Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Unforgiven

As the blow landed his head snapped back and he felt a hot burning tear as his lip split, the metallic taste of his own blood made its way into his mouth against his will. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it.... I am sorry!", he cried, desperate.

Another blow landed with a wet thud, and a sharp dagger like pain shot into his ribs, making his breathing painful. It was followed closely by another to the same area of rib-cage but this time accompanied by a wet-crack, making him double-over. The sharp edges of the broken ribs piercing muscle and spraying sharp spasms of electricity with each jagged breath.

The two burly men holding his arms behind his back, yanked him hard upright again, as the man facing him flexed his gloved fingers, readying for another blow.

"Pleeeaaasseeee.....", he said, almost a whisper now, desperation having given way rapidly to despair. "Pleeease."

"You know how it works fool, everybody knows how it works!", the contempt was palpable in the deep guttural voice. The man leaned in close to him, breathing acridly into his face, "You broke the rules, you broke my rules, my rules! So, now, somebody's gotta pay and that somebody is you!"

He sank down in the arms of his restrainers, sobbing forcefully, "Forgive me..., please.... have Mercy", he whispered, blood from his mouth dripping in thick drops onto the alley floor.

The gloved man paused, regarding the slumped figure of the man in from of him said, "This aint no Hollywood boy, this is the streets. Obey or pay, thats the rules, my rules." He glanced at his two burly colleagues, "It's you or someone else... I dont care who! I got a rep to uphold."


In discussions with my respected Christian friends a number of topics come up repeatedly; Original Sin, the Trinity, Divine Sacrifice and Atonement or Forgiveness etc etc. These topics are obviously inter-related to a degree that makes a compartmentalized discussion of any one topic difficult, ironically, exactly what I am about to attempt.

Whenever I do have any conversations with Christians it makes sense that we discuss our differences, I mean the real differences. Not the typical lets-cut-down-the-tree-by-pulling-off-the-leaves approach that I encounter ad nauseum; "you treat your women bad", "you is all terrorists", "your prophet was x,y,z", "Islam is evil" etc etc etc... this brings to mind what the friendly giant in Roald Dahl's the BFG called "frobscottle and whizzpopping", except that that was an enjoyable process for the BFG. But "whizzpopping" is an apt description type of approach used by some against Islam.

The real differences are around the following ideas:

To blame all of Mankind for the sins of just two people is not a Just act by any standards, lets alone the standards of God*. Islam of course teaches that every individual is responsible for their own sin and can not be held accountable for the sins of others.

It would be a further Injustice that God taught people a way to be in the world (Laws and Non-Trinitarian Theology) that was not the way to attain Paradise, as Christians maintain that only through accepting Jesus' (pbuh) sacrifice upon the cross can salvation be given. This mis-information went on for millennia until Jesus (pbuh) was born and thus, many, many died before ever having even heard of Jesus (pbuh).

Islam of course teaches that God sent Messengers to all people with the same message, the same method of attaining His Paradise: Worship God Alone without partners.

The Trinity, of course is always discussed, sometimes as a way of trying to establish the point that the Trinity is inexplicable, in terms of "How". Although numerous futile attempts are made, there actually is no example of anything that is one indivisible thing but three other individual things (that are not each other) at the same time and those three other things individually are also equal to the whole.

I tend to try and discuss the Trinity in terms of "Why". Why do we need a Trinity? Usually the conversation heads towards the "God is Holy and Man is a sinner" [say it with a Southern American twang] and the idea that God can not stand to be "in the presence of Sin", which makes a mockery of God then manifesting Himself on earth (the quintessential location of sin) in the form of a man.

But I am then bludgeoned with the necessity of a Divine Sacrifice to pay for the Sin as "the wages of sin is death" and [here comes the twang again] "God is Perfectly Just and Man is a sinner".

It is from this stage of the hypothetical discussion that I attempt to illustrate my perception of Atonement Vs Forgiveness and yes, I am afraid it is a "Vs", as I will endeavour to explain further.

