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  • Jesus and Muhammad and the Question of the State
    • The entire issue of stoning to death is absurd and I don't know how the Muslim countries that practice it can justify it when it contradicts the Quran. Utterly disgusting.

      Anyhow, the Quran (where it touches on history) takes precedence over hadith, but hadith have their place as they add detail and explanation. Much of what is written in the Quran is written in parables and metaphors (it says so itself on multiple occasions) whereas the hadith are generally more literal accounts of history and so useful in that way.

    • Far from being offended by your post, Juan, as a practicing and proud British Muslim I found it very interesting. I think your site regularly serves an important function in introducing a balanced perspective on Islam that perhaps western readers will find more trustworthy than a Muslim writing on the same subject (as you are less biased) and more informative than the ignorant Islamophobic stereotypes some part of the western media present.

      Anyhow, regarding the Quran I think one thing overlooked by many western scholars is the eastern tradition of learning things off by heart. During the lifetime of Muhammad s.a.w hundreds of his followers (as well as Muhammad himself) had learnt the entire Quran off by heart and this tradition has continued in every era of Islamic history. My cousin learnt the Quran off by heart and most Muslim children learn shorter chapters off by heart (I'm not particularly studious but managed a dozen or so myself). My point is the evidence that the Quran we have today is the same as the Quran of Muhammad's time is strong. I do not believe that the hundreds of Muslims who had learnt it off by heart would have allowed it to become corrupted when it was written in collections in the years after his death. There are different readings of the vowels etc. but thats more to do with the richness of the Arabic language than a corruption of the text.

      Regarding the ahadith, it should be noted that Imam Malik was born around 70 years after the prophet's death in the prophet's city of Medina. He lived at the same time as others who had met and lived with the prophet's companions and he began collecting his edition of the hadith during this period.

      Further, the collectors of the hadith were far better historians than those who wrote the New Testament, in my opinion. For example, to this day it is disputed as to who wrote which book of the New Testament and even with the gospels we know the names of the authors but nothing else about them. However, with the hadith we not only know who collected them but with each individual hadith we know who they heard the hadith from and trace the chain of narrators right back to Muhammad s.a.w. This gives us huge advantages. When one narrator is known to have been a consistent liar we can reject all of his narrations. Further, where there is a faulty chain (ie. someone heard it from someone they couldn't possibly have met due to geographical difference or age difference) then we can reject the hadith. In comparison in the Bible we have verses like this:

      Furthermore, Jesus himself, when he commenced [his work], was about thirty years old, being the son, as the opinion was, of Joseph, [son] of He′li, (Bible, Luke 3:23)

      Luke openly admits that what he is saying rather than being fact was someone's 'opinion' but doesn't tell us whose opinion this was (and this genealogy he presents is contradicted by one of the other gospels). The gospels leave us in no position to judge which is the more accurate account, but the careful record of the chain of narrators by Muslim historians does. In my opinion, if you discount the ahadith you might as well discount the entire New Testament altogether.

      Finally, there is another huge advantage to the hadith over the New Testament. Very simply, Muslims have never argued all of the hadith are factually correct. Even those who collected the hadith deliberately kept hadith that contradicted one another in their collections, sometimes on the same page! They viewed themselves as the historians who collected but left it to others to judge which was the correct narration. On the other hand, as I understand it (and I admit I have no great knowledge of Christianity, so correct me if I'm wrong) through history many Christians have viewed the New Testament as 'gospel truth' despite its blatant contradictions.

      As Muslims, we know and accept many of the hadith are fabrications and others are honest mistakes due to a game of 'Chinese whispers' played out over decades - or sometimes even 200 years. Moreover, there was mixing with other religions and also political motivations which led to some very dodgy accounts. And you are also right, the belief in stoning to death despite its outright contradiction of the Quran is an absurd position. That hadith should be rejected. However, that doesn't mean the hadith are without value or that there aren't a great many - perhaps the majority - which are accurate historical records. They are like any other element of history. You have to read through a lot of contradicting accounts and use your logic and the weight of evidence to conclude which are the more reliable.

  • Top Ten Ways Islamic Law forbids Terrorism
    • There is one passage of the Quran I would like to add to those Juan has already presented that I hope will make Islam's teaching on when war is justified clearer:

      "Permission to take up arms is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged and Allah, indeed, has power to help them - those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly, only because they said: 'Our Lord is Allah' and if Allah had not repelled some people by means of others, cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft remembered, would surely have been destroyed." (Quran 22:39-40)

      Permission to take up arms is only given to those 'against whom war is made' meaning in self defense only. Moreover, Muslims are told they must protect churches and synagogues before they even protect their own mosques. This was a true teaching of religious freedom and interfaith harmony which was taught by Quran and the only conditions under which war could be made. It may well be true that these teachings have been forgotten by a small minority of extremist Muslims, but that does not mean Islam is to blame in the same way Jesus/Christianity were not to blame for the crusades in medieval times.

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