Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Qur’an only? Part Two

”An interesting discussion with Ali Sina”

From Part One           

Wahid: a) Non-inclusion of the criterion of consistency led to the selection of many reports that were at variance with the Qur’an but yet were labelled as authentic by the compilers.

Sina: There is inconsistency even within the Qur’an. Are you prepared to reject the Qur’an?

Wahid: b) It is highly likely that many true reports had also been rejected for the same reason.

Sina: If some true reports have been discarded, it’s because they were damaging to Islam. Ibn Hisham who edited the Ibn Ishaq’s Sira, and made a recension of it, and then destroying the original book, justified his action saying, many of the stories reported by Ibn Ishaq were embarrassing Muslims.

Wahid: c) Had they included the criterion of consistency with the Qur’an, the proportion of spurious ahadith in the collection would have gone up still further and the ‘authentic’ ahadith would have become still less.

Sina: There are plenty of hadiths that are in conformity with the Qur’an. They are enough to see Muhammad was a truly evil man. In fact we can see Muhammad was an evil man only through the Qur’an.

Wahid: d) If the criterion of consistency alone was used, the whole exercise would have generated only authentic ahadith (that are fully consistent with the Qur’an). The compilers would also have found that all the selected reports were mere reflections of the verses of the Qur’an.

Sina: As I stated before the ahadith are consistent with the Qur’an. From both books we can learn that Muhammad was a ruthless tyrant, intolerant and violent. The Qur’an does not portray Muhammad and his bogus deity in a different light than the hadith.

Wahid: In this context the following questions arise.

1) What purpose would be served by including criteria about the trustworthiness of the reporters if the report is in conformity with the Qur’anic messages?

Sina: This is an absurd question. So you think the mohadetheen had to accept the tales of any liar if that suited their bias?

There are many claims made in the Qur’an that Allah is companionate and forgiving. However, there is not a single act of compassion and forgiveness in the life of Muhammad and even his Allah who is portrayed as a fearsome sadist torturer. Would it have been okay if someone fabricated a few stories about Muhammad’s forgiveness and ought the mohadetheen have accepted those tales even if the person reporting them was a proven liar?

Wahid: 2) Knowing fully well that Prophet Muhammad would never say or act against the Qur’anic directions, Islamic scholars who collected and compiled the ahdith did not include the criterion of “consistency with Qur’an” in the authentication procedure, why?

Sina: Apart from the fact that this question is loaded and as I said above hadiths, in most cases are in full conformity with the Qur’an there are also many instances that Muhammad said one thing in the Qur’an and then did something else. Funny thing is that he sometimes made Allah approve his crimes, like when he burned the trees of the Banu Nadir and wrote the verse 59:5 saying Whether ye cut down (O ye Muslim!) The tender palm-trees, or ye left them standing on their roots, it was by leave of Allah, and in order that He might cover with shame the rebellious transgresses.

If you start accepting the fact that the Qur’an is not the word of God but those of Muhammad, things will make a lot more sense to you and the mystery that is boggling Muslim scholars will be solved.

Wahid: 3) What is the necessity of considering any criterion other than the “consistency of the report with the Qur’an” for identification of the authentic ones?

Sina: We are repeating ourselves.

Wahid: The whole exercise of documenting the so-called ahadith smacks of ulterior motive of maligning Islam and Allah’s messenger. Non-inclusion of the criterion of “consistency of the report with the Qur’an” in the authentication methodology can only be seen as a deliberate act in order to facilitate the entry of spurious reports into the document tarnishing the image of Prophet Muhammad and Islam. To conceal the evil motive behind the collection of spurious reports, the compilers had cleverly incorporated harmless and reasonable-looking reports also into the hadith literature. Irrespective of the harmful or harmless nature, the authenticity of the reports should have been based solely on the consistency of the report with the Qur’an. Certainly the effort of the enemies to malign Islam and Prophet Muhammad through the introduction of hadith literature has paid off as evidenced from the sheer impact of ahadith on Muslim community. The worst thing ever to happen to Islam was that ahadith split the community.

