Common Misconceptions about Islam

Is Allaah a different God? Do Muslims worship Muhammad? Is Islam for Arabs only? the answer NO!! These are just some of many misconceptions about Islam that you may learn about in this article.

Source: [islaam.ca] Published: Pre 2000

Many non-Muslims, when they think about Islam, picture religious fanatics on camels with a sword in one hand and a Qur’an in the other. This myth, which was made popular in Europe during the Crusades, is totally baseless.

Misconception #1: Muslims worship a different God

First of all, there is only One God who created the Universe and all of mankind. Throughout history, people have created false gods in their minds and come up with false ideas about Almighty God, but regardless of this there is still only One True God – and He alone is worthy of worship. Unfortunately, some non-Muslims have come to incorrectly believe that Muslims worship a different God than Jews and Christians. This might be due to the fact that Muslims sometimes refer to God as “Allah”, but also because over the centuries there have been many lies and distortions spread by the enemies of Islam. In actuality, Muslims worship the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus — the same God as Christians and Jews. The word “Allah” is simply the Arabic name of Almighty God (mentioned to mankind in the Qur’an) and it is the same word that Arabic speaking Christians and Jews use to refer to God. If you pick up an Arabic translation of the Christian Bible, you will see the word “Allah” where “God” is used in English. For more information on the word “Allah”, please read the section: Who is Allah? But even though Muslims, Jews and Christians believe in the same God, their concepts about Him differ quite a bit. For example, Muslims reject the idea of the Trinity or that God has become “incarnate” in the world. Also, the teachings of Islam do not rely on or appeal to “mystery” or “paradox” — they are straightforward and clear. Islam teaches that God is Merciful, Loving and Compassionate and that He has no need to become man (nor do humans need for Him to). One of the unique aspects of Islam is that it teaches that man can have a personal and fulfilling relationship with Almighty God without compromising the transcendence of God. In Islam there is no ambiguity in Divinity — God is God and man is man. Muslims believe that God is the “Most Merciful”, and that he deals directly with human-beings without the need of any intermediary. Actually, the phrase “In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful” is one of the most repeated verses in the Holy Qur’an. Additionally, the pure and straightforward teachings of Islam demand that Almighty God be approached directly and without intermediaries. This is because Muslims believe that God is completely in control of everything and that He can bestow His Grace and Mercy on His creatures as He pleases – no Atonement, Incarnation or blood sacrifice is necessary. In summary, Islam calls people to submit to the One True God and to worship Him alone.

Misconception #2: Muslims worship Muhammad

According to Islamic belief, the Prophet Muhammad was the last Messenger of God. He, like all of God’s prophets and messengers – such as Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus — was only a human being. Christians came to the mistaken assumption that Muslims worship Muhammad by formulating an incorrect analogy – they worship Jesus so they assumed Muslims worship Muhammad. This is one of the reasons that they called Muslims by the incorrect name “Mohammedans” for so many years! Muhammad, like Jesus, never claimed divine status. He called people to worship only Almighty God, and he continually emphasized his humanity so that people would not fall into the same errors as Christians did in regards to Jesus. In order to prevent his deification, the Prophet Muhammad always said to refer to him as “the Messenger of God and His slave”. Muhammad was chosen to be God’s final messenger — to communicate the message not only in words but to be a living example of the message. Muslims love and respect him because he was of the highest moral character and he brought the Truth from God – which is the Pure Monotheism of Islam. Even when Islam was in its very early stages, God revealed that Muhammad “was sent as a mercy to all of mankind” – thus informing us that the message of Islam would become very widespread. Muslims strive to follow the great example of Muhammad, peace be upon him, but they do not worship him in any way. Additionally, Islam teaches Muslims to respect all of God’s prophets and messengers – but respecting and loving them does not mean worshipping them. All true Muslims realize that all worship and prayer must be directed to Almighty God alone. Suffice it to say that worshipping Muhammad — or anyone else — along with Almighty God is considered to be the worst sin in Islam. Even if a person claims to be Muslim, but they worship and pray to other than Almighty God, this cancels and nullifies their Islam. The Declaration of Faith of Islam makes it clear that Muslims are taught only to worship God. This declaration is as follows: “There is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Almighty God, and Muhammad is the Messenger and Servant of God”.

Misconception #3: Islam is a religion only for Arabs

The fastest way to prove that this is completely false is to state the fact that only about 15% to 20% of the Muslims in the world are Arabs. There are more Indian Muslims than Arab Muslims, and more Indonesian Muslims than Indian Muslims! Believing that Islam is only a religion for Arabs is a myth that was spread by the enemies of Islam early in its history. This mistaken assumption is possibly based on the fact that most of the first generation of Muslims were Arabs, the Qur’an is in Arabic and the Prophet Muhammad was an Arab. However, both the teachings of Islam and the history of its spread show that the early Muslims made every effort to spread their message of Truth to all nations, races and peoples. Furthermore, it should be clarified that not all Arabs are Muslims and not all Muslims are Arabs. An Arab can be a Muslim, Christian, Jew, atheist – or of any other religion or ideology. Also, many countries that some people consider to be “Arab” are not “Arab” at all — such as Turkey and Iran (Persia). The people who live in these countries speak languages other than Arabic as their native tongues and are of a different ethnic heritage than the Arabs. It is important to realize that from the very beginning of the mission of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, his followers came from a wide spectrum of individuals — there was Bilal, the African slave; Suhaib, the Byzantine Roman; Ibn Sailam, the Jewish Rabbi; and Salman, the Persian. Since religious truth is eternal and unchanging, and mankind is one universal brotherhood, Islam teaches that Almighty God’s revelations to mankind have always been consistent, clear and universal. The Truth of Islam is meant for all people regardless of race, nationality or linguistic background. Taking a look at the Muslim World, from Nigeria to Bosnia and from Malaysia to Afghanistan is enough to prove that Islam is a Universal message for all of mankind — not to mention the fact that significant numbers of Europeans and Americans of all races and ethnic backgrounds are coming into Islam.

Misconception #4: Islam degrades women

Even though many aspects of Islam are misunderstood by non-Muslims, the ignorance, misinformation and incorrect assumptions that are made in regards to Islam’s treatment of women are probably the most severe. Numerous verses of the Qur’an make it clear that men and women are equal in the site of God. According to the teachings of Islam, the only thing that distinguishes people in the site of God is their level of God-consciousness. Due to this, many people are surprised to find out that Islamic Law guaranteed rights to women over 1400 years ago that women in the Europe and America only obtained recently. For example, Islam clearly teaches that a woman is a full-person under the law, and is the spiritual equal of a male. Also, according to Islamic Law, women have the right to own property, operate a business and receive equal pay for equal work. Women are allowed total control of their wealth, they cannot be married against their will and they are allowed to keep their own name when married. Additionally, they have the right to inherit property and to have their marriage dissolved in the case of neglect or mistreatment. Also, Islam does not consider woman an “evil temptress”, and thus does not blame woman for the “original sin”. Women in Islam participate in all forms of worship that men participate in. Actually, the rights that Islam gave to women over 1400 years ago were almost unheard of in the West until the 1900s. Less than fifty years ago in England and America, a woman could not buy a house or car without the co-signature of her father or husband! Additionally, Islam gives great respect to women and their role in society — it gives them the right to own property, marry who they want and many other rights. Also, it should be mentioned that the Prophet Muhammad’s mission stopped many of the horrible practices in regards to women that were present in the society of his time. For example, the Qur’an put an end to the pagan Arab practice of killing their baby daughters when they were born. Additionally, Islam put restrictions on the unrestricted polygamy of the Arabs of the time, and put many laws in place to protect the well-being of women. Today, most of the so-called reforms in the status of women came about after the West abandoned religion for secularism. Even those in the West who claim to follow the so-called “Judaeo-Christian tradition” really follow the values of Western liberalism — but just to a lesser degree than their more liberal countrymen. For more on this subject, please read: Women in Islam versus Women in the Judaeo-Christian Tradition — The Myth and The Reality. If women in the Muslim World today don’t have their rights, it is not because Islam did not give them to them. The problem is that in many places alien traditions have come to overshadow the teachings of Islam, either through ignorance or the impact of Colonialization.

