”An interesting discussion with Ali Sina”
Wahid: Dear Ali Sina, I have read your response. But I am disappointed to see you have left my question unanswered.
1. What I broached was typically a question relevant to discussion or debate on any subject (although in the present context, the subject happened to be Islam). The point is this: When a person uses certain literature to base his argument, he should not have any misgivings about the veracity of the information on which he bases his argument. (Please note that I am questioning the basis of your argument and not the argument per se. Only if an argument is based on valid information, can we have fruitful debate). Quoting examples from your web pages, I have clearly established that you are quite unsure of the authenticity of the hadiths which you use to tarnish the image of Prophet Muhammad and Islam. Accordingly, I put three questions to you raising the issue of the validity of your arguments against Prophet and Islam based on hadith literature whose authenticity is doubtful to yourself. But in your response you avoided those questions; instead you concentrated on other issues. The question I raised remained unanswered.
Dear Prof. Wahid, I did answer your three questions. I repeat them again.
Wahid: Q 1) What are your specific reasons for suspicion about the authenticity of the “sahih ahadith” literature?
Sina: A. If a hadith attributes miracles to Muhammad, I reject that hadith. Muhammad in the Qur’an confessed he is unable to perform miracles.
Wahid: Q 2) What makes you think that a hadith selected by you applying your commonsense had originated from Prophet Muhammad and the one rejected by you had not originated from Prophet Muhammad?
Sina: A. The answer is the same as above. If a hadith attributes miracles to Muhammad that hadith is false. If it attributes cruelty and evilness to Muhammad, it must be true. The logic is clear. It is not characteristic for believers to portray their beloved prophet as a villain. If they do and to such an overwhelming extent, it follows that those stories must be true and should be considered as confessions.
B. Wahid: Q 3) Do you agree that if your criticisms about Islam and Prophet Muhammad are to be valid, the ahadith on which you base your allegation should have originated from Prophet Muhammad? If yes, have you ever confirmed the authenticity of the hadith? If not, don’t you think all your criticisms based on ahadith are meaningless? What kind of rationale it is to criticize Islam and its prophet with spurious information and call the religion nonsense?
Sina: A. I do not have to confirm the authenticity of the hadiths because I have no reason to doubt their authenticity. These hadiths were rigorously screened more than a thousand years ago and were accepted as the only authentic biography of Muhammad. If we reject them the very existence of Muhammad can become dubious. It is up to you to convince us why these stories are to be rejected and what happened to the “real” biography of Muhammad? Why thousands of Muslims who were ready to kill their own parents and brothers for Muhammad lied to malign him and how could all their lies match? Generally liars contradict each other. The stories of the atrocities of Muhammad are consistent. They only vary in detail, which is normal because memories fail. But the stories are parallel and sometimes identical. There is no logical reason to assume such hadiths are false. The fact that they embarrass you is not reason to doubt their authenticity.
Wahid: 2. You have raised several hadith-related questions in your response as if they will provide answer to the question I had asked. The issues which you raised are oft-repeated and routine ones. But since you have asked those questions, let me give you my views. You wrote:
Sina: If the verse 33:21 says Muhammad is a good model it means Muslims are supposed to follow his example. How can they do that if they don’t know how he lived? The details of Muhammad’s life are reported in the hadith and not in the Qur’an. While those who lived during the time that Muhammad was alive could learn from his examples, those who were born later had no other choice but to learn the stories narrated about him by his companions. Therefore, to follow verse 33.21 one has to know the hadith.
Furthermore, there are many practices of Islam that are essential but they are not in the Qur’an. All the details of prayers, fasting, hajj, which are pillar of Islam are in the hadith. You cannot practice Islam if you disregard the hadith.
I had already given in my previous rebuttal that according to the Qur’an, Prophet Muhammad conveyed to the people only what was revealed to him by God (i.e., the Qur’an), he had followed only those revelations (i.e., the Qur’an), and he had not made any change (including deletion or addition) to what was revealed to him. Allah has protected all those revelations (i.e., the Qur’an) in its pristine form as promised by Him.
