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Theme Changer

 Topic: Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend

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  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     OP - December 28, 2014, 07:48 PM

    Just thought you would appreciate this discussion. Which i promote on request. You might not even know anything about these 2 people but the arguments is interesting. I will post the link below of the debate in question but have fun with the pre debate discussion for now.

    Can anyone provide me with a decent challenge?
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #1 - December 28, 2014, 07:51 PM

    Statement on Methodology when Debating the Qur'an and Hadith

    Dear Chameleon_X

    Before we begin this debate permit the opportunity to make a few remarks about methodology. 

    Having engaged in this type of debate more times than I can remember I'm guessing that at least some of your responses will be along the lines of 'I do not accept that hadith' or 'This is not the correct interpretation of that verse of the Qur'an'. It goes without saying that these might resolve the issues but I would argue that in most cases it does not and for the following reasons: 

    1) I quote almost exclusively from the venerated collections of Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim (when I quote from Shi'a sources it is always from the equally respected, on the Shi'a side at least, 'Four Muhammads). 'Sahih' means 'sound' and the whole theological edifice of Sunni Islam is built upon the assumption that the hadiths in Bukhari and Muslim are entirely trustworthy. Modern apologists may believe that they have a more acute sense of what is reliable than, for example, Imam Bukhari who spent his almost his entire life separating the wheat from the chaff as far as hadiths are concerned but few modern Muslims will agree.

    2) Hadith denial leaves precious little of Islam as it is practiced today. If you reject the hadith you do not have the five daily prayers, the shahadah, prayer positions etc. Far fewer than 1% of modern Muslims therefore follow a position of principled hadith denial. However, many others end up at a position of partial denial as soon as aspects of the hadith are questioned. We are entitled to ask on what basis certain hadiths are rejected? More often than not it is the case that hadith that cause modern Muslims discomfort due to regressive teachings or their unscientific nature are rejected. In this case the hermeneutical key is: I don't like this hadith therefore I reject it! The problem with this approach should be immediately obvious. It moves the focus from the traditional criterion for evaluating hadith (the strength of the isnad or 'chain of transmission') to the personal likes or dislikes of the modern Muslim apologist. This may create a personally satisfying 'Individual Islam' for that particular Muslim but it is foolish to pretend that all Muslims everywhere will agree with this kind of 'pick and mix' approach to the hadith.

    3) The same principle applies when it comes to the re-interpretation of the text of the Qur'an. Age old interpretations are rejected simply because the traditional interpretation does not gel with modern sensibilities. It is, in fact, often possible to pinpoint the rise of these interpretations to contact of Muslim scholars with Western enlightenment ideals. So once again we see that personal dislike of aspects of the teaching of the Qur'an becomes the guiding principle in interpreting the text. All this while historical, grammatical and other basic tools of textual interpretation are disregarded.

    Based on the above let me state clearly that I have no interest whatsoever in debating your own 'Personal Islam' as this is a moving target simply determined by your own personal dislikes. My interest is in Islam as believed through the ages and still practised by more than a billion Muslims. 

    To illustrate what I mean let me cite two examples:
    If you want to argue that Aisha was not nine when Muhammad had sex with her: Please explain why you reject Bukhari at this point? What is wrong with the chain of transmission? Why not then reject all of Bukhari? Please produce alternative traditions from the earliest collections (not something cooked up centuries later) stating a different age. Please show that questions surrounding Aisha's age has a venerable tradition within Islam and is not just something that came from contact with Western enlightenment protests (i.e. produce any example the hadith regarding her age of consummation being questioned by Muslim scholars before the 1850's) 
    If you want to argue that Qur'an 65:4 is not about sex with prepubescent girls please explain: Why your novel interpretation is not found in any of the revered collections e.g. Ibn Khatir or Tafsir al Jalalayn? Why you disagree with Sahih Bukhari 7:62:63 and Sahih Al-Bukhari, Chapter 68: Book of Tafsir both of which make it clear that this verse is about young girls before their first menstruation. Also produce any prohibition from the four major Sunni legal schools (or from the Shi'a legal schools for that matter) of sex with underage girls. Only if you can produce these things will I agree that you are brining forward a respected interpretation instead of one born out of discomfort with the clear meaning of the text. 

    So in conclusion I am willing to debate you if you are willing to focus on classical Islam, based as it is on acceptance of the Sahih collections and the interpretations of giants of tafsir (e.g. Al Jalalayn and Ibn Khatir) and enshrined in the rulings of the major legal schools. In other words I seek to debate the Islam accepted by the vast majority of Muslims throughout history and also those alive today. I am, however, not interested in debating your own personal likes and dislikes of the text of your faith. If you are clear on this we can proceed. 

    Kind regards, 


    Can anyone provide me with a decent challenge?
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #2 - December 28, 2014, 07:53 PM

    Pre-Debate Discussion with @PeterTownsend7 (1)

    Dear Peter,

    Let me address your key concerns while adding my own.


    Yes, I do reject hadiths as a source of Law, not because this is my “Personal Islam”, but because the Quran unequivocally condemns hadiths as such. That said, I am not a Quranist, which is someone who completely discards or denies hadiths. I still consider them as valuable historical documents, similar to a classical dictionary in helping to shed additional light or historical context, but they are decidedly NOT Scripture. We could have a debate on this topic, and you would lose given the universally agreed preeminence of the Quran in Islam and the clarity with which hadiths are condemned as Scripture therein. 

    You would even lose on arguing that hadiths are required in order to be a practicing Muslim (e.g., all five prayers are in the Quran, and a public “shahada” is not required to be a Muslim, contrary to your internet propaganda). What you are also missing is the relevance of oral tradition transmitted in a massively parallel fashion across time without any serially-transmitted hadiths required. For example, no Muslim that I have ever known has learned how to pray by reading hadiths.

    You seem to revere the authenticity of hadiths, but they are anything but reliable, in spite of the “Sahih” label. Even without doing any analysis of specific hadiths whatsoever, we can come to the shocking conclusion that roughly 2/3 of all Bukhari hadiths (considered the “most reliable” by Sunnis) are definitely erroneous in some respect, based on the fact that there are a purported 9,082 hadiths in his collection, including multiple versions, yet only 2,602 unique hadiths excluding multiple versions (per ). In other words, even Bukhari himself would agree how many errors (at a minimum) are in his hadiths based on this simple math.

    Even more shocking, Bukhari discarded roughly 300,000 hadiths that he considered unreliable or fabricated, which begs the question of where all these hundreds of thousands of unreliable, trashed hadiths actually came from! Given that it is an historical fact that many chains of narration were also fabricated (especially in hadiths via Iraq, per various scholars that now know much more than Bukhari did), how do we know how much sewage seeped into the so-called “Sahih” hadiths? The stark reality is that we don’t, and yet we already know with certainty that some sewage is definitely there.

    However, rather than digress from our theme to debating the relevance of hadiths, I am open to including hadiths in our debate as well. Although this may sound contradictory given my condemnations of hadiths, let’s just say that I would like to make the debate more interesting. At least on the first debate topic suggested below, I am willing to debate ANY AND ALL HADITHS. I will even allow you to assume that these hadiths are reasonably accurate, even if not perfect. 

    By contrast, the only serious objection that I have with your debate premises is your insistence that I agree with your cherry-picked medieval mullahs (e.g., Ibn Kathir) – i.e., before the debate even starts! Not only is this a bald appeal to authority and to non-primary sources, but it is also in total contradiction to Islam. To blindly accept interpretative authorities on Islam, even if they are “giants of tafsir”, is a form of polytheism per the Quran. 

    I have no problem if you want to hide behind the coattails of your favorite medieval mullahs by citing their arguments, since only the facts and logic matter. However, what I will not hesitate to ridicule you on is asserting the logical fallacy that you are correct merely because “great name X or Y” backs a claim. If I am willing to allow any and all hadiths into the debate on this first topic, then why should there be a need to appeal to ANY authority? There is no need to bring ghosts to the table. The only relevant facts that these “greats” could possibly have used come from the Quran and hadiths, which is exactly what we are using too. 

    In short, I can agree not to assert my “Personal Islam” bald opinion as the basis for my conclusions if you can agree not to make appeals to authority (names) as the basis for yours. Our overall objective and ultimate criterion should be what Islam actually says about an issue per primary sources, not per regurgitated opinions masquerading as facts.


    As for the Aisha age issue (including age of marriage per the Quran), I would be happy to debate this sometime in the future to give it a full scholarly vetting. I have already done substantial independent research on this, but it will not be completed very soon given other priorities. That said, the research that others have already done on this topic debunks the validity of the hadiths in question as is. I have debated this topic many times with this research alone (and a bit of my own), and it never ends well for the other side. I am just trying to validate some final key facts to put this debate to rest once and for all. But again, if we are going to get the most out of that debate, it should be deferred for the time being.

    That said, let me just give you a quick taste of your own medicine on this topic, since you brought up one supposed “fact” from Bukhari 7:62:63 in your claim. You said that it references Quran 65:4 in backing a pre-menstrual marriage interpretation, as I am quite aware some hate sites still promote. In other words, I’m not saying you are lying here. You are simply regurgitating hate site propaganda that I’ve already debunked. So how is it “debunked”? Very easily. That entire reference to Quran 65:4 and all the words related thereto simply DO NOT EXIST in the original Arabic! Someone – almost certainly a “Muslim” given that it was originally wrong on several Islamic websites 2+ years ago -- literally just pulled that BS from his backside and slapped it onto the English translation. Most likely they did so to make a secondary source (hadith interpretation of verse 65:4) conform to a tertiary source (tafsir) done much later. In other words, it’s a classic case of the tail trying to wag the dog. 

