Tentative conclusions

December 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm (Islam, why I didn't convert to Islam)

I am in two minds about posting on why I arrived at a lack of belief in Islam. I do want to record this for myself (that’s what my blog is for), and I think some people will want to read it. I am also still open to any answers Muslims might be able to give me, so that is another reason to write it on the blog. But I hesitate because I don’t want to destroy anyone’s faith. Maybe it’s big-headed of me to think my problems with Islam are big enough to impact on anyone’s faith, though; and people can decide for themselves whether to read it or not (I will not be offended if anyone decides not to). Another thing I am a bit worried about is the threats others have experienced when criticising Islam (admittedly they probably did so with less respect than I am going to do). I don’t know how worried I need to be but I’m going to do this in parts and see how it goes.

It was not one thing that broke the deal for me, it was a lot of little things that I was tying myself in knots trying to be OK with. I have been called a perfectionist, and often in life I give up with things because I cannot cope with imperfect situations. This is what has been happening lately with Islam and I recognised the familiar pattern. The discomfort and panicked wrestling has blunted my enthusiasm. My first thought was, I need to tolerate the uncertainty and the problematic elements, just like with other aspects of life – I can make it work for me. Nothing is perfect, even religion – we have to work with that and not just throw it out and start from scratch again.

With another religion that might be OK. But with Islam, it’s not OK to think the religion is imperfect. The Quran calls itself a book written by God, and so there’s really no room for thinking that it’s OK for some of it to be wrong.

I had already rejected the idea that it had to have been perfectly preserved. A year ago I read a book by scholar Farid Esack which spoke of “variant readings” of the Quran existing, and quoted historical figures from the first caliphates saying that no-one could be sure the whole of the Quran had been collected and none of it had been lost! I think what we do have of the Quran has been preserved pretty accurately and any variations were of limited impact. But because I couldn’t see God subjecting important detailed information to these flawed human transmission processes, I was of the opinion that the overall message is probably what matters – and is simple enough to have been well preserved – rather than any specific verses. So that’s not in itself an obstacle to faith in it.

But what is the overall message? It calls itself a reminder, which implies it doesn’t contain new information and need not be seen as a definitive guide for life. Indeed I don’t think it is. I saw it as more the product of a conversation between Muhammad and God in which he is instructed to warn and guide and remind people of God. As you read it, much of it is instructions or information regarding situations he was facing – how to deal with unbelievers, what to say to them, how to warn the hypocrites, and the Jews and Christians, how to argue for the existence of God and resurrection and judgment, how and when to fight, and to a certain extent what laws to put in place. It reads more as a book of guidance for Muhammad than a book of guidance for people everywhere. Of course there may be guidance in it that is relevant for people everywhere, but it is not structured as a life manual. There is no equivalent of the ten commandments, no place where it sets out exactly what moral conduct is. The other day I trawled through it looking for a verse to support the moral precept that lying is wrong, and it was harder to find than you would think for a divine “life manual”. Which can be OK – maybe that’s just not what it is, it’s just a reminder of the eternal principles of tawheed, delivered in the form of situational divine insights to Muhammad.

But it still has to be perfect. If any of these situational divine insights are flawed, then it throws the whole thing into doubt. Unless I am going to believe that Muhammad was divinely inspired some of the time, and mistaken some of the time – but by this point I would be so far from orthodoxy that there would be no point calling myself a Muslim. Or unless I can convince myself the questionable bits were inauthentic, like I do with the hadiths – but there is far less justification for that with the Quran, and it would also put me far out of the mainstream. So basically it has to be perfect. And this is why I have been putting myself through hell: worrying over so many things that don’t seem perfect, trying to hold on to Islam, making myself exhausted in the process.

I just want to say that although I don’t think God wrote the Quran, I do think there is truth in it, and goodness. I think Islam can be a path that leads people to God. I do think that goodness can grow even out of flawed origins. Islam has flourished and evolved as it’s become a world religion, and I know people do find meaning and truth and beauty in it; whether this is original or not perhaps doesn’t matter. I don’t know exactly what I think of Muhammad but I have never entertained the notion that he was a fraud, and I still can’t believe he was. I think he was sincere and I think the empire he started was, on balance, a force for good in the world. If I wasn’t such a perfectionist, I’m sure I could have converted.

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111 Comments

  1. Stacy said,

    Wow, these are many of the same thoughts I have worked my way through in the last couple years. I think that Islam can indeed be a beautiful way of life. However, I kind of fell in love with Islam within the context of a culture. I didn’t spend much time studying the Quran in depth until recently.
    I also became frustrated at Islamic scholars’ refusal to use the same types of textual and literary criticism that are used to study the Bible. I would love to see more of that type of study in regards to the Quran.
    You are right that the Quran and Bible are thought of very differently in terms to their inspiration. The Quran has to be 100% inerrant because it is considered the direct words of God sent down by the angel Gabriel. This presents a problem when we see literary borrowing in the Quran from deuterocanonical Christian and Jewish sources. I posted a video talking about this on my blog awhile back.

  2. Sarah ELizabeth said,

    LOL @ your perfectionism 🙂

    I think possibly there are many Muslims with these same questions but they simply do not voice them.

    I think Asra Nomani and Tariq Ramadan would give you inspiration about Islam and it’s real imperfections.. In Tariq Ramadan’s latest book he speaks of how we need to reform Islam and interpret the Quran with Ijtihad.

    Anyways, you have made your decision and this is a good thing, being in limbo sux, but there are plenty of Muslims who believe that God brought down Islam as the seal of the religions, as the final religion that all should move towards, but they are also “far from orthodoxy.” I do not consider myself an orthodox Muslim, and I have plenty of Muslim friends who are not either, along with prominent authors and intellectuals..
    You do not have to be an orthodox Muslim to be authentic. For me, I have a hard time with accepting homosexuality as a sin, in fact I reject that notion. I don’t consider myself less of a Muslim because of that.

    There are also Muslims out there that do believe the Quran should not be taken as a literal way to live, and who believe Syariah is about Justice, not punishment.. There are many many views, yours could be one also…

    🙂

    • Ms M said,

      “I think possibly there are many Muslims with these same questions but they simply do not voice them.”

      I’m sure that is true. I think it’s sad to think that questioning things means we are not believers or are being wrong in some way. I can’t just believe, and in Islam we are not supposed to do that. It’s only natural to ask questions and we should be able to expect answers. But of course some born Muslims don’t know the answers so sometimes I think it’s up to us to go out and ”find” the answers wherever they are.

    • Cornelius said,

      Sarah Elizabeth,

      “I do not consider myself an orthodox Muslim, and I have plenty of Muslim friends who are not either, along with prominent authors and intellectuals..
      You do not have to be an orthodox Muslim to be authentic. For me, I have a hard time with accepting homosexuality as a sin, in fact I reject that notion. I don’t consider myself less of a Muslim because of that.”

      I’m not trying to tell you what’s right or wrong. I don’t know what’s right or wrong myself. But if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask a few questions in the hope of hearing your point of view.

      Imagine that a brilliant baker comes up with a very unique recipe for a “perfect” cake. To bake that cake, one has to mix 101 ingredients, and the procedure of the actual mixing also has to be done in a specific way. So the flour must be of a specific kind; exact amount of sugar; the exact number of eggs; mixed into the flour with a specific amount of water, all to be stirred in a clockwise motion at a specific speed for a specific duration etc. That complete mixture is then put into an over at specific temperature for a specific duration. The result is a perfect cake which he names “Islam”.

      Imagine that almost everyone thinks that the cake is perfect in every sense of the word. The sweetness, the texture, even the aroma from the oven is perfect. But when you bite into that cake, you find that although it’s indeed very good, it’s not exactly “perfect”. For your taste buds would prefer no raisins, and maybe no almond nuts and cashew nuts too. Perhaps a bit lesser sugar would be best. A bit more butter and less eggs would be better, and so on and so forth.

      You then decide to use the same recipe, but omitting the raisins, almond and cashew nuts. You adjust or omit totally some of the ingredients from the original recipe according to your tastes. When the cake is done, you found that it is “perfect” according to your tastes. It doesn’t really taste anywhere close to the original recipe, but as far as you are concerned, it’s “mainly” the same cake.

      Now my question to you, Sarah:

      1) Would it be right to say that the cake you baked should also be known as Islam? After all, as far as you are concerned, it is the same, even though the lovers of the original cake disagree with you?

      2) If that cake should still be considered the same as the original cake, Islam, because you only changed some minor ingredients of the original recipe, at which point of the alteration of the original recipe would you reckon before you reach a point when you’d say it’s no long Islam?

      In respect of (2) above, if I’m not mistaken, Sarah (or Wrestling with religion… arghhh!) has reached her point where she thought it’s no longer the same as the original recipe (correct me if I’m wrong).

      • Wrestling With Religion said,

        Cornelius,
        nice analogy!
        I don’t see Islam as a detailed cake recipe. That’s what the traditionalists see it as. I see it as more flexible in terms of ingredients. The Quran leaves room for that flexibility. It is a fairly loose description of how to bake a cake. And I think people can either take it strictly or interpret it more freely and still call it Islam, and if that’s what they want to call it I don’t have a problem with that.
        My quest has always been to determine if that cake recipe – however detailed or flexible it may be – is written by God. So I have been looking at firstly, if followed faithfully and sincerely and not twisted in any way, does it make good cakes? Does it make the best cakes or can I imagine better cakes? And secondly, is the way in which the instructions are set out, the way that I would expect from God? Or is it confusing and difficult to understand?

      • Wrestling With Religion said,

        Having said that, of course there was also a process I went through to determine what I think Islam is – i.e. how detailed is the cake recipe. I concluded, not very detailed… but since the Quran calls itself the words of God, the fundamentals it contains cannot be arbitrarily changed and still call it Islam. They can be re-interpreted through ijtihad, but I think when you have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to get it into a shape you can feel comfortable with, it’s time to admit that you don’t believe in it.

  3. Achelois said,

    Very interesting! I’m very interested in learning what you have to say. I agree that no religion is perfect and perfectionists find it harder to accept imperfect notions. Looking forward eargerly to your other posts in the series.

    BTW, I found out why I couldn’t leave a comment – Chrome. My Chrome is acting up and won’t even let me comment on my own blog!

  4. LK said,

    Your issues are some of mine although I have less issues with the Qur’an than I do the Bible or the Torah. Also, the Qur’an does mention to not forget the other two books (Gospel and Torah) which may be why the ten commandments are not specifically mentioned (Although I swear there is a passage about Moses dropping the tablets when seeing his people worshipping the cow and the stones go blank….maybe that is from somewhere else.) They are implied though. The Qur’an is a lot more metaphorical and symbolic which makes it sometimes hard to understand. Trust me, my tafseer class has taught me loads of stuff you miss if you don’t know the history behind the verse. Its truly fascinating, you’d probably enjoy it.

    I get where you are coming from. Hadiths are my main issue, I’m not sure how to get around them. There are certain rules that do seem unnatural or extreme. I’ve learned many muslims don’t follow them. And yeah, its hard for me to believe that somehow someone didnt mess with the Qur’an before they got it written down once and for all. But it is rather consistant and seems to probably be 95% all there you know? I commend the muslims for that at least.

