“It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”
-  William K. Gifford

“Let there be not compulsion in religion; truth stands out clearly from error.” [Qur'an 2:256]

Most Christian parents of college-age students with whom I have been personally acquainted express great fear that their son or daughter will “lose faith” in college. This fear even ranks above that of many of the more obvious temptations of college life, such as drug use, alcohol use, or promiscuity. Concern about the appeal of atheism and agnosticism in secular American universities is widespread in East Texas, where I was born and which I still call home. The airwaves (of Christian radio stations) frequently feature stories about formerly-devout Christian teens going off to major universities and having their faith “debunked” by Ivory Tower academics intent on luring young adults away from their roots.

My family is typically East-Texan in most ways. Having become known as “the smart one in the family” (I say this in all humility), I was seen off to college with both great anticipation and great anxiety. As I progressed through college, I was closely scrutinized and frequently admonished to keep on the lookout for rogue professors, lest I fall into their trap and “become too smart to believe.”

In college, I began to question and re-examine my religious-cultural background. Where did I stand as an individual? What kind of person would I choose to be? Would I follow that which I had always been taught, settle close to home and live the same life I had always lived? Would I become an atheist or an agnostic like my family feared I would? But why does being a rational, scientific, intellectually honest person mean I have to be an atheist or an agnostic? Who can use science to “debunk” God? “I want to be smart” I said to myself, “and I also want to believe. So how is it that one can be too smart to believe?”

The answer, I found, ten thousand questions and answers later, was: you cannot. This January, I embraced Islam, a decision that was informed in equal measure by my mind and my personal religious sensibilities. It was the culmination of a great emotional and intellectual battle to secure not just my faith in God but also my integrity as a thinking person, beleaguered as I was by the false fear that true faith may come only at the expense of intellect.

At Rhodes, the inimitably Southern Liberal Arts College which has become my second home, I had the opportunity to meet Shaykh Yasir Qadhi, who took up a position there in the Religious Studies Department in the fall of 2010. In the spring he offered a course that focused on modern Islamic political movements in which I was eager to enroll. Although the course did not cover general Islamic knowledge, such as history and theology, from the course I learned one of the most important lessons I have acquired in a classroom: the great need for Muslims to speak convincingly to non-Muslim westerners who can only see the worst of the Islamic world. “Ninety percent,” Sh. Qadhi said once in class, “of the facts you learn in classrooms you will forget. What will be important is that you learned how to think.” Any informed Muslim in America knows to stay away from mainstream network news sources such as Fox or CNN, which, prioritizing ratings and revenue over the truth, often pander to their audiences with half-factual stories reported in a loud and emotionally appealing style. But how do you talk to someone whose facts all come from sources that present an insipid and uncritical view of the Muslim world? Who has been taught all their life that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a mysterious, complicated struggle as old and time, to which no one remembers the cause – perhaps something vague about an “incompatibility of values” – and to which there never has been a solution? Who views the world in terms of an ultimate “clash of civilizations,” with Christianity on one side of the line and Islam on the other?

I agree strongly with Sh. Qadhi's statement, quoted in a recent New York Times article, that, as an American Muslim, “you feel your faith.” As a religious minority, you are forced to make choices that Muslims don't frequently have to make in Muslim-majority countries. You are forced to choose on a daily basis what are to be your priorities. In post-9/11 America, you must be more informed, poised, and persuasive on key issues than the majority – you must know all of their sources better than they do as well as all of your own. Your identity is a struggle for you; a struggle that channels your strengths, keeps you diligent and prevents you from hypocrisy.

A few weeks ago, Sh. Qadhi asked me over lunch what made me decide to come to Islam. After all, bowing one's head to the ground, fasting, and studying Arabic are all activities that the majority of Americans do not engage in on a regular basis. From the perspective of the mainstream, European and American mentality, many of the practices of our religion seem “foreign,” indelibly “Eastern.” My tongue was held by the immediacy of Sh. Qadhi's question and by the force and number of possible replies that raced through my mind; in this deadlock I produce only a few half-considered thoughts. But had I had more time to think about my answer, I would have replied as follows.

Islam became normal for me because it is normal. It is a religion of honesty, human dignity, and good old common sense.  Its doctrines are easily intelligible, correspond with the universal inclinations of human thought, and can be expressed through clear, unequivocal use of human language. Islam requires no suppression of the intellect nor blinding of the senses to believe in; there is no conflict between reason and faith in Islam. Islam is not a foreign culture – it is equally at home in Yemen as in Yakutsk. Islam is a system adaptable to all times and places; the timeless and inextinguishable precepts which form its message, delivered countless times across the span of time have stirred the hearts of the greatest men to perform the most significant actions in history. “World history,” I told Sh. Qadhi, “did not make sense to me until I began to understand Islam.”

But how did I come to see all of this? Perhaps I should attribute it to the quality of my sources. It is not hard to accept the truth of Islam – what is hard is abandoning all the problems you had before Islam.

Islam stands on its own merits. Chief among these is its simplicity. All of the precepts of our religion extend from one premise: the premise that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), to the extent that we are capable of understanding Him, exists. From the fact that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), the Ever-Merciful, is, it proceeds that He would furnish some means whereby those of His creations which are endowed with free will, human beings, might be brought into the fold of that mercy through which they would be instructed in the correct way to believe and the correct way to live. Thus proceeding from His mercy, Allah sent prophets to mankind to warn them. It is natural that such a God would also furnish signs through his creation so that man would come to have understanding of these truths by observing and investigating the world around him. If one accepts belief in the One, All-Powerful and Ever Merciful God, this entails belief in His revelations. If one believes in His revelations, it is natural that one should choose to follow that which they teach – i.e., to be a Muslim, one who submits to the will of God.

Belief in this All-Powerful, All-Merciful God has always been absolutely central to my identity; it was only just before I came to college, at the age of 18 years, that I began to seriously question whether or not Christianity was the true religion of God. “Now I re-examine philosophies and religions, They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds and along the landscape and flowing currents,” writes American poet Walt Whitman. Naturally, any educated person professing Christianity has to come to terms with the Pauline doctrine that the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Sublime author of all that exists, was also a human being who lived on this earth, ate, slept, and prayed to God. The more I studied the Bible, the more I came to see that this doctrine was only indifferently supported by scripture and sometimes contradicted by it outright. In the Gospel of Mark 12:28-32, one of the Jewish scribes asks Jesus which is the most important of all the commandments:

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but He:

And to love Him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question. (KJV)

The first commandment mentioned by Jesus in the above passage is taken from Deuteronomy 6:4:

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD our god, the LORD is one.”

The word for “one” in the Hebrew scriptures is cognate with the Arabic word for the number one as in the  first ayah of Surat'l-Ikhlas (112:1):

“Say: He is Allah, the One!” (Pickthal)

Any Christian would nominally agree with the first half of our shahadah that “there is no god but God.” Yet the Hebrew Scriptures, like our own Qur'an, take this oneness a step further to affirm the essential unity of our Creator. God is the One, and the only entity worthy of worship. How, then, can He be three?

Early Christian communities which had accepted the doctrine of the trinity struggled to reconcile the obvious difficulties in their theology, which necessitated that three be somehow equivalent to one. The only solution was to split the definition of God into two parts: “person” or “substantive reality” (Gk. hypostasis) on the one hand; “essence” or “being” (Gk. ousia) on the other. Without diving into a too-detailed discussion of Greek philosophical terminology, suffice the following example to clarify the meaning of both terms. Among a group of boxes of different sizes and colors, each would be identified by what makes it distinct from the other objects in the group – its color and size. These characteristics would make up the unique hypostasis of each box. Its ousia would consist of its box-ness, a nature which all three objects share in. In the trinitarian formulation, it is a “divine nature” that binds its tripartite conception of God. Succinct yet no less convoluted, the formula of “three persons, one being” became the cornerstone of the theology of Christian Orthodoxy. Yet no matter how you divide it, trinitarianism mirrors polytheism in all but terminology; when they say one, they still mean three. Around the world, you will find Christians who pray sometimes to Jesus, sometimes to “God the Father,” and sometimes to the Holy Spirit, often for equivalent purposes and with little alternation in liturgy.

Early Christianity, before the ascendance of Orthodoxy, was not, however, without difference of opinion. A controversial passage in the Gospel of Luke demonstrates the diversity of opinions one might have encountered had one lived in the eastern Roman provinces during the early years of Christianity. In chapter 2 verse 33, the oldest and most authoritative Greek manuscripts read “And his father and mother were amazed at the things said about him (Jesus)” (Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, W 032, and others in Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Coptic; my translation). At some time during the history of copying and recopying which the biblical text has experienced, this particular verse was subject to “harmonization,” in this case referring to alteration of the text by a scribe with the goal of making the text better conform to the prevailing theology of the day. An unscrupulous Orthodox scribe who took issue with the fact that Joseph is referred to as the “father” of Jesus changed the text to suit the view of Jesus as God's literally begotten son. This change was widely accepted and perpetuated so that the few manuscripts which the Anglican church used to make its Authorized Version in 1611, undoubtedly the most influential translation of the Bible ever written, give the less controversial yet altered reading “And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.” This is just one example among many of how the text of the New Testament has undergone considerable change at the hands of those trying to advance a particular theological angle. “There are more errors in the 6000 transcripts of the New Testament as there are words in the New Testament,” as biblical scholar Bart Ehrman said in a talk at Stanford University summarizing the points in his book titled “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why.”

The notion of disagreement within a religious text is itself problematic. How can something written by the hands of hundreds (including the scribes who intentionally or unintentionally added to or subtracted from the text, thousands) of different human beings living in different times and places be the word of God? The reason why the Bible disagrees with itself on so many fundamental points is that human beings disagree, because we have imperfect knowledge.

Islam has its healthy share of disagreements among different scholars and thinkers, but that, again, is due to the imperfect knowledge of human beings. On the other hand, the source material we have, the Qur'an, is perfect and without disagreement or variation, nor has it ever changed. There are thousands of different  manuscripts of the Hebrew bible, whether complete or partial, and they all have variant readings. The Septuagint, the early Greek translation of the HB, often disagrees considerably with the Hebrew Masoretic text that comes down to us, indicating that it is itself part of an entirely different textual tradition (with its own numerous internal variations) – and so on and so forth with the Coptic, Syriac, and Latin traditions. To really understand all that the “Bible” is, in an inclusive sense with its many traditions and variations, one must be fluent in at least six languages! The Qur'an, on the other hand, is only one text in one language – and its dual preservation as a text both oral and written is a check against any who would unscrupulously try to add to it or subtract from it.

The more I studied the Bible, the more it came to represent something foreign, in some cases well nigh unapproachable. There's so much language and cultural baggage in the Bible that is lost on even the most well-trained scholars. The text, despite its wide readership, cannot even be approached by the layperson without a massive explanatory apparatus attached to the text (thus these days there are Bibles aimed at particular demographics – there's a Catholic Bible, an Episcopalian Bible, a Baptist Bible, a Bible for women, a Bible for children, Bibles for conservatives, for liberals, etc.)  Some books and chapters (all of the books in the “deuteronomic history” are plagued with this) seem to exalt systems of values and ethics that would be abhorrent to any conscious, humane moderner: For example, the biblical commandment that the Israelites should kill all the men, women, children,  and beasts of the field – everything “that breathes” – and possess the land of Canaan (Deuteronomy 20:16). Even if such passages were amenable to allegorical interpretation, what exactly would they say?

The Qur'an's teachings are humane, consistent, and of singular, divine authorship. Its language is unrivaled by any other work in Arabic or any other language. The greatest truths in our universe are evident to anyone who stops and thinks; the beauty around us is but a reflection of the beauty of the Creator.

I am not a believer in the notion that the truth is esoteric, that it must be sought out through secret or obscure means, nor that it is the reserve of a select few. As I was questioning my beliefs while studying religions other than Christianity, I was guided by the awareness that the truth must be clear and easily accessible. It is a sign of the true God's Mercy that He sends proofs that are clear. If mankind at large is truly to be held accountable for recognizing and following truth and leaving behind error, the truth must be right in front of our faces. And so it was. For better or worse, never before have people in the West been more preoccupied with the “Islamic question.” And the religion yet remains so poorly understood by the masses. If the religious conservatives in our own country were not so misdirected by prejudiced politics, they too would see how close Islam is to their own feelings of antipathy in this time and place which seems so immersed in the myths of secularism and so distant from the eternal principles which all of God's prophets have established on earth in their times and places.

82 Responses

  1. raju kumar

    First learn to respect non-muslims and tell about your faith.

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    • Andrew Howie

      @raju kumar

      I intended this as a sober, accurate description of the opinions that inspired me to accept Islam. There is no disrespect in simply, honestly disagreeing with particular thinkers (i.e., Paul) or ideas (trinitarianism) and explaining the reasons for my disagreement. I have complete respect for anyone who has sincere faith in God. But I also believe that cordial, open discussion and debate is essential for increased understanding between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. There’s no reason to cover up the fact that we disagree on essential matters. I am completely open to hearing rebuttals or objections, in a spirit of cordiality, from any Christians who visit this site.

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      • Abdul-Basit

        Well said, and beautiful story, Salamalekum.

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  2. Khadeeejah

    Powerful article, really thought provoking… Jazak Allahu Khairan (x3) to the author. May Allah continue to increase u and us in knowledge, May Allah reward you.

    Ma Salam
    Khadijah (Nigeria)

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    • muslima

      May Allah continue to guide you. It is interesting how much thought you gave this.
      I came to Islam 23 years ago, I fought the decision for 5 years, the worst five years of my life.
      When I finally could no longer deny Islam was what my soul was calling me to, I converted without ever fully reading the quran or any ahadeeth. Alhamdulilah, it worked out for me!

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  3. Aslam

    Mashallah, very well written. Allah always guide whom he will to the right direction.