    Unfortunately for you, this is the ONLY hadith reference supposedly supporting that BS interpretation, which makes it even more embarrassing for Islamophobes fanatically trying to legitimize child marriage so absurdly via Quran 65:4. If you don’t believe me, the proof is right here: There are also close to ten other variations of this same hadith, by the way, and ALL of them make no reference to Quran 65:4, let alone to that twisted interpretation of it, as hate sites claim. So how’s that “discomfort with the clear meaning of the text” working for you now?


    Given your “overview”, my suggested debate topic #1 is essentially verse 4:34: ‘Is beating women permitted in Islam?” Ancillary misogyny topics might be debated as well, but they should be restricted to misogyny within a pre-existing marriage to avoid diversions and deflections. For example, equality of women WITHIN marriage could be in scope, but equality of women on specific matters OUTSIDE OF a pre-existing marital relationship would be out of scope on this topic. For debate topic #2, we could bring such topics into scope by discussing generic misogyny topics before, after or outside of marriage if you want. I have found that a core focus on sexual slavery (like verse 4:34 being the core focus of a “within marriage” debate) tends to capture most of the “outside marriage” ancillary topics too.

    So why do I suggest verse 4:34 as debate topic #1? Very simple – it is the foundation of all other misogyny topics given its emphasis on the position of women and the claimed male “authority” over them. It is also the natural starting point for all debates on misogyny in Islam. You seem to agree, since it is at the very top of your internet meme tweet on misogyny, and it takes center stage as your picture on that meme too. It is also highlighted as the primary topic on your misogyny “overview” document per your other tweet (sexual slavery was your #2 topic there, which matches my assessment too).

    Therefore, it seems we agree at least on this point, so I suggest that this be our first debate topic. We could commit to a second debate topic now or mutually agree on possibly committing to a second topic later. The difference would be that no one can “claim victory” if we don’t proceed to further debates under the latter scenario. We could also firmly agree to have just this one debate and no more. Regardless, though, I would like to agree in advance so that I don’t get backed into an endless loop of moving goalposts to new and adjacent debates if you lose (and vice-versa for your benefit).

    The other reason I am suggesting this topic is that I have never really debated it before. Moreover, no one opposing a “beat” interpretation has ever “won” on this topic in a scholarly debate as far as I am aware – and, yes, I mean EVER. The traditional “beat” interpretation has remained standing for at least an entire millennium without anyone ever seriously challenging it, let alone taking it down. In fact, I will frankly admit that many (perhaps most?) Muslims even consider this topic to be “unwinnable”. But hey, I love a good challenge. As for you, how could you possibly lose with such time-tested odds in your favour and a posse of mullahs on your side, right?


    As for the process itself, my preference is for each of us to submit our base arguments up front and essentially on the same day so that both of us are committed to finishing the debate. Then we can focus on debating disagreements, rather than ramble through fact by fact while diverting onto one tangent after the next. What I have no tolerance for is constantly deflecting and trying to move goalposts to other topics midstream, especially by carpet bombing unrelated claims with cherry-picked “facts” that require a separate debate entirely.

    Another guideline I propose is that we strive to make all our own arguments, or at least to make all arguments “ours” by incorporating them into our analysis. It is OK to link to facts, but it is NOT OK to link to entire arguments made by someone else via nothing but a URL. If you truly believe in those arguments, then make them your own. Whether you credit them properly to someone else is not really relevant here. Only the facts and logic matter in debate.

    What I would also strongly prefer to have is some sort of formal voting process on “Who won?” Otherwise, even someone soundly defeated can claim victory. Voting can never be perfect, but it is at least one objective measure of whose arguments are more compelling. So what do you say - are you willing to raise the stakes a bit, or are you too afraid to? As long as it’s done via a site where users have to submit or use a unique email address to vote, I am fairly receptive to keeping this voting open to anyone and everyone, for better or worse. Handpicking voters that we both can agree on would not be practical or realistic. I haven’t looked into this yet, but if you have any suggestions on independent voting sites, feel free to suggest them.


    Chameleon X

    Can anyone provide me with a decent challenge?
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #3 - December 28, 2014, 07:57 PM

    On the Reliability of the Traditional Islamic 'Histories' by Peter Townsend

    Dear Chameleon_X

    Thanks for your response.

    I am afraid you completely misunderstood my position on the hadith (and on the authority of those whom you call my favourite mediaeval mullahs). I do not accept the authority of the hadith even for a moment. Why would I? I’m not a Muslim and I do not claim to follow any of these texts. I presented them as authoritative for the purposes of our debate not because I accept them but precisely because they are accepted by the vast majority of Muslims. I am interested in debating Islam as believed most Muslims and therefore I choose to deal with the texts that the majority of Muslims view as authoritative. 

    This brings me to your own position. You have to admit that you represent a decided minority persuasion within the Muslim world. With only a handful of exceptions every single mosque in the world practice and teach Islam based on the rulings of one of the Sunni or Shi’a legal schools. All of whom accept the validity of the hadith as an utterly indispensable guide for Muslim faith and practice. So in defending ‘Islam’ in the way you do (by rejecting the hadith as a source for law) you are not dealing with any kind of Islam that most Muslims would recognise as the belief system they hold dear. 

    It is not for me to determine how you spend your time but may I suggest that you have much bigger fish to fry than me i.e. the more than a billion other Muslims whose practice of Islam are defective (according to you) because of their views on the hadith. Let’s apply this to Qur’an 4:34 for a moment. You will want to try and convince me that this verse does not teach ‘wife beating’ and that it is therefore not part of Islam. We will get to what the Qur’an says on the topic but Islam in its modern institutional form (as seen in all the legal schools) certainly teach that this verse allows wife beating as it is used as the basis of shari’a rulings on this topic. Your campaign against ‘Islamophobia’ would, therefore, be much better focused against the vast majority of your fellow believers and not against those who point out the fact that these fellow believers hold to reactionary beliefs! 

    We are certainly not done with a discussion on methodology and sources. You smarted at my remarks on personal Islam and suggested that you practice nothing of the sort because ‘oral traditions’ validates your own belief system. Presumably you will reference these as you debate individual verses of the Qur’an. I, therefore, regard it as vital that we evaluate the state of these ‘sources’ before going any further as I am not at all willing to accept their authority (or even existence) at face value. I will, in light of this, focus the bulk of my reply on this issue since this has direct bearing on methodology and I believe this has to be sorted out before we can debate specific Islamic teachings. 

    Okay here goes. You seem to believe that there is an oral tradition that confirms your beliefs and that the Islam you practice is based on it. For most Muslims this tradition will be found in the hadith collections, the biographies of the ‘prophet’ (e.g. most notably Ibn Ishaq) and other snippets of information purportedly from the time of Muhammad (e.g. the letters he supposedly wrote to the monks of Sinai or the Negus of Ethiopia). I’m not sure what this ‘tradition’ means for you but it should still be measured against the yardstick of recorded and verifiable history don’t you think? 

    What follows is an overview of the state of historical knowledge of the era in which Islam emerged. By the way I wrote it myself, I agree with the idea of not posting endless links. By reading it you will see my actual views of the value of the hadith as historical sources. The same goes for your much vaunted ‘oral traditions’. While we are on the topic, how on earth are we to believe that a literate people with a book at the heart of their religion kept the most important aspects of their faith exclusively oral for a full seven generations? That simply beggars belief. So for me to accept your view of the value of two hundred year old oral sources (ever heard of ‘Chinese whispers’?) I will have to see real hard historical evidence backing up those traditions. Otherwise they are mere airy nothings. 

    So herewith my take on what available sources tell us about early Islamic history. 

    The historical reliability of Islamic pre-history

    When you consult sources, including the Qur’an and especially the hadiths, on the history of the Arabian Peninsula before the coming of Islam, you will immediately be confronted by some recurring themes. They are:
    ●   The peninsula was steeped in ignorance and superstition marked by rampant paganism and a general lack of civilization.
    ●   The biblical figure Abraham spent a significant amount of time in Arabia.
    ●   Mecca was one of the most important cities in the Arabian Peninsula and was a major trading hub and pilgrimage center.
    ●   The tribe to which Muhammad belonged (the Quraysh) was one of the most important tribes of the Arabian Peninsula. It had even entered into an alliance with the Romans.

    It turns out that the evidence for each of these statements (with the partial exception of the first) is more or less non-existent. Let us look at each of the statements presented above in turn: 

    Arabia before Muhammad: Merely a Pagan Wasteland?
    The purpose of characterizing the period before the coming of Islam as a time of ignorance seems to be to emphasize the Muslim conviction that Islam sprang fully formed into the world without being significantly influenced by the prevailing worldviews and religious texts in the area of its birth. This is why the pagan character of the peninsula is so strongly emphasized. While there is no denying that various forms of Arab paganism flourished on the Arabian Peninsula before the coming of Muhammad, this is, however, only telling half of the story. Even a casual look at the history of this part of the world will confirm that there were thriving Christian and Jewish communities scattered throughout the Arab lands. The Kingdom of Himyar (which fell in 525 CE to Christian forces) that dominated the southern part of the peninsula before the coming of Muhammad even had several Jewish kings. The existence of these large and thriving Christian and Jewish communities clearly demonstrates that paganism was far from the only belief system present on the peninsula. There were, therefore, plenty of people around from whom one could learn the basics of monotheism should a would-be prophet become so inclined. 