    But, that is why I haven’t made a decision 🙂 I refuse to follow something I do not agree with, I’ve already been doing that all my life.

  5. aynur said,

    “But what is the overall message?”

    So far, for me I believe it is simply the belief in 1 God, judgment day, and to do righteous deeds.
    About the variant readings, that’s something I want to look into but haven’t yet. I have bookmarked this book to order sometime in the future:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1565644204/ref=cm_rdp_product

    I’m the same as LK, hadiths are my main issue – I don’t know what to do with them. I cannot logically believe that they have been preserved and nothing was changed since there was such a long time before compiling them. I was telling myself the other day that even if Bukhari (for example) had super-human memory and did not make a mistake what so ever in recording them, that doesn’t mean there weren’t any other mistakes before he collected them – either something being taken out of context, missing words, etc.

    • LK said,

      well said Aynur, that is my exact issue. I totally believe hadiths have been compromised or possibly interpreted incorrectly at times. But since people aren’t willing to change their definitions, we get stuck with things that may no longer apply to our time.

      My fav iffy hadith is the hadith that condemns those who try to create as God does. and people applied it to art. However, now that we know about cloning (aka actually creating real life) I’d say it more applies to that. Sadly, you rarely see it applied to something like this since they decided it was going to be about art and they don’t want to change their opinion. Sad face 😦 But what scares me about hadith is the people who hold it to a higher or equal status to the Qur’an. It is no where equal, much less above the Qur’an.

  6. Ms M said,

    I’m only part way through but I didn’t want to forget this. I would say that religion can be perfect…but we aren’t. 🙂

    Ok, back to reading 🙂

    • Sarah said,

      (I would say that religion can be perfect…but we aren’t).

      Heh, I wanted to say the exact same thing. =)

  7. Sarah said,

    You know, reading your reasons made me feel really pissed…

    NOT AT YOU, lol! xD but at the arab muslims intellectuals who spend ALL their time and energy in provding information and explaining thess issues to born-muslims and arab convert, but NEVER bother to do the same to westren converts.

    Actually ALL your reasons for not beliving in Islam (the preservation and authenticity of the Quran, the issue with hadiths, the issue of Sharia law, ect ect) has been answered many times in a stunningly reasnable way by tons and tons of arab muslims intellectuals… but they are all in arabic! GAAAH!

    I used to have the exact same issues as you in the past, but after months of reading and re-reading I found all the answrs to these questions.

    How I wish you would read it someday… =(

    My english sucks, so I’m not so sure I can transelat the answers propeply. But maybe I can give it a try?

    if you want me to, of course!

    • LK said,

      maybe that is the issue! Maybe a lot of questions most westerners have, have been answered but because we can’t read Arabic we would never know about them

      Someone should get on that LOL

      • Sarah said,

        It really is!

        I was kinda expecting Sarah’s reasons to be more to do with feeling of not being able to conect with the Quran in a spiritual level.. or something like that, but I couldn’t help but to feel shocked that they were the same theological issues that I and many converts and “born-again” muslims had to deal with at some point in our life…

        I’m now looking at my right at an amazing arabic book that deals with the issues of hadith, and my hands are itching… I want to translate it, dammit! =(

        • LK said,

          Insha’Allah someone will someday and then we can all read it!

          • Sarah said,

            I suddenly feel an urge to dedicate my up coming years to emprove my english to able to transelat the dozens of awesome islamic books that deals with all these issues profenionaly. The internet is good and all, but it can lead to great confusion without proper knowledge and information.

            I kinda want it to be my new life goal, lol!

            • susanne430 said,

              One would have hoped God would have made it possible for non-Arab speakers to learn these things without having to wait for the Arabs to do it for us.

              • Sarah said,

                Um.. =/ I’m sensing a bit of a condescending tone here.. but I will answer, nonetheless.

                I didn’t say that there were little or NO answers out there for non-Arab speakers (otherwise, how the heck did thousdands of westrens convert to Islam every year?!).

                My whole point was; yes! compared to the Arab muslims, non-Arab muslims are not as privilaged.

                However, things are strating to get better since more and more Westren scholors are getting fluent in arabic and already began to transelat many important imformation (such as Hamza Yusuf, Suhaib webb, Abdal-Hakim Murad, ect ect), and more arab scholors are paying more attention to westren converts (such as Yusuf Al-Qardawi).

                And besides, God DID made it possible for all of us to communicat and share knowledge, now more than ever befor (since the whole world has became like a little globale village, and the transliation movment reached it’s highest rates today).

                Arab muslims have enough troubles to deal with, but even so they still needs to put more effort in reaching out to their fellow brothers and sisters in the West.

                • susanne430 said,

                  I apologize for sounding condescending. :-/

                  I guess it’s a bit of a sore spot for me because I’ve heard it said that the Quran can only be fully appreciated or truly even BE the Quran in Arabic. I just find it hard to believe God would limit us non-Arabic speakers to this degree and put the Arab speakers on a pedestal. By contrast, I believe God intended for the whole world to know of His message and find Arabs who say the Quran is only the Quran if it’s in Arabic to be limiting God and putting themselves higher than the rest of us who were not “privileged” to be born Arabs.

                  I honestly meant no disrespect to you. Your goal is admirable and you seem to have a sweet spirit. I apologize for how I came across.

                  Thanks for your reply. 🙂

                  • Sarah said,

                    Oh, I hope I didn’t offend you! =0

                    it’s just kinda hard to figure out the tone through the internet, heh.

                    Thanks for the sweet words, though~

                    (I just find it hard to believe God would limit us non-Arabic speakers to this degree and put the Arab speakers on a pedestal).

                    No no! see? this is not what I meant at all.

                    Prophet Muhammad said during his last Sermon: “Arabs are not better than non-Arabs and vice versa, and whites are not better than blacks and vice versa, the best are those who are most pious”.

                    It’s true that the original Quran is in Arabic, but that has nothing to do with arab being “more special” than the rest of humanity.

                    It only has to do with the arabic language itself.

                    If you have studied Arabic you’d know that it’s SUCH a rich and powerful language, and it’s pretty much alive and almost unchanged since the time of the Prophet.

                    Besideds, isn’t the Bible actualy transelated from Hebrew? (which is pretty much a dead language anyway?).

                    (I’ve heard it said that the Quran can only be fully appreciated or truly even BE the Quran in Arabic).

                    Well, yeah since it’s the original copy in it’s most purst form. This is an issue of transilated texts in general.. most of times it can’t bring the full power and meaning of the original text (for example, I can’t stand reading the Harry Potter novels in Arabic! cuz it’s simply not the same as the original English versions).

                    But that doesn’t mean that non-arabs can’t feel the beauty and majesty of the arabic text through transilation (actually most converts can’t read in arabic at all).

                    • LK said,

                      I think the Bible was written in Greek and the Torah in Hebrew 🙂

                      I can barely understand a word of Arabic but what I do know is the Qur’an sounds ten times more beautiful in Arabic than in English. My translation gets me by well enough though to appreciate what it is trying to say. But just from hearing my Tafseer teacher translate and then reading the translation in my Qur’an you can see how you might have a little issue with translations.

                    • susanne430 said,

                      I totally concur with LK that the Quran sounds much better in Arabic. It’s truly beautiful. I heard a lovely recitation in one of the homes we visited earlier this year in Damascus. The guy had gone to a competition in Sudan one year and placed 7th in the world for memorizing (and reciting) the Quran. It was stunning.

                      So yeah it sounds great, but . . .

                      I can’t understand it!! 😦

                      True that the Bible was translated from Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. Those were the common languages of the day when those Scriptures were written. I like that God made His message available in the common tongue and that He has allowed it to be translated into hundreds of languages so that people can know His message in their own tongues. How can we follow a God who makes us all learn Arabic or Hebrew or Greek or Aramaic in order to understand Him? *I* might (big “might,” hehe) be able to learn Arabic or Hebrew enough to read in the original languages, but what about the poor souls who have no resources to learn or who are so remote that they don’t even know Arabic or Aramaic or Greek exists (existed)?

                      My point: I’m glad God speaks to me in American English so I can understand what He is saying to me. Even then, it’s not always easy, but tons better than if He were trying to talk to me in Hausa or French or Mandarin. 😉

                      Sarah, thanks for your reply. No, you didn’t offend me at all. I regretted making you feel bad and thanks for accepting my apology. Btw, I think your English is great. You aren’t a native speaker?? :-O

                    • caraboska said,

                      I’ve been working as a translator for over 10 years. The one I have worked with most frequently is a Slavic language – so, only distantly related to English. Apparently it really is possible – at least at that degree of relatedness between the languages – to come VERY close to the original. It’s possible to get the meaning right, it’s possible to make a very precise duplicate of the author’s style, immediately identifiable to a reader familiar with that author even without having been told in advance who the author actually was.

                      Greek is much more closely related to English than the Slavic languages are, so the New Testament is actually quite doable. The problem is not having the author at our disposal to check on ambiguous spots, or dealing with a text with detailed ‘microhistorical’ references which would have been obvious to the original reader(s) but to which we might not have immediate access. Then you just have to make your best guess.

                      The matter is different with Hebrew, because it is much more distantly related to English even than the Slavic languages. I think that would be very difficult. The advantage there, however, is that the Jewish people have maintained the use of the original language for all these thousands of years, they have people with the text so precisely memorized that if you take their personal copy of the Hebrew Bible and point to any letter in the entire text, they will be able to tell you which letter is on the other side of that page, at that precise spot to which you are pointing.

                      This memory is absolutely necessary, because when they are hearing and studying the Bible on the Sabbath (day of rest) during their worship, they are forbidden to write anything down or record the reading of the Scripture, because writing and recording, turning on electrical appliances, etc. are activities that constitute ‘work’ according to the religious definition, and are therefore forbidden on the day of rest.

                      But at any rate, here you have, particularly for English, a quite large population of people who are reading the Hebrew Bible in the original and, as it were, living it in English. This would be vastly helpful in translating the text.

                      All that having been said, however, it is still better to work from an original. I have for years been scandalized that the Catholic Church chose to use pictorial means of portraying the main themes of the Bible, supposedly to make it accessible to those who were illiterate, rather than providing literacy training so that they would be able to read the text. Observant Jews begin teaching their children Hebrew at age 3, many Muslims begin teaching their children Arabic at about the same age. Why aren’t Christians teaching their children Greek and Hebrew?

                      I’ve run into some unpleasant surprises over the years. There is a highly unfortunate tendency among many Christians to treat the gaining of scholarly knowledge and faith as mutually exclusive. I’ve even found people who think that it’s inappropriate for anyone who doesn’t have a ‘pastoral calling’ (or perhaps ‘missionary calling’) to learn the original languages. That it displays a lack of faith, a lack of respect for ordained church authority. And many of these people, of course, believe that women cannot be pastors, so that it’s doubly inappropriate for a woman.

                      My beloved at least didn’t get offended when I gave him a Greek-Polish interlinear New Testament with Greek grammar all in one volume for his birthday last year. But if he marries me, he’ll not only have a woman who routinely stands up to speak at her Quaker Meeting, but one whose idea of a great present for her beloved is… a sermon written specially for him. And given his views on women preachers, I have to feel a little sorry for him if he does take the plunge – but not enough to stop me from preaching! 😀 😀 😀

                      But I digress. The bottom line for me is that learning Greek so I could read the New Testament in the original is one of the very best things that has ever happened to me in this life, and I heartily recommend this course of action to anyone whose Book is originally in a language other than their native tongue.

