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Ismahan Levi

Writes to faithfreedom.com team. 

May 6 2002

Dear Sirs, 

Thank you for the opportunity to make my views known. I recently happened upon your web site and, as requested, read through some of your articles fully and, to the best of my ability, with an open mind. I say "best of my ability" because what to me may be an open mind may be justifiably construed as being polemical in the extreme by another. This aside, I felt strongly enough about some of your articles to write this note to you. 

As you will note from my name, I am of Arabic descent, married to a Jew. I was disowned by my family and community whose views are based upon  the teachings of the Quran which states, more or less, that while a  Muslim male may marry a Jewish or Christian woman (provided their  children, if any, are brought up as Muslims), a Muslim woman may not marry  anyone but a Muslim man. This teaching was, in my case, verified by the local Imam whose word carries weight, despite another of your articles' claim that Islam does not have a priesthood. 

I was surprised, therefore, to read a statement in your article on interfaith marriages, which implies that interfaith marriages are allowed. While this is technically true, it isn't complete. 

Permit me to go a step further. I decided after years of self-debate to renounce Islam for very simple reasons. Islam, as is the case with Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, et al, has a fight on its hands to prove the existence of any god, leave alone a specific one. Moreover, when any religion claims to have the specific word of a god written in a so-called holy book, it behoves that religion to prove the validity of the book. By definition, an omniscient and omnipotent god's word (book) must necessarily be free of contradiction and falsehood as, for instance, is claimed by the Quran. The demonstration of even one such, no matter how simplistic, refutes, the claim to divine inspiration. Thus, the theory of meteors being missiles cast at spying djinns, apart from defying credibility, does precisely that. 

To rephrase an Austrian Emperor, those of your articles I've read are emotional but do not convince. 

May I ask that you make your guestbook available for public viewing or, if it is, make a link to it more prominent. Thank you. 

Permit me to finish this communication as I began by thanking you for the opportunity to respond and make my views, for what they are worth, known. I also state that I do not, to the best of my knowledge, know or have met Dr Sina, or concur with some of his views. 

Regards,

 

Ismahan Levi


DATE: Tue, 7 May 2002 12:14:38 
From: "Faithfreedom.com" <exposelies@yahoo.com>
To: ilevi@lycos.com

Dear Ismahan,  

We have to acknowledge truth of your claims and we do sincerely apologies if you feel we were not presenting the essential facts correctly. The said article has been noted and a change will be made soon to reflect your points which are more than fair. Though, please do understand this was not meant to in any way mislead. The context of the article is Mr Sina's constant brainwashing. Mr Sina uses the term "unbeliever" in a very loose way, and by telling half truths and making half baked conjecture is able to mislead the already somewhat badly informed public that Islam demands the demise of anyone who does not follow it! - which of course is absurd, because within the Quran there are guidelines for Christians and Jews as well as Pagans who do not make war against the Muslims - to live in peace with one another. Interfaith marriages and the permissibility of Kosher food is just an example of this forever meant to be method of rule.   

I am curious to know if you have considered the views of Islamic scholars regarding the interfaith marriage issue. The general argument is that traditionally, (without being sexist) upon marriage the wife is a member of the husbands household. What the husband enjoins, generally the wife enjoins. What the husband dislikes, generally the wife dislikes (or comes to dislike). What the husband permits, the wife permits. What the husband celebrates, the wife celebrates. If that seems far too old fashioned for you then consider this: The man has always been the dominant specie, could 7th century Arabia have worked in the way you want it to? I doubt it very much. Upon entering the household of a Jewish or Christian man the wife would have to do pretty much as her husband demands of her (following on from the teachings of the OT and NT) which I’m sure your aware, on the whole, are less gender equal than the Quran’s teachings concerning women.  

With that aside I personally have met two sisters who have reverted to Islam yet have Christian or Atheist husbands. For both, their reversions took place after their marriages. One Sister knows exactly what her faith demands of her yet holds back simply because she can’t stand to lose her husband. In such a situation I can only say: Your Lord knows best! No one except your Maker can ever know the true feelings you have inside, and everyone is to be judged upon their own merits and upon limits which apply to them in particular.  

Thus, the theory of meteors being missiles cast at spying djinns, apart from defying credibility, does precisely that.

Excuse me if I didn’t comprehend your exact belief but as a Muslim and student of physics and of the philosophy of science I constantly battle with atheists regarding the referred to verse. If the idea of “secret beyond matter” i.e. Jinn’s appears farcical to you, or the existence of God is something you sternly reject then that does not leave you in a very good position to be making claims that the above defies credibility. If you vividly accept that “Jinn” which according to the Quran are a creation made of “smokeless flame” (which are beyond the spectrum limit of what our eyes and camera lenses can register) actually exist and that they act as spies for their chief, Satan, then the above, as mythical and nonsensical as it seems, begins to make sense in the context it was meant to be inferred. Totally denying the first two realities will inevitably lead to a mocking of the third.  