Misconception #5: Muhammad wrote the Qur’an

In addressing this misconception, it is interesting to not that no other religious scripture claims to the direct word of Almighty in toto as clear and as often as the Holy Qur’an. As the Qu’ran clearly says: “if had been written by man, you would have found many discrepancies therein”. At the time the Qur’an was revealed, the Arabs recognized that the language of the Qur’an was unique and that it was distinctly different from the language normally used by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. The Arabs of that time, by the way, were known for their beautiful poetry and Muhammad was known to be an illiterate man! The Qur’an clearly says that Muhammad was unable to read and write, so if this wasn’t true, certainly his contemporaries would have protested and rejected him. However, there are no reports of this. Certainly there were people who rejected Muhammad’s message, just like other prophets were rejected, but none for this reason. On the contrary, Muhammad, peace be upon him, had thousands of loyal followers and the results of their efforts spread Islam from Spain to China in just over a century! It is also interesting to note that even though the Qu’ran is not poetry, the Arabs more or less gave up writing poetry after it was revealed. It could be said that the Qur’an is the piece of Arabic literature par execellance – and Muhammad’s contemporaries realized that they couldn’t out do it. Additionally, it is easy to prove that Muhammad did not possess a great deal of the knowledge which is expounded in the Qur’an: such as knowledge of historical events, previous prophets and natural phenomenon. The Qur’an says in several places that Muhammad and his people did not know these things – so, again, if this wasn’t true, certainly his contemporaries would have rejected his claims. Suffice it to say that not only is the Qu’ran the most memorized and well preserved scripture on earth, it is also unequaled in eloquence, spirtual impact, clarity of message and the purity of its truth.

Misconception #6: Islam was spread by the sword

Many non-Muslims, when they think about Islam, picture religious fanatics on camels with a sword in one hand and a Qur’an in the other. This myth, which was made popular in Europe during the Crusades, is totally baseless. First of all, the Holy Qur’an clearly says “Let there be no compulsion in religion”. In addition to this, Islam teaches that a person’s faith must be pure and sincere, so it is certainly not something that can be forced on someone. In debunking the myth that Islam was “spread by the sword”, the (non-Muslim) historian De Lacy O’ Leary wrote: “History makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever accepted.” (Islam at the Crossroads, London, 1923, p. 8.). It should also be known that Muslims ruled Spain for roughly 800 years. During this time, and up to when they were finally forced out, the non-Muslims there were alive and flourishing. Additionally, Christian and Jewish minorities have survived in the Muslim lands of the Middle East for centuries. Countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan all have Christian and/or Jewish populations. If Islam taught that all people are supposed to be killed or forced to become Muslims, how did all of these non-Muslims survive for so long in the middle of the Islamic Empire? Additionally, if one considers the small number of Muslims who initially spread Islam from Spain and Morocco in the West to India and China in the East, one would realize that they were far too few to force people to be members of a religion against their will. Additionally, the great empire and civilization established by the Muslims had great staying power — its citizens were proud to be part of it. The spread of Islam stands in contrast to the actions of the followers of Christianity, who since the time of the Emperor Constantine have made liberal use of the sword – often basing their conduct on Biblical verses. This was especially true of the colonization of South America and Africa, where native peoples were systematically wiped-out or forced to convert. It is also interesting to note that when the Mongols invaded and conquered large portions of the Islamic Empire, instead of destroying the religion, they adopted it. This is a unique occurrence in history – the conquerors adopting the religion of the conquered! Since they were the victors, they certainly could not have been forced to become Muslims! Ask any of the over one billion Muslims alive in the world today whether they were forced! The largest Muslim country in the world today is Indonesia — and there were never any battles fought there! So where was the sword? How could someone be forced to adhere to a spiritually rewarding and demanding religion like Islam?

Misconception #7: Muslims hate Jesus

Many non-Muslims are surprised to find out that according to Muslim belief, Jesus, the son of Mary, is one of the greatest messengers of God. Muslims are taught to love Jesus, and a person cannot be a Muslim without believing in the virgin birth and miracles of Jesus Christ, peace be upon him. Muslims believe these things about Jesus not because of the Bible or any other religion, but simply because the Holy Qur’an says these things about him. However, Muslims always emphasize that the miracles of Jesus, and all other prophets, were by “God’s permission”. This having been said, many Christians feel to not believe that Jesus is the “Son of God”, “God Incarnate” or the “Third Person” of the Trinity. This is because the Qur’an clearly says that Almighty God does not have a “Son” — neither allegorically, physically, metaphorically or metaphysically. The Pure Monotheism of Islam rejects the notion of “defining” God (which is basically what the “Doctrine of the Trinity” does), saying that someone is “like” God or equal to him, or praying to someone else besides God. Also, Islam teaches that titles such as “Lord” and “Savior” are due to God alone. In order to avoid misunderstanding, it should be clarified that when Muslims criticize the Bible or the teachings of Christianity, they are not attacking “God’s Word” or Jesus Christ, peace be upon him. From the Muslim point of view, they are defending Jesus and God’s Word — which they have in the form of the Qur’an. Muslim criticism is targeted at writings that some people claim are God’s word, but Muslim’s simply don’t accept their claim that they are really God’s word in toto. Additionally, Christian doctrines such as the Trinity and the Atonement are criticized by Muslims precisely because they did not originate from Jesus, peace be upon him. In this way, Muslims are the true followers of Jesus, peace be upon him, because they defend him from the exaggerations of the Christians and teach the Pure Monotheism that Jesus himself followed.

Misconception #8: Islam is fatalistic

Most Muslims find it rather odd that their religion, which strikes a beautiful balance between faith and action, could be accused of being “fatalistic”. Perhaps this misconception came about because Muslims are taught to say “Praise be to God!” whenever anything good or bad happens. This is because Muslims know that everything comes from Almighty God, who is the All-Knowing Sustainer of the Universe, and that since a Muslim should rely completely on God, whatever happened must have been for the better. However, this does not mean that Muslims are not taught to take action in life — just the opposite is true. Islam requires not only faith, but action — such as regular prayer, fasting and charity. To be more precise, in Islam actions are part of one’s faith. Islam total rejects the extreme beliefs of some religions that teach that you shouldn’t go to a doctor when sick, but only pray for God to heal you. Islam’s outlook is very positive, since it teaches that human beings can take positive action in this life. This was certainly what was taught by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to his followers — since they obviously took the action of spreading Islam from Spain to Morocco in a very short period of time. Even though Islam teaches that God knows what human beings will do before they do it, human beings still have free will. Certainly God, who is All-Knowing and All-Wise, knows what is going to happen to everyone before it happens — to deny this would be a denial of God Himself. However, if human-beings did not have free will, it would be ridiculous and un-just for God to demand that they do certain things and believe certain things. Far from being “fatalistic”, Islam teaches that a human-being’s main purpose in life is to be God-conscious. Due to this, Muslims worry less about material matters and view their earthly life in a proper perspective. This is due to the fact that Islam clearly teaches that if people worship and depend on Almighty God alone, then they have nothing to worry about – since God wants what is best for them. True freedom, from the Islamic perspective, does not mean aimlessly following all of your human desires for food, drink, wealth and sex. On the contrary, freedom means being able to control one’s base desires and fulfilling them in a proper and legal way. This brings one’s desires in tune with what God wants for us — only then is a person truly free!

