Ali Sina © 2007 Permission is granted to translate, publish and distribute this book by any means, including for financial gain.
This document is an extensive debate between Mr. Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, one of the world’s top Islamic scholars from Pakistan and Ali Sina, one of the leading critics of Islam and the founder of faithfreedom.org.
This debate was arranged when someone invited Mr. Ghamidi to respond to Ali Sina’s criticisms of Islam. Mr. Ghamidi entered into this debate through his student, Dr. Khalid Zaheer.
An Invitation to Debate
From: Free Inquirer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Invitation to a Debate
Sep 4, 2006
During the recent years, Islam has become the target of severe criticism and vilification, not just by members of other religions but also by a growing number of ex-Muslims. The Internet has allowed these critics to come out and speak their minds at an alarming rate. These criticisms have had devastating effects on the minds of the Muslim youths, who are unable to answer the critics on their own and are bewildered that the Islamic scholars also have not come forth with satisfactory answers.
In the interest of unraveling the truth about Islam and clearing the minds of the young Muslims, I am formally inviting the Islamic critic Ali Sina and the modern Pakistani ‘state appointed’ Islamic Scholar Javed Ahmed Ghamidi to engage in a debate on Islam.
Ali Sina is probably one of the most eminent critics of Islam. He renounced Islam after reading the Quran and has managed to create a movement against Islam and has grouped together a large number of ex-Muslims who share his opinions on Islam. He has challenged Islamic scholars to disprove the fallacies that he has identified in the Quran and hadith.
JAVED AHMAD GHAMIDI
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi is a respected Islamic Scholar who has been recently appointed by the Pakistani Government to help facilitate the government in forming a ‘modern’ interpretation of Islam and to do ijtihad for the development of a cosmopolitan modern Islamic Society. Javed Ghamidi has been under the tutelage of Amin Ehsan Islahi and idealizes the writings of his teacher with utmost reverence. Initially expelled from Jamaat-e-Islami due to some difference with the party’s founder Maududi, Ghamidi has managed to develop a restricted following of his own. He has been actively involved in the government’s initiative to revamp and restructure Islamic ordinances in Pakistan like Hudood Ordinance and Zina Ordinance. He is also the president of the Al-Mawrid Institute based in Lahore. Javed Ghamidi also enjoys a good company of his students who teach in various places in Pakistan. Most notable are Moiz Amjad, Asif Iftikhar, Khalid Zaheer and others. Mr. Ghamidi operates through a network of Danish Saras (Houses of Learning) across Pakistan and has some major Islamic Sites to his credit. He also publishes various magazines in Urdu and English, such as Ishraq and Renaissance.
The Challenge to a Debate
This is an invitation to Ali Sina and Javed Ahmed Ghamidi to debate on the validity of claims made by Islam and whether Islam is a true religion. Both parties are invited to provide answers to each other’s arguments.
The debate is subjected to acceptance on both sides. Failure of acceptance of the debate by any one side shall be deemed as a failure to provide a logical and truthful response to support the other’s ideas or ideology.
Dear Free Enquirer,
I published your invitation to announce my acceptance to debate with Mr. Javed Ahmad Ghamidi. It would be an honor to discus important points of disagreement on Islam with such an eminent scholar. Please inform Mr. Ghamidi that I look forward to meet him virtually.
I have given countless proofs that Islam is not a true religion. Mr. Ghamidi is invited to disprove any of my claims, or if he prefers, he could give one single irrefutable proof that Islam is indeed a true religion sent by God.
In either case, should Mr. Ghamidi disprove any of my charges against Muhammad and Islam, or provide a single irrefutable proof that Islam is from God, I promise to publicly acknowledge that I have been mistaken and I shall remove my site faithfreedom.org permanently. Furthermore I am offering a US$50,000 reward to anyone who can show that Islam is a true religion, or that at least my charges against Muhammad are unfounded.
I am glad to inform the dear readers of FFI that Mr. Ghamidi has expressed his readiness to discuss Islam with me. I would like to thank Free Inquirer for making this debate possible and for inviting Mr. Ghamidi and myself to take part in this informative and educational debate. I trust this would be a very fruitful discussion. I read some of Mr. Ghamidi’s articles and he has made a very positive impression on me. He is one of Pakistan’s most respected scholars and I am honored that despite his busy schedule, he has accepted this invitation. Mr. Ghamidi is a man of peace and a moderate Muslim. Here is the letter of acceptance that I received from his office.
From: “khalid zaheer” <email@example.com>
Subject: Mr Ghamidi’s Response
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2006
Dear Free Inquirer
Thank you very much for taking interest in arranging a dialogue between Mr. Ghamidi and Mr. Ali Sina.
First of all, we would like you to correct this fact: Mr Javed Ahmad Ghamidi has not been appointed by the Government of Pakistan to help it in interpreting Islam in a modern way. Mr. Ghamidi was asked by the President of Pakistan to be a member of the Council of Islamic Ideology, which is a constitutional body that suggests responses to various issues confronting the people of Pakistan in the interpretation of the message of Islam. He accepted that offer in the spirit of informing the rulers about what he thinks is the right understanding of Islam quite the same way as he has been informing people about it in the last 35 years.
We welcome the initiative you have taken to enable Mr. Ali Sina to ask Mr. Ghamidi questions about of Islam that create doubts in his mind about the truthfulness of the claim that it is a message from God. Mr. Ghamidi has been performing this task for the last three-and-a-half decades and there is no reason why we wouldn’t want to share our research with a person like Mr. Sina. However, what he doesn’t want to do is to engage in a polemic which results in a senseless competition of rhetoric wherein the contestants are in reality playing a game in the garb of an academic debate. The difference between a polemic and a serious academic exchange is that one is a fiercely contested debate with a clear objective to not understand and accept what is true but to defeat the opposing party, while the other engages both parties in a serious exchange of views with a view to know and acknowledge what the truth is. The participants are close-minded in the case of the former and open to truth in the case of the latter. Mr. Ghamidi hates the former and welcomes the latter.
Finally, before starting this process, we would like Mr. Sina to have a look at the attached pages which outline the basic approach Mr. Ghamidi follows in forming his religious opinions. It is important that the sources of information he thinks are original for Islamic learning and therefore are the basis of his research should first be understood to preclude any possibility that Mr. Sina demands from him explanation of information and concepts that Mr. Ghamidi thinks do not belong to the original message of Islam.
After Mr. Sina has gone through this message along with the attached outline of Mr. Ghamidi’s approach to understanding the message of Islam, we would welcome suggestions from your side to convert this opportunity into a meaningful dialogue.
(This message has been written in consultation with Mr Ghamidi.)
Dr Khalid Zaheer is an associate professor of Islamic Studies and Ethics at Lahore University of Management Science (LUMS). He has a teaching experience of more than 16 years. Prior to joining LUMS, he taught at IBA and Punjab University for 12 years as a permanent faculty member. He has also taught at various other educational institutions in Lahore. Dr. Zaheer delivers lectures in Pakistan Administrative Staff College, National Institute of Public Administration, Pakistan Audit and Accounts Training Institute, and Lahore School of Economics. Dr Zaheer’s PhD dissertation focused on Interest-Free Banking. His areas of interest are Islamic banking and application of Islamic principles in contemporary business environment. He is a member of the task force constituted by the Ministry of Finance to propose measures to convert government domestic borrowing into project-related financing according to Shariah injunctions. He is also a member of the Board of Management of the Pakistan Baitul Mal. He regularly contributes articles to the monthly Renaissance, a leading religious English journal of the country. Dr. Zaheer has appeared in many television programs and has also given sermons at mosques.