46:2 The revelation of this Book is from Allah, the Mighty, the Wise.
15:9 We have indeed sent down this Reminder (i.e., the Qur’an) and We will certainly guard it.
That being the truth, we have no reason to doubt that Prophet Muhammad had said or done anything more, less or different from the Qur’an. The Qur’an is what he preached and what he practised in his life. In other words, the Qur’an is the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad. Ali Sina says one has to look into the historical accounts (hadiths) to know how he lived. Okay, fine. I am not against hadiths but my point is that only those hadiths which are consistent with the Qur’an are to be deemed authentic because Prophet lived in accordance with the Qur’an. But the selection of ‘authentic’ hadiths was based on other criteria which I had discussed in my previous rebuttal.
Sina: I already explained that the argument of consistency is not a tenable argument. That is because there is NO consistency even within the Qur’an. I also said that the Qur’an is what Muhammad said and the hadiths are what his companions reported about him. Suppose I claim to be a prophet and preach good things to fool others, but I live a despicable life. Would you judge me only by my words or also you’d take into account my deed? The deeds of Muhammad are reported by his followers. We cannot ignore them.
As a believer you may feel ashamed of what your prophet did, which you should, but you have the choice to reject him. Instead you prefer to hide your head under the sand and wish that all those crimes attributed to him were lies. This is not honest. Why would the close companions of Muhammad who loved him more than their parents libel him? Will you answer this question? You already claimed that these people deliberately lied to malign their prophet and to provide excuses for his critics, but you did not tell us why they would do such thing. This makes no sense. They loved Muhammad Just as you do. You are doing all mental gymnastics to deny those charges. Why would these Muslims whom according to Muhammad were the salaf and the best of believers malign him?
For the sake of argument, let us only accept the hadiths that do not contradict the Qur’an. There is still plenty of hadiths left to show this man you worship was a thug.
Wahid: The question Ali Sina raised is whether the information on prayers and rites given in the Qur’an is sufficient enough to put them into practice. Why not? The prayers mentioned in the Qur’an are: Daily obligatory prayers (swalat), charity (zakat), fasting (soum), pilgrimage (hajj and umrah), remembrance of Allah, praising Allah, etc. Of these, people generally ask, “how will you perform obligatory prayer with the Qur’anic information alone?” This question is often asked because the prayer involves physical actions such as bowing down, prostration, etc. Let me explain the mode of prayer with the Qur’anic information.
Method of performing the obligatory prayer
The verses 2:239 and 4:101-103 give information on how to perform the Prayer. Besides, these verses also tell us the special instructions given to Prophet Muhammad in respect of Praying during wartimes:
2:239 If you fear (an enemy), then (Pray) walking or riding (on animal). When you are secure, then remember Allah (i.e., do the Prayer) in the manner He taught you, which you were ignorant of (before).
The Qur’anic verse 2:239 reveals that Allah had taught Prophet Muhammad the method of Praying. This is certainly needed because Prayer involves physical actions like bowing down (rukooh) and prostration (sujood) which are to be demonstrated for clarity. It was that method (taught by Allah), Prophet Muhammad had followed and which he asked his people to follow.
[Note: A hadith in Sahih Bukhari recounts the visit of Gabriel to teach Prophet Muhammad how to Pray. The hadith is acceptable.
“Narrated Abi Mas’ud Al-Ansari: Once in
Allah had also permitted Prophet Muhammad to shorten the Prayer while on journey if problems from enemies were expected: “When you are on journey on the earth, there is no blame on you if you shorten your Prayer fearing that the unbelievers may create problems to you. Verily, the unbelievers are manifest enemy to you.” (Q. 4:101). When you (i.e., Prophet Muhammad) are with them and stand to lead them in Prayer, let a section of them stand up (in Prayer) with you taking their arms with them. Then after they did prostration, let them take position in the rear and let the other section which has not yet Prayed come and Pray with you taking all precaution and carrying their arms. The unbelievers wish you were careless about your arms and your baggage so that they can assault you in a single ambush. But there is no blame on you if you keep your arms down because of the inconvenience caused by rain or you have fallen ill. But take (every) precaution for yourselves. Verily, Allah has kept for the unbelievers a humiliating punishment (Q. 4:102). When you finish the Prayer, remember Allah standing, sitting or lying down on your sides. But when peace comes (and you are secure), do the Prayer in the regular manner. Verily, the Prayer is enjoined on believers at fixed times (Q. 4:103).
