Monday, 31 March 2014

'Pluralism in Islam' Arguments Refuted by Bassam Zawadi

 A Brief Response to Arguments Made by 'Radical Muslim Pluralists'
My definition of "radical Muslim pluralist" for the sake of this short piece is a Muslim who believes in many paths to God and that Islam isn't the only one. 

A number of years ago, we addressed some of the logical arguments put forth by radical pluralists in general. In this piece, we will address the scriptural arguments radical Muslim pluralists utilize to push forth their deviated views. 

Argument #1: In Surah 2, Ayah 62, Allah says that Christians and Jews could enter heaven if they believe in Allah and the Last Day and do righteous deeds.

What does "belief" in Allah mean though? If we define "belief" to merely entail "acknowledgement of existence", then even Satan "believes in Allah". 

Rather, to have faith in Allah is to submit to and accept Him for who He truly is and how He revealed Himself to us (e.g. not in a Trinity and not as a God of any false religion). If we don't get the "identity" of God correctly, then anyone can just point to anything and call it "God" and "believe in it" and believe in a judgement day and do good works and then go to heaven! This is surely absurd. 

The Prophet (peace be upon him) made it clear that acceptance of him is mandatory for Christians and Jews:

By Him in Whose hand is the life of Muhammad, he who amongst the community of Jews or Christians hears about me, but does not affirm his belief in that with which I have been sent and dies in this state (of disbelief), he shall be but one of the denizens of Hell-Fire. [Saheeh Muslim, Book 1, Hadith 284]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) made it clear that Christians and Jews aren't on the Fitrah:

No baby is born but upon Fitra. It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Polytheist. [Saheeh Muslim, Book 33, Hadith 6426]

The Qur'an makes it clear that they have committed shirk and are misguided:

And never will the Jews or the Christians approve of you until you follow their religion. Say, "Indeed, the guidance of Allah is the [only] guidance." If you were to follow their desires after what has come to you of knowledge, you would have against Allah no protector or helper. - Surah 2, Ayah 120

They say, "Be Jews or Christians [so] you will be guided." Say, "Rather, [we follow] the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth, and he was not of the polytheists." - Surah 2, Ayah 135

They have certainly disbelieved who say, " Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary" while the Messiah has said, "O Children of Israel, worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord." Indeed, he who associates others with Allah - Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers. - Surah 5, Ayah 72

They have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah , and [also] the Messiah, the son of Mary. And they were not commanded except to worship one God; there is no deity except Him. Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him. - Surah 9, Ayah 31

The list of evidences for the kufr of the Jews and Christians are endless. 

So how do we then understand 2:62? The reasonable way to understand this verse is by understanding the verse to be referring to the Jews truly following the way of Prophet Musa 'alayhi assalam and to the Christians truly following the way of Prophet Isa 'alayhi assalam. 

To understand it as referring to Christians and Jews who reject Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is ridiculous and one could only wonder why God bothered to send a prophet to a people when their situation seems to already be fine supposedly. 

For a more in depth look at this verse, one could read pages 239-292 of Ibn Taymiyyah's تفسير آيات أشكلت على كثير من العلماء. 

Argument #2: The Qur'an says in Surah 49, Ayah 13 that we were created in order to "know one another".

This part of the verse is emphasizing that one shouldn't be arrogant and look down on others because of race. 

The verse also continues on to say:

Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa.
And at-Taqwa can't be devotion to a false God! Those who are truly devoted to God are the most honourable. So in that sense, not all human beings are equal in the sight of Allah. 

Argument #3: The Qur'an says in Surah 5, Ayah 82: "...and nearest among them in love to the Believers will you find those who say 'We are Christians' "

Let's not quote out of context please. Read the next verse:

And when they hear what has been revealed to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of what they have recognized of the truth. They say, "Our Lord, we have believed, so register us among the witnesses.

Are there any Trinitarian Christians today who match such a description?

Also, why did you ignore the first part of the verse which mentioned the Jews...

You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews

You ignore this and try to appeal to 2:62 in order to demonstrate that Jews would enter heaven. This is sheer academic dishonesty. 

Argument #4: The Qur'an in Surah 22:40 says: "Did not God check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of God is commemorated in abundant measure." This shows that God is not only worshiped in mosques.

First of all, the burden of proof is on the claimant who says with a certainty that "name of God is commemorated" applies to monasteries, churches and synagogues in the verse along with mosques. There are scholars who said that it only connects back to mosques. 

Secondly, scholars who said that it does also apply to monasteries and churches, said that this is only applicable when worship was done right. 

Thirdly, mere mention of Allah's name doesn't mean anything. One may claim to believe in Allah, yet still be deluded (see 29:61 & 39:3).