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?

Muslims have been waging war, killing people and dying for their faith following the examples of the early Muslims whom Muhammad said are the salaf and the best of the believers and now you tell us that they had an ulterior motive to malign Islam? What was their ulterior motive?

Funny thing is that when the westerners convert to Islam it does not take long before they too accept the hadith. So it does not take a genius to see that once Islam becomes a world religion and Muslim do not have to pretend anything to fool others, the denial of hadiths will end and people like you will not have to strive fooling others.

Wahid: At the time of compilation of ahadith, Muslim community was a single community because all the Muslims followed the one source of guidance – the Qur’an. At the time of compiling the so-called ahadith, the imams and scholars did a crucial mistake advertently or inadvertently by not giving a comprehensive account of the Islamic traditions in vogue at that time. Those were the traditions percolated down from the time of Prophet Muhammad. In fact those traditions constituted the true Islam, which made the Muslim community of that time a coherent Qur’an-following group. With the advent of ahadith, contradictions arose and cracks started developing in the Muslim community. Today there are several groups and denominations in the Muslim world. The sole cause is hadith literature!

Sina: Cracks started developing in the Muslim community right after the death of Muhammad as his close companions started to fight over power. Perhaps you should recall the battle of Camel between Muhammad’s favorite wife Aisha and his cousin and son in law Ali. Also remember the massacre of the unarmed kahwarij by Ali. These killings had little to do with hadith. They were over power.

The struggle for power between the descendants of Ali, Abbas and Abu Sufyan started right after the death of the 4th caliph, while the hadith were compiled two to three hundred years after Hijra.

Wahid: Ahadith also provided the much needed weapon to the critics of Islam. They use ahadith to depict Islam as the worst form ideology or religion. None counters them because nearly all Muslims in the world not only accept ahadith but treat them above the Qur’an. What more the enemies of Islam can aspire for from their cleverly introduced ahadith literature into the Muslim community. A rough estimate would indicate that more than 80% of what a Muslim does in his life in the name of Islam are not in the light of the Qur’an but in the light of ahadith. It never occurs to him that by accepting many of the spurious ahadith he is depicting Muhammad as a prophet who had not only defied Allah but fabricated messages against His will.

Sina: Criticism of Islam is a new phenomenon. It did not exist before because anyone who dared to criticize Islam was killed before they could criticize it.

So you are saying that all those good Muslims wrote all those damning books and lied about their beloved prophet to provide fodder for the critics of Islam? How nice of them. But what was their motivation?

Wahid: Questions to Ali Sina based on the above discussion

The sheer scale of reduction from over ten lakhs of the collected reports to the range of 4000-6000 as the “authentic ones” speaks for itself about the bogus nature of the collected matter. None with a scientific mindset will accept any of these reports. Anyone who reads Sahih Bukhari or Muslim will soon recognize the worthlessness and unreliability of a major portion of the reports in spite of the fact that the entire document is treated “sahih”. A clear proof of uncertainty over the validity of ahadith is Ali Sina’s evaluation of hadith based on his rationale before he accepts a hadith. Ali Sina knows very well (although he does not mention it) that his method of assessment is purely subjective and is not objective as it is based on his commonsense. In other words, a hadith he accepts as true based on his rationale from the sahih hadith literature need not be accepted by another person and vice versa. Nevertheless, recognition of the need for rational assessment of a hadith prior to its acceptance by him implies that he is not at all certain of the veracity of the hadith. At the same time Ali Sina is either ignorant or he totally forgets that the evaluation of a hadith from the so-called sahih literature and making selection from it is equally meaningless because both the hadith he accepts and the hadith he rejects are the products of the same authentication procedure adopted by the compilers. It is so naïve of him to claim that the hadith that suits his rationality originated from Prophet Muhammad and the hadith not convincing to him originated from elsewhere.

Sina: I already answered this point. The 1,000,000 hadith is an exaggeration. It is impossible for a man to compile this many hadith in his lifetime. It would take one person 1000 years to compile 1,000,000 hadiths. At the rate of 1,000 hadiths per year, he has to work really fast. The real number of hadiths Bukhari collected could not have been more than 10,000 and that is a lot of hadith for one man to collect in his lifetime.