Misconception #9: The Islamic Threat

In recent years, a great deal of attention in the media have been given to the threat of “Islamic Fundamentalism”. Unfortunately, due to a twisted mixture of biased reporting in the Western media and the actions of some ignorant Muslims, the word “Islam” has become almost synonymous with “terrorism”. However, when one analyzes the situation, the question that should come to mind is: Do the teachings of Islam encourage terrorism? The answer: Certainly not! Islam totally forbids the terrorist acts that are carried out by some misguided people. It should be remembered that all religions have cults and misguided followers, so it is their teachings that should be looked at, not the actions of a few individuals. Unfortunately, in the media, whenever a Muslim commits a heinous act, he is labeled a “Muslim terrorist”. However, when Serbs murder and rape innocent women in Bosnia, they are not called “Christian terrorists”, nor are the activities in Northern Ireland labeled “Christian terrorism”. Also, when right-wing Christians in the U.S. bomb abortion clinics, they are not called “Christian terrorists”. Reflecting on these facts, one could certainly conclude that there is a double-standard in the media! Although religious feelings play a significant role in the previously mentioned “Christian” conflicts, the media does not apply religious labels because they assume that such barbarous acts have nothing to do with the teachings of Christianity. However, when something happens involving a Muslim, they often try to put the blame on Islam itself — and not the misguided individual. Certainly, Islamic Law allows war (based on proper circumstance) — any religion or civilization that did not would never survive — but it certainly does not condone attacks against innocent people, women or children. The Arabic word “jihad”, which is often translated as “Holy War”, simply means “to struggle”. The word for “war” in Arabic is “harb”, not “jihad”. “Struggling”, i.e. “making jihad”, to defend Islam, Muslims or to liberate a land where Muslims are oppressed is certainly allowed (and even encouraged) in Islam. However, any such activities must be done according to the teachings of Islam and the guidance and rulings of the scholars and nation leaders. Islam also clearly forbids “taking the law into your own hands”, which means that individual Muslims cannot go around deciding who they want to kill, punish or torture. Trial and punishment must be carried out by a lawful authority and a knowledgeable judge. Also, when looking at events in the Muslim World, it should be kept in mind that a long period of colonialism ended fairly recently in most Muslim countries. During this time, the peoples in this countries were culturally, materially and religiously exploited – mostly by the so-called “Christian” nations of the West. This painful period has not really come to an end in many Muslim countries, where people are still under the control of foreign powers or puppet regimes supported by foreign powers. Also, through the media, people in the West are made to believe that tyrants like Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Moamar Qaddafi in Libya are “Islamic” leaders — when just the opposite is true. Neither of these rulers even profess Islam as an ideology, but only use Islamic slogans to manipulate their powerless populations. They have about as much to do with Islam as Hitler had to do with Christianity! In reality, some regimes which people think of as being “Islamic” oppress the practice of Islam in their countries. So suffice it to say that “terrorism” and killing innocent people directly contradicts the teachings of Islam.

What they say about Islam, the Qur’an and Muhammad

A collection of quotes from non-Muslim and non-Islaamic publications about Islam, the Qur’an and Muhammad.

Source: Invitation to Islam Newsletter [islaam.ca] Published: 1st May 1997

The religion of Islam is growing faster than any other religion in the world.” - Mike Wallace, 60 Minutes

“Islam is the fastest-growing religion in America, a guide and pillar of stability for many of our people…” HILLARY CLINTON, Los Angeles Times, May 31, 1996, p.3

Already more than a billion-people strong, Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion. ABCNEWS, Abcnews.com

“Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the country.” NEWSDAY, March 7, 1989, p.4

“Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the United States…” NEW YORK TIMES, Feb 21, 1989, p.1

“Moslems are the world’s fastest-growing group…” USA TODAY, The population referance bureau, Feb. 17, 1989, p.4A

“Muhammed is the most successful of all Prophets and religious personalities. ” Encyclopedia Britannica

“There are more Muslims in North America then Jews Now.” Dan Rathers, ABCNEWS

“Islam is the fastest growing religion in North America.” TIMES MAGAZINE

“Islam continues to grow in America, and no one can doubt that!” CNN, December 15, 1995

“The religion of Islam is growing faster than any other religion in the world.” MIKE WALLACE, 60 MINUTES

“Five to 6 million strong, Muslims in America already outnumber Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Mormons, and they are more numerous than Quakers, Unitarians, Seventh-day Adventists, Mennonites, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian Scientists, combined. Many demographers say Islam has overtaken Judaism as the country’s second-most commonly practiced religion; others say it is in the passing lane.” JOHAN BLANK, USNEWS (7/20/98)

“In fact, religion experts say Islam is the second-largest religion in the United States… Islam has 5 million to 6 million members, followed by Judaism, with approximately 4.5 million….. And Islam is believed to be fastest-growing religion in the country, with half its expansion coming from new immigrants and the other half from conversions.” By ELSA C. ARNETT Knight-Ridder News Service

Professor Keith Moore, one of the world’s prominent scientists of anatomy and embryology. University of Toronto, Canada. “It has been a great pleasure for me to help clarify statements in the Qur’an about human development. It is clear to me that these statements must have come to Muhammad from God, or ‘Allah’, because almost all of this knowledge was not discovered until many centuries later. This proves to me that Muhammad must have been a messenger of Allah.”

“But Islam has a still further service to render to the cause of humanity. It stands after all nearer to the real East than Europe does, and it possesses a magnificent tradition of inter-racial understanding and cooperation. No other society has such a record of success uniting in an equality of status, of opportunity, and of endeavours so many and so various races of mankind . . . Islam has still the power to reconcile apparently irreconcilable elements of race and tradition. If ever the opposition of the great societies of East and West is to be replaced by cooperation, the mediation of Islam is an indispensable condition. In its hands lies very largely the solution of the problem with which Europe is faced in its relation with East. If they unite, the hope of a peaceful issue is immeasurably enhanced. But if Europe, by rejecting the cooperation of Islam, throws it into the arms of its rivals, the issue can only be disastrous for both.” –H.A.R. Gibb, WHITHER ISLAM, London, 1932, p. 379.

“It (Islam) replaced monkishness by manliness. It gives hope to the slave, brotherhood to mankind, and recognition of the fundamental facts of human nature.” –Canon Taylor, Paper read before the Church Congress at Walverhamton, Oct. 7, 1887; Quoted by Arnoud in THE PREACHING OF ISLAM, pp. 71-72.

The founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is Muhammed. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he? ” Lamartine, Historie de la Turquie, Paris 1854, Vol. 11 pp. 276-2727

“If a man like Muhammed were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness.” George Bernard Shaw

“How, for instance, can any other appeal stand against that of the Moslem who, in approaching the pagan, says to him, however obscure or degraded he may be ‘Embrace the faith, and you are at once equal and a brother.’ Islam knows no color line.” (S. S. Leeder, VEILED MYSTERIES OF EGYPT)

Professor William W. Hay is one of the best known marine scientists in the United States for satellite photography and emote-sensing techniques. Professor Hay replied: I find it very interesting that this sort of information is in the ancient scripture of the Holy Qur’an, and I have no way of knowing where they would come from, but I think it is extremely interesting that they are there and that this work is going on to discover it, the meaning of some of the passages. Professor Hay: Well, I would think it must be the divine being!

Professor Yushudi Kusan: Director of the Tokyo Observatory, I can say, I am very mush impressed by finding true astronomical facts in the Qur’aan.

Professor Alfred Kroner who is one of the world’s most famous geologists: “Thinking about many of these questions and thinking where Muhammad came from, he was after all a bedouin. I think it is almost impossible that he could have known about things like the common origin of the universe, because scientists have only found out within the last few years with very complicated and advanced technological methods that this is the case.

Dr. T.V.N. Persaud is a Professor of Anatomy and Head of the Department of Anatomy, and a professor of Pediatrics and Child Health, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He is the author or editor of 25 books, and has published over 181 scientific papers. In 1991, he received the most distinguished award presented in the field of anatomy in Canada. “It seems to me that Muhammad was a very ordinary man. He could not read or write. In fact, he was illiterate. We are talking about 1400 years ago. You have someone who was illiterate making profound pronouncement and statements and are amazingly accurate about scientific nature. I personally cannot see how this could be mere chance. There are too many accuracy’s and, like Dr. Moore, I have no difficulty in my mind in concerning that this is a divine inspiration or revelation which led him to these statements.”

Joe Leigh Simpson, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the North Western University in Chicago in the United States of America. Professor Simpson said: It follows, I think, that not only is there no conflict between genetics and religion, but in fact religion can guide science by adding revelation to some traditional scientific approaches. That there exists statements in the Qur’an shown by science to be valid, which supports knowledge in the Qur’an having been derived from Allah.

Professor Palmer a scientist from the U.S.: We need research into the history of early Middle Eastern oral traditions to know whether in fact such historical events have been reported. If there is no such record, it strengthens the belief that Allah transmitted through Muhammad bits of his knowledge that we have only discovered for ourselves in recent times. We look forward to a continuing dialogue on the topic of science in the Qur’an in the context of geology. Thank you very much.