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  4. Muhammad

    Welcome bro, very nicely articulated, May Allah use you for the revival of the religion

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  5. Khader Ali Khan

    As’ Salam Alaikum,

    Welcome to the religion of Islam. May Allah reward you and enlighten many people through you to this great religion. Please make dua for me.

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    • Umar

      What was the family reaction? You didn’t stop believing in God, which is what they feared, so were they still cool with it?

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  6. Grandparent

    Jazaka Allahu khair. Excellent article and useful information.

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  7. Muhammad 'abd al-Haqq

    As-salamu alaykum,

    All I can say is maa sha’ Allah! Welcome to Islam my brother. I would like to share with you my own reversion story one day. I too came from a Christian family, a highly religious one at that, with a father as an ordained minister!

    abuhanifah34@gmail.com

    May Allah Guide us both to the Success ya akhi. Ameen

    Barak Allahu Feek
    Wasalam

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  8. 'Mohammed Asif'

    Jazak Allahu Khair brother, i shared this. such a a simple yet profound article into the issues of America and the relevant ones at that.

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  9. Motie Omari

    Asalamu alaikum

    Dear Andrew

    Masha’Allah, beautifully written, thank you for sharing and continue the good work

    Also; regarding the tragic confusion the trinity has caused so many around the world; the latest issue of Newsweek as we commemorate America’s Independence; even outlined that the author of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson also rejected the trinity.


    http://www.newsweek.com/2011/06/26/the-founding-fathers-were-flawed.html

    The Founding Fathers, Unzipped
    The Constitution’s framers were flawed like today’s politicians, so it’s high time we stop embalming them in infallibility.

    Excerpt-

    He may have written the Declaration of Independence, but were he around today Thomas Jefferson wouldn’t have a prayer of winning the Republican nomination, much less the presidency.

    It wouldn’t be his liaison with the teenage daughter of one of his slaves nor the love children she bore him that would be the stumbling block.

    Nor would it be Jefferson’s suspicious possession of an English translation of the Quran that might doom him to fail the Newt Gingrich loyalty test.

    No, it would be the Jesus problem that would do him in. For Thomas Jefferson denied that Jesus was the son of God. Worse, he refused to believe that Jesus ever made any claim that he was. While he was at it, Jefferson also rejected as self-evidently absurd the Trinity……..

    We pray insha’Allah more and more people will be attracted to Islam and to read The Holy Qur’an to discover the guiding, healing, and mercy for all.

    Thank you and Jazaka Allahu khairan.

    Peace – سلام

    مطيع العمري
    Motie Omari

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    • Andrew Howie

      Thank you for your comments! Jefferson was an intellectual giant of his day, and, like most of the great men in his generation, he received a liberal education that included not only language, literature, history, and science, but also religion. Indeed, Jefferson was influenced by what he saw in the New Testament of “principles of a pure deism” taught by the Hebrew scriptures and by Jesus Christ ‘aleihi assalaam, “”omitting the question of his deity.” He even created an edited version of the bible that omitted assertions of Jesus’ divinity, which he saw as interpolations and misinterpretations:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible

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      • Motie Omari

        Salam

        Thank you Andrew, again great share; also; some additional reminders -



        The founding fathers and Islam

        The debate over a Muslim in Congress may seem new to you, but over two centuries ago, the Founding Fathers considered the possibility. Guess which side they took.

        Adorned with his initials, Jefferson’s Qur’an – an 1764 English translation from Arabic by George Sale – was purchased and used during his comparative legal studies, and was sold to the Library of Congress after the War of 1812.

        http://www.isna.net/articles/News/Celebrating-July-4th-with-Rick-Warren-and-45000-Muslims.aspx

        Imam Magid praised one scene in the film in particular where we visit a statue of Thomas Jefferson at the University of Virginia containing a tablet which reads

        “Religious Freedom, 1786 – God, Jehovah, Brahma, Atma, Ra, Allah.”

        Daniel Tutt
        Daniel Tutt

        PhD Student in Philosophy and Outreach Director, Unity Productions Foundation
        GET UPDATES FROM Daniel Tutt
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        48
        Neuroscience and the Changing Media Stereotypes of Muslims
        Posted: 07/ 4/11 09:52 PM ET

        A shift in media portrayals to showing Muslims as emotionally complex, nuanced and humanizing can itself be a catalyst not only for reducing stereotypes about Muslims, but also for improving American citizen diplomacy with Muslims internationally and domestically.

        Thanks,

        Peace – سلام

        مطيع العمري
        Motie Omari

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      • Andrew Howie

        Jazak Allah, Motie. Again, great points.

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      • Motie Omari

        Ameen, wa iyyakum Br. Andrew

        Also; this link wasn’t attached that had the quote –

        http://www.altmuslim.com/a/a/a/the_founding_fathers_and_islam/

        The founding fathers and Islam

        The debate over a Muslim in Congress may seem new to you, but over two centuries ago, the Founding Fathers considered the possibility. Guess which side they took.

        Hence; it wasn’t directed towards you or anyone, forgive me if came across that way.

        Anways; again, I learned a lot from your post and replies; truly humbling.

        May you Br. Andrew and all the respectable staff of Muslim Matters have a blessed Ramadan insha’Allah.

        Peace – سلام

        مطيع العمري
        Motie Omari

        P.S. Insha’Allah; looking forward to future articles. Also; maybe an article about how we can all after Ramadan implement useful steps to sharing and inviting others to Islam.

        Thank you.

        P.S.S. The link insert function may need to be fixed; as when one tries to post links it doesn’t appear.

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  10. Anisa - South Africa

    As salaam wa alaikum,

    A beautiful read.
    Welcome to islam. May Allah guide you to inspire others to see the beauty and simplicity that is Islam.

    You make me, a born muslim feel almost ashamed that you appreciate this truth so much and I feel like I take it for granted.

    Sawaab multiplied by 100 for making me reaffirm my deen.

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  11. ummmanar

    asslamualikum brather andrew well came to islam,may allah guid us all.May allah increase your iman and your steadfast in this beautiful jurney,Please make dua for our umma.

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  12. Melayu Perak

    thanks for the exposition my dear brother….

    a solid and clear view of your divine faith…..

    your experience in finding the truth is astounding….

    may other brothers can share their vision of the light in the tunnel…

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  13. Tom B

    Mr. Andrew Howie:

    This may not be the response you expected.

    The approach here is to defend the Christian position.

    Most noteworthy is your article begins with a quote wherein ‘evidence’ is emphasized in terms of the need for a sufficiency of evidence “to believe anything.”
    “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”
    - William K. Gifford
    The article suggests by your own admission you are a “rational, scientific, intellectually honest person…” You desire to be smart and to believe, acknowledging “‘you cannot’ be too smart to believe.”

    You converted over lunch. Your concern in selecting the religion of final choice (Islam) was “the false fear that true faith may come only at the expense of intellect.” You sought to maintain your “integrity as a thinking person.” You apparently do not watch Fox or CNN as their stories, as you claims, are “half-factual”, clearly suggesting they do not fully vet their reports (Fox or CNN must deal with that concern.) You also states that as to knowledge and preparation those of a ‘minority’ “must be more informed, poised, and persuasive on key issues…” The ‘majority’ can dispatch with such basic principals as having the facts. This may be a generic ‘minority’ viewpoint, with which I must state now I do not agree. You suggest such efforts by the ‘minority’ makes them less of a hypocrite.

    As one that Mr. Howie, you, may now label in the ‘majority’ camp, I have been prescreened as a ‘hypocrite – which I pray is not the case.

    For Andrew Howie Islam is ‘normal.’ Defining ‘normal’ can be an interesting exercise in itself, but for the moment we can use your points of emphasis. Islam is a religion
    • Of Honesty
    • Of Human dignity
    • Having Good old common sense
    • Whose Doctrines are easily intelligible
    • Whose Doctrines correspond with the universal inclinations of human thought
    Whose Doctrines can be expressed through clear, unequivocal use of human language. (I will return to his use of the term ‘unequivocal’ later. )
    • Having no suppression of the intellect
    • Having no blinding of the senses required to believe
    • Having no conflict between reason and faith.
    • That is not a foreign culture – same everywhere.
    • That is adaptable to all times and places
    • Is timeless.
    • It stands on its own merits
    o Simplicity
    o One god – Allah
    o Submission to the Will of Allah

    All of the above can be debated, or discussed, but I will leave that for a later dialog.

    Convincing to you was the Quranic claim that Jesus was not divine, but a human being. You overlooked the virgin birth wherein the essence of the human was cleansed by God (Allah too in Sura 3:42, ‘purifying Mary’, and Sura 3:45, ‘Allah gives thee good news…the Messiah’) How could the son of Allah not be divine? (‘Allah creates what He pleases.’ Sura 3:47) The Quran does deny Jesus divine nature, but the facts do not support this denial/deception.

    Focusing on the Biblical ‘Shema’ from the Old Testament, Andrew you indulge us with ‘Hear,O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord’, with emphasis on ‘one.’ The most important commandment from Jesus was to love God first and foremost and then love neighbor. Much common sense is inherent in the potential for a peaceful world by loving our neighbors, yet the Quran says little about this concept. So the debate then falls upon the ‘Oneness’ of God, the Trinity as the Christians call Him. Addressing the Quranic polytheistic view as to the Trinity, the question asked is ‘How can there be 3, when there is but One?’ Admittedly this is an intellectually troubling concept for Muslims. However, consider this, they have 99 attributes for Allah, not fully delineated and often debated as to what are the 99, but they are presented. Ever-Merciful, All-Powerful, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Merciful, Forgiving, Compassionate, Maker, Fashioner, Sustainer, and so on, are but a few.

    Christians have but 3, yes, all attributes of the One God, not as thirds, not distinct, but overlapping and in union. The essence is the same, the attributes are as Planner (the Father), Implementer (Jesus), and Sustainer (Holy Spirit). Quoting Tim Keller, his book, King’s Cross, “Trinitarian holds that there is one God in three persons who know and love one another. God is not more fundamentally one than he is three, and he is not more fundamentally three than he is one.” (Pg. 6)

    So the shahadah says but Allah, one god – with many attributes. The Christian has but One God, with limits to three functioning attributes, as the utmost essence of God – embodied in the post-Biblical term – Trinity.

    You return to the divinity of Christ, a reading of Luke 2:33, wherein is made a reference to Joseph and Mary as Father and Mother. It is made clear in Luke that Mary conceived of Jesus while still a virgin. In Luke 2:26 reference is made to the baby as the ‘Lord’s Messiah.’ Gabriel foretold of the birth of Jesus in Luke 1:28-32 to be called the ‘Son of the Most High.’ Now if you then were married to Mary and pledged to keep her and protect her and her children, you would also become the father, adopting the child, of Jesus. Mary was pregnant before Joseph and she were wed, a no-no at that time, indeed.

    I am not a fan of Bart Erhman, he is scholarly; You use Erhman’s writings to question the accuracy of the Bible noting historical errors in transcription. A source (Answering-Islam: http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/thompson/bart_ehrman_hero.html) notes, “Bart Ehrman rejects Islam’s position that Jesus wasn’t crucified and he has openly stated that he believes Jesus was crucified according to the available data.” They go on to state, “In conclusion, we learn that Ehrman grants many things that Islam emphatically denies which should make people wonder why they hold this man in such a high view. We learn that Ehrman accepts four important historical facts that Islam rejects about Jesus and early Christianity. Ehrman grants Jesus’ death on the cross, the reliability of Paul as an apostle and acquaintance of the disciples, Jesus’ burial, that Jesus’ followers had experiences in which they believe Jesus appeared to them, and that the Gospel of John teaches the deity of Christ.” Thus with respect to critical elements for the followers of Christ – he lived, he died on the cross (not a fake), and witnesses saw the Lord Risen. Erhman is supportive of Christ.

    On the subject of the Bible may I say that claiming it was written by God, even dictated by God or an angel has never occurred. What is said is the words written are ‘inspired’ by God. As witnesses to an accident of sorts, when interviewed, each story or description of events would not be word-for-word the same. There would be variations but with the same conclusion. The human element in the written Word is part of its allure, its credibility, its honesty and its attractiveness. Even if a non-Christian were to adhere to the practices for living outlined in the Bible, he/she would be a good neighbor, and reflect on the laws created for the ‘common good’ of all people. It reflects God’s unconditional love and desire for peace among all men.

    The Bible covers a significant span of time – it is historically significant and is supported with architectural evidence and much more. There were many authors, but the focus of the Word is consistent. There is controversy. There is also uniformity in the story told. The focus is reality, not fantasy. It leaves much for discussion and understanding. Each reading brings to life God, his intentions, expectations and the opportunities for all humans. From the events of the Old Testament to the changes in the New, the new covenant for mankind, all inclusive, the New Testament brought to reality God’s promise through a personal visit making everyone his chosen, saved by his Grace. Good news is reported. It is not by works or deeds – by your good actions outweighing your bad actions; it is by Grace we are saved. And as thanks for this gift of eternal life we accept the Lord, we volunteer, having a heart for God, to do what is right, kind, gracious, forgiving, repentant and loving.

    Muhammad and the Quran covers a period of less than 20 or 30 years, not even his lifetime, and is founded upon the recollection of dreams suggesting 1.) perfect recall of the dream/revelation, 2.) repeated word-for-word recitation of the same dream for many years, and by different human beings, and 3.) the dreams were finally recorded after Muhammad’s death, when he was not available to confirm the accuracy of what his Companions, those still living, decided to put to paper from their own abilities at recall.

    I respect the Muslim for accepting Muhammad’s dreams, but for me there are doubts as I know personally, and having spoken with many, many others about their dreams, how difficult it is to recall any dream, let alone do so completely. It is even more difficult to retell the dream over and over without embellishment. Then add to that the expectation that best friends will write-down my dream after I die, even claiming my words were the words of the divine, adds to my skepticism.

