HOW MUSLIMS DEFEND THE FLAWS OF ISLAM
2012, August 14. By Sujit Das
Presently the debate on Islam is going on at full force on various social networking sites as well as in many ex-Muslim and anti-Islam websites. But truth is not always welcomed wholeheartedly and old beliefs don’t die so easily. Though many sympathizers of Islam (e.g., Karen Armstrong, Edward Said and John Esposito) try to portray a deceptively rosy picture of Islam, the true Muslims show the real face of Islam with their constant readiness to harass, intimidate and assassinate anyone who slights their religion. For this reason Theo Van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death in Netherlands and his associate Ayaan Hirsi Ali had to live with bodyguards and armoured cars (Ali, 2007, p. xii), the Bangladeshi feminist and secularist Taslima Nasrin has been living in exile since 1994, Egyptian human rights activist Faraj Foda was shot dead in front of his office in Cairo and Nasr Hamid Zayd fled out of Egypt to escape the death penalty and secularist Egyptian Sayyid Mahmoud al-Qimni was forced to recant all his writings (Ahmed, 2006, p. ix). Unfortunately before the outside world would get a chance to read their works these writers were silenced through murder, terrorization and death-threats, and their writings were banned in the Muslim world.
Today who can deny the fact that Islam is different from all other religions because of the threat of violence and the very real violence offered to its critics? All other religions can be criticized and even ridiculed without fear of violence. Only with Islam is there a credible threat of violence to its critics. Muslims can criticize Christianity and Hinduism without any fear of violence, but Christians and Hindus cannot criticize Islam without an ever-present fear of Islamic violence. Thus it is an unfair, one-sided debate. It takes far more bravery to be on the side of Islam-critics. A simple, calm, rational debate between religions is simply not possible because the fear of Islamic violence is always there in the background. If Islam is, as Muslims claim, a mature, modern, tolerant religion, why is there a need for the threat of violence? Muslims don’t understand the self-contradiction.
Since Muslims cannot argue their for religion with reason (Islam cannot survive if argued with reason), they resort to sudden abnormal rage. If it does not help they opt for pathological lying and flawed arguments. We often hear two such arguments from them – the “language” argument and the “out of context” argument (Warraq, 2003, pp. 400-4). In this article we will have a closer look at these two arguments.
When the Qur’anic contradictions, or absurdities, or the violent verses are pointed out, Muslims will ask aggressively, “Do you know Arabic?” When the non-Muslim replies “No.”, they triumphantly say, “You have to read it in original Arabic to understand it fully”, or “These verses/words are not there in the original Arabic Qur’an”, or, “The beauty of the Qur’an is lost in the translation”, or “There are many fake translations of the Qur’an to malign Islam” etc. With this the Western critics generally become silent. Now the question is how many Muslims have read the Qur’an in original Arabic? Since the majority of the Muslims are not Arabs, they also have to rely on translations.
Further, a large part of the Qur’an is just the meaningless blabbering of an semi-illiterate seventh century man whom Muslims revere as their Prophet. In this respect, Puin, the great scholar of Islam (cited Warraq, 2002, pp. 112, 121) commented,
“My idea is that the Qur’an is a kind of cocktail of texts that were not all understood even at the time of Muhammad. Many of them may even be a hundred years older than Islam itself. The Qur’an claims for itself that it is ‘mubeen’, or clear. But [contrary to popular belief] if you look at it, you will notice that every fifth sentence or so simply does not make sense … the fact is that a fifth of the Qur’anic text is just incomprehensible. If the Qur’an is not comprehensible, if it cannot even be understood in Arabic, then it’s not translatable into any language. That is why Muslims are afraid. Since the Qur’an claims repeatedly to be clear but is not — there is an obvious and serious contradiction. Something else must be going on”.
The Qur’an is indeed a confusing text – which confuses everyone whether s/he knows Arabic or not. In fact the Qur’an was not written fully in the purest Arabic. There are many foreign words which got included in this supposedly “God’s unaltered word” (Warraq, 1995, p. 108). The very word “Qur’an” itself is of foreign origin. Contrary to popular Muslim belief, the meaning of Qur’an is not “recitation”. It is actually derived from an Aramaic word, “Qariyun”, meaning a “lectionary” of scripture portions appointed to be recited at divine service. The Qur’an contains most of the Biblical stories in a shorter (and often muddled) form, and as Puin commented (cited Das, 2012, p. 158), is “a summary of the Bible to be read in a service”.
