Ask a Muslim [split from introductions]
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11-05-2012, 09:47 AM (This post was last modified: 11-05-2012 09:52 AM by Internet Mullah.)
RE: Ask a Muslim [split from introductions]
(09-05-2012 03:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Hi, Mullah,

firstly, thanks for the effort you have put in, and for not avoiding questions. It must have taken you many hours. I have read all your replies. I congratulate you for your persistence. I have also got half way through Karen Armstrong's book about Mohammed and have watched another documentary on him, so I have been trying to remain open minded.

I'll share my impressions with you and invite your response.

Mark, thank you for your effort as well.

Also, I don't know if you actually read Karen Armstrong's book about Muhammad, but if you did, then that's good. I am more inclined toward believing you.

Now, I'm going to respond to some of the things that you said about Muhammad in your post along with this post. So, first, here's an outline of what you said:

- Muhammad was a little tyrant. He was controlling, manipulative, and power hungry.
- He killed a lot of people.
- He was delusional/hallucinatory/psychotic.
- He was a liar.
- He was a pedophile because he married a 9-year-old girl named Aisha while he was 50.
- And that he had multiple wives which indicates a strong sexual desire.

Here's my response to them:

Argument # 1: Muhammad was a little tyrant. He was controlling, manipulative, and power hungry.

First of all, I know that you may disagree with me on this, Mark, but from a biographical perspective, I find it very contradictory to think that Muhammad did all of this just for the sake of wealth and power. The reason is because the way he did it was one of the most life-threatening way. From the time that he started preaching Islam, he was gaining many enemies and they started to hate him after his prophethood, and he was mocked and ridiculed by the non-believers who were all around him (just like many people are doing today). Many of the Meccans and hostile pagan tribes even tried to kill him, but they couldn't, because we believe that God was protecting him. Thus, why the need to fabricate a religion while making himself suffer so much?

Also, Muhammad was financially wealthier before his prophethood. He was already financially well off while he was trading with his first wife, Khadija, before he started preaching Islam. However, after his Prophethood, he became poorer, and he had to go through years of persecution in Mecca, endure years of humiliation, and his reputation was ruined amongst his friends and relatives. Yet, he didn't ask for money and he still gave charity to others even though he became poorer. He used to wear simple clothes and he lived in a simple house. He used to eat on the floor with the poor. These are not the qualities of a rich/wealthy person nor of someone who is seeking power.

Furthermore, one time, the Quraish in Mecca once offered Muhammad a great amount of wealth and fame only if he would stop preaching Islam. The Quraish went to Abu Talib, a higly respected elder who was the Prophet's uncle and tribal protector, and demanded that he put an end to Muhammad's behavior, whom they accused of cursing their gods, denouncing their forefathers, and insulting their religion. After hearing that, Abu Talib became distressed and thus he conveyed his nephew of the grievances of his people. To this, Muhammad replied:

"O my uncle, by Allah, if they were to put the sun on my right hand and the moon on my left to abandon this thing, I would not, until Allah shows me otherwise or I die trying for its sake." (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah, Volume 1, page 265).

So, if Muhammad's reason for creating Islam was just for his own wealth/power/material gain, as you claim, then wouldn't he have taken the deal instead of outright refusing it?

Even in the Quran itself, there is a verse which says: "Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands and then say: 'This is from God' to traffic with it for a miserable price! Woe to them for what their hands do write and for what they earn from it" (2:79). So, this verse is condemning those who wrote something with their own hands and then claim that this is from God, just to make some money out of it. But, unfortunately, whatever money that they earned from writing those books were completely haram (unlawful) money, which is a huge sin. If Muhammad himself was doing this (i.e. making up the whole Quran) - for a worldly gain - then it's as if he was cursing himself in his own book.

Argument # 2: Muhammad killed a lot of people.

Yes, that is true, but the only time where killing was allowed was when the enemies of Islam were attacking the Muslims or when they broke treaties between them. If you know the history, there used to be pacts between the Muslims and non-Muslims to not to start a battle as long as they remain peaceful as mentioned in the Quran, which says, "And if they incline towards peace, then incline to it (also), and trust in Allah" ( 8:61). If the non-Muslims from an opposing tribe did break a treaty, or if they started to plot against the Muslims, then that is the only time when wars and executions were allowed for the Muslims. Why? So that they are able to defend themselves. Also, Muhammad never killed nor advocated killing anyone who was innocent and harmless. This is what God strictly forbids, as He says in the Quran, "He who kills a person without (the latter) having killed another person, it is as if he has killed all of humanity, and he who makes one person survive, it is as if he has caused all humanity to survive" (5:32).

Similarly:

"Thus, if they let you be, and do not make war on you, and offer you peace, God does not allow you to harm them." (4:90)

Argument # 3: Muhammad was delusional/hallucinatory/psychotic.