To believe that God is so Just, that He must punish sin in order to uphold His Perfect Justice, is in actual fact to deny the following; One, that to Forgive something is Merciful as well as Just and two, that God possesses the ability to Forgive.

So the Muslim is left thinking that his Christian friends hold that God can not forgive sin as that would make Him unjust and that as God can not (so does not) forgive sin He would therefore not be either Merciful or Forgiving..

Is that not a sad state of affairs?

My Christian colleagues then tend to put forward the idea that God killing an innocent man (or Himself) to pay the price (atone) for sin is Merciful and Forgiving. This idea does not sit well with most Muslims and I am sure with people of other faiths and no faith.

Why? Quite simply, there is either payment (atonement) or there is forgiveness. You can not have both at the same time. Either something is forgiven and so does not have to be paid for or something is paid for so was not forgiven. Needless to say, that the death of a innocent man in the place of a guilty sinner is another travesty of justice.

I am left with the following conclusion, that it appears that those that believe that Jesus Christ (pbuh) died on the cross to pay for their sins believe that God can not forgive sin and so acknowledge that they are, truly, the Unforgiven.

Peace, fot
May God guide us all always closer to His Truth. Ameen.

*Note: "God" as used by me is strictly used in the Islamic sense of Monotheism, to the exclusion of anthropomorphism, as is nicely put forward in this paraphrase of Chapter 114 (The Purity) of the Quran, taken from a Children's Nasheed:

Say He is Allah the Only One,

We all need Him and He needs no-one,

He has no parents, no daughter, no son,

Nobody is like Him and He is like no-one.

Monday, June 22, 2009

ArabFest Invasion 2009 - Dearborn, USA

When Acts 17 Apologetics produced it first YouTube video, I was quite pleased. Here, there was finally someone that seemed to fit the actual claim of an "Ex-Muslim Christian" who was interested in serious but sincere respectful dialogue. I suppose I was let down on many fronts, but it was my own fault, I set myself up for this one and I should have known better.

I read Dr Nabeel Qureshi's testimony and was moved by it, in terms of the feelings his family went through. I told him so via email. I re-read it a little while back and noticed the small print, you would almost miss it if you blinked, I did the first time. He was an Ahmadi, a group that is regarded by Muslims of all sects, unanimously, as being outside of Islam. 

Strike ONE.

But thats not all that bad, at least he would have read the Quran and have a reasonable amount of knowledge about Islam. The debut YouTube video of Acts 17 Apologetics seemed very good superficially but any slightly detailed look demonstrated the error of the position put forward by Dr Nabeel Qureshi.

I did just that, took a detailed look at the position he put forward and showed the deficiencies in a two part video response:

Which Dr Nabeel Qureshi said that he liked in a private message to me.

I was looking forward to another YouTube video from Acts 17 Apologetics and was rewarded, so I thought initially, by not one but TWO YouTube videos:

These videos can be paraphrased as follows:

An Arab/Islam Festival called Arab Fest 2009 was taking place in Dearborn USA. Glorious sunshine light the streets and smiling families eating ice-cream wonder past giddily revolving children's rides. The hubbub of gentle talking and children's laughter ripples across the scene. Momentarily, there is peace on God's earth.

In this serene setting Dr Nabeel Qureshi, Mr Wood and others in a crew of debaters with a camera in hand were on a mission. Having obtained a leaflet that claimed that Islam was a peaceful religion Dr Qureshi authoritatively quotes Surah 9 verse 29 to his camera wielding crew member in an effort to "demonstrate" that Islam is not a peaceful religion.

A few clouds are now beginning to gather on this idealic scene and a few nervous glances are cast by passersby at this threatening camera crew and women glance around to see if their children are within sight.

Dr Qureshi followed by his camera wielding crew now make their way to an Islam Information Stand, in a live demonstration of "I iz right". A short young man turns towards the voice of Dr Qureshi, who towers over him and who is waving said pamphlet in his face (like a subpoena or a warrant) demanding an answer to his "question".