    Mr. Howie, you claim “the Qur’an is perfect and without disagreement or variation.” He says it has never been changed. And that it “is only one text in one language.”

    There was more than one copy of the Quran transcribed, in fact it is my understanding there were several, and they differed. But it was decided, as a council of remaining Companions (I would imagine, and not in full accord) as to one text. The others were destroyed. Thus the “only one text.” And as to only “one language”, it is my understanding as well the language of Arabic used is difficult for most Muslims to understand. Thus interpretation is needed. Then there is the issue of ‘Abrogation” where what was written earliest if stated at variance later in the Quran was Abrogated, or considered null and void, no longer the truth. That is change, variation, and today for some confusion as to what came first, as the Suras are not in chronological order. One last point – the Quran is Allah’s word, yet there are Suras in part which are distinctly human, more Muhammad than godlike in context.

    Al-Ghazali is one scholar in Islam considered by many second in importance to Muhammad. He does not care for Philosophy or Science, relying, as he states all Muslims must do, on the Revelations, the Will of Allah. Reason is to be set-aside. The mind of man can only accept Allah without any doubts. Doubt and you are an apostate, or a Muslim in name only.

    You intellect at work you suggest the Quran’s teachings are:
    • Humane
    • Consistent
    • Of a singular, divine authorship.
    • Its language is unrivaled by any other work in Arabic.

    I agree with you in your conclusion that “the truth must be clear and easily accessible.” But God having given me the intellect, the mind and the ability to consider all facts, I cannot in all good conscience rely on the Will of Allah without proactive participation. I bathe in the light of God’s Revelation and take seriously his charge for man to ‘subdue’ the earth, to be responsible for mankind, the animals, the plants and the all of earth. His Will will be revealed in discoveries as he will allow that which is necessary to be revealed as needed. God likes scientists. With the effort to discover, and the understanding of cause and effect, his Will can be knowable, and thus God can be knowable. What God wants is a relationship with Him. The Trinity loves unconditionally, seeking our love in return, and wants us to volunteer, our free-will engaged, to love him also. Allah demands obedience and your love.

    Another Tim Keller statement (King’s Cross), “The essence of other religions is advice; Christianity is essentially news.” (Pg. 15). The news is noted in the Bible: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” – (2 Corinthians 5:21)

    Islam is misunderstood by the masses, so you claim. I write a Blog under http://www.tombalderswton.wordpress.com with an emphasis on Understanding Islam (over 100 postings – check it out and feel free to comment). In so doing I have begun to understand, and what I understand does not make Islam humane, consistent, honest or containing ‘good old common sense.’ It is demeaning towards women, denies education, emphasizes authority over common courtesy, and does not protect the common good, only the good of Muslims. As to ‘unequivocal’ when applied to human language, most simply do not understand the Quran as written in its original language. There is doubt, as why are so many who interpret the Quran at variance – the Sunni, the Shia, the Ash’erites, the Mu’tazilites, etc.

    And as to evidence, Andrew, you opened with, “It is wrong…for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” There are libraries filled with evidence that supports the Bible. From archeological finds, to witnesses, to documentation, to historic places, to persons of the Bible (and the Quran), there is abundant evidence, to include evidence for the divinity of Jesus and his Resurrection. Christians have allowed the Bible to be questioned, attacked, have even allowed themselves to be persecuted in defense of their faith. There is no fear that a proper exploration of the Bible, its truths and its support evidence will uphold all the claims God has made therein, the words inspired by God. However there is fear in the Islamic umma that a similar performance of study on the Quran, allowing Muslims to explore and even convert if they otherwise believe, is detrimental to the authority and control now imposed on Muslims using Allah as a scare tactic.

    How could the Best of Deceivers (Sura 3:54) have not deceived many, including Muslims. If the Quran is Allah’s word, as the Deceiver that he is, who is being deceived?

    To all Muslims who are accepting of other faiths, deplore terrorist acts, seek neighbors who are loving and kind, and desire a government that provides for the good of all citizens, not just the Muslims, may they find the voice to speak openly. May they tell others that Allah does not want Muslims attacking Christians or Jews, that Allah does not believe in sex-slaves, that Allah considers men and women as equals, that Allah would allow a Church next door, that Allah would allow others to express their faiths and their opinions, even proselytize, and that Allah would allow religious differences to exist side-by-side, in peaceful coexistence, in turn making the world safe and secure, and a paradise for all.

    Mr. Howie, may I recommend further research and a critical study of the ‘evidence.’

    Grace and Peace,

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    Reply
    • Perseveranze

      “It is demeaning towards women, denies education, emphasizes authority over common courtesy, and does not protect the common good, only the good of Muslims. As to ‘unequivocal’ when applied to human language, most simply do not understand the Quran as written in its original language.”

      This is probably why no one’s answered you. When you speak about something you have little knowledge of, people will ignore you. Do your research, find out from the Academic and Muslim point of view on things rather then what your Church leaders may may have preached to you. Even Orientilists Scholars (who aren’t even Muslim, yet are very informed and studied on the subject) would very much disagree with you.

      For example:

      Pierre Crabites said:

      Muhammad was probably the greatest champion of women’s rights the world has ever seen. Islam conferred upon the Muslim wife property rights and juridical status exactly the same as that of her husband. She is free to dispose of and manage her financial assets as she pleases, without let or hindrance from her husband.

      Dr. Mawde Royden said:

      Mohammad introduced the concept of such Glorious and Omnipotent God in Whose eyes all worldly systems are pieces of straw. Islamic equality of mankind is no fiction as it is in Christianity. No human mind has ever thought of such total freedom as established by Mohammad.

      Atleast get some proper arguements and you being a Christian, not sound so hypcritical either.

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      Reply
      • Tom B

        Do you think polygamy is fair to women, even though condoned in the Quran. Do you live 100% by the Will of Allah?

        Do you understand the original Arabic in which the Quran was written. As to ‘unequivocable’ read the ensuing comments and the many interpretations of the same Suras. Is that ‘unequivocable’?

        As to the ‘common good’, why are Christians persecuted in Muslim dominated countries, like today Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, and so on. Are they not of equal character and derserve similar rights as a human being?

        For woman do property rights make up for needing two women as a witness for each male? What happens in the case of rape, one woman, one man, does the woman have a voice?

        Where is the fiction of equality to which you refer in Christian understanding.

        Trying to learn, having read the Quran now a few times. Most Muslims never read the Bible. I pray you have had the opportunity.

        Tom B.

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      • Nasser

        I can see that you have a hard time in distinguishing between ‘muslim’ and ‘Islam’, or between ‘christian’ and ‘Christianity’. You look at what some followers of a religion do rather than what the religion teaches. Lets compare what both religions say about women.

        Polygamy:
        Christianity: “He (Solomon) had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines…” (1 Kings 11:3)
        “If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the first-born son be hers that was hated: then it shall be, when he maketh…” (Deuteronomy 21:15)
        “if he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall her not diminish.” (Exodus 21:10)
        Islam: “If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one… to prevent you from doing injustice.” (Quran 4:3)

        Right to Inheritance:
        Christianity: Say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and leaves no son, turn his inheritance over to his daughter…’” (Numbers 27:8)
        Islam: “From what is left by parents and those nearest related there is a share for men and a share for women, whether the property be small or large, -a determinate share.” (Quran 4:7)

        Dressing Modesty / Head Covering:
        Christianity: “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head…If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head” (1 Corrinthians 11:3-6)
        Islam: “…they (believing women) should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women…or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex…” (Quran 24:31)

        Female Gender vs. Male Gender:
        Christianity: “…if a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days…but if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks…” (Leviticus 12:2-5)
        Islam: “To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female children to whomever He wills and bestows male children to whomever He wills.” (Quran 42:49)

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      • Nasser

        I also want to add one of the most disturbing laws in the bible about rape.

        Deuteronomy 22:28–29
        28 “If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out,
        29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days.

        So, basically the bible says if a woman is raped, the father gets the money and she must marry her rapist and can never get a divorce! So the victim is punished. The father and the rapist are basically rewarded.

        These are obviously man’s words placed in the bible, not God’s.

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      • Andrew Howie

        Dear Tom B,

        I saw that you commented on a few points made by the user “Perseveranze,” and I thought I would respond to your comments myself. Perhaps in the future he or she will add some additional comments of her own.

        There are, and probably always will be, a disproportionate number of women in the world as compared to men. In addition, women live longer than men, so there will always be more widows than there are widowers. This is the reason why the Qur’an did not prohibit polygamy outright, because during some times and in some places, it is an absolute necessity in order to ensure that all women in a society are able to get married and are not neglected.

        The Qur’an does, however, severely limit the practice of polygamy. Whereas the Bible allows for a man to have any number of wives and concubines (for example, the biblical Solomon has a thousand), and whereas the pre-Islamic Arabs practiced polygamy (and marriage practices in general) to an immoderate degree that was unfair and not equitable to women, the Qur’an says the following:

        “If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.” (4:3)

        (noticed how polygamy is only prescribed here as a way to assist in the care of orphans)

        and the following:

        “Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women, even if it is your ardent desire: But turn not away (from a woman) altogether, so as to leave her (as it were) hanging (in the air). If ye come to a friendly understanding, and practise self-restraint, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” (4:129)

        Here it is stated that a man will have difficulty being completely just to only one woman. How much more difficult would it be, then, to be just to two, three, or four (the maximum number of wives allowed in Islam)? This has led some scholars to declare that polygamy is actually a highly discouraged act, to be undertaken only as a matter of necessity. Here you see that, as always, the Qur’an’s injunctions are humane and consistent with a rational response to human nature and necessity.

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      • Andrew Howie

        @Tom B (continued)…

        Do we Muslims understand the original Arabic of the Qur’an? About 20 percent of the world’s Muslims are native Arabic speakers, and many of the rest learn at least some amount of Arabic through classes at mosques, attending lectures, or private study. Islamic institutions really strive to keep in touch with the original language of the text of the Qur’an, which we consider to be inimitable and untranslatable. So Muslims who attend the mosque, regardless of what their local language is, will receive a core vocabulary of Arabic Islamic concepts and terminology. Of course, mosques in non-Arab countries do offer their lectures in the language of the local population, sometimes in addition to lectures in Arabic. There are many translations of the Qur’an available in most major world languages.
        So the majority of Muslims to engage with Arabic on a regular basis, to varying degree.

        I would like to turn around and ask you a similar question: how well do you and your fellow Christians understand the Greek and Hebrew of the Bible? Does the preacher at your church encourage his attendees to read the Bible in the original? Do you recite the Psalms in the original Hebrew and say the Lord’s prayer (found in the book of Matthew) in Greek? Why or why not?

        As for your question about interpretation–

        Do you mean to suggest that varying interpretations of a single statement in a revealed book is evidence of equivocal language? Why is it that Christian and Jewish scholars come to radically different conclusions about, for example, the text of Isaiah 53? Christian scholars insist it is a prophecy about Jesus Christ, while Jews usually understand it as referring to the Israelite nation as a whole. Perhaps you would retaliate that the Christian interpretation is the correct interpretation, so it doesn’t matter whether or not the Jews agree. I would then ask why there is such controversy in Christianity over salvation by faith and salvation by works? Over predestination versus free will? Between Protestantism and Catholicism? All Christians have the same text, don’t they?

        The conclusion that I am leading you to is that revealed scripture is dense with meaning and requires much reflection and discussion by scholars to divulge the full meaning. And because no single human is fully knowledgeable, we rely upon the existence of a community of ‘ulama, learned religious scholars, to debate and inquire and agree and disagree. The Qur’an is, on the face of it, a very easy book
        to understand. There is an apparent meaning that lies upon the surface that anyone can read briefly and take some benefit from; someone with a little more learning can dig even deeper and, with the help of scholarly commentaries, reach a little closer to the inner spiritual dimensions of the text. It takes the well trained, experienced and wise ‘ulama to grasp and teach to others the full range of meanings contained within the passages of the Qur’an. This is because the Qur’an makes use of every resource in the Arabic language, reaching to the very limits of expression in human language, to convey its most profound truths.

        Are Christians deserving of dignity and protection in an Islamic society? Οf course! That is precisely what our religion teaches. When the Muslim Arabs entered Egypt, they liberated the Coptic churches from the burdensome taxation of the Byzantines (who mistreated them on the basis that by them, the Copts were considered heretics, in that they followed the doctrine of miaphysitism) and helped them renovate their churches (see Alfred Butler, the Arab invasion of Egypt, page 47). As for news stories you hear about violence against Christians in Muslim countries–I hasten to inform you that it is rarely one-sided and that it is almost always political rather than religious in nature. If you only watch network news (i.e., news broadcast on television in the U.S.), understand that what you are receiving is infotainment, as Alan Shore coined once on an episode of Boston Legal. In other words, if you want real news, you should really avoid the television and seek an eclectic mix of sources online. If you wish to better understand the roots of violence in the Middle East, I strongly recommend Thomas Friedman’s book From Beirut to Jerusalem.

        You also mentioned women’s property rights and their status as witnesses in the Qur’an–

        Know that in Arabia, women were not involved in business. Islam first gave women the right to hold jobs and keep their own earnings, but, before that, such was not guaranteed to women. Generally speaking, there were few opportunities for women in Arabia to lead fulfilling lives before Islam. Khadija, who was a businesswoman in Mecca, was an exception among women of her time.

        Therefore, for practical purposes it was impossible to expect a woman to have the same knowledge as a man regarding legal transactions. That’s why the witness of two women in substitution for one man is decreed necessary. Not because women are regarded as less inherently intelligent or less capable.

