Friday, 14 July 2017

A Reply to Richard Carrier's Article - "You Might Be an Islamophobe If..."

On December 11, 2015, famous atheist historian Richard Carrier published an article titled - "You Might Be an Islamophobe If..." here: http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/9211

Carrier focusses on the rising anti-Muslim violence and hatred, particularly in the US and a stagnant and unhealthy amount of support for Old Testament laws. He goes on to list reasons to show that the heavily increased and increasing focus on criticism of Islam is irrational. In my reply to his article, I will demonstrate how Richard uses scores of false equivalences to defend his position (while I completely agree that the support for OT laws is still unhealthy). Before that, let me give you an example of what a false equivalence is. Consider two scenarios -

Scenario A: A poor person came begging for money to a singer named Johann who is neither too rich nor too poor and lives a peaceful life. Johann refuses to give anything.

Scenario B: A poor person came begging for money to an active terrorist named Omar who is neither too rich nor too poor. Omar gives him a lot of money.

A person named Mike writes an article on this stating - "Omar helped the poor man a lot whereas Johann refused to offer any help. So, please don't think Omar is all evil and that Johann is a saint." And Mike does not even acknowledge that there are scores of reasons why Omar is a danger to the society whereas Johann is basically harmless. What Mike wrote, is a factual statement, but what he committed is an example of false equivalence... Sort of like how Linda Sarsour compares the treatment of women in USA and Saudi Arabia.

Richard does not quite come down to this level of fallacy, but he comes close. He also uses a lot of hyperbole - for example to make American Conservative Christians/Republicans look much worse than they actually are. Now, I will start quoting his article:

Richard wrote --

[Pundits have said “vast numbers of Muslims want humans to die for holding a different idea” (even though that’s not true of Muslims in any democratic nation, like the U.S., the U.K. or E.U., or any Western nation in fact, as well as Turkey, and even barely democratic nations like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Azerbaijan) and share “too much in common with ISIS” (even though in fact the “vast majority” of Muslims not only oppose ISIS, but Muslim nations are unanimously united in actively fighting ISIS).]

My answer: I am not sure which "pundit" said that "vast numbers of Muslims want humans to die for holding a different idea". But let's assume that someone actually wrote that. It is indeed misleading to make a blanket statement like that without clarifying further. It is actually true though.. vast numbers of Muslims DO want to kill people, just for holding a different idea. But, as most people know, they are a tiny minority (except when it comes to killing Ex Muslims -- I will come to that later). So, I am not blaming Richard for this statement. However, Richard continues to negate the idea that vast numbers of Muslims share too much in common with ISIS using a logical fallacy - "vast majority of Muslims not only oppose ISIS, but Muslims nations are unanimously united in actively fighting ISIS".

Why is this a logical fallacy? Because Richard seems to miss the original point! The original point was not that vast numbers of Muslims even sympathize with ISIS. The point was that vast numbers of Muslims share too much in common with ISIS. How? It is very simple.. The support for things like killing Ex Muslims, killing homosexuals, gender segregation, stoning married adulterers to death, chopping off hands for theft etc.. is disturbingly high in the Muslim world, eventhough it is not always a majority-held view.

Let us talk about the support for killing Ex-Muslims in the Muslim world. Based on the results of extensive polling conducted by the PEW Research Agency (http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-beliefs-about-sharia/), 78% of surveyed Muslims in Afghanistan support death penalty for Ex Muslims. 64% in Pakistan, 64% in Egypt, 59% in Palestinian territory, 58% in Jordan, 53% in Malaysia, 36% in Bangladesh, 21% in Thailand and 13% in Indonesia. This is ground reality -- and whoever fails to see how disturbing this statistic is, should really come to his senses. Sure, the support for the same is much lower in certain countries like Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. That does not negate what I said. So, even if the vast majority of Muslims (let's say 96%) condemn an organization like ISIS which, apart from endorsing terrible laws, blows up Christians in churches, commits genocide of Shias and Yazidis and go around suicide bombing all over the world, that does not change the facts I set straight above. And it is not mere statistics, Ex Muslims are suffering a lot in these countries, even in India the average Ex Muslim is scared to declare his disbelief.

As for Richard's claim that "Muslim nations are unanimously united in actively fighting the ISIS", that is not true.. what might be true is - "Muslim nations claim to be unanimously united in actively fighting the ISIS".

Richard wrote --

[Hosts [on national news programs] have repeated bigoted falsehoods, for example that female genital mutilation is an inherently Muslim problem (in fact, it is a regional practice that crosses religious lines [e.g. “In Niger, for example, 55 percent of Christian women and girls have experienced FGM, compared with two percent of their Muslim counterparts”]) or that restrictions on women driving are “commonplace” in the Muslim world (in fact, it is restricted to one country, Saudi Arabia, that represents 2 percent of the global Muslim population).]

My answer: Although, there is more to FGM than being merely a "Muslim problem", it IS a Muslim problem too, in addition to being a regional problem (eg: African). First let us talk about African countries - Richard notes how FGM is disproportionately high among Christians in Niger and almost negligibly low among Muslims. Let me give the readers, the other side of the story -- Looking at the UNICEF data, FGM is practiced for 96% of all women in Guinea (where 85% of the population is Muslim), 98% of all women in Somalia (where 99% of the population is Muslim), 91% of all women in Egypt (where 85% of the population is Muslim) ...

On the other hand, Cameroon (which is 70% Christian and 20% Muslim) has merely 1% of its women undergone FGM. Uganda (which is 85% Christian) has merely 1% of its women undergone FGM. Ghana (which is 71% Christian and 18% Muslim) has merely 4% of its women undergone FGM. You can see the full UNICEF statistics for FGM in different countries of the world, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prevalence_of_female_genital_mutilation_by_country

A close look at the statistics clearly suggests that on an average in African countries, the problem of FGM is more rampant among Muslims, eventhough it is entirely the other way in Niger.