Okay, I disagree with that for two main reasons. The first reason is that there is no hard proof that Muhammad was delusional or that he was imagining things in his head. The second reason is that I doubt that he could have been self-deceived for a span of 23 years and yet hear specific words being recited to him in such a poetic and orderly fashion as the words in the Quran. I mean, the verses came to him in many different places and times, not only in the cave. He heard these messages when he was at home, when he was praying, when he was fasting, when he woke up from sleep, when he was speaking to a crowd, when he was eating, walking, standing, etc.

So, how could Muhammad not be sane, if he was doing all these activities without having any problems at all? And, again, the verses are not just a meaningless string of words. Rather, the verses in the Quran make perfect sense and they are presented in a linguistic style which is considered to be unmatchable even for the most literate person alive today.

Also, take a look at the information at the link below. In it are included verses from the Quran that talk about many of the scientific facts that are known today such as the water cycle, the creation of life, the stars, planets, the shape of the earth, the expansion of the universe, embryology, cosmology, and many other things.

Quran and Modern Science: Compatible or Incompatible?

The question is: If you think that Muhammad was receiving these verses as a result of some kind of a mental illness, or through hallucinatory episodes, then how is it possible that all these verses are scientifically accurate? To put it differently, do you think that him getting all these things right was just a coincidence? And, as I asked earlier, how is it possible that he wrote a book that is unmatched in literary merit and even so for the Arab poets and orators of the highest caliber throughout history while operating under a "delusional" state of mind, in addition to the fact that he was illiterate (which you said it yourself)?

Similarly, Maurice Bucaille, a French medical doctor, said on this topic:

"The above observation makes the hypothesis advanced by those who see Muhammad as the author of the Qur'an untenable. How could a man, from being illiterate, become the most important author, in terms of literary merits, in the whole of Arabic literature? How could he then pronounce truths of a scientific nature that no other human being could possibly have developed at that time, and all this without once making the slightest error in his pronouncement on the subject?" (Maurice Bucaille, The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, 1978, p 125)

Argument # 4: Muhammad was a liar

Well, again, there is no proof that he ever told a lie, and no one actually knows whether he lied or not. So, that argument is easily refuted.

If Muhammad was a liar (for argument's sake), Mark, then tell me how could the multitudes of his contemporaries, including many of his close relatives who knew him so well, how could they believe in his truthfulness if they had the slightest doubt that he was claiming credit for ideas taught to him by some other teachers without bothering to give them any credit? Muhammad was constantly surrounded by his companions, surrounded by his wives, and even surrounded by severe enemies, and yet, how is not possible for them to prove to the masses that his claim of revelation was a sheer fabrication?

The more I learn about the life of Muhammad, the more I strongly disagree with the idea that he was a liar or an imposter, as many tend to believe unknowingly. I think that all the ill notions about Muhammad are presented only by those who are not knowledgeable about the history of Islam and the life of the Prophet (pbuh). There are many biographies written about Muhammad that were written by both Muslims and non-Muslims which show how much of a good character and compassion he had. For example, here's a quote from from a non-Muslim scholar, who said:

"His readiness to undergo persecution for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as a leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement - all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems that it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad ... Thus, not merely must we credit Muhammad with essential honesty and integrity of purpose, if we are to understand him at all; if we are to correct the errors we have inherited from the past, we must not forget the conclusive proof is a much stricter requirement than a show of plausibility, and in a matter such as this only to be attained with difficulty" (W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at Mecca, Oxford, 1953).

More beautiful statements from some of the non-Muslim scholars of the past who testify Muhammad's great character and his honesty:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOs3uDMUDsk

Argument # 5: Muhammad was a pedophile because a married a 9-year-old girl named Aisha while he was 50.

First of all, according to my knowledge, the "child," Aisha - although it is widely disputed amongst scholars about her exact age when she consummated her marriage - was believed to be past her puberty and thus she was legally ready for marriage. In Islam, a female is considered a woman and fit for marriage after the time she undergoes puberty. That is the age of consent for marriage for a Muslim female. More importantly, we know that Aisha was willing to be married. So, I will not argue about her exact age because that is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether or not Aisha was capable of and willing to consummate her relationship with the Prophet. In a society with no restrictions and complete freedom, after reaching sexual maturity, children naturally become sexually active, and need an outlet for these feelings. Islam recognizes that, and takes the moderate path - i.e. you do not have to suppress your feelings as wrong/dirty - but you also should not go around having insecure/promiscuous sex. That is the reason why marriage after puberty is recommended.

