Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Answering a Muslim Apologist
Catholic Answers ^ | August 29, 2014 | Robert Spencer

Posted on 08/29/2014 1:14:22 PM PDT by NYer

Catholic apologists keep very busy clearing up common misconceptions about the Faith: explaining how the Church’s teaching, practice, and history are misunderstood—or willfully misrepresented—by its opponents.

Islam, too, has its apologists. They also claim that many critiques of the Muslim religion are based on ignorance or animus, and insist that the record must be set straight.

One such apologist is Princeton University Muslim chaplain Sohaib Sultan, whose recent piece in Time, “ISIS Is Ignoring Islam’s Teachings on Yazidis and Christians,” would seem to be something that every Catholic, and indeed every free person, should welcome. Sultan condemns the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) and other Islamic jihadists, and asserts that their violent actions have nothing to do with true Islam. Is he correct? Are those who connect Islam with violence as grossly mistaken as those who claim that Catholics are cannibals for eating Jesus’ body, or that we worship Mary as a goddess?

Unfortunately, too often the assertions of Muslim apologists do not inspire confidence that they’re actually engaged in an effort to dispel falsehoods with truth. Sultan’s piece is a textbook example of the difference between defending one’s faith and whitewashing it; between engaging the evidence against one’s position and blithely waving it aside or even denying it exists.

"Until Religion Is All for Allah"

For example, he claims that “when the Quran allows (and, sometimes, even encourages) Muslims to engage in just fighting and resistance, it is in order to deter those who wage wars without just cause and those who engage in religious persecution.” Here and throughout his article, however, his use of Quranic passages is selective and out of context. He doesn’t mention, for example, the exhortation to Muslims to fight not just until “persecution is no more,” but also until “religion is all for Allah” (8:39). He mentions only in passing, without quotation, the Quran’s call to Muslims to fight against the “People of the Book” (primarily Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians) until they “pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued” (9:29)— i.e., until they submit to Muslim hegemony.

Claiming that true Islam does not support the demolition of churches and synagogues, Sultan quotes the Quran inveighing against the destruction of houses of worship: “For, if God had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques — in which God’s name is abundantly extolled would surely have been destroyed” (22:39–22:40). This would seem to be a blanket prohibition against the destruction of churches; proof that jihadists who commit that act do so in defiance of their religion.

Unfortunately, though, this is not all that the Quran says. The Quran many times reaffirms that its message is the same as that of the Torah and the Gospels, and calls on Jews and Christians to note that and accept it as divine revelation. Allah tells Muhammad: “And We have revealed to you the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it” (5:48), after affirming that in the Gospel was “guidance and light, confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous” (5:46). Those who do not accept the new revelation are castigated and threatened with punishment: “Indeed, they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the worst of creatures” (98:6).

So while “God’s name is abundantly extolled” in the churches and synagogues of those who acknowledge Muhammad and the Quran, the same cannot be said of the churches and synagogues of “they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture.” This is how the Islamic State, in destroying churches and other houses of worship in Iraq and Syria, can justify its actions on solid Islamic grounds. But Sultan does not address this— thereby rendering his piece powerless to refute the actions of the Islamic State, however comforting his arguments may sound to uninformed non-Muslims.

The omissions continue. Sultan quotes the Quran saying about various religious groups that “God will decide between them on Resurrection Day” (22:17), arguing that since God will judge all in the next world, the Islamic State should not act as the executor of divine wrath in this world. Yet the Quran also says: “And as for those who disbelieved, I will punish them with a severe punishment in this world and the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers” (3:56). If the unbelievers are to be punished in this world as well as in the next, how is the Islamic State departing from Quranic orthodoxy by bringing them that punishment?

No Compulsion in Religion?

Sultan also claims that “ISIS insistence that Christians either ‘convert, leave, or die’ defies the Quranic command: ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion’ (2:256).” Islamic spokesmen in the West frequently quote this to disprove the contention that Islam spread by the sword, or even to claim that Islam is a religion of peace. But Sultan does not mention—even to refute it—the quite different understanding that many Muslim authorities have of this verse. According to an early Muslim scholar, Mujahid ibn Jabr, this verse was abrogated by Quran 9:29, which commands Muslims to fight the People of the Book. Others, however, according to the Islamic historian Tabari, say that 2:256 was never abrogated, but was revealed precisely in reference to the People of the Book. They are not to be forced to accept Islam, but may practice their religions as long as they pay the jizya (poll-tax) and “feel themselves subdued” (9:29).

Those who offer 2:256 to claim there is no Islamic imperative to wage jihad against unbelievers omit or fail to recognize that the aim of jihad is not the forced conversion of non-Muslims. For non-Muslims brought to heel by jihad, the choice (as laid out by Muhammad himself) is conversion, death, or subjugation (dhimmitude). The twentieth-century Muslim Brotherhood theorist and Islamic scholar Sayyid Qutb accordingly denies that 2:256 contradicts the imperative to fight until “religion is for Allah” (8:39; 2:193). “Islam has not used force to impose its beliefs,” he says. Rather, jihad’s “main objective has been the establishment of a stable society in which all citizens, including followers of other religious creeds, may live in peace and security”—peace and security meaning, for Qutb, subordinate status for non-believers in an “Islamic social order.”