What about outside Africa? A whopping 98% of all Muslim females have undergone FGM in Indonesia and 93% of Muslim females in Malaysia... whereas UNICEF notes that the practice is almost non-existant in the Hindu and Buddhist communities in Malaysia. A honest look at these statistics and some common-sense is all that is required to understand that FGM is also a Muslim problem, apart from an African problem. What about the religious texts? Both the Quran and Bible are completely silent on FGM. To give some credit where it is due, the Quran does not even prescribe the concept of circumcision. However, there are some strong (Sahih) hadiths that indicate that FGM was thought to be normal/moral by Muhammad and his child bride Aisha. For example --

Jami at-Tirmidhi 1:1:108 (Classified Sahih by Darussalam)

http://sunnah.com/tirmidhi/1/108
Aishah narrated:
"When the circumcised meets the circumcised, then indeed Ghusl (Islamic ritual washing) is required. Myself and Allah's Messenger did that, so we performed Ghusl."

Richard wrote --

[Yes, Saudi Arabia is just a successful ISIS. Just as Kim Jon Un is a successful Bond villain. But Turkey has nearly three times as many Muslims as Saudia Arabia has, and the vast majority of them do not at all share the criminal views of the Saudi regime. Much less the Saudi people, which one should not confuse with the elite in a tyrannical state: most Iranians are de facto secular, for example, and simply required by law to pretend to be Muslim, not even being allowed to elect their own candidates.]

My answer: I have one objection (or let's say some detail to add) to this paragraph.. Muslims of Saudi are on an average, extremely fanatic. Support for killing anyone who criticizes Islam, let alone for declaration as an Ex Muslim, is widely rampant. As a person who has had thousands of discussions with Muslims all over the world, I know this. Hell, lots of Ex Muslims are killed secretly in Saudi and the government and police censor this heavily, just enough to not lose too much of their "image" while still letting out a message that it shall kill Ex Muslims. Woman are widely harassed if they reveal their hair, often even if they reveal their faces, not just by the religious police, but by their own families. Honour killing is rampant. People are kept in dark about this because of how much Saudi censors news. Pakistan is another country where Ex Muslims are routinely hunted and harassed... even to the point that you cannot even identify as an Ex Muslim on social media unless you totally hide your credentials. It has become a parallel rule that of anyone speaks anything against Islam, he would be hunted.. often killed. Otherwise, I agree with what Richard said about Iranians and Turks, more or less.

Richard wrote --

[Similarly, much is made of Islamic opposition to homosexuality rendering it especially evil, as if that hasn’t always been a Christian thing as well. In fact, it is not notably different. The Koran does not even command the killing of gays; the Christian Bible does. And like a slight majority of Muslim, and still many Christian, nations now do, Christian authorities in America were jailing gays as recently as 1986; even life sentences remained on the books until 2003. In fact, it was American Christian lobbyists who tried to get the death penalty for gays instituted in several African nations in just the last few years (because they couldn’t succeed at this in any decent nation on earth). Meanwhile, nearly half of Muslim countries don’t even outlaw it. Think about that.]

My answer: What is more relevant is the mainstream beliefs -- most Christians do not believe that the Old Testament punishments are to be implemented today, and the Gospels promote (or atleast give a good case for) a non-retaliatory interpretation of using the OT as commandments whose violations are not to be punished by humans on earth.. most notably Mathew 5:38 - 5:45.. and unlike Muhammad, Jesus does not overturn his peaceful teachings with commands for violence and establishing a theocracy - he even discourages it. For the readers, the New Testament does not have a punishment for homosexuality (although Paul sort of says that they deserve to die). With that said, one certainly cannot ignore that there is a sizable fundamentalist Christian crew who still believes that OT laws have to be enforced, the support for the same is way lesser among the Christians globally than the support is for similar laws among the Muslims.

Yes, the Quran does not ask humans to punish homosexuals (it is remarked as the highest abomination though). However, most Muslims accept strong-chained hadiths as legally binding. And there is one strong hadith which commands to kill homosexuals (and a bunch of good (hasan) hadiths).

Sunan Abu Dawud 39:4447 (Classified Hasan-Sahih by Al-Albani)

http://sunnah.com/abudawud/40/112
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas:
The Prophet said: If you find anyone doing as Lot's people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.

As for some of the Christian nations/provinces having jail terms for same-sex activity on paper, yeah. That is a problem. However, I can vouch that gays/lesbians would be far safer while living among the average religious Christian communities than they would be in pretty much any religious Muslim community. While Christian fundamentalists whine about homosexuality being a disease, their Muslim counterparts would have physically abused them. While the former would resort to physical harassment, the latter would have killed them. That is the average equivalence. The sad reality is that most Muslim countries (and often communities) censor news too much, that we don't get to hear about these things unless and until we contact Ex Muslims/homosexuals living in the Muslim world.

Let us look at another development that happened fairly recently. In 2011, South Sudan split away from Sudan. Sudan is a 97% Muslim country whereas South Sudan is 60% Christian and 6% Muslim (rest pagan). South Sudan has removed death penalty for homosexuality (which was and is still part of Sudan law) and replaced it with a 10-year jail term. It has also no apostasy law, whereas Sudan still has death penalty for apostasy from Islam. Isn't that great?

Richard wrote --

[Even this year, major American presidential candidates (Jindal, Huckabee, and Cruz) spoke at a rally calling for the death-penalty for gays.]

My answer: That is a bit misleading. Richard talks as if Jindal, Huckabee and Cruz directly called for or supported death penalty for gays. It was the zealot Kevin Swanson who called for it.. perhaps supported by people who spoke later. It is disgusting to see the crowd clap at these zealots. And make no mistake, Jindal, Cruz and Huckabee deserve condemnation for being soft on this, and being irresponsible (Also, there is a good chance that they were fully aware of Kevin's propaganda before coming there to speak). But they did leave the stage before Kevin started sprouting venom.

