A Beginner’s Guide to Countering Islam
Understanding Islam’s core religious texts
There’s something different about Islam. Many of us realize this is the case, many have an undefined feeling that there is something ‘wrong’ with it that is at odds with our Western values, but are unable to articulate it.
Perhaps my extensive learning and experience in the subject of Islam after more than a decade working in the Middle East may be of value to those who have found themselves browbeaten by Islamic apologists and wished they had good rebuttals, for those interested in Christian outreach to Muslims, or people that just want to understand Islam.
Discussion about Islam is surrounded by a great deal of ignorance, assumptions and emotion – however these only cloud the issue. The way to truth is through facts.
My intention is that the information that I share will be useful to any who want discuss the subject of Islam and the recent major Jihad attacks intelligently, to rebut often dishonest or misguided arguments, and understand the threat of supremacist political groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultimate motivation and methodology behind Jihad. It is easy to spot where a bomb went off, it’s harder to trace networks and subtle, subversive political and social infiltration.
Recently I participated in a university forum dedicated to counter-terrorism. The particular discussion topic was ‘religious terror’, however we were explicitly advised by moderators to leave any discussion of religion out of the subject of ‘religious terror’. Though of course if Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism were discussed or even criticized this was allowed without objection.
There was, of course, one religion that when mentioned, even in the most respectful and scholarly fashion with detailed references, even when referencing the public quotations, publications or documents from terror groups and their leaders, would receive almost immediate objection and accusations of the dreaded ‘Islamophobia’.
Any comments relating to the recent major acts of terror by Muslims in Europe and America were met with i) “This has nothing to do with Islam” and ii) “You’re an Islamophobic racist if you want to discuss a connection between terrorists shouting ‘Allahu Akbar!’ (Allah is greater! [than your God]) while murdering Westerners and Islam”. These claims were made by Muslim housewives, graphic artists and clerical workers who seemed to be on the forum purely to police any discussion of Islam and complain vehemently to the moderators about how offended they were.
No genuine discussion of the motives and doctrine of the terrorists was allowed by the university staff. Both our next and current generation of academics, terror analysts and policy makers seem required to bury their heads in the sand and remain in denial.
Detailed references to the most authentic Islamic sources will be invaluable for those wanting factual information on Islam, its political and social aims in the West, its ideology, common arguments and methods.
Much ignorance exists among Western policy makers, researchers and the otherwise educated, it is also surprising to me how Christians and Westerners are apologists for Islam and defend those expressing an ideology that intends to subjugate them.
For the record, I have good Muslim friends. From my interactions I realized that I know more about the doctrine and history of Islam than they do, and the Muslims I have (carefully and respectfully) spoken to on the subject. I have visited nearly every country in the Middle East multiple times working in a sensitive role.
Let me set a foundation
I will cite only the most authentic, credible Islamic sources to present the theology, ideology and doctrine of Islam. A simple rule is that Islam is what is found in the Quran and the sayings and actions of Mohammed. If it is found there it is Islamic, no matter what your neighbour or colleague says or feels.
Islamic doctrine is found in 3 works of literature
- Hadith (A collection of reports describing the words, actions, or habits of Mohammed)
- Sira (Mohammed’s biography, first collected together by Ibn Ishaq).
These works are listed in order of their relative importance.
There are strong and weak Hadith. The most authentic or sound collection of Hadith is considered to be that written by Bukhari followed by Muslim, referred to as Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. Sahih means ‘sound’, denoting good, reliable, strong or trustworthy.
- The Quran contains a little bit more than 150 000 words, it is roughly the length of the New Testament.
- The Sira is a little bit over 290 000 words.The Hadith of Bukhari is a little over 640 000 words, containing several thousand reports.
- The Hadith + Sira = the Sunnah of Mohammed. The Sunnah + Quran = the primary sources for i) Islamic theology and ii) Shariah, Islamic Sacred Law.
The Sunnah are the record of the teachings, deeds and sayings, permissions and disapprovals of Mohammed, as well as reports about his companions. Sunnah is also defined as a path, a way, a manner of life (thus making Islam a social order as well); the Sunnah contains the traditions and practices of Mohammed that have become the ideal model to be followed by Muslims, since Mohammed is regarded as the perfect Muslim.
Often the “You’re quoting that out of context!” argument is used to de-legitimize the use of uncomfortable passages from the Quran, and it is true that the Quran makes statements that often lack context. The Hadith collections and the Sira provide that context.
