Posts Tagged ‘Muhammad’

A Bug or a Feature?

May 24, 2014

Some recent events in Africa, the death sentence for a young woman from Sudan for being a Christian, and Boko Haram‘s kidnapping of more than two hundred schoolgirls has elicited condemnations from people around the world, including some in the West who believe that any criticism of Islam counts as islamophobia. I suppose that would be too much to hope that these people will finally make the connection and realize that we, the civilized world, really do have a problem with Islam. No doubt they will mouth the usual platitudes about Islam being a religion of peace and explain that these detestable deeds are the actions of ‘extremists’ such that are found in any religion. Well, people of virtually every religion have committed atrocious deed in the name of their gods, yet somehow these days, this seems to happen far more often among the practitioners of one particular religion, Islam. The question that needs to be answered is whether violence , terrorism and intolerance are bugs, problems with misunderstanding the teachings of religion, or features, understanding the teachings of the religion all too well.

Before going any further, I would like to deal with a particular idea that I have seen in various places, the idea that Islam is where Christianity was several centuries ago. This notion has more to do with vague ideas about moral progress than with any serious study of the comparative histories of the two faiths. The idea seems to be that there is a definite direction to history in continuing moral improvement. This seems true enough. We no longer have slavery or burn witches. Still, I am not convinced that there has been any real change in human nature. We do not have slaves because we have machines. If our machines were to fail us, slavery, or some form of unfree labor would make a swift comeback. The history of the doctrines of every religions alternate between periods of comparative laxity and rigor. The more rigorous periods do not necessarily coincide with violence and intolerance. It is difficult to imagine a religious revival among the Jains or the Quakers producing suicide bombers. The idea that Islam is somehow behind Christianity and less morally developed is condescending and doesn’t really explain why Islamic rigor is more associated with violence than Buddhist or Christian rigor.

This idea also ignores the very real differences in the teachings of the two faiths. Jesus said that those who live by the sword will die by the sword. Mohammed agreed and added that dying by the sword in the cause of Allah was the greatest fate any man could hope for. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world”. Mohammed was a political and military leader as well as a prophet. A Christian who commits an act of terror is acting against the teachings of his Savior. A Muslim who commits an act of terrorism is following the instructions of his prophet.

I don’t recommend that you take my word for this. Consider that Sudanese woman. She has been sentenced to death for apostasy, leaving Islam. Almost everyone in the West finds any punishment at all for apostasy to be an infringement of religious liberty. In the Middle East, the death penalty for apostasy enjoys wide support.  Here is a defense of the death penalty for apostasy from what seems to be a fairly reasonably religious authority. Read the Koran. It is full of incitements to violence, especially Sura 9.

Consider these stories about Mohammed and his companions.

The apostle said, “Kill any Jew that falls into your power.”  Thereupon Muhayyisa leapt upon Ibn Sunayna, a Jewish merchant with whom they had social and business relations, and killed him.  Huwayyisa was not a Muslim at the time, though he was the elder brother.  When Muhayyisa killed [the Jew] Huwayyisa began to beat him, saying, “You enemy of God, did you kill him when much of the fat on your belly comes from his wealth?”  Muhayyisa answered, “Had the one who ordered me to kill him ordered me to kill you I would have cut your head off.”  This was the beginning of Huwayyisa’s acceptance of Islam… [Huwayyisa] replied exclaimed, “By God, a religion which can bring you to this is marvelous!” and he became a Muslim. (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 554)

When he asked who I was I told him that I was one of the [Muslims].  Then he laid down beside me and lifting up his voice began to sing: “I won’t be a Muslim as long as I live, nor heed to their religion give.”

I said (to myself) ‘you will soon know’ and as soon as the badu was asleep and snoring I got up and killed him in a more horrible way than any man has been killed.  I put the end of my bow in his sound eye, then I bore down on it until I it out at the back of his neck. (al-Tabari 1440)

When he [Muhammad] asked him about the rest he refused to produce it, so the apostle gave orders to al-Zubayr bin al-Awwam, “Torture him until you extract what he has.” So he kindled a fire with flint and steel on his chest until he was nearly dead. Then the apostle delivered him to Muhammad bin Maslama and he struck off his head.” (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 764)

Allah’s Apostle said, “Who is willing to kill Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?” Thereupon Muhammad bin Maslama got up saying, “O Allah’s Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?” The Prophet said, “Yes,” Muhammad bin Maslama said, “Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Ka’b). “The Prophet said, “You may say it.” (Bukhari 59:369)