Professor Tagata Tagasone, formerly Head of the Department of Anatomy and Embryology at the University of Shiang Mai in Thailand. He is now the Dean of the College of the Medicine at the University. From my studies and from what I have learned throughout this conference, I believe that everything that has been recorded in the Qur’aan 1400 years ago must be the truth, that can be proved by the scientific means. Since the Prophet Muhammad could neither read nor write, Muhammad must be a messenger who relayed this truth which was revealed to him as an enlightenment by the One Who is an eligible Creator. This Creator must be Allah, or Allaah. Therefore, I think this is the time to say ‘Laa ilaaha illAllaah’, that there is no Allah to worship except Allah, ‘Muhammad Rasool Allaah’, Muhammad is messenger of Allah…

Professor Armstrong, Scientist works at NASA, “I am impressed that how remarkably some of the ancient writings seem to correspond to modern and recent Astronomy. There may well have to be something beyond what we understand as ordinary human experience to account for the writings that we have seen.”

Professor Dorja Rao, “It is difficult to imagine that this type of knowledge was existing at that time, around 1400 years back. May be some of the things they have simple idea about, but do describe those things in great detail is very difficult. So, this is definitely not a simple human knowledge.”

“My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level.” –Michael H. Hart, THE 100: A RANKING OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS IN HISTORY, New York: Hart Publishing Company, Inc., 1978, p. 33.

“No other society has such a record of success in uniting in an equality of status, of opportunity and endeavour so many and so varied races of mankind. The great Muslim communities of Africa, India and Indonesia, perhaps also the small community in Japan, show that Islam has still the power to reconcile apparently irreconcilable elements of race and tradition. If ever the opposition of the great societies of the East and west is to be replaced by cooperation, the mediation of Islam is an indispensable condition.” (H.A.R. Gibb, WHITHER ISLAM, p. 379)

The nation’s claim to be a Christian country is about to meet its first challenge: the number of practising Muslims is set to overtake Anglican Christians…. There has also been a number of high-profile conversions to Islam from Christianity. These include Mike Tyson, the former world champion boxer; Chris Eubank, the British middleweight boxing champion, who has changed his name to Hamdan; and Cat Stevens, the pop musician, who calls himself Yousef Islam…. Prince Charles courted controversy earlier this year when he reaffirmed his claim that when he succeeds the throne, he does not wish to be the defender of only the Christian faith.” Rajeev Syal and Christopher Morgan Sunday Times (London, U.K.)

“I have studied him – the wonderful man – and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ he must be called the saviour of humanity. “ George Bernard Shaw in “The Genuine Islam”

“Muhammad, the inspired man who founded Islam, was born about A.D. 570 into an Arabian tribe that worshipped idols. Orphaned at birth, he was always particularly solicitous of the poor and needy, the widow and the orphan, the slave and the downtrodden. At twenty, he was already a successful businessman, and soon became director of camel caravans for a wealthy widow. When he reached twenty-five, his employer, recognizing his merit, proposed marriage. Even though she was fifteen years older, he married her, and as long as she lived, remained a devoted husband. “Like almost every major prophet before him, Muhammad fought shy of serving as the transmitter of God’s word, sensing his own inadequacy. But the angel commanded ‘Read.’ So far as we know, Muhammad was unable to read or write, but he began to dictate those inspired words which would soon revolutionize a large segment of the earth: ‘There is one God.’ “In all things Muhammad was profoundly practical. When his beloved son Ibrahim died, an eclipse occurred, and rumours of God’s personal condolence quickly arose. Whereupon Muhammad is said to have announced, ‘An eclipse is a phenomenon of nature. It is foolish to attribute such things to the death or birth of a human being. “At Muhammad’s own death an attempt was made to deify him, but the man who was to become his administrative successor killed the hysteria with one of the noblest speeches in religious history: ‘If there are any among you who worshipped Muhammad, he is dead. But if it is God you worshipped, He lives forever.” –James A. Michener, “Islam: The Misunderstood Religion,” in READER’S DIGEST (American edition), May 1955, pp. 68-70.

“In little more than a year he was actually the spiritual, nominal and temporal rule of Medina, with his hands on the lever that was to shake the world.” John Austin, “Muhammad the Prophet of Allah,” in T.P. ‘s and Cassel’s Weekly for 24th September 1927.

“Everything made so much sense. This is the beauty of the Qur’an; it asks you to reflect and reason….When I read the Qur’an further, it talked about prayer, kindness and charity. I was not a Muslim yet, but I felt the only answer for me was the Qur’an and God had sent it to me.” Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), former British pop star.

“Four years after the death of Justinian, A.D. 569, was born at Mecca, in Arabia the man who, of all men exercised the greatest influence upon the human race . . . Mohammed . . . ” John William Draper, M.D., L.L.D., A History of the Intellectual Development of Europe, London 1875, Vol.1, pp.329-330

“Muhammad was the soul of kindness, and his influence was felt and never forgotten by those around him.” Diwan Chand Sharma, The Prophets of the East, Calcutta 1935, p. l 22.

“People like Pasteur and Salk are leaders in the first sense. People like Gandhi and Confucius, on one hand, and Alexander, Caesar and Hitler on the other, are leaders in the second and perhaps the third sense. Jesus and Buddha belong in the third category alone. Perhaps the greatest leader of all times was Mohammed, who combined all three functions. To a lesser degree, Moses did the same.” Professor Jules Masserman

Ahmed Versi, editor of the weekly Muslim News, said the growth of Islam has been constant: “The younger generation of Muslims that I have encountered is becoming more aware of its Muslim identity and is therefore practising its faith with vigour.”

“The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue…” (A.J. Toynbee, CIVILIZATION ON TRIAL, New York, p. 205)

“Sense of justice is one of the most wonderful ideals of Islam, because as I read in the Qur’an I find those dynamic principles of life, not mystic but practical ethics for the daily conduct of life suited to the whole world.” –Lectures on “The Ideals of Islam;” see SPEECHES AND WRITINGS OF SAROJINI NAIDU, Madras, 1918, p. 167.

“History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.” –De Lacy O’Leary, ISLAM AT THE CROSSROADS, London, 1923, p. 8.

“The Muslim community is much more aware of its religion and the use that religion plays within its community.” Dr Peter Brierley, executive director of the Christian Research Association, a London-based charity

“I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him – the wonderful man and in my opinion for from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Saviour of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.” –G.B. Shaw, THE GENUINE ISLAM, Vol. 1, No. 81936.

“A growing number of Muslims in America, more than 40 percent are African-American,” Charles Bierbauer, from the Senior Washington Correspondent

“The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue.” –A.J. Toynbee, CIVILIZATION ON TRIAL, New York, 1948, p. 205.

“The rise of Islam is perhaps the most amazing event in human history. Springing from a land and a people like previously negligible, Islam spread within a century over half the earth, shattering great empires, overthrowing long established religions, remoulding the souls of races, and building up a whole new world” – world of Islam.

“The closer we examine this development the more extraordinary does it appear. The other great religions won their way slowly, by painful struggle and finally triumphed with the aid of powerful monarchs converted to the new faith. Christianity had its Constantine, Buddhism its Asoka, and Zoroastrianism its Cyrus, each lending to his chosen cult the mighty force of secular authority. Not so Islam. Arising in a desert land sparsely inhabited by a nomad race previously undistinguished in human annals, Islam sallied forth on its great adventure with the slenderest human backing and against the heaviest material odds. Yet Islam triumphed with seemingly miraculous ease, and a couple of generations saw the Fiery Crescent borne victorious from the Pyrenees to the Himalayas and from the desert of Central Asia to the deserts of Central Africa.” –A.M.L. Stoddard, quoted in ISLAM – THE RELIGION OF ALL PROPHETS, Begum Bawani Waqf, Karachi, Pakistan, p. 56.

“I am not a Muslim in the usual sense, though I hope I am a “Muslim” as “one surrendered to God,” but I believe that embedded in the Quran and other expressions of the Islamic vision are vast stores of divine truth from which I and other occidentals have still much to learn, and ‘Islam is certainly a strong contender for the supplying of the basic framework of the one religion of the future.’” –W. Montgomery Watt, ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY TODAY, London, 1983, p. ix.

‘I believe in One God and Mohammed the Apostle of God,’ is the simple and invariable profession of Islam. The intellectual image of the Deity has never been degraded by any visible idol; the honours of the prophet have never transgressed the measure of human virtue, and his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of reason and religion.” –Edward Gibbon and Simon Ocklay, HISTORY OF THE SARACEN EMPIRE, London, 1870, p. 54.