Secondly, another important thing to remember is that Aisha's marriage to the Prophet was an open marriage. It was approved by her parents and relatives, and it is recorded that her mother, Um Ruman, called her and entrusted her to a few Ansari women who then prepared her for the marriage. Even Aisha's father, Abu Bakr, was pleased with the marriage and he became one of Muhammad's closest and most trustworthy companions. This means that the whole process was happening within the cultural standards of that time since she was being prepared for the marriage (by her parents and others). None of these events which are mentioned in the narration indicate that this was a case of rape or child abuse.

Also, early marriage does not necessarily indicate pedophilia. In Arabia, it was a common practice for women to get married at an early age during those times. Early marriages frequently occur in many other societies as well (even today), and I'm not saying that this a good thing nor a bad thing, but just that it is a practice that is culturally and socially sanctioned in some parts of the world. See this article.

So, we need to realize that our times are considerably different with terms of societal life with the life of the Arabs 1,400 years ago. Marriages at young age was the norm rather than an anomaly in certain societies during that time. For those who live in the west, we may be used to seeing 10 year old's playing with barbie dolls, but this is not the case in other countries. In poor rural areas, children from the age of 6 and onwards are taught to work, to clean, and to cook. This means that by the time they reach the age of 13 getting married and having sex is considered as something normal for them because of their situation. Children would mature at a faster rate than children of today and would be taking care of their entire family at an age where kids nowadays are still running around carefree busy with fun and games.

In the years after the marriage, Aisha did not show any signs of physical or mental problems while living with Muhammad nor become depressed about her life (unlike many of the victims of rape and child abuse). In fact, she became a role model for many Muslim women during that time. She was known to be a respectful woman and also knowledgeable in regard to Islamic issues. And she never even expressed a feeling of dissatisfaction towards Muhammad. She was happy with him, and she loved him, and he loved her as well. Thus, Aisha - like any other normal young girl, got married - to the best of men at that time, willingly.

The main concern here is state of mind, agreement, and situation. Putting numbers on the age of marriage and sex is unrealistic to those who want to marry young. The marriage contract, like any other contract, is validated and legitimate in Islam when both parties consent and are in a state of full comprehension of the situation. For example, supposing a 16 year old wants to marry a 17 year old, there should be no problem. Likewise, supposing an 18 year old wants to marry a 50 year old, again there should be no problem and under an Islamic state this is a legitimate practice. It is important to recognize that when we talk of any form of marriage, be it to a 10 year old or to a 80 year old, we are strictly speaking of consensual marriage with comprehension.

Argument # 6: Muhammad had multiple wives and this means that he had strong sexual desires.

In addition to Aisha, Muhammad had 10 other wives who were all 17 years or older. His first wife was a 40-year-old merchant, Khadija, and Aisha was his second, not the first. He remained with Khadija for 25 years until her death without marrying anyone else. After she died, only then did Muhammad marry again (upon the suggestion of Khawlah bint Hakim). Furthermore, all of his wives were elderly widows except Aisha and Maria. So, this is yet another thing that refutes the previous argument that Muhammad was a pedophile.

However, the fact that Muhammad had multiple wives does not mean that he was sexually hyperactive nor anything like that. On the contrary, that has nothing to do with it because most of the wives that he had were widows whom he married during times of war to protect them. The latter life of the Prophet consisted of years of wars for the emerging Muslim nation, when Muslims had to fight in self-defense to protect their lives and their religion. Consequently, hundreds of his companions were killed, leaving behind widows and orphans without anyone left to care for them. So, that's why Muhammad set an example for the surviving companions by remarrying the widows in order to support them.

Another reason for Muhammad's multiple marriages was to cement alliances between different tribes of Arabia. His marriages to Juwairiyah and Safiyah, for example, were to bind warring tribes to avoid future violence and bloodshed. The Arabian Peninsula was once distraught by decades of war. Tribes used to fight for revenge over petty instances for years and it was extremely difficult to strike truces between them. Through the acceptance and spread of Islam, peace was struck between warring tribes, but many might have still harbored ill feelings, especially those who had not yet accepted Islam. So, through marriage, tribes had to honor their truces, and many of these ill feelings were resolved due to pride in the marriage of a member of the tribe to the Prophet. By marrying into the families of key allies and vanquished enemies, he laid the ground work for cooperation between the different tribes.

