Wednesday, 3 June 2009

How to Reply to Classical Muslim Apologists; Part III

The case of Ahmed Deedat

From Part II

Crucifixion or Crucifiction?

From the title of his book, Crucifixion or Crucifiction?, it appears that Deedat is casting doubt over whether Jesus was crucified. But surprisingly this is not the case, for in this book Deedat taught that:

Jesus was crucified on the cross.
He sufferred and became unconscious.
The Roman soldiers thought he was dead.
He was buried in a tomb.
Then his disciples came and resuscitated him.

Below are the quotes where he teaches these things and the picture he gives of what Jesus' crucifixion really looked like.

Contrary to common belief, Jesus was not nailed to the cross, but bound, if at all, like the other two (being crucified).
(ch. 7, p. 31)

When John (in the Bible) says that the soldiers "saw" (that Jesus was dead), he means that they surmised. For no modern-day stethoscope was used to verify death; nor did anyone touch his body or feel his pulse before concluding that "he was dead already
". (ch. 8, p. 36)

God works in a mysterious way. He inspires the soldiers to think that the victim is "dead
already" so as not to break his legs, but at the same time inspires another to lance him on the side with a spear, and ...

"... FORTHWITH came there out blood and water."
(HOLY BIBLE, John 19:34).

It is a Blessing of God that when the human body cannot endure further pain or agony, unconsciousness supervenes. But immobility, fatigue and the un-natural stance on the cross must have slowed down the blood-circulation. The lancing came to the rescue. By "blood-letting", the circulation could regain its rhythm.
(ch. 10, p. 39)

We must not suppose that Jesus was buried 6 feet underground. The sepulchre was a big, airy chamber and not a grave.
(ch. 11, p. 42)
 (T)he "secret" disciples of Jesus (came) to render help to the wounded man
. (ch. 11, p. 43)

The removal of the stone and the unwinding of the winding (burial) sheets was the need of a physically resuscitated body, not that of a resurrected body
! (Crucifixion or Crucifiction?, ch. 11, p. 45)

In reply to Deedat, two points need to be made. Firstly, what Deedat teaches here is against the Qur'an. Deedat teaches that Jesus was crucified, but survived, while the Qur'an teaches that Jesus was not crucified at all.
 (Y)et they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them.
(Qur'an 4:157, Arberry)

The idea that Jesus survived his crucifixion is called the "swoon theory". Swoon means to faint. This theory was promoted by 18th and 19th century rationalist Western scholars who sought to give a non-miraculous rational explanation for the life of Jesus. The swoon theory is also held by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Movement (p. 4). It seems that Deedat is more influenced by these groups than he is by the Qur'an.

Secondly, Deedat tries to re-read the gospel accounts to show that they actually teach that Jesus did not die but only fainted. But his attempt is not successful because he ignores the plain meaning of the accounts. For instance he says that the Roman soldier pierced Jesus' side with a spear and that his was actually, "'blood-letting', (so that) the circulation (of Jesus' blood) could regain its rhythm (ch. 10, p. 39)." This is medical nonsense and the accounts cannot be re-read this way. Spearing someone in the side is how you kill them not assist their recovery.

All of the gospels testify to the fact that Jesus said he would die and that he did die.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
(Matthew 16:21, NIV; also Matthew 17:23, 20:28, 21:33-39, Mark 8:31, 10:45, 12:1-8, Luke 9:22, 20:9-15, John 12:33, 18:32)

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
(Matthew 27:50, NIV)

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last
. (Mark 15:37, NIV)

Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.
(Luke 23:46, NIV)

But when they (the soldiers) came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.
(John 19:33-34, NIV)

The Sign of the Prophet Jonah

Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him (Jesus), "Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you." He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man (Jesus) will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
(Matthew 12:38-40, NIV)

Ahmed Deedat made the following comments about this teaching of Jesus.

