Here are my thoughts on what an evangelical Christian lady wrote in response to a click-bait piece on the Independent's website by Qasim Rashid entitled “How the teachings of Islam could help us prevent more sex scandals.” As a Muslim I was surprised to see such a title - something which I will address later on in this piece once we touch on some of the polemics directed at Qasim Rashid's piece from a "Christian"evangelical lady called Lizzie Schofield. Lizzie Schofield writes:
Now theIndie's [sic] really upped its game with its latest piece by Qasim Rachid [Sic] (a regular contributor) entitled “How the teachings of Islam could help us prevent more sex scandals.” Islam will prevent sex scandals? Sex scandals like the systematic rape and grooming of young girls in Rochdale, Rotherham and Newcastle, right?
This is like a Christian saying Christian teachings will prevent murders and genocides and the critic responding flippantly “what like the genocide of the Native Americans”?
There are two problems with this immature approach:
1. It’s childish and it misuses serious crimes and suffering of human beings for one-upmanship.
2. This one-upmanship is a non-sequitar in any case. The perverts in the grooming gangs (which included non Muslims) were in fact going against the teachings of Islam – unless you think alcohol, drugs, deceit and rape are Islamic (see Islam forbids rape). You’ve got to have a low view of your fellow man if you think these things are part of the way of life of a fifth of your cousins on this planet. In fact, Islam teaches men and women against being alone or touching a person of the opposite sex whom you have no relationship with. Lizzie knows this as she has been told about the Jewish teaching of Shomer Negiah and the Muslim equivalent.
She knows how Islam would help against Hollywood director sex scandals. Men have to lower their gaze, so they can’t ogle at the model/actress (in addition Islam’s dress code of modesty would help to lessen the drawing of attention from men of a sensual nature as witnessed in this social experiment). Is that not what led to the Harvey Weinstein’s alleged crimes – the sin of the eyes inciting further lustful thoughts? Secondly, you can’t be alone with the actress as Islam teaches against two unmarried people of the opposite sex being alone with each other (the third is always the devil). Thirdly, sex cannot be carried out outside a relationship. Surely that’s enough to say the precepts of Islam would help prevent such sex scandals and vicitimization of actresses?
She then goes into full tilt polemical mode with mindless and inconsistent polemics:
“Tell me how a religion founded by a man who married a nine-year-old girl, plus another 10 women (some forcibly) in addition to his regular sex slaves, will help here. Seriously. I’m all ears.”
On marrying young
1. The Prophet consummated the marriage with Aisha when she was considered mature and had reached puberty. This is the same marriage custom which the Jews at the time of Jesus observed as highlighted by Geza Vermes. Why is this lady not asking why Jesus did not change this custom if she finds it so reprehensible? Does she think Jesus did not care about women?
2. On that theme, the age of marriage in the Bible is puberty as stated by a Christian apologist who cited Ezekiel 16 as his proof text for this claim. Why is this lady not asking why the Bible contains such a “proof text” for puberty as the age of marriage and why it does not follow pre-modern age of consent laws? Does she think Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father did not care about women?
3. We both live in Western Europe, pre-modern Western Europe had similar marriage practices to that of the Arabs a the time of Prophet Muhammad and the Jews at the time of Prophet Jesus. Emma Mason writes, "In the Middle Ages, getting married was easy for Christians living in western Europe...Marriage was the only acceptable place for sex and as a result Christians were allowed to marry from puberty onwards, generally seen at the time as age 12 for women and 14 for men. Parental consent was not required. When this law finally changed in England in the 18th century, the old rules still applied in Scotland."
This lady’s ancestors would have been involved in such marriages. Even beyond the Middle Ages, I bet some of Lizzie’s forefathers were involved in such marriages. Just look at the London marriage licenses between 1500 to the 1800s. We’ve got 4 (four) year old George in there, 9 year old Dorthy Panton and 11 year old Anne in there. This lady may want to check up her family tree for any of those names. In reality, there would have been countless marriages like those of Anne and Dorthy during this period across the whole of Britain. Were they all a bunch of women hating paedophiles back then? No of course not...so why the big deal about Prophet Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha when the Bible, Jesus and the rest of humanity before pre-modern times would have seen no issue with it?
As for polygamy, erm what’s wrong with polygamy? Jesus according to her Trinitarian beliefs allowed polygamy.