So, if you carefully and honestly study the history of Muhammad's marriages - especially the events which led to them - you would know that the reason for his marriages was clearly meant to strengthen the Muslim community whether by the spread of knowledge, the protection of widows, or cementing alliances between the tribes of Arabia.
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11-05-2012, 12:01 PM (This post was last modified: 11-05-2012 12:05 PM by Internet Mullah.)
RE: Ask a Muslim [split from introductions]
Concerning the linguistic eloquence of the Quran, Alfred Guillaume, an Arabist and an Islamic scholar, said:

"The Quran is one of the world's classics which cannot be translated without grave loss. It has a rhythm of peculiar beauty and a cadence that charms the ear. Many Christian Arabs speak of its style with warm admiration, and most Arabists acknowledge its excellence. When it is read aloud or recited it has an almost hypnotic effect that makes the listener indifferent to its sometimes strange syntax and its sometimes, to us, repellent content. It is this quality it possesses of silencing criticism by the sweet music of its language that has given birth to the dogma of its inimitability; indeed it may be affirmed that within the literature of the Arabs, wide and fecund as it is both in poetry and in elevated prose, there is nothing to compare with it." (Alfred Guillaume, Islam, p 73-74)

Here's a video of my most favorite debate where a Muslim speaker, Jamal Badawi, discusses this topic starting from 18:55 and onwards:

The Quran: Word of God or Muhammad? (4 of 8)

Here is the next part where he continues to talk about the challenge of the Quran to the non-believers.
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11-05-2012, 12:25 PM
RE: Ask a Muslim [split from introductions]
... A challenge? But what if I decline to participate?

Your God is *your* God. Since despite all the waffle about how great the Quran is he declines to show his face... I see no need to bow down. Before you tell me that the face is there to be seen if only I read the right books or adopt the right philosophical standpoint... why would an all powerful, merciful God hide like this? What is the Islamic explanation for the fact that all of Allah's glory is manifested in human beans? Why is it that the only evidence for Allah is a book? And maybe some stars and planets and stuff. But a God who cares about the sins that I do and is watching me all the time surely has the power to show himself. As you yourself said, if he wanted to send another prophet he surely could.

Stars and rocks and all of creation are *not* evidence for any God, much like they're not evidence for the proof of Pythagoras' theorem. Same goes for DNA. *If* Allah exists, why did he only talk to Mohammed? Why not *all of us*? Why if I pray does no voice answer, and why does *nothing happen*? These are serious questions btw.

When *you* pray, does Allah talk to you? Do you hear a voice? Or are you like I was when I was a Christian, you hear no voice, but you watch and see, and when things go well for you then you say "God has heard my prayer", and when they go badly you say "God chose not to answer my prayer for his own reasons"?

Do you Muslims have some kind of call to tell others the good news like Christians? What the Christians call the "great commission"? Do you have it too?
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11-05-2012, 05:40 PM
RE: Ask a Muslim [split from introductions]
(11-05-2012 12:25 PM)morondog Wrote:  ... A challenge? But what if I decline to participate?

You don't have to participate in the challenge if you don't want to, morondog, but many people in the past did try to do this. The point of the challenge is to simply discredit the claim of those who say that Muhammad was the author of the Quran especially knowing that he was illiterate. Even those who were expert in the Arabic language and studied the linguistic aspects of the Quran as well tried to produce something that is even similar the book, but they couldn't.

However, I do think that some Muslims exaggerate this argument by implying as if this is a "conclusive proof" of the Quran's divinity. And that is not a logical argument, in my opinion. One may just say that this is a mildly or a fairly interesting argument for the Quran, or something that strengthens the Quran's claims, but it would be unreasonable to use this argument as a conclusive evidence.

(11-05-2012 12:25 PM)morondog Wrote:  Your God is *your* God. Since despite all the waffle about how great the Quran is he declines to show his face... I see no need to bow down. Before you tell me that the face is there to be seen if only I read the right books or adopt the right philosophical standpoint... why would an all powerful, merciful God hide like this?

I don't know why God doesn't show Himself, but I think that one answer is that there would be no purpose of having faith in Him if he shows Himself. Why? Because then everybody would believe in Him since they saw Him. We believe that God revealed his messages through certain people in history (known as prophets) who play the role of being "communication channels" for transmitting His information to the rest of humanity. In that sense, my belief is that God is the sender, the prophets are the channels, and we are the receivers of these divine laws. He doesn't show himself directly, but only manifests Himself in other ways, i.e. through the Prophets, the scriptures, and through His creations.

(11-05-2012 12:25 PM)morondog Wrote:  What is the Islamic explanation for the fact that all of Allah's glory is manifested in human beans?

Sorry, I don't understand by what you mean by human beans. But, regardless, we believe that His glory is present everywhere in the universe though we may not be aware of them. There is a verse in the Quran which says, "To Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth; and those who denied the signs of Allah, it is they who are the losers" (39:64). The "signs" of Allah are in a way similar to fingerprints or clues that leave traces for the existence of something. These signs are present in things such as the animals, trees, plants, the birds, mountains, stars, and many of the complex and beautiful things that we see around us. We don't see Him directly, but we believe that there are many signs (or clues) of His existence.

(11-05-2012 12:25 PM)morondog Wrote:  Why is it that the only evidence for Allah is a book? And maybe some stars and planets and stuff.