“He was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without Pope’s pretensions, Caesar without the legions of Caesar: without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue; if ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by the right divine, it was Mohammed, for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports.” –Bosworth Smith, MOHAMMAD AND MOHAMMADANISM, London, 1874, p. 92.

“His readiness to undergo persecutions for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement – all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems than it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad.” –W. Montgomery Watt, MOHAMMAD AT MECCA, Oxford, 1953, p. 52.

“The doctrine of brotherhood of Islam extends to all human beings, no matter what color, race or creed. Islam is the only religion which has been able to realize this doctrine in practice. Muslims wherever on the world they are will recognize each other as brothers.” Mr. R. L. Mellema, Holland, Anthropologist, Writer and Scholar.

“It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel whenever I re-read them, a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher.” –Annie Besant, THE LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF MUHAMMAD, Madras, 1932, p. 4.

“The essential and definite element of my conversion to Islam was the Qur’an. I began to study it before my conversion with the critical spirit of a Western intellectual …. There are certain verses of this book, the Qur’an, revealed more than thirteen centuries ago, which teach exactly the same notions as the most modern scientific researches do. This definitely converted me.” Ali Selman Benoist, France, Doctor of Medicine.

“I have read the Sacred Scriptures of every religion; nowhere have I found what I encountered in Islam: perfection. The Holy Qur’an, compared to any other scripture I have read, is like the Sun compared to that of a match. I firmly believe that anybody who reads the Word of Allah with a mind that is not completely closed to Truth, will become a Muslim.” Saifuddin Dirk Walter Mosig, U.S.A.

“The universal brotherhood of Islam, regardless of race, politics, color or country, has been brought home to me most keenly many times in my life — and this is another feature which drew me towards the Faith.” Col. Donald S. Rockwell, U.S.A. Poet, Critic and Author.

“Medieval Islam was technologically advanced and open to innovation. It achieved far higher literacy rates than in contemporary Europe; it assimilated the legacy of classical Greek civilization to such a degree that many classical books are now known to us only through Arabic copies. It invented windmills ,trigonometry, lateen sails and made major advances in metallurgy, mechanical and chemical engineering and irrigation methods. In the middle-ages the flow of technology was overwhelmingly from Islam to Europe rather from Europe to Islam. Only after the 1500′s did the net direction of flow begin to reverse.” (pg 253) Jared Diamond a world renowned UCLA sociologist, and physiologist who won the Pulitzer Prize for his book: “Guns, Germs, and Steel.”

Orientalism, Misinformation and Islam

Includes a definition of Orientalism, its goals and primary aims. Beware, so as to keep yourself safe from false propaganda.

Source: [islaam.ca] Published: Pre 2000 Invitation to Islam Newsletter [islaam.ca]

Keeping this in mind, I would encourage the reader to consult books written by Muslim authors when trying to learn about Islam.

Any open-minded person embarking on a study of Islam, especially if using books written in European languages, should be aware of the seemingly inherent distortions that permeate almost all non-Muslim writings on Islam. At least since the Middle Ages, Islam has been much maligned and severely misunderstood in the West. In the last years of the Twentieth Century, it does not seem that much has changed—even though most Muslims would agree that progress is being made.

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QUESTIONABLE MOTIVES & GENERAL IGNORANCE

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I feel that an elegant summary of the West’s ignorance of Islam and the motives of Orientalism are the following words by the Swiss journalist and author, Roger Du Pasquier: “The West, whether Christian or dechristianised, has never really known Islam. Ever since they watched it appear on the world stage, Christians never ceased to insult and slander it in order to find justification for waging war on it. It has been subjected to grotesque distortions the traces of which still endure in the European mind. Even today there are many Westerners for whom Islam can be reduced to three ideas: fanaticism, fatalism and polygamy. Of course, there does exist a more cultivated public whose ideas about Islam are less deformed; there are still precious few who know that the word islam signifies nothing other than ‘submission to God’. One symptom of this ignorance is the fact that in the imagination of most Europeans, Allaah refers to the divinity of the Muslims, not the God of the Christians and Jews; they are all surprised to hear, when one takes the trouble to explain things to them, that ‘Allaah’ means ‘God’, and that even Arab Christians know him by no other name.

Islam has of course been the object of studies by Western orientalists who, over the last two centuries, have published an extensive learned literature on the subject. Nevertheless, however worthy their labours may have been, particularly in the historical and and philological fields, they have contributed little to a better understanding of the Muslim religion in the Christian or post-Christian milieu, simply because they have failed to arouse much interest outside their specialised academic circles. One is forced also to concede that Orientals studies in the West have not always been inspired by the purest spirit of scholarly impartiality, and it is hard to deny that some Islamicists and Arabists have worked with the clear intention of belittling Islam and its adherents. This tendency was particularly marked—for obvious reasons—in the heyday of the colonial empires, but it would be an exaggeration to claim that it has vanished without trace.

These are some of the reasons why Islam remains even today so misjudged by the West, where curiously enough, Asiatic faiths such as Buddhism and Hinduism have for more than a century generated far more visible sympathy and interest, even though Islam is so close to Judaism and Christianity, having flowed from the same Abrahamic source. Despite this, however, for several years it has seemed that external conditions, particularly the growing importance of the Arab-Islamic countries in the world’s great political and economic affairs, have served to arouse a growing interest of Islam in the West, resulting—for some—in the discovery of new and hitherto unsuspected horizons.” (From Unveiling Islam, by Roger Du Pasquier, pages 5-7) The feeling that there is a general ignorance of Islam in the West is shared by Maurice Bucaille, a French doctor, who writes: “When one mentions Islam to the materialist atheist, he smiles with a complacency that is only equal to his ignorance of the subject. In common with the majority of Western intellectuals, of whatever religious persuasion, he has an impressive collection of false notions about Islam. One must, on this point, allow him one or two excuses. Firstly, apart from the newly-adopted attitudes prevailing among the highest Catholic authorities, Islam has always been subject in the West to a so-called ‘secular slander’. Anyone in the West who has acquired a deep knowledge of Islam knows just to what extent its history, dogma and aims have been distorted. One must also take into account that fact that documents published in European languages on this subject (leaving aside highly specialised studies) do not make the work of a person willing to learn any easier.” (From The Bible, the Qur’an and Science, by Maurice Bucaille, page 118)

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ORIENTALISM:A BROAD DEFINITION

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The phenomenon which is generally known as Orientalism is but one aspect of Western misrepresentations of Islam. Today, most Muslims in the West would probably agree that the largest volume of distorted information about Islam comes from the media, whether in newspapers, magazines or on television. In terms of the number of people who are reached by such information, the mass media certainly has more of a widespread impact on the West’s view of Islam than do the academic publications of “Orientalists”, “Arabists” or “Islamicists”. Speaking of labels, in recent years the academic field of what used to be called “Orientalism” has been renamed “Area Studies” or “Regional Studies”, in most colleges and universities in the West. These politically correct terms have taken the place of the word “Orientalism” in scholarly circles since the latter word is now tainted with a negative imperialist connotation, in a large measure due to the Orientalists themselves. However, even though the works of scholars who pursue these fields do not reach the public at large, they do often fall into the hands of students and those who are personally interested in learning more about Islam. As such, any student of Islam—especially those in the West—need to be aware of the historical phenomenon of Orientalism, both as an academic pursuit and as a means of cultural exploitation. When used by Muslims, the word “Orientalist” generally refers to any Western scholar who studies Islam—regardless of his or her motives—and thus, inevitably, distorts it. As we shall see, however, the phenomenon of Orientalism is much more than an academic pursuit. Edward Said, a renowned Arab Christian scholar and author of several books exposing shortcomings of the Orientalist approach, defines “Orientalism” as follows: ” . . . by Orientalism I mean several things, all of them, in my opinion, interdependent. The most readily accepted designation of for Orientalism is an academic one, and indeed, and indeed the label still serves in a number of academic institutions. Anyone who teaches, writes about, or researches the Orient—and this applies whether the person is an anthropologist, sociologist, historian, or philogist—either in its specific or its general aspects, is an Orientalist, and what he or she does is Orientalism.” (From Orientalism, by Edward W. Said, page 2)