Moreover the freethinkers and critics do not need to know Arabic; all they need is a critical sense, clarity of thought, unbiased attitude and scepticism. The language of Qur’an is a form of classical Arabic which is totally different from the spoken Arabic of today. So, even Arabs have to rely on translations to understand their holy text. Moreover, when the Muslims criticize the Bible and other sacred texts of Christianity how many of them know a word of Hebrew, Latin or Greek? When they criticize the holy scriptures of Hinduism, how many of them know Sanskrit? Muslims fail to realise that their flawed logic in defending Islam actually rebounds against them. Also, Muslims around the world preach Islam to make converts in languages other than Arabic. If Qur’an can only be understood in Arabic, how can they do this?
Neither the “actual meaning” of the Qur’an nor its “beauty” is lost in the translation. There are translations of the Arabic Qur’an by Muslims themselves, so Muslims cannot claim that there has been deliberate tampering of the text by “infidel translators”. Arabic is a Semitic language related to Hebrew and Aramaic and as such is no easier but also no more difficult to translate than any other language. Of course there are all sorts of extra difficulties with the language and grammar of the Qur’an as noted previously, but these difficulties have been recognized by Muslim scholars themselves. For example, as-Suyuti, possibly the greatest Arabist and Qur’an commentator ever, while concerning the verse 11.107 writes words to the effect that, “I cannot make heads or tails out of this blessed verse.” (cited Warraq, 2011, p. 224). The Qur’an is fact a rather opaque text, but it is opaque to everyone. Even Muslim scholars do not understand a fifth of it (Warraq, 2003, p. 400). The Arab literary scholar Nicholson noted (1969, p. 161) that the Qur’an is, “obscure, tiresome, uninteresting, a farrago of long-winded narratives and prosaic exhortations”. And regarding the “beauty” of the Qur’an it is better that we say nothing. A large portion of the Qur’an is full of Jihadi verses and hate speech against the infidels. As an example, I quote the most ‘beautiful and peaceful’ verse of the Qur’an, known as the “verse of sword”:
“Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Q: 9.5)
This is just one example of ‘miraculous beauty’ of this holy book. Let us read the Surah 111 (Al-Massad: Palm fiber, The Flame):
“The power of Abu Lahab will perish, and he will perish. His wealth and gains will not exempt him. He will be plunged in flaming Fire, and his wife, the wood-carrier will have upon her neck a halter of palm-fiber.”
The entirety of Surah 111 is a curse. What beauty can we find in a hate speech?
The Qur’an is full of vulgar words and obscene language directed towards the infidels. As examples:
the infidels are Harm-doers (Q: 2.59; 2.95; 2.145; 2.150; 2.165; 2.193; 2.229; 2.246; 2.254; 2.258; 2.270; 3.57; 3.86; 3.94; 3.128; 3.140; 3.151; 4.74; 5.29; 5.45; 5.107; 6.21; 6.45; 6.58; 6.135; 7.41; 7.47; 7.148; 8.54; 9.23; 11.31, etc); Hypocrites (Q: 4.61; 8.49; 9.64; 9.73; 29.11; 33.1; 48.6; 57.13; 59.11; 63.1; 66.9, etc.); Liars (Q: 6.28; 7.66; 9.77; 11.93; 39.3; 40.24, etc); Evildoers (Q: 2.12; 2.26; 2.99; 3.63; 5.47; 5.108; 7.102; 9.24; 10.17; 11.18; 14.22; 17.47; 18.53; 19.86; 24.4; 29.4; 34.42; 37.22; 39.24, etc) (Das, 2012, p. 142). All this hate speech that goes on verse after verse indicates the cultural heritage of illiterate Muhammad who was brought up in a desert. People who are evil attack others instead of facing their own failures. A curse is uttered by a person who desires to harm another person but finds him or herself physically powerless to do so and so appeals to a supernatural power to inflict such harm.
Secondly, there is another serious problem in the Qur’an: It affirms the scriptures of the Jews and the Christians as authentic and true revelations from God. Allah confirms,
“Verily this is a Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds: With it came down the spirit of Faith and Truth Upon thy heart, that thou mayst be (one) of the warners, in the perspicuous Arabic tongue. And lo! it is in the Scriptures of the men of earlier (Prophets).” (Q:26:192-6)
The “earlier writings” spoken of are the Torah and the Injil for example, which were written in Hebrew and Greek. For Jews, Arabic was a language of poets and drunkards. How can the Arabic Qur’an be contained in books written in other languages?
Now we have the choice between two different fallacies in Allah’s purported revelation. Because of verse 26.196, the words written “in clear Arabic speech” should be contained in the earlier revelations. But this is a lie, because these earlier revelations are not in Arabic, therefore the words cannot be in the earlier revelation. But then verse 26.196 becomes a lie in the Qur’an.