There are man, many more. These stories are from the hadiths, anecdotes about Mohammed’s sayings and deeds. These stories were transmitted orally for over a hundred years before Muslim scholars began to write them down. There is no way to know if any one of these anecdotes is a true account, if the story has become corrupt after numerous retellings, or if it has simply been fabricated. The scholars who collected these hadiths were aware of this problem and rejected many that they believed to be spurious. Even the ones that they collected were felt to have varying degrees of reliability. It doesn’t matter, though. The important point here is that these were actions that the first generations of Muslims believed to be worthy of approval and imitation. Violence in the name of Islam was something approved of and even part of the attraction of the faith. Read that first story again. Huwayyisa was so impressed by the willingness of his brother to kill a family friend that he immediately converted. (Either that or he was afraid his brother would kill him if he didn’t convert.) To the early Muslims, fighting was a way to get plunder in this life and paradise in the hereafter. Mohammed approved of violence and since he is considered to be the ideal for every Muslim to emulate, his followers ought also to approve of violence.

To answer the question then, violence and intolerance are features of Islam, not bugs.

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The Story of Mohammed, Islam Unveiled

March 28, 2014

After the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, many of our political leaders took pains to assure us that Islam is a religion of peace. The nineteen men who committed the atrocities on that date were said to have followed an extreme version of Islam, a version not shared by the vast majority of peace loving Muslims. Many people, however, cannot help but wonder whether a religion whose adherents are responsible for most of the terrorism in the world today might not promote violence in its teachings. Being a religion with more than one and a half billion followers, contemporary Islam is of course very diverse. There are many, many Muslims who are indeed peaceful, and many who are not. How, then, can we determine whether the doctrines of Islam promote peace or violence?

One way, might be to go back and look at the founder of the religion. After all, a tree is known by its fruits. The Prophet Mohammed in Arabia founded Islam more than fourteen centuries ago. To this day, Muslims look upon him as a perfect man to be emulated. Stories of his sayings and deeds, known as the Hadiths, are second only to the Koran as a guide to Muslim behavior. So then, learning whether Mohammed was a man of peace or of war should go a long way in determining whether Islam is a religion of peace or of war.

That is just what Harry Richardson has done with his book The Story of Mohammed, Islam Unveiled. Mr. Richardson tells the story of the life of Mohammed using Islamic sources including the Koran. Along the way, he shows how Mohammed’s example is used by terrorists to justify their actions. For, Mohammed was not a man of peace. He and his religion were peaceful enough when they were a small sect in Mecca. After the move to Medina, where Mohammed took power, the new religion quickly became very violent and intolerant. Under Mohammed’s rule, any atrocity or betrayal was justified if it furthered the cause of Islam. As Mr. Richardson shows, this same ends justify the means mentality is still used by all too many people in the Islamic world.

islam

Harry Richardson covers most of the same ground as Robert Spencer does in his books about Islam. I think though, that Richardson’s approach is more accessible than Spencer’s. He begins with the assumption that the reader knows little or nothing about Islam and explains the results of his own research referring to his sources. Although Mr. Richard may have begun his studies knowing little about Islam, he was clearly spent a lot of time and effort educating himself. He is also less confrontational than Robert Spencer often has been.

I can strongly recommend that anyone interested in what is going on in the world of Islam read this book and then go on to read the Koran and other Islamic scriptures. If we are to prevent more attacks, we need accurate information about those who regard us as the enemies of Allah. Our leaders are not interested in telling us the truth about Islam, so we must educate ourselves. Harry Richardson’s book is a good place to begin.

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More on Mohammed

April 30, 2012
Muhammad riding the Buraq; a 16th-century Pers...

Was he real?

I see that Robert Spencer‘s new book, Did Mohammed Exist?, is now available for the Kindle. That’s great! I will get it as soon as I can. Meanwhile I thought it might be interesting to have a look at the one-starred reviews. As I mentioned once before, the best way to judge the quality of a book on a controversial subject is to take a look at how hysterical the one-starred reviews by liberals who haven’t actually read the book get. By that criterion, Did Mohammed Exist? is really good.

As of this writing there are seven one-starred reviews. Here are the first two.

This is pure garbage from some Islamaphobic ignorant moron!
Throw as much BS out there and hopefully the layman or even better an uneducated hate spewing follower will believe this trash..