        As for why women are decreed less inheritance from relatives than are men, the explanation is even simpler. In Islam, husbands, brothers, and fathers are required by the law to ensure the care, sustenance, comfort, and happiness of their female relatives. Wives, sisters, and mothers are not, on the other hand, required to provide material support to their male relatives. They may, however, work a job if they so choose–and all the earnings belong to them alone, to dispose with how they choose! Such are the eminently just and practical injunctions of our Qur’an.

        Concerning the statutes about the crime of rape–

        I thank our brother Nasser for pointing out the Bible’s position on how cases of rape should be handled, a position that seems very hard to reconcile with your conviction that the Bible teaches good morals and humane behavior. In addition to this, I would like to contribute my understanding of the Islamic position on the offense of rape.

        I offer the following hadith as an elucidation of this position:

        “When a woman went out in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) for prayer, a man attacked her and overpowered (raped) her. She shouted and he went off, and when a man came by, she said: That (man) did such and such to me. And when a company of the Emigrants came by, she said: That man did such and such to me. They went and seized the man whom they thought had had intercourse with her and brought him to her.

        She said: Yes, this is he. Then they brought him to the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him). When he (the Prophet) was about to pass sentence, the man who (actually) had assaulted her stood up and said: Apostle of Allah, I am the man who did it to her.

        He (the Prophet) said to the woman: Go away, for Allah has forgiven you. And about the man who had intercourse with her, he said: Stone him to death.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4366).

        I hope this ongoing discussion, including the excellent contributions by brothers Waleed and Nasser, proves an antidote to your misconception that Muslims have no idea what the Bible is about.

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      • Nasser

        Anyways, yes we do understand the Arabic of the Qur’an. I speak Arabic and I don’t have a difficult time reading the Qur’an. But, just like all the revelations, it’s open to different interpretations because the Qur’an is perfect but we, the readers, aren’t. But the interpretations shouldn’t disagree that much. Also, the Bible is interpreted differently on many topics, including the trinity, the real identity of Jesus (pbuh), the Canon law, and many other things, and the Qur’an doesn’t go that far as the Bible does.

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      • Jane Austen

        I HAVE read the Bible and became convinced that it cannot be the word of God. There’s so much blasphemy in it that denigrates the prophets of God (ie Lot having sex with own daughters, David having desires for Bethsheba and killing her husband for it, Noah being a drunkard, etc) and the language is no better than the language of a first-year university student. How can it be the word of God? And let’s not talk about the fact that it self-contradicts…Jesus was NOT God, nor was he the son of God. He was a holy prophet sent by God. Period. Stop confusing yourself and the world. One equals three and three is one–what mathematics is this? Even a first grader can tell you that this is FLAWED reasoning!

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    • Andrew Howie

      Part I

      Bismillah–

      Tom B,

      In one of my other responses I promised a full rebuttal of the points made in the preceding post.

      First of all, I would like to clarify that this article was not an attack on Christianity, but rather a narrative of the events that led up to my choice to accept Islam, and a record of the thought processes that informed this choice.

      Given that I was never writing a polemical article in the first place, I kindly ask you to refrain from engaging in polemics yourself.

      I never said that a minority opinion is inherently of higher value then a majority opinion. The reason why I said that American Muslims should be especially poised and informed is that they are constantly under attack by far-right polemicists.
      Muslims should also maintain a civil and balanced attitude at all times in defending their beliefs, exhibiting that all-important virtue of “grace under pressure” praised by Hemingway.

      Jesus the Messiah–

      I urge you to reexamine the meaning of the term “Messiah” and the meaning of the term “Christ,” for they are one and the same, and they have nothing to do with divinity. the Hebrew term meshiach, whence our messiah, means “anointed one.” In the Bible, the kings of the ancient Israelites are referred to in this way, for they are anointed by God to rule over the people. Jesus is the messiah and one of the prophets. Like David, he combines this kingly role–yet in a deeper, spiritual sense–with the role of the prophet. And as you believe, so we believe that Jesus will eventually return again.

      Following your logic, though, I must ask why you consider Jesus alone divine, but not other of the creations of God Almighty, which are all miracles and signs to those who believe? For Jesus was himself a creation, as we all are. He bears a resemblance to Adam in the way he was created without having being sired by a father. Who can put it past God to create what He wills, and how He wills?

      It is a logical impossibility to picture an entity such as God being part of such a relation as fatherhood, and as undertaking the action of begetting. Are we to assume that God has a human body whereby he may undertake these actions?

      The Oneness of God, as Emphasized in “sh’maÊ¿ yisraʾel YHWH eloheynu YHWH eḥaÄ‘

      The notion that persons are the same as attributes is not at all supported by Christian theology, nor does it make an ounce of sense. The “beings” referred to in the Nicene formulation of the trinity, which is typically translated “three persons/beings and one substance/essence,” are hypostaseis, as I have previously stated. The Greek term ὑπόστᾰσις (hypostasis) does not denote nearly the same thing which the Arabic اسم‎ (ism) denotes. This is why I encourage all who study religions to examine the linguistic manifestations of theological concepts–they are often of great import and should be taken seriously.

      The Greek ὑπόστᾰσις, etymologically speaking, means “beneath-standing,” being a compound of the words hypo and stasis. It is the “Me Myself” of Walt Whitman, most correctly translated into english as “person,” “self,” or “being.” It is the objective or inner reality of a thing as opposed to its form or outer manifestation.

      The Arabic اسم‎ denotes just the opposite: an external reality as opposed to an internal reality. Remember Juliet’s speech in Shakespeare:

      “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
      By any other name would smell as sweet;”

      “Person” and “name” are not comparable concepts.

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      Reply
      • Tom B

        As to your definitions, I agree. Messiah and Christ as King. He is anointed by God, but as the divine servant, implementing His Plan as God- man. Too many witnessed the Resurrection. Deny the witnesses, hundreds, deny the reality of the Truth. So many do and oft for selfish purposes. Any self directed benefit to man alone is a sin, an overt act in deference to the Will of the Almighty.

        More to consider on your view of ‘attributes’ where I respectfully disagree. Would not an attribute of Andrew Howie be as student-scholar. Also as convert to Islam? Yet you are still Andrew.

        Grace and Peace. God loves unconditionally.

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      • Andrew Howie

        Hundreds were present at the Resurrection described in the gospels? What bible are you reading?

        The gospel of John says that only Mary (either Mary mother of James or Mary Magdalene; the Greek does not specify) was present at the tomb.

        Mark disagrees, instead stating that Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Salome were present.

        Luke disagrees with both of these accounts, stating that not only Mary mother of James and Mary Magdalene were present, but also a woman named Joanna and “the other women from Galilee.”

        Matthew disagrees yet again, only stating that Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of James were at the tomb.

        In any case, the bible does not state that “hundreds” of people witnessed the Resurrection.

        On the contrary, you seem to be agreeing with my statements on attribution. You argue that my chosen occupation and details of my biography do not affect any change upon my underlying Self (hypostasis). To say “Andrew is a carpenter” is a fundamentally different claim than to say “Andrew is Richard.”

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      • Tom B

        Andrew – to answer your questio re:Resurrection – Witnesses

        Acts 10:39-41
        1 Peter 5:1
        1 Corinthians 15:3-8

        “Christ died for our sins ( yours also) according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the 3rd day, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the 12. After that, he appeared to more than 500 (in His Resurrected state) at the same time, most of whom are still living (at the time of the writing of this book of the Bible).”

        Re: Ezekial verses noted by you – it was a vision, not an event in fact. He was seeing the wrath of God demonstrated against his people who were sinners. The Love of God and Neighbor remain in the reference you made in your article itself – Matthew 22:37, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the 1st and greatest commandment. And the 2nd is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’. All the Law hang on these two commandments.”.

        Can you please provide ‘love of neighbor’ references in the Quran.

        Re: Witness to woman of rape. I stand corrected. It is 2 woman for 1 male in cases of finances. In cases of rape it takes 4 males. That seems even worse.

        Under Islamic law, rape can only be proven if the rapist confesses or if there are four male witnesses.  Women who allege rape, without the benefit of the act having been witnessed by four men who subsequently develop a conscience, are actually confessing to having sex.  If they or the accused happens to be married, then it is considered to be adultery.

        From the Hadith:
         
        Bukhari (5:59:462) – The background for the Qur’anic requirement of four witnesses to adultery.  Muhammad’s favorite wife, Aisha, was accused of cheating [on her polygamous husband].  Three witnesses corroborated the event, but Muhammad did not want to believe it, and so established the arbitrary rule that four witnesses are required.

        Re: Eating pork taboo – I cannot find in Matthew the clause to which you refer.

        Your feedback is helpful to further understanding of your thinking and education. Continue in your studies, always question and explore answers until your heart and mind is wholly open to the reality of the truth.

        Grace and Peace.

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      • Nasser

        @Tom B

        How could you compare God’s 99 names/attributes to the trinity? The names are just a collection of attributes given to God in the Qur’an. The trinity speaks of three persons (or gods) that make one God, yet they are seperate and act by themselves.

        In John 5:36-38:
        Jesus speaks out: “Now I have a testimony greater than John’s. For the works which the Father has given Me that I should be perfecting them, the works themselves which I am doing are testifying concerning Me that the Father has commissioned Me. And the Father Who sends Me, He has testified concerning Me. Neither have you ever heard His voice nor a perception of Him have you seen. And His word you do not have remaining in you, for that One Whom He commissions, this One you are not believing.”

        These are some of God’s 99 names/attributes in the Qur’an:

        “He is Allah , other than whom there is no deity, the Sovereign, the Pure, the Perfection, the Bestower of Faith, the Overseer, the Exalted in Might, the Compeller, the Superior. Exalted is Allah above whatever they associate with Him.” (59:23)

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  14. Waleed Ahmed

    Praise be to Allaah

    There can be no doubt that the call to believe in Allaah alone (Tawheed) and to worship Him alone to the exclusion of anyone else, is the basic message that was brought by the Prophet of Allaah ‘Eesa (peace be upon him), as it was the basic message brought by all the Prophets. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): ‘Worship Allaah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Taghoot (all false deities, i.e. do not worship Taghoot besides Allaah).’ Then of them were some whom Allaah guided and of them were some upon whom the straying was justified. So travel through the land and see what was the end of those who denied (the truth)”

    [al-Nahl 16:36]

    “And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We revealed to him (saying): Laa ilaaha illa Ana [none has the right to be worshipped but I (Allaah)], so worship Me (Alone and none else)”

    [al-Anbiya’ 21:25]

    ‘Eesa will bear witness to this call against his people, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “And (remember) when Allaah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): ‘O ‘Eesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)! Did you say unto men: “Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allaah?”’ He will say: ‘Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it. You know what is in my inner‑self though I do not know what is in Yours; truly, You, only You, are the All‑Knower of all that is hidden (and unseen).

    117. ‘Never did I say to them aught except what You (Allaah) did command me to say: “Worship Allaah, my Lord and your Lord.” And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them, but when You took me up, You were the Watcher over them; and You are a Witness to all things’”

    [al-Maa'idah 5:117]

    With regard to how the followers of this religion deviated after that from pure Tawheed to idolatrous beliefs and the worship of Jesus and his mother besides God, this is something which happened early on in Christian history. We will quote here some evidence to that effect from their own people’s words. Let whoever has ears listen.

    It says in the American Encyclopedia:

    The belief in the Oneness of God – as a theological movement – began at a very early stage in history, and in fact it preceded the belief in trinity by many decades. Christianity developed from Judaism, and Judaism firmly believes that there is one God.

    The path that led from Jerusalem (the home of the first disciples of Christ) to Nicea (where it was decided in 325 CE that Christ was equal to God in essence and eternal nature) can hardly be described as a straight path.

    The doctrine of trinity which was affirmed in the fourth century CE bears no resemblance to the original teachings of Christ concerning the nature of God. Au contraire, it is the opposite, a deviation from that teaching. Hence it developed in opposition to the belief in One God… (27/294).

    You can refer to the views of some of those Christians who still believe in the Oneness of God in the same American Encyclopedia, 27/300-301

    Will Durant says:

    When Christianity conquered Rome, the new religion (i.e., Christianity) was infused with the blood of the old idolatrous religion: the title of archbishop, worship for the great mother, and an innumerable number of lords who gave peace of mind and were like who exist in all places and cannot be detected with the senses. All of this came into Christianity as the blood of the mother comes into her child.

    The civilized empire handed over power and administration to the papacy and the impact of the word replaced the impact of the sword. The preachers of the church started to assume positions of power.

    Christianity did not put an end to idolatry, rather it reinforced it. The Greek mind came back to life in a new form, in the doctrines and rituals of the church. The Greek rituals appeared in the rituals of the monastic saints. From Egypt came the idea of the holy trinity, the day of reckoning, eternal reward and punishment, and man’s eternal life in one of the other. From Egypt also came the worship of the mother and child, the mystical union with God, the union which led to Platonism and agnosticism, and the erasing of Christian doctrine. And from Persia came the belief in the return of the Messiah and his ruling the earth for 1000 years.

    Qissat al-Hadaarah, 11/418 (The Story of Civilization)

    Despite the element of atheism in the words of Durant, which is something that he is known for, and which is apparent in his claim that the idea of eternal reward or punishment came from the Egyptians, tracing the origins of deviant idolatry in Christianity is no longer a secret, and he is not the only one who has researched them. In his book Christianity and Idolatry, Robertson states that Mithraism, which is a religion of Persian origin, flourished in Persia approximately six centuries before the birth of Christ, and it reached Rome around the year 70 CE, where it spread throughout the Roman lands. Then it reached Britain and spread to a number of British cities. What concerns us here about this religion is that it says:

    - That Mithras, after whom it is named, was an intermediary between God and man (for a similar doctrine in Christianity, see Acts 4:12).