In no way we can save the situation. There are more such verses, e.g., the verse 16.103 also claims “this is Arabic pure and clear” which refers to the Qur’an without doubt.
Moreover, this raises another serious question: in what language is the one and only true original of the document? Was it written in Arabic, or Latin, or in some other language unknown to us? Certainly the first printed edition of the Qur’an was written in Arabic and subsequently the Quran has been translated into and printed in many other languages.
However, some scholars believe that initially the Qur’an was written in a popular dialect prevalent in the Hijaz (a coastal region of the western Arabian Peninsula bordering on the Red Sea), but that later the book was re-written in the Arabic literary language in which it now comes to us (Warraq, 2011, p. 83). If so, this means the original language of the Qur’an is not pure Arabic. But then what is the original language of this supposedly sacred scripture? Nobody on earth, not even the most devout Muslim, knows the answer to this question.
And there is another problem: the sceptics who doubt that any earthly edition of the Qur’an is a transcript of the “supernatural prototype” point out that earthly editions of the Qur’an contain many contradictions, inconsistencies, fallacies, errors, and absurdities. If the earthly editions are not free from error how can we be sure that the heavenly version (Q: 43.3 – “the mother of the book”; Q: 55.77 – “a concealed book”; Q: 85.22 – “a well guarded tablet”) is entirely error free? Or if we grant that it is so, does this imply that the “earthly” Qu’ran is corrupted?
Therefore we can see that the “language” argument of the Muslims does not stand on firm ground. If the Muslims claim that there are many “fake” translations in circulation (usually as part of a Zionist or Jewish conspiracy) to defame Islam, why is there no fatwa (religious verdict) to remove the fake copies from circulation, or even identify them? Why there is not an outrage similar to the Muhammad-cartoon incident, or Salman Rushdie’s 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses”, or the Pope’s criticism of Muhammad on September 12, 2006?
In fact there is no “fake” translation of the Arabic Qur’an. This “beautiful” book is a violent and hateful text and mother of all the terrorist manuals of today’s Islamic terrorism. So while criticizing Islam, the freethinkers should not think “who am I to criticize Islam? I don’t know any Arabic.” The language argument is a Muslim tactic to defend the many problems with the language of the Qu’ran. For a first-rate independent thinker, who embarks on studying and searching for the discovery of truth and reality with honesty and sincerity, language is not a barrier. If not, how come these freethinkers are able and happy to criticize Christianity or Hinduism? How many Western freethinkers and atheists know Hebrew? How many even know what the language of the Old Testament was? How many of them know the ancient Sanskrit to criticize the Hindu sacred texts? Of course, Muslims are also free in their criticism of the Bible and Christianity, and Hinduism and Bhagvada-Gita without knowing a word of Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek or Sanskrit.
Next, let us discuss the “out of context” argument. When the Jihadi verses are pointed out to the Muslims, they say “You have quoted out of context”. This “out of context” argument, to borrow words from Warraq, is the “old standby of crooked, lying politicians” (Warraq, 2003, p. 400).
“Context” in this instance could mean two things: the historical context to which the various verses refer; or the textual context (the actual place in a particular chapter that the verse quoted comes from).
The Historical Context is irrelevant. The Qur’an is supposed to be the eternal word of God and true and valid “forever”. If Allah is eternal, then Allah can neither have a past nor a history. Therefore, Muslims actually blaspheme their God when they talk about “historical context”. Secondly, as Spencer observed (2003, p. 127), reading the Qur’an is often like walking in on a conversation between two people with whom one is only slightly acquainted. Frequently they make reference to people and events without bothering to explain what is going on. Even the famous Muslim scholar and one of the most influential thinkers, Sayyid Qutb admits that most of the Surahs were not revealed as a whole but rather in a piecemeal fashion on diverse occasions and times, of which there is no historical record agreed upon by scholars. Hence the only option available to us is that of assumption and majority-opinion in this matter (cited Boullata, 2002, p. 363). In other words, the context is often not supplied. Therefore if the historical context is not given in the Qur’an, how a verse can be quoted “out of context” historically?