  8. Ms M said,

    I really hope that you don’t have trouble with any people out there who disagree with you. Like I said before, it’s one thing to disagree, but it really is another to allow it to turn nasty. Of course as a Muslim I don’t agree with you on some matters and for that reason I probably don’t have too much to argue 🙂 ..yet – I can see where you are coming from with the points you’ve made. I don’t have the benefit of having a Christian background to compare with and I can’t imagine, from what I have studied and read of Christianity and the Bible, following the religion. But I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable to debate too much of it.

    I’ve had so many distractions this morning while writing this so I’m just going to stop now and hit enter.

    For a couple of people who mentioned hadith the top of this page discusses it: http://www.muhajabah.com/sunna-yes.htm#hijab

    • LK said,

      That was interesting…but I’m not questioning that hadith is necessary, it is. I just question what ones are actually valid. Some seem way out of character you know? I think that is the common issue, it is necessary but some seem like they don’t fit.

      • LK said,

        OH sorry and Thanks Ms. M….I gotta check out the interior links 🙂

  9. Wrestling With Religion said,

    Stacy – yes, the apparent borrowing from other sources is one of the problems I have. There are perhaps ways around it, but none of the possibilities I’ve seen are really supported by the view that the Quran is the literal word of God.

    Sarah Elizabeth – I have read some of Tariq Ramadan and I saw your post about him which I thought was brilliant. I guess I would like to know, for people that don’t think the Quranic injunctions need to be taken literally, why not, and what do they think the Quran really is? Are they viewing it differently to how Muhammad and followers viewed it, and does it matter?

    Achelois – thank you, I look forward to hearing more from you too! 🙂 I’m glad you worked out the commenting issue.

    LK – I have loads of issues with the Bible too, I could never be a fundamentalist Jew or Christian. But I don’t think the books of the Bible were supposed to have been penned by God. So it’s sort of OK to disagree with some of it.
    “I refuse to follow something I do not agree with, I’ve already been doing that all my life.”
    Exactly – having rejected one faith makes it difficult to give another one the benefit of the doubt…

    Aynur – I agree with you about the overall message and to be fair it is very clear and consistent in that. But it doesn’t clearly lay out what doing good deeds is, so it comes across more like a reminder for people who already know. As I say, I don’t think there is a problem with it being that, but I’m not going to then treat it like a life manual.
    I agree that the hadiths cannot all be accurate. I think they paint an overall picture that is probably pretty accurate.

    Sarah – I haven’t really explained yet the questions that I have, but I certainly believe you that there are works in Arabic addressing deep questions. I recently tried to read a translation of a philosophical treatise by Ibn Rushd, and I had real difficulty understanding it, it was so deep and technical. I suppose I feel though, that the first Muslims did not have tafseer works or scholars or philosophers. They heard the Quran in their own language and they believed it enough to act on every command straightaway. It wasn’t complicated for them. So why shouldn’t a good scholarly translation of the Quran like M. Asad be enough for me. Why do we need to add things to that in order for it to make sense.
    I admire your enthusiasm in sharing your knowledge!

    Ms M – thanks for your comments. You’re right, wherever people are involved, there will be imperfection!
    Questioning is allowed of course and maybe I should present my issues as questions, it might help to avoid me annoying anyone too much. It’s not like I have a huge internet following, I’m not going to make any serious waves, and so hopefully if I keep it respectful and humble I won’t get a backlash! :S

  10. susanne430 said,

    You have kept your beliefs very respectful. In my opinion, you always have. I was very interested in reading your thoughts. Thank you for making them available for us and I look forward to more in the coming days.

  11. Hamza21 said,

    I’m not a scholar nor even a student of knowledge but I believe I can answer some of your questions you have regrading Islam. As a convert of 18 years many of issues you raised have been explained and dealt with before. However because of the use of certain phrases (“Muhammad” started an “empire” A’oodhu Billah) and language I believe you may not get the answers you were looking for.

    As you read it, much of it is instructions or information regarding situations he was facing – how to deal with unbelievers, what to say to them, how to warn the hypocrites, and the Jews and Christians, how to argue for the existence of God and resurrection and judgment, how and when to fight, and to a certain extent what laws to put in place. It reads more as a book of guidance for Muhammad than a book of guidance for people everywhere. Of course there may be guidance in it that is relevant for people everywhere, but it is not structured as a life manual.

    This is very amusing.

    So you’re saying because a book not written in your native language nor even your time in history is not formated to that which you are accustomed it can’t be considered what you called a “life manual”?

    Isn’t a bit arrogance to believe things must exist in way you want?

    The “book” was reveled to a man and a people who lived a in particular time who faced and dealt with many issues that are not time specific. Issues that humanity have and will deal with forever. By learning how these concepts expressed in the Quran were actualized in a concrete way (by Muhammad’s example) you then extrapolate these actions and concepts to your situation and historical time. This is why the sunnah is so important in Islam. One thing to note the sunnah is NOT hadith. Hadith is part of sunnah not the whole of it.

    Many people many not want nor have time to delve into how to apply these concepts and principles into their life so that’s why there’s the ulama to teach and explain things to you. There not priests telling you what to do but only what you could do based upon knowledge. You can accept or reject their advice because ultimately you and you alone will held accountable for your actions in this life and and the last day.

    There is no equivalent of the ten commandments, no place where it sets out exactly what moral conduct is. The other day I trawled through it looking for a verse to support the moral precept that lying is wrong, and it was harder to find than you would think for a divine “life manual”.

    When I think your statement explains alot about you. So you want to be told what to do,how to do it and not think for yourself?

    Well the Creator has stated the ability to think is what places humanity above all of creation even the angels. To disregard this concept is recipe for disaster. Which is why Muslims are in the state they are in now. They are not taught to think like muslims nor even taught to think .

    Moreover, “morals” can not be simplified with a few words like the ten commandants. The Bible itself doesn’t have ten commandants it actually has over 600. Mere slogans, which is what the ten commandants are, aren’t enough to be build a moral society. Which as humans we are hardwired to belong to: a community, to establish a groupings (family,tribes,nations,etc).

    If you have read the bible you would have noticed the Ten commandments were the beginning not the end. It was short presentation of what was to come. It was never meant tob e taken as all they were every needed to lead a moral life nor a detailed description for what morality is intended to be. You’re totally misunderstood the nature of function of ten commandants. Which understandable considering since you come from Christian background not Jewish one.

    One more thing the Quran never describes itself as “perfect” but only without error. Meaning nothing in “book” conceptually applied will be unsuccessful. Everything that is in the “book” applied correctly (with understanding not literally) will be ,by the promise of the Creator, be successful.

    I think this lecture by Shaykh Hussain Abdul Sattar where he explains feeding soul vs feeding the body will give a little more understanding and clarity of what Islam is,What man is and what living on earth is about.

    Listen online Here:
    http://www.sacredlearning.org/audio/general/2009/fundamentals_tasawwuf_part1.m3u

    Download here
    [audio src="http://www.sacredlearning.org/audio/general/2009/fundamentals_tasawwuf_part1.mp3" /]

    One last I’ve read in earlier post that you couldn’t find “peace” in Islam. As Muslim for over 18 years I haven’t found “peace” as well but then I wasn’t looking for it. However what I did find is an understanding of how the universe functions,what relationship I should have with The creator,how this is accomplished and what my purpose as a human being and my existence. No I haven’t found peace but I have found truth. And Truth isn’t peaceful. Surah 90 (al Balad) clearly explian this as well more importantly 67:02:

    He Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you has Ahsan Amal: and He is the Azziz, Al Ghafoor

    Ma’as Salamah
    Hamza

    Ahsan Amal: The most excellence and beautiful actions ,characteristics and work.
    Azziz: One who possess Dignity and has the power to accomplish actions that is benefit of their Dignity.
    Ghafoor: One forgives and who overlooks other faults.

    • Ms M said,

      @ Hamza…

      “Isn’t a bit arrogance to believe things must exist in way you want?”

      I know what you’re saying, though pls try not to be harsh. Remember she’s being very polite in giving her opinion and how she came to it.

      Having said that, I did question that one in my mind too. Not that I considered it arrogance, but I think that it’s natural, though not always a good idea, to compare to our modern writings. If it was written in the style of a modern self help book (LOL) then perhaps it would have been easier for many!!

      “One thing to note the sunnah is NOT hadith. Hadith is part of sunnah not the whole of it. ”

      Funny you should mention that because I only really learnt that yesterday! 🙂

      “When I think your statement explains alot about you. So you want to be told what to do,how to do it and not think for yourself?”

      Hey back up a bit! That actually doesn’t explain Sarah fully at all. She has been researching and thinking for herself on these matters for sometime now. Besides, didn’t you just admit ”Many people many not want nor have time to delve into how to apply these concepts and principles into their life” ?

      “Moreover, “morals” can not be simplified with a few words like the ten commandants.”‘

      Yes I agree with you. It’s unfortunate 😛 but yes, it’s a complicated matter. That’s not to say that a list of “10 commandments” would be wrong, but they would be simplified, I think.

      I have to go out now but I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your comment and having a look at the links you provided.

    • Sarah said,

      I apprecait your effort, but I wish you were more careful with your words.

      There is no reason for you to be harsh on her, that is just completely uncalled for.

      She is free to use her own mind and make her own choices. It”s not her job to please you or anyone, she’s just being honest, for God’s sake!

      YOU chose to read the entry, despite her saying that it might offened some muslims. It’s her blog, and she can write whatever she wants in it, got it?

      I suggest you humbely apologize to her before you say anything else.

  12. LK said,

    How is Sunnah not hadith? A little confused O_O But this might actually fix some of my hadith isssues which would be FANTASTIC!

    Can anyone explain?

  13. coolred38 said,

    Hamza21

    “When I think your statement explains alot about you. So you want to be told what to do,how to do it and not think for yourself?…”

    funny you said that considering thats EXACTLY what so many Muslims seem to want…to act without thinking. LOL

    btw…Muslims are meant to read and think and learn and discover..says so in the Quran…but the moment they do that…their beliefs are thrown into question. She isnt even a Muslim and your questioning her ability to think for herself…way to reach out and reel in a potential convert brother. LOL

  14. Achelois said,

    Hamza is such a beautiful name. It has a rhythm to it. And true to the name, I am certain whatever you wrote here, you can re-write with civility. That is the magic behind the name 🙂

    There are two things you can do to push a person further from your belief – coercion (even polite) to the point of annoyance, and disdainful preaching. I am new to this blog but whatever few posts I have read and from the incredibly civil comments I read, I think Sarah has been an awesomely polite writer.

    To call her arrogant is in very bad taste. To you anyone not accepting Muhammad as a prophet is arrogant against Muhammad; to a Trinitarian Christian you not accepting Jesus as the son of God is arrogance against God. You know what I mean? Indulge in People Watch from time to time. It teaches a lot besides tolerance and patience. It taught me that I have no right to ridicule someone who believes that a holy monkey can fly when I believed that a prophet walked on water. Belief is like falling in love blindly. You can’t force a person to fall in love.