Thank you for taking the time to write to us. We must confess this is the most pleasant reply we have had from a non-Muslim thus far.  

Yours,

 

ff.com  

PS: We use to have a guestbook in which we freely allowed people to leave their comments, but this was proving to be a nightmare with the constant removal of offensive (racist), often obscene (links to pornography) content. We will however, soon launch a page whereby we aim to be including comments such as yours.  

 


Ismahan's second letter to the Faithfreedom.com team 

To: Send an Instant Message "Faithfreedom.com" <exposelies@yahoo.com>
Date: Mon, 13 May 2002 14:42:45 +1000
From: "Ismahan Levi" <ilevi@lycos.com> |

 

 Dear Sirs, 

Thank you for your reply to my email regarding interfaith marriages and Islam. I appreciate the time and effort taken. I also appreciate the magnanimity of your response and thank your associates and you for it. 

There are two points I wish to make in reply. Firstly, your response raises issues which I will address. (Using accepted convention I will copy your statements as they obtain within quotations and respond to them immediately below.) Secondly, to the extent that mention is made of Dr Ali Sina and his views, I believe he ought to be aware of our correspondence; to this end I will send him a copy of this communication. With this understanding, then, let us commence. 

“…within the Quran there are guidelines for Christians and Jews as well as Pagans who do not make war against the Muslims - to live in peace with one another.” 

This statement is, as before, correct but incomplete. It makes no reference to the reality of Islam and its unique principle of abrogation (suras 2:160  2:106 , 13:39, 17:86, etc). While the Quran does initially state that Muslims and others are to live amicably with each other, this teaching is abrogated by later verses which state that Islam is to be “shown” to people of other faiths who, if they refuse to acknowledge, accept and follow it, are then are to be slain (suras 9:5, 47:5, and 8:39 among others). These contradict sura 2:256, “There is no compulsion in religion”. Since sura 9 was among the last to be “revealed to Muhammad”, it logically abrogates sura 2:256. In the case of Christians and Jews specifically, the Quran states they may continue to worship as their faiths require with certain provisos: they pay a tax to worship as they require, their temples of worship do not exceed in height those of Islam, they acknowledge the supremacy of Islam, etc. The principle of abrogation extends to other matters too. Suras 2:142-144, 24:2, 8:65-66, etc are examples of this concept. Further reading of the Quran and Bukhari will authenticate these claims and those of Dr Sina. 

The above lead to questions regarding abrogation. For instance, it is claimed that the Quran is the exact copy of the perfect book that exists in heaven. If it exists in heaven as a perfect book, why would it contain verses that have been abrogated? If those verses were really to be abrogated or forgotten, why were they in there in the first place? Doesn’t it stand to reason that the heavenly book is either imperfect or the Quran as we have it isn’t an exact copy? Also, what of the sequence of abrogation? How does it make sense that one verse is followed immediately by another that cancels it? How does it make sense that an earlier verse cancels a later one? Why was the later verse revealed in that case? 

“I am curious to know if you have considered the views of Islamic scholars regarding the interfaith marriage issue.” 

Yes, I did consult with some Imams on this issue. Each of them made the pointed (in my opinion) observation that the Quran is very plain in this matter. A Muslim woman has no alternative to marriage to a Muslim man. There are no exceptions. 

“The general argument is that traditionally … upon marriage the wife is a member of the husbands household. What the husband enjoins, generally the wife enjoins. What the husband dislikes, generally the wife dislikes (or comes to dislike). What the husband permits, the wife permits. What the husband celebrates, the wife celebrates. If that seems far too old fashioned for you then consider this: The man has always been the dominant specie, could 7th century Arabia have worked in the way you want it to? I doubt it very much.” 

Tradition is an important part of life in countries in the Middle East and elsewhere. Many of these have been interwoven into Islam. Thus we have women thought of as dependent upon men and inferior to them (sura 4:34 et al). In the days of Muhammad, women may well have been dependent upon men. This isn’t necessarily so today, especially not in secular nations which allow for the Declaration of Human Rights. This aspect of Islam was the product of and for a specific time and place and has little, if any, relevance to today’s world. If Islamic nations were to provide equal rights and opportunity to women and accept the Declaration of Human Rights, I daresay this facet of Islam would become even more irrelevant. 