Richard wrote --

[This decade, in the very United States, hundreds of thousands of Christian voters still support kill-the-gays candidates. Last year, kill-the-gays Scott Esk won 5% of his district in a primary. In 2012, Charlie Fuqua won 30% in a general election (even though p. 168 of his book God’s Law makes clear what he wants for gays: executing them is the “kind and loving thing to do”). Very small districts, but these percentages were no fluke. Larry Kilgore “ran for the U.S. Senate in 2008 and came second in the Republican primary behind Senator John Cornyn with 225,897 votes,” which is about 19% of voting Texan Republicans. And Merrill Keiser, also openly calling for the death penalty for gays (even saying Elton John and Mary Cheney should be killed), received 163,000 votes in Ohio as recently as 2006.]

My answer: These stats are really disturbing and shows that we have got a lot to do with OT-loving Christianity. No sane human should even consider voting for any of these people. My only point is that Christianity having problems does not make a special focus on Islam "irrational" as really unique problems thrive in the Muslim communities, even in USA - such as harassment/isolation of apostates/their families, especially if they involve in any sort of public criticism of Islam, or even publically flaunting their apostasy. One could get to know a lot, if he was to listen to Ex-Muslims like Sarah Haider. It would be safer to criticize Islam now (when Muslims are just 1% in USA), rather than wait till their percentage gets as high as 5-6. Besides, we need to send a strong message to the mainstream Muslim world with regards to their treatment of apostates.. which is a safer place for that, than USA?

Richard wrote --

[But otherwise, Dominonists, Reconstructionists, Restorationists, Armageddonists, David Barton, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, John Hagee and his tens of thousands of worshipers and millions of fans, 57% of Republican voters…yes, let me say that again in case you missed it, 57% of Republican voters…they want sharia law instituted in this country.]

My answer: To clarify for the readers, these are statistics of how many republicans who want *Christianity to be the official religion*, which does not necessarily mean support for the barbaric OT laws (although intolerance towards homosexuals comes in the top list of a large % of these people).

Richard wrote --

[I cite the evidence that we are more likely to be killed in this country by Christian terrorists than Muslim ones (seven times more likely even). Because that exposes the irrationality of their defending a fear of Muslims, when they obviously don’t fear Christians. And an irrational fear of Muslims is Islamophobia.]

My answer: Some flawed logic here. There are 60 times more Christians than there are Muslims in the US. And if despite this, Christians are only 7 times as likely to kill you compared to Muslims, in USA, that tells you something underlying the ideology behind Muslims.

Richard quotes another member's response (which I will put within "Quotes") --

[Member Quote - "Name-calling with the term Islamophobia is an aggressive tactic popularized by apologists for radical Islam to silence individuals who attempt to tell the truth about Jihadist Islam. The psychological term phobia describes an excessive and irrational fear. So-called Islamophobia, by contrast, is appropriate willingness to heed the solid evidence of who commits terror acts and their motivations."

Richard - Yep. This douchebag just justified all the horrible bigotry, violence and murder and dismemberment and all, documented in that article, with the argument that it’s all “appropriate” and in accordance with “solid evidence” of who is endangering us.]

My answer: No, the quote does not justify any of what Richard states. Much simply because most people whom Richard would classify as "Islamophobes" actually do not want to unleash violence against Muslims in general. Nor does a US citizen focussing on Islamic extremism much more than Christian extremism, imply that he is condoning the latter. Richard is also genuinely interested in explaining the terror attacks on US as "a reaction to US invasion of Iraq". If he would bother the same way, he would know that a lot of the anti-Muslim violence is actually "a reaction" to politically correct masses trying to shut down criticism of Islam and branding as a "racist" and a "bigot" and an "islamophobe" anyone who focusses on it.

Richard wrote --

[Someone notices and calls out the original commenter’s Islamophobic dogwhistle about Islam being a “civilizational risk.” Like, say, a large asteroid impact, or Global Thermonuclear War (which requires arsenals of thousands of nukes, which no Islamic nation will ever have even a fraction of access to). Did I mention Islamophobia consists of an irrational fear of Islam? Yeah. That’s what this is. “Muslims will destroy civilization” is as irrational a thing to believe as “California will soon fall off into the sea.”]

My answer: Islam IS a civilizational risk. The amount of intolerance and danger it brings with its spread, is as clear as day. For instance, refer the PEW Research statistics that I cited for the support for killing Ex-Muslims. Islam also brings many other problems with it, but I would like to focus on two - Intolerance towards women from their community marrying from outside their religion, intolerance towards gender-mixing (not even coming to sex). A good observer knows these things.

Richard wrote --

[But look? Almost none of the Muslims here are killing us. In fact, in fifteen years, out of over two million Muslims, barely a dozen have even tried. That’s a total headscratcher.]

My answer: After using false equiavalences throughout his article, Richard makes a factual error here. A study conducted in USA (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/terrorism-right-wing-america-muslims-islam-white-supremacists-study-a7805831.html) revealed 63 Islamic terror-motivated incidents in US from the time period from 2008 - 2016 (although I go one year further than the date Richard wrote this article, I am only checking an 8 year time period, not even 15 years). Now most of these terror attempts involve more than one person in the conspiracy chain. Discounting the odd cases where the same person was behind multiple attempts, that would still mean something like 80-100 US Muslims documented trying to commit terror attacks in the US over the last 8 years. Probably a lot more. And that's grossly inconsistent with how Richard downplays this threat. Perhaps he means this is too less. But most would disagree (considering that Muslims make up only 1% of the US population).

I could go on.. but I think I will stop here. By the way, Richard is a great historian and there are many things I like about his approach.. such as not simply buying into "expert consensus" and analyzing the actual data.. here in the topic of Islam, he however happens to be way off the mark.


