post. you’re saying that jews and christians flat out deny that abraham was a muslim. so, what was he? was he a jew, or a christian then? or was he submissive to God (muslim)?

  17. HeiGou said on 2 October 2006: “Yes. So Islam is not a total rejection of the truth of Judaism or Christianity, it simply claims that all the important Jews and Christians were Muslims. It is Revisionism by definition. Jews and Christians flatly deny that Moses, Abraham, Jesus et al were Muslims. It is what the word means but it is not simply what the word means – when Muslims claim these people were Muslims, they are denying that they were Jews or Christians.”

    Well, if they deny that these prophets are submissive to God, then they deny what their religion preaches. So now you’re saying that Moses is a Jew- even though he does not belong
    to the tribe of judah. of course the word “jew” has many connotations and many beliefs corollary to the application of the word. if what you mean by jew is someone from the children of israel who took a special covenant with God on mount sinai- how does the Qur’an deny that? we are simply denying practices, beliefs,or even scriptures which cannot be traced back to Moses, to Jesus, or to any prophet,for that matter.

    hei gou said regarding the crucifixion: “Well you do deny what they have to say even if they have evidence for it because, after all, the Bible also goes on to say that Jesus died but was resurrected. I assume you deny that.”

    well, where is the evidence you were talking about? this is connected to a point i was making about the evangelists not being eyewitnesses. again, the qur’an claims that they thought that jesus died. and that is precisely what i read in the bible, someone claiming to witness the crucifixion from afar, and thinking that jesus died! of course, “john” claimed to be near the cross, but this is where modern criticism of the authenticity of his gospel comes in.

    hei gou said: ” As opposed to Muhammed who never went to Egypt or Palestine much less met Moses or Lot or any of the other people mentioned in the Quran? Nor is there any evidence that the people who wrote the Bible were not eyewitnesses.”

    more on the Beloved Prophet later. but then, hei gou is arguing from silence. since there isn’t any evidence that they were not eyewitnesses, then they were eyewitnesses! luke himself admitted that he is not an eyewitness. how about the others? here is where the doubt regarding the bible comes in.
    hei gou said: “Find a Christian scholar who believes anything Muslims do. Just one. You should not confuse modern scholarship with a defence of Islam.”

    i am not confusing the two. i just mentioned that some of the findings of modern scholarship tend to confirm the early criticisms of muslims regarding the bible. but it definitely disproves the beliefs of bible inerrantists.

    hei gou said (regarding the method of verifying authenticity of islamic sources): “Well no it does not. You are wrong on both counts. The method to verify the authenticity of the aHadith is restricted to the aHadith. Not the Quran. It was not developed early, but some 200 years after the death of Muhammed. It is also highly flawed as Western scholars have proven. Second, of course Jews and Christians have developed methods to do so. They tend to believe God protects the Text.”

    this website, and also islamic awareness.org has already tackled this. i confess that i am not an expert regarding this. but you have admitted that a “highly-flawed” method was developed 200 yrs after the Prophet’s death. so, something was developed to gauge the authenticity of texts then. could you tell me what the jews and christians developed regarding the authenticity of their sources, besides claiming that God protects the text? we muslims also claim that regarding the Qur’an. you could start by telling us what standards the christians and jews used to determine the books of the biblical canon(s).

    hei gou said (regarding prophet moses’ alleged orders to slay infants and sucklings,and rape virgin women): “I suspect you would be inclined to believe that anyway because it makes Jews look bad. Tell me if you believe that Moses did such a thing.”

    no, i don’t believe the prophet moses,peace be upon him, ordered those acts, there is no evidence that he really did, except for the old testament, which is unreliable on some parts. i am not just inclined to believe that is in the bible just because it makes jews look bad. are you a mind-reader now? by the way, since you admit that this makes jews look bad, then it also makes christians look bad, to think that Yahweh ordered such acts, even if they are allegedly already abrogated by the blood of Christ. the real question is, do you believe that he really ordered those acts?

    hei gou said (regarding ‘isnads’): “They don’t need to. Don’t judge Christian teachings by Muslim standards. Isnads are irrelevant to Judaism or Christianity.”