“To speak of Orientalism therefore is to speak mainly, although not exclusively, of a British and French cultural enterprise, a project whose dimensions take in such disparate realms as the imagination itself, the whole of India and the Levant, the Biblical texts and the Biblical lands, the spice trade, colonial armies and a long tradition of colonial administrators, a formidable scholarly corpus, innumerable Oriental “experts” and “hands”, an Oriental professorate, a complex array of “Oriental” ideas (Oriental despotism, Oriental splendor, cruelty, sensuality), many Eastern sects, philosophies, and wisdoms domesticated for local European use—the list can be extended more or less indefinitely.” (From Orientalism, by Edward W. Said, page 4) As is the case with many things, being aware of the problem is half the battle. Once a sincere seeker of the Truth is aware of the long standing misunderstanding and hostility between Islam and the West—and learns not to trust everything which they see in print—authentic knowledge and information can be obtained much more quickly. Certainly, not all Western writings on Islam have the same degree of bias—they run the range from willful distortion to simple ignorance—and there are even a few that could be classified as sincere efforts by non-Muslims to portray Islam in a positive light. However, even most of these works are plagued by seemingly unintentional errors, however minor, due to the author’s lack of Islamic knowledge. In the spirit of fairness, it should be said that even some contemporary books on Islam by Muslim authors suffer from these same shortcomings, usually due to a lack of knowledge, heretical ideas and or depending on non-Muslim sources.

This having been said, it should come as no surprise that learning about Islam in the West—especially when relying on works in European languages—has never been an easy task. Just a few decades ago, an English speaking person who was interested in Islam, and wishing to limit their reading to works by Muslim authors, might have been limited to reading a translation of the Qur’an, a few translated hadeeth books and a few dozen pamphlet-sized essays. However, in the past several years the widespread availability of Islamic books—written by believing and committed Muslims—and the advent of the Internet have made obtaining authentic information on almost any aspect of Islam much easier. Today, hardly a week goes by that an English translation of a classical Islamic work is not announced. Keeping this in mind, I would encourage the reader to consult books written by Muslim authors when trying to learn about Islam. There are a wide range of Islamic book distributors that can be contacted through the Internet.

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IMPERIALISTIC AIMS & EAGER MISSIONARIES

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Moving on to a more detailed look at the West’s distorted view of Islam in general and Orientalism in particular . . . Edward Said, the Arab Christian author of the monumental work Orientalism, accurately referred to Orientalism a “cultural enterprise”. This is certainly no distortion, since the academic study of the Oriental East by the Occidental West was often motivated—and often co-operated hand-in-hand— with the imperialistic aims of the European colonial powers. Without a doubt, the foundations of Orientalism are in the maxim “Know thy enemy”. When the “Christian Nations” of Europe began their long campaign to colonize and conquer the rest of the world for their own benefit, they brought their academic and missionary resources to bear in order to assist in the task. Orientalists and missionaries—whose ranks often overlapped—were more often than not the servants of an imperialist government who was using their services as a way to subdue or weaken an enemy, however subtly: “With regard to Islam and the Islamic territories, for example, Britain felt that it had legitimate interests, as a Christian power, to safeguard. A complex apparatus for tending these interests developed. Such early organizations as the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (1698) and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (1701) were succeeded and later abetted by the Baptist Missionary Society (1792), the Church Missionary Society (1799), the British and Foreign Bible Society (1804), the London Society for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews (1808). These missions “openly” joined the expansion of Europe.” (From Orientalism, by Edward W. Said, page 100) Anyone who has studied the subject knows that Christian missionaries were willing participants in European imperialism, regardless of the pure motives or naïveté of some of the individual missionaries. Actually, quite a few Orientalist scholars were Christian missionaries. One notable example is Sir William Muir, who was an active missionary and author of several books on Islam. His books were very biased and narrow-minded studies, but they continue to be used as references for those wishing to attack Islam to this very day. That Christians were the source of some of the worst lies and distortions about Islam should come as no surprise, since Islam was its main “competitor” on the stage of World Religions. Far from honouring the commandment not to bear false witness against one’s neighbour, Christians distortions—and outright lies—about Islam were widespread, as the following shows: “The history of Orientalism is hardly one of unbiased examination of the sources of Islam especially when under the influence of the bigotry of Christianity. From the fanatical distortions of John of Damascus to the apologetic of later writers against Islam that told their audiences that the Muslims worshipped three idols! Peter the Venerable (1084-1156) “translated” the Qur’an which was used throughout the Middle Ages and included nine additional chapters. Sale’s infamously distorted translation followed that trend, and his, along with the likes of Rodwell, Muir and a multitude of others attacked the character and personality of Muhammmed. Often they employed invented stories, or narration’s which the Muslims themselves considered fabricated or weak, or else they distorted the facts by claiming Muslims held a position which they did not, or using the habits practised out of ignorance among the Muslims as the accurate portrayal of Islam. As Norman Daniel tell us in his work Islam and the West: “The use of false evidence to attack Islam was all but universal . . . ” (p. 267).” (From An Authoritative Exposition – Part 1, by ‘Abdur-Raheem Green) There is a great deal of proof that one could use to demonstrate that when it came to attacking Islam, even the Roman Catholic Church would readily embrace almost any untruth. Here’s an example: “At a certain period in history, hostility to Islam, in whatever shape or form, even coming from declared enemies of the church, was received with the most heartfelt approbation by high dignitaries of the Catholic Church. Thus Pope Benedict XIV, who is reputed to have been the greatest Pontiff of the Eighteenth century, unhesitatingly sent his blessing to Voltaire. This was in thanks for the dedication to him of the tragedy Mohammed or Fanaticism (Mahomet ou le Fanatisme) 1741, a coarse satire that any clever scribbler of bad faith could have written on any subject. In spite of a bad start, the play gained sufficient prestige to be included in the repertoire of the Comédie-Française.” (From The Bible, the Qur’an and Science, by Maurice Bucaille, page 118)

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WIDESPREAD LIES & POPULAR CULTURE

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The dedicated enemy of the church, referred to above, was the French philosopher Voltaire. For an example of what he thought of at least one Christian doctrine, read his Anti-Trinitarians tract. Also, the above passage introduces a point that one should be well aware of: the distortions and lies about Islam throughout the ages in Europe were not been limited to a small number of scholars and clergy. On the contrary, they were part of popular culture at the time: “The European imagination was nourished extensively from this repertoire [of Oriental images]: between the Middle Ages and the eighteenth century such major authors as Ariosto, Milton, Marlowe, Tasso, Shakespeare, Cervantes, and the authors of the Chanson de Roland and the Poema del Cid drew on the Orient’s riches for their productions, in ways that sharpened that outlines of imagery, ideas, and figures populating it. In addition, a great deal of what was considered learned Orientalist scholarship in Europe pressed ideological myths into service, even as knowledge seemed genuinely to be advancing.” (From Orientalism, by Edward Said, page 63)

“The invariable tendency to neglect what the Qur’an meant, or what Muslims thought it meant, or what Muslims thought or did in any given circumstances, necessarily implies that Qur’anic and other Islamic doctrine was presented in a form that would convince Christians; and more and more extravagant forms would stand a chance of acceptance as the distance of the writers and public from the Islamic border increased. It was with very great reluctance that what Muslims said Muslims believed was accepted as what they did believe. There was a Christian picture in which the details (even under the pressure of facts) were abandoned as little as possible, and in which the general outline was never abandoned. There were shades of difference, but only with a common framework. All the corrections that were made in the interests of an increasing accuracy were only a defence of what had newly realised to be vulnerable, a shoring up of a weakened structure. Christian opinion was an erection which could not be demolished, even to be rebuilt.” (From Islam and the West: The Making of an Image, by Norman Daniel, page 259-260) Edward Said, in his classic work Orientalism, referring to the above passage by Norman Daniel, says: “This rigorous Christian picture of Islam was intensified in innumerable ways, including—during the Middle Ages and early Renaissance—a large variety of poetry, learned controversy, and popular superstition. By this time the Near Orient had been all but incorporated in the common world-picture of Latin Christianity—as in the Chanson de Roland the worship of Saracens is portrayed as embracing Mahomet and Apollo. By the middle of the fifteenth century, as R. W. Southern has brilliantly shown, it became apparent to serious European thinkers “that something would have to be done about Islam,” which had turned the situation around somewhat by itself arriving militarily in Eastern Europe.” (From Orientalism, by Edward W. Said, page 61)