Verse 4:102 tells us that during journey if any problem from enemy was expected, the Prayer was performed by Prophet Muhammad and his companions in a shortened way in accordance with Allah’s directive. One group after doing the prostration (sujood), i.e., first rakat, went to the rear for guard and the other people (who were till then keeping guard) were asked to join the Prayer with Prophet to do the remaining part of the Prayer. In effect, each group Prayed one rakat and Prophet Muhammad did two rakats. In verse 4:103, Allah directs to do the Prayer in the regular way at other times. These verses indicate that the number of rakats in the regular Prayer is two; which can be shortened to one in the circumstances mentioned above (Q. 4:101).
[Note: A hadith in Sahih Bukhari informs us of the number of rakats thus. “Narrated Aisha: When Allah enjoined the prayer, He enjoined two rakats only (in every prayer) both while in residence or on journey. Afterwards, (the rakats of) prayers offered on journey remained the same, while (the rakats of) prayers in residence were increased.” (Sahihul Bukhari, Hadith Part-1(Malayalam, 2007). Chapter 8, No. 222, p. 80. Islamic Publishing House, Kozhikode,
Allah made the Sacred Mosque (Masjid-al-haram) in Makkah where Ka’ba is situated as the Prayer direction (qibla) for Muslims. Earlier the Prayers were done in the direction of Masjid-al-aqsa (or Baitul muqaddas) in
Allah asks us to seek help from Him with patience and Prayer (Q. 2:153).
2:153 O believers! Seek help (from Allah) with patience and Prayer. Certainly Allah is with the patient ones.
This verse suggests that one can Pray to Allah any number of times a day. Nevertheless, Allah has stipulated obligatory Prayers also for the believers at fixed times.
11:114 And establish the Prayer at the two ends of the day and in the early hours of the night. Indeed good annuls evil. This is a reminder to the mindful.
The verse tells us that the obligatory Prayers are at three fixed times namely, at the two ends of the day and the early hours of the night. These times correspond to morning Prayer (at dawn), evening Prayer close to the sunset, and Prayer after it is dark.
[Note: A hadith also informs us of the three timings for the obligatory Prayer. “Narrated Ibn Mas’ud: A man kissed a woman and then went to the Prophet and informed him. Then Allah revealed: Offer prayers perfectly at the two ends of the day and in the early hours of the night. Verily, good deeds remove the evil deeds. The man asked: “O Prophet of Allah! Is it for me?” Prophet said, “It is for all my followers.” (Sahihul Bukhari, Hadith Part-1(Malayalam, 2007). Chapter 13, No. 311, p. 114. Islamic Publishing House, Kozhikode,
Morning Prayer (salatil fajr) and night Prayer (salatil isha) were mentioned by name in the verse 24:58 and the middle Prayer (salatil wusta) was mentioned in verse 2:238. The middle Prayer (salatil wusta) is also given considerable importance in Islam.
Thus it can be seen that Allah taught Prophet Muhammad (through Gabriel) the method of performing the Prayer. It is that method Prophet Muhammad and his companions followed and which was transmitted down through subsequent generations. Even in the absence of entire hadith literature, the method of Prayer (standing, bowing down and prostration) would certainly have percolated down from one generation to the other. The method is not what Prophet Muhammad designed and formulated. Allah has done that and taught through demonstration by Gabriel. Those who follow the Qur’an do the obligatory prayer three times a day (at the two ends of the day and when the darkness hardens after the sunset). Each prayer will have two rakats. We have to do ablution just before the prayer and perform the prayer in the direction of the Ka’ba. This is what Allah has asked us to do. So it is very clear.
