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Who or What do you trust?

       Authority vs History

Hearsay vs Evidence

Myths vs facts

Imams vs.facts

A recent book by Nabeel Qureshi, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, published in 2014,  tells  of the author’s life with loving parents who taught him about Islam and its Prophet, Muhammad.  They taught him the difference between Islam and Christianity.  He was given traditional instruction which gave him the desire to be a good Muslim as well as the “knowledge”  to deal with Christians and seek to convert them to Islam.

He wrote, “Regarding Muhammad, Westerners rarely knew anything.  I could say whatever I wanted about him and others would believe me.  Of course I did not try to deceive anyone, but it was not hard  to make a case for Muhammad to the average Christian , simply because of their ignorance. I shared with them all the things I learned in my early childhood about Muhammad, especially his mercy upon returning to Mecca, and I was able to leave people with a much more positive impression about Muhammad and Islam then they had before.”  (p.84)

As he investigated the two religions, Islam, which he had been taught, and Christianity which he had rejected,  he was surprised to learn what he had known about Islam was false  and what he rejected about Christianity was true.  How could this happen?   He had been taught myths, and   false ideas  instead of  facts from history.  History had been ignored.

There are several issues that Muslims raise to attack Christian belief.

The Bible has been corrupted?

Upon graduating from High school Nabeel  went to college and encountered a new roommate.  One day his new college room mate,  David Wood,  was reading his Bible and Nabeel asked why he was reading a corrupted book  Nabeel replied with a comment about all the different translations—King James, NIV,  RSV, ESV thinking that people had changed the real Bible.  David pointed out the problem of changing all the ancient manuscripts scattered all over the world and how  impossible it would be.  Nabeel wondered where David got all the information about texts.   David introduced Nabeel  to the science of textual criticism. (a study of the thousands of manuscipts beginning in various parts of the Christian world)

Nabeel was stunned.  “I continued to sit in silence. My teachers had never taught me any specifics.  They just repeatedly proclaimed that the Bible had  been changed.  I said nothing.” David replied that  “if you think there has been a significant change, you should provide evidence of that.  Conjecture is not enough.   You need proof.” ….’What if’ does not constitute much of an argument. What’s the claim?  Where’s the evidence?  If  there are no specifics, there’s no argument.” (p.132)

There were certain issues that Muslims believe and Nabeel shockingly discovered that he had been taught a number of erroneous views by his parents, imams, and others.  Below are several of these issues.

 Jesus did not  die on the cross?

The Quran claims that Jesus did not die on the cross.  4:157 states, “and their saying, ‘indeed we killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, messenger of Allah.  But they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but it was made to appear so to them….”    Muslim attempt to use these words to claim that someone else was given Jesus’ appearance and died in his place,  or that he was taken down from the cross before he died.

In contrast to the Quran, and  the conclusions Muslims have drawn from it,  there is no doubt among scholars,  atheists, agnostic, Jews, Christians, or Romans in ancient times believed that Jesus died on the cross.   The crucifixion  is well documented in ancient history. 

The Quran was written over 600 years after the time of the crucifixion of Jesus.   It simply says it did not happen without giving any evidence.  No one has ever survived a crucifixion  and  Jesus was no exception.

After getting into history, not authority, and seeing his father refuted in a presentation, Nabeel wrote,   “For one reason or another, he had elected to ignore an obvious truth during our conversation, and that did not sit well with me at all.  I realized I could no longer uncritically trust what my parents had  taught me. I did not doubt their sincerity, their devotion or their love, but I was beginning to doubt their grasp of the truth.”  (p.154)

 Is the Trinity true? 

 There is strong rejection by Muslims concerning the Trinity.  “The core doctrine of Islam is Tauheed.   Tauheed is the doctrine of God’s  oneness.  This is not merely an affirmation of monotheism but a thoroughgoing cultivation of the concept of God’s absolute unity….There can be no division within  Him whatsoever.” (p.191)
Nabeel relished in asking Christians if they believe in the Trinity and all did.  He pushed for an explanation and often the answer involved the concept of mystery.  There were no satisfactory answers given to him about it.  Rejection of the Trinity was built into his being.

