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Mohammad is a Muslim in the UK who frequently sends me private messages via my YouTube channel. Recently he sent me a rather lengthy critique of one of my videos. The video is a recording of a message I commonly give when I have one Sunday or Wednesday at a church, as a general introduction to Islam and Muslim evangelism. The video, for those interested in the context of his critique, can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwSPmd2tWsw

Mohammad's critique was rather lengthy, so my responses to his concerns are also rather lengthy. Because his critique includes a number of common objections raised against Christians and the Bible, I thought it beneficial to reproduce our conversation here. He raised a total of 18 objections. Each will be blocked off below, with his concern first and my response following.

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Mohammad

As you requested me to refute your arguments I am going to take the time to go point by point using the timeline in the video to prove to you that the lecture is full with misinformation, conflicting quote from the bible and bias use of the quranic text where it seems you do not know the full text. I truly believe you gave your lecture with the utmost honesty and I can truly say I have listened to more than 20 Apologetic and you are one of the most decent and honest in your speech and I respect you for that. But that does not mean you are right in you info. So lets starts.

Me

I try to be fair and accurate. I'm not perfect. You will find that I try to understand Muslims, even the radical extremist ones, from within their worldview, rather than condemning them. That said, I do not excuse some of the evil ideas I see in Islam, and will expose them, and doing so is not 'Islamophobic.' That word I abhor, as it is used generally as a means to end any rational discussion, much like you do below in your critique of Spencer and Geller. Such tactics do not work with me. 

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Mohammad, critique #1

1.37 mins. You started your lecture with the the word you use as TERROR'. Basically you planted the seeds of linking islam and terrorism into the mind of your students which is unfair. Act of terrorism has nothing to do with islam and this has been condemned by most Scholars. Why you did this..God only knows.

There are act of so called terrorism by muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Khasmir. Chechnya Nigeria. Somalia and all have one thing in common and they or either muslims who wanted to liberate their country from occupations or asking for their independence. It has nothing to do with Islam hating the west as some ISLAMOPHOBE such as Robert Spencer. Pamla Geller an Fox news wants you to believe.

Me

I would agree it has nothing to do with Islam hating the west, but I disagree that it has to do with liberating anyone from oppression. That is the excuse given today, but let's go back hundreds of years. In the first 100 years after the death of the prophet of Islam, from 632 to 732, Islam spread from Arabia eastward to the border of India, and westward across northern Africa and into southern Europe, where its advance was only stopped at the Battle of Tours. That rapid spread of Islam was accomplished mainly by what would be called terrorism today. Who was being oppressed? Who wanted to liberate the nations from 'occupation?' Your statement is laughable in light of history.

Mohammad

Terrorism Is a Real Threat ... But the Threat to the U.S. from Muslim Terrorists Has Been Exaggerated

An FBI report shows that only a small percentage of terrorist attacks carried out on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 were perpetrated by Muslims.

Since 9/11, [Charles Kurzman, Professor of Sociology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, writing for the Triangle Center on Terrorism and National Security] and his team tallies, 33 Americans have died as a result of terrorism launched by their Muslim neighbors. During that period, 180,000 Americans were murdered for reasons unrelated to terrorism. In just the past year, the mass shootings that have captivated America's attention killed 66 Americans, "twice as many fatalities as from Muslim-American terrorism in all 11 years since 9/11,"notes Kurzman's team.

Me

Invalid assessment. Statistics can be manipulated to prove any point one wants to make. Terrorism is not limited to America, and for you to suggest so by this quote is dishonest. While it may be true that only 33 Americans have died since 9/11 as a result of terrorism, how many have died globally?

Mohammad

Islam is against killing the innocent and those who are doing it are in desperation because of their inability to fight back with the limited arms they have.The west use the fighters jets, drones, cruise missiles.The killing by drones is fermenting the hate towards the west thus increase the act of terrorism by the victims community.

Me

See my earlier comment about the first 100 years after Muhammad's death. No cruise missiles, drones, etc. existed then, and it was Muslims who were advancing against innocent people, mostly Christian nations until Islam swept in, slaughtered or enslaved the Christians, and made Islam supreme in the land, just as called for in the Quran. And you said Islam is against killing the innocent, but who are the innocent? According to at least two different scholars I have read, only Muslims are deemed innocent. Non-Muslims are not innocent; they are guilty of not worshipping Allah alone, are guilty of ascribing partners to him, and are guilty of rejecting Muhammad as the last and final messenger, and thus are legitimate targets for elimination.

Mohammad

So We decreed for the tribe of Israel that if someone kills another person - unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth - it is as if he had murdered all mankind. And if anyone gives life to another person, it is as if he had given life to all mankind. Our Messengers came to them with Clear Signs but even after that many of them committed outrages in the earth.(Qur'an 5: 32)

Me

Yes, and the very next verse says "The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land." And Ibn Kathir supplies the understanding of this verse when he says "Wage war' mentioned here means, oppose and contradict, and it includes disbelief, blocking roads and spreading fear in the fairways." So for simply disbelieving, one is to be killed, crucified, or have hand and feet cut off from opposite sides. Who is an innocent person?