I have also cited three hadiths which are consistent with the Qur’an. So they are acceptable. These hadiths also show that Prophet did the prayer in accordance with the directives given in the Qur’an and in the way he was taught by Gabriel as per the order of Allah. So Prophet’s Sunnah is the Qur’an itself.
Thus it can be shown that anybody can do the prayer as per the Qur’anic details. This is true for any other rites mentioned in the Qur’an. We are ordered to follow only what is given in the Qur’an and nothing else.
6:153 And this is My (i.e., Allah’s) path, the straight one; therefore follow it. And do not follow (other) paths because they will split you from His (i.e., Allah’s) path. Thus He (Allah) instructs you with it (i.e., the Qur’an) that you may become careful.
The problem comes when you want to do some prayer that is not mentioned in the Qur’an or not in accordance with the Qur’an. Had Ali Sina realized that a believer is asked by Allah to follow only what is given in the Qur’an, he would not have raised this doubt because the necessary details of all the rites and prayers mentioned in the Qur’an are given in the Qur’an itself.
Sina: So the Qur’an mentions the qiblah and the time of the salat. It also allows Muslims to shorten their prayers when raiding and looting the unbelievers. That we can understand. After all looting is more important. However, in nowhere in the Qur’an there are instructions as to HOW to perform the salat, do the ablution or WHAT to SAY during the prayers. These instructions are in the hadith.
You say that there is no need to consult the hadith to learn about the rituals of Islam because they have percolated down from one generation to another. What is this “percolation?” Isn’t it oral hadith? Hadiths are stories about Muhammad that passed from one generation to another until they were collected and written down about two hundred years later. You say they are not reliable. But you have no problem relying on the oral traditions that have passed from one generation to another for 1400 years. We know that stories get corrupted as they pass from one narrator to another, not necessarily intentionally, but because memories fail and comprehensions vary. Therefore, a story is more likely to get corrupted passing through 50 generations than through five generations. You don’t seem to have a problem accepting oral traditions passing through 50 or 60 generations, but you reject the same traditions that passed through five or six generations until they were collected in a book. Is this intellectually honest?
The fact is that not only one cannot know how to perform prayers, fast or do hajj without relying on oral traditions one cannot even know anything about Muhammad without consulting the hadiths. As I said in my previous response, the Sira (biography of Muhammad), the Sunnah (the examples of Muahammad’s life that Muslims are to follow) and a great part of the sharia (Islamic laws) are based on hadith.
How would one perform ablution without the hadith? You say there is no need for hadith because sons can learn it from their fathers. Wouldn’t this give rise to different practices and more divisions among Muslims? The Shiites have invented their own hadiths and consequently they perform their salat differently. Had it not been for the hadith each mullah would have made up his own way of praying.
I see that after all you are not against all the hadith. You quoted a few of them to back up your statements. So your claim that hadiths were compiled by people who wanted to malign the prophet and provide fodder for his enemies are not really true.
Both of us agree that some of the hadiths are false and some of them are sahih. Our criteria however are different. I use logic as my criteria and you use shame. I say it is not logical for believers to forge tales about their prophet portraying him as a villain. You say since Muhammad was a holy man and the stories attributed to him portray him differently then the stories must be forgeries. This is not a logical conclusion, because: a) believers will never malign their prophet. On the contrary they will do their best to hide his shortcomings, as Ibn Hisham did with the Sira of Ibn Ishaq and as you are doing now, and b) your belief that Muhammad was a holy man is a fallacy of Question Begging.
Apart from his own words in the Qur’an claiming: “And surely thou [oh Muhammad] hast sublime morals” (Q.68:4), “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow” (Q.33:21), “We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures.” (Q.21:107), “Verily this is the word of a most honorable Messenger,” (Q.81.19), do we have any evidence that this man was actually a good person? The stories reported of him by his own followers, many of which confirmed also in the Qur’an depict a different picture of Muhammad. If these stories were written by the enemies of Islam you would have had a reason to doubt their authenticity, but since the numerous stories of his crimes were recorded by those who loved him, we have no reason to doubt their authenticity.