Well, these things are not actually "evidences" of Allah, but just things that hint or suggest that He exists. As I said earlier, there are many things that, in my opinion, suggest the existence of an intelligent force or an intelligent being operating in the universe. This is most apparent to me when I look at the beauty and the complexity of the planet that we are living in. I find it unlikely that all of this would come about simply as a chance or as a by-product of mindless, accidental forces.

(11-05-2012 12:25 PM)morondog Wrote:  But a God who cares about the sins that I do and is watching me all the time surely has the power to show himself. As you yourself said, if he wanted to send another prophet he surely could.

Yes, if He wanted, He could show Himself, or send another prophet. But, then you would automatically start believing in Him, and thus there wouldn't be any value of rewarding you in the next life since He just "gave you the answer" so to speak, by showing Himself. I believe that we have to use our own intellect and our reasoning powers to come to the conclusion of whether He exists or not. If God kept showing Himself over and over again, then I think that it would be kind of like spoon-feeding us the answer because it would greatly hinder us from using our own minds to reflect on His existence.

(11-05-2012 12:25 PM)morondog Wrote:  Stars and rocks and all of creation are *not* evidence for any God, much like they're not evidence for the proof of Pythagoras' theorem. Same goes for DNA.

I agree with you, morondog. I didn't say anywhere that those things are evidences for a God, but only that they are "signs" or "clues" of a God, or a mind, or an intelligent force, or whatever it is. That's just what I personally think, but I'm not 100% sure about that since I came to that conclusion according my own ways of reasoning and not based on evidence. Now, it is your own subjective standard of what consititutes evidence that determines whether you will accept the signs of His existence as convincing or not.

(11-05-2012 12:25 PM)morondog Wrote:  *If* Allah exists, why did he only talk to Mohammed? Why not *all of us*? Why if I pray does no voice answer, and why does *nothing happen*? These are serious questions btw.

I answered that question in my comments above. But, again, I believe that this is just the method in which God likes to reveal Himself. He does it in a way so that people can think for themselves. Also, if God speaks to everyone, then that makes it seem as if He is needs us to believe in Him or desperate to make us believe in Him, which is not true. As Muslims, we don't believe that He needs our prayers. We pray to Him simply because He is worthy of praise, not that He needs it. We also pray to Him for our own guidance.

(11-05-2012 12:25 PM)morondog Wrote:  When *you* pray, does Allah talk to you? Do you hear a voice? Or are you like I was when I was a Christian, you hear no voice, but you watch and see, and when things go well for you then you say "God has heard my prayer", and when they go badly you say "God chose not to answer my prayer for his own reasons"?

No, I don't hear a voice when I pray to Allah. But, I believe that He listens to everything that we utter and, ultimately, it's decision on whether or not to fulfill my prayers. If I think that one of my prayers are not being answered, then it may mean that He is not answering them because of my sins, or maybe He is not answering them for a good reason. Or, it may take a longer time to get them answered. So, we always have to be patient in expecting our prayers to be answered. And, most importantly, we have to sincerely believe in Allah because the prayers of those who do not have faith are invalid.

(11-05-2012 12:25 PM)morondog Wrote:  Do you Muslims have some kind of call to tell others the good news like Christians? What the Christians call the "great commission"? Do you have it too?

Well, according to my understanding, the Christian version of good news is that God will offer a new life and forgiveness through Jesus. Those who accepted Jesus as the only way to Heaven would be forgiven while those who rejected Jesus, on the other hand, will be punished for their rejection and/or sent to Hell. This is a similar thing in Islam, except that we don't elevate the status of the Prophet Muhammad to such a height as if he needs to be worshipped as Christians do to their Prophet. We don't call it a "good news" or anything, but we also believe that God will resurrect us on the Day of Judgment, and that is the day when all of us will be asked questions about our actions and why we did them. But, we won't be able to speak in the court of divine justice. Rather, our own hands, feet, ears, and tongues will testify against ourselves, as the Quran says, "That Day shall We set a seal on their mouths. But their hands will speak to us, and their feet will bear witness, to all that they did" (36:65).

So, that's basically the Islamic version of the "good news," although I don't think that's a proper term to describe the situation and no Muslim even calls it that.
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11-05-2012, 05:50 PM (This post was last modified: 11-05-2012 05:52 PM by morondog.)
RE: Ask a Muslim [split from introductions]
Thanks man... must admit I thought I'd have a go at you there but you handled it like a pro...

Maybe I should take a step back and try to understand you a little more:

In Christianity, thanks to Kingschosen, I know that there is a deep split between two opposing camps: the ones who say that God is all-knowing, and therefore knows ahead of time who will go to heaven and hell, thus negating freewill, in the sense that since he knows ahead of time he might as well skip the boring intermediate steps and fry us horrible atheists immediately.