If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. [Exodus 21:10]
And Jesus, according to her Trinitarian beliefs not only allowed polygamy but also gave wives [plural] to David:
8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. [2 Samuel 12:8]
This is all elementary stuff that anybody who has thought about and looked into the Bible would know of. Why are we seeing a Trinitarian Christian lady talk about polygamy like it’s a bad thing? She’s indirectly insulting her version of Jesus (the Trinitarian Church version). Did Jesus do something wrong in her eyes? Is she more holy than Jesus?
She also talks about forced marriage. Forced marriage is not allowed in Islam Anti-Islam polemicists claim the Prophet’s marriage to Safiya was forced, I’ve covered this here.
On Trinitarian Jesus and Women
In fact it appears, this particular Trinitarian Christian apologist (if consistent), would claim rape/forced marriage took place in Deuteronomy 10 and probably Numbers 31 and this was allowed by Trinitarian Jesus. Does the Christian lady condemn these actions and condemn Trinitarian Jesus?
This lady may want to consider 2 Samuel 12 where according to her Trinitarian understanding, Jesus threatened to give David’s wives to somebody else who would also sleep with them. Now, will this lady call this a threat to have David’s wives raped? A threat given by Trinitarian Jesus according to her understanding!
She also wrote the following to advocate Christianity at the end of her polemical piece:
Jesus never married. Jesus never had sex slaves. He never sexually exploited women. The Cross of Christ is justice for the victims of sexual exploitation and mercy for the perpetrators if they turn to him.
OK, Jesus never married, and is that something that makes him a better person than Moses, Muhammad or Abraham? Nope. Marriage is something necessary for procreation and it’s what societies are founded upon. I believe the lady in question is married herself, let's not go into medieval monk mode where sex is seen as something unholy. Sex is part of life and none of us would be here today if it was not part of life.
She claims Jesus never exploited women but she believes Jesus allowed the severe beating of female slaves as long as they got up after a day or two (Exodus 21:20-21). She believes Jesus ordered the killing of non virgin females in 1 Samuel 15:3.
Is she not aware of any of this or is this in the back of her mind gnawing away at her so she decides to attack Muslims, Islam and the Prophet of Islam to try and make herself feel a bit better? Is this some sort of self-projection akin to where a gay guy is constantly bashing gays but is found out to be involved in a gay lifestyle! behind closed doors.
She also believes Jesus allowed polygamy (Ex 21:10) and she believes Jesus gave wives to David in 2 Samuel 12:8. Clearly Jesus had no issue with polygamy. If she thinks polygamy is exploitation of women then I’m sure she will criticising the Trinitarian church’s view of Jesus - if she's consistent. In addition, she will be attacking the Bible as the spark for her Protestant church movement, Martin Luther, said there’s nothing in the Bible to forbid polygamy.
As for rape, I’d imagine (if consistent as she is constantly looking for the most negative view of Islamic sources she can find) she would exegete 2 Samuel 12 as Jesus threatening to have David’s wives given to somebody else and slept with as exploitation of women:
11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’”
She'd also say the claim Numbers 31 and Deuteronomy 10 (an order from Jesus according to her) involved rape
Aside from this, we already know that she believes Jesus is not a pacifist and that Jesus used much more violence than Prophet Muhammad. I guess in her mind, Muhammad is more peaceful and more kinder to women than Trinitarian Jesus and the Islamic Jesus is more peaceful and more loving to women than the Trinitarian church version of Jesus.
Rape victims and the "cross"
She wrote about the cross being some sort of comfort or justice for victims of rape. She does not believe this at all. In her mind, any non Christians raped and not willing to worship Jesus (a man!) will face the wrath of Jesus who will return with a sword for his enemies. She’s on video saying so about Jesus returning with a sword for his "enemies" which she believes to be Muslims (including Muslim women presumably unless she believes Jesus is anti-men and only dislikes non-Christian men). Quite how the idea of Jesus dying for sins on a cross is justice for rape victims is beyond me. Really, what of all those non Christian women raped (many by Christians, think Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians, and African slaves) who did not believe a man (Jesus) was God? How exactly do you think the church idea of the cross helps them?
Furthermore, she believes the rapists will be forgiven due to the beliefs around the cross...but what if the rape victim does not forgive the rapist?
The online platform for major newspapers, given the competition online, is a click based market so content providers are incentivised to be as sensational and, a times, inflammatory as possible - "attention whoring" for views. This, in turn, corresponds to online ad revenue. For the Independent's website, it's not much different. For me, the ads that show up on Qasim Rashid's online piece are for BNP PARIBAS and SQUARE SPACE.