Sunday, 23 April 2017

Evidence for alteration of the Quran - The Sana'a Manuscript

Muslims from all over the world claim that the Quran has been perfectly preserved and is still in the original form as it was recited by Muhammad. Many of them go as far as saying "not a word of it has been changed or removed". The hadiths tell us that Caliph Uthman made 4-7 standard copies of the Quran in the written form and distributed to various provinces like Medina, Kufa, Basra, Syria and according to some later reports - to Mecca, Egypt and Bahrain as well. What is interesting is that none of these 4-7 copies exist today. Uthman died in 656 AD and this is attested by a very early source outside hadith as well. The writings in the earliest manuscript collections of the Quran that exist today are all dated to 670 - 750 AD.

Many people will jump in and say that the Birmigham Manuscript of the Quran (which is part of the Mingana collection) is dated to 568 - 645 AD. What they miss is that the mentioned date range shows only the dating of the animal skin, not the writings. The animal from which the skin was taken, supposedly died between 568 AD and 645 AD. The writings could have come much later, and infact the features used in the writings show a date later than 630 AD and could be as late as 690 AD. The Birmigham manuscript is also extremely fragmentary in nature. It contains Quran verses 18:17 - 18:31, 19:91 - 19:98 and 20:13 - 20:40 and the writings are also somewhat continuous, with chapter separators. So, let us go to the earliest known large manuscript collection of the Quran - The Sana'a Manuscript: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Mss/soth.html

The Sana'a manuscript is a palimpsest, ie, it has a lower text which was erased and in its place the content was rewritten - which is called the upper text. The upper text contains about 75% of the content of the Quran, whereas the lower text contains a little lesser. The traces of lower text have been highlighted and reconstructed using ultra-violet photography. The texts are inscribed on a parchment (animal skin) which has been carbon-dated to the period from 632 AD - 671 AD. That means, the lower text was certainly written after 632 AD. The literary features of the lower text indicate a somewhat early dating - somewhere around the 640s and 650s. The upper text, on the other hand is dated to late seventh century or early eighth century (670 - 715 AD).

Gerd R Puin, an expert on Arabic calligraphy and orthography, dated the upper text to 705 - 715 AD. The evidence is the illustrous drawings of mosques found on fragments along with the collection, which corresponds to the reign of Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid who reigned during the above mentioned period. Here is a video of Puin's testimony (watch from 1:30 - 2:15): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zsh1ZyXnMT4

Some of the findings of Puin have been removed from multiple websites (Wikipedia, Islamic Awareness), as such a later dating of the upper text would be destructive to the Muslim belief that the Quran was standardized during Uthman's period.

The upper text does not have too much variations from the Quran that we read today. However, the lower text has more than 100 variations from today's Quran. Words are totally omitted in many places, whereas they are replaced with new words in other places.

Here is a full comparison of the lower text with the upper text (you can even find the original Arabic text here), published by Muslim research scholars Behnam Sadeghi and Mohsen Goudarzi who studied the manuscript collection in detail: https://pl.scribd.com/mobile/doc/110978941/Sanaa-1-and-the-Origins-of-the-Qur-an

Here are a few examples of verses that have been changed. Follow carefully, the parts that are put in bold:

Quran 2:87 - For the word by word translation of the standard text: http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=2&verse=87#(2:87:1)

a) Lower Text: "Wa-laqad aataynaa moosaa al-kitaaba wa-qaffaynaa 'alaa aathaarihi bi-alrrusuli wa-aataynaa 'eesaa ibna maryama al-bayyinaati ..."

Translation: "And certainly, we gave Moses the scripture and we followed up on his footsteps with messengers and we gave Eesa (Jesus), the son of Maryam, clear signs ..."

b) Standard Text: "Wa-laqad aataynaa moosaa al-kitaaba wa-qaffaynaa min ba'dihi bi-alrrusuli wa-aataynaa 'eesaa ibna maryama al-bayyinaati ..."

Translation: "And certainly, we gave Moses the scripture and we followed up after him with messengers and we gave Eesa (Jesus), the son of Maryam, clear signs ..."

Quran 2:196 - For the word by word translation of the standard text: http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=2&verse=196

a) Lower Text: "... wa-laa tahlikoo hattaa yabhlugha al-haydu mahillahu fa-in kaana ahadun minkum mareedan aw bihi adhan min rasihi fa-fidyatun min siyaamin aw nusukin ..."

Translation: "... and not shave until the offering reaches its destination, then if anyone among you is sick or has an ailment of his head, then a ransom of fasting or sacrifice ..."

b) Standard Text: "... wa-laa tahlikoo ruoosakum hattaa yabhlugha al-haydu mahillahu fa-man kaana minkum mareedan aw bihi adhan min rasihi fa-fidyatun min siyaamin aw sadaqatin aw nusukin ..."

Translation: "... and not shave your heads until the offering reaches its destination, then whoever among you is sick or has an ailment of his head, then a ransom of fasting or charity or sacrifice ..."

Quran 9:74 - For the word by word translation of the standard text: http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=9&verse=74#(9:74:1)

a) Lower Text: "... wa-in yatawallaw yu'adhibhumu allahu fee al-dunyaa wa-maa lahum fee al-ardi min waliyyin wa-la naseerin"

Translation: "... and if they turn away, allah will punish them in this world and there will not be for them on the earth, any protector or helper"

b) Standard Text: "wa-in yatawallaw yu'adhibhumu allahu 'adhaaban aleeman fee al-dunyaa wa-al-aakhirati wa-maa lahum fee al-ardi min waliyyin wa-laa naseerin"

Translation: "... and if they turn away, allah will punish them with a painful punishment in this world and in the hereafter and there will not be for them on earth, any protector or helper"

Quran 63:7 - For the word by word translation of the standard text: http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=63&verse=7

a) Lower Text: "humu alladheena yaqooloona laa tunfiqoo 'alaa man AAinda rasooli allahi hattaa yanfaddoo min hawlihi wa-lillaahi khazaainu al-samaawaati wa-al-ardi ..."

