How to Debate a Muslim, Part III
The final installment.
3. Go to the Original Sources.
When you do debate with a Muslim make sure you are armed with all your references from the original Arabic sources. The major sources are all available in English, and are the Koran, the Sira or the Life of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq, and the Hadith, the sayings and deeds of the Prophet and his companions. You must make the effort to familiarize yourself with these. Start with the Koran. It is not a very long text, about four hundred pages in the Penguin translation. Acquire at least four different translations, at least one of which should be by a Muslim. Yusuf Ali and, despite his name, Marmaduke Pickthall were Muslims, and their translations are easily available in paperbacks. At least one should be by someone whose mother tongue was Arabic, such as N.J.Dawood, an Iraqi scholar whose translation is quite readable. If you read French, I strongly advise you to acquire and read Regis Blachere’s translation - it has copious footnotes which reveal the opaqueness of the Holy text, and the grammatical errors of the original Arabic.
If you have read the Koran, you are already better informed of its contents than the majority of Muslims. Indeed, many Muslims have been genuinely surprised when I have apprised them of the verses preaching war, intolerance, hatred of Jews and Christians, misogyny, cruel punishments, etc. When you do read the Koran, read it with a highlighter in hand, and mark or underline the passages which preach intolerance, or which reveal injustice, cruelty and violence, absurdities, insults to women, contradictions, anti-Semitism, homophobic attitudes, superstitions, and, to be scrupulously fair, passages which teach morally acceptable principles. Someone has already undertaken just such a task at:
http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/quran/int/long.html. Our diligent skeptic found 511 passages of injustice, 384 of intolerance, 320 of cruelty and violence, 46 insults to women and just 60 passages of morally acceptable principles.
Here are some anti-Jewish sentiments from the Koran:
II.61: ….Wretchedness and baseness were stamped upon them (that is, the Jews), and they were visited with wrath from Allah. That was because they disbelieved in Allah’s revelations and slew the prophets wrongfully. That was for their disobedience and transgression.
IV.44-46: Have you not seen those who have received a portion of the Scripture? They purchase error, and they want you to go astray from the path.
But Allah knows best who your enemies are, and it is sufficient to have Allah as a friend. It is sufficient to have Allah as a helper.
Some of the Jews pervert words from their meanings, and say, ‘We hear and we disobey’, and ‘Hear without hearing,’ and ‘Heed us!’ twisting with their tongues and slandering religion. If they had said, ‘We have heard and obey,’, or ‘Hear and observe us’ it would have been better for them and more upright. But Allah had cursed them for their disbelief, so they believe not, except for a few.
IV.160-161: And for the evildoing of the Jews, We have forbidden them some good things that were previously permitted them, and because of their barring many from Allah’s way.
And for their taking usury which was prohibited for them, and because of their consuming people’s wealth under false pretense. We have prepared for the unbelievers among them a painful punishment.
IX.29-31: Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture [Jews and Christians] as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah has forbidden by His Messenger, and follow not the religion of truth, until they pay the tribute [poll-tax] readily, and are utterly subdued.
The Jews say, “Ezra is the son of Allah,” and the Christians say, “The Messiah is the son of Allah.” Those are the words of their mouths, conforming to the words of the unbelievers before them. Allah attack them! How perverse they are!
They have taken their rabbis and their monks as lords besides Allah, and so too the Messiah son of Mary, though they were commanded to serve but one God. There is no God but He. Allah is exalted above that which they deify beside Him.
IX.34: O you who believe ! Lo! many of the (Jewish) rabbis and the (Christian) monks devour the wealth of mankind wantonly and debar (men) from the way of Allah. They who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah, unto them give tidings of a painful doom
V.63-64: Why do not the rabbis and the priests forbid their evil-speaking and devouring of illicit gain? Verily evil is their handiwork.
The Jews say, “Allah’s hands are fettered.” Their hands are fettered, and they are cursed for what they have said! On the contrary, His hands are spread open. He bestows as He wills. That which has been revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase the arrogance and unbelief of many among them. We have cast enmity and hatred among them until the Day of Resurrection. Every time they light the fire of war, Allah extinguishes it. They hasten to spread corruption throughout the earth, but Allah does not love corrupters!
V.70-71: We made a covenant with the Israelites and sent forth apostles among them. But whenever an apostle came to them with a message that did not suit their fancies, some they accused of lying and others they put to death. They thought no harm would follow: they were blind and deaf. God is ever watching their actions.
V.82: Indeed, you will surely find that the most vehement of men in enmity to those who believe are the Jews and the polytheists.
V.51: O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who takes them for friends is one of them.
V.57: O you who believe! Choose not for friends such of those who received the Scripture [Jews and Christians] before you, and of the disbelievers, as make jest and sport of your religion. But keep your duty to Allah of you are true believers.
V.59: Say: O, People of the Scripture [Jews and Christians]! Do you blame us for aught else than that we believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed aforetime, and because most of you are evildoers?
V.66: ….Among them [Jews and Christians] there are people who are moderate, but many of them are of evil conduct.
XXXIII.26: He brought down from their strongholds those who had supported them from among the People of the Book [Jews of Bani Qurayza ] and cast terror into their hearts, so that some you killed and others you took captive.
V.60: Say:‘ Shall I tell you who will receive a worse reward from God ? Those whom [i.e. Jews] God has cursed and with whom He has been angry, transforming them into apes and swine, and those who serve the devil. Worse is the plight of these, and they have strayed farther from the right path.’
Then pass onto the oldest source on the life of the Prophet, the Sira by Ibn Ishaq as quoted by Ibn Hisham. It is also available in an English translation. Again read it, with the same skeptical attitude and a highlighter in hand. It makes for very depressing reading. The biography is full of violence, cruelty, intolerance and anti-Semitism.
Here are some of the passages from the Sira revealing Muhammad’s hatred of the Jews :
1. “Kill any Jews that falls into your power” said the Prophet: p.369
2. The killing of Ibn Sunayna, and its admiration leading someone to convert to Islam: p.369
3. The killing of Sallam ibn Abu’l –Huqayq: pp.482-483
4. The assassination of Ka‘b b.al-Ashraf ,who wrote verses against Muhammad: pp.364-369
5. The raid against the Jewish tribe of the Banu‘l-Nadir, and their banishment. pp.437-445
6. The extermination of the Banu Qurayza, between 600-800 men. pp.461-469
7. The killing of alYusayr. pp.665-666
Finally, pass onto the Hadith or Traditions, which are also, fortunately, available in English. The collection by Bukhari, who died in 870 C.E., is the best place to start. The Hadith or the Books of Tradition are a collection of sayings and doings attributed to the Prophet and traced back to him through a series of putatively trustworthy witnesses. Apart from what Muhammad did and enjoined these traditions include what was done in his presence that he did not forbid, and even the authoritative sayings and doings of the companions of the Prophet. These traditions serve as the theoretical basis of the Sharia or Islamic Law, and hence of Islam itself. Here you will find all that you suspected about Islam but were not sure where to look for. Jihad, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and the usual litany of violence and cruelty. Bukhari’s collection is highly regarded by the Muslims.
Thus furnished with precise references to and quotes from the Koran, the Sira and the Hadith, you are well-equipped to criticise Islam, and ready to debate any Muslim.