Then there are the Tafsir, commentaries on the by Quran by revered scholars of Islam. Literally, Tafsir means ‘interpretation’ and is the equivalent of Christian exegesis. Tafsir deals with linguistics, jurisprudence (law) and theology – and the Tafsir often provide detailed additional context for verses in the Quran.
One of the best online resources for searching and comparing the Quran, Hadith and Tafsir is http://www.quranx.com
For example, use Quranx to compare Q4.34 (Quran Chapter 4, Verse 34): “As for women of whom you fear rebellion, admonish them, and remain apart from them in beds, and beat them.”
Select the Arberry and Maududi translations and observe the differences and similarities in the various translations. (Note, the verse does not refer to women who have rebelled, it refers to women from whom you fear rebellion.)
Next we refer to the Tafsir for clarity on the verse. I’ll select 3 from Quranx.
- Tafsir Al-Jalalayn
- Tafsir Ibn Al Kathir
- Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an
Now, let’s examine the Hadith. These are best searched with Google to find relevant references, after which they can be viewed on Quranx.
Iyas ibn Abdullah ibn Abu Dhubab reported the Messenger of Allah as saying: Do not beat Allah’s handmaidens, but when Umar came to the Messenger of Allah and said: Women have become emboldened towards their husbands, he (the Prophet) gave permission to beat them.
Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab:The Prophet said: A man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife. http://quranx.com/Hadith/AbuDawud/DarusSalam/Hadith-2147
Finally, let us examine Islamic Sacred Law (Sharia) for its ruling. From the highly respected Sharia manual, The Reliance of the Traveller:
M10.11: Dealing with a Rebellious Wife When a husband notices signs of rebelliousness in his wife (nushuz, dis: p42) (O: whether in words, as when she answers him coldly when she used to do so politely, or he asks her to come to bed and she refuses, contrary to her usual habit; or whether in acts, as when he finds her averse to him when she was previously kind and cheerful), he warns her in words (O: without keeping from her or hitting her, for it may be that she has an excuse. The warning could be to tell her, “Fear Allah concerning the rights you owe to me, ” or it could be to explain that rebelliousness nullifies his obligation to support her and give her a turn amongst other wives, or it could be to inform her, “Your obeying me [def: (3) below] is religiously obligatory”). If she commits rebelliousness, he keeps from sleeping (O: and having sex) with her without words, and may hit her, but not in a way that injures her, meaning he may not (A: bruise her,) break bones, wound her, or cause blood to flow. (O: It is unlawful to strike another’s face). He may hit her whether she is rebellious only once or whether more than once, though a weaker opinion holds that he may not hit her unless there is repeated rebelliousness.
(c) if keeping from her is ineffectual, it is permissible for him to hit her.
I believe this will suffice to get you started on the road to critical examination of Islam.
Back to the Quran. Passages about Allah, based on textual analysis of the Quran, are 14% of the total content. The remaining 86% is about the life, sayings and deeds of Mohammed.
It is a fundamental principle of Islam that a Muslim is to follow the example of Mohammed, the ideal pattern of conduct. This is stated in the Quran 91 times. These commands take two forms — historical examples and direct commands. Mohammed is ultimately the ideal moral example for all Muslims to follow.
Finally, the Quran has an early period and a late period, often referred to as the Meccan Quran and Medinan Quran. They have wildly contradictory peaceful and violent verses. The Law of Abrogation (Naskh) tells us that a chronologically later verse is theologically better than an older one. However both verses stand as true, since the Western concept of unitary logic and disqualification does not apply for theological reasons.
(Note, the Quranic progression is from peaceful to violent, which is the direct opposite of the Biblical progression).
Q2.106: And for whatever verse We abrogate or cast into oblivion, We bring a better or the like of it; knowest thou not that God is powerful over everything? http://quranx.com/2.106
Q16:101: And when We substitute a verse in place of a verse – and Allah is most knowing of what He sends down – they say, “You, [O Muhammad], are but an inventor [of lies].” But most of them do not know. http://quranx.com/16.101
The same process of consulting the Hadith, Tafsir, Sira and The Reliance applies to these verses for context and clarity.
Approximately 225 verses are abrogated by later verses. 71 of the 114 chapters of the Quran have abrogations, cancelling the previous verses.
Further confusion arises because the Quran is arranged by length of chapter, it is not in chronological order.