    Nice name, Hamza!

  15. Achelois said,

    Sarah, I agree with you and will reiterate that no religion is perfect. Yes, some may argue that religion is perfect but humans are imperfect. But is it any religion or just *my* religion that is perfect? It is an awfully complicated debate based solely on what one believes in with their true heart. To a devout Hindu, Hinduism is perfect. But is Hinduism perfect to a Muslim or even a Christian? Only God is perfect and His message, His love, His spirit is perfect. Religions are for human beings, created/molded/set up and preached by human beings. The Message prophets, saints and holy people bring is perfect in essence, but the religion that is institutionalized cannot be perfect which is why we believe that prophets never set up religions; they only delivered the Message.

  16. Wrestling With Religion said,

    Thanks to the ladies who defended me… it’s really quite touching 🙂 I’m actually not easily offended and Hamza’s reaction is expected for someone who is very attached to a religion. It does make me wonder how much more of my issues I can post publicly though.

    Hamza, thank you for your comment. I am certainly open to hearing answers to my questions. I will take more care with how I phrase things but if I censor myself to the point where I’m not being honest what I think, then I will not get answers either.

    “However because of the use of certain phrases (“Muhammad” started an “empire” A’oodhu Billah) and language I believe you may not get the answers you were looking for.”

    What is wrong with using the name of Muhammad? I’m guessing either I was supposed to write peace be upon him, or write that it was Allah and not Muhammad who did everything… both of which would be hypocritical for me. I cannot use Muslim language if I am not a Muslim. I have to describe historical events in the way that I currently see them and I meant absolutely no disrespect by it. As for the “empire” – what was Islamic civilisation if it was not an empire? I realise empire is something of a dirty word because of its association with colonialism, but there’s no other word for what it was… and again, I meant no disrespect. I was actually saying in my post that they did good in the world. If people are going to be this sensitive then there’s no way I can get into my actual issues.

    “So you’re saying because a book not written in your native language nor even your time in history is not formated to that which you are accustomed it can’t be considered what you called a “life manual”?”

    This was not even a criticism. I have no problem with it being a “reminder” and not a life manual.

    “Isn’t a bit arrogance to believe things must exist in way you want?”

    Yes, I suppose so. I have tried my best to discard preconceptions or desires and let it be whatever it is, but I may not have completely succeeded in that.

    Regarding morals, the ten commandments does not tell people exactly what to do and how to do it. It is basic principles and nothing more. I know the Jewish part of the Bible contains many more commands and laws elsewhere, but it also contains this “executive summary” for people who are too lazy to study it. That is useful for what it is.

    I think you are right, both Judaism and Islam contain much more detailed instructions for basing a society on. A lot of Christians who convert to Islam find this appealing. Arguably though there is less room to think for yourself about morality in these religions.

    • susanne430 said,

      I hope Hamza’s reply won’t make you reluctant to share. This is your blog. You are free to write what you like, and you are a very sensitive, thoughtful writer so don’t worry about those who are easily offended.

      Concerning this:

      “I think you are right, both Judaism and Islam contain much more detailed instructions for basing a society on. A lot of Christians who convert to Islam find this appealing. Arguably though there is less room to think for yourself about morality in these religions.”

      I think some people like having a “checklist” of sorts. They can mentally keep tabs of if they are a “good person” by saying

      1. I paid my tithe (or charity giving)
      2. I did my five prayers
      3. I did this
      4. I did that.
      5. I’m good to go.

      However, I like that God gives us guidelines, but not controls every single detail of our lives even to the extent of how we enter and use a bathroom. I think Jesus’ summarization of the Law as loving God with all your heart, soul and mind and loving your neighbor as yourself was superb. If what you are doing dishonors God or brings heartache to someone, DON’T do it. Simple as that.

      As for those gray areas (drinking alcohol, eating certain foods, celebrating holidays, art, music, whatever gray area you have), I like Paul’s reply in Romans 14 about if God accepts a person, who are we to judge what God has accepted? We each much be persuaded *in our own minds.* Yet he warns us if what we do hurts a weaker brother, we should avoid that thing. Because there again we want to honor others better than ourselves as Jesus taught us.

      Really, can you imagine a world where we each try to serve and outdo each other with kindness and love? And put others’ needs ahead of our own? If we all sought to meet the needs of those around us instead of living only for ourselves? THIS is what Jesus modeled. THIS is truly following Him. Yet you see how far we are from that. We wouldn’t have these religious conflicts or national wars or inner and outer turmoil if we would only seek to “overcome evil with good” as is taught in the Bible.

      Anyway, I am looking forward to reading more from you.

      • Wrestling With Religion said,

        Susanne,

        “I think Jesus’ summarization of the Law as loving God with all your heart, soul and mind and loving your neighbor as yourself was superb. If what you are doing dishonors God or brings heartache to someone, DON’T do it. Simple as that.”

        Exactly. It wasn’t just superb, it was pure genius and I don’t think it can be topped.

        We don’t need to debate whether polygamy is OK, for example. We simply note that it is right for a man to take another wife when it maximises the happiness of the people concerned. (In my opinion – rarely.)

        I have a post in the pipeline discussing exactly this – i.e. what moral and legal guidelines does God actually give us. I am a bit schizophrenic because I do think a lot of religious rules ARE sensible. But like you I don’t believe in a checklist mentality, and am not a fan of nit-picky rules.

        Out of interest, why do you think the Bible contains those rules? I never understood the Christian take on why the OT rules do not apply.

        • Sarah said,

          I always loved this fact about Christianity. I think it’s spiritualy beautiful, but I can’t help but to feel it’s a bit too idealistic. It’s simpely not enough to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself (since Islam and almost all religions teach that in a way). People will always need certain rules and guiedlines to deal with their everyday life issues (as individuals and as a whole community).

          However, I will say this: It is theological nonsense in Islam to suggest that God’s final concern is with our ability to conform to a complex set of rules. His concern is rather that we should be restored, through our labours and His grace, to that state of purity and equilibrium with which we were born. The rules are a vital means to that end, and are facilitated by it. But they do not take its place.

          • LK said,

            Sarah that has been what I am trying to figure out. How important are all these rules and regulations and how important is it that you agree and hold to all of them Your statement is quite beautiful.

          • susanne430 said,

            Sarah, I agree that it’s *not* about conforming to a complex set of rules. Well said! I remember Jesus talking to the self-righteous Pharisees in Matthew 23. You should read the whole thing to see how upset he was at these religious Jews but here is one verse to show you that some things matter much more than tithing from your spices.

            23″Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.”

            As for these teachings of Jesus not being realistic, well, you are right. They do not come naturally at all. This is why Jesus told us in John 15 to abide in Him. He said, “without me, you can do nothing.”

            It’s only when you let Jesus work through you that you can love your enemies and pray for and bless those who persecute you. But as Jesus said even heathen people love those who love them and even pagans are kind to those who are kind to them. So what good are you if you can do the same as they? It’s only GOD empowering us that lets us return good for evil.

            I cannot do it on my own.

            • Wrestling With Religion said,

              Susanne – you wouldn’t believe how often I think about Jesus’ teachings to the Pharisees. Like the other day for example when I read a post by Ange, saying that a load of her facebook friends had jumped on her for posting a photo that showed 5cm of her hair. These things could never happen to that extent in Christianity because of these teachings of Jesus. It is like a sanity check. You wouldn’t think we’d need that, but it seems we do. 😉

        • susanne430 said,

          “Out of interest, why do you think the Bible contains those rules? I never understood the Christian take on why the OT rules do not apply.”

          Well, some Christians believe they do apply and maybe someone who does can contribute to the discussion on her perspective.

          I believe the Law was given to the Jews to set them apart from the other nations. You can see from reading the OT that God chose them for a purpose and He wanted a people who were different from the heathen nations. Set apart as His “holy people” so to speak.

          The Bible also teaches that the Law was given to show humans their sinfulness because *no one* could keep all of it. They all were guilty in at least one point which – according to the Bible – makes them unworthy of God. It’s only when you realize you are a sinner in God’s eyes that you realize you must be redeemed somehow. Unfortunately we aren’t good enough to clean up ourselves. Isaiah tells us our righteousness – our good works – are like filthy rags in God’s eyes. So I can’t clean myself. Thankfully God steps in – with mercy and grace and great love! And HE pays the price for me! HE redeems me. I realize I cannot keep the Law and save myself. I need a Savior!

          So, anyway, that’s where God coming to earth (Emmanuel — which being interpreted is “God with us”) comes in. And Jesus teaches that the summary of the Law is what I shared before. HE fulfilled the Law because only God can keep it perfectly. Because of the gift God provided, we are free to love and serve others. The Law brought death, but God’s redemption brings eternal life.

          You may remember the story from Acts where Peter, a good Jewish man, is told to meet with a Gentile named Cornelius. Prior to this, he saw a vision of a sheet full of unclean animals and God told him to eat. This would be like telling a Muslim to eat pork. Peter replies, “God, I DO NOT eat unclean things!” But God told him to not call something unclean which He made clean. So did God make these formerly unclean things “clean”? Or is He teaching another lesson here? I think this story coupled with the chapter concerning doubtful things (Romans 14) and other passages dealing with the Law and freedom in Christ are reasons most Christians feel they are not required to keep Moses’ Law. When my Muslim friend wanted me to convert to Islam several months ago, I told him, “Why do you want to put me back under a load of rules when Christ has set me free?” The Jews were under lots of laws, but Christ fulfilled them and set them free (if they chose to follow Him.) To me, Muhammad just reapplied rules. I remember being appalled when I read online one time that he even regulated how to use the restroom. I think rules can be taken waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too far. Religion should not be about control, but since religion is man-made, it is. As a friend said recently, “God doesn’t write books.” God is more concerned about relationships — yours with Him and yours with your fellow man and woman.

          And thus concludes my term paper on this issue. *blush*

          • Wrestling With Religion said,

            Susanne – thanks for explaining. I remember now what I read in a Richard Holloway book about the ritual side of the law being fulfilled, leaving only the moral side to follow.

      • Ms M said,

        “I think some people like having a “checklist” of sorts. They can mentally keep tabs of if they are a “good person” by saying ”

        I think that is a fair point to make. While I don’t think that one should covert purely for such practical reasons I can see that it’s one thing that might draw a person to it. I myself find it easier and more pleasant to have things clearly defined. I’m not suggesting to a ”micro” level, but still.

        I still use my brain, I still question and learn, but what I am learning is what is expected from me by Allah, and not just what I think is important to do in a moral sense.

        • susanne430 said,

          Ms. M, I’ve heard this is one thing people tend to like — those who convert to Islam, I mean. They like having a list of rules so they can KNOW exactly what to do. I can kind of see the appeal. Except when you find things that you like being put on the unacceptable list and then you wonder if that is what God truly meant or is that just Scholar/Sheikh/Imam’s opinion. 🙂

          Thanks for your reply.

    • Hamza21 said,

      I certainly didn’t mean to be aggressive nor offensive and rereading what I wrote I don’t believe I was but if you took offense I’m sorry and there’s no need to censor your words. I wasn’t offended by anything you wrote.

      What is wrong with using the name of Muhammad? I’m guessing either I was supposed to write peace be upon him, or write that it was Allah and not Muhammad who did everything… both of which would be hypocritical for me.

      There’s nothing with your using the name Muhammad I was referring to how you stated Muhammad started an empire. Which makes it seem as though this was his purpose or design. It was not. He was prophet ordered to teach people the “Hikam”; how to live a moral life and perfect one’s character. He was not sent to start a empire nor even started one. Islam didn’t extend outside Arabia until after his death.

      Moreover, One of major reasons to spreading Islam out side Arabia was giving the Bedouin Arabs (The majority inhabitants of Arabia at that time) something to do. Considering most tribes obtained wealth from stealing other tribes or through extortion by charging caravans to travel through their land. Since both acts; stealing and bribery/extortion are forbidden in Islam how were the Bedouin supposed to earn wealth to care for their needs? Their whole way of life was based upon these acts. The answer: allowing them to take property from enemies within warfare. Which it not against Islam and an universally accepted practice at that time. The Bedioun were allowed to keep 50% of what they took.

      However, The Sahaba were not moral inept people they knew better than to allow these Bedouin free rein. which why only the Sahaba were leaders of the armies to insure Islamic principles weren’t validated during warfare and to encourage Islamic character by their example and behavior. It’s one of reasons why Arabs weren’t allowed to live in any city they conquered. By Umar’s command they had to live outside th city and couldn’t enact any law that went against the deen of non-muslims of the conquered city.

      Crisis of The Muslim Mind by Abu Haimd Abu Sulayman is good book upon this subject.

      http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Books/AA_cmm/default.htm

      Arguably though there is less room to think for yourself about morality in these religions.

      Well that’s the thing morality is not something one makes up as they go along. It is what it is. You either accept it or you don’t. For example it’s wrong to steal from somebody which can easily be seen by the effects it has within society. However what one “feels” or “thinks” about the issue of stealing is irrelevant. It can be demonstrated that is it harmful to society and has been stated so by Creator through the Prophets. There isn’t isn’t any reason think or to feel one way about it. It is what it is.

      In essence this is what Islam teaches. Things are what they are. You either submit to that fact or else you will suffer and cause others to suffer the consequences of living in delusional state.

      Regarding morals, the ten commandments does not tell people exactly what to do and how to do it. It is basic principles and nothing more. I know the Jewish part of the Bible contains many more commands and laws elsewhere, but it also contains this “executive summary” for people who are too lazy to study it. That is useful for what it is.

      If you want a summary of Islam in comparison I can tell you all of Islamic laws can be summarized as protecting and encouraging Five Necessities (al daruriyat Al khamsa):

      The Preservation And Protection Of Religion
      The Preservation And Protection Of Human Life
      The Preservation And Protection Of Intellect
      The Preservation And Protection Of Family Lineage
      The Preservation And Protection Of Wealth

      In th view of many one may say any society that does not contain any laws safeguarding these necessities can not be considered civilized.

      • Ms M said,

        “I certainly didn’t mean to be aggressive nor offensive and rereading what I wrote I don’t believe I was”

        …and it turns out she was quite ok with it. Perhaps it’s just a difference in the way males and females communicate? Lol

        Men tend to be more blunt and to the point, and that does have it’s place.

  17. Jasmine said,

    wrestling, I really agree with a lot of what you have said.
    My personal opinion is that you can’t read the Quran and understand it without the Old and New Testaments first – and I am really shocked that so few Muslims actually read the previous books.

    For me, reading one without the other is like watching th third part of Lord of the Rings, without 1 and 2 and then claiming it makes sense. It simply doesnt.

    My understanding is that Sharia (i.e “Gods Law”) is actually the 10 commandments of Moses – which are not cvovered in the Quran. Jesus’s life is not chronicled, Abraham’s life is even not chronicled. For me, the Quran is part three – clarifying and explaining parts 1 and 2.

    I think everything in these three books is “Gods directives to mankind” – and today, thousands of years later, we can’t as self-respecting students, expect to use hadith’s to understand whilst disregarding a torah and a bible – no matter how “altered” and”changed” they are. The Quran settles those changes for us.

    • Hamza21 said,

      @ Jasmine

      My understanding is that Sharia (i.e “Gods Law”) is actually the 10 commandments of Moses – which are not cvovered in the Quran. Jesus’s life is not chronicled, Abraham’s life is even not chronicled. For me, the Quran is part three – clarifying and explaining parts 1 and 2.

      Firsly, Shar’iah isn’t God’s law it’s a comprehensive term the describes the principles derived form the Quran and Sunnah,censuses of the earlier scholars and case precedents. Totally different than “summary” announced by Moses and the principles in within the ten commandments are covered within the Quran.

      http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr10cisl.htm

      And indeed Jesus,Abraham lives are chronicled but since the purpose of prophethood of Abraham & Jesus is important only issues in their life that relevant to all peoples in all times is mentioned. The intention behind this is to extract principles from lives and apply it your situation. The Qur’an was revealed as book of guidance not a history book. I hope that clarify things for you.

  18. Wrestling With Religion said,

    Jasmine – thanks for sharing your opinion, it is a really interesting one. You make a really good point. The Quran itself mentions those previous books and tells the believers in those books to consult them as a way of verifying the Quran’s message. It’s a good way of seeing it. And we know that some of the hadiths must be altered and changed, since they contradict each other… so why can’t we also use the Bible, if we can use the hadiths.

  19. coolred38 said,

    “And we know that some of the hadiths must be altered and changed, since they contradict each other… so why can’t we also use the Bible, if we can use the hadiths…”

    Certainly would love a Sheik, Imam or Learned Scholar to get on here and answer that very question…many many of us would love to know the answer to that as it would certainly clarify a deeply felt issue.

    The Bible and Torah are degenerated by Muslims because they are altered (even though they are acknowledged as coming from God) and yet hadith, which are just as corrupt and contradictory for the most part, are taken as nearly, if not more, important as the Quran by a great many Muslims. Something Ive never been able to wrap my head around. Anyone?

    • Hamza21 said,

      Again I’m not scholar or student of knowledge but my understanding is we can’t useThe Bible because it has no authenticty. Unlike hadiths which have an isnad. Tthe Bible does not have unbroken chain or even known chain authorites; it is considered dhanna:Hearsay,opinon, conjecture. Something you neither prove nor disprove. With hadiths at least you can debate their authenticity and undersatnd the context in which it was spoken with the Bible this isn’t possible. The Hebrew terms used have changed considerable through the ages and the context of and use the words are unknown. In fact it can not even be certain exactly when the Torah was written down. so how does one know what you read today is the same as original Torah reveled to Moses? You can’t it’s an unknown thing.

      This is what separates Islam above all other moral codes of life (Deen) we have a golden chain (As silsila dhahab) back to The Creator Himself. Other religions do not and can not prove their religious claims (reincarartion or Jesus dying on Cross for instance). They have belief we have facts. It’s one thing to have a belief based upon facts it’s other to have belief INSTEAD of facts.

      • tanya said,

        Deadsea scrolls and other ancient hidden versions of the bible are perfect proof that the hebrew bible was not corrupted! Check it out sometime. As much as there is never any real proof in these religious wars, this is one concrete fact. These things were buried for thousands of years and then when discovered and compared to the contemporary hebrew bible, were found to be the same.

    • Ms M said,

      CoolRed I got the following info from here: http://www.muhajabah.com/sunna-yes.htm

      “Very often, those who proclaim that they follow the Quran only, ignore the Sunna and concentrate on the hadiths. They assume that if they can refute or disprove the hadiths, they have proved their own position.

      Their mistake is to assume that the Sunna and the hadiths are the same thing. This is incorrect. No scholar of Islam has ever claimed that the sources of Shari’a are “the Quran and the hadiths”. Rather, the correct statement is that the sources of Shari’a are the Quran and the SUNNA.

      The hadiths are a textual source for determining what the Sunna is. But they are not by themselves the Sunna.

      The scholars of Islam have developed a sophisticated methodology for collecting the hadiths and for determining from them what the Sunna is.”

      You said: “The Bible and Torah are degenerated by Muslims because they are altered (even though they are acknowledged as coming from God) and yet hadith…”‘

      That’s a great point to raise, but I think that the science of hadith has been explained by many. I too have been very wary of some hadith in the past. But I certainly have never believed they aren’t needed. Instead I’ve set about trying to work out which hadith to use and how to know this. Discovering which hadith are authentic is using them is not the same as using a something that you cannot apply that science to and I think that is what Muslims are getting at.

      I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say all Muslims denegrate the Bible and Torah. I’m sure some do, and others do sometimes…. I think many do respect them in so far as they contain many directives from God etc If you meant that Muslims feel that the books are altered, then yes. From the basic knowledge I have I think that is correct. So I would say that Muslims don’t completely accept the other books for those reasons.

  20. candy said,

    FInally read your blog,

    just wished i had more time to actually read it carefully so i can understand you fully.

    i kinda whizzed through it and this is what i gleaned:
    – you have problems accepting the Quran as inerrant and thus cannot accept Islam.

    hope thats right. If not, blast me.

    I think I went through a phase 2 years ago (funny that number keeps cropping up) where I ditched wearing hijab (although I didnt wear it properly in the first place) and decided to pursue a more loose way of following Islam and living life. I felt free. I felt renewed as if the burden of trying to follow this straight unbending path, where you are told what to believe, how to behave, how to think, was all of a sudden removed fro m me.

    I wrote a poem at the time: the basic message was that I have decided to take off my hijab in search of God, so no one judge me please. I didnt want to live Islam as though it were a burden. But I realised the fault was with me and my perception of a ‘good Muslim’. I decided to take a step away from Islam wiithout renouncing it.

    I let myself be free without focusing on how much restrictions Islam had.
    I just wanted to find God. I envied those who had a more loving perspectibe of Islam and they were practicing Muslims.

    I wanted that. And i decided to let go and focus only on what is good about the religion for me.

    hence my blog: The wind in my hijab. Its supposed to signify freedom in being Muslim.

    My dear: The search for truth is not an easy one. ANd sometimes you have to take the wrong step in order to come full circle back to Allah. Because then you’ll get it.

    Islam is about the search for Truth. And as long as you search for truth, you are in the circle of Islam. In that way you are Muslim.

    I respect your choice. The search for Truth is a lonely and difficult one. I wish you’ll find a piece of it soon.

    thanks for visiting my blog

  21. Sarah said,

    Oh, and by the way, Sarah!

    I plan to give you full answers to your questions consering Quran, Hadith, and Sharia as soon as I finish my mid-term exams (which will be two days from now, so wish me luck!).

  22. Wrestling With Religion said,

    candy – welcome, and thanks for visiting my blog!
    You summarised the whole post perfectly. That’s exactly it.
    Thanks for sharing your experience and insights too. It is a brave thing to search for truth and not just trust other people to feed it to you.
    “Islam is about the search for Truth. And as long as you search for truth, you are in the circle of Islam. In that way you are Muslim.”
    That is really sweet, thank you.

    Sarah – good luck with your exams!! You’d better concentrate on that, don’t let me distract you. I’m not sure what questions you are planning to answer… I really haven’t asked any actual questions yet! I will do that, in time. There is no hurry. I can only take so much at once. 😉

    • Sarah said,

      (I’m not sure what questions you are planning to answer)

      Woops! I meant I was going to explain the issues you expreesed (the preservation and authenticity of the Quran, the issue with hadiths, the issue of Sharia law, ect).