This tradition you refer to is one perpetuated by men that a woman is somehow inferior and unable to make decisions about herself by herself. Does this tradition, which finds an echo in the Quran and the works of apologists like at Tabari, et al, have any relevance whatsoever to those single women in secular nations who decide to live alone or in a relationship not sanctioned by organized religion? Are such women inferior to any men in any way? I don’t believe they are. A woman scientist heads the organization for which I work. She is accomplished, intelligent and lives in a de facto relationship. How is it assumed that she is incapable of looking after herself, deciding what she wishes to do or inferior to a man in any way? I daresay there are several other instances of such persons. Don’t their very existence, accomplishments and way of life disprove the Quran’s statement on male superiority? 

In regard to traditional dominance I suggest a body of evidence exists to indicate man has not always been the dominant gender, as anthropologists will verify. 

“… I personally have met two sisters who have reverted to Islam yet have Christian or Atheist husbands. For both, their reversions took place after their marriages.” 

As you note, in both cases the husbands are either Christian or atheist. I imagine these situations obtained in a secular nation. Could the same be said of Muslim husbands in Muslim countries or elsewhere? Would a Muslim husband permit the Muslim woman he married to become a Christian or atheist  and remain married to her? Would he then permit her to live her life as a Christian or atheist yet continue to love and respect her? Would he permit her to instill in their children Christian or atheistic and Islamic values and allow them to decide upon their beliefs as they grow? I confess I cannot see that happening. My Jewish husband married me as a Muslim and accepts fully my atheistic views and values despite his religious convictions. For instance, we do not eat kosher / halal meat because, in my opinion, the killing of animals by traditional methods is inhumane and needless. Can you see Muslim men doing likewise? 

“Excuse me if I didn’t comprehend your exact belief but as a Muslim and student of physics and of the philosophy of science I constantly battle with atheists regarding the referred to verse (meteors and djinns – I. L.). If the idea of “secret beyond matter” i.e. Jinn’s appears farcical to you, or the existence of God is something you sternly reject then that does not leave you in a very good position to be making claims that the above defies credibility. If you vividly accept that “Jinn” which according to the Quran are a creation made of “smokeless flame” (which are beyond the spectrum limit of what our eyes and camera lenses can register) actually exist and that they act as spies for their chief, Satan, then the above, as mythical and nonsensical as it seems, begins to make sense in the context it was meant to be inferred. Totally denying the first two realities will inevitably lead to a mocking of the third.” 

In my opinion, this is convoluted reasoning and does not lend to credibility. (Please refer to the website www.infidels.org/news/atheism/logic.html which provides an excellent resource on the subject of logic and logical fallacies.) According to your statements, I need to believe in a god (specifically, that of the Quran) to understand and believe in djinns and meteors cast at them. The fact remains that meteors are no more than space debris, trapped in the Earth’s gravitational field, which burn up on entering our atmosphere. This fact alone negates any claims of supreme councils being spied upon, meteors (material objects) being cast as missiles at djinns (immaterial entities), etc. Science demonstrates that a meteor is space debris which burns because of the combined effect of friction and speed. By deduction, isn’t the other explanation rendered groundless and ineffectual? I wonder what Muhammad might have made of Halley’s comet, the Aurora Borealis or the meteor impacts up on Jupiter had he witnessed those. To quote a fictional detective, “This world is sufficiently large for people; no spirits and demons need apply.” 

It is not my intention to enter into a debate on your religious beliefs with your associates or you or, worse, attempt to impose my views upon any of you. Your associates and you have, in my opinion, every right to believe what you may and worship as you may. So too do those of the Church of Scientology, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the followers of the Rev.Moon. But as a corollary, no religion can claim to be superior to another in any way. Moreover, when a religion or philosophy assumes a scientific basis for its beliefs and tenets, it enters the public realm and leaves itself open to scientific examination and criticism. 

The point of this exercise is to demonstrate that some of the issues you raise (in public and in correspondence to me) are, I believe, illogical or incomplete in some respects. 

Finally, and as before, permit me to thank you for the opportunity to make my views known, for your time in this matter and for your patience in going through what has become a rather lengthy correspondence. 

Regards,

 

Ismahan Levi


Dear Ismahan, 

I will now respond using similar convention. 

This statement is, as before, correct but incomplete. It makes no reference to the reality of Islam and its unique principle of abrogation (suras 2:106, 13:39, 17:86, etc).. 

Abrogation is by no means “unique” to Islam. The concept of abrogation: the nullifying of an older commandment or practice in favour of a newer law, is nothing new and it has practiced by God for eons – we are told of this within the Quran (i.e. how God relaxed or introduced certain prohibitions for mankind with each new messenger for their own benefit) and we can see evidences of it throughout the OT and NT. What we know is that the laws governing mankind (i.e., Shariah) change according to the needs of the society. But the concept of monotheism (i.e., Tawheed) remains the same. The Creator knows very well that his creation, the humans, need time and discipline to grow and mature, He reveals commandments and practices that help them develop both as individuals and as members of society. 