Let us say you wish to deny the authenticity of the story of the massacre of the Bani Quraiza. Apart from the fact that you should first tell us how this story made its way into the Islamic annals we also find confirmation of that massacre in the Qur’an.
Qur’an-33:26- “And He brought those of the People of the Book [Jewish people of Banu Qurayza] who supported them from their fortresses and cast terror into their hearts, some of them you slew (beheaded) and some you took prisoners (captive)”
Qur’an-33:27- “And He made you heirs of their lands, their houses, and their goods, and of a land which ye had not frequented (before). And Allah has power over all things.” [Merciful Allah asked Prophet Muhammad to confiscate entire properties of surrendered Jews]
Qur’an-8:67—“ It is not fitting for an Apostle that he should have prisoners of war until He thoroughly subdued the land….” (Allah insisting Prophet to kill all the prisoners, and should not keep any surrendered prisoners alive until He (Prophet) occupied entire
Qur’an-8:17— It is not ye who Slew them; it is God; when thou threwest a handful of dust, it was not Thy act, but God’s…..” (Allah said, the killing of surrendered soldiers were done by the wish of Allah)
Which part of this story you want to deny? Many of Muhammad’s crimes that embarrass you are also referenced in the Qur’an,
Wahid: You wrote:
3. Sina: Really? So all those Muslims who reported the hadiths and all those great imams who dedicated their entire lives collecting them were enemies of Islam trying to malign Muhammad?
What was the motivation of these crooks dear Prof. Wahid? Why the good Muslims who loved Muhammad did not protest and why no one wrote down the “true” history of Muhammad? Why for 1400 years Muslims read all those lies and no one saw anything wrong in them until recently when the westerners started raising their eyebrows?
…. Will you then explain why all the Muslims were lying about their prophet to make him look like a beast? If you deny the hadiths, it is because you are delusional.
I am not the right person to answer these questions (motivations, reasons, etc.). If you really want to know, you may ask the people concerned why they accept hadiths which are not consistent with the Qur’an. I have given my reasons convincingly why I believe only in those hadiths which are consistent with the Qur’an.
Sina: You accuse early Muslims of lying and when I ask you to tell us why you think they were lying you do not have an answer, instead you want those dead people come and tell us why they lied. Dear Prof. Wahid, is there any logical fallacy you want to leave untouched?
Those who accept the hadith are doing the logical thing. They know Islam without hadith cannot exist. They see no reason to doubt the sincerity of those who reported and recorded them. It is you who have to tell us why we must discard them. Your reasons do not convince any rational person. Even you cannot disregard the hadiths completely and were forced to quote a few of them in your argument to back up your claim. Until you tell us what was the ulterior motive of the early believers to lie about their prophet and malign him those hadiths remain valid. If you don’t like them then you better question the validity of your faith rather than the validity of the hadiths. You follow a thug dear Prof. Wahid and your denial of all the evidences against him are merely wishful thinking.
You are ashamed of what Muhammad did, and you should be. But you should be equally ashamed for trying to deny the truth about him.
It is up to you to prove the hadiths are false. You cannot throw that ball in my court. You are engaging in a logical fallacy known as Burden of Proof.
Burden of Proof is a fallacy in which the burden of proof is placed on the wrong side. Another version occurs when a lack of evidence for side A is taken to be evidence for side B in cases in which the burden of proof actually rests on side B. A common name for this is an Appeal to Ignorance. This sort of reasoning typically has the following form
1. Claim X is presented by side A and the burden of proof actually rests on side B.
2. Side B claims that X is false because there is no proof for X.
In many situations, one side has the burden of proof resting on it. This side is obligated to provide evidence for its position. The claim of the other side, the one that does not bear the burden of proof, is assumed to be true unless proven otherwise.