Argument #5: Muslims through time have been accustomed to regarding themselves as constituting “a middle” or “moderate nation/community” (Ar. umma wasat) on the basis of Qur’an 2:143, which applies this designation to them. This designation has been enthusiastically adopted by Muslims both as an indication of divinely conferred distinction upon them and as a divine mandate to avoid extremes in one’s beliefs and conduct. What is less well known, however, is that this verse has its parallel in Qur’an 5:66 in which righteous Jews and Christians are also described as constituting a “balanced” or “moderate” community” (Ar. umma muqtasida). The Qur’an thus clearly suggests in these two verses that moderation inheres in righteous conduct independent of theological doctrine or denominational affiliation. Such a view transcends sectarianism and paves the way for Muslims to retrieve a divine mandate for religious pluralism from the Qur’anic text and its exegeses.

But what is a "righteous" Jew or Christian? Well the verse itself clarifies when it says:

And if only they upheld [the law of] the Torah, the Gospel, and what has been revealed to them from their Lord, they would have consumed [provision] from above them and from beneath their feet. Among them are a moderate community, but many of them - evil is that which they do.

The Torah was revealed to Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) and the Injeel was revealed to Prophet Isa (peace be upon him). Today the Jews follow the Pentateuch (not revealed to Prophet Musa) and the four Gospels (not revealed to Prophet Isa). The verse also says that they should have followed "what has been revealed to them from their Lord" and that is surely the Qur'an. Do the Jews and Christians of today follow the Qur'an? The answer is obviously no. Since they don't, that means that they don't have a leg to stand on as Allah says two verses later in 5:68:

Say, "O People of the Scripture, you are [standing] on nothing until you uphold [the law of] the Torah, the Gospel, and what has been revealed to you from your Lord." And that which has been revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase many of them in transgression and disbelief. So do not grieve over the disbelieving people.

These people aren't "moderate" until they do. In fact, the Qur'an calls them extreme (see 4:171) and so does the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he said: "Do not praise me excessivelyas Jesus, son of Marry was praised" (Saheeh Bukhari, Vol. 8, Book 82, Hadith 817)

Any mention of righteous people from the People of the Book needs to be understood as entailing that they accepted the Prophet (peace be upon him). Surah 7, Ayah 157 says:

Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him - it is those who will be the successful.

Argument #6: In Saheeh Bukhari, we read that the Prophet stood up for the funeral of a Jew. He said "Was he not a living soul?". 

First of all, just because Islam recognizes the sanctity of a person's life that doesn't mean that it also recognizes that he's on the right path. 

Secondly, the Prophet (peace be upon him) didn't stand up in honor of the Jew in order to hold him in high regard.

It was narrated from Anas that:

a funeral passed by the Messenger of Allah and he stood up. It was said: "It is the funeral of a Jew." He said: "We stood up for the angels." [Sunan an-Nasa'i, Vol. 3, Book 21, Hadith 1931]

We read another reason why the Prophet (peace be upon him) stood up:

It was narrated from Ja'far bin Muhammad from his father that: Al-Hasan bin 'Ali was sitting when a funeral passed by. The People stood until the funeral had passed, and Al-Hasan said: "The funeral of Jew passed by when the Messenger of Allah was sitting in its path, and he did not want the funeral of a Jew to pass over his head, so he stood up." [Sunan an-Nasa'i, Vol. 3, Book 21, Hadith 1928]

In another narration, there was once a funeral of a Jewess and the Prophet (peace be upon him) stood up because he was bothered by the strong scent (most likely incense) coming out of her (see Silsilat al-ahaadeeth as-Saheeha, no. 3349 by Sheih Nasr ud-Deen al-Albani).

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said one should stand up in order to recognize the enormity of death:

It was narrated that Jabir bin 'Abdullah said: "A funeral passed by us and the Messenger of Allah stood up and we stood with him. I said: 'O Messenger of Allah, it is a Jewish funeral.' He said: 'Death is something terrifying, so if you see a funeral, stand up,"' This is the wording of Khalid. [Sunan an-Nasa'i, Vol. 3, Book 21, Hadith 1923]

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “A funeral has passed by the Prophet and he stood up and said: ‘Stand up out of recognition of the enormity of death.’” [Sunan ibn Majah, Vol. 1, Book 6, Hadith 1543]

The point is not be heedless of death and undermine its significance. This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) emphasized on the soul of the Jew and not in honor of the Jew himself. 