    Abraham in Arabia: Says Who? 
    The Islamic record honors the Biblical figure of Abraham as one of the first Muslims (Qur’an 3:67 ) and places at least some of his activities in and around Mecca. He is supposed to have played a significant role in the construction of the Ka’aba (the cube-like building in the center of Mecca) and the establishment of rituals associated with worship at the site (Qur’an 2:125-127 ). There is just one problem with this whole scenario. Abraham is obviously a major figure in both Judaism and Christianity. Jews and Christians have, therefore, taken great care to reconstruct a picture of his life and movements. All of this reflection stretched over a millennium and placed the activities of Abraham firmly in Mesopotamia and Canaan (roughly the area of modern Israel and Palestine). A simple look at a map will, at this point, be quite instructive. The location of Mecca is hundreds of miles south of Abraham’s recorded sphere of operations. What evidence is there for a detour of epic proportions into the middle of an empty wasteland? Absolutely nothing, except for the faith-based claim almost two millennia after the life of Abraham that the so-called ‘Father of the Faithful’ graced the Arabian Peninsula with his presence. Other than this claim, there is deafening silence in all other sources about Abraham’s supposed desert sojourn. 

    The Quraysh: Lost Tribe of Arabia
    According to Islamic tradition, Muhammad was born into the Banu Hisham clan of an Arab tribe called the Quraysh. This tribe is presented as being one of the most powerful and important in all the Arabian Peninsula. They were, in fact, so important that even the Romans were eager to enter into alliances with them. Muslim tradition states that the first Quraysh to rule Mecca conquered the city with Roman help. There is only one problem with this story. The Romans (and all other ancient sources for that matter) seem never to have heard of the Quraysh! The first reference to the Quraysh in any historical document dates to more than a century after the time of Muhammad. Think for a moment how remarkable it is that the supposedly dominant tribe of the Arabian Peninsula did not manage to leave a single trace on the pages of history for hundreds of years. This fact is even more staggering when you consider that both the Romans and Persians regularly enlisted members of the tribes of Arabia to fight in their wars and to act as local allies. They, therefore, kept obsessively detailed gazetteers (geographical dictionaries) of the peninsula listing all the tribes and their territories. Glaringly absent in any of these gazetteers is any mention at all of the Quraysh. This is despite Muslim claims that Muhammad’s great-grandfather Hashim ibn 'Abd Manaf visited the Byzantine (Roman) court in person in order to negotiate a treaty on behalf of the Quraysh. We cannot but come to the conclusion on the basis of this evidence (or rather complete lack of evidence) that such a tribe simply never existed. 

    Mecca? Never heard of it! 
    According to the traditional Islamic narrative, Mecca was the pre-eminent city of the Arabian Peninsula. It held this position because it was a vital center for trade as well as pilgrimage. It must, therefore, come as something of a shock to discover that this supposedly great historical city, indeed the ‘mother of all cities’, is entirely absent from the historical record until long after the advent of Islam. Consider the following:
    ●   The first document that mentions Mecca (apart from the Qur’an, and the Qur’anic reference is no help at all in terms of geographical information as we shall see) is the Continuatio Byzantia Arabica in 740 CE. Let this fact sink in for a moment. Here we have a city that is supposedly the major city of the peninsula, but there is no uncontested reference to it for more than 100 years after Muhammad is supposed to have died. This in a part of the world where the geography, peoples and landscape were intensely documented by traders, government officials and travelers. The absence of Mecca from the historical record is all the more remarkable given the supposed preeminence of Mecca as a rich trading center. Merchants often wrote very detailed descriptions of trade routes, but none of them ever seem to have heard of a place called Mecca in the middle of the Arabian Desert until long after the coming of Islam.

    ●   When we look at maps of the Arabian Peninsula, the situation becomes even more desperate as far as the traditional Islamic account is concerned. The first map on which Mecca appears dates from approximately 900 CE or about 300 years after Muhammad is supposed to have lived there. Please accept my apologies if it seems as if I am laboring the point, but this is nothing short of staggering! Mecca is entirely absent from the ancient cartographic record until long after the advent of Islam. 

    ●   There are, furthermore, basic historical and geographical factors that make the existence of an ancient trading and religious hub at the location of the modern city of Mecca highly unlikely. Even a brief glance at a map will demonstrate that Mecca does not lie on any natural crossroads. Traveling there would, therefore, have necessitated a tortuous detour through empty desert. Something that time and profit-conscious traders would have been unlikely to do. The role of Mecca as a religious center is, secondly, also highly unlikely. All Arab religious sites that we are aware of were located in neutral territory, i.e., not controlled by a single tribe. This was because worship at such sites necessitated truces between the tribes. These truces could be more easily maintained in neutral places where no tribe would have had access to more resources than the others. This would certainly have ruled out Mecca since the Islamic account clearly states that it was controlled by the Quraysh. (See above.)

    ●   The archaeological evidence (or rather lack of it) for a major ancient city on the site that is now known as Mecca is nothing short of embarrassing. The supposedly preeminent city of the Arabian Peninsula would surely have left a significant archaeological footprint, yet this is glaringly absent from the archaeological record. 

    All of the above must lead us to conclude that the Mecca of today is not the place where Islam had its origins and that millions of Muslims are bowing towards a city that, in all probability, did not exist until long after the advent of Islam. This startling fact is confirmed when the qiblas (directions of prayer) of the earliest mosques are plotted. (There will be more on this topic). Before we study this evidence, the focus will turn to the question of the reliability of the primary sources for writing Islamic history. 

    How reliable are the Classical Islamic Historical Sources?
    The French scholar Ernest Renan (1823-1892) famously declared that Islam was ‘born in the full light of history’. He could say this because he chose to accept the classic sources for the writing of Islamic history at face value. The preceding section, where we discussed the lack of evidence for basic building blocks of Islamic history, should have convinced the reader that things are not quite as simple as that. This chapter is devoted to the examination of the classical sources that underpin the writing of Islamic history and an assessment of their reliability and usefulness as historical documents. We will be looking at the three most important sources for the writing of Islamic history. They are: 
    ●   The Qur’an
    ●   Various biographies of Muhammad with the biography of Ibn Ishaq generally taking precedence
    ●   A variety of traditions (hadiths)

    We will now examine the usefulness of each of these sources in reconstructing the early history of Islam:

    Can anyone provide me with a decent challenge?
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #4 - December 28, 2014, 08:06 PM

    each of these sources in reconstructing the early history of Islam:

    The Qur’an as an Historical Source
    Most non-Muslims assume that they can, should they be so inclined, pick up the Qur’an and learn all they need to know about the early history of Islam. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Qur’an is remarkably de-contextualized. Very few individuals, place names or historical events are mentioned. For example, the word Mecca occurs exactly once in the Qur’an (Qur’an 48:24 ) and the name Muhammad a mere three times (Qur’an 33:40 , 47:2 and 48:29 ) When you look up the references above, it quickly becomes clear they all simply make general statements and are of no use in terms of discovering the true history of either Mecca or Muhammad. The Qur’an could in a sense have been written at any time or any place for all the historical information that it provides. 

    Early Muslim scholars tried to solve the problem of the de-contextualized nature of the Qur’an by writing voluminously on the supposed origins of every chapter in the book. This so-called ‘Occasions of Revelation’ literature (Asab al-Nuzul) divides the chapters of the Qur’an into different periods: Early Meccan, Intermediate Meccan, Late Meccan and Medinan. These divisions correspond to the biography of Muhammad as it is traditionally presented. 

    The main problem with the ‘Occasions of Revelation’ literature (a problem we will encounter again and again during this discussion of sources) is that all attempts to provide context for the Qur’an were written generations after the book was supposedly revealed. They are therefore open to the charge of simply being back-projections from another place and time (200 years into the future, in fact) to the time of the prophet. This suspicion is further confirmed by the fact that there are often several precisely contradictory contexts provided in different books. Without reliable contemporary eyewitness testimony or contemporary documents, it is impossible to choose between these different versions of events. 

    Biographies of Muhammad
    Muhammad is, of course, the major human figure in the religion of Islam. It would therefore be only natural for Muslims to want to find out everything that they can about him. This market is well served by a variety of biographies purporting to fill in every last detail of the life of the Islamic prophet. There is just one problem with this whole enterprise. Not a single one of the biographies of Muhammad date from his own time! 

    The most famous and earliest biography of Muhammad of which we have a written record is the Sirat Rasul Allah (Biography of the Apostle of Allah) by Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Yasār (often known simply as Ibn Ishaq) who lived from 704-770 CE. Take a close look at those dates, and let the implications sink in: The author of the earliest biography of Muhammad in written form was born a full 70 years after Muhammad died and probably started work on his famous biography more than 100 years after Muhammad’s death. It should, furthermore, be noted that we do not have the actual book but only references and extended quotes from later biographers like Ibn Hisham (who died in 833 CE, almost exactly 200 years after Muhammad). Ibn Ishaq’s biography is accepted as the most reliable account of the life of Muhammad by the vast majority of Muslims, and yet it does not even come close to having been written during the time of Muhammad or even a time when eyewitnesses could still be called upon to help with the reconstruction of Muhammad’s personal history. 