Translation: "They are those who say - donot spend on those who are with messenger of allah until they disband from around him and for allah are treasures of the heavens and the earth ..."

b) Standard Text: "humu alladheena yaqooloona laa tunfiqoo 'alaa man AAinda rasooli allahi hattaa yanfaddoo wa-lillaahi khazaainu al-samaawaati wa-al-ardi ..."

Translation: "They are those who say - donot spend on those who are with messenger of allah until they disband and for allah are treasures of the heavens and the earth ..."

So what do we have here? Many verses with words that have been inserted, deleted or replaced with new ones. If anyone is to argue that the lower text was an old corrupted quran, let me remind you that there is no reason to believe that the upper text which was written later on, is any more "original" than the lower text. As Sadeghi and Goudarzi pointed out, many of the variants in the lower text correspond to those reported in the recitation of Ibn Masud. The "Standard Quran" was supposedly compiled by Zayd bin Thabit under Caliph Uthman. Ibn Masud was reportedly one of the highest authorities of Quran as narrated by Muhammad.

Sahih al-Bukhari 6:61:521

https://sunnah.com/bukhari/66/21
Narrated Masriq:
`Abdullah bin `Amr mentioned `Abdullah bin Masud and said, "I shall ever love that man, for I heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying, 'Take (learn) the Qur'an from four: `Abdullah bin Masud, Salim, Mu`adh and Ubai bin Ka`b.' "

So where is Zayd bin Thabit here? Nowhere... He had basically no authority on the Quran.

To continue the story, Uthman had ordered all the copies that disagreed with his version, to be burned. And Ibn Masud clearly dismissed Zayd as a rookie.

Jami at-Tirmidhi 5:44:3104

https://sunnah.com/urn/641130
Narrated Az-Zuhri:
from Anas who said: "Hudhaifah bin Al-Yaman came to 'Uthman, at the time when the people of Ash-Sham and the people of Al-'Iraq were waging war to conquer Arminiyah and Adharbijan. Hudhaifah saw their (the people of Ash-Sham and Al-'Iraq) different forms of recitation of the Qur'an. So he said to 'Uthman: 'O Commander of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book as the Jews and the Christians did before them.' So he ('Uthman) sent a message to Hafsah (saying): 'Send us the manuscripts so that we may copy them in the Musahif (plural of Mushaf: a written copy of the Qur'an) then we shall return it to you.' So Hafsah sent the manuscripts to 'Uthman bin 'Affan. 'Uthman then sent order for Zaid bin Thabit, Sa'eed bin Al-'As, 'Abdur-Rahman bin Al-Harith bin Hisham, and 'Abdullah bin Az-Zubair to copy the manuscripts in the Musahif. 'Uthman said to the three Quraish men: 'In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the (recitation dialect of the) Qur'an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish for it was in their tongue.' So when they had copied the manuscripts, 'Uthman sent one Mushaf from those Musahif that they had copied to every province." Az-Zuhri said: "Kharijah bin Zaid [bin Thabit] narrated to me that Zaid bin Thabit said: 'I missed an Ayah of Surat Al-Ahzab that I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) reciting: Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah, of them some have fulfilled their obligations, and some of them are still waiting (33:23) - so I searched for it and found it with Khuzaimah bin Thabit, or Abu Khuzaimah, so I put it in its Surah.'" Az-Zuhri said: "They differed then with At-Tabut and At-Tabuh. The Quraish said: At-Tabut while Zaid said: At-Tabuh. Their disagreement was brought to 'Uthman, so he said: 'Write it as At-Tabut, for it was revealed in the tongue of the Quraish.'" Az-Zuhri said: "'Ubaidullah bin 'Abdullah bin 'Utbah informed me that 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud disliked Zaid bin Thabit copying the Musahif, and he said: 'O you Muslims people! Avoid copying the Mushaf and the recitation of this man. By Allah! When I accepted Islam he was but in the loins of a disbelieving man' - meaning Zaid bin Thabit - and it was regarding this that 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud said: 'O people of Al-'Iraq! Keep the Musahif that are with you, and conceal them. For indeed Allah said: And whoever conceals something, he shall come with what he concealed on the Day of Judgement (3:161). So meet Allah with the Musahif.'" Az-Zuhri said: "It was conveyed to me that some men amongst the most virtuous of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) disliked that view of Ibn Mas'ud."

There goes the myth of "perfect preservation of the Quran, down to each word".

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Historical Error: Mary, the mother of Jesus as Miriam, the sister of Moses

The Quran makes a clear historical error when it borrows stories from the Bible. The error we have in spotlight here is that the Quran mentions Mary, the mother of Jesus as the same Miriam (both names are written as Maryam in Arabic) who was supposedly the sister of Moses and Aaron according to the Bible. This is totally absurd since Moses (if at all he existed) lived more than 600-1000 years before Jesus.

The evidence for this is so strong that the Quran repeats this mistake in two different ways.

1) By addressing Maryam, the mother of Jesus as "Sister of Harun (Aaron)" (Quran 19:28)
2) By mistaking Imran (Amram), the father of Moses, Aaron and Miriam as the Grandfather of Jesus (Quran 3:35 - 3:45, 66:12)

Before I describe the evidence, let us consider the possibility that the verse 19:28 is not referring to a biological sister. Is it then a mere coincidence that Aaron actually had a sister with the same name Maryam as per the Torah? Think over it. If the Quran is from God, then we have to accept that God was deliberately misleading humans into believing that Mary, the mother of Jesus was Aaron's sister. Or is God so careless that he didn't realize this and ended up using the word "sister"?

Let us forgive this and see if there is any other place in the Quran where this confusion between Mary and Miriam is repeated. Yes there is! The Quran verses 3:35 - 3:45 describe that the wife of Imran gave birth to Maryam, who later became the mother of Jesus. Verse 66:12 describes Maryam, the mother of Jesus as the daughter of Imran. There are absolutely no inscriptions or scriptures mentioning Imran as the father of Mary, till the author of Quran came up with this claim in the 7th century. Strange! So, from where did the author pull out the name "Imran" from? The answer is Torah. Exodus 6:20 and 15:20 describe that Amram was the father of Moses, Aaron and Miriam. Amram is arabicised to Imran. This idea that Imran had a daughter "Maryam" made the author of Quran think that this was talking about Maryam, the mother of Jesus.