SPENCER go back to your hole and the rest of the new generation on Nazism

There is no merit to a book about the Prophet Muhammad unless it’s written by a serious objective scholar that has been peer-reviewed. Mr. Spencer has no such qualifications. He purports to use the works of other scholars to support his claims, so he provides no original sourcing or research. Rather, he cherry-picks scholars to support his own biases and prejudices, and then markets the book as the “best-selling book on Islam on Amazon.com.” After reading this distinctly amateur effort, I discovered that I, too, can write a book on a subject that I have no expertise and have it marketed on Amazon.com as the “best-selling book on Widgets.” There are people who want to read about Islam to justify their hatred of specific religions and there are people who want to learn about specific religions for a better understanding of the world they live in. Mr. Spencer’s book appeals to the former. Read Esposito or Armstrong for the latter.

Notice that neither reviewer actually refutes anything Spencer had to say. I don’t know who Esposito is but Karen Armstrong is somewhat notorious for white washing many of the more unpleasant aspects of Islam. I would say then, that if you want to learn more about a theological and politic system that is a threat to our freedom, read Spencer. If you want to read comforting lies, read the other two.

I’ll go on with the next two.

This book was written by a layman. The author purports to be an Islamic scholar but has no academic credentials to claim scholarship. In fact, Mr. Spencer has no university degree whatsoever in Islamic studies. His writings have never been peer-reviewed. Mr. Spencer does not read Arabic, which is a basic requirement for Islamic studies. Yet here is a writer who takes a provocative position on the existence of the Prophet Muhammad and we are suppose to believe his work. This book was written solely for readers who are seeking to reinforce their prejudices and bigotry against Muslims. It will satisfy and justify those individuals’ bigotry. A cursory inspection of Mr. Spencer’s website clearly demonstrates his own bigotry and utter lack of respect for the Muslim community. If you like what he writes on his website, you will love the book. If you want serious scholarship with an objective view of Islam, try an established Muslim or non-Muslim scholar.

Robert Spencer is an islamophobe and a long-time ally of anti-Muslim mainstay Pamela Geller. He spends all of his time spewing hate messaging and compares Muslims to the Nazis. This book is pure rubbish and doesn’t even try to logically refute some of the historical facts noted in history. Don’t waste your time or money on this one.

Spencer may well have a lack of respect for the Muslim community (he would disagree), but where exactly is he wrong? No he does not read Arabic, but he knows those who can and translations of Moslem scriptures are available. I gather that, for this book, he uses historical accounts from the peoples the early Moslems conquered. Did he have to learn to read Byzantine Greek, Persian, and Syriac as well?

As for the second reviewer here, perhaps he is unaware of the connections between the Nazis and Arab nationalists before and during the Second World War. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem happened to be a good friend of Hitler’s regime. The theme of the book is to question whether the person known as Mohammed happened to exist. The historical facts seem to suggest that there is a good chance he did not. If the reviewer knows better, he should write his own book refuting Spencer’s thesis without name calling.

Here are some more.

The book is not even worth reading because the title itself proclaims the author’s ignorance.

What is your next book? How about: “Is the earth flat?”

Or, “Did Christ exist?”

Or, “Did Moses exist?”

And, no, I am not a Muslim.

And, no, I did not read the book. The title is enough.

And, yes, I support the author’s right to freedom of expression, even if it is based upon ignorance.

And, yes, I am very familiar with the author and his views and his Web site.

And, yes, I have heard the author summarize his book on the radio.

At least he is honest. He hasn’t bothered to read it but he can review it. As it happens, the questions of whether Jesus or Moses existed has been much discussed by scholars. Why shouldn’t the question of whether Mohammed existed be discussed? Why is that question automatically a sign of ignorance and hate?

The last two.

THE FOLLOWING EXCERPT IS TAKEN FROM LOONWATCH: “Spencer is hawking his new book, which he is pushing as a “scholarly work” about how Muhammad didn’t exist. His home page boasts that Robert Spencer is “[t]he acclaimed scholar of Islam”, “[a] serious scholar”, and “a brilliant scholar.”

I have pointed out in the past that Spencer is not a scholar of any sort-especially not on anything related to Islam. He simply does not have the academic qualifications to claim this. What other “scholar” do you know of that doesn’t even have a master’s or PhD degree on the subject he claims to be a “scholar” of? He only has a one-year master’s degree in “the field of early Christianity”. How does that make him an “acclaimed scholar of Islam”?”

INDEED, SPENCER HAS NO FORMAL EDUCATION IN ISLAMIC STUDIES. HE CANNOT SPEAK, WRITE, READ NOR UNDERSTAND ARABIC!!! YET HE IS A SCHOLAR?