    isnads are irrelevant because judaism and christianity simply does not have a method to disclose the source of the information they believe in. it’s not a question of whether they need to or not. the truth is they won’t and they can’t. this is precisely what i am trying to tell you. whatever flaws the science of isnad allegedly has, we muslims have developed something to determine what the Prophet said, or did not say. Christians and jews, on the other hand, aren’t even agreed on which bible to read, what to say of what the prophets moses and jesus really said! well, at least muslims have “muslim standards”. that is, we believe whatever the Prophet Muhammad says, and that is what we are trying to determine using the “muslim standard” of isnad. if the Prophet tells us that something is part of the Qur’an, then we include it in the Qur’an. then we determine an unbroken chain of transmission through reliable narrators if he really said something or did smoething like that. care to tell us about jewish and christian standards? for example, could you tell us why the book of esther was included in the canon(s)?

    it is actually very easy to shut muslims up when we talk about the bible. just prove that moses or jesus REALLY said what you’re claiming they said. but we can’t confirm, can we? it’s because you don’t have an isnad, and that is a deficiency on the part of judaism and christianity, not islam. but you’re talking as if you’re proud that your religion does not have the means to verify what these holy men really said, did, or taught.

    hei gou said (regarding my statement that much of the islamic rites can be traced back to the prophet muhammad through mass-transmitted reports): Back to Muhammed. But no further. There is precisely no evidence whatsoever of any Islamic practice before Muhammed. It is exactly what you would expect if, for example, Muhammed made it all up and then claimed it was “really” what the Jews were talking about. Muslims are not because they are so dependent on the Quran and the aHadith. The aHadith fall before any objective and sensible analysis. Material is lacking for the study of the Quran, but Western scholars, as the article points out, have problem with that too. Without either or both, Islam is nothing. Christianity depends on a different source – the Resurrection of Christ and His presence in the world today. Nothing you say about the Bible can change that and so Christians will remain unbothered

    is there any evidence of “Christian” practices before Prophet Jesus? but there is evidence of “islamic” (generic islam) beliefs before “Islam” with the capital “I”. belief in God, His angels, books, prophets, and the day of Judgment. there is the hajj, which is, contrary to being a pagan rite, is a continuation of a much earlier abrahamic rite. regarding the statement that the Beloved Prophet could have invented his teachings, well that’s a different topic. but we have shown you a clear standard of how we judge what to believe in. you haven’t provided an example of how even one book of the New Testament got in the canon, and how such a standard could have been compatible with the standard regarding the other books of the bible. thus, “the Resurrection of Christ and His presence in the world today” would be irrelevant, and there is reason for christians to be bothered. how did you arrive on such a statement? isn’t it because of what the bible supposedly says?

  18. DoctorMaybe said on 4 October 2006:”Not really. I’ve met and heard of quite a few christians who believe in Muhammad(pbuh). There is also a Jew who believes in Muhammad(pbuh) but prefers following Moses(pbuh) since he was stronger according to him.”

    I have never met one. By definition they are Muslims. Sure they are not just being polite? No doubt there are some Jews who are Muslims. They have a website. But they are, of course, Muslims.

    DoctorMaybe said on 4 October 2006:”How about the hanafiyyah? Karen Armstrong writes in her book “The History of God” that a fifth century Palestinian historian Sozomenos recorded an instance where some Jews and Christians left their faiths to puruse the religion of Abraham. In my opinion, Allah sent Muhammad(pbuh) with the religion of Abraham. Muhammad(pbuh) didnt make anything up, no matter how much you hate it.”

    No doubt there have always been Jews and Christians who have become Muslims just as there are Muslims who have become Christians and perhaps even Jews. I am not concerned with your opinion as such. You are entitled to believe whatever you want to believe.

    DoctorMaybe said on 4 October 2006:”As for the Quran, tell me do all Western scholars agree that it ws written 200 years after Muhammad(pbuh)? You make it sound as though only your OPINIONS hold ground, no one elses. Get a life you moron!”

    I made no comment on when the Quran was written, but no, there is no consensus as yet. That 200 years referred to the aHadith but I can see how that might have been confusing.

  19. “There is precisely no evidence whatsoever of any Islamic practice before Muhammed.”

    Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed….(Matthew 16:39)”
    how do u fell to ur face and pray without the islamic way of sijdah?

  20. As for a Christian scholar, how about hans kung?

  21. Not really. I’ve met and heard of quite a few christians who believe in Muhammad(pbuh). There is also a Jew who believes in Muhammad(pbuh) but prefers following Moses(pbuh) since he was stronger according to him.

    How about the hanafiyyah? Karen Armstrong writes in her book “The History of God” that a fifth century Palestinian historian Sozomenos recorded an instance where some Jews and Christians left their faiths to puruse the religion of Abraham. In my opinion, Allah sent Muhammad(pbuh) with the religion of Abraham. Muhammad(pbuh) didnt make anything up, no matter how much you hate it.

    As for the Quran, tell me do all Western scholars agree that it ws written 200 years after Muhammad(pbuh)? You make it sound as though only your OPINIONS hold ground, no one elses. Get a life you moron!

  22. aian jaafar said on 2 October 2006:”islam is revisionism??? quite strange. the holy qur’an does not deny the terms ‘christian’ (nasrani) or ‘jews’ (yahudi) to the respective ‘nations’ (ummah) of prophets moses and jesus, peace be upon them both and to all the messengers of Allah. but it also says that these two were totally submissive to the will of God. do the christians and jews deny this themselves? of course they have complaints regarding the term ‘muslim’, but that is what the term simply means.”

    Yes. So Islam is not a total rejection of the truth of Judaism or Christianity, it simply claims that all the important Jews and Christians were Muslims. It is Revisionism by definition. Jews and Christians flatly deny that Moses, Abraham, Jesus et al were Muslims. It is what the word means but it is not simply what the word means – when Muslims claim these people were Muslims, they are denying that they were Jews or Christians.

    aian jaafar said on 2 October 2006:”well, we don’t deny what christians or jews say… as long as they have the evidence to back it up. take for example the crucifixion… the Qur’an says that it would seem that prophet jesus would die… and, voila! we read in the bible that the evangelists thought that jesus died! where is the contradiction, or denial?”

    Well you do deny what they have to say even if they have evidence for it because, after all, the Bible also goes on to say that Jesus died but was resurrected. I assume you deny that.

    aian jaafar said on 2 October 2006:the point here is that none of the claimed ‘eyewitness’ evangelists were never really eyewitnesses at all, and neither will that be proven.”

    As opposed to Muhammed who never went to Egypt or Palestine much less met Moses or Lot or any of the other people mentioned in the Quran? Nor is there any evidence that the people who wrote the Bible were not eyewitnesses.

    aian jaafar said on 2 October 2006:”this is not just according to the muslims (though muslims have been insisting about it even before the advent of modern biblical criticism), but according to christian scholars themselves.”

    Find a Christian scholar who believes anything Muslims do. Just one. You should not confuse modern scholarship with a defence of Islam.

    aian jaafar said on 2 October 2006:now, regarding islamic sources, whatever objections you may or revisionists may have, the fact is that islam developed a method to verify the authenticity of sources early in its history. quite unlike judaism and christianity.”

    Well no it does not. You are wrong on both counts. The method to verify the authenticity of the aHadith is restricted to the aHadith. Not the Quran. It was not developed early, but some 200 years after the death of Muhammed. It is also highly flawed as Western scholars have proven. Second, of course Jews and Christians have developed methods to do so. They tend to believe God protects the Text.

    aian jaafar said on 2 October 2006:”so, if 1 jew says that the prophet moses ordered the massacre of populations, the murder of babies, and the rape of virgin women, i would believe that jew, as long as he has the evidence to back it up.”

    I suspect you would be inclined to believe that anyway because it makes Jews look bad. Tell me if you believe that Moses did such a thing.

    aian jaafar said on 2 October 2006:i would believe even just 1 christian that jesus taught that he was God or Son of God, if he could produce an unbroken chain of transmission through reliable eyewitnesses that jesus said something to that effect. but no, they can’t.”