O ye who believe, say not (unto the Prophet): "Listen to us" but say "Look upon us," and be ye listeners. For disbelievers is a painful doom. 2:104 

Neither those who disbelieve among the people of the Scripture nor the idolaters love that there should be sent down unto you any good thing from your Lord. But Allah chooseth for His mercy whom He will, and Allah is of Infinite Bounty. 2:105           

Nothing of our revelation (even a single verse) do we abrogate or cause be forgotten, but we bring (in place) one better or the like thereof. Knowest thou not that Allah is Able to do all things ? 2:106 

Knowest thou not that it is Allah unto Whom belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth; and ye have not, beside Allah, any guardian or helper ? 2:107 

Whilst the concept of abrogation is almost certainly a reality it does not exist to the extent you claim nor is the concept announced within the Quran as explicitly as some claim on the contrary abrogation is something which is interwoven into the proceedings of every day life and is overlooked. It takes places without people knowing and cannot be defined or extracted from a particular context. Western polemics use nothing but translation and ignorance of basic historical fact to come to the decision that abrogation of commandments sent by God (during the time of Mohammed) is admitted by God within the Quran. The above verse uses the word “abrogate” in a totally different context. For example the Arabic word “Ayah” cannot only mean verse, but is also used for things such as: signs, miracles of God, examples set forth, tokens, revelations. Lets read the parallel translations: 

Arabic: Walaqad atayna moosa tisAAa ayatin bayyinatin fais-al banee isra-eela ith jaahum faqala lahu firAAawnu innee laathunnuka ya moosa mashooran 

Yusuf Ali:            None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that God Hath power over all things?

Zohurul Hoque:            Whatever of a message We abrogate, or We cause it to be forgotten, We bring one better than that, or the like of it. Do you not know that Allah indeed is the Possessor of power over all things?

T. J. Irving:            We do not cancel any verse nor let it be forgotten instead We bring something better than it or else something similar. Do you not know that God is Capable of everything?

T.U. Hilali-M. Khan:            Whatever a Verse (revelation) do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it. Know you not that Allâh is able to do all things?

M. Pickthall:            Nothing of our revelation (even a single verse) do we abrogate or cause be forgotten, but we bring (in place) one better or the like thereof. Knowest thou not that Allah is Able to do all things ?

M.H. Shakir:            Whatever communications We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or like it. Do you not know that Allah has power over all things? 

As for the other verses you have put forward which are supposed to be showing how God used abrogation during the time of Mohammed, I urge you to read in the correct context, in Arabic, and ask yourself once again if these are really describing abrogation of text in the Quran. 

While the Quran does initially state that Muslims and others are to live amicably with each other, this teaching is abrogated by later verses which state that Islam is to be “shown” to people of other faiths who, if they refuse to acknowledge, accept and follow it, are then are to be slain (suras 9:5, 47:5, and 8:39 among others). These contradict sura

2:256, “There is no compulsion in religion”. Since sura 9 was among the last to be “revealed to Muhammad”, it logically abrogates sura 2:256. 

Are you serious?  “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)” 9:5 Osama Bin Ladin used the same verse within his fatwa to justify his new spree of attacks. 

This can be invalidated very simply. You are obviously trying to give the impression that the referred verse of the Quran is directing all individual Muslims from every era to declare a war against all 'pagans' of the world (actually those particular type of pagans are no longer in existence, therefore the verse would be void by now in any case). Nevertheless, it is a well known fact that the verse relates to a period, when an organized Muslim state existed in Medina and it was, in fact, this Muslim state organized under the leadership of the Prophet, which was directed to fight the 'pagans' in these verses. The Muslims, who are addressed in these verses are, in fact, addressed as citizens of an organized Muslim state, which had declared war against the 'pagans'. This is clearly the case in each and every one of the verses, which entail directives relating to Jihad.

Furthermore, the 'pagans' against whom fighting is ordained by the referred verses are not general in nature, but are actually only the polytheists of Banu Ishmael – historical fact. It should be clearly understood that the directive of fighting entailed in these verses relates specifically to God's law relating to the ultimate manifestation of Truth at the hands of His messenger. The implication of these verses cannot, in any case, be extended to anyone besides the direct addressees of the Messenger of God. Tradition is an important part of life in countries in the Middle East and elsewhere. Many of these have been interwoven into Islam. Thus we have women thought of as dependent upon men and inferior to them (sura 4:34 et al). 

I cannot for one moment believe that as an Arab speaking person you seem to think that 4:34 is teaching anything other than a basic fact of life – That men are both emotionally and physically stronger than women 

In the days of Muhammad, women may well have been dependent upon men. This isn’t necessarily so today, especially not in secular nations which allow for the Declaration of Human Rights. 