I PUT IT TO YOU… SINCE WHEN DID A SCHOLAR OR ACADEMIC OF CLASSICS NOT REQUIRE TO BE FLUENT IN THE GREEK LANGUAGE? IN THE ABOVE LINK YOU WILL SEE HOW SERIOUSLY FLAWED SPENCER’S SO CALLED ‘SCHOLARLY’ WORK IS. A COMPLETE JOKE!

ENJOY!

The twisted, completely uneducated, culling of material from sources, and patching it up to support a hate theses, shouldn’t even qualify this to be a book. Can’t understand how someone with absolutely no credentials on this topic can be seen as an authority.

The blind leading the blind.

There is no more to be said about them. They don’t refute anything Spencer said. They only indulge in name calling and irrelevancies. I don’t think that any of these reviewers, except perhaps the last, are actually Moslems. They probably think they are being liberal and tolerant and politically correct. The irony here is that is any country under Sharia they would be among the first to get their throats cut.

Did Mohammed Exist?

April 27, 2012

Although skeptics and scholars have been exploring the concept of the “historical Jesus”, that is the “real” Jesus behind the figure in the Gospels, for some time now, few have been willing to examine the “historical Mohammed“. Most likely the reason for this has been a combination of fear and the simple lack of solid historical information on the early years of Islam. The investigator of early Christianity has the advantage, first that no church will issue a fatwa calling for his death, no matter how skeptical he is, and second, although historical information about Jesus of Nazareth outside the New Testament is rather scanty, we actually know quite a lot about first century Judea. The early Christians lived in a relatively literate culture and the earliest writings about Jesus were produced within a generation of his death. The same cannot be said of the early Moslems, who lived in a largely illiterate backwater. As far as anyone can tell, the Koran did not take shape until several decades after Mohammed’s death. The earliest writings about Mohammed were not written until more than a century later. The first biography of Mohammed was written by Ibn Ishaq about 130 years after his death. The Hadiths were not written down until about 200 years after his death. So, there is not much information available to confirm or reject the tradition Islam view of Mohammed’s life and teachings. Added to that, scholars who inquire too closely or skeptically about such matters are apt to find their lives in danger, and the Saudi government seems determined to see that no archaeological evidence of Mohammed’s time survives.

Therefore, Robert Spencer, is doing us all a great service by peeling back the layers of legend and tradition to get at the historical Mohammed, in his latest book, Did Mohammed Exist?. As the title suggests, Spencer has good reason to suspect that Mohammed, at least the supposed founder of Islam, did not, in fact, exist. I hope that Spencer has the very best security personnel working for him.

I have not yet read this book since it is not available on the Kindle. I hope it will be very soon. If not, I might have to order the hardback edition. Since I have not read it, I will have to refer you to Zombie’s excellent review on PJMedia. I’ll quote a few excerpts but you really have to read the whole thing, then go and get Did Mohammed Exist?

The Evidence

To tackle such a big subject, Spencer focuses on five potential sources of information about Muhammad:

1. Documents from the era (7th and 8th centuries) written by independent (i.e. non-Muslim) outside observers;
2. Documents from the era written or created by Arabs/Muslims themselves;
3. The Qur’an itself;
4. The Hadiths, Islamic commentaries and sayings collected in the 8th and 9th centuries; and
5. The first biography of Muhammad, written by Ibn Ishaq over a century after Muhammed’s lifetime, on which all subsequent biographies are based.

Over the course of 200 pages, each category is carefully examined for solid evidence of Muhammad’s historicity, and each category is found wanting.

Of particular interest to a skeptic like me is the first category, because it is the only one that counts as a truly independent source. I simply assume that Islam, like most religions, boasts sacred texts which are self-referential and self-confirming (turns out I was wrong, but more about that later).

So: What did non-Muslims have to say about Muhammad and Islam, during his lifetime, and for 60 years afterward?

Nothing.

They made no mention of Muhammad or Muslims or Islam at all, at least until around the start of the 8th century. In case you’re thinking that there’d be no reason for outsiders to mention the religion of some obscure far-off tribe, remember that starting with the date of Muhammad’s purported death in 632, Arabs galloped out of the desert and conquered or captured almost the entirety of the Near East, the Middle East and North Africa in just a few decades. They encountered many cultures and civilizations, but none of those conquered peoples seem even to have heard of Islam or Muhammad.