    Several other works (besides those by Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham) are cited as more reliable biographies of the prophet, especially by those who dislike some of the elements of the biography as related by Ibn Ishaq. The problem with all of these (as with the biography of Ibn Ishaq itself) is that they were written generations after Muhammad was supposed to have lived. In some cases, claims are made that other biographies were written quite close to the time of Muhammad. These claims are, however, fatally undermined by the fact that no manuscript copies of these works are available until centuries after Muhammad’s life. Since claiming an ancient pedigree is not the same as proving an ancient pedigree, as countless forgeries of historical documents have proven over the years, these claims can be safely discounted. 

    When we analyze the prophetic biographies certain problems emerge almost immediately:
    ●   The contents of several of the biographies are significantly at odds with the teachings of the Qur’an. There are many examples of this, but the divergence between the Qur’an and the biographies of the prophet on the issue of miracles is perhaps most striking. In the Qur’an, Muhammad repeatedly refuses requests for miracles by stating that he is simply ‘a warner’ (cf. Qur’an 13:7 ) On the basis of this, we would have to say that the Qur’anic Muhammad was not a miracle worker (except for the supposed miracle of the Qur’an and the dubiously attested ‘splitting of the moon’ - more about this in Section 7.1). The picture presented in Muhammad’s biographies is rather more spectacular. Muhammad seems to have provided a ‘miracle a minute’! Water flows from his fingertips, he pops eyeballs back into the eyes of injured people causing them to work better than before and has joints of meat sing his praise. The list goes on and on. The austere non-miracle working figure of the Qur’an has now turned into someone who could easily get his own top rated miracle show on daytime TV! If this is not evidence of later additions to, and falsification of, the original tradition surrounding Muhammad, I don’t know what is. 

    ●   Later biographies tend to be much more detailed than earlier ones. A curious fact about the biographies of Muhammad is that the later the biography is (in terms of the date that it was written) the more detailed it tends to be. Later generations of writers seem to have had access to a wealth of detail that entirely escaped earlier biographers. This is curious to say the least. Where did all this new information, never before committed to paper, suddenly come from hundreds of years after Muhammad’s death? I believe we can see a clear example of legend creation and myth making in action here.

    ●   The biographies of Muhammad are based on a later calendar. This may seem like a very obscure and technical point, but the implications are staggering, so I beg the reader’s indulgence as I explain. In Ibn Ishaq (and later biographies), the dates when certain events occurred are scrupulously recorded. This may seem like a very commendable commitment to accuracy until you realize that every third year has an entire month missing! The context of this is that the traditional account tells us that the Islamic lunar calendar replaced the pre-Islamic pagan calendar in 629 CE. The pagan calendar had a leap month every three years to keep pace with the solar calendar. The Islamic calendar does not have this leap month and is thus 11 days shorter than solar-based calendars. The year 629 CE (when the pagan calendar was replaced) was 19 years since Muhammad claimed to have received his first revelation. In the intervening period, he lived through six leap months claiming to be a prophet before a new calendar was adopted. Yet of all the thousands upon thousands of events recorded of his prophetic ministry, not a single one takes place during a leap month. One can only conclude, on the basis of this, that the traditions in Ibn Ishaq were created in a time when all knowledge of how the previous calendar worked was lost. Date selection was, therefore, arbitrary and not based on any well preserved tradition. This suspicion is further strengthened by the fact that many of the major events of Muhammad’s life are placed on exactly the same day (Monday) and date (12 Rabi Al Awwal) in different years.

    In addition to the issues discussed above, we haven’t even touched on the errors, absurdities and inconsistencies in these biographies. In spite of this, Ibn Ishaq and those who followed him are widely accepted by Muslims as giving a reliable picture of the life of Muhammad. Even those who are embarrassed by Ibn Ishaq still return to his work for the only references to some of the widely accepted events in Muhammad’s life. While there are claims that some biographies are more accurate, no early copies of these exist. The reader will have to agree on the basis of the above, that the traditional biography of Muhammad’s is built on an exceedingly shaky foundation. 

    The Hadiths to the Rescue? 
    There is a final piece of the puzzle concerning Islamic origins. If you visit the study of any Muslim scholar, you are likely to find huge collections of beautifully bound books purporting to contain authentic traditions of the acts and sayings of Muhammad. These are hadith collections containing many individual hadiths (traditions). Hadiths generally consist of two parts. The ‘chain of transmission’ (or isnad) refers to the authorities who reported the hadith, supposedly right back to the time of the Muhammad. A typical isnad will read like this: “I heard from A, who heard from B, who heard from C, who heard from E, who heard from F that the prophet did such and such a thing”. The second part of the hadith then contains the text of the act or saying that is being reported. 

    This sounds like a very neat and reliable system, except for the fact that there are literally hundreds of thousands of hadiths floating around, often containing directly contradictory descriptions and teachings. It is easy to work out why this would be the case. If someone in a later era wanted to bolster his argument on an issue, it would be the easiest thing possible to invent a saying of the prophet in support of that particular position. This will work well until your opponent gets exactly the same idea. The result is utter chaos in hadith-land! Muslim scholars of past generations tried to get around this problem by researching the supposed reliability of different hadiths and classifying them as sahih (authentic), hasan (good) and da'if (weak). Over time whole collections of hadiths were compiled in order to provide the faithful with easy access to the more reliable traditions. Within Sunni Islam, six of these collections eventually came to be regarded as the most reliable:
    ●   Sahih Bukhari compiled by Imam Bukhari (died 870 CE)
    ●   Sahih Muslim compiled by Muslim bin al Hajjaj (died 875 CE)
    ●   Sunan al-Sughra compiled by Al-Nasa’i (died 915 CE)
    ●   Sunan Abu Dawood compiled by Abu Dawood (died 888 CE) 
    ●   Jami al-Tirmidhi compiled by Al-Tirmidhi (died 892 CE)
    ●   Sunan ibn Majah compiled by Ibn Majah (died 887 CE)

    The first two collections (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim) are especially important, and their contents are regarded as generally sound by the majority of Sunni Muslims. 

    Shi’a Muslims do not accept the same collections as the Sunnis do. Within Shi’a Islam, the so-called ‘Four Books’ are regarded as the most reliable. These are:
    ●   Kitab al-Kafi compiled by Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni (died 941 CE)
    ●   Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih compiled by Muhammad ibn Ali ibn-e Babuyeh (died 991 CE)
    ●   Al-Tahdhib and Al-Istibsar compiled by Abu Jafar Muhammad Ibn Hassan Tusi (died 1067 CE)

    It is hard to overstate the importance of the hadiths in constructing Islamic faith and practice. If it were not for the hadiths, Muslims would have no textual basis for key aspects of Islam. For example, without the hadiths, Muslims would not know the words of the Shahada (Confession of Faith), how to perform the Hajj (Pilgrimage) and how often to pray. While it is true that there are small groups who follow ‘Qur’an only’ Islam, they are generally regarded as apostates by both Sunni and Shi’a. The scholars of both these groups agree that Islam is impossible to follow without referencing the hadiths. 

    The importance of the hadiths as sources for the beliefs, practices and history of Islam seems to indicate that they can be regarded as ultra-reliable documents dating from the very beginning of Islam. Not so! 

    There is a basic fact that fatally undermines any claim to historic reliability by all of the major hadith collections. Take another look at the death dates given for the compilers of the major Sunni and Shi’a hadith collections above, while keeping in mind that Islamic tradition states that Muhammad died in the year 632 CE. You will notice that these compilers all lived roughly 200-400 years after the time of Muhammad. This means that we are asked to accept the historicity of documents that supposedly circulated orally for at least seven generations before being committed to paper! To put that in perspective, a modern equivalent would be to go to Europe and collect oral traditions on the last days of Napoleon and the Battle of Waterloo (which happened almost exactly 200 years ago) and publish it as the definitive version of those events.

    The main problem with extended oral retellings of events or circumstances is obviously that the potential for corruption of, or additions to, the original content is tremendous. In fact, Muslim scholars agree that there were many spurious hadiths around, to the extent that only about 3-4 % were accepted in the canonical hadith collections. Even with these, there are huge problems:
    ●   There is clear evidence that many people struggled to memorize the Qur'an for a single generation (with many chapters or verses found only among single individuals), yet we are asked to believe that thousands of traditions survived flawlessly across seven generations!

    ●   The so-called isnads (chains of transmission) create more problems than they solve. The earliest hadiths appeared without them until they were suddenly discovered to lend authority to certain hadiths. This means that we are asked to believe that isnad and hadith existed in isolation until they were somehow magically brought together. 

    ●   There are many examples of supposedly sound (sahih) hadiths in the canonical collections that directly contradict each other. You have, for example, separate and contradictory collections accepted by the Sunni and Shi’a. What clearer evidence for the unreliability of the hadiths can you ask for than the fact that the two major divisions of Islam both have access to collections that support their positions to a tee? Beyond this, we even find that irreconcilable contradictions occur within individual collections. You therefore have the absurd situation that two traditions both regarded as sahih (sound) and in the same collection will profoundly disagree with each other. We see for example that there is a hadith in Sahih Bukhari (by far the most respected Sunni collection) that states that Muhammad performed only one ablution before praying (1:4:159 ), the very next hadith states that he did so twice (1:4:160 ) only to be contradicted by the next one (1:4:161 ) that said he did it three times! So much for the supposed accuracy and soundness of the oral traditions that we find in the hadith collections. 