I beg to differ. This is a very modern, supposedly liberal ideology which only (yet) exists as a front. Even in the secular society it does not hold true for the vast majority of females, though the situation may change in a few more decades. Even so Islam does not place any restrictions on these women.

 

This aspect of Islam was the product of and for a specific time and place and has little, if any, relevance to today’s world. 

Is that so, just for Islam? Does it not apply to Christianity and Judaism as well as Islam.

 

If Islamic nations were to provide equal rights and opportunity to women and accept the Declaration of Human Rights, I daresay this facet of Islam would become even more irrelevant. 

I almost certainly agree with you that the so-called Islamic nations could provide much better equal rights and opportunities for women. Again this is due to traditional and cultural values. Western ignorance often pleads “In Islam the woman has no choice of marriage partner” – not knowing that arranged marriages are actually an ancient Hindu custom. Though isn’t it a bit hypocritical for the “civilized” Western nations to be supporting these corrupt regimes whilst decrying such behavior elsewhere? Equal opportunities for women in Saudi Arabia among others need to be reinstated but can only be achieved if these corrupt  regimes can be toppled, but will it ever happen? especially when they exist to serve American interests! Do have a long and hard think about why it is impossible to reinstate full rights to people in certain parts of the world. 

This tradition you refer to is one perpetuated by men that a woman is somehow inferior and unable to make decisions about herself by herself. Does this tradition, which finds an echo in the Quran and the works of apologists like at Tabari, et al, have any relevance whatsoever to those single women in secular nations who decide to live alone or in a relationship not sanctioned by organised religion? Are such women inferior to any men in any way? I don’t believe they are. 

I must intercede here. Apart from the basic fact that women are physically inferior to men the above is not true for Islam. There are various accounts (within the hadith) and also in the Quran of where women were allowed to discuss, make their own choices and argue with the Prophet on matters relating to marriage bond, wealth and property. Decision already made for them? I beg to differ. 

Volume 7, Book 63, Number 199:

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: The wife of Thabit bin Qais bin Shammas came to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Apostle! I do not blame Thabit for any defects in his character or his religion, but I am afraid that I (being a Muslim) may become unthankful for Allah's Blessings." On that, Allah's Apostle said (to her), 'Will you return his garden to him?" She said, "Yes." So she returned his garden to him and the Prophet told him to divorce her.

Volume 7, Book 63, Number 206:

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: Barira's husband was a slave called Mughith, as if I am seeing him now, going behind Barira and weeping with his tears flowing down his beard. The Prophet said to 'Abbas, "O 'Abbas ! are you not astonished at the love of Mughith for Barira and the hatred of Barira for Mughith?" The Prophet then said to Barira, "Why don't you return to him?" She said, "O Allah's Apostle! Do you order me to do so?" He said, "No, I only intercede for him." She said, "I am not in need of him."

Volume 7, Book 63, Number 227: Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:

Hilal bin Umaiyya accused his wife of illegal sexual intercourse and came to the Prophet to bear witness (against her), (taking the oath of Lian). The Prophet was saying, "Allah knows that either of you is a liar. Will anyone of you repent (to Allah)?" Then the lady got up and gave her witness.

Ibn Abbas reported that a girl came to the Messenger of Allah, and she reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent. The Messenger of God gave her the choice...(between accepting the marriage or invalidating it) (Ahmad, Hadith no. 2469). Another version of the report states that “the girl said: ‘Actually, I accept this marriage, but I wanted to let women know that parents have no right to force a husband on them.’” (Ibn-Majah).

According to your statements, I need to believe in a god (specifically, that of the Quran) to understand and believe in djinns and meteors cast at them. The fact remains that meteors are no more than space debris, trapped in the Earth’s gravitational field, which burn up on entering our atmosphere. 

First of all: as always with what happens when Islam comes underneath the microscope a whole array of assumptions have been made before we have even bothered to consider what the Quran is describing. Just a belief in the idea of non-visible (to the human eye) matter would suffice furthermore we cannot make the assumption that meteors are what is being described.

Assumptions you have probably made:

·            Meteors are definitely what is being described.

·            Mohammed saw a meteorite in the sky and devised this theory.

·           The lower heavens are the skies of the Earth.

Scientifically meteors are not the same as stars yet the sensationalists continue to describe meteorites as ‘shooting stars’. But we are not of those kind! The only reason why they are visible is because they are so close to The Earth. Yes you are correct most meteors are tiny specks of dust and rapidly burn up in the atmosphere but is this what the Quran is describing? How can you be so sure? Why did you make that assumption? Is it because this could’ve been the only thing Mohammed could witness with his very own eyes? Isn’t your ends justifying the means?