Here is a verse from the Torah that state that Moses and Aaron had a sister named Miriam: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+15%3A20&version=KJV

Here is another verse from the Torah that state that Amram (Imran) was the father of Moses, Aaron and Miriam: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+6:20&version=KJV

Here are the verses 19:27 - 19:34 from the Quran which show that the author of Quran mistook Mary, the mother of Jesus as the sister of Aaron: http://www.islam101.com/quran/QTP/QTP019.htm

19:27 - Then she brought him to her own folk, carrying him. They said: O Mary! You have come with an amazing thing.
19:28 - O sister of Aaron! Your father was not a wicked man nor was your mother a harlot.
19:29 - Then she pointed to him. They said: How can we talk to one who is in the cradle, a young boy ?
19:30 - He spoke: Lo! I am the slave of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and has appointed me a Prophet,
19:31 - And has made me blessed wheresoever I may be, and has enjoined upon me prayer and almsgiving so long as I remain alive,
19:32 - And (has made me) dutiful toward her who bore me, and has not made me arrogant, unblessed.
19:33 - Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!
19:34 - Such was Jesus, son of Mary: (this is) a statement of the truth concerning which they doubt.

Here are the verses 3:35 - 3:45 and 66:12 which show that the author of Quran further affirms his previous error by mistaking Amram, the father of Moses, Aaron and Miriam as the grandfather of Jesus: http://www.islam101.com/quran/QTP/QTP003.htm

3:35 - (Remember) when the wife of 'Imran said: My Lord! I have vowed unto you that which is in my belly as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me. Lo!  you, only you, are the Hearer, the Knower!
3:36 - And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female - Allah knew best of what she was delivered - the male is not as the female; and lo! I have named her Mary, and lo! I crave your protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast.
....
3:45 - (And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah gives you glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah).

http://www.islam101.com/quran/QTP/QTP066.htm
66:12 - And Mary, daughter of 'Imran, whose body was chaste, therefore We breathed therein something of Our Spirit. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His scriptures, and was of the obedient.

A hadith from Sahih Muslim states that the Christians of Najran actually realized this error and questioned Mughira bin Shu'ba, one of Muhammad's men regarding this. The Christians asserted that Moses was born long before Jesus. Mughira was clueless how to respond to this and met Muhammad, who understood his mistake and tried to cover it up by saying that the verse 19:28 was referring to another Harun. This incident is depicted in Sahih Muslim:

Sahih Muslim 25:5326

https://sunnah.com/muslim/38/13
Mughira b. Shu'ba reported:
When I came to Najran, they (the Christians of Najran) asked me: You read" O sister of Harun" (i. e. Hadrat Maryam) in the Qur'an, whereas Moses was born much before Jesus. When I came back to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) I asked him about that, whereupon he said: The (people of the old age) used to give names (to their persons) after the names of Apostles and pious persons who had gone before them.

Muhammad obviously did not want to change the Quran and attempts to cover it up - "The people of old age used to name people after the names of Apostles". And Muhammad wanted to tell people that it is a mere coincidence that there was actually an Aaron/Harun as per the Torah AND that same person had a sister with the same name Maryam. Not to mention depicting Mary's father as having the same name as Miriam's father. It is well understandable because he would not want to admit having made a mistake, at all cost!

Is it still possible that Mary's father was actually named Imran and/or that she had a brother named Harun? If you are thinking that way, you need to think why no other book ever mentioned this for more than 600 years since Mary's era until the Quran mentioned it? The obvious answer is that the author of Quran borrowed it from the Torah while making a fatal error. Infact, multiple Christian traditions including the Gospel of James from the second century state that Mary's father was named Joachim: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joachim

Many Muslim apologists point out Bible verses depicting Jesus as "son of David", Quran verses depicting Abraham as "brother of Lut", Shuaib as the "brother of Midian" etc and state that it was common in semitic languages for such references to be made depicting a symbolic relationship. The problem however is that we have absolutely no examples in any semitic languages before 8th century of any person A being referred to as "brother/sister of person B" when B lived centuries before A. Whenever there are such references, A and B are contemporaries such as in the example of Abraham and Lut. And in case of Shuaib being referred to as "brother of Midian", Midian was his own tribe. And when Jesus is depicted as the son of David, there is no parallel Jesus character who was actually the son of David in the books that describe David's life. As such, the usage "son" is understood as "descendant". This brings us to another observation - the phrase "brother of" and "sister of" are not used to denote descendency. Rather, "son of" and "daughter of" are used when such references don't bring any confusion to parallel characters with the same name.

There is no way to reconcile this historical error. This only affirms that the author of Quran was actually borrowing second hand knowledge from scriptures such as the Torah and Gospels.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Sun Stopping its Movement During Night

Here is one of the clearest and most embarrassing scientific errors in the Quran. The Quran explicitly states that sun stops its motion during the night time. This is stated in verse 36:38. Let us see verses 36:37 - 36:39

http://www.islam101.com/quran/QTP/QTP036.htm (Translated by Pickthall)

036.037 A token unto them is night. We strip it of the day, and lo! they are in darkness.
036.038 And the sun runneth on unto a resting-place for him. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Wise.
036.039 And for the moon We have appointed mansions (phases) till she return like an old shrivelled palm-leaf.


The sequence is very clear and simple.