    ●   Many of the hadiths are absurd in the extreme, being filled with fanciful tales supposedly associated with Muhammad. They tend to portray Muhammad as the greatest miracle worker that ever lived despite the fact that the Qur’an makes it clear that Muhammad was not a miracle worker but a ‘warner’ (cf. Qur’an 13:7 ). This fanciful elaboration on the life of a historical figure is, of course, exactly what we would expect from tales that grew in the retelling over the centuries, but their presence certainly does not increase confidence in the hadiths as historically reliable records of the life and teachings of Muhammad. 

    ●   It is, lastly, interesting to ask the question: Why do the hadiths exist at all if the Qur’an is indeed a “detailed record” (Qur’an 6:114 ) from which “nothing is omitted” (Qur’an 6:38 )? These, and many other verses like them, make it clear that the Qur’an is a sufficient guide for faith and conduct. The Qur’an, therefore, does not contain a single direct command related to the collection and memorization of a secondary source like the hadiths. This fact places yet another massive question mark over the reliability of the hadith collections. We are asked to believe that thousands upon thousands of people independently undertook the mammoth task of hadith memorization despite the absence of any encouragement whatsoever from Allah or Muhammad to do so!

    Can anyone provide me with a decent challenge?
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #5 - December 28, 2014, 08:10 PM

    It can confidently be stated, on the basis of the material discussed in this section, that far from being ‘born in the full light of history’, the evidence for the traditional view of Islamic history is exceedingly flimsy to non-existent. This leaves us with the question: What are the true origins of Islam? This question is too broad to fully discuss in a book like this. Suffice it to say that the dateable sources that we do have, including documents and archaeological evidence from the period under discussion, indicate a history that is very different from the standard Islamic accounts. The next section will focus on these sources and what they tell us about early Islam.

    Archaeological and Documentary Evidence
    In the previous section we discussed the evidence supposedly underpinning the traditional account of Islamic history. We found that these sources all date from long after the time of Muhammad and can therefore not be regarded as reliable eyewitness testimony. It is not, however, as if the early period of Islam is a gaping void. People wrote, built buildings and issued coins during this time in the history of the Middle East. The purpose of this section is to look at the books, buildings and coins from this period with a view to finding out what they tell us about early Islam. 

    Archaeological Evidence
    Mecca is Entirely Absent from the Ancient Archaeological Record. The most surprising find when the archaeological record of early Islam is examined (although it should not surprise you if you read the previous sections) is the glaring absence of any archaeological evidence supporting the existence of a city called Mecca in the area where Muhammad is supposed to have lived. Any city of the supposed size and importance of Mecca is bound to leave traces, but there is simply nothing to point to the existence of Mecca until more than a century after the supposed time of the Prophet. The lack of archaeological evidence becomes even more glaring when you consider that there are several cities on the Arabian Peninsula that provide ample archaeological evidence of their ancient origins. (These include Qaryat al-Fāw, Al-Ukhdūd, Madā'in Sālih and Al-Shuwayhatiyah.) Why these relatively minor cities are so well attested in the archaeological record, but the supposed ‘Mother of All Cities’ since the time of Adam is absent, is a question that can only be answered by realizing that the 'Mother of All Cities' almost certainly did not exist at all during the time of Muhammad. 

    The ‘Qiblas’ of the Earliest Mosques Do Not Point Towards Mecca. One of the basic facts that most people know about Islam is that Muslims pray while facing Mecca. Muslims believe that this is mandated in the Qur’an where Allah instructs the faithful to pray in the direction of the “sacred mosque.” (cf. Qur’an 2:142-145 ) Since this statement is in the Qur’an itself, we can assume that all mosques built during the Islamic conquests would have had qiblas (prayer directions) pointing towards Mecca where the sacred mosque is supposed to have been located. The problem, from an Islamic perspective, is that this is simply not the case. The four oldest mosques that have been excavated are in:
    ●   Baghdad (built in the 700s CE)
    ●   Wasit (built 702 CE)
    ●   Kufa (supposedly built in 670 CE) 
    ●   Fustat (now part of Cairo, built in 714-719 CE)
    Not a single one of these mosques is oriented towards the middle of the Arabian Desert. What is even more intriguing is that the prayer directions of these mosques are not random but seem to converge at a point in Northern Arabia just below Palestine. It would seem, therefore, that the focus of Islamic piety in the early years was hundreds of miles away from the modern location of Mecca (a place, it is worth repeating, for which there is no contemporary archaeological evidence). 

    The earliest inscriptions related to the Arab conquest contradict the traditional Islamic account. The traditional Islamic account states that Islam emerged fully formed from the Arabian Desert to embark on the conquests for which it became famous. Muslims insist that by the death of Muhammad in 632 CE, all the essential features of the Islamic faith were in place. They furthermore claim that the Arabs conquered with the Shahada (“I testify that there is no God but God and that Muhammad is the messenger of God”) on their lips as they sought to establish societies dominated by Islam as far as they went. However, when the archaeological artifacts and inscriptions associated with the Arab conquests from the mid-7th century onward are examined, the supposedly Islamic nature of these conquests must immediately be called into question. Consider the picture painted by the following pieces of archaeological evidence related to the early years of the Arab conquest:

    ●   Muslims believe that Muhammad was followed by a series of Caliphs (literally ‘successors’). The first of these leaders to definitively appear in traceable archaeological records is Muawiya, the first leader of the Umayyad Caliphate, who acted as Caliph from (661-680 CE). The only problem, from a Muslim perspective at least, is that Muawiya is not presented as a Muslim ruler at all. An inscription on a dam near to Ta'if (in modern-day Saudi Arabia) built around 678 CE simply calls him ‘The Commander of the Faithful’. No mention whatsoever is made to Mecca, to Muhammad or to the Qur’an. This is very surprising in light of the subsequent insistence on the Islamic confession of faith on all official inscriptions. 

    ●   In 688 CE, a canal bridge was constructed in Fustat (near modern Cairo). The inscription states that it was built under the direction of Abd Al-Aziz ibn Marwan the emir, or ruler, of Egypt. Again no mention whatsoever is made to Islam, Muhammad or the Qur'an.

    ●   Another inscription associated with Muawiya is a dedication placed on a bathhouse in Gadara. This can be dated to the year 662 CE. It simply describes Muawiya as ‘The Commander of the Faithful’. There are, again, no references to Muhammad, the Qur'an or Islam. It refers instead to the Arab conquest (not the ‘Islamic Conquest’). Most striking of all is the fact that this inscription is prefaced with a cross! This is surprising, to say the least, in light of the later Islamic detestation of the cross. 

    The examples listed above do not call into question that there was an Arab conquest in the mid-600s CE, there certainly was. What is questionable is whether this was a specifically Muslim conquest. Nothing whatsoever in these earliest inscriptions support this belief. It must be emphasized that these inscriptions do not stand alongside others that affirm a more traditional Islamic understanding of the early years of the Arab conquest. To put it as bluntly as possible, there is virtually nothing in the earliest archaeological record after the Arab conquest to support the Muslim interpretation of events, namely that the conquest was intimately associated with a fully developed religion called Islam.

    Numismatic Evidence: The Coins of the Arab Conquest. Coins are regarded by historians as one of the most reliable types of evidence of the spread of a ruling class or an ideology. This is because coins are almost always produced by properly constituted central authorities. These authorities often use such coins to make a claim for legitimacy and to define the basis of their reign. If the Arab conquests were Muslim in nature, we could therefore expect that the coins produced by the Arab conquerors would bear inscriptions proclaiming Islam and its prophet as the basis of Arab rule. This is not the case at all. Those seeking an affirmation of the traditional Islamic view of history are soon disappointed when the coins of the Arab conquest are studied:

    ●   The earliest coins associated with the Arab conquest (minted from 550-570 CE) simply bear the formula “In the name of God” (Bismillah). Completely absent is the second part of the Islamic confession of faith “Muhammad is the messenger of God”. We can, therefore, at the most ascribe a vague monotheism to the Arab conquerors. Any specific mention of Islam or Muhammad is absent.

    ●   There is one coin that is very significant and that may refer to Muhammad. It was most probably minted in the 650s CE. The implications of this coin are troubling, to say the least, for pious Muslims and their view of the Arab conquests. This coin depicts a human figure with a crown alongside a cross. The letters MUH (in Arabic) also appear on the coin. These letters can obviously be extended to spell Muhammad. This is interesting on many levels. Firstly, the depiction of Muhammad is obviously anathema to observant Muslims yet, if this was indeed Muhammad, it seems the early Muslim rulers had no problems with making him appear on a coin. What is even more striking is the appearance of the cross. The Qur’an emphatically denies the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, so the cross would therefore have been seen as an expression of blasphemy. Islamic history is, in fact, full of instances of the destruction of crosses. Yet here we see a cross triumphantly produced on a coin minted by the Arab conquerors. There can be two possible explanations for this: 
    a) The religion of the Arab conquerors may have been a vague monotheism which left room for the adoration of the cross. If this is the case this religion was totally unlike fully developed Islam.
    b) The figure on the coin may not be Muhammad at all but Jesus Christ instead. The name Muhammad can also be a title meaning ‘The Praised One’ which could in this case possibly have been applied to Jesus. 
    Neither of these options correspond with the orthodox view of Islamic history since both of them place the cross center-stage in the theology of the Arab conquerors. Such a concept directly contradicts Qur'an 4:157 where it is emphatically stated that Jesus was not crucified. 