Are you implying that space debris exposed to the gravitational field of Mars do not burn upon entering the atmosphere of Mars? (of course your not). Your ends is justifying the means since according to you Mohammed wrote the Quran, he would have no knowledge of matters on Mars, any planet, or of anywhere in space for that matter. Therefore the words he supposedly uttered were all related to what he was witnessing with his own two eyes. Since the Quran (as it tells us) is the word of an omnipotent omnipresent being, namely God, He would be in a perfect position to make such statements (even if the events he was relating took place a billion light years away from our own Earth). 

This fact alone negates any claims of supreme councils being spied upon, meteors (material objects) being cast as missiles at djinns (immaterial entities), etc. Science demonstrates that a meteor is space debris which burns because of the combined effect of friction and speed. By education, isn’t the other explanation rendered groundless and ineffectual? 

There is no contradiction between science and God, let me put it another way: “Science is God in action”. Again even if near-Earth meteors were what God is describing in those particular verses, could it not be that these meteors and the direction and speed (velocity) with which they arrived, progressed and eventually burned up was an ordained event? How could you possibly verify it wasn’t? After all God is the ruler of all affairs as he constantly reminds us throughout the Quran. 

Allah created you from dust, then from a little fluid, then He made you pairs (the male and female). No female beareth or bringeth forth save with His knowledge. And no-one groweth old who groweth old, nor is aught lessened of his life, but it is recorded in a Book, Lo! that is easy for Allah. 35:11

God is the Creator of all things, and He is guardian and watcher over everything. To Him belong the keys of the heavens and Earth. (39:62-3)

Glory be to Him in Whose hand is the kingdom and inner dimensions of all things. (36:83)

There is not a moving creature but He has grasp of it by the forelock.(11:56)

Those who disbelieve say: The Hour will never come unto us. Say: Nay, by my Lord, but it is coming unto you surely. (He is) the Knower of the Unseen. Not an atoms weight, or less than that or greater, escapes Him in the heavens or in the earth, but it is in a clear Record. That He may reward those who believe and do good words. For them is pardon and a rich provision. But those who strive against our revelations, challenging (Us), theirs will be a painful doom of wrath. (34:3-5)\

 

The point of this exercise is to demonstrate that some of the issues you raise (in public and in correspondence to me) are, I believe, illogical or incomplete in some respects. 

Can I ask how you could possibly understand Godly wisdom through abrogation if you do not for one minute believe in an all-ruling Creator? (please read this question at least thrice before commenting). 

I do not wish to engage in a lengthy discussion about logic and why I feel I am logically profound than most Atheists. Such a discussion would be completely pointless between two people with differing beliefs; rather the focus should remain to be on weighing up the chances of there not being an intelligent being governing this wonderful universe. I will say to you though, for me to deny this magnificent force in nature which bore us out of nothingness (as we know it) really is the most illogical, and down right foolish thing I could ever do. As easy as you deny the existence of God (The Creator) I accept him with 100% certainty. Personally (and I will divulge only slightly) this is the result of what I experience with my (seemingly) unconscious mind (through dreams). These dreams relate to me aspects of my day ahead to the most incredible detail - making for enough proof of the spiritual world at least. 

Thank you very much for your reply. As I’m sure you know only too well, it is very difficult for working professionals to put aside time for preparing these lengthy writings. This is why we took almost a week and a half to get back to you. We would now like to focus on preparing more articles on our website for the benefit of Dr Sina’s fans. 

Once again, thank you, and may the force be with you!

 

ff.com  


 

Ismahan Levi Responds

Dear Sirs,  

Thank you for your response to my last email. The time and effort expended in doing so by your colleagues and you are much appreciated. 

As I stated at the outset of our exchange of communications, it is not my desire to enter into a debate on your beliefs with your colleagues or you. I felt I had a point to make in regard to some of the issues you raised in the articles published at your website (for instance, in regard to interfaith marriages as viewed by Islam, the authority of the Islamic hierarchy in view of your statement that Islam does not have a priesthood, etc.) and so initiated this correspondence. Further correspondence raised a few more issues, which I have attempted to address from the point of view of one who has been part of the Islamic fold and now no longer empathizes with its philosophy. Permit me, then, to continue in this vein and address your last email. As before, I will follow accepted convention and paste your statements before responding to them. 

“Abrogation is by no means “unique” to Islam. The concept of abrogation: the nullifying of an older commandment or practice in favour of a newer law, is nothing new and it has practiced by God for eons – we are told of this within the Quran…” 

The concept of abrogation remains unique to Islam. I draw your attention to the work of a reputed Islamic scholar, Arthur Jeffery, in his book, "Islam: Muhammad and His Religion", published by Merril. “The Quran is unique among sacred scriptures in teaching a doctrine of abrogation according to which later pronouncements of the Prophet abrogate, i.e. declare null and void, his earlier pronouncements. The importance of knowing which verses abrogate others has given rise to the Quranic “science” known as “Nasikh wa Mansukh”, i.e.: “the Abrogators and the Abrogated”.  