    - He was born in a cave or in a corner of the earth (cf. Luke 2:8)

    - His birthday was December 25 (which is the day celebrated by the Christians as the day when Jesus was born)

    - He had twelve disciples (cf. Matthew 10:1)

    - He died to save the world (cf. I Corinthians 15:3)

    - He was buried but he came back to life (cf. I Corinthians 15:4)

    - He ascended to heaven in front of his disciples (cf. Acts 1:9)

    - He was called “Saviour” (cf. Titus 2:13)

    - Among his attributes is that he is like a peaceful lamb (cf. John 1:29)

    - The “Divine supper” was held in his memory every year (cf. I Corinthians 11:23-25)

    - One of his symbols was baptism

    - Sunday was sacred to them

    The French Orientalist Leon Joteh, in his book “An Introduction to Islamic philosophy” is of the view that the origin of the Christian trinity is to be found in Greek philosophy, specifically in the ideas of modern Platonism, which took the basis of the idea of trinity as a view of the Creator of the universe from Plato, then developed it to a great extent, so that the resemblance between this idea and Christianity became greater. So (in their view) the Creator, the One Who is absolutely perfect, appointed two intermediaries between him and mankind, who emanated from Him, and were also part of Him at the same time, meaning that they are contained in His essence. These two entities are reasoning and divine spirit. Then he said:

    The marriage of Jewish belief and Greek philosophy did not only produce philosophy, rather it produced a religion too, namely Christianity which imbibed many ideas from the Greeks. The Christian concept of divinity is taken from the same source as modern Platonism. Hence you see many similarities between the two, although they may vary in some details. They are both based on a belief in trinity, in which the three “persons” are one.

    This is what the American writer Draper refers to:

    Idolatry and polytheism entered Christianity through the influence of the hypocrites who occupied positions of influence and high positions in the Roman state by pretending to be Christians, but they never cared about religion and were not sincere at all. Similarly Constantine had spent his life in darkness and evil, and he did not follow the commands of the church except for a short while at the end of his life. (p. 337)

    Although the followers of Christianity gained some power, to the extent that they managed to have Constantine appointed as ruler, they failed to eradicate idolatry completely. As a result of their struggle, their principles became fused with idolatry, from which point there developed a new religion in which Christianity and idolatry were manifested equally.

    Thus the Christians followed the same path of those disbelievers who had come before them, step by step, as their own Book testifies. And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “And the Jews say: ‘Uzayr (Ezra) is the son of Allaah, and the Christians say: Messiah is the son of Allaah. That is their saying with their mouths, resembling the saying of those who disbelieved aforetime. Allaah’s Curse be on them, how they are deluded away from the truth!”

    [al-Tawbah 9:30]

    And Allaah is the Source of strength.

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    • Motie Omari

      Asalamu alaikum

      Br. Waleed

      - Very well provided response, thank you.

      Just to add and reiterate that the trinity concept is not one taught by any of the Prophets of God or any revelation from God, and to correct the translation that Tom B had stated -

      Please Read Surah 3:54-74 Chapter 3 as a completely incorrect wording was provided above; not sure which publication provided that; also it’s better to consult with someone learned in the Quran, a local Imam proficient in the Arabic language because many translations of the meaning can at times give an inaccurate translation of the meaning.

      سُوۡرَةُ الحِجر

      إِنَّا نَحۡنُ نَزَّلۡنَا ٱلذِّكۡرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ ۥ لَحَـٰفِظُونَ (٩)

      Surah 15:9

      Verily We: It is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur’ân) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption)[] (9)

      Lastly also Surah 112 – Chapter 112.

      سُوۡرَةُ الإخلاص
      بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
      قُلۡ هُوَ ٱللَّهُ أَحَدٌ (١) ٱللَّهُ ٱلصَّمَدُ (٢) لَمۡ يَلِدۡ وَلَمۡ يُولَدۡ (٣) وَلَمۡ يَكُن لَّهُ ۥ ڪُفُوًا أَحَدٌ (٤)

      Al-Ikhlas

      In the name of Allah, The Entirely Merciful, The Especially Merciful

      Say (O Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon you)): “He is Allâh, (the) One.[] (1) “Allâh-us-Samad (السيد الذي يصمد إليه في الحاجات) [Allâh the Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, (He neither eats nor drinks)]. (2) “He begets not, nor was He begotten;[] (3) “And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him.” (4)

      Thank you,

      Peace – سلام

      مطيع العمري
      Motie Omari

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      • Andrew Howie

        Bismillah,

        Jazakallah khairan.

        @Tom B, and all:

        I simply wanted to add the Arabic text of verse 3:54 (mentioned above by Tom B), in order to clear all misconceptions:

        وَمَڪَرُواْ وَمَڪَرَ ٱللَّهُ‌ۖ وَٱللَّهُ خَيۡرُ ٱلۡمَـٰكِرِينَ

        Like most Arabic roots, m-k-r has a range of possible meanings based on 1) the context of the unit of discourse in which it is employed and 2) the object it takes.
        I do not profess to be an expert Arabist. The following information was simply drawn from the page of the Arabic Lexicon of Edward William Lane.

        Confer volume 7 p. 2728 of Lane’s Arabic lexicon for more detail. In the verbal form (form one: makara), it is true that the root m-k-r can mean “to practice deceit, guile, or circumvention” thus having a negative connotation.

        It can also mean “he plotted,” or “he exercised art, cunning..skill…with excellent consideration or deliberation, and ability to manage according to his own free will.” This meaning has a positive and praiseworthy connotation.

        The passage is translated by Yusuf Ali as follows:

        “And (then unbelievers) plotted and planned, and Allah too planned, and the best of planners is Allah.”

        On the other hand, E. W. Lane recommends as a translation for
        مَڪَرَ ٱللَّهُ‌ۖ the following:
        “God recompensed, or requited, for
        makr [or the practising deceit]”

        Thus, it seems, the passage could also be translated “And (unbelievers) plotted, and Allah counter-plotted, and the best of [plotters/planners/managers] is Allah”

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      • Andrew Howie

        I’m sure our Christian friend would agree that God is the best planner.

        The context of the passage is one familiar to him–the time when the unbelievers in Judea were plotting against our prophet ‘Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him.

        I will cover the other issues in a complete response to Tom’s contribution, insha’allah.

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    • Tom B

      What would a child be that Allah by his capablies allowed of a virgin? A boy yes, but not a son, then what? An enigma? And he referred to this boy as Messiah, and announced the ‘good news.’ What is the meaning?

      Trying to understand.

      Tom B.

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    • Tom B

      A fine expose’. You knowledge is greatly appreciated. There are indeed many similarities in the Bible to mythical characters. The Bible as the Word of God is not his words, but his inspiration’. Possibly such inspiration came from myth coupled with reality. The reality of those who lived and experieinced Christ, his life, his death and his resurrenction , witnhesses, drew from their hellenistic knowledge to relate this history as all could understand. It leads, however to a proper way of life where love of mankind is paramount, love of God and neighbor is primary, peacful existence is desired, your sins have been punished and you can now live a life for God voluntarily, without compulsion or fear of punishment for apostasy.

      Salaam.

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      • Andrew Howie

        Bismillah–

        Dear Tom,

        It is true that Jesus Christ, upon whom be peace, was born miraculously, by the will of Allah, to the virgin Mary. But this does not make him Allah’s “son” any more than it does Adam, upon whom be peace. The similarity between the two lies in the way they were brought into existence; in both cases, it was creation by the word of Allah, Who merely says “be!” and a human being or any other created thing may be brought into existence.

        The Qur’an covers this subject in detail in Surat Maryam:

        He [Jesus] said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; (30) “And He hath made me Blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live; (31) “(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable; (32) “So Peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)”! (33) Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute. (34) It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter, He only says to it “Be”, and it is. (35)

        (Yusuf Ali)

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      • Nasser

        Dear Tom,

        You said, “The Bible as the Word of God is not his words, but his inspiration’. Possibly such inspiration came from myth coupled with reality. The reality of those who lived and experieinced Christ, his life, his death and his resurrenction , witnhesses, drew from their hellenistic knowledge to relate this history as all could understand.”

        I understand what you mean here. But, when you depend on “witnesses”, rather than God’s direct words, the Qur’an, then that’s a problem.

        God says in the noble Qur’an:

        That they said (in boast) “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary the Apostle of Allah”; whereas they killed him not nor crucified him but so it was made to appear to them. And those who differ therein are full of doubts with no (certain) knowledge but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. (Quran 4:157)

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      • Tom B

        As to the witnesses to Jesus death and resurrection, more than 2 women were withnesses, along with hundreds of others. Thus the Quran is in error – hard to believe I know. Also without the Ressurection there would not be over 2 billion Christians.

        On comments made in other notes from you —

        You refer to the Old Testament verses of Deuteronomy with apparent glee in identifying language that engenders doubt and arises in your mind hypocrisy on the part of Christians. You have prayerfully applied similar intelligent application of thought to the essence of the mortal human in what has been transcribed in your Book of Laws.

        A primary difference, Bible verse Quran, is the allowance for reform. The Bible demonstrates God’s Revelation is a continuing process, humans having a role in subduing events on earth as populations increase and the demand for living space and food increases, as communications and travel improve, and as forms of governance are studied and altered to accommodate the common good, not just that of the laws of a given ideology.

        Inherent in the Bible is love, of God and of neighbor. That love of neighbor leads to a universal need for peace, yet the Quran does not emphasize love of neighbor. (see my Blog on the subject of Love of Neighbor)

        I must note, and this is not to be demeaning towards Islam, that in your discussion and reference to Deuteronomy 22:28–29, you noted that the rapist was required to marry the rape victim. In Islam the male rapists can defend himself denying, and lying about, his sinful and aggressive act with success, as women need 2 as witnesses to represent the rape victim. How often is there another female witness? Advantage – male. Why 2 woman to equal 1 male. Is that considered equality in Islam? By the Book, possibly, but by any rational standard – ‘No.’ I am not as clear on your comment that the marriage requirement is a ‘reward’ to the rapist in the forced Old Testament marriage, because this is not a polygamist marriage that is allowed. You are clouding you thinking with the Muslim view that if forced, it matters little as the husband can go out and take on another woman in marriage. The sanctity of marriage is dismissed and dishonored.

        People (Muslim adherents) have responded to me more than once, “the Qur’an and sunnah are for all times”. Definitionally interesting yet in practice the times reflect an era 1500 years ago. Times have changed – the Quran has and will not. Also said, “Allah does not wish to place burdens on us that we cannot bear.” First – who is ‘us’? If polygamy is difficult in today’s world, why then should women be caused to ‘bear’ the burden of a wayward husband. If the ‘us’ is male, then for the man, Allah be praised. Permission granted. From my perspective – God does not work that way.

        You will garner from the Old Testament practices and responses that can be quite horrific; man exercises power over women, God’s wrath is clearly demonstrated, there are food laws, and even a response to kill a miscreant, a miserably unruly child, to rid the evil from the world. But the laws, those which you have quoted, are but a mirror reflecting the sins you and I, not just as men but for women as well, are inherently wired with. We, all humans, have a sinful nature. Before the recording of God’s commandments, right and wrong was a matter of personal judgment, a feeling, as it were, and a summary of the cause and effect of actions. Once recorded humans were made aware, seeing as in a mirror their own sinful reflection. Sin prevents us from having an eternal life with God. If humans cannot be adequately punished by God (not man), then all are condemned. The bad news is we all sin, and we cannot be made right with God.

        The New Testament changed conditions for humans. God’s laws were still to be noted. God’s wrath was made obvious. However an announcement of ‘good news’ was made. The Quran even noted the ‘good news’ in Sura 3:45. Thru Jesus man was punished for all sins. God restored justice. Believe in God, having a heart for God, thankful for His saving Grace, and filled with God’s sustaining attribute, all mankind is provided the opportunity for a life eternal with Him. Changes were made to the food laws, even, you can now eat and enjoy pork. “Repent then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.” (Acts 3:19) You can be transformed. It is ‘voluntary.’ Note, and to repeat, it is ‘voluntary.’

        As for eating swine – an interesting topic presents itself. Food, reference to Leviticus, is an example of Laws put forth in the Bible. As for eating pig, Jews, Muslims and there are Christians, I have a good friend, who abstain, in part because of what the Old Testament references. So eating of such would be a sin. That is bad. Here is where the saving Grace of the Lord comes-in leading, prayerfully, to some clarity on the ‘good news’ of Jesus. We are to respect other’s eating disciplines, same for drink. If one chooses to avoid alcohol all-together or certain meats that is their choice, their preference, their belief.

        There is the story of a godly man who was praying on a rooftop. He became quite hungry. He fell into a trance. From the heavens descended a canvas with all manner of 4-footed animals, reptiles and birds, including pigs. The Lord then instructed him to kill and eat. “Surely not, dear Lord, I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” God then spoke, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” Romans 14:13 reads, “As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.” That is followed by, Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteous peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (God).”

        When a man is acting selfishly, he knows it. Same for a woman. A selfish nature is not God-like. A selfish nature is not to be justified by a reading of the Quran, allowing suffering for one party (women) at the expense of another (men) in the case of polygamy. Times have changed.

        The Quran made its own corrections. Earlier dreams of Muhammad if altered in statements made subsequently were superseded by the new, the latest – abrogation. Some of the more heartfelt and peaceful revelations were changed by those later. I have not seen a comprehensive chronological Quran, you may have (and probably have). It is my understanding the latter was more militant than the former. Love from Allah became possible only if Allah were loved, and if by force as necessary. Sura 60:4 provides emphasis, “We (all Muslims) disbelieve in you (Christians and Jews) and there has arisen enmity and hatred between us and you forever until you believe in Allah alone.”