Argument #7: The Qur’an states that Jews and Christians argue against each other, each claiming that the other is wrong, even though they read the same Scripture, which is the Tanakh or the Old Testament. Today, many Muslims also make a similar claim that both Jews and Christians are wrong. Actually, the Qur’an specifically denounces such claims from anybody and calls those who make such claims as people without knowledge. “The Jews say: “The Christians have nothing (to stand) upon; and the Christians say: “The Jews have nothing (to stand) upon.” Yet they (profess to) study the (same) Book. Like unto their word is what those say who know not; but Allah will judge between them in their quarrel on the Day of Judgment.” [Qur’an 2:113] This is yet another proof from the Qur’an showing that anyone who thinks that either Jews or Christians have nothing to stand upon has no knowledge.

This is a very strange and odd inference from the passage. 

In fact, what the passage is pointing out is the irony of the Jews and Christians differing with one another so fundamentally despite them reading the same book. 

It also says "Like unto their word is what those say who know not" and the majority of commentators say that this is referring to the pagans of Mecca, for they also said that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had "nothing to stand on" along with the Jews and the Christians. 

Argument #8: The Qur'an says in 5:48 "so race to [all that is] good. " The Qur’an does not take a narrow sectarian view as many theologians tend to do. It possesses a very broad humanitarian view and lays emphasis not on dogma, but on good deeds. And it strongly condemns evil deeds which harms the society and humanity at large. In this respect also it makes no distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Anyone who has read the Qur'an knows that the emphasis is always on "faith and good deeds" and not good deeds alone. Allah makes it clear that without faith, one's good deeds could go to waste:

It is not for the polytheists to maintain the mosques of Allah [while] witnessing against themselves with disbelief. [For] those, their deeds have become worthless, and in the Fire they will abide eternally. - Surah 9, Ayah17

Argument #9: The Qur'an says in 5:48, "For each one of you We have appointed a law and a way". The Qur’an acknowledges that plurality is a fact of life and part of the order of the world. This plurality manifests in, among other things, religious diversity. God had given different revelations which led to the founding of different religions to see who is more obedient to Him

Yes, it's true that different Messengers had different divine laws which they followed. The laws in the Torah differed from those found in the Gospel which differed from those found in the last revelation (i.e. Qur’an and Sunnah). Nevertheless, all these Messengers preached the same message of monotheism and that is something one needs to have corrected in order to be saved. 

Argument #10: Islam in 3:19 and 3:85 could mean submission in the wider sense and not necessarily referring to the institutionalized Islam as we know it today. The Qur’an also calls the sorcerers of Moses, once they were defeated, to have become Muslims [Qur’an 7:126]. The Qur’an portrays that Moses requested the Children of Israel to become Muslims [Qur’an 10:84]. The Qur’an also shows that when Pharaoh was drowning, he too prayed that he has become a Muslim, while the Qur’an then shows that it was only when his drowning was imminent did he realize the true G-d [Qur’an 10:90–92]. Even when Solomon sends a message to the Queen of Sheba, he requests her and her people to become Muslims [Qur’an 27:31, 38, 42, 44]. Lot’s household is even called by the Qur’an as a Muslim household [Qur’an 51:36]. The Qur’an also shows that the religion of G-d is for people to become Muslims, since everyone in the heavens and the earth is a Muslim, willingly or unwillingly [Qur’an 3:83]. The Qur’an also calls all the prophets to the Children of Israel as Muslims [Qur’an 5:44]. When looking at it from an overall perspective, it seems obvious that the term for Muslim that is used in the Qur’an does not necessarily mean to be the follower of the religion known today as Islam. The term for Muslim used in the Qur’an may be understood as anyone who has surrendered his soul to G-d and submitted to the Will of God. 

A Muslim is anyone who submits to God, but what does "submitting to God" mean? It must entail submitting to the true God. Do Jews and Christians today who deny the God who sent Muhammad (peace be upon him) "submit to God"? Surely not. 

Muslims surely existed before Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), since there were prophets before him and they had their followers. So during their time, they were submitting to God. Right now, the only divine message left with us is the final one which Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent with. That could only be found in the "institutionalized" Islam of today.

Argument #11: ِAllah says in Surah 10:99 "And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed - all of them entirely." This shows the pluralism of Islam.

Rather this shows that people have the free will to believe or disbelieve and it's all under Allah's Will. The verse in no way, shape or form is saying that all religions are acceptable to Allah.


Anonymous said...

Cupcake, why are you silent now after all your talk about David?

Do you think because others can't see this comment that many of us don't know you are a coward and a chicken?

Do you think your god and prophet would not be ashamed of your cowardice?

Farhan Qureshi said...

I would LOVE to debate Bassam Zawadi on this ... he wrote the article in 2009 and has been absent from debating though :-/