    They don’t need to. Don’t judge Christian teachings by Muslim standards. Isnads are irrelevant to Judaism or Christianity.

    aian jaafar said on 2 October 2006:however, much of the practices and rites of islam could be traced back to the prophet through mass-transmitted (mutawatir) reports. in the final analysis, even from a hostile perspective, muslims are on much firmer ground regarding their religion than christians and jews are. ”

    Back to Muhammed. But no further. There is precisely no evidence whatsoever of any Islamic practice before Muhammed. It is exactly what you would expect if, for example, Muhammed made it all up and then claimed it was “really” what the Jews were talking about. Muslims are not because they are so dependent on the Quran and the aHadith. The aHadith fall before any objective and sensible analysis. Material is lacking for the study of the Quran, but Western scholars, as the article points out, have problem with that too. Without either or both, Islam is nothing. Christianity depends on a different source – the Resurrection of Christ and His presence in the world today. Nothing you say about the Bible can change that and so Christians will remain unbothered.

  23. islam is revisionism???

    quite strange. the holy qur’an does not deny the terms ‘christian’ (nasrani) or ‘jews’ (yahudi) to the respective ‘nations’ (ummah) of prophets moses and jesus, peace be upon them both and to all the messengers of Allah. but it also says that these two were totally submissive to the will of God. do the christians and jews deny this themselves? of course they have complaints regarding the term ‘muslim’, but that is what the term simply means.

    well, we don’t deny what christians or jews say… as long as they have the evidence to back it up. take for example the crucifixion… the Qur’an says that it would seem that prophet jesus would die… and, voila! we read in the bible that the evangelists thought that jesus died! where is the contradiction, or denial?

    the point here is that none of the claimed ‘eyewitness’ evangelists were never really eyewitnesses at all, and neither will that be proven. this is not just according to the muslims (though muslims have been insisting about it even before the advent of modern biblical criticism), but according to christian scholars themselves. now, regarding islamic sources, whatever objections you may or revisionists may have, the fact is that islam developed a method to verify the authenticity of sources early in its history. quite unlike judaism and christianity.

    so, if 1 jew says that the prophet moses ordered the massacre of populations, the murder of babies, and the rape of virgin women, i would believe that jew, as long as he has the evidence to back it up. i would believe even just 1 christian that jesus taught that he was God or Son of God, if he could produce an unbroken chain of transmission through reliable eyewitnesses that jesus said something to that effect. but no, they can’t. however, much of the practices and rites of islam could be traced back to the prophet through mass-transmitted (mutawatir) reports. in the final analysis, even from a hostile perspective, muslims are on much firmer ground regarding their religion than christians and jews are.

  24. excellent article. i have read this article somewhere before, cant remember where

    this article is the first im seeing on bismika Allahuma that does not have a single source citation!

  25. HeiGou,

    How not nice to see you here. Had enough of spreading your hate elsewhere? not able to actually deal with any of the substantive points in the article?

    This is that the same bigot, who suggested on the Guardian ‘Comment is Free’ forums:

    (pardon his language) “…a new policy of f****ing muslims over”

    so much for settling disputes in “a civilised manner”!

    Him and his ilk have let hate of others consume their entire being, in order to divert rather than confront their own inherent malfeasance.

    As Khaled put so well.. “What can one say to those who project their ugliness unto existence..”

    Nafees

  26. Khaled Abou El-Fadl:”No, revisionism is not a toothache; it is an insolent attempt to deny a people their very identity, it is the ugliness of Colonialism, and the imbalance of fear and insecurity. Revisionism is the heartache of simple bigotry.”

    Of course the irony is that Islam is revisionism too. It too is an attempt to deny Jews and Christians their identity. It is an attempt to deny that Moses was a Jew, Jesus a Christian, and claim those peoples’ history as Muslim history. It is a vaster and more offensive appropriation of other peoples’ history than the Revisionists. And even more ironic is the accusation that Revisionists claim Muslim always lie, because that is what Muslims claim about Jews and Christians. If 100 Christians and/or Jews say one thing and 1 Muslim says another, it is the Muslim that is right of course. Take, for instance, the Crucifixtion. I suggest we all stop using words like “insolent” and agree to settle academic disputes in a civilised manner – through debate without insults and threats. But the bigots who are fearful and insecure are unlikely to agree are they?

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