How was Jonah in the whale's belly for three days and three nights- Dead or Alive? The Muslims, the Christians and the Jews again give a unanimous verdict of A-L-I-V-E! How was Jesus in the tomb for the same period of time- Dead or Alive? Over a thousand million Christians, of every church or Denomination give a unanimous verdict of D-E-A-D! Is that like Jonah or un-like Jonah in your language? And everyone whose mind is not confused, says that, that is very UN-LIKE Jonah. Jesus said he would be "LIKE JONAH" and his infatuated followers say that he was "UN-LIKE JONAH!". Who is lying - Jesus or his followers? I leave the answer to you!
(Ahmed Deedat, Crucifixion or Cruci-Fiction, ch. 15, pp. 68-69)

Deedat taught that when Jesus spoke of the sign of the prophet Jonah it was to indicate that he would be alive while in the tomb after his crucifixion. Deedat's comments are false for the following reasons.

Firstly, Deedat just has not listened to what Jesus actually said, for in these verses Jesus said he would die. Jesus said that he would be "in the heart of the earth", and this phrase is a common way to speak about being dead in the grave. We see this in the Psalms.

They who seek my life will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth.
(Psalms 63:9, NIV)

To go into the "heart/depths of the earth" means to be dead in the grave. Jesus is saying that he will die as a result of his crucifixion.

Secondly, again Deedat fails to read the Bible properly. Christians and Muslims agree that their holy books should be read carefully. This means that to properly understand a subject in the Bible or Qur'an a person should consider all that is said about that subject in that book. For instance, the Qur'an says that there will be rivers of wine in paradise.

This is the similitude of Paradise which the godfearing have been promised: therein are rivers of water unstaling, rivers of milk unchanging in flavour, and rivers of wine - a delight to the drinkers ...
(Qur'an 47:15, Arberry)

If we were to just read this verse alone we may conclude that the Islamic paradise is a drunken party. But if you read other verses in the Qur'an it explains that this wine does not lead to drunkenness.

In the Gardens of delight (Paradise). ... They will be served by immortal boys, With cups, and jugs, and a glass from the flowing wine, Wherefrom they will get neither any aching of the head, nor any intoxication.
(Qur'an 56:12-19, Hilali-Khan)

Thus, it is important to consider all that the Qur'an says about a subject if we wish to understand it properly. It is the same with the Bible. To properly understand what Jesus taught we should consider all that he said. The following verses are were Jesus explains more about what was to happen to him.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
(Matthew 16:21, NIV)

When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life."
(Matthew 17:22-23, NIV)

Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!"
(Matthew 20:17-19, NIV)

It is very important to consider all that the Bible and Qur'an teach on a subject if you want to understand them properly. Ahmed Deedat failed to do this. He has taken just one part of the Bible and ignored the other parts. This is very poor scholarship and as a result he does not understand what Jesus taught. Jesus clearly taught that he would die as a result of his crucifixion.

What the Bible says about Muhammad

Deedat wrote a booklet called, What the Bible Says About Muhammad. In this booklet he seeks to show that the Bible predicted the coming of Muhammad. The main verse that he considers is Deuteronomy 18:18.

I (God) will raise up for them a prophet like you (Moses) from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.
(Deuteronomy 18:18, NIV)

Deedat claims that this verse predicts the coming of Muhammad (p. 5) and not the coming of Jesus, as Christians claim. His reason is that Muhammad is like Moses while Jesus is unlike Moses. He gives the following comparison between Moses, Jesus and Muhammad to prove this.

Moses and Muhammad both had a father but Jesus did not. (p. 7)
Moses and Muhammad were conceived naturally but Jesus was not. (pp. 7-8)
Moses and Muhammad got married while but Jesus did not. (p. 8)
Moses and Muhammad were accepted by their people while Jesus was not. (pp. 8-9)
Moses and Muhammad brought earthly kingdoms but Jesus brought God's spiritual kingdom. (pp. 9-10)
Moses and Muhammad brought new laws while Jesus said he did not. (pp. 10-11)
Moses and Muhammad both had natural deaths while Jesus was according to Christians was killed violently. (p. 12)
Moses and Muhammad both were buried while Jesus was raised up to God. (p. 12)

There are three reasons why Deedat's identification of Muhammad as the prophet like Moses is false.