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Mohammad, critique #2

4.26 mins. You quoted Roman 10-1-4 that Christ IS THE END OF THE LAW AND Apostle Paul was rebuking the Jews being in bondage to the laws. Now this contradict the verse in Matthew5-17 when Jesus 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. 18 For truly I tell you, 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. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly 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. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Now you try to reconcile the verse above with Paul writing and certainly you will not be able to do so with a muslim who knows the bible.Paul is against the laws and Jesus say he is upholding the laws.Who is telling the truth??

Me

You know the Bible? Jesus is upholding the laws? You seem to imply these verses in Matthew suggest Jesus supports keeping all the laws. Then tell me, if Jesus came to fulfill the law and keep the laws, why then did he break them? For example, Luke 6:6-11 records an incident where Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath whose hand was deformed, infuriating the Pharisees who were strict in keeping all the law. So if Jesus violated one of the Ten Commandments, at least as seen by the Pharisees, to keep the Sabbath holy and to rest on the Sabbath and do no work (a twisted view of the Pharisees), surely your assessment is in error that Jesus came to make sure all the law is kept or fulfilled. What then did Jesus mean by his statement? Exactly what Paul said; Paul did not contradict Jesus, nor did he invent Christianity as most Muslims suppose. Our holiness and righteousness before God is not dependent upon us keeping the law. In the times of the Old Testament, Mosaic law (the old covenant) required a blood sacrifice of an innocent animal to atone for the sin of the people - when they broke or violated the law. But since the death of Jesus, the sinless one even as the Qur'an calls him, our sins have been completely atoned for. Our righteous standing before God is based on the complete atonement for our sin through Jesus, not in the keeping of the law. That is how Jesus came to fulfill the law.

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Mohammad, critique #3

7.59 mins: You quoted the Quran teaches good deeds and bad deeds and the good deeds outweighs the bad deeds, You also stated that Paul said we are saved by Grace. Now this contradict the teaching of James where in James chapter 2 it says:

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Note James is talking about faith and deeds and it contradict Paul who was preaching by 'grace only'

Now try to explain this to your students and muslims.

Me

OK. No problem. James and Paul are not contradictory but rather complimentary. Paul and James are writing from two different perspectives to combat two different types of problems. When understood within their respective contexts, they compliment one another.

On one hand, in Romans Paul gives us a doctrinal foundation for our justification as righteous before God on the basis of our faith alone, in order to show that Jews, who were self-righteous in keeping The Law, were just as much in need of the saving grace of God as Gentiles were; the works of the law could not save them. We are all sinners, Jew and Gentile alike, and all in danger of God’s judgment. Thematic verse for Romans is Romans 1:16 --  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

On the other hand, James focuses on being a “doer of the word, and not a hearer only – 1:22 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only”

  1. James responds to a phenomenon of the time known as antinomianism – anti=against, nomos=law – those who thought the law had no place in the life of a believer. That is, they could do whatever they wanted, sort of like a “if it feels good, do it” mentality.
  2. Antinomianism: The conviction that believers are freed from the demands of God’s law by depending upon God’s grace for their salvation (thus anti “against”+ nomos “law”). Although the word“antinomian” is not found in Scripture, Scripture’s own history tells of the struggle to maintain balance between law and grace—between an appreciation of God’s merciful and unconditional response toward God’s people on the one hand, and their obliged and obedient response to God’s law on the other.
  3. Someone practicing antinomianism might take the attitude “it doesn’t matter what I do or don’t do; I am saved by grace and my sins are forgiven.” They tend to use God’s grace as a license for sin (something Paul will confront in the next two chapters of Romans!)

James condemns any form of Christianity that drifts into a sterile, actionless “orthodoxy” (verbal profession only). Faith, not what we do, is fundamental in establishing a relationship with God. But faith, James insists, must be given content. Genuine faith, he insists, always and inevitably produces evidence of its existence in a life of righteous living. Biblical faith cannot exist apart from acts of obedience to GodTo dissect your quote of James 2:14-17, I am pasting a partial outline of a lecture I gave years ago on the seeming incompatibility between what Paul and James say.

POINT 1 –TRUE FAITH BY DEFINITION - James 2:14-17

2:14 - What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? (NKJV)

  1. This seems to be in complete contradiction to the verses read previously in Paul’s letters to the Galatians, Romans, Ephesians, and Titus. James seems to imply that faith alone is not enough; works are also required.
  2. Note the contrast between what one “says” and what one “does.”
    1. An important distinction; the key to this entire section. James is contrasting what one “says” with what one “does” to drive home a point which will become clear.
  3. V. 14: Can faith save him? (KJV, NKJV): This is a rhetorical question, a question which does not require an answer because the answer is obvious. The construction of the Greek here suggests that the expected answer is “no”, faith alone cannot save.
    1. The KJV rendering of “can faith save him?” is an inaccurate translation. The word “faith” in the Greek has a definite article ha with it… “the faith”.. which implies the faith under discussion is the same faith used previously. “Faith” refers back to the same word “faith” used previously; i.e. someone who “says” they have faith but does not have works as evidence of that faith. This “faith” is what a man who does not have works claims to have. James’ main point is that this “faith” is, in biblical terms, no faith at all.
    2. A more proper rendering of this verse (NASB, NLT, NET) is “Can that kind of faith save him?”