However, a most unusual event took place in the chemistry class in college.  “Projected in the front of the room were three large depictions of nitrate in bold black and white.   We were studying resonance, the configuration of electrons in certain molecules….Essentially, the building block  of every physical object is an atom, a positively charged nucleus orbited by tiny, negatively charged electrons. Atoms bond to one another by sharing their electrons, forming a molecule….Mrs Adamski concluded her lesson by commenting, ‘These drawings are just the best way to represent resonance structures on paper, but it’s actually more complicated. Technically, a molecule with resonance is every one of its structures at every point in time, yet no single one of its structures at any point in time….It’s all the structures all the time, never just one of them.” (p.194)’

Nabeel  asked himself, “How could something be many things at once? Many different things?...I turned my glance away from the other students, concluding they had not blindly accepted a nonsensical concept.  They had realized before I did that there are truths about our universe that do not fit easily into our minds.   My eyes rested on three separate structures of nitrate on the wall, my mind assembling the pieces.  One molecule of nitrate in all three resonance structures all the time and never just one of them.  The three are separate but all the same, and they are one.  They are three in one.” (p.195.)

“That’s when it clicked: if there are things in this world that can be three in one, even incomprehensibly so, then why cannot God? And just like that, the Trinity became potentially true in my mind.” (p.196)

He began to check the Bible for information about the Trinity….He wrote, “Scripture is the reason why Christians believe God is triune….the Bible does not expound upon the doctrine of the Trinity in any one place.   However, there are five elements found repeatedly throughout the Bible’s text that are best interpreted through the lens of the Trinity:

          1. There is only one God (e.g., Rom.3:30)
          2. The Father is God (e.g., John 6:27))
          3. Jesus is God (e.g., John 20:28; Rom. 9:5; 2 Peter 1:1)
          4. The Holy Spirit is God  (e.g., Acts 5:3-5)
          5. These three are distinct persons (.e.g., John 14:16-17)
So if there are three distinct persons that are God, but there is only one God, we are naturally led to the doctrine of the Trinity: one God who subsists in three persons.”  (p.57, No God but One)

While Muslims may deny the Trinity due to misunderstanding of it,  or ignorance, or having been taught falsely about it,  it is based in the Bible from the very beginning.

Is the Quran the word of God? 

The Quran is most important for the Muslim  because it is the “closest thing to an incarnation of Allah, and it is the very proof they provide to demonstrate the truth of Islam.  The best parallel in Christianity is Jesus himself, the Word made flesh, and his resurrection. This is how central the Quran is to Islamic theology.”  (p. 228)     The Quran is considered inimitable in literary excellence.

However, literary excellence is not a quality of truthfulness.   Moreover, Nabeel was shocked to learn that Al-Furqan al-Haqq,  translated “the true measure of discernment,” is a book that responds to the challenge of the Quran by writing Christian teachings in Quranic style.”   The book reproduced the Quranic style so effectively that some who recited it aloud in public areas were thanked by Arab Muslims for having recited the Quran itself.”  P.229)

The Muslim claim is that the Quran has been preserved perfectly   by Allah and nothing has been changed, “not even a dot.”  This claim has been passed down for generations but it is absolutely false.  The history is quite different.

“Volume 6 of Sahih Bukhari…details the process of Quran’s collection in book 61. We find that Muhummad used to dictate the Quran to Muslims orally, not having first written it down.  It came to Muslims a few verses at a time, and sometimes Muhammad would relay the same verse differently to different Muslims.” (p. 237)  When Muhammad died there was no real collection of the Quran. There were a lot of memorizers of the verses of the Quran and when Muslims fought against Muslims many lost their lives in battle.  Abu Bakr ordered the Quran to be collected under the direction of Zaid ibn Tabit.    Even after he made his collection from the memories of the people  it was discovered that  Zaid accidently left a small portion out of the Quran.  Different regions were reciting the Quran differently and  khalifa Uthman ordered that the Quran be standardized.   They recalled the previous copy from Muhammad’s widow, edited it, copied it, and distributed the copies to each Muslim province. Then to settle the disputes over the Quran once and for all,  Uthman “ordered that all the other Quranic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be destroyed by fire.”  (p.238)    This was the first Quran burning.