Reason 1: A Selective Comparison

Deedat's comparison is very selective. He is very careful to only compare Moses, Jesus and Muhammad at points which prove his case. However, if we compare them at other points Jesus is more like Moses.

Moses and Jesus were brother Jews while Muhammad was not.
Moses and Jesus did miracles while Muhammad did not.
Moses and Jesus provided sacrifices for sin while Muhammad did not. (Leviticus 16, Matthew 26:17-30)
Moses and Jesus instituted covenants through sacrifice while Muhammad did not. (Exodus 24, Matthew 26:17-30)

To compare Moses, Jesus and Muhammad at these points would make Jesus more like Moses than Muhammad. Deedat has deliberately avoided considering these facts, therefore his comparison proves nothing.

Reason 2: Deuteronomy 18:10-20

Christians and Muslims agree that it is important to read a verse in its context. Therefore we should read Deuteronomy 18:18 in context to see what else is said about the prophet like Moses.

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. ... (instead) I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. ... But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death."(
Deuteronomy 18:10-20, NIV)

When Deuteronomy 18:18 is read in context we also learn that a prophet like Moses:

Will not allow spells.
Will not speak in God's name words that God has not told him.

However, Muhammad did both of these. Muhammad accepted spells (incantations) as long as they were Islamized.

'Auf b. Malik Ashja'i reported: We practised incantation in the pre-Islamic days and we said: Allah's Messenger, what is your opinion about it? He said: Let me know your incantation and said: There is no harm in the incantation which does not smack of polytheism
. (Muslim: book 26, number 5457, Siddiqui)

Therefore Muhammad is not a prophet like Moses.

Secondly, Muhammad confessed to speaking words in God's name that God had not commanded him.

I ascribed to Allah, what He had not said.
(Ibn Sa'd, Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, vol. 1, p. 237)

I have fabricated things against God and have imputed to Him words which He has not spoken.
(Al-Tabari, The History of al-Tabari, vol. vi, p. 111) Read the full account.

Therefore Muhammad is not a prophet like Moses.

Reason 3: A prophet like Moses must agree With Moses.

The message of the prophets may vary in terms of external ceremonies and regulations. For instance, before the flood some animals were unclean (Genesis 8:20) but after the flood God declared all animals clean.

Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything
. (Genesis 9:3, NIV)

But while ceremonies may change, other aspects of the prophets' message never changes. For instance, there is only one God. A genuine prophet must agree with this truth. Regarding idolatry, this practice is always wrong and never changes throughout the prophets. When the Law of Moses forbids idolatry, this includes the use of sacred stones as part of our worship of God.

Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves
(Leviticus 26:1, NIV)

... and do not erect a sacred stone, for these the LORD your God hates.
(Deuteronomy 16:22, NIV)

However, Muhammad continued the pre-Islamic practice of honouring the sacred Black Stone and it is now an essential part of Islamic worship in Mecca.

Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Daw'ud reported that 'Umar approached the Black Stone and kissed it. Then he said: "I know that you are a mere stone that can neither harm nor do any good. If I had not seen the Prophet (pbuh) kissing you, I would have never kissed you." Al-Khatabi said: "This shows that abiding by the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) is binding, regardless of whether or not we understand its reason or the wisdom behind it." Such information devolves obligation on all those whom it reaches, even if they may not fully comprehend its significance. It is known, however, that kissing the Black Stone signifies respect for it, recognition of our obligation toward it, and using it as a means of seeking Allah's blessings. ... The underlying spirit of all this is unquestioning submission to Allah.
(As-Sayyid Sabiq, Fiqh us-Sunnah, Hajj and 'Umrah, vol. 5, p. 75)

Muhammad teaches the exact opposite of Moses regarding our worship of God and sacred stones. This is not a ceremonial difference but a fundamental difference, therefore Muhammad is not a prophet like Moses.

For more information read, evaluating Muhammad.

The Multiple Bible Versions

In chapter 3 of, Is the Bible God's Word?, Ahmed Deedat seeks to show that there are many versions of the Bible while there is only one Qur'an. He begins this section by talking about the Qur'an first.