    The evidence cited in this section on the archeology associated with early Islam is absolutely devastating for the traditional understanding of Islamic origins. Not only do we encounter a complete absence of any evidence supporting the existence of Mecca, we are also faced with archaeological artifacts that fail to include any mention of Muhammad, Islam or the Qur'an. It is only with the building of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem that something approximating traditional Islamic theology enters the archaeological record. The Dome of the Rock was built in 691 CE, almost 60 years after the traditional death-date of Muhammad. Prior to this, only a vague non-Islamic monotheism is in evidence as the religion of the Arab conquerors. It would, therefore, again be possible to make a very strong case for later Islamic theology being read back into an earlier period from the 690s CE onward.

    As if the archaeological case against the traditional version of Islamic history is not devastating enough, plenty of documentary sources can also be cited to definitively disprove the idea that Islam emerged fully formed from the Arabian Peninsula in the 630s CE. It is to this documentary evidence that we now turn 

    Documentary Evidence
    In the previous section, the sources for the traditional account of Islamic history were discussed. It was pointed out that most of the sources date from more than 200 years after the events that they claim to describe. They can therefore in no way be regarded as the earliest documentary evidence related to the origins of Islam and the Arab conquest. There are, however, many other well-attested documents that describe this period of the Arab conquest. This is because the Arabs conquered territories (including Egypt, Syria and Persia) where literacy was firmly established among the elites. We can, therefore, turn to the writings of these conquered societies to gain a contemporary perspective on the conquest. It should, by now, not be surprising to find that these sources paint a very different picture of the early origins of Islam from the one presented in the traditional Islamic accounts. 

    In this section, I will profile some of the most important and accurately sourced early documents that discuss the Arab conquests. The basic question that I will be addressing is, once again, whether these documents support the idea that Islam emerged fully formed from the Arabian Desert in the 630's CE. It will quickly become apparent that they do not. 
    •   The Doctrina Jacobi (written between 634 and 640 CE). This is perhaps the earliest document that came down to us in which some of the elements of the Arab conquest are described. A key passage reads: “And they were saying that the prophet had appeared, coming with the Saracens, and that he was proclaiming the advent of the anointed one, the Christ who was to come. I, having arrived at Sykamina, stopped by a certain old man well-versed in scriptures, and I said to him: "What can you tell me about the prophet who has appeared with the Saracens?" He replied, groaning deeply: "He is false, for the prophets do not come armed with a sword. Truly they are works of anarchy being committed today and I fear that the first Christ to come, whom the Christians worship, was the one sent by God and we instead are preparing to receive the Antichrist. Indeed, Isaiah said that the Jews would retain a perverted and hardened heart until all the earth should be devastated. But you go, master Abraham, and find out about the prophet who has appeared." So I, Abraham, inquired and heard from those who had met him that there was no truth to be found in the so-called prophet, only the shedding of men's blood. He says also that he has the keys of paradise, which is incredible (i.e. ‘unbelievable’)”

    A few details immediately catch the attention of the reader. It is, firstly, the case that the prophet of the Saracens (i.e. the Arab invaders) is presented as still being alive, despite this text having been written at least two years after Muhammad supposedly died. Secondly, the prophet of the Arabs seems to be proclaiming some version of Christianity, note especially the references that he foreshadowed the Christ who was to come and that he has the keys of paradise. So whoever this prophet was, his actions and beliefs clearly do not correspond to the traditional account of who Muhammad was. The way in which he is presented also contradicts a crucial aspect of the traditional account of Muhammad's biography, namely that he died in 632.

    •   Sophronius Patriarch of Jerusalem (died 639 CE). Sophronius was the Patriarch (senior Christian religious leader) of Jerusalem during the Arab invasion. He wrote at length about the plight of the Christian community in Jerusalem under the Arabs and portrays the fall of Jerusalem as part of the judgment of God on a community that strayed from His ways. His accounts are interesting both in terms of how the invaders are portrayed and also in terms of what is absent from this description. Traditional Muslim versions of the story of the capture of Jerusalem by the Arabs state that they were particularly magnanimous and treated the Christian population with the greatest respect. This is certainly not the perspective of the patriarch! He portrays the Arab invasion as an utter calamity and describes their conduct in the bleakest and darkest of terms. Far from respecting the Christians, it seems the Saracens (as he habitually refers to the Arab invaders) even went as far as pulling down churches. This is significantly at odds with the way Muslim sources would later come to interpret these events. What is perhaps more significant for our purposes is the fact that Islam is entirely absent from the descriptions of the Patriarch. He calls the Saracens ‘godless’ and ‘Fighters against God’, but there is no indication in any of these writings that the Arabs had a specific prophet, a specific book or a specific religion called Islam. This is a remarkable omission, given the traditional Muslim account of these events. It is even more so because Sophronius is writing to strengthen his community and to help them to withstand the pressures that the Arabs are applying against them. In this context, it would have made perfect sense to address features of the religious beliefs of the Arabs in order to equip his flock to better interact with them. Yet, in none of the writings of Sophronius that have come down to us is there any indication whatsoever that such a thing as Islam even existed! This is utterly remarkable because it comes from a source that was an eyewitness to the conquest and who lived cheek-by-jowl with the Arabs over an extended period.

    •   The Armenian Chronicle (written around 660-670 CE). This chronicle is attributed to an Armenian bishop named Sebeos. Here for the first time we have a reliably sourced reference to Muhammad (called ‘Mahmet’ in the chronicle), a full thirty years after he was supposed to have died. Even so, the picture presented of Muhammad is, once again, significantly at odds with the traditional Islamic account. It depicts Muhammad as being in alliance with the Jews right up to the end of his life and furthermore, implies that Arabs and Jews are still (by 660-670 CE) the closest of allies. According to standard Islamic history, Muhammad broke off all relationships with the Jews in the 620s CE, and the Qur’an even calls the Jews the “worst enemies of the Muslims.” (Qur’an 5:82 ) The chronicle, one of the most detailed discussions that we have of the Arab conquests, once again contains not a single reference to Islam, Muslims or the Qur’an. Instead, we once again encounter a vague, ill-defined Arab monotheism. 

    •   References to Paganism in Arabia after the Arab Conquest. The traditional Islamic account states that paganism was eradicated in the Arabian Peninsula around the year 633 CE, and that after this date Islam was totally dominant with no pagan remnant to contend with. Yet, there is plenty of evidence for the survival of paganism among the Arabs long after the last pagan tribe was supposed to have been defeated by Muslims. A Nestorian Christian Synod held in 676 CE declared, for example, that believing women among the Arabs should avoid living with pagans. It then goes on to describe the practices of these pagans (including elaborate funeral ceremonies, which have no place in Islam), leaving us in no doubt that the reference here is to real pagans and that ‘pagans’ is not just a slur aimed at the Muslims. 

    Along the same lines, Athanasius II Patriarch of Antioch (683-686 CE) warns his flock to disassociate from the pagans (in an area where they are not supposed to be at all if the Islamic account is to be believed.) It is, again, clear that he refers to actual pagan practices (and not Islamic ones) as he mentions the strangulation of animals that are sacrificed by these pagans. Strangulation of animals is not something that is a feature of Islamic worship. These two examples, and others could be added, make it clear that paganism survived in the very areas where it was supposed to have been eradicated according to the Islamic account. This is just one more example of how unreliable these Islamic traditions are and how little they correspond with the actual historical reality on the ground.

    Taken together, the documentary evidence against the traditional Islamic account of the early history of the Arab conquest is devastating. Many other sources besides those listed above can be added and from all of them a picture emerges of a conquest by the Arabs that was vaguely monotheistic (but certainly not Islamic) in character. Before the 690s, there is no mention at all of the fact that these conquerors had a religion called Islam or that they had a holy book called the Qur’an. The one or two references that there are to Muhammad are ambiguous and do not correspond to the Islamic picture of who he was, i.e. describing him as being in alliance with Jews or being alive in 634 CE long after he was supposed to have died. It is really only with the construction of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (691 CE) where something approaching what we now regard as Islam begins to make an appearance. Its inscriptions contain several quotations from the Qur’an although it seems to play fast and loose with the supposedly holy text by adding words and changing the grammar. 

    By 730 CE, the Christian theologian John of Damascus wrote a polemic work against Islam. He identified certain key elements that we would now recognize as being in line with how Islam developed. But even at this late stage, and despite John living in the heart of the Islamic empire, it seems that certain aspects of Islam were still very fluid. John, for example, had no idea of the existence of a single work called the Qur’an and instead seems to regard the Muslims as possessing separate writings which they base their faith on. This, more than a century after the Qur’an was supposed to have been compiled and standardized.

    So did Islam ‘emerge in the full light of history’? The reader would have to agree, based on the evidence presented above that this is simply not the case. When the archaeological and documentary record is examined, all that we hear regarding the early years of Islam is a deafening silence. No mention of Muslims, of the Qur'an or of a religion called Islam can be found in the earliest documents or on the earliest inscriptions. In reality, it appears that Islam developed in a radically different way than how its early origins are described in standard treatments of the period. It is beyond the scope of this document to offer theories on how exactly what we now regard as Islam come into being. Suffice it to say, for our purposes, that almost nothing of the traditional account can withstand critical historical examination.