AN ILLUSTRATION

James 2:15-17 - If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,  16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Here is an illustration of someone who says something, but does nothing to back up his or her words. He says “Be filled” but fails to provide food to eat, or says “be warm” but fails to provide clothing or a blanket for warmth,his words are empty and meaningless. In the same way, one who “says” he has faith, but does not put his words into action, is simply uttering meaningless words.

James is not really contrasting faith and works, as if these were two alternative opinions in one’s approach to God. He is, rather, contrasting a faith that, because it is inherently defective, produces no works and a faith that, because it is genuine, does result in action. 

Paul and James compliment one another.

To summarize:

John Courson: “You know you’re truly born again when you find yourself obeying God.We’re not saved by obedience. But our obedience proves we’re saved, for true faith works.”

John Walvoord: Spiritual works are the evidence, not the energizer, of sincere faith.    

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Mohammad, critique #4

19.29 mins: You mislead your students to link Zakaat (charity) to the christian giving of 10% to the church.The church giving is not obligatory upon Christians and the fund is partly use for church expenses WHEREAS zakaat is OBLIGATORY upon all muslims who has excess wealth and it is even said the poor has the right of 2.5% of the wealth over the rich. basically saying that this money belong to them and we should give it to them.

Who is entitled to receive Zakat?

There are eight groups of people on whom Zakat should be spent, as mentioned in the Quran:

"The alms are only for the Fuqara' (the poor), and Al-Masakin (the needy) and those employed to collect (the funds); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined(towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and forAllah's Cause, and for the wayfarer (a traveler who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise."[Al-Quran 9:60]

Now the AL-masakin (the needy) is the Palestinians also who are subjected to hadship from the zionistsJews .A lot of Zakaat are sent to the Palestinians via Hamas who are the governing authority in Gaza are responsible to distribute the money to the needy there.Now for you to say it goes to terrorists organisation is misleading as Hamas is the government there and it is not their problem if others labelled them as terrorists.They have a job to with the money received and did it according to their needs. For you to generalized that charity money received by them is use for terrorists purposes in inaccurate and misleading.

Me

I did not mislead anyone in comparing zakat to the act of tithing in Christianity. I simply used tithing as something similar to zakat in that both are giving of a portion of our wealth. I'm sure nobody assumed I was equating the two. I think you are over reacting.

And the fact that Hamas is the governing authority in Gaza has no bearing on whether or not they engage in terrorist activities. They do and should be labeled as such, as the FBI has done in the USA. Your argument is irrelevant.

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Mohammad, critique #5

17-29 mins . You stated that the month of fasting in the month of ramadan muslims eat more than other normal months. I think you are trying to belittle the month of fasting and say 'hein' what the point of fasting when we muslims eat like a horse during the evening.

1.There is a limit a belly can take after breaking the fast and it is not true to say we feast all night. This is untrue.Yes large family join together to eat and there is lots of food on the table with a lot a people to eat and the eye can mislead you we are scoffing ourselves with food

2 .Vast majority of muslims who fast are very poor family in poor countries who will break fast with a date and water and will have their normal meal as you have during mealtime. Not all muslims are Arab rich sheikh.Your saying that we feast during the night is misleading and not proven.A lot lot of family rely on food donation from family and friends to eat at night after breaking fast.

Me

My comments were not belittling or denigrating Muslims. I simply pointed out that the act of "fasting" during Ramadan is not really a fast at all, since fasting implies abstaining from something completely for a pre-determined period of time. Fasting during Ramadan is nothing more really than a reversal of normal meal times.

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Mohammad, critique #6

23.55mins You stated that God of islam does not have give us 'free will' and he control everything and you stated that in Christianity you have free will and can choose to disobey God. This is misleading statement from you as you are not aware on the quran talking about free will. God has power over all things in regard to life and death and calamities etc etc. But according to the quran he gave mankind freewill as stated in the following 2 verses:

"Certainly you are accountable for what you do."Quran (16:93)

"We have shown man the path of truth and the path of falsehood; he may choose either the path of guidance and offer the thanks, or choose the path of ingratitude."Quran(76:3)

So you mislead your students on the topic of free will in islam.

Me

Nope, no misleading. But the Quran once again contradicts itself, because clearly the verses I mention in the lecture imply without a doubt the lack of free will, and the quotations by respected Muslim scholars themselves, whom I mention, back up that assertion.

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Mohammad, critique #7

27.30 mins:You say that Allah(God) does not give assurances that he will forgive sins. This is misleading from your part as you do not know all the content of the Quran when God says:

Allah says: "Say: O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." Quran [Sûrah al-Zumar: 53]

Me

Another example of contradictions in the Quran. 

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Mohammad, critique #8