Before we scrutinize the various versions, let us clarify our own belief regarding the Books of God. ... We already know that the Holy Qur'an is the infallible Word of God, revealed to our Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhummed Mustapha (Pbuh) word for word, through the agency of the Archangel Jibraeel, (known as Gabriel in English), and perfectly preserved and protected from human tampering for the past fourteen hundred years!
(Ahmed Deedat, Is the Bible God's Word? ch. 3, p. 7)

What Deedat says about the Qur'an is false
. Here is a very brief history of the Qur'an according to the Islamic sources.

Muhammad never collected the Qur'an into one volume.

Narrated Zaid bin Thabit: ...I suggest, you (Abu Bakr) order that the Qur'an be collected." I said to 'Umar, "How can you do something which Allah's Apostle did not do?"
... (Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 61, no. 509, Khan)

It was his companions who collected the Qur'an into one book. But they had memorised the Qur'an differently and so these collections were different versions. The following hadith shows the followers of Abdullah bin Mas'ud arguing with other Muslims as to which version was correct.

Narrated Ibrahim: The companions of 'Abdullah (bin Mas'ud) came to Abi Darda', (and before they arrived at his home), he looked for them and found them. Then he asked them,: "Who among you can recite (Qur'an) as 'Abdullah recites it?" They replied, "All of us." He asked, "Who among you knows it by heart?" They pointed at 'Alqama. Then he asked Alqama. "How did you hear 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud reciting Surat Al-Lail (The Night)?" Alqama recited: 'By the male and the female.' Abu Ad-Darda said, "I testify that I heard me Prophet reciting it likewise, but these people want me to recite it:--'And by Him Who created male and female.' But by Allah, I will not follow them
." (Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 60, no. 468, Khan)

These different versions of the Qur'an began to cause trouble among the Muslims, and so the third Caliph, Uthman, solved this problem by burning all other versions and making his version the only acceptable one.

... 'Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur'anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt. (Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 61, no. 510, Khan)

Some of Muhammad's companions did not accept Uthman's version of the Qur'an and would not surrender their versions to be burnt.

'Abdullah (b. Mas'ud) reported that he said to his companions to conceal their copies of the Qur'an ...
(Muslim: bk. 31, no. 6022, Siddiqui)

The differences between these different versions of the Qur'an was the subject of many books in Islam's early history
. Abi Ya`qub al-Nadim was a librarian who made a catalogue of these books in the year 377 A.H./987 A.D. Here is his list.

Books Composed about Discrepancies of the [Qur'anic] Manuscripts

"The Discrepancies between the Manuscripts of the People of al-Madinah, al-Kufah, and al-Basrah" according to al-Kisa'i.
Book of Khalaf, "Discrepancies of the Manuscripts".
"Discrepancies of the People of al-Kufah, al-Basrah, and Syria concerning the Manuscripts", by al-Farra.
"Discrepancies between the Manuscripts" by Abu Da'ud al-Sijistani.
Book of al-Mada'ini about the discrepancies between the manuscripts and the compiling of the Qur'an.
"Discrepancies between the Manuscripts of Syria, al-Hijaz, and al-Iraq", by Ibn `Amir al-Yahsubi.
Book of Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Rahman al-Isbahani about discrepancies of the manuscripts. (Al-Nadim, The Fihrist of al-Nadim - A Tenth Century survey of Muslim Culture, p. 79)

These Islamic scholars record the following differences between these versions of the Qur'an.

The number of surahs varied between 110 and 116.
The order of the surahs was different.
Some verses had a different number of words or a different word order or different words.

Deedat also seems to be unaware that there are slightly different Arabic versions (Qira’at) of the Qur'an used around the world today. These are all authorised yet slightly different. The four main printed versions are in the table below.