In this light, the Quranic idea that there is “no compulsion in religion” fits together without any trouble with the exhortation to fight until “religion is for Allah.” Muslims must fight until “religion is for Allah,” but they don’t force anyone to accept Allah’s religion. They enforce subservience upon those who refuse to convert, such that many of them subsequently convert to Islam to escape the humiliating and discriminatory regulations of dhimmitude. Only at the end of the world will Jesus, the Prophet of Islam, return and Islamize the world, abolishing Christianity and thus the need for the jizya. Then religion will be “for Allah,” and there will be no further need for jihad.

And indeed, Sultan acknowledges that the Islamic State demanded jizya payments from the Christians in Mosul, in accord with 9:29, but he waves this away with the assertion that this verse’s “application is vague and it can very well be argued that such an imposition was only intended to manage troublesome and treacherous religious minorities.” Yet the Quran’s command to subjugate the People of the Book and make them pay this tax is nowhere restricted to those People of the Book who are “troublesome and treacherous”; it is, in fact, not restricted at all. Nor was its application vague in the great caliphates of history. Islamic authorities frequently emphasized, long before the advent of the Islamic State, that the purpose of the jizya was to signify and enforce the subjugation of non-Muslims, but of such examples Sultan makes no mention.

A Dubious Document

Instead, he invokes an ancient document, purportedly from Muhammad, granting generous treatment to the Christians under Muslim rule. Known as the Achtiname, it was supposed to have been written by Muhammad around 628 to the monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai. Unfortunately, it is of even more doubtful authenticity than everything else about Muhammad’s life. Instead it bears all the earmarks of being an early medieval Christian forgery, perhaps developed by the monks themselves in order to protect the monastery from the depredations of zealous Muslims, who completed their conquest of Christian Egypt in 642. Modern scholars doubt its authenticity, and the prevailing opinion among Muslims is likewise dubious.

Citing the Achitiname against the Quran to prove that to follow Islam actually means to tolerate other faiths, then, is like citing the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” to prove that real Christians must believe Jesus was married.

Honest Catholic apologists strive to dispel clouds of myth and falsehood with the light of fact and reason. Muslim apologists like Sohaib Sultan, when they try to whitewash their religion’s role in present-day atrocities, do the opposite: they pile on myths and half-truths to obscure or distract from Islam’s plain prescriptions.

• • • •

Much confusion on matters like this would be dispelled if non-Muslims understood how Muslims view religious authority. In a future post, I will explain how Muslims view Quranic verses and prooftexts, where the closest thing to a Muslim magisterium can be found, and how to best to weigh arguments when someone quotes the Quran to say “X” but a Muslim apologist or a journalist quotes it to say “Y.”

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Islam
KEYWORDS: isis; islam

1 posted on 08/29/2014 1:14:22 PM PDT by NYer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; Ronaldus Magnus; tiki; ...
“There is also the superstition of the Ishmaelites which to this day prevails and keeps people in error, being a forerunner of the Antichrist…. From that time to the present a false prophet named Mohammed has appeared in their midst. This man, after having chanced upon the Old and New Testaments and likewise, it seems, having conversed with an Arian monk, devised his own heresy. Then, having insinuated himself into the good graces of the people by a show of seeming piety, he gave out that a certain book had been sent down to him from heaven. He had set down some ridiculous compositions in this book of his and he gave it to them as an object of veneration.”
St. John Damascene (d. 749), Syrian Arab Catholic monk and scholar. Quoted from his book On Heresies under the section On the Heresy of the Ishmaelites (in The Fathers of the Church. Vol. 37.


2 posted on 08/29/2014 1:14:49 PM PDT by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer; All
taqiyya ???? (alternative spellings taqiyeh, taqiya, taqiyah, tuqyah) is a form of religious dissimulation,[1] or a legal dispensation whereby a
believing individual can deny his faith or commit otherwise illegal or blasphemous acts while they are at risk of significant persecution.

3 posted on 08/29/2014 1:17:48 PM PDT by skinkinthegrass (The end move in politics in always to pick up a "Bathhouse" 0'Mullah? d8^)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer

Can you say “TAQIYYA”? I knew you could!

4 posted on 08/29/2014 1:26:34 PM PDT by JimRed (Excise the cancer before it kills us; feed & water the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS NOW & FOREVER!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer


5 posted on 08/29/2014 1:34:20 PM PDT by Sergio (An object at rest cannot be stopped! - The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: skinkinthegrass

It is OK for Muslims to lie to “infidels”. Bottom line.

6 posted on 08/29/2014 1:34:25 PM PDT by elcid1970 ("In the modern world, Muslims are living fossils.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: NYer

If Mohammed was a prophet, what was his prophecy?