      I don’t claim to be the most knowlafgable muslim ever, but I do want to do as much as I can to clear some miscounceptions you had (I hope you don’t mind!).

      and yes, I will strudy, no worries. =)

  23. Jasmine said,

    On the question of athenticity – we cannot say that the Bible has no authenticity whatsoever and that the whole thing is 100% fabricated when that is not the case.

    Yes, the Bible has been amended and has bits missing etc – however the Quran is specific about what ammendments have been made – it says the Jews removed the parts from the Torah which prohesized the coming of the Prophet Mohammed (Pbuh), and the Christians were misled when they said that God has begot a son and that God has a human form (i.e. the divity of Jesus). It outlines this very clearly for us to know.

    We know that. However:

    Now, no self respecting historian, scholar or believer can completely disregard any kind of evidence or account or documentation of an event which is essential to one’s history, knowlegde of God and faith.

    You can’t go around shouting “objection your honor!” every time Torah and Injeel are mentioned, people are studying the remaining texts every day, whole entire historians, archelogists and scholars are studying them all of the time – so you can’t just say: “Oh, the bible and the torah- forget it competely” – because it is an important record of important things -and it gives information that we would not have if we did not read it.

    • Achelois said,

      ‘Yes, the Bible has been amended and has bits missing etc – however the Quran is specific about what ammendments have been made – it says the Jews removed the parts from the Torah which prohesized the coming of the Prophet Mohammed (Pbuh), and the Christians were misled when they said that God has begot a son and that God has a human form (i.e. the divity of Jesus). It outlines this very clearly for us to know.’

      This is very interesting. I assume you are referring to verse 7:157 which is always believed to be talking about prophet Muhammad. However, I was once explaining that surah to someone and was struck with a new discovery. Ayah 7:157 is a continuation of God’s dialogue with Moses and his people. The messenger to the gentile that is referred to in the verse is only our assumption that it is prophet Muhammad (whose name appears only in parenthesis). It refers to a messenger to the gentile and one ‘who came with a light’ which IMHO refers to Jesus. Jesus came with a light, not Muhammad (peace be upon them both). The very next verse is then addressed to the Prophet and urges him to “Say, “O people, I am GOD’s messenger to all of you…”

      As far as Christians being misled to believe in the divinity of Christ is concerned, all Unitarian Christians read the same Bible but believe that Christ was not the son of God so I don’t think Bible has been corrupted in that area. It is interpreted differently by Unitarians and Trinitarians.

      This is just my opinion and in no way am I making a claim, but I really don’t think Quran ever says that the earlier books are corrupted. Yes, some of the Jews and Christians are said in the Quran to have forgotten the message and erred but it never claims (in my opinion) that the books have been tempered with in any way.

    • Wrestling With Religion said,

      Jasmine – yes, I agree with you. They haven’t thrown out even the inauthentic hadiths, so why throw out the Bible?

      There are parts of the Bible that agree with the Quran, parts of the Bible that contradict the Quran, and parts of the Bible that neither agree nor contradict the Quran. It’s this last category that is controversial in terms of what to do with it. You could assume it was true, since you don’t know it’s false; or you could assume it’s false, since you don’t know it’s true. Personally I think that since the Quran calls the Bible a divine book, believing it’s true is not unreasonable within Islam.

  24. coolred38 said,

    Hamza21…its a well known fact that hadith are given “authenticy” based on isnad (chain…who said who said who said etc) rather than on matn (content of hadith, subject matter etc)…so who care who said it and how many chains in the link if the subject matter in question…is in question?

    Funny enough there is a famous saying…do not look at WHO is saying it but at what is being said (paraphrasing)

  25. Ms M said,

    @coolred38

    It’s not only ”chain” that is important to hadith. Even on Wikopedia it says that the following are analysed:

    “the text of the report, the scale of the report’s transmission, the routes through which the report was transmitted, and the individual narrators involved in its transmission”

    Again it says here (http://www.iqrasense.com/hadith/authenticating-hadith-sayings-of-the-prophet-an-overview.html) that these steps are taken to authenticate hadith:

    “When a person would narrate a Hadith, some of the steps that scholars would take to establish the authenticity of the Hadith would include the following.

    1. They would review the history of the narrator to ensure that he did not have a history of lying.
    2. Some of the scholars would ask the narrator of their source and then would travel themselves to confirm the source and thus the authenticity of the Hadith.
    3. They would evaluate the text against the verses of the Quran as well as other Ahadith to ensure that it did not violate any other established text.”

    Please note the final point – that they evaluate the text against the Quran as well as other Hadith. I think that is important.

    And another explanation:

    “First, all the hadiths on a given subject should be gathered. Next, the scholar studies their authenticity to determine which give a correct report of what the Prophet (sAas) said, did, or allowed. He may consider such factors as what the practice of the Muslims in the matter has been, if the absence of reports to the contrary actually indicates a consensus of the Sahaba (rAa) behind the existing reports, even if only a few people have transmitted them, and other issues.

    It is only after this analysis that the scholar has made his determination of what the Sunna is. He does not simply pick and choose hadiths at random, or take their text out of context. The reason he may only quote one or two is that he has determined that it or they express most clearly what the Sunna is.”

    Not directly related to what you were questioning, but something that I found really helpful to know is this:

    “Rather than discarding the material they felt was not wholly authentic, so that it became lost to history, they included it. This means that other scholars can examine the evidence for themselves, and make their own determination of what is authentic.”

    So in fact our new scholars and new communities can always take a fresh look at the hadith to compare, contrast and CHECK. Nice.

    • coolred38 said,

      “Even on Wikopedia it says that the following are analysed: …”

      Well if Wiki said it then it must be so.

      • coolred38 said,

        also….”Rather than discarding the material they felt was not wholly authentic, so that it became lost to history, they included it. This means that other scholars can examine the evidence for themselves, and make their own determination of what is authentic.”

        Some of them should have been lost to history…would be better for muslim women when all is said and done.

  26. coolred38 said,

    Ms. M

    “3. They would evaluate the text against the verses of the Quran as well as other Ahadith to ensure that it did not violate any other established text.”

    Well considering how contradictory many many (far too many) hadith are to the Quran I would say they didnt spend too much time on #3.

    Funny enough AbuHuraira was considered a liar by Aisha…she claims she never knew anyone that came up with such stories as him…and yet HIS hadith, which are ironically quite anti woman, are the first ones that Muslims spout out when trying to claim something Islamic….not to mention many of them are of course contradictory to the Quran…so…so much for #3 once again.

    I may not be a scholar (and Im not) but I have taken time to “examine the evidence” for myself and find it lacking in terms of determining authenticity of certain hadith…if Im wrong…Im wrong…so be it. Wont change my mind on it tho…I guess I DID take a new fresh look at it. Nice.

    • Sarah said,

      (Well considering how contradictory many many (far too many) hadith are to the Quran)

      Oh, wow! care to give examples?

      If you’re Christian then I suggest you don’t even go there, since I really don’t feel like pointing out the countless, painful contradictors of the Bible. The Bible is a canon of largely _seperate_ books, each one have more contradictors than words (to quote Bart Ehrman).

      So please, let’s try to be more civil here, kay?

      (Funny enough AbuHuraira was considered a liar by Aisha)

      (if Im wrong…Im wrong…so be it. Wont change my mind on it tho)

      Dear God…. You know what? I take it back…

      you really are “special”.

      And by “”special” I mean hopelessly arragont and ignorate.

      • Wrestling With Religion said,

        Sarah, I think coolred is a Muslim.

        As for an example, off the top of my head – the shariah punishment for adultery is stoning – this contradicts the Quran which states the punishment is 100 lashes.

        • Sarah said,

          O-oh, dear… I don’t care if coolred is muslim or not, I still feel terriable about what I said. >_<

          Sorry, so sorry!

          (the shariah punishment for adultery is stoning – this contradicts the Quran which states the punishment is 100 lashes).

          Nope, it's not really contradictry, since the shariah punishment for a MARRIED adulter is stoning. A non-married adulter is only punished by lashing.

  27. coolred38 said,

    Sarah..Im neither arrogant nor ignorant…but thanks for the kind words. Stating my opinion based on MY OWN research, learning and intelligence is NOT arrogance nor ignorance…its using my brain…the very thing God encourages in us.

    btw Stoning is NOT mentioned in the Quran…and considering we ARE killing people, a serious action for sure…you would think THAT punishment would be IN the Quran…and not just hadith.

    Also…Im not one for cutting and pasting hadith when Muslims are quite capable of perusing any collection of hadiths and find the glaring contradictions for themselves. Thats called research and learning…why should I do it for “you” (any you)…as a Muslim “you” (any you) should have already done it before becoming a Muslim..or as required reading as a Muslim.

    have a nice day

    • Cornelius said,

      May I say I like your style, coolred38 (smile)

    • Sarah said,

      (Stating my opinion based on MY OWN research, learning and intelligence is NOT arrogance nor ignorance…its using my brain…the very thing God encourages in us).

      And that’s awesom! I didn’t call you arrogant nor ignorant because of that (which I did opoligized for it, btw), but because of this sentence:

      (if Im wrong…Im wrong…so be it. Wont change my mind on it tho)

      You wont chang your mind even if were wrong? … that doesn’t really sound open-minded, and it seems you weren’t being very objective in your reasertch to begin with.

      I’ll get to your other point later.

      Again, sorry for the harsh words.

  28. j. kactuz said,

    Interesting blog, this. I love the aspects of “logic vs Faith”.

    What I don’t understand is why Muslims spend so much time proclaiming how authetic and documented the ahadith are. If I were a Muslim I would roll them up, hide them under a bed and never mention them to anybody.

    So, Ms. Coolred, how is the USA treatting you? get the kids in school? It has been 20+years now since I started life over, back in the US. I hope you and all are doing ok!

    kactuz

    • Wrestling With Religion said,

      Thanks for your comment, j.kactuz, and welcome to the blog.

    • Sarah said,

      (If I were a Muslim I would roll them up, hide them under a bed and never mention them to anybody).

      Heh, like what some of the jews and christians did with their scriptures?

      Nope. sorry, mate.

      • tanya said,

        dude, why are you sooooo defensive? it only makes you look less certain of your own faith.

  29. Cornelius said,

    Always the wrong reaction at the wrong place.

    If you want to point fingers back on the Christians and Jews, by all means you can do that. But you are missing the point here, my friend.

    Because of your faith, you want to believe, and you do believe that there are no inconsistencies between the Quran and the hadiths. That is not surprising, because as someone had correctly pointed out before, people only see what they want to see. Therefore, others may see many inconsistencies between the Quran and the hadiths, but you can’t see those inconsistencies. And even if you do find any inconsistency at all, you will still try to find numerous explanations or justifications to show that there is in fact no inconsistency—that both are the same except that perhaps the rules are expressed in a different way. And when someone comes up with an interpretation that does not agree with your view, then that must be a terribly wrong interpretation!

    Therefore, when one source says the punishment is STONING, whereas the other source says the punishment is 100 LASHES, other people will see those two as different, but you will somehow see them as not different.