Now remember, Tacitus refers to the Christians being persecuted by Nero in the 60’s AD, within 30 years of the death of Jesus. Josephus mentions Jesus in his Antiquities of the Jews, written around AD 94. The passages are disputed and almost certainly in part an interpolation, still most scholars believe they are, in part, genuine. The fact that there is no written mention of Mohammed 60 years after his death is suspicious.

Here is some more.

There are many puzzling details which tend to cast doubt on the standard narrative of Islam’s early years — that is, Muhammad’s life, and the decades immediately after his death when Arabs conquered the Middle East under the banner of their new religion, Islam. For example, a record exists of what was essentially a religious debate between a Christian in Antioch and an Arab commander at the height of the Arab conquest of the region, but, as Spencer notes,

In it the author refers to the Arabians not as Muslims but as “Hagarians” (mhaggraye) — that is, the people of Hagar, Abraham’s concubine and the mother of Ishmael. The Arabic interlocutor denies the divinity of Christ, in accord with Islamic teaching, but neither side makes any mention of the Qur’an, Islam, or Muhammad.

Imagine debating a “Christian” about religion, and he never mentions the Bible, Christianity, or Jesus. You might begin to doubt that he was a Christian at all.

And, jumping to the book’s conclusion, that’s exactly what Spencer posits: That the 7th century Arabs may have practiced a sort of nonspecific monotheism, loosely syncretized from pre-existing Judaic and Christian beliefs; but this new religion at first did not have a name, did not have a supposed “founder,” did not have a sacred text, and did not have rigid rituals. All of those were added much later, but fashioned in such as way as to retroactively assert their own 7th-century origins.

Surprising even for me was the book’s revelation that even among Arabic documents and artifacts, there is no mention of or example of any Qur’anic text until the year 691, a full 80 years after Muhammad supposedly started dictating it, and 60 years after it was completed and purportedly became the central text of Arab society. And even that 691 appearance — an inscription on the Dome of the Rock — may not have been a copy of Qur’anic text. From Spencer’s book:

This Qur’anic material is the earliest direct attestation to the existence of the book — sixty years after the Arab armies that had presumably been inspired by it began conquering neighboring lands. … Given the seamlessly mixed Qur’anic / non-Qur’anic nature of the inscription and the way the Qur’an passages are pulled together from all over the book, some scholars, including Christoph Luxenberg, have posited that whoever wrote this inscription was not quoting from a Qur’an that already existed. Rather, they suggest, most of this material was added to the Qur’an only later, as the book was compiled. … It may be that both the Dome of the Rock and the Qur’an incorporated material from earlier sources that contained similar material in different forms.”

Did Muhammad Exist? is essentially one big hoisting of Islam by its own petard. A religion that purports to be “revealed,” and perfect and unchanging from its inception, has a serious burden of proof; but as Spencer shows, Islam fails to supply that proof.

While the book goes into great detail about the literary and philological evidence for and against Muhammad’s existence, some readers may ask themselves, “But what about the archaeological evidence?” Unfortunately, Spencer does not address that side of the argument, primarily because there’s basically nothing to say: The Saudi government (as well as the Islamic Waqf controlling the Temple Mount in Jerusalem) has gone to great lengths to suppress or destroy any archaeological remains which might shed light on Islam’s earliest days. All the legendary sites associated with Muhammad in and around Mecca and Medina have been intentionally and irretrievably disturbed, eradicated and/or built over, so any rigorous archaeological investigations confirming or undermining Islam’s origins are now impossible. One suspects that the Saudis have obliterated Mecca’s history intentionally, fearful that impartial evidence may undermine Islam’s various historical claims. While this is not a significant omission, the book’s argument would have been slightly strengthened if this confirming detail had been discussed, if even for just a paragraph or two.

Did Muhammad Exist? is a popular book for a popular audience. Put another way: Spencer makes no claim to have uncovered original research. All he has done, yet done quite effectively, is marshall the findings of dozens of scholars from the last hundred years, including people like Günter Lüling, David Margoliouth, Patricia Crone, and most notably Christoph Luxenberg, the philologist whose recent work challenging the very linguistic basis of the Qur’an as an Arabic document has caused such a sensation that for his own safety he must work under a pseudonym. Spencer draws all these threads together to make a convincing case that, when one examines all the evidence these experts have uncovered and ponders all the theories which might explain that evidence, the currently dominant theory (that Muhammad existed) is the least likely to be true. Much more in line with the known facts is the theory that Islam slowly coalesced from earlier monotheistic Judeo-Christian beliefs, and that most of the historical details about the evolution — including and especially the existence of a prophet from Mecca — were later concocted to retroactively give a veneer of official sanctity to the new religion.