    Now the onus is on you to prove the worth and reliability of your 'oral sources' against the overwhelming weight of historical and archaeological evidence. Once I am satisfied that they are reliable enough to admit as evidence in our debate we can continue. 

    I look forward to hearing from you. 

    Kind regards, 


    Can anyone provide me with a decent challenge?
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #6 - December 28, 2014, 08:13 PM

    Pre-Debate Discussion with @PeterTownsend7 (2)

    Dear Peter,

    I'm not sure whether I should give you the monthly award for biggest moving of the goalposts or biggest red herring. If you were merely replying to my "oral traditions" remark, then I would suggest a simple question next time to clarify, instead of going off on an epic, and somewhat embarrassing, tangent. That whole post was totally irrelevant to my points, with the exception of clarifying that you agree with me regarding the obvious corruption of hadiths and that the Quran rebukes them. There are many verses in the Quran where it literally condemns "HADITHS" (yes, WITHOUT TRANSLATION) that will come "AFTER" the Quran. The message of the Quran on hadiths could not possibly be any clearer. I like this quote of yours, more or less in agreement with my position, in spite of the subtle mistranslation:

    "It is, lastly, interesting to ask the question: Why do the hadiths exist at all if the Qur’an is indeed a “detailed record” (Qur’an 6:114 ) from which “nothing is omitted” (Qur’an 6:38 )? These, and many other verses like them, make it clear that the Qur’an is a sufficient guide for faith and conduct. The Qur’an, therefore, does not contain a single direct command related to the collection and memorization of a secondary source like the hadiths. This fact places yet another massive question mark over the reliability of the hadith collections. We are asked to believe that thousands upon thousands of people independently undertook the mammoth task of hadith memorization despite the absence of any encouragement whatsoever from Allah or Muhammad to do so!"

    As for your irrelevant rebuttal to my "oral traditions" remark, all that you had to do was read how I qualified this phrase and connect it to what I was addressing in your prior comments to see how far off track you went. I actually said, "oral tradition transmitted in a massively parallel fashion across time without any serially-transmitted hadiths required". This is a very high threshold of reliability, which means it must be referring only to practices that virtually all Muslims do on a regular basis, like prayer and fasting. I was replying to your claim that hadiths are required to learn "prayer positions". No, they most certainly are not required. Muslims learn this practice to this day from oral AND visual tradition transmitted in a massively parallel fashion across time. That's why there is no material disagreement on such traditions.

    So, to be 100% clear here, I have no intention of bringing in mysterious "oral traditions" in my debate. These traditions (as also referenced by non-Muslim scholars of hadiths, by the way) merely cover such minutiae as how to pray and other acts of worship that have nothing to do with what we are debating. In other words, I'm merely stating the obvious, not trying to invoke some mysterious new historical sources.

    Your whole post is essentially a wild tangent questioning whether Muhammad, Mecca, early Muslims, etc. even really existed based on silly anecdotal references that amount to nothing but an argument from ignorance fallacy. You conveniently omit or wholly invalidate all historical documents to the contrary and focus instead on isolated anecdotes. I love how you end this, by the way, in essence just like Robert Spencer does in his absurd book, Did Muhammad Exist?:

    "It is beyond the scope of this document to offer theories on how exactly what we now regard as Islam come into being."

    Well, yeah, of course it's beyond the scope. Why? Because you just spent all of your effort trying to debunk the only rational explanation (supported by historical sources) of how Islam came into being! It would now require positing an alternative conspiracy theory in which tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people were complicit in making up history after the fact, all without a single historical dissension ever documented against this massively brazen conspiracy -- EVER. Do you have any idea whatsoever how nutty those arguments sound?

    Anyway, I'm not here to debate loony historical conspiracy theories based on endless argument from ignorance fallacies. I'm here to debate Islam -- specifically, "Is beating women permitted in Islam?", which you also apparently agree is our topic of debate based on your immediate PDF reply to this question.

    On that note, I saw your other initial post on this topic. I noticed that you did not invoke any hadiths at all, in spite of my allowance to include "ANY AND ALL hadiths" in the debate. I even allowed the a priori assumption (unless logically demonstrated otherwise in debate) that such hadiths are "reasonably accurate". I don't want anyone to argue that I can only debate this topic by excluding hadiths. I also want to make sure that it is clear that my position (and the Quran's) on hadiths essentially has nothing to do with this debate, since I am willing to debate as if the hadiths are scriptural sources, just as you requested. You can even bring in Sira on this topic too. In other words, bring everything you've got to win. If you need more time to pull it all together, let me know. We are not playing chess on a clock here. Also, I want to make sure that you are bringing your 'A' game to this debate without time restrictions affecting that.

    With that said, I will give you a chance to update your opening arguments in case this was not already clear (even though I thought it was when I used all caps). If you feel the need to copy and paste from any of your revered medieval mullahs, or even from hate sites that have documented these facts more thoroughly than you have, you are 100% free to do so. Just don't be redundant and don't merely LINK to their arguments - make them YOURS by editing them into your document. Also, just be careful that you don't embarrass yourself in the process. In other words, be careful what you include and argue - you don't want another Bukhari 7:62:63 scenario on your hands.

    As for the debate itself, before I make it official by responding, I need you to address two of my questions that you missed in your reply: 1) Do you want to raise the stakes with an official poll on "Who won?"; and 2) Do you want to commit to a second debate now (and on what topic), or to only this debate now? The latter is especially critical to me, since I have no tolerance for moving the goalposts to adjacent or additional debates that are not agreed to in advance - and then absurdly having you, me or those following this debate "declare victory" when the other side doesn't keep going in an endless loop.


    Chameleon X

    Can anyone provide me with a decent challenge?
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #7 - December 28, 2014, 08:51 PM

    If you want to copy someone else's stuff it'd be polite to at least give links to the originals. Wink

    Devious, treacherous, murderous, neanderthal, sub-human of the West. bunny
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #8 - December 29, 2014, 03:30 PM

    I got the all clear to post the pre discussion and the source is from twitter lol

    Can anyone provide me with a decent challenge?
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #9 - December 29, 2014, 03:30 PM

    Further Pre-Debate Comments by Peter Townsend

    Dear Chameleon_X

    Thanks for your response. Firstly I want to assure you that I did not simply go off on some tangent. The historical accuracy of your traditions is of vital importance, especially since you are so reticent to accept the hadith. More on this later. 

    Secondly I did kickstart the debate on Qur’an 4:34 but you seemed to have missed that altogether. I had to upload my essay to Dropbox as I wanted it in PDF so as not to mess up the Arabic. You can find it here: I argue that there can be no doubt that this verse teaches corporal punishment of married women. 

    A few more thoughts on hadiths. You and some of your supporters seem to get your logical categories mixed up when it comes to hadith. Why on earth would I need to fully accept the reliability of the hadith in order to use them to question aspects of Islamic teaching? Since all Muslim legal schools use hadith in making rulings I should obviously reference the hadiths as used by these legal schools when I question Islam. That does not for one moment mean that I accept them as reliable any more than it means that I regard the Qur’an as reliable when quoting from it, I simply reflect their vital role in shaping Islamic theology (for the vast majority of Muslims at least). 

    Let’s revisit your ‘parallely transmitted’ oral traditions (e.g. on how to pray) again. By zeroing in on that you accused me of shifting the goalposts. I did not nothing of the sort. You seem totally convinced that there is some pristine Islamic oral tradition that confirms your belief and practice. I merely tried to point out that nothing could be further from the truth. 

    So let's look at traditions regarding prayer so universal (according to you) that hadiths were not needed. Presumably that would include prayer in the direction of prayer towards Mecca? You dismiss questions about this as ‘conspiracy theories’. Fair enough, that should make it so much easier to prove your case. So instead of regarding this as a tangent I now invite you to a thoroughgoing discussion of this topic. Since you are so convinced that the historical case for early Islam is watertight, and since you got first picks on a debate topic, I now formally challenge you to debate me on this as the second debate topic. 

    The thesis I will attempt to prove is: Modern Mecca is not the original holy city of Islam referred to in the Qur’an. 

    You will presumably want to argue the opposite since all of Muslim historiography rests on my thesis being disproved. 

    Do you accept? 

    Kind regards, 


    Ps. I have no problems with a ‘who won’ poll as long as we both agree that the time is right to conduct it (i.e. all arguments have been heard and weighed) 

    Can anyone provide me with a decent challenge?
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #10 - December 29, 2014, 04:17 PM

    Pre-Debate Discussion with @PeterTownsend7 (Reply #3)

    Dear Peter,

    You said: "Secondly I did kickstart the debate on Qur’an 4:34 but you seemed to have missed that altogether."

    No, I clearly did not miss that, and you clearly didn't read my last post, where I told you I read it. I gave you a chance to revise your document in light of the fact that you omitted all hadiths from this debate when there are clearly many relevant hadiths to discuss. You are free to include ANY hadith and even ANY Sira to make your case, and I will rebut ALL of them based on the a priori assumption that they are "reasonably accurate". How could YOU miss that?

