On September 29, 2010, ABC aired a one hour documentary called Islam: Questions and Answers. The goal of the program was to clear up misconceptions of Islam held in the minds of the American public. ABC seems to have struck a nerve with their program. Many pro-Islamic people and groups have written ABC to protest the view given to Muslims as not nuanced enough, or too broad-brushed, or not diverse enough by focusing on Arab and Asian Muslims in America while ignoring Black Muslims, supposedly the largest group of Muslims in the U.S. (as if the Black Muslim voice of the U.S. is representative of the majority of Muslims worldwide).
I myself have difficulties with the way Islam was portrayed, but for altogether different reasons. I have posted these videos along with commentary on the Facebook page for Radical Truth. The videos and commentary are here reproduced to reach a broader audience.
Links to the entire documentary, in 5 parts, can be found at the end of this article.
Muhammad & Qur'an
There are a few things left unsaid in this short clip.
- Although Khadijah did assure Muhammad his revelation was from God, his first reaction was confusion: he did not know if he was divinely inspired or demonically possessed. Ibn Ishaq, the earliest biographer of Muhammad, quotes him thus: "Woe is me, poet or possessed. Never shall the Quraysh say this of me! I will go to the top of the mountain and throw myself down that I may kill myself and gain rest."  Muhammad was so full of fear from the thought of being possessed by an evil spirit that he threatened suicide. ABC conveniently omits this fact.
- This clip suggests the Qur'an is no different from the Bible - same stories, etc. The truth: Similar (not same) stories, but with a twist not in the Bible. Examples: Adam and Eve kicked out of garden, but the garden is in heaven, not earth. They were sent to earth as punishment. Another: Satan is kicked out of heaven for refusing to bow down to Adam as commanded by Allah. The same stories: NO; similar distorted stories: YES. In fact, the many stories found in the Qur'an come from different religious traditions that were prevalent in 7th century Arabia and borrowed from those traditions. See the booklet by Rev. W. St.Clair Tisdall: Original Sources of the Qur'an.
Jesus is the Messiah?
Dianne Sawyer in this segment just doesn't get it. She has the 'deer in the headlights' look when the Mr. Hendi admits that Muslims believe Jesus is the Messiah and that he will return to establish the kingdom of justice and peace. What Sawyer does not understand is that Islam uses different terms for Messiah, and teaches that the events of Jesus' return at the end of the age is far different from what she understands.
- Yes, Muslims believe Jesus is the Messiah; at least that is what is claimed. He is called such in the Qur'an: Isa al-Masih (Jesus the Messiah). But in the Judeo-Christian heritage which is the foundation of the United States, the term 'Messiah' denotes, to Jews, the one who will establish the Kingdom of Israel on earth, and to Christians, the promised one from the Old Testament who would come as "God with Us."
- But in the Islamic worldview, the Messiah is the one who will come at the end of time to establish once and for all the Islamic caliphate (Muslim rule worldwide), who will kill every Jew and Christian, break all crosses, destroy churches and synagogues, and make all the world worship Allah alone and recognize Muhammad as God's prophet. Jesus later will have a family, and eventually die and be buried next to Muhammad.
- So when the Mr. Hendi says Jesus will return to establish justice and peace, what he means is far different from what Diane Sawyer is thinking. He is talking right past her, and she nods in agreement, not understanding at all what he is intending to say. This is miscommunication at its finest.
The statement is made that Muhammad was tolerant of all other religions, and that Islam today is tolerant also. This defies historical reality and is patently false.
- A well established fact of history is that prior to his death in 632, Muhammad systematically eliminated every Jew from Arabia, either through exile, expulsion, or genocide. In a well known battle in 627, Muhammad personally supervised the slaughter of the Banu Qurayza in Medina as 600-800 Jewish men were beheaded and their bodies thrown into a large trench. The women and children were taken as slaves. From the captive women, Muhammad selected a new sex slave - Rayhana - and had relations with her later the same day in which he had killed her husband. Muhammad wanted to marry Rayhana, but she would have nothing of it and preferred to remain his sex slave.
- Muhammad went to Medina after fleeing persecution in Mecca. In Median he attempted to promote himself to the Jews there as another prophet along the line of other prophets. When the Jews rejected his as a prophet, Muhammad changed the direction of prayer from Jerusalem to Mecca. So much for tolerance.