Also my criterion about accepting and rejecting a hadith is quite logical. I accept hadiths that are logical and repeated, even if they are damning to Muhammad, because I see no reason that devout believers who loved their prophet would incriminate him with libel. In fact in most these hadiths we see also the narrator’s justification of Muhammad’s crimes. This shows that they were aware that what he did was evil.

I also reject hadiths that attribute miracles to Muhammad. That is because in several places in the Qur’an Muhammad denied to have the power to perform miracles. He said that other prophets were given the power of miracles while his miracle is the Qur’an.

I also accept the hadiths that are neither recriminatory nor miraculous, such as how to perform ablution, prayers, cure stomachache (drink camel urine), the stories of the mi’raj, etc. There are also many passages in the Qur’an that are quite incomprehensible on their own until one reads the reason for their “revelation,” and that reason is found in the hadith. Without tafseer one cannot understand the Qur’an properly and tafseer is based on hadith. The entire history of Islam is based on hadith. The sunnah of Muhammad is also based on hadith. Without hadith there can be no Islam.

Wahid: It will be only in the fitness of things that Ali Sina re-examine his criticisms of Prophet Muhammad and Islam based on ahadith in the light of the above facts. He talks of rationality and commonsense in his judgement of a subject. See his following statement ( absurdities-of-hadith-and-muslims-denial/).

“So when I talk about commonsense. I am not talking about the commonsense of a religious fanatic, but about the commonsense that is supported by “real” science and approved by “real” scientists. I put the word real between quotation marks because all religions have made their own version of pseudo-science and have their own brand of pseudo-scientists and pseudo-philosophers. What charlatans like Maurice Bucaille and Keith Moore have said about the Qur’an is not science. It is sheer nonsense made up to fill their bank accounts.”

If he sticks to rationality as he claims, he should prove hadith literature is authentic. Ali Sina uses hadith as a double-edged weapon against Prophet Muhammad and Islam. To say the least, it comes in handy to every one who wants to criticize Islam. Depending on his rationale, Ali Sina accepts or rejects hadith to his advantage with the sole intention of criticizing Prophet Muhammad and Islam. This is not the kind of rationality and commonsense he claimed in his statement. In science, we look at the adequacy of methodology followed in the study. The validity of the conclusions drawn from a study depends on the appropriateness of the method used in respect of the objectives of the study. If the method is not commensurate with the objective of the study, the conclusions drawn from the study cannot be accepted. Therefore if his criticism is to be valid he should prove that the hadith literature he uses is genuine or else he should stop using ahadith for that purpose. That is the ethics in science.

Sina: It is not up to me to prove the hasiths are authentic. They are believed to be true by most Muslims and for 1400 years there was not argument about their authenticity. It is up to you to prove that all of them are not authentic.

My criterion in accepting or rejecting a hadith is based on logic. If a hadith makes outlandish claims that hadith is most likely false. For example if a hadith says Muhammad put his hands in a bucket of water and water gushed out of his fingers to such an extent that an entire army drank from it and their thirst was quenched, I reject that hadith as bogus. Muhammad could not perform miracles. The poor man was afflicted by all sorts of ailments and all he did was cupping, a ancient Chinese method of healing that is now proven to be ineffective, to alleviate his pains. But there is a hadith that says Muhammad was invited by an Arab who served him two shoulders of a goat. Muhammad ate them and asked for more. His host responded, “I served you two shoulders already. How many shoulders a goat has?” Muhammad responded, “If you had not said this, you could have given me as many shoulders as I asked for.” This hadith may be true. The difference is that in the first hadith the claim is made that Muhammad did perform a miracle. That cannot be true because the Qur’an affirms that he didn’t. The second hadith Muhammad wants to make believe that he is capable of performing miracles, but no miracle is performed. So it is not unlikely that Muhammad lied about his alleged powers to impress his host. My criterion in accepting or rejecting a hadith is logical thinking.