To claim that the Islamic god has exercised this concept “for eons” begs the question, how long do you suppose an eon to be? If Islam accepts creation as a fact, that Adam and Eve were the first humans and all humankind evolved from them, one may also accept the Bishop of Usher’s statement that the world was created in 4004 BCE. This does not provide much space for “eons”. Furthermore, to claim the Islamic god abrogated previous commands and base the claim on Quranic verses constitutes circular reasoning. 

“ Are you serious? Osama Bin Ladin used the same verse (9:5) within his fatwa to justify his new spree of attacks. This can be invalidated very simply. You are obviously trying to give the impression that the referred verse of the Quran is directing all individual Muslims from every era to declare a war against all 'pagans' of the world (actually those particular type of pagans are no longer in existence, therefore the verse would be void by now in any case).” 

You ask if I am serious in my claim that sura 9 abrogates 2:256. I reply, yes, very. In doing so I merely echo the statements of recognized Islamic scholars, from Bukhari onwards, who make the same claim. If that is not easily acceptable I refer you to the work of Abu Bakr Mohammad Ibn 'Abd Allah known as Ibn al-'Arabi, in his work Ahkam al-Qur'an, vol. 1, p232-234:

“No compulsion" is a condemnation of compelling people to do evil generally, but compelling people in the truth is a religious duty. Does the infidel get killed for any thing except on the basis of his religion? The Prophet said: I have been ordered to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah. This Hadith is taken from the words of Allah, 'Fight them on until there is no more tumult and all religion becomes that of Allah (Q. 2:193).” 

Let us examine Bukhari’s sahih (authenticated) hadith. In his collection of Hadith, known as Sahih Bukhari, there is a chapter headed "'The statement of Allah, 'But if they repent and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity then leave their way free'" (9:5) In this chapter Bukhari recorded the following Hadith: 

"Narrated Ibn 'Umar: Allah's Apostle said: I have been ordered to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Mohammad is Allah's apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform all that, then they save their lives and property from me except from Islamic laws, and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah." (English translation, Vol.1 Hadith No.24) 

Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi, the author of an-Nasikh wal-Mansuk, informs us that there are 114 verses that speak of tolerance in early Islam, but all were abrogated by one verse, "Slay the idolaters wherever you find them" (Q. 9:5), before the death of Mohammad. (Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi, An-Nasikh wal- Mansukh, Dar al-Kotob al-'Elmeyah, birute, 1986, P.19) 

I could provide further references from Islamic scholars, ancient and modern, but that would merely belabor the point. The fact remains that 9:5 abrogates 2:256, 2:62, 5:69, and other verses. If doubt still remains, I suggest you discuss this aspect of Islam with an Imam. However, I am very interested to read your claim that a certain verse of the Quran is “void”. It begs the question, if this is but one aspect of the Quran which is “void”, how many others may we place in the same category?

 

“Furthermore, the 'pagans' against whom fighting is ordained by the referred verses are not general in nature, but are actually only the polytheists of Banu Ishmael – historical fact.” 

You claim that the verse 9.5 refers to “only the polytheists of Banu Ishmael”, who are, in your words, “no longer in existence, therefore the verse would be void by now in any case.” This is a curious statement, not least because firstly, it renders at least one verse of the Quran void according to you and secondly, underlines the fallacy of your argument that Islam is not irrelevant in today’s world. I repeat my claim, Islam is the result of a specific time and place and has little, if any relevance, to today’s world. The fact that Christianity and Judaism are similar in nature doesn’t alleviate this fact or elevate the one above the other philosophies. Furthermore, this argument is especially specious given the general trend of Islam to belittle the authority and validity of Christianity and Judaism.  

“I cannot for one moment believe that as an Arab speaking person you seem to think that 4:34 is teaching anything other than a basic fact of life – That men are both emotionally and physically stronger than women.” 

You claim that it is a fact that men are emotionally and physically stronger than women. Men are physically stronger than women, no doubt. But may I ask the titles of the study or studies which lend to the claim that women are emotionally weaker than men? Could this just possibly be an indication of an Islamic upbringing or, at least, of an upbringing close to an Islamic society? On the other hand, any decent (secular) library will provide you with psychological studies which indicate quite the opposite. A cursory search of the world-wide web will provide similar results from secular sources which do not answer to any religion or are predisposed towards one. 