- One only need look around the world today to see that Islam does not tolerate other religious systems. In Egypt, Christians are killed, tortured, girls are raped, churches burned, no new churches can be built, church in need of repairs cannot obtain the necessary permits. In Pakistan, Indonesia, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, and other predominate Islamic societies, people of beliefs other than Islam are regularly killed or tortured, including heretical Islamic sects such Ahmadiyya. Why does ABC or Diane Sawyer fail to ask probing questions about these activities and challenge the speaker?
This short 24 seconds of video has a number of glaring errors in it.
- Muslims did not invent algebra. Even liberal Wikipedia admits the Greeks had a published book on algebra in the 3rd century, 400 years before Islam.
- Muslims did not invent the concept of contagious disease. Louis Pasteur in the 19th century was known for his breakthrough discovery of contagious disease and their prevention. He was almost killed for his theory, so how can it be breakthrough if Muslims knew about it 1200 years earlier. Again Wikipedia comes to our rescue.
- Thomas Jefferson wanted to learn more about Muslims (Mohammadeans as they were called) to confront the ongoing hijacking of US ships by Muslim pirates. This is why Jefferson had his own copy of the Qur'an, so he could understand his enemy better. 20/20 conveniently forgot to mention this fact.
Islam & Christianity Both Violent?
- This clip is a fine example of a Red Herring: a logical fallacy whereby information is introduced which distracts the audience from the issue in question through the introduction of some irrelevancy. The question being asked in the clip is, "Is Islam inherently violent?" The response: Violence can be found in the Bible! While violent passages can indeed be found in the Bible, this in no way answers the question of whether Islam itself is violent; a Red Herring. The question of violence in the Bible or Christianity is irrelevant to the question of whether Islam is violent.
- No Jew or Christian today takes someone to the city gates and stones them to death, and then claims that the Bible allows them to do this. But many Muslims today do use the violent verses of the Qur'an as justification for their actions.
- For a general overview on the subject of jihad, see this author's research paper, downloadable here. For a listing of the violent verses of the Qur'an, see this article.
Does the Qur'an Command Muslims to Fight?
- Yes, Muhammad did preach peace in Mecca and later became more violent and aggressive in Medina. This is because when in Mecca, he preached a new religion that the polytheistic society there did not approve of. Meccans worshipped 360 various gods, and when Muhammad began calling all their gods false, he came under persecution. He had few followers, no political clout, and so his instruction to his followers were to be patient, get along as best as possible, and restraint. But when he moved to Medina, he quickly amassed a large following and had significant political clout as a leader. Here Muhammad's words grow more violent. Bottom line: When Muhammad and Muslims were the underdogs, they preached peace; when they were the majority in power, they became violent. Here is an analysis done by Rev. Richard Bailey.
- Abrogation. When contradictory verses in the Qur'an are encountered, as demonstrated in this clip, the prevailing thought among Islamic scholars is to apply the concept of abrogation. Two verses from the Qur'an support this notion.
Sura 2:106 - Whatever verse we abrogate or cause to be forgotten, we bring a better verse than it or like it. Do you not know that Allah has might over all things?
Sura 16:101 - And if we exchange one verse in place of another verse, and Allah knows what He sent down, they said, "Surely, you are only a forger."
Key to understanding this concept is knowing a bit of the history behind Muhammad's revelations. He was not given the Qur'an all at once, but rather his revelations were spread over a period of 23 years, from 610 to 632. During the early years in Mecca, Muhammad was given certain verses regarding his relations with the pagan Meccans. During his later years in Medina, he was given other verses that seem in direct conflict with earlier verses, in which Muhammad is commanded to kill anyone who does not worship Allah as God and acknowledge him as God's prophet, including the Meccans for which he had received earlier verses advising peaceful relations and tolerance. According to abrogation, the newest verses, if they are on conflict with prior, older verses, over-ride or abrogate the older verses. Thus, all peaceful verses from Mecca were cancelled by later revelations commanding violence against unbelievers.
An excellent paper on abrogation, published in 1926, can be found and downloaded here.
- Irshad Manji says Muhammad preached violence as found in the Qur'an because he found himself in warfare among his own people. What she failed to mention is that Muhammad himself was responsible for initiating those wars or skirmishes by inviting others to accept him as God's prophet and worship his God, and violently attacking them if they resisted his invitation or message.
Grapes, not Virgins? Terrorists Misled?