1) Day changes to night. (36:37)
2) Sun runs to its resting place. (36:38)
3) Moon appears in the night sky. (36:39)

Arabic transliteration: http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=36&verse=38

36:38 - wa al-shamsu tajri li-mustaqarrin laha dhalika taqdiru al-azizi al-alimi

"li-mustaqarrin" means "to a resting place". Here is the meaning of "mustaqarr" referencing the famous Lane's Lexicon: https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/مستقر

Noun
مُسْتَقَرّ ‎(mustaqarrm
  1. fixed domicile, fixed residence, fixed lodging
  2. place of stability, of quiet, of rest, of permanence
Many Quran translators such as Yusuf Ali have hidden this embarrassing error by mistranslating "li-mustaqarrin" as "for a term appointed" or "for a period determined". I expect the readers to understand that a false translation is false, no matter who translates it. You do not need to take my words for granted. I will show you the word "mustaqarr" mentioned several places in the Quran almost always meaning "resting place", "dwelling place" or "settlement". See verses 2:36, 6:98, 11:6, 75:12 and you will see that mustaqarr is used with the above meaning, and not "term appointed".

If the author meant to say "for a term appointed", or "for a period determined", he could have simply used the proper Arabic for that - "li-ajalin musamman". Throughout the Quran, the same words "ajalin musamman" have been used to refer to "term appointed", as demonstrated in verses 13:2, 14:10, 16:61, 22:5, 22:33 and 46:3.

Another apologetic argument is that the Quran is talking about the end of the life of sun in 36:38. That argument does not really stand when the Quran is clearly talking about a resting/settling place for the sun. To interpret this as the end of sun's life is actually twisting what is stated in the verse. It is also odd to think that the author of the Quran would be placing a verse about the end-times exactly in between two verses that describe what appears to be the daily observable phenomena in the sky.

If you are still not convinced, let us refer Sahih Muslim, one of the most trusted hadith-collections ever.

Sahih Muslim 1:297

http://sunnah.com/muslim/1/306
It is narrated on the authority of Abu Dharr that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) one day said:
Do you know where the sun goes? They replied: Allah and His Apostle know best. He (the Holy Prophet) observed: Verily it (the sun) glides till it reaches its resting place under the Throne. Then it falls prostrate and remains there until it is asked: Rise up and go to the place whence you came, and it goes back and continues emerging out from its rising place and then glides till it reaches its place of rest under the Throne and falls prostrate and remains in that state until it is asked: Rise up and return to the place whence you came, and it returns and emerges out from it rising place and the it glides (in such a normal way) that the people do not discern anything ( unusual in it) till it reaches its resting place under the Throne. Then it would be said to it: Rise up and emerge out from the place of your setting, and it will rise from the place of its setting. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said. Do you know when it would happen? It would happen at the time when faith will not benefit one who has not previously believed or has derived no good from the faith.
 
Notice Muhammad asking his followers "Do you know where the sun goes?". The question is about the daily routine of the sun. They reply that Muhammad and Allah knows best. To this, Muhammad informs them without any doubt that sun keeps moving till it reaches its resting place. He even explicitly mentions that this is the regular phenomena by affirming that this happens repeatedly. Please note that only the last part (which says that one day, the sun will rise from the west) is about judgement day. The first part describes the regular daily phenomena.
 
Conclusion: The Quran has an embarrassing scientific error in stating that sun stops moving after setting. The authentic hadiths confirm this with even more clarity. This is what one would expect from a seventh century Arab who simply had no idea what the sun does after it sets.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Earth Created Before the Stars

The Quran clearly states that the Earth was created before the Stars - A grave scientific error. This is clear from the Verses 41:9 - 41:12. Here I will quote two different translations of the Quran to show it - Translations of Pickthall and Yusuf Ali. Pickthall makes it absolutely certain, so let us give the Quran a chance and go straight to Yusuf Ali's translation.

http://www.islam101.com/quran/yusufAli/QURAN/41.htm

41:9. Say: Is it that ye deny Him Who created the earth in two Days? And do ye join equals with Him? He is the Lord of (all) the Worlds.
41:10. He set on the (earth), mountains standing firm, high above it, and bestowed blessings on the earth, and measure therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion, in four Days, in accordance with (the needs of) those who seek (Sustenance).
41:11. Moreover He comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: "Come ye together, willingly or unwillingly." They said: "We do come (together), in willing obedience."
41:12. So He completed them as seven firmaments in two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command. And We adorned the lower heaven with lights, and (provided it) with guard. Such is the Decree of (Him) the Exalted in Might, Full of Knowledge.

The start of verse 41:12 uses the Arabic word "fa" which indicates a sequence of events between 41:11 and 41:12. See the word by word grammar of the Quran: http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=41&verse=12

Yusuf Ali translates "fa" as "so" and Pickthall translates it as "then". In either case, the events in 41:11 occurred before the events in 41:12. Notice that at the end of verse 41:11, the earth was surely existant, no doubt. And when does the Quran claim that stars were created? In 41:12, that is after the creation of the Earth! Yusuf Ali describes stars as "lights" and Pickthall describes it as "lamps". Either way, the verse is talking about stars (whether it includes sun or not). There are no other "lights" or "lamps" (notice the plural) that fit the context.

Things are even clearer when we go to Pickthall's translation:

http://www.islam101.com/quran/QTP/QTP041.htm

041.009 Say (O Muhammad, unto the idolaters): Disbelieve ye verily in Him Who created the earth in two Days, and ascribe ye unto Him rivals ? He (and none else) is the Lord of the Worlds.
041.010 He placed therein firm hills rising above it, and blessed it and measured therein its sustenance in four Days, alike for (all) who ask;
041.011 Then turned He to the heaven when it was smoke, and said unto it and unto the earth: Come both of you, willingly or loth. They said: We come, obedient.
041.012 Then He ordained them seven heavens in two Days and inspired in each heaven its mandate; and We decked the nether heaven with lamps, and rendered it inviolable. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Knower.

The best argument someone can put up against this is that the verse 41:12 does not explicitly say that stars were "created". Rather it says that the "nearest heaven" was "beautified" or "adorned" with stars. But think about this: If the author of the Quran knew that stars were already shining there long before the earth was created, then why would he say that god beautified the nearest heaven with stars after the earth was created? If the stars were already there, this beautification was already there. It makes no sense to say this beautification was made after the creation of earth.