On the other hand you decide to reject hadiths because they reveal your beloved prophet was a criminal. This is subjective reasoning. You want to get rid of the evidence.

A few years ago I had a long debate with Edip Yuksel, the head of submitters and a Qur’an-only Muslim. He argued that since hadiths make Muhammad look like a criminal and that is not possible because he was the best example then we have no other option but to accept that the hadiths are false. Talk about Circular Reasoning and Begging the Question fallacies. You are engaging in the same fallacies.

Wahid:  The imams and scholars who produced the sahih hadith literature assumed that the sayings and traditions of Prophet Muhammad can form additional source of religious guidance in Islam. This assumption as well as the criteria they used for judging the authenticity of hadith reports would not have seemed incorrect to the people 1200 years ago, but to modern minds, they are too inadequate and inefficient to generate authentic reports of Prophet’s sayings and traditions.

Sina: Actually this additional source of religious guidance in Islam is necessary. Unlike the Bible, the Qur’an cannot be understood without a compendium. The Bible is the word of man, inspired by God. These men narrated a story that is complete. They provided the context as well as the teachings. The Qur’an is the direct message of God with no contextual story. No part of the Qur’an can be understood without tafseer. Let us look at the verse 9:5.

“So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives…”

Can you tell us which are these four months? The verse 9:36 explains,

“Indeed, the number of months with Allaah is twelve (lunar) months in the register of Allah (from) the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred.”

But see it does not tell us, which are these four sacred months. When is the time to slay the unbelievers? This information is in the hadith.

“A year has twelve months, four of which are sacred, three consecutive, Thul-Qi’dah, Thul-Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab, which comes between Jumaadaa and Sha’baan.” [Al-Bukhaari]

This is one of countless examples. The Qur’an without the hadith is incomplete and incomprehensible.

Wahid: Although Ali Sina speaks of scientific judgement and the like, why did he not examine the veracity of the ahadith literature scientifically and confirm whether they originated from Prophet Muhammad. This exercise is binding on him because he is spitting fire on a legendary figure and the fastest growing religion in the world. But he doesn’t appear to be bothered about these aspects as evidenced from his statement on the webpage cited:

“I am not interested and none of us is qualified to determine the methodology that was used for accepting or rejecting a Hadith based on Fann-i-Riwaayat. These are old stories. All those who reported them are dead more than a thousand years ago and we have no way to verify their trustworthiness.”

If he is not certain that the hadith he uses had originated from Prophet Muhammad, he is cheating the entire people who visit his website. Why should he do that? He also tries to justify the use of ahadith by quoting another author:

“At this moment the only method left to determine the sihhat (soundness) of a hadith is Fann-i-Daraaya and its compatibility with the Qur’an. The Islamic scholar Asif Iftikhar writes “Therefore, a hadith can be regarded as a source of religious guidance only `if the basis of that hadith exists in the Qur’an or the Sunnah or the established principles of human nature and intellect. Moreover, it should not be contradictory to any of these bases” (from The Authenticity of Hadith).”

This is not what one calls scientific approach. He cannot escape from the question of confirming the validity of hadith by citing the comments of other authors and forgetting the issue. He should realize that the remarks of the author cited by him are not consistent with the Qur’an as the Qur’an does not even hint at another source of guidance in Islam or to follow anything other than the Qur’an (see the verses 33:2; 6:51 given above).

Sina: So you want me to prove that the hadith originated from Muhammad. Let me throw the ball back into your court and ask you to first prove that the Qur’an is the word of God or even prove that it is collected as it was “revealed” to Muhammad without any changes. The collection of the Qur’an took place in a very similar way that the collection of hadiths took place.

I see no reason to doubt the veracity of many hadiths that were reported by the devout followers in many different forms and through several chains of narrations. There are over a dozen of hadiths that say Aisha reported she was 6 years old when she was given in marriage to Muhammad, that she was playing on a swing when her mother fetched her, washed her face and took her to Muhammad, that nothing “surprised her” more than when Muhammad “came to her on the same forenoon,” that she used to play with dolls with other littler girls who used to hide when Muhammad came to the room, that Muhammad also played dolls with them. Why should we believe that all these hadiths reported by different chains of narrators are false? The only reason you wish these hadiths were false is because they show your beloved prophet was a pedophile and this is something you have difficulty accepting. Well, I think you should swallow the bitter pill of truth.