- Not virgins but raisins? This lady is no Muslim scholar. The origin of this idea of virgins=raisins (or more correctly, grapes) comes from a book written by Christoph Luxenberg (a pseudonym) called The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran (http://www.amazon.com/Syro-Aramaic-Reading-Koran-Contribution-Decoding/dp/3899300882) which was banned in many Muslim countries because it is considered blasphemous.
Many words in the Qur'an are obscure and difficult to understand even by the most educated Islamic scholars. Luxenberg applied a novel idea to understanding these words. He went back to the Syriac roots of Arabic to help decode some of these words. The word for 'virgin' is 'houri' in Arabic, but 'houri' is not of Arabic origins. When Luxenberg applied his theory, he discovered the real meaning of the word might be 'grape' instead of 'virgin.' In context, the world grape fits in with the description of Paradise in Suras 55 and 56 as a lush garden filled with all kinds of fruit, rivers of wine, and so forth.
- Tawfik Hamid seems to suggest that radicals get their information from non-Islamic sources, and quotes a radical book that says the blood money for a non-Muslim is half that of a Muslim. He suggests this quote is not legitimate and un-Islamic.
In fact, the quote is legitimate and can be traced back to an authoritative legal manual of Shari'a law, called Umdat al-Salik (Reliance of the Traveller in English). Speaking of the blood money penalty for killing another, this legal manual, recognized as legitimate by the majority of Muslims, says, "The indemnity for the death or injury of a woman is one-half the indemnity paid for a man" and "the indemnity paid for a Jew or Christian is one-third that paid for a Muslim."
Tawfik suggests radicals cannot trace their writings back to authoritative sources, but he is simply wrong.
- Since Luxenberg lives in fear of his life for his analysis of the word 'houri' might be a raisin or grape, for ABC to suggest that this is the mainstream understanding of the word, instead of 'virgin,' is misleading at best and likely outright deception. Jihadists today don't kill themselves over the prospect of eating a bunch of grapes or raisins in paradise; they're excited about the prospect of 72 virgins.
No Taqiyya Today?
The two female talking heads in this clip, and used throughout the entire video, simply do not know what they are talking about. They say taqiyya does not exist; they are either ignorant, or are themselves engaging in taqiyya.
The verse generally quoted in support of taqiyya is Sura 3:28, which says, ""Let not the believers take the disbelievers as Awliyaa' (supporters, helpers) instead of the believers, and whoever does that, will never be helped by Allaah in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them" According to the standard understanding of the last phrase, Muslims can befriend a non-Muslim, at least in appearance, when needed, to advance Islam or out of fear. This is taqiyya - saying or doing one thing for expediency sake, and as a temporary measure, until the truth can be made known safely.
Lest you think this is the opinion of this author, here is what the website Islam Q&A has to say on the matter:
This verse explains all the verses quoted above which forbid taking the kaafirs as friends in general terms. What that refers to is in cases where one has a choice, but in cases of fear and taqiyyad it is permissible to make friends with them, as much as is essential to protect oneself against their evil. That is subject to the condition that one's faith should not be affected by that friendship and the one who is behaves in that manner out of necessity is not one who behaves in that manner out of choice.
Shaykh Muhammad al-Saalih al-'Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about the ruling on mixing with the kuffaar and treating them kindly hoping that they will become Muslim. He replied:
Undoubtedly the Muslim is obliged to hate the enemies of Allaah and to disavow them, because this is the way of the Messengers and their followers...
Based on this, it is not permissible for a Muslim to feel any love in his heart towards the enemies of Allah who are in fact his enemies too...
But if a Muslim treats them with kindness and gentleness in the hope that they will become Muslim and will believe, there is nothing wrong with that, because it comes under the heading of opening their hearts to Islam. But if he despairs of them becoming Muslim, then he should treat them accordingly. This is something that is discussed in detail by the scholars, especially in the book Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah by Ibn al-Qayyim.
One of the best examples of taqiyya today is that Islam is a religion of peace. It is not a religion of peace; it is a religion of submission to the commands of Allah. When a Muslim says "Islam promotes peace," they mean the world will have true peace when the world comes under submission to Allah and Islam reigns supreme. For examples of the 'peaceful' activities of Islam, see the website The Religion of Peace.
For a discussion of taqiyya by former Muslims, and supporting citations from the Qur'an and hadith, see the article here. An insightful analysis of taqiyya by Raymond Ibrahim of the Middle East Forum can be found here.
Men and Women Equal?
Men and women are equal according to Quran? Well, let's see.
Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them. Qur'an 4:34 (Shakir)
- Your wives are a tilth for you,