7 posted on 08/29/2014 1:47:07 PM PDT by struggle
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: struggle


Muhammad’s prophecies:

Muhammad’s false prophecies:

8 posted on 08/29/2014 2:45:18 PM PDT by vladimir998
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: NYer

Great Chapter from Hillaire Belloc’s The Great Heresies

9 posted on 08/29/2014 3:32:13 PM PDT by Steelfish (ui)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: NYer

 photo Islamic-Jihad--2013-10-07--D_zps90702dea.jpg

10 posted on 08/29/2014 4:09:38 PM PDT by Patton@Bastogne (.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: NYer

Mohamand’s motto was: “Kill, kill, kill”.

11 posted on 08/30/2014 2:37:54 AM PDT by PIF (They came for me and mine ... now it is your turn ...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: vladimir998

Muhammed was the type of false prophets Jesus warned about.

12 posted on 08/30/2014 3:22:06 AM PDT by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: NYer


13 posted on 08/30/2014 6:32:57 AM PDT by defconw (Both parties have clearly lost their minds!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer

Whoa! I had not seen that quote about Mo’. Thanks for posting.

14 posted on 08/30/2014 12:35:50 PM PDT by bboop (does not suffer fools gladly)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: NYer

for later

15 posted on 08/30/2014 4:03:11 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Fides et Ratio.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Biggirl; vladimir998
May St. John the Baptist protect Islam... Pope St. John Paul II
16 posted on 08/31/2014 6:27:57 PM PDT by ebb tide
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

Comment #17 Removed by Moderator

To: ebb tide

Doesn’t effect me or you.

18 posted on 08/31/2014 6:36:22 PM PDT by vladimir998
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: vladimir998

Why? Do you think God rejected St John Paul II’s request? If so, why did Francis declare the man a saint?

19 posted on 08/31/2014 6:52:32 PM PDT by ebb tide
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: vladimir998
Doesn’t effect me or you.

Maybe not yet; but it's already affected James Foley.

20 posted on 08/31/2014 7:07:41 PM PDT by ebb tide
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: ebb tide


Why what?

“Do you think God rejected St John Paul II’s request?”

It doesn’t matter in either case. God does whatever He wants.

“If so, why did Francis declare the man a saint?”

Francis did what he did because he - and those assigned to John Paul’s case - judged John Paul II to have shown sufficient proof of sanctity.

21 posted on 08/31/2014 7:13:41 PM PDT by vladimir998
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: ebb tide

“Maybe not yet; but it’s already affected James Foley.”

Not even remotely. Islamic terrorists existed before John Paul II became Pope. What they did to Foley had absolutely nothing to do with any decision ever made by John Paul II.

22 posted on 08/31/2014 7:15:03 PM PDT by vladimir998
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: ebb tide

James foley put himself in harms way, in a foreign country. I feel bad for his family, but he is no different than any other x-pat that gets themselves murdered overseas .

I know that is not a popular view, but he did not work for our government.

23 posted on 08/31/2014 7:19:45 PM PDT by Vermont Lt (Ebola: Death is a lagging indicator.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: vladimir998
Asking St. John the Baptist to protect Islam is proof of sanctity?

You've got to be kidding! A devil's advocate would have had a field day with that one speech. But wait; wasn't it JPII himself who abolished the role of devil's advocate in his new and improved "saint factory"?

24 posted on 08/31/2014 7:23:00 PM PDT by ebb tide
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Vermont Lt

I’m not disagreeing with any one of your points. I’m merely stating, John Paul II did not do one thing to warn Christians of the evil Muslim cult; he actually worshipped with them within their mosques.

Nor did John Paul II ever encourage his muslim “brothers” that conversion to the Catholic religion was essential for their salvation.

25 posted on 08/31/2014 7:27:41 PM PDT by ebb tide
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: vladimir998
Islamic terrorists existed before John Paul II became Pope.

And Jews existed before Jesus Christ became incarnate. What's you're point?

26 posted on 08/31/2014 7:32:12 PM PDT by ebb tide
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: ebb tide

“Asking St. John the Baptist to protect Islam is proof of sanctity?”

Did I claim it was? If I didn’t claim it was, but you are suggesting with that leading question that I did, is that a fair or intellectually honest tactic on your part?

“You’ve got to be kidding! A devil’s advocate would have had a field day with that one speech.”

Well, apparently not.

“But wait; wasn’t it JPII himself who abolished the role of devil’s advocate in his new and improved “saint factory”?”

John Paul II revised the canonization process and that included reducing the role of the Devil’s Advocate. Remember, for about half of all Church history there was no centralized canonization process and no Devil’s Advocate. Both are innovations.

27 posted on 08/31/2014 9:57:04 PM PDT by vladimir998
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: ebb tide

“And Jews existed before Jesus Christ became incarnate. What’s you’re point?”

My point was clear. If you have difficulty understanding it, the problem lies with you.

28 posted on 08/31/2014 10:00:35 PM PDT by vladimir998
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson