Friday, July 10, 2009

A Christian - Muslim Dialogue, part 2

This is part 2 of my critique of the Christian-Muslim Dialogue (3rd revised edition) by H.M. Baagil:

On page 7 of the Christian-Muslim Dialogue, the “Christian” says, “It feels strange to hear the name Allah. Why don’t you say God if you speak English?” The Muslim answers, “Yes, indeed, the name Allah seems to be strange to non-Muslims, but this name has been used by all Prophets since Adam until Muhammad PBUT.”

The word “Allah” is simply the Arabic word for God. Even Arabic speaking Christians use the word Allah to refer to God the Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jesus. According to the Old Testament, however, when God first revealed Himself to Moses, Moses asked what His name is. God responds saying, “I AM who I AM…Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).

The Hebrew letters for I AM are YHWH. This name was so sacred to early Jews they would not even pronounce it. Modern scholars speculate that the pronunciation may have been Yahweh. However it was pronounced, it is certain that it was not "Allah."

God then goes on to describe Himself as “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:15). Note carefully, that according to Exodus, God is the God of Isaac (not Ishmael) and Jacob aka Israel.

This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care for the sons of Ishmael. On the contrary, God blessed Ishmael also. But the idea that God’s special covenant blessing going through Ishmael rather than Isaac is simply not supported by the facts.

I should point out, by the way, that I don’t have any horse in this race, so to speak. In other words, I’m not Jewish. My descendants were from Norway, so I’m not making this argument to support my own linage. I make this argument because it is clearly what the Bible teaches.

On page 8 the Muslim says, “Although Paul made many changes in Jesus’ teaching….”

Whenever anything the Qur’an says anything that disagrees with the Bible, the Muslims’ answer is that Paul, Christians, or Jews, etc. changed the original teaching. They have absolutely no evidence for this, mind you, and they ignore the fact that there are over 5,000 ancient handwritten manuscripts of New Testament books still in existence and not one of them supports Muslim doctrines that disagree with our New Testament.

This doesn’t matter to Muslims, though. They continue to argue that the New Testament must have been corrupted! Christians could play this game too. We could argue that Muhammad actually believed in the Trinity and crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus but that later Muslims changed the Qur’an and Hadith and have corrupted Muhammad’s true views.

Muslims, of course would say we have no evidence for this and we could respond by saying, yes, we do! When Uthman rounded up all the Qur’ans he did so specifically to destroy what Muhammad originally taught about Jesus and to replace it with his own views.

And even Muslims admit that there are thousands of forged Hadith. Uthman’s Qur’an (from which all others descend) and the “official” collections of Hadith by al-Muslim and al-Bukhari are the corrupted teachings of Muhammad. Everything which showed that Muhammad believed in the deity, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus were destroyed.

This of course is total nonsense…but it is no more nonsense than the Muslim propaganda about how Christians and Jews corrupted the Bible. Muslims seem happy to quote the Bible when it suits their purposes, but every time the Qur’an contradicts the Bible Muslims fall back on the same tired old argument about Christians and Jews corrupting the Bible. It is academically dishonest and very offensive.

On page 8 the Muslim says, “A Christian will shiver in hearing that the Pilgrimage or Haj as is now done by Muslims by circumambulating around the sacred stone Ka’bah in Mecca, had been performed by many Prophets, even by Israelite Prophets.” The “Christian” responds saying, “I never read Pilgrimage or sacred stone in the Bible” and the Muslim answers “This has been mentioned clearly several times but overlooked by Bible readers.”

First, notice how carefully parsed this imaginary conversation is. It begins with the Muslim talking about the Muslim practice of walking around the Ka'ba in Mecca (a large cube-shaped structure made with bricks). It is significant that the words put into the Christian's mouth are NOT "I never read about the Ka'ba in the Bible," because the Ka'ba is NOT in the Bible. Instead, the words put in the Christian's mouth are, "I never read "pilgrimage" or "sacred stone" in the Bible."

The Muslim then provides a list of verses about biblical character setting up a stone or stones as an alter to worship God. This of course has absolutly nothing whatsoever about worshiping at the Ka'ba, but the impression (deception) is left to unknowledgable readers, that the Bible teaches the Muslim practice of circumambulating the Ka'ba!

For example, the Muslim cites the following:

1. Genesis 28:18-19 in which Jacob “took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar…”

First, the Ka’ba is not just one stone and it is not a pillar.

Second, Genesis 28 says Jacob had left Beersheba and went toward Haran. Check a map. You will find that Beersheba and Haran are not in Arabia and when you go from Beersheba to Haran you are heading north, away from Arabia not south toward Mecca. Remember, the Muslim’s original argument was that Israelite prophets marched around the Ka’bah in Mecca and these verses are supposedly the proof!

2. Genesis 35:4, 14, 15 In this chapter, Jacob went back to the same place as in Genesis 28 above—which is NOT Mecca. There he set up another pillar of stone and poured oil on it. Again, the Ka’ba is not a pillar. It is not just one stone. And this was done in Bethel, not Mecca.

3. Genesis 31:45-49. In this passage Jacob was fleeing from Laban in Haran (in the neighborhood of modern Syria or Iraq). He set up stones “in a heap.” The Ka’ba is not a heap of stones! After pacifying Laban, Jacob now feared his brother Esau. Esau was coming from Edom (Gen. 32:3). If you are traveling from Haran you will come to Edom long before coming to Mecca. In other words, as Jacob was traveling south, he would have crossed paths with his brother hundreds of miles before he would have come to Mecca! The "heap of stones" Jacob set up was hundreds of miles from Mecca.

Despite the assertions of Baagil, there is no evidence that the Israelite prophets ever went anywhere near Mecca!

Part 3 tomorrow.