Then there is the camp which believes that there is always a choice. Somehow they still think that God is all knowing but they assert that man has the capability to change his fate by the choices he makes, hence has freewill independent of God and thus his merit is in choosing God, and for this he is rewarded in the afterlife. Is this what you believe? 'Cos it sounds from what you said in your last post like this is the case...

Also what I am asking with the question about the good news, is did Mohammed say you guys should *evangelize* people, and if he did, why are the only street corner preachers I've ever seen Christian ? How come I don't see Muslim versions of Jehovah's witnesses?
Oh btw the human beans thing was a pun on human beings Tongue Just one of my little games I like to play with words... But I think this is a fairly common one the world over.
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12-05-2012, 05:01 AM
RE: Ask a Muslim [split from introductions]
What is an enemy of Islam?

These 'scientific miracles' ... how are they scientific if they're either wrong or just meant to be a sign? signs hold no scientific value. None at all.

Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own understanding!
Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.


Enlightenment is liberating.
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12-05-2012, 07:53 AM
RE: Ask a Muslim [split from introductions]
(12-05-2012 05:01 AM)ALovelyChickenMan Wrote:  What is an enemy of Islam?

These 'scientific miracles' ... how are they scientific if they're either wrong or just meant to be a sign? signs hold no scientific value. None at all.
It seems atheists are enemies of Islam. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2joL2Pz8oM
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19-05-2012, 03:44 AM (This post was last modified: 19-05-2012 04:00 AM by Internet Mullah.)
RE: Ask a Muslim [split from introductions]
(11-05-2012 05:50 PM)morondog Wrote:  Then there is the camp which believes that there is always a choice. Somehow they still think that God is all knowing but they assert that man has the capability to change his fate by the choices he makes, hence has freewill independent of God and thus his merit is in choosing God, and for this he is rewarded in the afterlife. Is this what you believe? 'Cos it sounds from what you said in your last post like this is the case...

Yes, Muslims believe that we have been provided freewill although it is not independent of God because it comes from God. We believe that we will be held accountable for our actions, and punished or rewarded accordingly, and therefore, it is not a logical idea that God would punish us or reward us if we didn't have free will. There are many verses in the Quran which state that it is our own beliefs and our actions that lead us to either Heaven or Hell. And the book has instructions on how to avoid Hell and attain Heaven. So, if we didn't have any free will, then it wouldn't make sense for God to tell us to do this and do that and then punish us for not following His commandments.

We believe in something called qadr (in Arabic), and it's meaning is closer to "decree" or "limits," but it doesn't mean destiny. Qadr as a term is actually difficult to be translated into English. It carries many concepts at the same time and sometimes, it carries one of those concepts but not others. For example, sometimes, the limits of an entity are narrow such as our skin colors, eye colors, and so on. Other times, the limits have a greater range. In the matter of free will, we believe that God provides us free will in a range within those limits. The range allows one of us to go to either Heaven or Hell, while the limits stop us from going beyond. So, the concept of qadr lays the fundamental principle that everything in this universe runs according to laws and limitations. Qadr is the divine will and decree of God n the sense that He created all things in due proportion and according to a precise measure. He created everything with limits. Man must work within those limits.

This topic leads me to a related question, which is: If God is all-knowing, then doesn't He already know who's going to Heaven and who's going to Hell? And if He does know that, then doesn't it logically imply that His foreknowledge of this negates the idea of man having the choice of whether or not to believe in Him? Well, this is a very controversial question, morondog, and it is not something that is easy to grasp. There are many books written on this topic, and scholars have different opinions, but I'm going to condense the issue into my own words as best that I can.

First of all, according to our own limited and fallible understanding of God's attribute of "All-Knowing" (Al-Alim), we believe that He is all-knowing in the sense that His knowledge encompasses all of time - i.e. His knowledge encompasses everything that exists in the past, present, and future - and therefore, the Muslim belief is that God already knows everyone's place in the next life. He knows who is going to Heaven and who is going to Hell. That is what we believe as far as we understand the term "All-Knowing." But, it is still unknown to us what that attribute actually implies. Why?

Because an important thing to know is that, according to Islam, the primary attribute of God is unknowable. He is not viewed as someone who has a face, hands, feet, eyes, and other body parts as that of a human being (i.e. we don't believe in an anthropocentric God). He is only a person in the sense that he has some of the attributes or qualities of a human being, but it doesn't mean that he looks like a human being, as the Quran says, "No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision. He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things" (6:103). This means that we cannot ever understand or comprehend the essence of God nor what He looks like. In other words, God cannot be perceived by the human imagination, which is in respect to His primary attribute.