"I beg to differ. (The independence of women) is a very modern, supposedly liberal ideology which only (yet) exists as a front. Even in the secular society it does not hold true for the vast majority of females, though the situation may change in a few more decades. Even so Islam does not place any restrictions on these women." 

It is very true that women in secular societies do not have all the freedoms, liberties and advantages accorded to their male counterparts. However, your argument again does not hold water. In secular societies, women have the right and access to processes to ensure they may address any perceived disadvantage and rectify it. Because of this right the infamous glass ceiling is being steadily eroded. Secular societies evolve and change on a continual basis, mostly for the better. This is in direct opposition to closed systems such as Islam which, as you imply, is a doctrine for all time. To put it more plainly and simultaneously demonstrate the quandary it faces, Islam must acknowledge that women today are not intellectually, morally and emotionally inferior to men, or become even more irrelevant. However, if this is acknowledged to be true, it must also acknowledge that the Quranic statements on the inferiority of women (such as having two women witnesses as opposed to one male, etc) are, to use your term, “void” and irrelevant. Either way, Islam and other religions which do not provide equal rights to women and men are doomed to becoming increasingly irrelevant. 

“Western ignorance often pleads “In Islam the woman has no choice of marriage partner” – not knowing that arranged marriages are actually an ancient Hindu custom.” 

It is true that Indians and other societies practice arranged marriages. However, Hinduism does not indicate that a woman may not have a say in her choice of partner. If a Hindu woman marries a non-Hindu she merely loses her caste in accordance with the laws provided by Manu; she is not automatically excommunicated. Moreover, unlike Islam, there is no law in Hinduism which states that a Hindu woman may only marry a Hindu man. I suggest we do not confuse Hindu law with custom. 

This aside, I do not understand the relevance of your argument. Do you claim that Islam merely copied ancient Hindu customs? Or is it possible that Islam merely consolidated and reinforced Arabic practices in regard to women? In either case the question is to be asked, did Islam borrow from Hinduism or is Islam the product of a specific time and place? 

I do not wish to engage in a lengthy discussion about logic and why I feel I am logically profound than most Atheists. Such a discussion would be completely pointless between two people with differing beliefs; rather the focus should remain to be on weighing up the chances of there not being an intelligent being governing this wonderful universe. I will say to you though, for me to deny this magnificent force in nature which bore us out of nothingness (as we know it) really is the most illogical, and down right foolish thing I could ever do. As easy as you deny the existence of God (The Creator) I accept him with 100% certainty. Personally (and I will divulge only slightly) this is the result of what I experience with my (seemingly) unconscious mind (through dreams). These dreams relate to me aspects of my day ahead to the most incredible detail - making for enough proof of the spiritual world at least. 

I must agree with your statement that it is difficult for two people with widely differing views to reach consensus on most subjects. This is where discussion, debate and reasoning come into their own. I do acknowledge your implication that religion is a subjective experience and, thus, becomes a personal reality. I’m sure you will acknowledge and agree, however, that personal realities remain just that at all times. They cannot be stated with the same authority as, say, Newton’s second law. You may rightfully believe that you are “logically profound than most atheists.” But this again is a subjective assessment of ability. 

I acknowledge and accept your desire not to reveal your identity. To this extent it is impossible, save by examining the reasoning evinced in your arguments, to state what authority you bring to the subject. On the other hand, there are respected scientists who make their identities and views known. By and large, they deny creationism and reject it. To give just two examples, please refer to www.geocities.com/athens/cyprus/8732  which is the web page of Turkish scientists who speak out against creationism and http://bob.nap.edu/readingroom/books/creationism, which provides the view of the National Academy of Sciences, a respected body, in regard to the subject. 

Your statement that science is god in action is, in my view and professional opinion, is wishful thinking. It presupposes the existence of a deity and bases that presupposition on a purely subjective experience. Such an experience is usually reinforced in the psyche by one’s upbringing and environment. Such subjectivity will gain credibility only when it can be measured and quantified. Until then, it remains nebulous and any argument based upon it is, at best, tenuous. 

It appears to me that your reasoning, as evinced in the articles published at your website and your communications to me, contains flaws similar to those demonstrated in the reasoning of other apologists. It also appears to me, and by your own admission, that your arguments for Islam and its tenets is based largely on subjective emotion, and together with other apologetics, semantics and sophistry. The fact remains that Islam contradicts itself in several areas. Whether this is termed abrogation or otherwise, whether divine license is offered by way of reason or otherwise, when examined logically and without preconception, it demonstrates no special claim to authority or superiority to other philosophies; quite the reverse, in fact. 

I understand your desire to focus on articles for your website for the benefit of Dr Sina’s “fans”. This draws my deeper appreciation for your time and effort in responding to my communications. I thank you again for those and understand this will terminate our correspondence. 

Regards,  

Ismahan Levi

 

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