    Soon it will become a skillful maneuvre of how to fit a square block into a round hole. It becomes a case of the beaver working industriously building its dam.

    But some honest people would rather not swim against the current. A square block is a square block and it can’t fit into that round hole, plain and simple. There is no mystery about it. And so they’d rather hide that square block under their beds and not mention it to anybody. I think it’s in that sense that kactuz would hide the hadiths.

    But obviously you won’t hide the hadiths. You prefer to try your best to fit the square block into the round hole. Are there inconsistencies between the Quran and the hadiths? Many people say there are many. But of course you say there’s none.

    • Cornelius said,

      Oops!… sorry about that. I meant the above comment as a response to Sarah Dec 18, 1:57am.

      Too many Sarahs, I’m so confused!… haha

    • Sarah said,

      (Because of your faith, you want to believe, and you do believe that there are no inconsistencies between the Quran and the hadiths).

      Cornelius, I find hilarious that you have the balls to tell me about what I beilive and why I beilive it.

      Word of advice: do not EVER claime you understand what or why do people “beilive” in this or that religion better then they do. You can only guess, but even then your word is as null as anybody’s else is.

      Do you think I was a “beiliver” when I re-stuided Islam? it took me 9 long months of reasertch (and I’m still learning), and I never expected to find all the answers I was looking for. I “beilived” when my mind was convinced and heart was finally at peace.

      Another word of advise: do NOT claime that you know about someone else’s religion better than they do.

      Will you be able to engage in a discussion about the Quran and Hadith? I don’t mind at all, but if your knowladge are lacking and/or if your sources are weak, then please do us both a favor and cut that “know it all” act.

      (people only see what they want to see).

      including you, I guess? =)

      Not all people are like that. Not me, and not Sarah (the other one, lol). Many of us perfer to use thier minds first, investege the right sources as objectively as we can second, THEN come up with conclutions.

      But you are right in way. A lot of people only see what they want to see.

      The best example is our friend coolred38 here, who said:

      (if Im wrong…Im wrong…so be it. Wont change my mind on it tho)

      and I find deeply troubiling that you “liked his way of thinking” depite of that!

      • Cornelius said,

        Sarah,

        I do not know about your religion better than you do. I was trying to tell you that people may not see things the way you are seeing them.

        And yes, that’s what I meant, people only see what they want to see, and that includes both of us.

        “Do you think I was a “beiliver” when I re-stuided Islam? it took me 9 long months of reasertch (and I’m still learning), and I never expected to find all the answers I was looking for. I “beilived” when my mind was convinced and heart was finally at peace.”

        See, that’s exactly what I meant. You believed after you have done your research… you mind was convinced and heart finally at peace. Very good. I bet coolred38 also did her own research and convinced herself of whatever she believes in. And so strong is her belief that she’s unshaken by what you believe. Yet, you are unhappy about that. You think that she’s not open-minded—like you, of course.

        Did I ever say that “I know it all”? Where did you get that, my dear Sarah? If from my comments here made me sound like “I know it all”, what do you think others think of the way you’ve been commenting here?

        “Not all people are like that (only see what they want to see). Not me…”

        Let the rest here tell you what they think. I won’t respond to this particular line.

        “Many of us perfer to use thier minds first, investege the right sources as objectively as we can second, THEN come up with conclutions.”

        So in your opinion, I did not investigate? From my questions here all these while, are those not investigations? Whatever it is that I learn, I investigate and reason things out, and will only accept after all those. I don’t go memorizing verses and hadiths. If you can do that, then that is good for you. It doesn’t impress me one bit though. Sorry.

        I like coolred38’s style because she’s honest and direct and believe in herself. What is the problem with that? Aren’t you exactly like that too? You think you would allow anyone change your mind about your beliefs?

      • Cornelius said,

        Oh! another thing I forgot to mention. It took you that long to know that I have balls? Oh I am hurt! But at least you noticed in the end.

        • Sarah said,

          (I was trying to tell you that people may not see things the way you are seeing them).

          I’m aware of that, thank you very much. But “seeing” is one thing, and “proving” is another.

          Like caraboska said: (Every thought system has its own rules of evidence), and since coolred38 is also a muslim, then our way of proving things, within our religious studies, should be the same.

          (You believed after you have done your research)

          WHAT?! are you kidding me?? how am I suppose to beilive then?? please, enlight me.

          At first I didn’t beilive in Islam, and I didn’t really want to. Itdidn’t FEEl right to me, but I didn’t want to dissmess it based on feeling. The only way to determine if it was true or not is to use my intellect and study the religion objectivly from the right sources. That what every sane truth seeker will do!

          (So in your opinion, I did not investigate? From my questions here all these while, are those not investigations?)

          I didn’t say you didn’t investigate, I just questioned you
          your conclutions and the souces you used to get them. You say you studied the Quran and hadith? then please show me what do you know about them? what is the different between them? how were they collected, examined, and kept intact? and what are the strict rules for a schlor to accept or reject a certain hadith (I’m sure you’re filimair with the Seince of Sunnah and Hadith, no?).

          (Whatever it is that I learn, I investigate and reason things out, and will only accept after all those).

          The exact thing I did! and yet you accused me of “blind faith”!

          Fancy that.

          (I bet coolred38 also did her own research and convinced herself of whatever she believes in).

          See? that’s the thing. I’m sure she did some research, but that doesn’t mean all her conclutions should be correct.

          People might study the same thing and come up with different conclutions. The only way to prove which one is correct is to proved sound evidences and explain them rationaly. That’s why I asked her to show her evidences and explain them to me. I know based on my evidens (not my feelings) that her conclution is not correct. And I’ll be more than happy to debat this point further with her.

          (If you can do that, then that is good for you. It doesn’t impress me one bit though. Sorry).

          I’m sorry, when did I say that I give a crap about what you think of me? =/

          (I like coolred38’s style because she’s honest and direct and believe in herself).

          But you have no problem with her little line her:

          (if Im wrong…Im wrong…so be it. Wont change my mind on it tho)

          Wow, I don’t know what to say.

          (You think you would allow anyone change your mind about your beliefs?)

          If they can prove to me that some or all my beliefs are wrong, then why not? I might dislike it at first, but in the end I will be deeply thankful to them.

          (It took you that long to know that I have balls? Oh I am hurt! But at least you noticed in the end).

          Um.. wow, does “figure of speech” rings a bell to you? =/

          Look, I oplogaize if my words offend you, but your words did offend me too (not because their deffirant than mine, but because it implaied that you know about my beilifs better than I do, which is a condecinding such thing to say).

          • Cornelius said,

            Sarah,

            “…since coolred38 is also a muslim, then our way of proving things, within our religious studies, should be the same.

            Says who? Has there ever been a set of guidelines on the standard of evidence to adopt when searching for the truth of religions?

            “WHAT?! are you kidding me?? how am I suppose to beilive then?? please, enlight me.”

            Listen, English is not my first language, but I think you need to improve yours to understand what we’re talking about here. I did not say that there’s anything wrong with researching first before believing. I’m saying that you did your research and coolred38 did hers too. And you are convinced that you are right and she’s convinced that she’s right. There is hardly any chance for both of you to let anyone influence your respective beliefs. Yet you said coolred38 is not open-minded, and the implication is that you are. But actually you are not. You get my point?

            “You say you studied the Quran and hadith? then please show me what do you know about them? what is the different between them? how were they collected, examined, and kept intact? and what are the strict rules for a schlor to accept or reject a certain hadith (I’m sure you’re filimair with the Seince of Sunnah and Hadith, no?).”

            No, I did not say that I studied the Quran and hadith. Never have and never will. Sorry. There is no need to go that far as far as I am concerned. I don’t have to look very much further than knowing that God allows aggressions among humans, often resulting in deaths of innocent people. No amount of justifications can make me change my views about people killing each other, whether or not I actually read the Quran. I don’t care if the Quran is original or not. So what if it’s original if I still can’t agree with its contents? And thankfully, when I analyse anything at all, I am not bound by a fixed method on how a scholar should accept or reject certain hadiths. If there is a choice that we can accept some and reject some, then there is something seriously wrong with those documents, especially if only the Arabs are qualified to translate!

            “See? that’s the thing. I’m sure she did some research, but that doesn’t mean all her conclutions should be correct.”

            But yours are?

            “I know based on my evidens (not my feelings) that her conclution is not correct.”

            Yeah, I guess your beliefs are based on evidence, and hers are based on her feelings only.

            “And I’ll be more than happy to debat this point further with her.”

            So why don’t you? Let’s just start with the STONING/LASHES issue.

            “if Im wrong…Im wrong…so be it. Wont change my mind on it tho”

            Why? What’s wrong with that? You are like that too, except that you are not brave enough to admit it. You already declared that your conclusion is the correct one. So you can’t be wrong, right?

            “Look, I oplogaize if my words offend you, but your words did offend me too”

            That is quite a common reaction of religious people, especially when they’re unable to make others agree with them. Don’t fight that feeling. It is quite normal.

            • Sarah said,

              (Says who? Has there ever been a set of guidelines on the standard of evidence to adopt when searching for the truth of religions?)

              You didn’t get. I said WITHIN our religious studies (as in = muslims doing studies on Islam). I wasn’t talking about other religious. Islam has its own foumela on prodocing evidence, and stric rules to determine which evidence is true or not. There is always a room for different opions to be correct, but there are some (and only some) things that can only be true or false (Hadith being one of them).

              Sholors can debate if this or that hadith is acceptable or not, and that is completely fine. But no sholor or a a serious learner of Islam will dismiss the entire Sceince of Hadith just like that! (at least not before provinding sound evidence of his claime).

              (No, I did not say that I studied the Quran and hadith).

              Wow… I’m not supraised. What kind of “investegasion” was it, then?

              (If there is a choice that we can accept some and reject some, then there is something seriously wrong with those documents)

              I didn’t say “choice”, I said RULES. And yes, that’s why I asked you if you knew the different between the Quran and the Hadith. Because the Quran is one, but there is different categories of Hadiths.

              I would’ve explain it to you in detail, but I know you wouldn’t care, so why should I even bother?

              But:

              (Let’s just start with the STONING/LASHES issue).

              I will do that one since you addressed it, but are welling to listen???

              (You are like that too, except that you are not brave enough to admit it).

              Except that I can actually EXPLAIN why I beilive my view is the correct one, and I’m open to the possibility that I am might be wrong (IF someone proved that my evidence is false or that his evidence is stronger).

              The problem I had with her line is it implaies that she wont change her mind EVEN if she found out if she was wrong.

              (That is quite a common reaction of religious people, especially when they’re unable to make others agree with them. Don’t fight that feeling. It is quite normal).

              … Wow, if I’m not happy with some people because I’m “unable to make others agree with me”, then why the hell did I defend Sarah’s dission to not expect Islam?!

              You should REALLY stop make these kind of accusations and generalisations if you want to be taken seriously.

    • Sarah said,

      By the way, Cornelius. I’m an arab girl, and the original Quran is in MY native language. So yeah, I can easily know and I have every right to point which is bad transilation or not.

      • Cornelius said,

        Exactly my point, Sarah!

        You know the correct translation. The rest of us are not qualified to translate.

        • Sarah said,

          (The rest of us are not qualified to translate).