I use the same methodology used by other Muslim scholars, i.e. the Fann-i-Daraayat, to determine the authenticity of a hadith. This is the right logical approach. On the other hand your approach that all hadiths must be discarded because Bukhari said he collected a million hadiths but only kept 4,000 of them is absurd.

Will you tell me why Muslims would forge stories about massacres of Muhammad, his killings of the prisoners of war, his raids without warning on people who had gone out tending to their herds and were unarmed, his rapes of the women captured in wars, his torture, etc, etc? It makes no sense that so many believers lie to make their own prophet look like a villain. If these hadiths are false, what happened to the real stories about Muhammad? Why no Muslims reported those good stories? Why Christians and the followers of other faiths did not libel their prophet?

When I first said this to my mother, she said these stories were collected by the Jews to give the Prophet a bad name. Yep, it must have been the ghosts of the Jews that Muhammad massacred. For heaven’s sake, how delusional Muslims want to be? Instead of trying to fool ourselves we better adhere to Occam’s Raiser and accept the fact that Muhammad was indeed as evil as the hadiths say he was. This is consistent with the Qur’an too.

Wahid: Ali Sina, your website is full of dirty comments and derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad and Islam. You have certainly made many people believe what you post on your website are correct as can be inferred from the readers’ comments. They have absolutely no idea about the genuineness of the sayings and traditions you quote from hadith literature. What you do at your website is an extremely unfair thing.

Sina: People don’t listen to what I say. They use their own intelligence and come to their own conclusion. I am not asking anyone to believe blindly in anything I say. I invite anyone to refute what I say, and unlike Muslims, I do not practice censorship. Our forums are open to anyone to prove me wrong and set the records straight.

Wahid: Based on the foregoing discussion, the following questions are put to you expecting rational and scientific response.

1) Subjecting the hadith to rational assessment before selection by you is a clear admission of uncertainty over the authenticity of the hadith. What are your specific reasons for suspicion about the authenticity of the “sahih ahadith” literature?

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, when you know the entire collection of “sahih ahadith” authored by a particular scholar is the product resulted from the same authentication procedure?

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?

P.A. Wahid

Sina: I already answered these questions. I do not accept hadiths that attribute miracles to Muhammad, because miracles are unproven and also because Muhammad in the Qur’an confessed he cannot perform miracles.

I do however accept the stories about Muhammad’s atrocities because I see no reason why believers would forge such stories to incriminate the man they love more than their parents.

A criminal will always try to tell good things about himself. The Judge however will not pay attention to his bragging about his virtues but will pick those statements that he makes that incriminate him. Muslims can say a million things about Muhammad’s greatness. They are worth nothing. Believers lie to make their prophet look holy. But if devout Muslims like the early companions of Muhammad report stories that make him look like a criminal those reports should be taken seriously because they are confessions.

As for hadiths about how to perform the religious rituals, and the explanations Muhammad gave about how the universe is made, I accept them also as true because I see no benefit for anyone in fabricating such stories.

There are hadiths where Muhammad brags about himself, which I have no reason to doubt their authenticity, even though what he claims is outlandish. For example, Muhammad reports that a Nestorian monk recognized him as the prophet, before even he knew about it, or he mounted on a horsy to travel to the seventh heaven and there he led other prophets in prayer, or that the angels were aiding him in his wars, etc. These are irrational claims but there is no reason to doubt that Muhammad told those stories. In fact we find many such stories also in the Qur’an. The splitting of the Moon is utterly irrational. This story is also rehashed in the Qur’an. So the hadith is not a forgery. Except that the moon has never split and what Muhammad saw and misunderstood as splitting the moon may have been an entirely different thing. See this explanation.

Continues on Part Three



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