[This young man reminds me momentarily of Prophet David (pbuh) faced with Goliath (Dr Qureshi's Masters in Christian Apologetics certainly adds to my perception)]

I dont really know what goes through the young man's mind, it may have been arrest and detention without charge, extra-ordinary rendition, Gitmo (surely thats closed?) or another of a plethora of Gulag's in which Muslims are held and tortured but his response is virtually automatic. "Turn off the camera".

Dr Qureshi, immediately and triumphantly turns to his camera wielding crew and claims that the refusal to answer his question is "evidence" that the pamphlet is a deception and the Muslims are hiding something.

Sigh. Strike TWO.

Dr Qureshi's use of Surah 9 to "demonstrate" Islam is not a peaceful religion is truly deserving of strike in its own right but I am generous. I would have expected Dr Qureshi to know that Surah 9 is not what he claims it to be. In fact, this is such a widely misused piece of Quran that has so often been refuted, I am sure by Dr Qureshi himself in his Ahmadi days, that I will not bother to quote it. I was disappointed to say the least.

The saga however is not over.

Mr Woods then claims, facing his camera wielder, that he was almost tricked in to handing out a Christian Pamphlet, in a effort to have him removed from the fest. So, to clarify, Mr Wood, a Christian Evangelist, Apologist and Propagator, had Christian Pamphlets with him which he brought to the ArabFest 2009 to NOT distribute [eyes roll upwards].

The indignation in Mr Wood's eyes is matched for a moment by the Dr Qureshi's anguish that this "virtual almost trapping" of Mr Wood was not caught on camera. Mr Wood then remonstrates about the Freedom that Islam inevitably removes from this American street and Dr Qureshi welcomes the audience to "Shariah".

Strike THREE. Your OUT.

I wonder what would happen to some Muslims turning up at a Christian festival, carrying out similar antics? Walking around with a camera (whilst Muslim - probably a Federal offense anyway), being confrontational to stand volunteers?

What disappoints me the most is that, here, Acts 17 Apologetics are moving away from any real attempt at a discussion to try and establish Islam's or Christianity's position on any given topic and we have a moving towards a fear-mongering "Islam is taking over the USA and imposing Shariah law on us" proof by overt suggestion methodology.

I wish Dr Qureshi and Mr Wood all the best and would advise that to improve their attempts at teaching Muslims about Christianity they will have to change their approach. I hope that future Acts 17 Apologetics YouTube videos are not so insubstantial and so obviously fear-mongering.

For me and for many other Muslims, the resort to the tactics mentioned above is a sign of a weak position and not a strong one. To help Muslims with the many dilemmas within Christianity, please deal with the substantial issues: Original Sin, Trinitarianism and Monotheism, Can God Forgive sin?... to name but a few.

For example, Muslims dont believe that God made all of Mankind bear the guilt of the sin of just two people, that is unjust and Muslims dont believe that God is unable to forgive sin and requires payment, even if that meant paying Himself by becoming a man and committing suicide (or killing another innocent), that a weakness and another injustice.

Peace, fot
May God guide us all always closer to His Truth. Ameen.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Re: The Miraculous Quran: Embryology and Semen (2 of 2)

Dr Nabeel Qureshi of Acts17Apologetics claims that the Quran in Chapter 86 Verse 6-7 makes scientifically inaccurate statements. Some observations and comments...

This is part 2, part 1 can be found here:

Re: The Miraculous Quran: Embryology and Semen (1 of 2)

Dr Nabeel Qureshi of Acts17Apologetics claims that the Quran in Chapter 86 Verse 6-7 makes scientifically inaccurate statements. Some observations and comments...

This is part 1, part 2 can be found here:

Excellent refutations of this claim, by webdawah, can be found here:

...from between the backbone and the ribs.


...from between the backbone and the ribs.[More Details]

Excellent explanation of the word At-Tara'aib.