Modern science has made considerable progress in the study of the formation of planets through astronomical observations. Planets in general form as a result of the coming together and solidification of matter thrown outwards from their parent stars. This explains why they orbit stars. Thus, there is simply no way that earth was created before stars. Studies estimate the age of the earth as approximately one-third the age of universe from the time of the big bang. Stars were there long before the formation of the earth.

To conclude, this is a grave scientific error in the Quran that simply cannot be reconciled with scientific observations.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Mass Deportation of Non-Muslims from the Arabian Peninsula

Towards the later years of his life, Muhammad declared that he would expel all Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and leave only Muslims there. He had already started this mass deportation programme by expelling all Jews from Medina - including the tribes of Banu Mustaliq, Banu Qanuqa and Banu Nadir. He also mass-murdered the entire male population of Banu Quraiza (except boys who did not start growing pubic hair yet) for breaking a treaty to help him in war. Even two or three people trying to assassinate him was enough reason for him to expel an entire tribe, as was the case with Banu Nadir (read Muhammad's earliest biographies - Ibn Ishaq and Al-Tabari).

What is even more remarkable is that the Christians in the Arabian Peninsula caused no trouble for Muhammad and the Muslims. Yet he wanted to mass-deport them, something that his companion Umar fulfilled later.

Let us look at the authentic hadiths that show this:

1) Sahih Muslim 19:4366

http://sunnah.com/muslim/32/75
It has been narrated by 'Umar b. al-Khattib that he heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say:
I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslim.

2) Jami at Tirmidhi 3:19:1607

http://sunnah.com/tirmidhi/21/70
Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah : "Umar bin Al-Khattab informed me that he heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: 'I will expel the Jews and the Christians from the Arabian Peninsula, and I will not leave anyone in it except a Muslim."

3) Sahih Muslim 19:4364

http://sunnah.com/muslim/32/73
It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn Umar that the Jews of Banu Nadir and Banu Quraiza fought against the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) who expelled Banu Nadir, and allowed Quraiza to stay on, and granted favour to them until they too fought against him. Then he killed their men, and distributed their women, children and properties among the Muslims, except that some of them had joined the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) who granted them security. They embraced Islam. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) turned out all the Jews of Medina. Banu Qainuqa' (the tribe of 'Abdullah b. Salim) and the Jews of Banu Haritha and every other Jew who was in Medina.

4) Sahih Muslim 19:4363

http://sunnah.com/muslim/32/72
It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira who said:

We were (sitting) in the mosque when the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) came to us and said: (Let us) go to the Jews. We went out with him until we came to them. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) stood up and called out to them (saying): O ye assembly of Jews, accept Islam (and) you will be safe. They said: Abu'l-Qasim, you have communicated (God's Message to us). The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: I want this (i. e. you should admit that God's Message has been communicated to you), accept Islam and you would be safe. They said: Abu'l-Qasim, you have communicated (Allah's Message). The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: I want this... - He said to them (the same words) the third time (and on getting the same reply) he added: You should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I wish that I should expel you from this land. Those of you who have any property with them should sell it, otherwise they should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle (and they may have to go away leaving everything behind).

Hadith #4 shows Muhammad repeatedly asking Jews to embrace Islam and when they rejected, he proceeded on to expel them. Hadith #3 shows that he expelled every single Jew from Medina. This proves that the real reason for expulsion was their religion.

Muhammad forced the Jews to pay him a tax of half of their total produce if they wanted to stay in Khaibar until his close companion Umar expelled them. Umar completed the expulsion of Christians from Hijaz (Mecca plus Medina) and Jews from the Arabian Peninsula (Mecca, Medina, Yemen, Al-Yamama and Al-Arj combined) as we can see below:

5) Sahih al Bukhari 3:39:531

http://sunnah.com/bukhari/41/19
Narrated Ibn `Umar:
`Umar expelled the Jews and the Christians from Hijaz. When Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) had conquered Khaibar, he wanted to expel the Jews from it as its land became the property of Allah, His Apostle, and the Muslims. Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) intended to expel the Jews but they requested him to let them stay there on the condition that they would do the labor and get half of the fruits. Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) told them, "We will let you stay on thus condition, as long as we wish." So, they (i.e. Jews) kept on living there until `Umar forced them to go towards Taima' and Ariha'.

6) Sahih al Bukhari 4:52:288

http://sunnah.com/bukhari/56/259
Narrated Sa`id bin Jubair:
Ibn `Abbas said, "Thursday! What (great thing) took place on Thursday!" Then he started weeping till his tears wetted the gravels of the ground . Then he said, "On Thursday the illness of Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) was aggravated and he said, "Fetch me writing materials so that I may have something written to you after which you will never go astray." The people (present there) differed in this matter and people should not differ before a prophet. They said, "Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) is seriously sick.' The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Let me alone, as the state in which I am now, is better than what you are calling me for." The Prophet (ﷺ) on his death-bed, gave three orders saying, "Expel the pagans from the Arabian Peninsula, respect and give gifts to the foreign delegates as you have seen me dealing with them." I forgot the third (order)" (Ya'qub bin Muhammad said, "I asked Al-Mughira bin `Abdur-Rahman about the Arabian Peninsula and he said, 'It comprises Mecca, Medina, Al-Yama-ma and Yemen." Ya'qub added, "And Al-Arj, the beginning of Tihama.")

I would like to remind the Muslims that they would feel really horrible if someone expelled them from their homes as retaliation to crimes committed by a group of Muslims. A little empathy would be enough to understand how the Christians and those Jews who did not do any aggression against Muslims felt when they were deported from their homes by Muhammad and his men. You can find occasions where Muhammad was tolerant to non Muslims, but that will not negate these cruelties that he committed. It is thus clear that Muhammad became extremely intolerant towards non-Muslims towards his later years and is a very bad example for humanity.