The secondary attributes, however, are many and some of them are the All-Aware, the Most High, the Alive, the Eternal, the Preserver, the Wise, the Hidden, the Perceiver, the Resurrector, and the Watcher, for example, and we have to understand all of these secondary attributes of God in relation to His primary attribute which is unknowable. Since we do not know God's primary attribute, all of his secondary attributes are considered to be "mutashabih" (implicit or unclear) which means that they cannot be literally understood from the words themselves.

Therefore, when the Quran states that God is "All-Knowing," we cannot understand the actuality of His "knowing" in human terms. For example, God describes Himself with the attribute of "knowledge." The meaning of the word "knowledge" is well-known and understood by all of us. When this attribute is applied to God, we know and understand the meaning of this attribute, but the actuality and the how-ness of this "knowledge" can never be understood. Similarly, when God describes Himself as "All-Hearing" and "All-Watchful," we understand the meaning of the words themselves, but we do not understand the hown-ess of those attributes when applied to God because He does not possess any eyes or ears as we humans possess, as the Quran says, "And there is none like unto Him" (112:04) and "He is above all comprehension" (6:103).

Secondly, in the Quran, there are verses that speak of a divine book known as the "Preserved Tablet" (Al-Lawh al-Mahfooz), which has everything that is going to happen in the universe written in it. It is like a "record" or a "memory" of everything that has happened, will happen, or is happening right now. One of the verses in the Quran says, "No calamity strikes upon the earth or in yourselves but that it is inscribed in the Preserved Tablet (Al-Lawh al-Mahfooz) before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah" (57:22). There are more Quranic verses on this subject and you can see some of them in the article below:

Concept of al-Qadaa and al-Qadar (by Mohammad Razi)

However, again, we cannot comprehend the exact nature or the how-ness of this "writing," just like we cannot comprehend the how-ness of God's "knowledge." The writing may consist of information about every specific event that will ever take place, or it may contain all the possible events that can ever happen, or the writing might be sort of like a wave function representation of the entire history of the universe (in relation to the idea of "sum-over-histories"), or maybe it is something similar to that idea, but, utlimately, we don't know what the writing really looks like nor what it contains.

The next question is, if all that is going to happen in our lives is already "written" on the Preserved Tablet, doesn't this mean that we don't actually have free will?

My answer to this is no, not necessarily, because the writing in the Preserved Tablet does not in any way compel us to do what we do. We still have the ability to make our own choices and act according to our intentions. Hence, that is what we are going to be judged on. It does not matter what is written on that book because that is something that only God knows, but we don't. So, we believe that our actions and choices are still actually free since the writing does not compel us to behave in a certain way. God's complete foreknowledge of our actions does not necessarily mean that we have no free will. His foreknowledge of our actions and our free will are not mutually exclusive.

To show you an analogy of this, imagine that a teacher has given a multiple-choice exam to his students. But, before handing the exams, he has written on a piece of paper all the answers that each of his students would choose, and then he put the paper in a locked and secure place. He already knows which answers they will choose and what grades they will get. The writing in that paper, however, does not force or compel the students to answer in a specific way while they're taking the test. They are still choosing the answers using their own thinking and concentration, without interference. The only thing is that they don't know what the teacher knows. But, again, the answers that they choose in the exam have been done so by their own calculations, memory, and free thought. They are not being inflluenced by what is written on that hidden paper.

Similarly, we believe that God knows our future actions and also knows our destiny (taqdeer), but He does not cause us do what we are doing. Here's an article about this:

Human Destiny Destiny Inscribed in the Preserved Tablet

To summarize everything, I will now outline the main points that I discussed above in a more concise manner:

1. Muslims believe that man has free will and thus he chooses his own path.
2. God has created the world with laws and limits which we cannot go beyond. The range of our free will exists within those limits. That is the concept of qadr.
3. One of the attributes of God is "All-Knowing," and therefore, we believe that He knows everything about our lives as well as our destiny.
4. God's knowledge of the world is written in a book (the Preserved Tablet), but we do not know what He knows, nor the actuality of His knowledge.
5. God's foreknowledge of our actions and our destiny does not inhibit our free will. We are still acting and thinking freely. Thus, we will be held accountable for our actions.
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19-05-2012, 05:03 AM (This post was last modified: 19-05-2012 05:20 AM by Internet Mullah.)
RE: Ask a Muslim [split from introductions]
(12-05-2012 05:01 AM)ALovelyChickenMan Wrote:  What is an enemy of Islam?

We believe that the first and greatest enemy of Islam is the devil (shaytaan). There are other enemies of Islam and they are certain people who, in one way or another, try to attack the religion of Islam and/or demonize the Muslims. They include people such as those who try to fight against Muslims, who openly mock the religion, who purposely provoke Muslims, who spread lies about Muslims and their religion, who try to show all Muslims in a bad light, who try to incite Muslims into violence, and so on.