          When did I ever say that?!

          I said I can easily go back to the ORIGINAL copy and compare the transilations with them.

          If you know a song in your own native language, and someone transilated it for you, wouldn’t you immedetly figure out if it had errors or not???

          • Cornelius said,

            Sarah,

            You obviously know all there is to know, so I shall gracefully withdraw from this discussion. I see now why coolred38 is not keen to debate… because it’s just pointless and a waste of time.

            Before I withdraw to the observer’s seat, I just want to make one final comment to you.

            This may come as a big surprise to you, but I bet there are Arabs out there who may have different translations of the verses than yours. But I suppose they are also wrong… or at least not 100% accurate as your translations.

            Have a good day, my friend, and all the best for your exams.

            • Sarah said,

              (I shall gracefully withdraw from this discussion).

              No problem.

              (I bet there are Arabs out there who may have different translations of the verses than yours).

              WTF?! I almost laughed, are for REAL?!

              Not even the most hard-core Evangalic christian who hates islam with a passion would even suggest this stupid theory (and some hard-core Evangalics still think that muslims worship the moon!).

              And you BET on it?!

              You don’t know a thing about the originality of the Quran, and you still wanted to disscus hadith?!

              Says a lot about your “investegation”.

              • Cornelius said,

                Oh well, if you insist, Sarah,

                Extracted from comment #8 in the post: The unbelievers are the enemy

                “First off, I just got to adress THIS verse:

                “48:25 [It was not for your enemies sake that He stayed your hands from them: for] it was they who were bent on denying the truth, and who debarred you from the Inviolable House of Worship and prevented your offering from reaching its destina­tion. And had it not been for the believing men and believing women [in Mecca], whom you might have unwittingly trampled underfoot, and on whose account you might have become guilty, without knowing it, of a grievous wrong: [had it not been for this, you would have been allowed to fight your way into the city: but you were forbidden to fight] so that [in time] God might admit to His grace whomever He wills. Had they [who deserve Our mercy and they whom We have condemned] been clearly discernible [to you], We would indeed have imposed grievous suffering [at your hands] on such of them as were bent on denying the truth”.

                … seriously, what the HELL?!

                What a BAD transilation!

                Here is a much more accurate transilation, which didn’t implay that meesed up interpetation:-

                48:25: (God defeated them because) they are the ones who have disbelieved and who barred you from (visiting) the Sacred Mosque and (prevented) the offerings from reaching their destination. And had there not been (in Makkah) believing men and believing women whom you did not know and, therefore, might have trodden down, and thus something undesired might have afflicted you on their account (for what you did) unknowingly, (God would not have restrained your hands from fighting. But He restrained your hands) so that He might admit to His mercy whom He wills (by sparing the believers in Makkah, and enabling many among the Makkans to embrace Islam in time).”

                And Sarah’s translation is the accurate one.

                Thank you.

                • Sarah said,

                  God! do I have to repeat myself over and over again with you?!

                  I give up.

                  Peace.

            • Sarah said,

              (You obviously know all there is to know)

              Like you know all that it needs to be know about the physic of religious people, hm??

  30. caraboska said,

    Every thought system has its own rules of evidence. I can’t believe there is only one (by God’s grace) knowledgeable Christian on the planet who can look at all the supposed ‘contradictions’ in the Bible and deal with them in a way that doesn’t create cognitive dissonance, who can say ‘I have known and lived the Bible for thirty years – I know the power of its words and no one needs to tell me whether it is God’s Word.’

    But as far as the Gospels are concerned, I’ve examined them all at great length and have found that they actually make a good case for the thesis that Jesus actually did die on the cross *before* being taken alive up to heaven. The most solid evidence for that is a little fact reported by John, that before they took Jesus down from the cross, they stabbed him in the ribs to make sure he was really dead, and it was found his blood had already begun to separate (into ‘blood and water’).

    And we have manuscript evidence that John was written in 90-something CE. And there is evidence both in Scripture and elsewhere that John was a young man when Jesus was crucified, and that he lived to a very old age, so that it is at very least plausible that the Evangelist’s claim to have been one of Jesus’ apostles is in fact true – in other words, that this really is the account of an eyewitness.

    But to get back to the rules of evidence: there is in fact quite a bit of evidence. But someone else from a different religion with different rules of evidence (not to mention different reasons for adopting these and not other rules of evidence) will not accept the evidence that is there.

    • Sarah said,

      (Every thought system has its own rules of evidence).

      True, but when it comes to religion: bofore we analyze our evidences or create rules for them, we need to make sure first that the text we have in our hand is genioun. Otherwise, we’ll be wasting a lot of our time.

      How can we study an old text when we don’t even have a copy of a copy of a copy
      of the original?

      • caraboska said,

        I think that in the case of the Bible, we can be pretty sure we are in possession of such copies. There is just too much of a time range for the documentary testimony, with the text remaining consistent enough over that time so that we can be as sure as anyone can be that there was an original with that content. And like I said, I recall reading something about documentary evidence, I believe it was the Gospel of John they were talking about, where they said a portion of that Gospel had been found which dated back to approximately the time period when the Gospel was supposed to have been written. And in general, there is just too much quantitatively as well not to have a high degree of certainty about the content of the original of the Bible. Apparently there is no other book on the planet today with a comparable amount of documentary evidence concerning its content.

  31. coolred38 said,

    Sarah,

    When I said “if Im wrong then Im wrong but it wont change my mind”…I should clarify…if I discover on the Day of Judgment that I was wrong then Im wrong…but UNTIL then I believe Im right…and I wont change my mind.

    And I have not only studied SOME…please dont make assumptions about my level of understanding simply because it doesnt agree with yours…something you happen to be correcting Cornelius for. I too could put up a good defense and debate…but I find doing so with most Muslims pointless and a waste of time as WE are all fairly set in our ways…or beliefs…as they say.

    To you be your interpretation of religion (Islam) and to me be mine.

    • Sarah said,

      (When I said “if Im wrong then Im wrong but it wont change my mind”…I should clarify…if I discover on the Day of Judgment that I was wrong then Im wrong…but UNTIL then I believe Im right…and I wont change my mind).

      Ah, I see! then I don’t have a problem with that. =)

      My offer still stand if you want to disscus your beleifs on Hadiths, but if you don’t want to, then I wont mind at all.

      (And I have not only studied SOME)

      Sorry, I wasn’t implaying that you didn’t stuydy enough. I should’ve been more careful with my words.

      Peace? =)

      • coolred38 said,

        Then all is good. Cheers.

  32. coolred38 said,

    j kactuz….thank you for asking and we are getting on with it day by day.

    cornelius…thank you as well.

  33. Candice said,

    Wow, this became “interesting”. I was sure I’d commented a couple days ago but I guess I didn’t. It’s a frustrating kind of debate (if you can call it that) that happened up here. It’s hard for me to see people being so stuck in their beliefs that they refuse to evaluate something that goes against what they believe.

    I feel that it’s such a great quality to be able to open up your mind to the possibility that you are wrong. This conversation above was like taking to a wall. There was no understanding of what the other was saying… So weird. But so common among religious people.

    To Sarah (author of the blog): I really respect all the research you do. It’s so great to really look into things and figure out what you believe. But SO difficult! I totally agree with you that for Christianity; that it’s somehow OK for everything to not be perfect since the imperfection could easily be attributed to translations, loss of some books, etc. etc. but this is not the case in Islam (the Qur’an). It is supposed to be perfect so if it’s not, it’s just not the truth…

    I’ve mostly evaluated different beliefs in Islam and for me, it was enough to at least fel that it was perfect, even though my research of the Qur’an was not that extensive. I am open to changing my mind, although of course we know how complicated it is to de-convert. I feel that the Islamic lifestyle is right for me and I feel comfortable with the label (being a submitter, whether or not it ends up having anything to do with the Qur’an) and so I converted. I am Muslim and I feel happy this way. But my research is not over. Thinking over my conversion and beliefs, it was partly my belief in Islam as truth and partly my acceptance of Islam in my life in a permanent way. If I was relying only on the former point, I might have done more research before converting…

    Thank you for your honest post, Sarah (again, blog author Sarah)

    😉

    • Sarah said,

      Heh, I’m actually kind of embaresed when I look at my little “conversation” now. I’m usually not that preachy and rigged, but then again I probably shouldn’t have engaged in any heated debat when I was having a bad mood to begin with (something I’ll always keep in mind for the future).

      • Candice said,

        It happens to everyone. 🙂 I feel very friendly towards you and feel like you’re a good person. I admit that I feel a bit more like Cornelius did in that conversation but that might have a lot to do with the way it developed.

        About different Arabs having different translations of verses, I really hope you can see that a translation is an interpretation of the verse, and so two different Arabs who interpret the verse differently could very easily have different translations! It wouldn’t mean they don’t know the language, it would just mean they understood it differently. I will say though that they are pretty consistent of course since they stem from the same Arabic source. But there definitely are differences in meaning.

    • Wrestling With Religion said,

      …And thank you for your honest comment, Candice!

      I do think there’s a lot of good in Islam and that it can be a good path, for some people at least. And I love the term “submitter”. I am not sure if there is just one right way and if so, how specific it is. I am veering towards the idea that “submitters” can exist in all cultures and religions.

  34. coolred38 said,

    “There was no understanding of what the other was saying… So weird. But so common among religious people….”

    Its not so much whether you are willing to understand another persons point of view or not…its whether you are willing to ALLOW them to have that point of view in the first place.

    I do not mind in the least if someone believes differently than me…free world and all…but I do mind someone questioning my intelligence or ability to understand something merely because it does not reflect their own beliefs on the subject.

    Yes…that is common among religious folk…a religious person is a far cry from a believing person…or so I have come to understand.

    • caraboska said,

      Oh. coolred, it is not just common among the religious. My academic scientist parents, who do not believe in God or the Bible or any other religion in the normal sense of the word, and are scandalized that I, for example, don’t believe in evolution, treat me every so often to comments about my supposed intellectual defectiveness. And they of all people should know better…

      • Wrestling With Religion said,

        Well, I believe the scientific evidence for evolution is undeniable, but if someone doesn’t believe in it it’s not because they are intellectually defective, but because they choose to see things their way. I for one have no problem with that. Who’s it harming? I don’t like it when atheists take a smug superior tone about things like that.

  35. Umm Taweelah said,

    I skipped all of the above, just to put in my two cents to your post.

    Sometimes, a person has to decide what they consider is wrong, what they consider is impossible, and what they consider is incorrect…
    There are many matters in the Quran to which I have strong feelings. However, while I may consider something to be wrong, it doesn’t mean it is incorrect by God’s standards.
    When I read the Quran (translation of course), I can’t help but believe that I am not the first person to feel the range of motions from happiness to disappointment.
    Your point: “But it still has to be perfect”
    Perfect is something that I will never understand or be able to find. I strongly feel that if you continue on your path to find perfect, you will continue your journey for a long time. God’s perfect is something not even the best scholars can explain. I myself, have come to realize that I will never know what God means by perfect, because I can not wrap my tiny human mind around it. Why does the Quran have to make 100 percent sense for you to believe it is perfect? If that were the case, most of the women in Islam would not be Muslim.

    I accept that the Quran is God’s perfect, not mine.

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