        One writer on the MuslimMatters website emphasized the ‘unequivocal’ wording of the Quran. You wrote me and said, “I speak Arabic and I don’t have a difficult time reading the Qur’an. But, just like all the revelations, it’s open to different interpretations because the Qur’an is perfect but we, the readers, aren’t.” That is quite an excuse for the many ways the Quran is reviewed. Can’t the ulema get it right? Same can be said for the Bible, any mis-interpretation is due to the mind of man. But we all live by the mind of man, and we pray it will apply reason to that which the Bible and the Quran outline so the world can be a paradise on earth (and not just for Muslims or Christians, but for all.) So the sinful nature of man interprets for their own self, applying the laws to make their lives as they would prefer. Thus the need for the saving Grace of God.

        The Bible enables reform, developed through the gift of intellect God provided us all. Application, exploration, study, research and understanding of events on earth, the cause and the outcomes, opens eyes to God’s revelation. It is His Will to apply scientific methods to get to know his creation better, in turn improving the world for mankind, his most cherished creation, and enable a relationship with him. The Quran has a problem with reform, with progress, and with scientific outcomes, at least from the camp of the Ash’erites. How can change ever take place if reason is not applicable to our world?

        Is it time for Allah to deliver to the Muslim world a New Furqan?

        Salaam

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      • Nasser

        @Tom B

        You said:
        “The Bible enables reform, developed through the gift of intellect God provided us all. Application, exploration, study, research and understanding of events on earth, the cause and the outcomes, opens eyes to God’s revelation.”

        This is one of the most illogical things I ever heard! Reforming or altering God’s words does not “open eyes to God’s revelation.” It’s simply misquoting God!!!

        By the way, the Furqan is the Quran. lol

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      • Motie Omari

        Tom B -

        You’re the one that is in error not the Quran as you stated; and by the way as an FYI; the burden of proof is upon you.

        Are you learned in the arabic language, a scholar, did you know that there is a chapter titled Maryam; for the mother of Jesus peace and blessings be upon them that is the most eloquent narrative about their story?

        Did you know that Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him stated that at the end of times Prophet Jesus peace and blessings be upon him would return to break the cross to signify he was NEVER crucified and was saved by God from the plotting of those that attempted to crucify him, he will slay the false messiah, will establish Islam on earth, and remind all of humanity again like every other Prophet that God almighty has no partners and everyone is responsible for their own deeds.

        Hence; the ascribing of partner doctrine was NEVER taught by any Prophet and is a man made up fallacy.

        In addition; Dr. Jerald Dirks a biblical scholar with a Master’s from the Divinity School of Harvard University, a Phd in Clinical Psychology and revert to Islam reflected clearly after reading the Holy Qur’an -

        NO one could’ve authored the Quran except The Creator of the Universe.

        Please refer to:

        There are full detailed videos from a Biblical Scholar that explains in precise detail about the perfection of the Quran.

        Experience of a minster who converted to Islam

        Experience of a minster who converted to Islam pt 2

        http://thedeenshow.com/show.php?action=detail&id=1227

        Also; please refer to Dr. Laurence Brown an opthamologist and former member of the US Airforce and a revert to Islam, that goes into deeper detail to assist you in arriving at facts vs. the weak guessing that you’re putting yourself through -

        Including interviews with Dr. Laurence Brown – as well as Top 10 reasons why the Trinity is INVALID’

        Trinity top 10

        Videos of Dr. Brown

        Hence; that will be more beneficial than making erroneous accusatory statements that reflects you still need to listen and learn from scholars.

        Thedeenshow.com is an excellent portal of authentic knowledge that also includes excellent learning videos by Yusha Evans a former student of textual criticism of the Bible and explains the eloquent beauty and perfection of the Holy Quran.

        Videos of Joshua Evans

        http://www.thedeenshow.com/show.php?action=guest&id=6


        Top 10 reasons why Jesus is NOT God.

        http://www.thedeenshow.com/show.php?action=detail&id=950

        Lastly; feel free to contact Thedeenshow.com as they will assist you with providing scholars with authentic knowledge vs. the erroneous and accusatory invalid propaganda that only fools the advocate and adherent into more confusion and doubt.

        We pray for guidance for all.

        Peace – سلام

        مطيع العمري
        Motie Omari

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      • Andrew Howie

        Bismillah–

        Jazakum Allah khairan, brothers and sisters, for your active participation in this open forum of discussion.

        Tom B, your assertion that hundreds were present at the resurrection has been refuted in an above post. However, concerning your claim that hundreds were present at the crucifixion, I would be happy to debate you, but not until you provide some evidence, whether literary or archaeological. Just make an effort to at least present evidence for your claims, and perhaps then we can have a productive discussion.

        The second paragraph you wrote makes no logical sense to me, so I will move on to the third. The bible says what it says. Let no one be misled; it surely is not my intention to do so.

        Does the Bible Allow the Possibility of Reform?–

        Matthew 5:8 says “no”:

        17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

        18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

        19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

        The context: The Sermon on the Mount, comprising many of the central tenants of Christianity, the Beatitudes, and the Lord’s Prayer.

        According to the Gospel of Matthew, Christians ought to stop eating pork!

        Yes, of course, Paul often styled himself as a representative of the ideology Luther would come to term “antinomianism,” which rejects a literal application of the laws of the Torah. However, in multiple passages, he speaks unambiguously in support of the law: Romans 2:12–16, 3:31, 7:12, 8:7–8, Galatians 5:3, Acts 24:14, 25:8, 1 Corinthians 5:11, 6:9–10, 10:7, 10:14, Galatians 5:19–21, Ephesians 5:5, Colossians 3:5, Acts 17:16–21, 19:23–41.

        First, how is it that you come to the conclusion that it’s okay to edit out large sections of the law (Torah) which are unpalatable to moderners? Is this not just an a priori, non-scriptural justification of the changes that Christianity has underwent since the first few centuries? Take a look at the bible verses quoted by Nasser above, particularly the one mandating women to cover their heads.

        Second, how is it that God’s process of revelation can be dependent upon human discoveries, if it is He who has perfect knowledge? You write the following: “The Bible demonstrates God’s Revelation is a continuing process…as forms of governance are studied and altered to accommodate the common good, not just that of the laws of a given ideology.”
        Do you mean to say that God was not capable of accommodating the “common good” thousands of years ago, when the original Torah was given to Moses? You believe that that particular advancement required study and contribution from humans?
        What “given ideology” is represented by the TaNaKh in its present state? That’s a good question! It was authored by hundreds of people over nearly a thousand years. No wonder so many of the supposed “laws” have become archaic. I don’t see the consistency over time which you have claimed the bible exhibits

        You claim that “Inherent in the Bible is love, of God and of neighbor.” How do you explain passages like this? ” 4And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.

        5And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:

        6Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.

        7And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.”

        The Crime of Rape, revisited–

        You argue the following:

        “In Islam the male rapists can defend himself denying, and lying about, his sinful and aggressive act with success, as women need 2 as witnesses to represent the rape victim.”

        Tom, let us both honest about something here. We at MuslimMatters have been putting time and effort into addressing your questions to the best of our knowledge while producing relevant sources to back our claims.

        I hope that, in the future, you will take yourself and this website more seriously, and actually attempt to generate arguments from evidence rather than from your imagination.

        Who ever said that two women were needed as witnesses in rape cases? The Qur’anic verses discussed concern only financial transactions. I would repeat my discussion, posted above, on the wisdom behind these verses, but my intuition tells me that you would not read it this time around either.

        If you had read the hadith I included in the same post, you would know that it only took the testimony of one woman (and no men) to induce the Prophet, upon whom be blessings and peace, to pass judgment on the guilty man. It was only until after the Prophet was about to pass sentence on the culprit that the man actually confessed.

        I really see no need to respond to your glib, sensational comments on polygamy. It’s quite obvious now that you have read neither my posts, nor those of our sisters.

        In case there is anyone on the other side of the debate who is actually taking this seriously, the entire verse, of which Tom B quoted a part, reads as follows:

        “There is for you an excellent example (to follow) in Abraham, and those with him when they said to their people: “We are clear of you and of whatever ye worship besides Allah: We have rejected you, and there has arisen, between us and you, enmity and hatred― forever― unless ye believe in Allah and Him alone”: but not when Abraham said to his father: “I will pray for forgiveness for thee, though I have no power (to get) aught on thy behalf from Allah.” (They prayed): “Our Lord! in Thee do we trust, and to Thee do we turn in repentance: to Thee is (our) final Goal.” (60:4, Yusuf Ali trans.)

        You will notice that Tom inserted parenthetically the words Muslims and Christians and Jews into convenient parts of the text. On the contrary, the referent of “ye” is polytheists, mushrikun (people who worship other gods than the one God). Are we to understand from your insertion, Tom, that Christians or Jews existed during the time of Abraham?

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  15. Nysha

    Mr. Howie,

    I came to this article by way of a link posted by a friend, who is a Muslim, to her Facebook page. Made curious by her rather enthusiastic recommendation (it is not the sort of thing she normally does), I have read your entire essay and the responses to it.

    I am an African-American woman, 31, unmarried, with no children, an English professor … who was born into a Christian family but I have, for many years now, admittedly since my days as an undergraduate, definitively identified as an agnostic. I have never been compelled by Judaism, but I have been intrigued, mortified, disappointed, awed by, and also made insatiably curious by both Islam and Christianity. I have studied both, in an academic setting and personally as I seek to reconcile my position/role in the universe, in history, etc.

    The mysticism of Islam has long been a part of its allure to me. My sophomore year of college I shared a dorm room with a Muslim woman who is still one of my closest friends and who taught me many things about her faith and religion in between watchings of romantic comedies, over dinner in the dining hall, and even in the dark of small dorm room, with the blinds completely lifted so that the moon and stars were the only illumination as we talked low and and reverently about the Prophet, the aesthetic beauty of written Arabic, and what it was like for her and the women she knew and loved in the Muslim community in our metropolitan, southern town to be devout and questioning and feminist and humble and abused all kinds of things that didn’t mesh comfortably inside any one of their individual bodies.

    This is where my infatuation for Islam ends abruptly. I visited the largest mosque in my large, metropolitan, southern city for jumma. I was made to enter at the back of the mosque, descend into a humid, over-crowded basement, where I and other women listened to the prayers, above the din of the cries of so many uncomfortable infants and small children, from one small speaker next to a dingy window. How could I ever feel that Allah made me an equal of my brothers, father, male neighbors, etc, when the highlight of prayer and fellowship for each and every week was, for my sex and my children alone, experienced in such circumstances? How can I turn a blind eye to the millions of my sisters all over the globe who are indeed oppressed and broken by their societies who use Islam and the Q’uran as the basis for their treatment?

    It seems to me that in your essay, you have identified a few things that made you question Christianity’s tenets. How wonderful that you are an analytical thinker who has, in my humble opinion, rightly identified some rather blatant inconsistencies in the religion. However, that is where your essay stops being meaningful. Respectfully, I read nothing that really explained why and how you came to view that Islam is RIGHT. You didn’t provide any proof at all, let alone sufficient or incomplete proof. I waited and waited for your revelation, your epiphany that would explain how you reconciled your intellectualism and your belief that Islam is RIGHT. I anticipated, with bated breath, the moment when I would read an intellectual’s explication of how Islam, alone, allows for its followers to believe in Science and Allah concurrently. You never achieved either of these things, unfortunately. Instead, your essay reads like an extended bulleted list of blanket popular beliefs that any common believer of any religion would recite; you didn’t prove anything. Your argument read something like this:


    In my search for the quintessential piece of fruit, I discovered that the apple is not, in fact, as many have thought through the ages, the highest form of this food grouping. It turns brown too quickly after exposing the flesh to oxygen and its skin is too delicate. I was introduced to the orange. It is perfect. I love it. There is no other fruit which is more perfect. It is the most delicious, most nutritious, most aesthetically pleasing piece of fruit.

    Discussing the negatives of one, does not prove the absolute, equivocal positives of the other.

    What are your thoughts, by the way, on Islam and Women? Is it a religion that you feel would enrich the life of your mother, sister, or wife as much as you feel it has done for you?

    Peace,
    Nysha :)

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    • Perseveranze

      So your one exprerience pretty much let you judge what Islam is?

      “over-crowded basement, where I and other women listened to the prayers, above the din of the cries of so many uncomfortable infants and small children,”

      Lol, blame the mosque for not having enough space, if only Muslims weren’t so dedicated to prayer.

      And you talk about Women being abused in Islam, this is true in every religion, in Christianity, in Judaism even in Athiesm (if you want to call it that). Abuse happens, what’s important is whether the religion itself teaches this kind of abuse.

      Islam doesn’t and that’s the difference. You judged based on what you may have heard or saw, but didn’t ever get into the meat of things, researching about aspects, hearing from Muslim women themselves. In truth, you weren’t interested in Islam, you may just been looking for a way to accept misinterpretations only for you to re-assure your Christian faith.

      “Islamic virtuous deeds are not limited to honoring and respecting women, but rather, we can add that Islam is the first religion to honor and respect women. We can easily prove this by illustrating that all religions and nations, prior to the advent of Islam, caused much harm and insult to women.” – Gustave Le Bon

      “The rules, regulations and verdicts concerning women in Islam are clear, frank and open. Islam capitalizes on the complete care that should be given to the protection of a woman against anything that may harm her personally, or cause ill-fame to her reputation or character.” – Sir Hamilton

      Even though I already kind of suspect your not really geniune in your search or are you trully interested in understanding. I still recommend this website for you;

      http://www.womeninislam.ws/en/

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    • Apricot

      Nysha,
      I am an American currently living in the Middle East and have been really impressed by the beautiful clean mosques here, which generally always make adequate space for women in a dignified environment. I think the reason many mosques in the United States do not do the same is because many of them were initially created to serve a mostly male immigrant community or male immigrant students. These communities did not have the budgets to acquire suitable buildings that could accommodate male and female worshipers equally. They just did what they could to scrape enough funds together to have a mosque, period. The communities grew, the men started getting married and having children, and suddenly there was a crisis about where to place the women. Usually, though, when these mosques reach a certain “bursting” point, they do the necessary fundraising to build nicer mosques that everyone can enjoy. It is, however, a long process that doesn’t always go smoothly, especially in “student” communities, where the students move on after a short period and do not remain in the community to see a project through.