Consider the incidence of Pastor Terry Jones publicly burning a Quran, for example. The issue is not about the burning of a single copy of the Quran. It is about the idea it represents, the hate, and the total division of humankind. A person who has no appreciation of the diversity of mankind and the unity of the world in spite of the differences we represent and who desires nothing but an absolute annihilation of all that he deems different to his belief set, is the person capable of such an act. That is what makes him one of the enemies of Islam.

However, such persons are not confined just to this pastor only as they are present amongst many other groups and adherents of religion including Islam and history of the world shows that such people with so much hatred and arrogance in their hearts will never prevail. So, there are also extremist Muslims who offend people of other faiths in violent and hateful ways. I would say that even those type of Muslims are among the enemies of Islam because they are creating a false image of Islam. As I mentioned earlier, terrorrism and the killing of innocent people are clearly against Islamic principles.

(12-05-2012 05:01 AM)ALovelyChickenMan Wrote:  These 'scientific miracles' ... how are they scientific if they're either wrong or just meant to be a sign? signs hold no scientific value. None at all.

Well, in my opinion, there are certain things in the Quran which are very unlikely that man could have known about especially over 1,400 years ago. Furthermore, Muhammad was an illiterate man and he is not known to recieve any training in science, physics, geology, or anything. Yet, there are things that were discovered centuries later after the time of the Quranic revelations. There are even scientists who recognize that the some of the information in the Quran go beyond the scientific knowledge of the time and speaks of scientific facts and truths that have only recently been discovered. Here's an article where you can read some of their statements on the Quran. Also, concerning the verses on embryololgy, here's a paper that looks into those verses one-by-one in great detail:

Embryology in the Quran: A Scientific-Linguistic Analysis of Chapter 23

That being said, although the Quran may contain scientific details that were not known during that time, we do not actually consider the book as a "book of science," because teaching science is not the purpose of the book at all. Rather, the Quran is primarily meant to be a moral and a spiritual guideline. It is a text that seeks to engage the inner dimensions of man and to build his relationship with God through faith and worship.

The main reason that science is included in the Quran is to make us think and reflect on how God created nature so beautifully and wisely, not necessarily to show that these are scientific discoveries. There are many verses in the Quran that illustrate some of the phenomenons of the natural world such as the planets orbiting the sun, the stars, the alternation of the night and day, the various animals in this planet, the intricacies of our own psychological and physiological development, and the embryological stages, and so on. These things are included just to remind us that these are some of the signs of God's existence.

(11-05-2012 05:50 PM)morondog Wrote:  Also what I am asking with the question about the good news, is did Mohammed say you guys should *evangelize* people, and if he did, why are the only street corner preachers I've ever seen Christian ? How come I don't see Muslim versions of Jehovah's witnesses?

Well, Muhammad did say that we should try to invite others to Islam by teaching them, or by doing Dawah, but it's not something compulsory and we shouldn't force anyone.

This means that we should try to teach people, both Muslim and non-Muslim, about things such as the message of the Quran, about the Prophet Muhammad, the importance of having faith in God, the importance of worshipping Him, why He created us, what will happen to us after we die, the divine laws that Muslims are supposed to follow, and/or anything that is related to Islam. This is something that we are encouraged to do as Muslims.

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19-05-2012, 08:24 AM
RE: Ask a Muslim [split from introductions]
(19-05-2012 05:03 AM)Internet Mullah Wrote:  We believe that the first and greatest enemy of Islam is the devil (shaytaan). There are other enemies of Islam and they are certain people who, in one way or another, try to attack the religion of Islam and/or demonize the Muslims. They include people such as those who try to fight against Muslims, who openly mock the religion, who purposely provoke Muslims, who spread lies about Muslims and their religion, who try to show all Muslims in a bad light, who try to incite Muslims into violence, and so on.

Consider the incidence of Pastor Terry Jones publicly burning a Quran, for example. The issue is not about the burning of a single copy of the Quran. It is about the idea it represents, the hate, and the total division of humankind. A person who has no appreciation of the diversity of mankind and the unity of the world in spite of the differences we represent and who desires nothing but an absolute annihilation of all that he deems different to his belief set, is the person capable of such an act. That is what makes him one of the enemies of Islam.
This Pastor Terry Jones - is he deserving of death, in your opinion? (I think I remember you saying that enemies of Islam were legitimately allowed to be killed according to the Quran).

For burning a book mind you.

A book you care about.

Deliberately burning it. As deliberate provocation, because he's a twit...

But in the end, there are multiple copies of the book, it's not like it's precious...

I mean, I know you value the words... what do you do with an old Quran that's falling apart anyway? It's not like you're gonna keep it to write your shopping list on.

If it were me, I couldn't really care that he does this. It's only 'cos of media attention that it's a big deal anyway.
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