There is no controversy when scholars examine the historicity of Jesus. Biblical archaeologists work freely, with no danger to their persons or their careers. Even if some literalist Christians find the scholarly conclusions distressing, no death threats are issued. Christianity has survived all critiques of its origins, relying on the strength of its message and not the provability of historical details. One would hope that Islam reacts similarly.

They won’t.

I am going to have to get this book.

Let the Wookie Win

March 6, 2012

Because droids don’t pull people’s arms out of their sockets when they lose.

 

I think of that scene from Star Wars whenever I see a story like this one from The Christian Institute courtesy of Jihad Watch.

The head of the BBC, Mark Thompson, has admitted that the broadcaster would never mock Mohammed like it mocks Jesus.

He justified the astonishing admission of religious bias by suggesting that mocking Mohammed might have the “emotional force” of “grotesque child pornography”.

But Jesus is fair game because, he said, Christianity has broad shoulders and fewer ties to ethnicity.

Mr Thompson says the BBC would never have broadcast Jerry Springer The Opera – a controversial musical that mocked Jesus – if its target had been Mohammed.

He made the remarks in an interview for a research project at the University of Oxford.

Mr Thompson said: “The point is that for a Muslim, a depiction, particularly a comic or demeaning depiction, of the Prophet Mohammed might have the emotional force of a piece of grotesque child pornography.”

Nobody cares if Christians are offended because we don’t blow people up or riot.

Liberated

January 10, 2012

Liberated is the name of a blog I learned about from Jihad Watch. The author is a woman who is a former Moslem. She lives in an unnamed predominantly Moslem country and has studied her religion and has decided that she could no longer believe in Islam. Since apostasy carries the death penalty in Islam, she cannot tell anyone about her decision. Perhaps I should let her speak for herself.

I was born in a very typical Sunni Muslim household, not very conservative like the Arabs, but nevertheless religious enough. I was born in Karachi, Pakistan to a very respectable Mohajjir family (mohajjirs are immigrants from India from the time of the partition in 1947). I moved to another Muslim country with my parents when I was just 10 years old and still live there.

I really wish there were a way I could freely live in a free society where I could follow the religion that I want without any compulsion. So far, I am not really sure what I am. I just know that I am not an atheist, because I do believe in a God, but that God cannot be the Allah of Mohammed. God is kind and merciful, not evil, cruel, mean and sadistic, as is Allah.

Go read more of what she has to say and give her moral support.

The reason I am bringing this up is because of a comment she made a little later in that post.

Have you ever read the Quran in English? I never did, I mean all my life I just recited the Quran in Arabic without understanding a single word until August of this year, when I purchased a copy of the English Quran and read the translation for the first time. Previously I had read some parts of it in English, but never the whole thing. But this year in August I read it from cover to cover, and then also read other references on the internet. Then I finally reached the conclusion that this book is the most evil thing on the face of this earth. It teaches nothing else except hatred and violence. I can no longer be a part of a cult which subjugates its followers, making them mere blind puppets with no mind of their own.

There is an interesting contrast between Christianity and Islam on the question of translating their scriptures. While Christians have endeavored to translate the Bible into every language on Earth (and off, some Trekkies with way too much time on their hands have been translating the Bible into Klingon), Moslems have generally resisted translating the Koran into any language other than Arabic. The main reason for this is that Moslems consider the Koran to be the literal word of God in Arabic. A translation into English wouldn’t be The Koran. At best, such a translation could only be a rough approximation or interpretation of the Koran.

Only about twenty percent of Moslems are native speakers of Arabic. This means that although many Moslems have memorized large portions of the Koran and all Moslems use Koranic verses in their prayers, many have only the vaguest idea of what they are saying. I have to wonder how much of the Koran even native Arabic speakers understand. the Koran was written in the seventh century and languages change over time. The plays of Shakespeare and the King James Bible were written only about four hundred years ago and already they sound old fashioned. Thirteen hundred years ago, English was a dialect of Old German spoken by the Anglo-Saxon invaders of Britain. I suspect that Arabic has changed more slowly over the centuries, since they have the Koran as a standard, but it has still been a long time.