      In the Middle East, mosques are under the supervision of the Islamic Affairs ministries, which put forth certain standards on how a mosque must be constructed. The mosques here are generally very well maintained, spacious, and welcoming. I hope you get the chance to visit more mosques, both in the U.S. and in the world, before you reach a final conclusion on why some mosques seem to do such a poor job of accommodating women. The most important thing to realize is that Islam, the religion, does not teach that women must be relegated to a basement in the mosque. If people are doing that, it is because there is some weakness in the community itself, usually financial.

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    • Andrew Howie

      Bismillah–

      @Nysha

      Dear Nysha,

      Thank you for reading my article and contributing a response.

      Unfortunately, the scope of this article did not allow me to delve into either evidence for the existence of God or the reasons why religion is essential for humanity to attain its greatest spiritual and material potential. I would, however, like to explore these questions in future articles.

      What this article intended to explain was why I, a person who has never questioned his belief in God, the Most High one called by the Israelites, Judeans, and Jews Elohim or Adonai; by Muslims and Arabic-speaking Christians Allah; and by Greek Christians o Theos or o Kyrios, came to Islam.

      That being said, this article was primarily directed toward people who identify as monotheists, whether
      Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mandaeans, Samaritans, or others.

      As I’m sure you are aware, the requirement for being a Muslim is to believe in the one God and his prophets. The shahada, the statement of faith, which reads “I witness that there is no god but (the) God and that Muhammad is the messenger of God.” Therefore, the baseline for faith is that you believe in one God and in the status of Muhammad, upon whom be peace and blessings, as a prophet. Islam teaches that Muhammad, upon whom be peace and blessings, is the last in a long series of prophets, the most well known of whom came to the Israelites. By implication, one who professes to be a Muslim must also believe in all of these prophets, including Abraham, Moses, and Jacob, upon all of whom be peace.

      The moment of “revelation” came for me at this point:

      Islam teaches the absoluteness of God’s oneness (in distinction to Christianity) which I had come to adopt based on my reading of the Bible, His uniqueness (i.e., that you cannot associate anything, especially human characteristics such as fatherhood and sonhood, with Him–also in distinction to Christianity), is universalistic (as opposed to Judaism), teaches the absoluteness of His will (also in distinction to Judaism–I have talked with Jews about theology and have been informed that their conception of God allows for fallibility; cf. Genesis 6:6 which claims that God “regrets” or “repents of” having made humanity), and teaches final judgment and a systems of rewards and punishments in the afterlife (in distinction to Judaism).

      As for other monotheistic religions and why I chose not to adopt their teachings, perhaps another article is in order insha’allah.

      The Qur’an repeatedly stresses that Allah, be He glorified and exalted, has knowledge over everything and that all of His actions form part of a greater plan.

      The Qur’an was the only alleged divine revelation that was not marred with errors.

      At first, before I accepted Islam, the Qur’an was merely the first evidence that a text from antiquity could in fact survive to modernity unmarred. The more I examined this fact, and the more I learned about the discipline of textual criticism (which focuses on the recovery and reconstruction of ancient texts) the more it seemed like nothing short of a miracle. The reason the Bible changed so much is not that Christian and Jewish scribes scribes are less scrupulous than most–no, not at all. It is what happens to all texts from antiquity. They all change over time due to very predictable processes. All except the Qur’an, it seems.

      In Christianity (here I mean the majority sect–those who accept the teachings of Paul), only those who believe in the trinity are promised salvation. Islam, however, teaches that not all who call themselves Muslim will be saved, and not all of those who are saved will be Muslims. Indeed, no human being has the authority to say to this or that person “you are saved” or “you are doomed.” That right is reserved to God alone, and He is the only one who knows who will be saved.

      This consistency, these absolute and uncompromising morals are what did it for me.

      Therefore, my experience with Islam can be likened to the Turing test; if it resembles the right religion in every possible way, then it is the right religion.

      And this is precisely how faith works. If, one day in this short span of human life on Earth, everyone could see God all of the sudden and thus have such striking proof in front of them that no one could deny His existence, that in itself would disprove most (if not all) religions. Islam teaches that there are certain things that lie beyond a threshold, past which mortals can never reach. The universe is so great and magnificent as to be almost infinite (in comparison to our existence), and our minds operate on only a set number of gigahertz (excuse the computer metaphor).

      As for why I believe it makes more sense to believe in God than not to believe in God, I plan to contribute another article on this subject, if He allows me the time and resources.

      I pray that the negative experience you had in a mosque does not transfer to a negative view of Islam as a whole. A lot of southern mosques are small and very cramped because there is often a lot of local opposition to their being built in southern cities. There are often severe restrictions on where they can be built and how big they can be. There are plenty of good mosques in the south, though.

      As for the subject of women in Islam, I can say that the Qur’an teaches that men and women are of equal value, but that women have the right to demand sustenance, kind treatment, and comfort from the man or men who is/are nearest to her in relation (whether husband, father, or brother), while at the same time, anything they earn (if they choose to work) belongs by right to them alone. Beyond this, I ask that some of our sisters reach out and share with Nysha, either on this comment board or by some other means, their perspectives on the subject of women in Islam. I recommend this because 1) they would be more knowledgeable than I am, since I am a relatively new convert and 2) since I am a man, I can only offer a man’s perspective, and it would be more convincing to you to hear it from other women.

      May Allah guide you grant you success in your research. I hope this answer has been of some benefit.

      You can contact me by email (ptdebate@gmail.com) if you would like to ask me more questions.

      Best regards,
      Andrew Howie

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  16. Shehu

    Good thinking! Good discussion. May Allah make you more useful for Islam
    Jazakhallahu Khaira.

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  17. Waleed

    -comment removed. Pls post a link to the information only, not cut and paste.

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  18. Carlos

    Andrew,

    You say that the truth should be clear, and that Allah’s signs are clear. Wouldn’t the creator and ruler of the universe have a better way of communicating with his creation than one book written by one man? You say true religion is not esoteric, but that seems esoteric to me. And what is so special and clear about the Quran? When I read the Quran, I see many statements that seem less than divinely inspired. I will just pick a phrase from the Quran, at random: “O you who have believed, if you support Allah , He will support you and plant firmly your feet. But those who disbelieve – for them is misery, and He will waste their deeds.” (47:7&8). (I picked Surah 47 because it was 47 minutes after the hour when I started typing this comment, and lines 7&8 because today is the 8th). All this says is believe in Allah, and he will support you and disbelieve in him, and he will punish you. In other words, “Believe, or else.” Flipping through the Quran, this is pretty much the mantra. I do not see much clarity or enlightenment in such threats.

    You say, in one of your responses to a comment, that you respect anyone who has a sincere faith in God. I do not believe in God. I guess that means you do not respect me. Why does my being unconvinced by the existing evidence of the existence of a deity make me undeserving of your respect?

    You say that the existence of Allah is apparent by looking at the universe; that the wonderfulness of the universe is just a reflection of Allah. I do not see the causation or the connection. Your argument seems circular to me. I look at that same universe, and agree that it is wonderful. I do not, however, see how something being wonderful proves the existence of a deity, much less any given deity. The universe’s existence does not necessarily mean a sentient entity created it.

    Finally, you say that Islam does not require you to suppress your intellect. How can believing in something that has no evidence to support it be anything but suppressing one’s intellect?

    Carlos

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    • Andrew Howie

      Bismillah–

      Carlos,

      We believe that the Qur’an is a mercy to mankind from the Creator because it provides instruction, in human language, on how to succeed in this life and in the hereafter. The Qur’an, it should be clarified, is not a book in the sense of the English word. It is preserved as both an oral and a written document. A written Qur’an is referred to as a mushaf, or “scripture.” The Arabic word qur’an literally means “recitation”; it is a text that is, above all, intended to be memorized and recited orally; for convenience, however, it is also preserved in writing.

      The difference between Muslim and non-Muslim approaches to the Qur’an lies in the question of authorship. All Muslims approaching study of the Qur’an operate entirely under the premise that the Qur’an is the literal word of God, and that Muhammad, upon whom be peace and blessings, had no role whatsoever in the composition of its contents. Most non-Muslims approaching the Qur’an assume that the text ultimately derives from the imagination of a man.

      The major premise underlying the notion that the Qur’an is a mercy to mankind is that the best way for God to instruct humanity is to speak to them directly, in their own language, rather than secondarily through the writings of other human beings. The Qur’an is to the believer the light by which he or she sees: “God is the Light of the heavens and the earth” (24:34, Arberry trans.).

      The “light” referred to in chapter 24, verse 23 is not literal light, such as that which emanates from the sun. It is the light by which the reason may grasp things which the five senses are too limited to perceive (such as infinitude–no matter how long you live, you will never hear, smell, touch, or see an infinity of anything). Reason is also what allows the human being to become aware of his/her own finiteness.

      If you are seeking scientific evidence as a prerequisite to accepting belief in God, I will be the first to inform you that you you will never find satisfaction. The reason why faith in God is not equivalent to blindness, however, is that there is no scientific evidence to contradictbelief in God. I do not have to blind any of my senses to believe in God. I choose to humbly acknowledge their limitations.

      Faith is belief in that which lies beyond the reach of human reason. We must remember that the light of human reason is but borrowed light, and that our time on this earth is severely limited. I find that, on average, physicists are more spiritual people than biologists (see, for a counter-example, biologist Richard Dawkins, whose proof against the existence of souls is as follows: Because every year surgeons take apart bodies and see no souls, there is no such thing as a soul).
      That is because everything we think we know about the universe is constantly changing. In physics, there are so many things that are not directly observable, but rather depend upon expansion from set premises using mathematics. In the future, more advanced equipment and methods might demonstrate that what we call modern physics is completely wrong. The complete overhaul brought to the discipline by the work of Einstein is an example of this element of subjectivity.

      How can there be a rational justification for ethics and morality other than through faith in God? What is it that restrains me from oppressing my fellow human being? Is it human nature? If so, then how did empathy become a characteristic of human nature? What would make me behave altruistically, to sacrifice my well-being for others whom I have never met? Whence these moral imperatives? If they have no justification in observable nature, which, Darwin informs us, is governed by survival of the fittest, how can they be rational? Only if it is asserted that human life is inherently of higher value than other forms of life on this planet, which is but one among uncountable billions in the universe. This is the step of faith, or acceptance that not all aspects of the human condition can be evaluated by the scientific method. It is an assertion that science is not equipped to address. It is only necessary to follow the moral imperatives governing the basis of our treatment of fellow humans (and animals) if those imperatives take the status of a natural law–if there are consequences for not following them, just as there will be consequences for denying that the force of gravity exists, or that all solids will melt at a certain heat. Thus, the Qur’an emphasizes that we should always behave with fear taqwa of God. This is not to say that we should be constantly in a state of anxiety, but that we should be ever aware that if we behave unjustly–if we steal, oppress, murder, cheat, or lie–and do not repent, consequences await us. It is merely because of God’s great mercy that we may be spared the consequences of our actions, and instead be rewarded tenfold for good works that we do.

      If you are interested in a philosophical definition of “faith,” I highly recommend that you read Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling.

      As for your other question, It is true that I respect anyone with sincere faith in God. Your conclusion that I don’t respect you, an atheist, is the result of a logical fallacy termed “affirming the consequent.” Take note of the following examples, copied from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_fallacies#Affirming_the_consequent):

      Argument: If people have the flu, they cough. Torres is coughing. Therefore, Torres has the flu.
      Problem: Other things, such as asthma, can cause someone to cough.
      Argument: If it rains, the ground gets wet. The ground is wet, therefore it rained.
      Problem: There are other ways by which the ground could get wet (e.g. someone spilled water).

      Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib, the uncle of the Prophet, was a non-believer who nevertheless sacrificed much and expended every effort to protect his nephew. He is a person worthy of admiration for his deeds, even though he was not a believer. I likewise give people respect based on deeds and characteristics such as knowledge, age, and status.

      I hope that this response has adequately answered your questions.

      Best wishes,
      Andrew

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      • Carlos

        I will make you a solemn promise, Andrew. I will read Kierkegaard’s “Fear and Trembling” if you read Dawkins’ “The God Delusion.” Honest. We can compare notes afterward. Deal?

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      • Carlos

        Andrew,

        I prefer not to communicate with people from this website by means other than this website. My wife is afraid that, if my identity is revealed, some self-proclaimed mujahideen will target me or my family. I know such people are rare, but they do exist. (See, e.g., the person who murdered Theo Van Gogh, or the people who threaten Danish cartoonists.) I, personally, would be honored to be a martyr for the cause of atheist reason. But, I cannot impose the same danger upon my wife and children, nor would I want to.

        Okay, I’ll get a copy of Kierkegaard’s “Fear and Trembling,” and read it. We’ll catch-up sometime soon, on this website, and compare notes after you have read “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins.

        Yours,

        Carlos

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      • Andrew Howie

        CORRECTION:

        The intended logical fallacy was “denying the antecedent.” Thus,

        Argument: If it is raining outside, it must be cloudy. It’s not raining outside, therefore it is not cloudy.

        Problem: There does not have to be rain in order for there to be clouds.

        Thus with your argument:

        Argument: If a person has sincere faith in God, you respect him or her. I do not have faith in God, therefore you must not respect me.

        X => Y

        ~X

        ~Y

        Problem: A person does not have to have faith to be deserving of my respect.

        (there is nothing to say that Y cannot come about independently, regardless of ~X. X in this case is a sufficient, but not necessary condition)

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      • Carlos

        I understand your argument, Andrew, and I agree with it. After I posted it, I realized a real nerd would be able to point out what you just pointed out.