The remaining “context” is the textual context. There are some peaceful verses in the Qur’an which were revealed in Mecca and Muslims want to prove that Islam is a peaceful religion by quoting these verses. But all the peaceful verses were all abrogated by the violent verses of the ninth Surah because the ninth Surah was revealed later in Muhammad’s career. In fact, most Muslim authorities agree that the ninth Surah was the very last section of the Qur’an ‘revealed’ to him. Many Muslim theologians assert that the verse of sword (Q: 9.5) abrogates up to 124 more peaceful and tolerant verses of the Qur’an (Spencer, 2007, p. 78; McAuliffe, 2006, p. 218). The ninth Surah is the only one of the Qur’an’s 114 chapters that does not begin with “Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim” – “In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful.” Is this because Muhammad not only did not recite the Bismillah himself, but commanded that it not be recited at the beginning of this Surah? The Tafsir al-Jalalayn explains Muhammad’s command by saying that the Bismillah is security, and the ninth Surah was sent down when security was removed by the sword. Ali ibn Abi Talib agrees, saying that the Bismillah “conveys security while this Surah was sent down with the sword. That is why it does not begin with security” (Oliver, 2006, p. 537; Spencer, 2009, p. 200). Ibn Kathir declares that the verse of sword (Q: 9.5) has “abrogated every agreement of peace between the Prophet and any idolater, every treaty and every term … no idolater had any more treaty or promise of safety ever since the Surah Bara’ah [ninth Surah] was revealed” (Spencer, 2003, p. 134). Ibn Juzayy, another commentator, agrees that the verse of the sword’s purpose is “abrogating every peaceful treaty of the Qur’an” (Spencer, 2005, p. 25). Therefore the tolerant verses have been invalidated and, in effect, expunged from the Islamic scripture.
(The problem began when Uthman had the verses of the Qur’an collected and arranged them in such a way that the abrogated verses were mixed up with the abrogating verses (Ahmed, 2006, p. 77). This arrangement led to the appearance of discrepancies and contradictions in the Uthmanic Qur’an, which is used until our present day.)
The second proof of the abrogation of the peaceful verses is that the Sharia law does not take them into account – precisely because they are abrogated. Muslims try to fool the non-Muslims with twisted logic and pathological lying. They repeat the same lies again and again thinking that they will become true if repeated often enough. “Islam is a peaceful religion” is a lie which is as old as the birth of Islam. Why don’t we find the Taliban terrorists singing the peaceful verses from the Qur’an while beheading the captives? If the verse “There is no compulsion in religion.” (Q: 2.256) is still valid why did Muslims destroy the world-famous Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan or ancient shrines in Mali? Why do apostates from Islam fear for their lives?
In November 2002, Osama bin Laden quoted eight jihadi verses from the Qur’an in a “Letter to the American People” and in his 1996 declaration of jihad against the USA, he quoted sixteen jihadi verses (Spencer, 2003, p. 125). The long history of lying has caused some Muslims to believe their own lies; they are delusional like their Prophet.
Furthermore, the reinterpretation of Qur’anic verses is officially allowed. Sheikh Youssef Alqardawi, the most famous Muslim scholar in the Arab world, appears on Al Jazeera’s weekly program “Sharia and Life”, to discuss issues related to Islam and answer some of the questions put to him through phone calls. On February 22 2009, he rejected the evolution theory, because the Qur’an says otherwise; but he reassured his audience that Muslims don’t need to worry about the evolution theory as long as it remains a theory. Only if it becomes a recognized scientific fact would the Muslim scholars reinterpret the relevant verses in the Qur’an to bring them in line with proven scientific facts (Salih, 2009). Muslims claim that the Qur’an is divine, but shamelessly reinterpret the Qur’an by twisting the language and changing the meanings of the words or even introducing completely new meanings. This is how the Muslims lie to save their holy book from downfall. Their logic is simple, “The Qur’an is correct even when it is wrong”.
From the above discussion, it is very clear that when dealing with Muslims, what they say is not the issue. The real issue is what they actually mean in their hearts. They lie when it is in their interest to do so because Allah will not hold them accountable for lying when it is beneficial to the cause of Islam. They lie by swearing to Allah, or by taking an oath by the Prophet, Ka’ba and Qur’an – all with a very sincere and pious look and an innocent face without any guilt or fear of accountability or retribution. And one lie leads to another lie to cover up the first one. A lie in the defence of Islam is approved, even applauded, in the Qur’an.
Allah/Muhammad were two of the greatest liars humanity had ever seen. It is quite fascinating that both of them could just tell a lie and make the Muslims believe it’s true. Muslims have picked up the habit of lying from the Qur’an. If we don’t understand today the Muslims’ Qur’anic strategy of lying to propagate the cult of Islam, we just invite more death and destruction on us in the future.
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Sujit Das lives in Mumbai (India). He is the author of several articles critical of Islam and a book “Islam Dismantled: The Mental Illness of Prophet Muhammad” available for online purchase at Amazon.com and in various book stores. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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