Even with the standardized Quran it left out some sections that Ubay ibn Ka’b used to recite because he heard them from Muhammad himself.        Qureshi writes, “I added up all the pieces in my mind:  multiple recitations of the same verse, missing verses,  missing surahs, disputes over the canon,  controlled destruction of all variants.  How could we defend the Quran as perfectly preserved?  (p. 240)    The historical evidence is quite different to that which is taught by  imams, and other Muslim leaders.

Is Muhammad a prophet of Allah?

“Almost everything Muslims know about Muhammad comes to them orally, rarely from primary sources…They have no concept of details that might have been accidently distorted or intentionally altered….Muhammad’s first biography Sirat Rasul Allah by Ibn Ishaq comes down to our day only thru the transmission of a later biography, Ibn Hisham.  In his introduction,  Ibn Hisham explains that he altered the story of Muhammad’s life.  ‘Things which it is disgraceful to discuss, matters which would distress certain people, and such reports as {my teacher} told me he could not accept as trustworthy—all these things I have omitted. 

This shows that even the earliest records of Muhammad’s life are altered version of pervious stories that were altered.”(p.215)  One may wonder about  the phrase “things which it is disgraceful to discuss” since the things Muhammad did and recorded in the hadiths are very disgraceful. One wonders what other unrecorded disgraceful things he did.

It is important to stress that information about Muhummad’s life comes from Muslim sources.  Muhummad’s life is not something to be imitated.   Yet imitation of Muhammad’s life has caused terrible things to be done to young girls.  Muhummad married Aisha when she was six years old and consummated the marriage when she was 9.  He was 52 and she was 6.  Child marriages have done devastating damage to the lives of young girls in Islam. 

Muhammad claimed Allah limited men to 4 wives, but allowed him to have any number of wives and concubines.   Many issues are raised about him as a prophet.  “Muhammad had been poisoned, on his deathbed, he felt as if the poison were killing him, he had black magic cast on him, he revealed verses he later admitted has been from Satan, he tortured people for money, he led an attack on unarmed Jews, he caused his adopted son to divorce so he could marry his daughter-in-law Zainab, he told people to drink camel’s urine. (p,.225)   The men of a Jewish tribe were beheaded, 700 to 900 in one day and their wives and daughters sold as slaves.

When Muhammad gained power in Medina he became cruel.  He allowed some followers to lie to an enemy of his to gain access to the man and he was killed because he criticized Muhammad.  A woman was killed because she wrote sarcastic poetry about him.   At Medina he dealt with apostates commanding,  “Whoever changes his religion, kill him.” (Sunan An-Nas’I 5.37.4069)   When  his followers were the minority he promoted peace, but when he became powerful in Medina, three verses from the Quran were revealed:

          “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (9:29Ali)

          “O Prophet  strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be  unyielding to  them…” (9:73 Shakir).

          “O you who believe! Fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness…” (9:123 Shakir)

While Muhummad is said to be highly interested in sex, serving all his wives in the same night, his views about the nature of women were derogatory.  He claimed that women had only half the intelligence of men and needed two women to equal the testimony of a man in court.

The Quran claims, “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding the secret that  which Allah hath guarded.  As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them.” (4:34 Pickthall).

These are not the qualities of a prophet, a man of God.  The New Testament epistle of  1 John  anticipated people like Muhammad.
In the fourth chapter false prophets are noted, and one of the characteristics of a false prophet is to deny that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. In a positive way, "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God." (4:15)

John continues to warn: "He who believes in the Son has the testimony in himself. He who does not believe God, has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne to his Son. And this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life, he who has not the Son has not life." (5:10-12)