The Warsh version, Used in Algeria, Morocco, parts of Tunisia, West Africa and Sudan
Hafs version, used throughout the Muslim world
Qalun version, used in Libya, Tunisia and parts of Qatar
al-Duri version, used in parts of Sudan and West Africa

Deedat assures his reader that there is only one Qur'an and that it is perfectly preserved, but what he says is false. Islamic history records that there were many versions of the Qur'an and that one of these versions became the standard while the rest were burnt, and that even today there are slightly different Arabic versions in use. For more information on this subject read
The Standardising of the Qur'an and The Different Arabic Versions of the Qur'an.

Deedat continues this section by saying that
Muslims do accept the Torah, Psalms and Gospel but not those found in the Bible.

The Tauraat we Muslims believe in is not the "Torah" of the Jews and the Christians ... Likewise, we believe that the Zaboor (Psalms) was the revelation of God granted to Hazrat Dawood (David) (Pbuh), but that the present Psalms associated with his name are not that revelation. ... What about the Injeel (Gospel)? ... In his life-time Jesus never wrote a single word, nor did he instruct anyone to do so. What passes off as the "GOSPELS" today are the works of anonymous hands! (Ahmed Deedat, Is the Bible God's Word?, ch. 3, pp. 7-8)

Deedat is trying
to balance his rejection of the Torah, Psalms, Gospel and other prophets found in the Bible, with the Qur'an's command that Muslims are to believe in these books.

Say: "We believe in God, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them." ... .' (Qur'an 3:84, Yusuf Ali)

Deedat's solution is a common one among Islamic teachers. He says that he does believe in these books but that these books are not the ones found in the Bible. That is, when the Qur'an speaks of the Torah, Psalms and Gospel it is referring to other books than those found in the Bible. What Deedat teaches is false for the following reasons.

Firstly, the Qur'an never says this. When the Qur'an talks about the Torah, Psalms, Gospel and Prophets it is referring to books that the Christians and Jews have in their possession at the time of Muhammad (7th century A.D.).

And when there comes to them a Book from God, confirming what is with them. (Qur'an 2:89, Yusuf Ali)

Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them. (Qur'an 7:157, Pickthall)

Thus, the Qur'an is not referring to a Torah, Psalms, Gospel and Prophets that Jews and Christians used to possess in the past, but now are lost and only a corrupted version remains. Rather the Qur'an sees that the Torah given to Moses, the Psalms given to David, and the Gospel given to Jesus are the
scriptures that the Christians and Jews in their possession at the time of Muhammad. We see that Muhammad respected the Torah in this way.

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar: A group of Jews came and invited the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) to Quff. So he visited them in their school. ... They placed a cushion for the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) who sat on it and said: Bring the Torah. It was then brought. He then withdrew the cushion from beneath him and placed the Torah on it saying: I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee. (Abu Dawud: bk. 38, no. 4434, Hasan)

The Qur'an and Muhammad both accept the holy books of the Christians and Jews at the time of Muhammad, and it is these same books that are in the Bible today. The modern editions of the Bible are based on manuscripts from before, during and after the time of Muhammad. These manuscripts show that the Bible has not changed. Thankfully there are Islamic scholars who understand this.

Since the "authorized" scriptures of Jews and Christians remain very much today as they existed at the time of the Prophet, it is difficult to argue that the Qur'anic references to Tawrat and Injil were only to the "pure" Tawrat and Injil as existed at the time of Moses and Jesus, respectively. If the texts have remained more or less as they were in the seventh century CE, the reverence the Qur'an has shown them at the time should be retained even today. ... The wholesale dismissive attitude held by many Muslims in the modern period towards the scriptures of Judaism and Christianity do not seem have the support of either the Qur'an or the major figures of tafsir. (Abdullah Saeed, "The Charge of Distortion of Jewish and Christian Scriptures", Muslim World, Fall 2002, vol. 92, issue 3/4, p. 419)

The Bible contains the books of the prophets. If you say that you believe the prophets then show that you do by reading them.

Continues on Part IV



1 comment:

  1. Great exposition here and attention to detail!! I love listening to Deedat because he is persuasive but his "proofs" are laughable even without looking up the references you have here. But, these are needed because they confirm what is known.

    Thanks for all the hard work. I hope you get more views and comments here.