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      • Andrew Howie

        I’m not sure if that was intended as a compliment, but I’ll accept it!

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    • Nasser

      Carlos, Have you ever seen an MRI, a CT scan, or a PET scan of your brain? If not then how do you know it exists?

      You can simply reason that, because you are using it, you are thinking, you are alive.
      Similar reasoning can be applied to the existence of God: Your Existence!

      From the first human until the 7th century AD God had sent prophets from among us to teach us about him. He sent Adam, Noah, Abraham, Muhammad, Jesus, Moses, and many more.

      “Have those who disbelieved not considered that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity, and We separated them and made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?” (21:30)

      “He created the seven heavens (skies) in layers. You do not see any imperfection in the creation by the Gracious. Turn your eyes again. Do you see any flaw?” (67: 3)

      “Originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is.” (2:117)

      “Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.” (2:177)

      “Then did you think that We created you uselessly and that to Us you would not be returned?” (23:115)

      “Moreover He comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: “Come ye together, willingly or unwillingly.” They said: “We do come (together), in willing obedience.” (41:11)

      “Say, “If mankind and the jinn (spirits) gathered in order to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like of it, even if they were to each other assistants.” (17:88)

      “He created you from one soul. Then He made from it its mate, and He produced for you from the grazing livestock eight mates. He creates you in the wombs of your mothers, creation after creation, within three darknesses. That is Allah , your Lord; to Him belongs dominion. There is no deity except Him, so how are you averted?” (39:6)

      “The analogy of those who disbelieve is like when someone calls out to something that hears nothing except a shout and cry, (they are) deaf dumb and blind (for) they don’t use their reason.” (2:171)

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      • Carlos

        Nasser, I am sure my brain exists, because, when I tap my head with my knuckes, I do not hear a hollow thud, but a thud that suggests there is something solid in there. Also, everything I have ever read about biology and medicine says our skulls contain brains, and I have no reason to believe my skull is any different. I am a sentient being, and I realize that because I am able to think and complete complex tasks. Everything I have ever read says that is because I have, in my skull, the most advanced intelligence in the known universe, a human brain. And the fact that I have scored well on standardized tests suggests that the capabilities of my particular brain are above average.

        No, Nasser, my existence does not mean there is a deity or deities that created me. The most plausible theory I have read about indicates that I, and you, evolved from less complex creatures over the course of billions of years, through a process of survival and natural selection.

        Don’t bother quoting Qur’an or other scripture to me. I find it utterly unconvincing. When I read through the Qur’an, I see no wisdom. All I see is threats of “Believe, or else suffer great pain and punishment.” “Boo. Boo. Boooooooo!” So scary. Hold me, Mommy. I believe. I believe. I believe!. Just please don’t punish me with eternal hellfire, Allah! That is not enlightenment! That is threats well-designed to frighten children and primitive peoples into complete submission to a (now dead) religious leader.

        What exactly are the seven levels of skies? That sounds like a primitive geocentric view of the universe, like the kind a human from the seventh century might have. Skies are just empty space. Within a planet’s atmosphere, they are filled with gases. Outside a planet’s atmosphere, they are just vacuums with molecular-sized matter strewn very few and far between. The universe is billions and billions of light years across, as far as we can see with our current technology. Where are these “layers?” What about the other planets and the rest of the humongous universe? What does the Qur’an make no mention of these other than as being “layers” around Earth?

        As for mating with grazing livestock, no thank you. That is not for me, but, hey, if you’re into that, more power to you. (You asked for that joke. ;-) )

        Peace out.

        Carlos

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  19. Mohammed Abser

    Assalamu Alaikum,
    Thank you verymuch for a thoughtful artical. I hope you will contenue to contribute to the ummah in all posible way. My request to the people espicially with intelectual class to take some heed out of this and secure the success in this world and hereafter by following the true religion of Allah(God).

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  20. Your muslim sister

    Asalamualikum my brother,
    this is beautiful, may Allah keep you on his path and keep you strong in your faith and iman. Allahu Ameen.
    remember to make dua for me :)

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  21. Aaron

    Thank you for your post. I liked the quote from William K. Gifford, “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”

    Doesn’t this quote argue against converting to Islam? The evidence for Jesus’ death is sufficient whereas the evidence for the Quran’s rejection of Jesus’ death on the cross is not.

    You wrote, “Islam requires no suppression of the intellect nor blinding of the senses to believe in; there is no conflict between reason and faith in Islam.” Isn’t the Muslim denial of Jesus’ death on the cross a “blinding of the senses” and a “conflict between reason and faith”?

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    • Andrew Howie

      Bismillah–

      Aaron,

      You and another contributor (Tom B) make similar claims about a sufficiency of evidence for Jesus’s crucifixion. If you would like to establish this as fact, please post said evidence along with your argument, for without evidence an argument is incomplete.

      Answering your second question is dependent upon your (or Tom’s) decision to provide evidence for the claim both of you are making. Perhaps the two of you can collaborate together.

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      • Motie Omari

        Salam

        Fairly stated Andrew; also another thank you; because I think we all learned a great deal; and I’m sure many friends who follow other religions and are confused and reject the unauthentic myth of the trinity will learn from your shared insight and writings.

        Insha’Allah; look forward to learning more; and also maybe consider having a blog that may also attract the Non Muslim folks like Dr. Laurence Brown is doing with his site of http://www.LevelTruth.com

        Also; here was the link that I forgot to paste -

        “Trinity top 10″

        To watch directly at You Tube -


        Top 10 Reasons Why The Trinity Is Invalid – Dr. Laurence Brown on The Deen Show

        Dr. Brown provides with the top 10 reason why the trinity is not and was not a teaching of any of the prophets not even Jesus himself taught the trinity and he will prove that it is not valid!

        edited

        Peace – سلام

        مطيع العمري
        Motie Omari

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    • Nasser

      @Aaron,

      You said: “The evidence for Jesus’ death is sufficient”

      Really? Give me evidence.

      Your argument: The crucifixion and resurrection is claimed by some disciples of Jesus.

      My argument: God said it didn’t happen.

      You decide who to believe, human witnesses or the Ultimate Witness.

      Without the crucifixion and resurrection, there is no Christianity.
      Paul wrote in the Bible,
      “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.” (I Corinthians 15:14-15, ‘King James Version’ translation)

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  22. Mercy

    Assalama ‘alaykum,

    Awesome article, masha’Allah.

    This is in response to Nysha’s comment… ” Respectfully, I read nothing that really explained why and how you came to view that Islam is RIGHT” I think many people come to Islam searching for something, and in one way or another they find it in Islam, and I think the brother Andrew mentioned . Overall, the underlying concept for people are that once they understand their relationship with their Lord, and what their Lord intended for them to do then they feel comforted by the religion of Islam. As a young Muslim woman, I truly understand that not everyone comes into Islam thinking “Islam has liberated women” or this or that, but overall it is when one understands the full meaning of submission to the one God, and understands the mercy and Love that Allah has for all of us then it is then when we feel comforted to submit to Him (whether male or female). In the same way, if we look at the Quranic text and the way that God has praised the Muslim women, and how He has honored her as daughter, wife, and mother then hopefully we will see the beauty that lies in Islam. I feel honored indeed, and I recently just blogged about this at my blog; qarisister dot wordpress dot com.

    If you would like to talk more about Islam and the role of women, please don’t hesitate to email me at rahmi dot 95 @ yahoo dot com . I really look forward in hearing from you.

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    • Andrew Howie

      Thank you for your contribution, sister–Jazak Allah!

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  23. Nasser

    @Tom B, Carlos and others

    You believe that the Qur’an is a book that has stories stolen from the Bible and Torah. But, really the Qur’an came to reteach, compliment and correct the Bible. Among the stories is the story of Prophet Yusuf/Joseph.

    The Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him)/Joseph had a prophecy in the form of a dream, in which he sees the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing to him. This dream prophesised that his father (sun), mother (moon), eleven brothers (eleven stars) would bow to him.

    Both, the Bible and the Quran mention Prophet Joseph’s dream, but the Biblical account contains an error which leaves the prophecy unfulfilled.

    “(Remember) when Yusuf (Joseph) said to his father: “O my
    father! Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the sun
    and the moon, I saw them prostrating themselves to me.”
    [Quran 12:4]

    “Then he (Joseph) had another dream, and he told it to his
    brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this
    time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
    [Genesis 37:9]

    The Quran mentions this dream at the beginning of Chapter named “Joseph”, and shows how it was fulfilled at the end of the story.

    The Bible, however, mentions the dream, but never shows that it was a fulfilled prophecy. The reason why the Bible is not able to fulfill this dream is due to an error, where the mother of Jospeh supposedly died when she bore Benyameen/Benjamin.

    “And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you have another son.” As she breathed her last–for she was dying–she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin. So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).
    [Genesis 35:17-19]

    Rachel is the mother of Joseph and Benjamin; she died two chapters before Joseph had his dream. The Quran never says that she died, the proof for that is at the end of the story where Yusef raises both of his parents on his throne:

    They said: “Our father, ask forgiveness for our sins, indeed we have been wrong.” [98] He said: “I will ask forgiveness for you from my Lord, He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” [99] So when they entered upon Joseph, he took his parents to him and he said: “Enter Egypt, God willing, in security.” [100] “And he raised his parents to the throne and they fell down before him prostrate. And he said: “O my father! This is the interpretation of my dream aforetime! My Lord has made it come true! He was indeed good to me, when He took me out of the prison, and brought you (all here) out of the bedouin-life, after Shaitan(Satan) had sown enmity between me and my brothers. Certainly, my Lord is the Most Courteous and Kind unto whom He will. Truly He! Only He is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.” [Quran 12:97-100]

    Bible writers make a mistake when they claim that Joseph’s mother died before the adventures of Joseph happened. The Quran ends this kind of falsehood which might have been injected to the Bible intentionally or unintentionally, and corrects the Bible:

    1) Jospeh’s dream was a perfect prophecy.
    2) His mother never died after giving birth to Benyameen.
    3) The dream was fulfilled when his father (The Sun) and his mother (the Moon) and his eleven brothers (stars) bowed down to him. Therefore, the Quran compliments and corrects the Bible errors. Joseph’s dream is nothing but one of many other examples of how the Quran corrects the Bible.

    Biblical Usage Of The Word “Pharaoh”
    Some examples of the usage of the word Pharaoh are presented below, and are taken from the stories of Abraham, Joseph and Moses.

    PHARAOH DURING THE TIME OF ABRAHAM

    According to the book of Genesis, the king who was a contemporary of Abraham was called Pharaoh, and this title is used six times in Genesis 12:10-20.[1] Three examples are illustrated below:

    But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his house hold because of Abram’s wife Sarai. [12:17]

    So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife?” [12:18]

    Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had. [12:20]

    PHARAOH DURING THE TIME OF JOSEPH

    According to the book of Genesis, the king who ruled Egypt in Joseph’s time was also referred to as Pharaoh. The king is addressed as Pharaoh ninety times.[2] The following examples are take from Genesis 41:

    So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh. [41:14]

    Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do.” [41:25]

    Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and travelled throughout Egypt. [41:46]

    PHARAOH DURING THE TIME OF MOSES

    According to the book of Exodus, the king who ruled Egypt in Moses’ time was also referred to as Pharaoh. He is addressed as Pharaoh 128 times.[3] Three examples are illustrated below:

    When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian… [2:15]

    Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.” [7:1]

    When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry land. [15:19]

    Thus, for all kings, the contemporaries of Abraham, Joseph and Moses, the Bible uses the term “Pharaoh” to address the kings of Egypt.

    3. Qur’anic Usage Of The Words “King” & “Pharaoh”

    Some examples of the usage of the words “King” and “Pharaoh” are presented below, and are taken from the stories of Joseph and Moses. No such usage is to be found in the Qur’anic story of Abraham.

    KING OF EGYPT DURING THE TIME OF JOSEPH

    The sovereign who ruled Egypt during Joseph’s day is named “King” (Arabic, Malik); whereas the Bible has named him “Pharaoh”. The Qur’an never once addresses this monarch as “Pharaoh.” Two examples of the usage of the word “King” from the story of Joseph are illustrated below. The Arabic word for King, Malik:

    The king (of Egypt) said: “I do see (in a vision) seven fat cows, whom seven lean ones devour, and seven green ears of corn, and seven (others) withered. O ye chiefs! expound to me my vision, if it be that ye can interpret visions.” [Qur'an 12:43]

    They said: “We miss the great beaker of the king; for him who produces it, is (the reward of) a camel-load; I will be bound by it.” [Qur'an 12:72]

    PHARAOH DURING THE TIME OF MOSES

    As for the king who ruled during the time of Moses, the Qur’an repeatedly calls him Pharaoh (Arabic, Fir`awn). Two examples of the usage of the word “Pharaoh” during the time of Moses are illustrated below. The Arabic word for Pharaoh, Fir`awn:

    Moses said: “O Pharaoh! I am a messenger from the Lord of the Worlds.” [Qur'an 7:104]

    Then after them sent We Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh and his chiefs with Our Signs. But they were arrogant: they were a people in sin. [Qur'an 10:75]

    Archeological and historic evidence tells us that during the time of Abraham (c. 2000 – 1800 BCE) and the time of Joseph (c .1800 BCE) there was no “Pharoah” in ancient Eqypt, but a “King”. But there was one at the time of Moses.

    “Pharaoh” first applied to the king around middle of the 14th century BCE, c. 1352-1348 BCE. Moses was born around the beginning of the 13th century BCE.

    Therefore, the Quran compliments and corrects the Bible errors.

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  24. Siraaj

    Salaam alaykum Andrew,

    Just wanted to say jazakallah khayr for writing this piece as well as your patience in writing full responses to all questioners, particularly skeptics :)

    Siraaj

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