As a reader of the Independent, I am a little disappointed in the editorial decision to run that article as it does not take a great deal of wisdom to expect an online anti-Muslim backlash. It seems like the Independent were trolling the right wing but I think we have to recognise this goes beyond the Far Right despite the Left's willingness to stand up for minorities (as a Muslim, I appreciate much of this sentiment although I have read Nathan Lean's book on Islamophobia and he does mention there is Left-wing Islamophobia too).
Qasim Rashid's article will effectively be used as a recruiting sergeant in pitting the cultural right-wing, anti-Muslim and anti-religion folks against Muslims. It's only going to fuel this narrative of "creeping sharia" and the propaganda of an exaggerated influence of Muslims in the West that Muslims are on the precipice of power in Britain when in actuality Muslims are the , or at least one of the, least influential minority groups in the West: Christians, LGBTQ groups and Jews have way more influence than Muslims.
There would have been less of a firestorm if Qasim Rashid had spoken of the way in which EVERY major world religion would help alleviate sex scandals in Hollywood or wherever. He could have then have thrown in a paragraph or two of his own religious tradition alongside relevant teachings from other faiths. The title could have been "How Religion Can Prevent More Sex Scandals in Hollywood".
I do fear, the Independent have managed to stoke up further anti-Muslim sentiment whilst seeking out internet clicks. Sure, the evangelical lady who riled against Qasim Rashid's article is anti-Islam but we must start asking ourselves why Christians, who are very similar in moral values to Muslims, are taking aim at Muslims, increasingly so. We've got to start dialoguing with their more reasonable types and start working with each other as opposed to butting heads in this anti-religion climate we live in in the West. In Britain, I've always thought on the ground (in real life) serious Muslims and serious Christians get along well - the biggest allies of Muslims in the West are religious Christians in my view (not the liberal left).
This anti-Islam rhetoric which is amplified on the net is not doing serious-minded Christians any favours at all. This lady was using babyish terms like "dawahgandist" and "indimmpendent" - she's an outlier amongst real-on-the-ground Christians in the UK in my view, her behaviour reflects a more American fundamentalist, politically-oriented Christianity.
On top of this, through her polemics, the light is well and truly being shone on the Trinitarian view of Jesus who any critic of Prophet Muhammad would criticise with greater vigour and accuse Trinitarian Jesus of all sorts of crimes against men, women and children - if consistent. I wonder if this Christian lady will be consistent.
I'm facing the very real guilt of being partly responsible for a young Christian lady losing faith in Christianity and apparently having no faith in God any longer. She was allegedly on fire for Christianity and was rubbing shoulders with some big name Christian apologists in North America. She was a rising star in evangelical circles - a bit of a celebrity. She was doing the "Muhammad can't be a true Prophet because of polygamy and wars etc." spiel, basically the talking points many Christian polemicists run through, including the Christian lady we are addressed above. I did the, "hey what about the Bible (it allows polygamy) and what about the Bible on violence" response alongside correcting some of her misapprehensions about Islam. Essentially a watered-down version of what I've wrote above. She did email me to expose one of the "Christian" apologists she was rubbing shoulders with who I happened to be refuting and rebuking at the time. I just thought she had gained in maturity, I had no knowledge she left the faith until I was alerted to a social media status from a Christian apologist who had a bit of a crush on her. My advice to Christians is to think about consistency, don't blame people like me for simply pointing out Prophet Muhammad used less violence than Trinitarian Jesus when you try to dishonestly decontextualize his wars and make out the Prophet of Islam was all about violence and don't blame me when I start pointing out what Trinitarians believe about Jesus concerning the treatment of women when you try to engage in negative propaganda against Prophet Muhammad in trying to make him out to be anti-women. Start teaching Christians to be more honest and consistent when talking about Islam, that way you won't be hating me and looking at me with suspicion as a possible reason for your rising young preachers leaving Christianity.
Is Christian Persecution Complex Harming Muslim-Christian Dialogue?
Do Jay Smith's Pfander Centre for Apologetics Really Preach Trinitarian Views on Jesus?
Does Jesus use Violence and Force According to Trinitarian Christianity?
Synoptic Gospels and the Idea of a Pre-Existent Jesus?
Notes from Sean Finnegan's interview with Patrick Navas: Is the Trinity Biblical
Tovia Singer: Does the New Testament Teach Jesus is God?
Tovia Singer: Does the New Testament Teach Jesus is God?