“Most conspicuous to us is the inability of any of these systems of thought [European Christian] to provide a fully satisfying explanation of the phenomenon they had set out to explain [Islam]—still less to influence the course of practical events in a decisive way. At a practical level, events never turned out either so well or so ill as the most intelligent observers predicted: and it is perhaps worth noticing that they never turned out better than when the best judges confidently expected a happy ending. Was there any progress [in Christian knowledge of Islam]? I must express my conviction that there was. Even if the solutions of the problem remained obstinately hidden from sight, the statement of the problem became more complex, more rational, and more related to experience.” (From Western Views of Islam in the Middle Ages, by R. W. Southern, pages 91-92) Regardless of the flawed, biased—and even devious—approach of many Orientalists, they too can have their moments of candour, as Roger DuPasquier points out: “In general one must unhappily concur with an Orientalist like Montgomery Watt when he writes that ‘of all the great men of the world, no-one has had as many detractors as Muhammad.’ Having engaged in a lengthy study of the life and work of the Prophet, the British Arabist add that ‘it is hard to understand why this has been the case’, finding the only plausible explanation in the fact that for centuries Christianity treated Islam as its worst enemy. And although Europeans today look at Islam and its founder in a somewhat more objective light, ‘many ancient prejudices still remain.’” (From Unveiling Islam, by Roger Du Pasquier, page 47 – quoting from W. M. Watt’s Muhammad at Medina, Oxford University Press)

Thoughts On Abrogation? Think About It!

Refuting the claims that abrogation takes away from the completeness of the Religion. Also contains examples of abrogation found within the Bible.

Source: [islaam.ca] Published: Pre 2000

It is clear that the concept of abrogation: the nullifying of an older commandment or practice in favour of a newer law, is nothing new and it has been practiced by God for aeons.

There are some very strange claims on abrogation of a few verses in the Qur’an made at:
Answering Islam’s website

The criticism is as follows:

“I hope you see my problem. If God comes to the conclusion that he has to abrogate and make new orders then this is admitting that he made mistakes. It shows that what he gave before was not perfect. It could be improved.

Your scenario accuses God of making mistakes.

But God is all-knowing, he is not surprised by new circumstances and new ideas. It is against the nature and attributes of God to change his mind. And clearly, if God had changed the Qur’an before he revealed it then we would never have known about the change. Because we know the abrogated and abrogating verses [at least some] therefore it is clear that you accuse God not only of changing his mind just for himself, but that he took rather long to find out that it was wrong. After all, the Qur’an is uncreated and was with God for eternity, how come he just found out that some things have to be changed after he revealed it to Muhammad?

To me, this does not make sense. It is derogatory of the holy and supreme God. It attributes mistakes to him and that he didn’t know what he was doing in the first place. And then he has to abrogate to clean up the mess of wrong revelation.

That is what I cannot accept.”

When one studies the Hebrew and Greek scriptures, it becomes clear that omnipotent and omniscient God did make mistakes and repented. This means that the God did not know his own actions and the outcomes of the actions. Now for some fine examples. Let us first start with Old Testament. In the story of Noah(P), it is mention that:

And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground anymore for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done. [Genesis 8:21]

And in the story of Moses, we read

And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. [Exodus 32:14]

Oh no! that is Old Testament, cries the Christian. The New Testament has replaced all that. Yes, in the New Testament, the monotheistic and henotheistic God of Israel, Yahweh, suddenly starts to be interpreted as Trinity. So, the concept of monotheistic and henotheistic God itself got abrogated in the New Testament as the Christians allege! So we have to assume that the monotheistic and henotheistic God of Israel did not know that he was Trinity and made a serious mistake or he simply changed his mind or in the worst case scenario, he cheated the People of Israel.

The problem just does not end here. Let us also see what are the problems of the Christian cry; The New Testament has replaced all that. The following essay is intended to show evidence of the concept of abrogation in the Bible both between the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and Greek Scriptures (New Testament) as well as internally in the Greek Scriptures themselves.

To begin – what is meant by the term “abrogation”? The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines the word Abrogate as:

ab-ro-gate: v.tr. repeal, annul, abolish (a law or custom).

In the context of the will and law of God (Holy is He above all that is attributed to Him) as expressed in Scripture, it refers to the nullification of an older Law or concept in favour of a newer and more appropriate one.

We might ask whether an omniscient God, if He is the one who sent Torah and Injeel, might employ such a concept as abrogation? Surely an all-knowing God would be able to impart His will in entirety without recourse to change? Doesn’t the idea of abrogating, or nullifying, a previous law in light of a better one suggest that the Author is not all-knowing?

What these questions don’t take into account, is that whilst God is all-knowing, unchanging (e.g., Malachi 3:6, with lots of problems with the concept of Trinity), His audience, humanity, is not. The very concept that Christianity holds so dear, of the difference between the old covenantal relationship of law, as opposed to the new covenantal relationship of grace relies on the understanding that human beings as individuals and in human societies are in fact subjected to change in condition.

According to Matthew, Jesus(P) said:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)

And surprising, Jesus(P), the omniscient Yahweh incarnate (allegedly!) suddenly had to change the Laws of Divorce, Justice and Oaths apart from changing his own mind!

Abrogation Of Divorce

The best examples of Jesus(P) abrogating parts of Old Testament law concern a number of statements recorded in the gospel according to Matthew. The most prominent of them would be the Law concerning Divorce.

In the Old Testament we find the following law concerning divorce:

If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, (Deutronomy 24:1-2)

Now without going into the minute of this particular law of divorce, one thing becomes immediately clear. Not only is divorce permitted by God, it is legal for her to remarry.

However in the time of Jesus(P), the rules of divorce seem to have taken a U-turn.

“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:31-32)

Here Jesus(P) abrogated the former permission to divorce according to the husband’s displeasure and strictly allowed it under one condition – adultery. He even went so far as to legislate that divorcees were not permitted to remarry, clearly abrogating the former permission. But what is the reason given for this abrogation? Had God changed His mind? Is this evidence of God not being omniscient? Or more importantly, is this evidence that in fact God was never the author of these laws? Well Jesus himself explains:

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:7-9)

Jesus(P) points to the fact that God designs laws that are suitable to the needs and exigencies of the time and audience.

Law Of Absolute Justice

In the Hebrew Scriptures it is written:

Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Deutronomy 19:21)

Quite a harsh law of absolute justice that was necessary due to the conditions of Moses’ age. But Jesus was inspired by God to reveal a softer code for the believers to practice in individual relationships. By abrogating the harshness of absolute justice, Jesus was inspired to encourage the believers to employ forgiveness and mercy. It is recorded he said:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:38-42)

It is a different story that many Christians do not practice what Jesus(P) has told them to do.

Law Of Oaths

We read:

If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth. (Deutronomy 23:21-23)

That is, it is permissible to make an oath for various reasons, however, the swearer must fulfil the oath he makes. In Jesus’ time it became necessary for him to abrogate this permission so that the swearing of oaths became forbidden. In Matthew it is recorded:

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, `Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your `Yes’ be `Yes,’ and your `No,’ `No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:33-37)

Jesus(P) Abrogating His Own Commandments

Perhaps the clearest example of God inspiring Jesus to practice abrogation can be seen in the commissioning of his disciples. It is written in the New Testament that initially Jesus forbade his disciples from preaching to non-Jews. He restricted their activities and commanded them to avoid Gentiles. However, due to the change in circumstances and the completion of his earthly mission, Jesus(P) abrogated this earlier law and made it not only permissible but obligatory for his disciples to reach out to a broader base.

A nice example of Jesus asking his disciples to preach the lost sheep of Israel is:

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. (Matthew 10:5-6)

This prohibition is reinforced by Jesus’(P) own practice:

A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 15:22-24)

Even though because of his mercy Jesus healed the sick daughter, he made it clear that his mission was to the Jews, not to the Gentiles. Later on this was abrogated and Jesus commanded his disciples to reach out to all peoples. It is recorded he said:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Conclusions

It is clear that the concept of abrogation: the nullifying of an older commandment or practice in favour of a newer law, is nothing new and it has been practiced by God for aeons. What we know is that the laws governing the mankind (i.e., Shariah) changes according to the needs of the society. But the concept of monotheism (i.e., Tawheed) remains the same. The Creator knows very well that his creation, the humans, need time and discipline to grow and mature, He reveals commandments and practices that help them develop both as individuals and as members of society. All Praise be to the God, Lord of the Worlds.