I have read the Koran a number of times, in English translation, and I have even listened to recordings of the Koran being recited. When they recite the Koran, they do not just read it aloud, instead they chant the words, almost singing them. The result is compelling and more than a little hypnotic. I can understand why the Arabs of Mohammed’s time, with their love of oral poetry might have been attracted to the recitation of the Koran. When translated into English,  however, I get quite a different impression. The contents of the Koran, when not vicious, are banal, repetitive, and incoherent. There is endless boasting by Allah on how great He is. There are curses and maledictions against the unbelievers and anyone who happens to have opposed Mohammed. There are stories from the Bible, or at any rate with Biblical figures,  repeated with a maddening lack of any context. If the reader is not already familiar with the Hebrew prophets and Jesus, they would never know from the Koran who any of these people are. There are no distinguishing features for any of the prophets mentioned. They all have the same message, which happens to be the same as Mohammed. All of this material is given in no logical order. And, then there are the calls for violence against the infidel.

I am not inclined to believe in a supernatural origin for the Koran. It seems to me more likely that a very fallible human being wrote it. If I were so inclined, however, I would sooner believe that a devil was responsible for this book than the almighty Creator of the universe.

Australian Sentenced to 500 Lashes

December 7, 2011

More happy news from the Magic Kingdom, home of the Religion of Peace.

SYDNEY (AP) — An Australian man has been sentenced to 500 lashes and a year in a Saudi Arabian jail after being convicted of blasphemy, officials said Wednesday.

The 45-year-old man, identified by family members as Mansor Almaribe of southern Victoria state, was detained in the holy city of Medina last month while making the Muslim pilgrimage of hajj. Family members told Australian media that Saudi officials accused him of insulting the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, a violation of Saudi Arabia’s strict blasphemy laws.

Australia’s ambassador in Saudi Arabia has contacted Saudi authorities in a bid for leniency, the Department of Foreign Affairs said. Consular officials are providing support for the man and his family in Australia.

“The Australian government is universally opposed to corporal punishment,” the department said in a statement.

Almaribe was convicted of blasphemy on Tuesday and initially sentenced to two years in jail and 500 lashes. The court later reduced his jail sentence.

Almaribe’s son Jamal told The Age newspaper that his father was reading and praying as part of a group when he was arrested.

Almaribe’s son Mohammed said he feared for his father’s well-being. “Five hundred slashes on his back, and he has back problems. I wouldn’t think he’d survive 50,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

I don’t see how anyone could survive 500 lashes. I don’t think that they would give him all 500 at once, but even if they stagger the lashings over several days, the cumulative damage would surely kill even the healthiest person.They might as well

This is why we need to build the pipeline to the Athabasca Oil Sands. I’m sure the Canadians don’t give people such barbaric punishments.

French Magazine Fire Bombed for Insulting Religion of Peace

November 3, 2011

I don’t know where anyone could possibly get the idea that Islam teaches violence.

Here is something from the Guardian that might explain matters.

Politicians condemn ‘incursion on press freedom’ after Charlie Hebdo‘s Paris headquarters are torched and website hacked

Muhammad cartoon sparks attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo.The French government has rushed to the defence of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo after an arson attack on its headquarters as it published an edition featuring a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad on the cover as “guest editor”.The Paris offices of the magazine were gutted after a fire broke out at 1am following reports of a petrol bomb being thrown through a window.

The blaze happened just before the special “Sharia Hebdo” edition hit newsstands on Wednesday morning in what the paper mockingly called a “celebration” of the victory of the moderate Islamist party An-Nahda in the Tunisian elections and the Libyan transitional executive’s comments on Islamic sharia law as a main source of the country’s law. On the front page a cartoon prophet Muhammad said: “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter!”

Charlie Hebdo’s website also appeared to have been hacked to show images of Mecca.

However, French politicians defended the magazine. The prime minister, François Fillon, said: “Freedom of expression is an inalienable value of democracy and any incursion against press freedom must be condemned with the utmost force. No cause justified violent action.”

I wonder how long the French dhimmis are going to pretend they care about free speech.

Then there is this.

François Hollande, the Socialist presidential candidate, told Le Monde newspaper the incident demonstrated that the struggle for press freedom and “respect of opinions” was a permanent battle, adding that “fundamentalism must be eradicated in all its forms”.

Those fundamentalist Catholics are a real problem in France, or maybe he means the Huguenots.

So far though, French Muslims are comdemning the violent act.

The main representative body of the Muslim faith in France, the French Muslim Council (CFCM), condemned the fire, while its president pointed out that caricaturing the prophet was considered offensive to Muslims. “The CFCM deplores the deeply mocking tone of the newspaper towards Islam and its prophet, but reaffirms with force its total opposition to any act or form of violence,” it said.