The question is which side has the burden of proof. The answer is the side that makes an assertion contrary to the common belief! Everyone believes that Aristotle was a Greek. If someone claims otherwise, it is this person that has to prove why everyone is wrong. All Muslims believe that the Sahih hadiths are authentic. There has been no dispute about this claim for the last thousand years. So it is up to those who deny the authenticity of such hadiths to prove their claim.
I reject the authenticity of the hadiths that attribute miracles to Muhammad. So it is up to me to prove my claim and as done in my article: http://www.faithfreedom.org/Articles/sina/miracles_of_Mo.htm
But I do not believe that the hadiths that describe Muhammad’s thugries are false. I stated my reason.
Now you also want to deny the authenticity of some hadiths, particularly those that portray Muhammad as a criminal. It is up to you to prove your claim. Tell us why devout Muslims would want to make their prophet look like a criminal. The burden of proof is on you. My reasoning in rejecting the miraculous hadiths makes sense. Where is your reasoning? You have not given any. You simply pass the burden of proof.
Wahid: You wrote:
4. The majority of hadiths are consistent with the Qur’an.
Wrong statement. Please give me a list if you have. You do not have to survey the entire hadith literature to know this. One may take the first 1000 hadiths in Sahih Bukhari as a random sample and separate the consistent from the inconsistent (i.e., either different from the Qur’an or not mentioned in the Qur’an) ones. That will tell the true story.
Sina: No Sir, you are wrong. Most hadiths are in conformity with the Qur’an. I already mentioned two of them – the story of the massacre of the Bani Quraiza and the story of cutting down the tender trees of the Bani Nadir are also reported in the Qur’an. The stories about Muhammad’s vagaries, his lust for Zeinab, his daughter in law, is escapade with Mariyah the maid of his wife Hafsa, his fight with his wives over his cheatings, are all reported in the Qur’an. The Sura 9 also confirms that it was Muhammad who broke his treaties and not the other way round, as Muslims keep repeating mindlessly. The ridiculous story about Muhammad’s ascension to the seventh heaven in one night, riding on a pony, is also confirmed in the Qur’an. Can this story be possibly true? Does heaven have seven layers? Now we have a better understanding of the universe around us. Can you please explain how this story can make sense in the light of modern science?
The verse 66: 4 of the Qur’an says: “If ye two turn in repentance to Him, your hearts are indeed so inclined; But if ye back up each other against him, truly Allah is his Protector, and Gabriel, and (every) righteous one among those who believe,- and furthermore, the angels - will back (him) up.” Can you explain this verse? You certainly can’t. One can understand this verse only after reading this hadith.Volume 3, Book 43, Number 648.
Even at the time of Muhammad Muslims did not understand it. That is why someone asked Omar about it and he explained this verse. His explanation is registered in Bukhari
In several hadiths Muhammad says that the Earth is flat and that the sun, after setting, will go under the throne of Allah, bows, and asks permission to rise the next day. Well as stupid as this hadith sounds it is confirmed in the Qur’an. Verse 78:6 says “Have We not made the earth an expanse?” and the verse 20.53 says “He Who has, made for you the earth like a carpet spread out”. 2:22 says the earth is a bed for you, and the heaven a roof. This is obviously wrong. Neither the earth is like a bed, nor is the sky is like a roof. But all these verses are consistent with the Ptolemaic view of the universe that Arabs had at the time of Muhammad. Isn’t it clear that these verses cannot be from the maker of the universe?
18:86 tells the story of Zulqarnain, [possibly Alexander] who conquered most of the ancient known world to have witnessed the rising of the sun from muddy waters in the East and then after going to the other end of the world he witnessed the setting of the sun also in muddy waters. This confirms once again the ignorance of Muhammad about how the universe is made.
41:12 says “And We adorned the lower heaven with lights.” This is a clear allusion to stars. Is this true?
There are a lot of stupidities in the hadith but many of them are confirmed in the Qur’an.
We do not need to depend on hadith to show Islam is a lie. We can easily show hundreds of gross errors in the Qur’an to make our case.
Continues on Part Four