And Allah knows best.

Some Thoughts on the Notion of “Religious Borrowing”

Is Islam really a concoction of Judaism and Christianity, as some would like to believe?

Source: [islaam.ca] Published: Pre 2000

When it is said to them: “What is it that your Lord has revealed?” They say: “Tales of the Ancients!” (Qur’an 16:24)

Once, while browsing the soc.religion.islam newsgroup on the Internet, I came across the following comment:

>>Also, the story of Abraham being rescued from the fires of Nimrod is also found in Jewish traditions.

My response was:

So what’s your point? Do you think that this necessarily means the story is made-up, borrowed, or false? I know that you didn’t say this, but I was just wondering what the point of your comment was. The story of the Great Flood during the time of Noah, peace be upon him, is mentioned in the Gilgamesh Epic, which was written about 3000 B.C. Does this means that this story is not true because it is contained in another earlier source?

Now I’m not talking about anyone in particular, but in my humble opinion, the opponents and critics of Islam have not changed their arguments much since the times of the pagan/idol worshipping Arabs. The Qur’an records some of their statements as follows:

The unbelievers say: “These are nothing but tales of the ancients.” (Qur’an 6:25)

“These are nothing but tales of the ancients.” (Qur’an 8:31)

When it is said to them: “What is it that your Lord has revealed?” They say: “Tales of the Ancients!” (Qur’an 16:24)

And they say: “Tales of the ancients which he has caused to be written: and they are dictated before him morning and evening.” (Qur’an 25:5)

“It is true we were promised this we and our fathers before (us): these are nothing but tales of the ancients.” (Qur’an 27:68)

“Tales of the men of old” (Qur’an 68:15)

On the issue of so-called religious borrowing, I’d like to quote the late Dr. Isma’il al-Faruqi: “Original Semitic, or Ur-Semitisch, religion was not a tradition which belonged exclusively to the Jews, but was common to the whole family of Semitic peoples. The version of that tradition embodied in the Old Testament is peculiar to the Jews since they have canonized it as scripture. Earlier Jews or Hebrews had that tradition as well as others which have not survived. Jewish dispersions since the Assyrian conquest in 722 B. C. must have caused some of these traditions to dissolve into those of other Semitic peoples, just as the citizens of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, has dissolved with the countryside surrounding them. There is more than sufficient evidence, internal to the Old Testament, to prove that other records of revelation existed which were either edited, reformed or lost by the generations. There is, in addition, ample evidence from Mesopotamia texts dating centuries and millennia before the earliest Hebrew texts, where variants of the Jewish revelations may be read. The pre-Islamic Hanafi tradition which regarded the religious tradition of Ibrahim (Abraham) to Jesus as the true religion of God, and with which the Prophet Muhammad identified his revelation, was certainly one of those variants living in the memory of Peninsula Arabs. Only thus may the problem of borrowing between the two religions be solved. That Islam borrowed from Judaism certain notions or traditions – as Abraham Geiger, Abraham Katsch and C. C. Torrey have claimed with no little superficiality or temerity – is as true as the claim that Judaism borrowed from the Mesopotamians those same notions and traditions. Ancient Near East stories of Creation, of Moses’ birth and career, of Joseph and Job, of Noah and the Deluge, and the notions of the Word of God, the God of the Mountain, of the Covenant, the law, revelation, service of God, have all been derived from older Mesopotamian traditions. These studies equally point out that the Hebrews have indeed borrowed from the Canaanites their Hebrew language, priestly system, sacrificial ritual, temple worship, as well as their whole religious calendar of agricultural occasions; and from the Persians, their Paradise and Hell, the Day of Judgment, Messianism, sacrementalism, angelogy and demonology, apocryphal version of the end, soteriology and eschatology. For the appearance of each of these notions or theories in the Jewish tradition is dated and can be shown to have occurred at or after the Jews’ contact with those people.” And continuing, he says: “We reject the notion of borrowing as superficial and simplistic. We do not deny interaction between peoples concerned; but we maintain that what constitutes a religion is not the individual elements which may coincidentally or otherwise be found in other traditions, but the essence or structure in accordance with which all elements have been welded together in an integral whole . . . The foregoing analysis is the way a secular historical scholarship would follow to explain the communion between Judaism and Islam on one side, with the religions of ancient Mesopotamia, on the other. There is an easier, simpler and far more straight-forward explanation which is that of Islam. That is that fact that all religions, and in this special sense, the Semitic family of religions, come from one source, namely God.” And further: “It is an altogether different matter that Judaism has been subject to criticism by Islam. Having acknowledged a Jewish religious tradition and identified itself with it, Islam could criticize from within, just as the Jewish prophets did . . . The object of criticism is never the religion of God, the revelation given to the prophets, but the historical recording or empirical texts claimed to be divine, and the actual practice of Jews in history. This very task, practically every Jewish Prophet from David to Malachi had assumed and fulfilled in much the same way as the Qur’anic revelation had done . . . It is a criticism of the Jews’ religious practice in terms of Jewish primordial religion. Islam never doubts the revealed status of the Torah . . . Islam recognizes that God has specially favored the Jews . . . The covenant equally stipulates that if the Jews fail to keep their part of the covenant, God will inflict upon them His punishment . . . God’s judgment is never arbitrary, never unjust, never not-due, not-earned by him upon whom it falls. The Jews do ascribe such arbitrariness to God in order to maintain their otherwise unjustifiable election. Judaism asserts that God chose Abraham and ordered him to leave his city and people and emigrate; but it gives no reason for the choice (Genesis 12:1). This election of Abraham is nowhere justified. It is asserted to be “in the flesh” (Genesis 17:10) and made to pass biologically to his descendants regardless of their piety or conduct (Isaiah 9:6, 63:1-16). The Qur’an was the first to proclaim Abraham’s emigration was due to his conversion from the idolatry of his people to the true religion of God revealed to him, to their attempted persecution of him from which God saved him by a miracle (Qur’an: 21:51-73). Its narrative found its way to Jewish literature in the Middle Ages, especially in the Midrash Hagadol which was discovered in Yemen in the 18th century.” ( The above quotations are from: Islam and the Problem of Israel, by Dr. Isma’il Raji al-Faruqi, pp. 75-79.) That brings us to another question: do the Jewish texts which contain the story of Abraham, peace be upon him, being saved from Nimrod’s fire pre-date or post-date the Qur’an? And if so, in who’s opinion? And even if they pre-date it, so what?

Another point: according to the Rev. Kenneth Cragg, the infamous Christian missionary author, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, compromised his “prophetic role” by emigrated from Mecca to Medina in order to escape the persecution of the pagan Arabs (i.e. the ones who believed in God but worshipped others – saints, angels – along with Him). If Muhammad compromised his prophecy by doing this, then why not Abraham? And if Moses, peace be upon him, did not forsake his prophethood by fleeing from the tyranny of Pharoah’s Egypt to a place where he and his followers could worship the One True God , then why did Muhammad, peace be upon him? Remember, even Moses and the Children of Israel defended (and even established) their belief through force of arms! Just a thought . . .

The Islamic Legislation and Non-Muslims

slam, due to its mercy upon all people, preserves the rights of even those who are in opposition to it. It affords them the freedom of having their own beliefs and methods of worship; rather it provides security for them as well as their centers of worship. It preserves them, their wealth and their children; it prohibits transgression upon them entirely, except with just cause.

Source: [islaam.ca] Published: May 17th, 2006

Meaning: Do not compel anyone to embrace the religion of Islam, for indeed it is a clear and understandable religion that is supported by manifest evidences and proofs. One does not need to compel anyone to embrace it.

Freedom of Belief or Creed

Islam’s preservation of the freedom of creed is extremely clear in the saying of Allah the Exalted:

“There is no compulsion in religion. Indeed, the right path has become distinct from the wrong path.” [Al Baqarah: 256]