    More important, I was giving you a subtle hint that your level of analysis is frankly not up to par. It is weak, superficial and, in some cases, embarrassingly wrong as is. This seems like a straightforward topic at first, as many topics in Islam are. However, it is perhaps the deepest rabbit hole that I have ever come across in Islam due to a millennium+ of lies and incompetent scholarship that the truth is buried under. The fact that you can't even SEE the majority of the relevant facts that are available to you shows you have no clue how out of depth you are here.

    With that advanced warning, I will give you one final chance to revise your document at least to avoid public embarrassment, after which I will present my case. 

    You said: "The historical accuracy of your traditions is of vital importance, especially since you are so reticent to accept the hadith." 

    For the third time, I actually accepted "ANY AND ALL hadiths" in this debate, remember? As for my (and the Quran's) more general position on hadiths, you and I both agree that they are at the very least totally unreliable as Scripture, which requires a much higher threshold of reliability than mere historical documents. The only difference is that you hypocritically use hadiths with reckless abandon in your propaganda, definitively presenting them as "Islam" or "Islamic" Scripture with no caveats whatsoever. When you do this, you are no longer merely "questioning" hadiths. You are taking a public position on their "Islamic" legitimacy in spite of the Quran condemning them as un-Islamic Scripture.

    "You seem totally convinced that there is some pristine Islamic oral tradition that confirms your belief and practice."

    Where did I claim such a straw man? I merely said oral (and visual) traditions are how Muslims learn various minutiae of prayer and fasting. There is no material disagreement on these practices worldwide, nor do they disagree with the Quran. This makes sense given their massively parallel transmission across time and the Quran's insistence that such details don't make one righteous whatsoever (see below). That is frankly good enough for me to take it on faith. I make no claim that these traditions are objectively and provably the original version, nor do I feel any need to.

    You also bring up the direction of prayer towards Mecca. The fact that the direction is towards Mecca is not relevant or even important. Muslims already know it wasn't always Mecca, and that which city the qibla points to is ultimately not important either. It is just an agreed direction (to "avoid disputes" per Quran 2:149-150) and a symbol of unity, nothing more. To ascribe anything more would be to attribute some polytheistic importance to Mecca itself in prayer, when there is none. This is made absolutely emphatic in the following verse:

    "It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the east and west. The righteous is one who has faith in God and the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets, and gives wealth in spite of his love for it, for kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the freeing of slaves; who is steadfast in prayer and practices regular charity; and those who fulfill their covenant when they make it, and those who are patient in suffering and hardship, and in times of stress. Those are the ones who are true, the God-conscious." (Quran 2:177)

    What I'm dismissing as "conspiracy theories" are not some historical esoterica about the role of Mecca and what it was prior to the early Muslim community. There are simply not enough facts on this to "prove" anything. This is a question of faith. The fact that you actually want to debate such a thinly supported and speculative claim only demonstrates your aversion to fact-based arguments. 

    What I'm actually referring to as "conspiracy theories" are your alternative UNSTATED theories on how Islam came to be the religion of 1.6 billion today, as IMPLIED BY your "refutation" of the history of early Muslims per all other reputable historians. If Mecca, Islam, Muhammad, etc. were all essentially invented 100 or more years after the fact, as you imply, then this would require a massive conspiracy by tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of individuals to pull it off. And there is ZERO reliable historical record of any leak of this alleged epic conspiracy, which makes your case even more absurd. When you or Robert Spencer can ever present an alternative history that plausibly connects to the historical realities of today without causing hysterical laughter amongst real historians, let me know. Until then, please stop wasting my time on senseless drivel.

    You said: "Since you are so convinced that the historical case for early Islam is watertight, and since you got first picks on a debate topic, I now formally challenge you to debate me on this as the second debate topic. The thesis I will attempt to prove is: Modern Mecca is not the original holy city of Islam referred to in the Qur’an."

    I think I covered this straw man above. Not only do I not even really care about this ancient history, I never made any claim on the "historical case for early Islam". You did. I merely asserted that your claim implies a massive conspiracy theory of epic proportions, which you blithely dismiss as 'beyond the scope' of your book that you copied and pasted from. Moreover, as a general rule, I only debate and debunk Islamophobia (per my bio line), which are those claims that generate an irrational fear (or hatred) of Islam. By factually and logically demonstrating them as irrational, I debunk them. Non-Muslims couldn't care less about the history of Mecca. They care about Islam's impact on people and societies TODAY. I also avoid debates trying to "prove Islam", since my goal is never to proselytize, only to debunk Islamophobia.


    Chameleon X

    Can anyone provide me with a decent challenge?
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #11 - December 30, 2014, 01:27 AM

    I got the all clear to post the pre discussion and the source is from twitter lol

    Trouble is, I'm not sure anyone's reading the walls of text you're posting without comment or analysis.

    How about giving a personal summary of their basic points, and allowing us to choose whether or not to click the link.
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #12 - December 30, 2014, 02:35 AM

    I think what's been posted is useful and great.

    If others are too lazy to read then they're missing out. Nothing new is mentioned at all as far as I know but it's a great reminder.

    One thing, in the book 'Jerusalem' Mentefiore dismisses Sophronius' writings as polemic as the overwhelming evidence indicates that the Muslims were welcomed into the city and viewed in the light of liberators.

    No free mixing of the sexes is permitted on these forums or via PM or the various chat groups that are operating.

    Women must write modestly and all men must lower their case.!
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #13 - December 30, 2014, 04:41 PM

    There is more pre discussion but its nothing substantial so i will not post it and the main debate has started.

    a critical analysis made on the topic

    Is wife beating permissable in islam?
    very done by chameleon x and will be looking forward to peter's reply

    Can anyone provide me with a decent challenge?
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #14 - January 22, 2015, 06:22 PM

    Here is the reply by peter townsend
    It is a pdf so expect a download.

    Can anyone provide me with a decent challenge?
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #15 - January 24, 2015, 02:00 PM

    I have looked everywhere for information about Peter Townsend but I can't find anything? Does he have any formal education in Islam? Most of the information I gain regarding Islam is from academic sources as there is so much misinformation around (from both sides).
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #16 - January 24, 2015, 02:26 PM

    Are we talking about the guitarist from The Who?

  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #17 - January 24, 2015, 02:40 PM

    I have looked everywhere for information about Peter Townsend but I can't find anything? Does he have any formal education in Islam?

    Hell questioner., well let me give you his home address in amazon jungle

    1. Questioning Islam: Tough Questions & Honest Answers

    2.  Islam and Indoctrination


    Most of the information I gain regarding Islam is from academic sources as there is so much misinformation around (from both sides)

    that is a very interesting point you raised here  dear questioner. So when you say "you gain information about Islam from academic sources.",

    what  academic sources did you read? and why not gain information about Islam or for tat matter any religion fro their respective religious books, scriptures and their history?

    for  e.g to gain information about Islam, I say Quran is the best source... So let us read Quran..

    with best wishes

    Do not let silence become your legacy  
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #18 - January 24, 2015, 04:44 PM

    Hell questioner., well let me give you his home address in amazon jungle

    that is a very interesting point you raised here  dear questioner. So when you say "you gain information about Islam from academic sources.",

    what  academic sources did you read? and why not gain information about Islam or for tat matter any religion fro their respective religious books, scriptures and their history?

    for  e.g to gain information about Islam, I say Quran is the best source... So let us read Quran..

    with best wishes

    Hi Yeez,
    I saw his amazon pages but I couldn't see any information about his studies in Islam.
    I prefer to read a scriptural analysis of the Qur'an than the Qur'an itself as I feel it provides greater insight. To completely understand a verse in the Qur'an, you would need to read the relevant ahadith, tafsirs and understand the context they were given in. An academic perspective usually synthesizes all this information and has a greater general understanding of Islamic theology than my own. In short, I suppose it's more efficient Tongue
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #19 - January 24, 2015, 05:36 PM

    ............... An academic perspective usually synthesizes all this information and has a greater general understanding of Islamic theology than my own. In short, I suppose it's more efficient Tongue

    Hmmm.."  Tongue " is a good point questioner.,

    So which academic university/person/faculty would you prefer to understand the Islamic theology?

    Western or Eastern??
    Harvard? Princeton? ,
    Islamic Online University Amrika?
    Cordoba University Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences.,  AMRIKA?
    London university of Economics?
    Egypt Al-Azhar University?
    Islamic University of Indonesia?
    International Islamic University, Islamabad?
    Russian Islamic University, Kazan?
    Islamic University of Madinah  Saudi Arabia?
    Omdurman Islamic University  Sudan?
    Islamic University in Uganda?
    College of Sharia and Islamic Studies.,  Kuwait  University?
    College of Islamic and Arabic Studies., United Arab Emirates?

    Lol.....  Cheesy ....So where from you want to learn Islamic theology  dear questioner??  pick up your university/college and pick up a person you like...

    Do not let silence become your legacy  
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #20 - January 25, 2015, 01:57 AM

    Robert Hoyland, Fred Donner, Tom Holland are a good start
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #21 - January 25, 2015, 06:51 AM

    The argument is on what a particular word in the quran means. Why didn't he just quote a dictionary like lanes lexicon?

    Seems like the best method to counter someones attempted reinvention of a word
  • Chameleon X vs Peter Townsend
     Reply #22 - March 07, 2015, 10:19 AM

    Here is the summery of everyones argument

    and here is the official voting link

    twitter needed to vote

    Can anyone provide me with a decent challenge?
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