Tareq Oubrou, head of the Association of Imams of France, said the attack was “an inadmissible act”. He added: “Freedom is very important. It is nonetheless important to underline the sensitivity of the situation we face today. I call on Muslims to treat this lucidly and not succumb to what they consider provocations regarding their religion … I personally call on Muslims to keep an open mind and not take this too seriously.”

Which is good, so far as it goes. We should also allow for the possibility that some other group is behind this, though given past acts when their prophet is insulted, I suppose the most likely suspect is a radical Muslim.

In any event, here is the offending cartoon.

I guess I would be offended too, if I were Muslim, but probably not enough to bomb the magazine.

Thanks to The Volokh Conspiracy for this.

Reading the Hadith

June 27, 2011

A while back I mentioned that I was starting to read the Hadiths of Sahih al-Bukhari. I thought I would write a post now and then over what I have been reading. It would be nice to try something like David Plotz‘s Blogging the Bible which he later expanded into “The Good Book“, or Robert Spencer’s Blogging the Koran, but I don’t have the time or energy for such an ambitious undertaking. Instead, as I said, I will write about some of the more interesting things I come across.

The Hadith of al-Bukhari is divided into nine volumes. There are 93 books divided according to subjects, mostly issues of behavior or jurisprudence. There are some books about Islamic beliefs, and Mohammed’s actions, which, of course, serve as an example to Moslems to this day. I have already described the structure of each hadith, the isnad or chain of narrators and the matn or actual anecdote, etc.

Incidentally, there is a former Moslem over at Islam Speaks who is featuring some of the sillier or objectionable stories from Islamic scriptures, especially the Hadith, but he is not reading it from beginning to end.

Back to the Future 2

June 23, 2011

I can hardly wait for the Caliphate to be established. According to Shaykh Abu-Ishaq al-Huwayni, I’ll be able to go right down to the slave market and buy me a slave girl whenever I feel the need.

When a slave market is erected, which is a market in which are sold slaves and sex-slaves, which are called in the Qur’an by the name milk al-yamin, “that which your right hands possess” [Qur'an 4:24]. This is a verse from the Qur’an which is still in force, and has not been abrogated. The milk al-yamin are the sex-slaves. You go to the market, look at the sex-slave, and buy her. She becomes like your wife, (but) she doesn’t need a (marriage) contract or a divorce like a free woman, nor does she need a wali. All scholars agree on this point–there is no disagreement from any of them.

These are called slaves. The Prophet (PBUH) talked about them in the hadith narrated by al-Bukhari in his Book of Jihad:  “Allah is delighted at a people who enter the Garden in chains.” Also as narrated by Abu-Dawud:  “They are led to the Garden in chains.” Naturally, many people might not understand someone being jerked along in chains in order to enter the Garden. This is because all people, even the worst of the unbelievers, say the garden is for them and no others. They run to the Garden without anybody pulling them in chains.

The meaning of the hadith is this:  these slaves were in a religion other than Islam. However, when they were conquered, and defeated, and taken prisoner, they came to live in the land of Islam. Then when they witnessed the justice, compassion, and mercy of Islam, they became Muslims. These did not convert to Islam except in the chains of war. If they had not been chained, bound, and had their freedom taken from them, they would not have converted to Islam. Therefore this hadith is referring to these slaves.

I am very shocked and surprised at those who say that we permit slavery. We don’t call people to become slaves. In fact, there are vows to free the necks (i.e. slaves). The same Islam which permits us to take slaves, also urges us to free their necks.

Oh, joy. I can go on jihad and take booty and prisoners.

When I want a sex slave, I just go to the market and choose the woman I like and purchase her. I choose the man I like, one with strong muscles, or if I want a boy to work in the house, and so forth. I choose one, and pay him a wage. I employ him in a variety of different tasks, then I sell him afterwards. Now, the country that I entered and took captive its men and women–does it not also have money, gold, and silver? Is that not money? When I say that jihad–offensive jihad–with the well-known conditions that I already mentioned from the hadith of the Prophet (PBUH), from the hadith of Burayda in Sahih Muslim, the coffers of the Muslims were full. Would someone who is pious and intelligent–would he say that this is a type of poverty? Or that it is a type of wealth? No–this will fill the coffers of the Muslims with riches and wealth, but as we said, with the recognized conditions. [...]

I think I will avoid the rush and convert to Islam right now. Then, I’ll start to work on repealing the thirteenth amendment, against the Koran you know.

Come to think of it, so is the first amendment. How can the dhimmis feel properly subdued if there is freedom of religion. And freedom of speech only invites blasphemy. Oh brave new world…


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