Sunday, 13 August 2017

Notes and Select Quotes from the Book Mecca the Sacred City

Mecca The Sacred City, Ziauddin Sardar, Bloomsbury

No automatic alt text available.

Mecca has had many names. It was known as al-Balad (the main city) and al-Qaryah (place large numbers of people congregate like water flowing into a reservoir). Mecca was also known as Baca as mentioned in Psalm 84:5-6

5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.[a]
6 As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.

The Arabic form of Baca, Bakkah, can be translated as ‘lack of stream’. The valley indeed was a dry place with no vegetation.

Archeology and Mecca

 p4 Today’s Mecca, in the modern Saudi Arabia, has for the past eighty years been ruled by a family with a horror of history, of historical evidence, that includes evidence from archaeology, as well as from manuscripts. The government ensured that Mecca was washed clean of its history in June 1973 when entire districts of the city were bulldozed and its cultural property and historic sites were erased from the landscape as easily as one rubs out pencil marks on paper. The little archaeology that has been undertaken in Saudi Arabia occurs far removed from the Holy Places. As far as the Saudis are concerned Mecca has no prehistory, no history before Muhammad, and no history after Muhammad. This denial of Meccan history is based on a single reason: the Saudis do not want anyone to venerate Muhammad. The fear is that historical sites, rather than God, will become objects of worship.

Archeological evidence, however, is not our only source of insights into history. Our window into the past includes words as well as memories, what today is known as oral history...p4

...Many of the Psalms are attributed to the Prophet King David, whose reign is tentatively dated 1040-970 BCE. Psalm 84, however, is attributed to ‘the sons of Korah’, believed to be either a family of religious singers or a guild of singers and musicians. Originally, the sons of Korah were appointed by the David to provide songs and music during the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. However they continued to function long after. Psam 84 might have come into existence at any time from the era of King David up to the time when the 150 Psalms found in the Old Testament are known to have existed in written form. This spans a period from somewhere after 1040 BCE up to around 165 BCE. p5

We can, however, agree with Edward Gibbon, the eighteenth century historian and author of the celebrated Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, that the genuine antiquity of Caaba ascends beyond the Christian era’. Gibbon knew of claims that the existence of Mecca was known to the ancient Greeks. Diodorus Siculus, the Greek historian who lived during the first century BCE, mentions the Kaaba in his Bibliotheca Historica, a book describing various parts of the discovered world: ‘ a temple has been set up there, which is very holy and exceedingly revered by all Arabians’. The city is also mentioned by Claudius Ptolemy, the Egyptian Roman citizen who wrote his classic text, Geography, in Greek, and lived around 90-168 CE...In his survey of the inhabitable world he provides a list of cities in Arabia Felix. Amongst them is ‘a place called Macroba’, which ‘allows us to identify it as a Southern Arabian foundation created around a sanctuary’. P5-6

A string of archeological sites from modern-day Iraq to Pakistan, home of the Indus Valley civilization of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, provide evidence of a trade route dating back to around 3000 BCE. When the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II was buried in 1224 BCE several peppercorns that would have originated in India or even South East Asia were used along with other unguents as part of the embalming process. P6

In the stories and poems of Arabia before Islam, Mecca was the city of Abraham, biblical prophet, patriarch of Israelites and Ishmalites, and founder of the monotheistic faiths. P7

Location of Abraham and Hagar

According to the Bible, Hagar wandered in the city of Beersheba, located in the Negev desert, and eventually settled in the desert known as Paran. If that is the case, then it is highly unlikely that she would turn up several hundred miles away in Mecca; or that Abraham would visit her frequently. It is possible, as recent research suggests, that Abraham and his family were located not in Egypt and Palestine, but in the Asir province, which shares its western border with Yemen, in the southwest of Arabia [FN to Kamal Al Salibi, The Bible Came from Arabia (Jonathan Cape, London, 1984)] That, of course, would make the Muslim account more plausible. And Abraham would be able to visit Hagar and Ishmael relatively easily and more frequently. p11

 Early historians

P12-13 The first book to be written about Mecca was put together before 865 by a native of the city: Meccan Reports by al-Azraqi....But Meccan Reports is not history as we conventionally understand it. To begin with it concentrates on the city monuments, for example the Kaaba and Muqam Ibrahim, and the living quarters of the city. What it tells us about ancient Mecca is based on oral traditions and the stories familiar to the city’s inhabitants. Whereas al-Azraqi tells us little about the social and political makeup of Mecca, more general histories focus on the city’s notables, its politics and struggles. One of the most important of these is the monumental forty-volume History of al-Tabari, the ninth-century historian, theologian and commentator. Al Tabari (838-923), who was of Persian origins, was an avid collector of stories; and he includes them all, good and bad, true and false, without comment, in his work. The biographer ibn Saad (784-845), who was born in Basra, Iraq, and worked as a scribe before blooming into a writer, seemed just as open-minded...Other historians were more discerning. The biographer and historian ibn Ishaq (d. 767 or 761) was more discerning in what he included in The Life of Muhammad, the first part of which deals with the ancient history of Mecca.
Prophet Muhammad illiterate but not uneducated

p20 Muhammad was ‘unlettered’: he could not read or write. This does not necessarily mean that he was uneducated. He was the product of an oral culture, where history and tradition were passed from generation to generation through sagas, genealogical narratives, and most importantly poetry. He was probably well versed in the ancient history of his city: he would have heard the sagas repeatedly told , the epic poems, the odes, the satires, as well as the lament of Mudad, and the couplets of Amr of the Luhayy.

[couplet begins: We became the custodians of the Kaaba after Jurhum]

Oral history of Mecca

...The history of Mecca was constantly being recited in the streets and squares, alleys and assemblies, and within and around the Sanctuary. The Meccans lived and breathed their history. In this fiercely tribal society Muhammad would, of course, have been familiar with the history of his own tribe – the Quraysh.

Boycott/blockade on early Muslims

 Back in Mecca, the Quraysh leadership prepared its next move: this would be a boycott of all those who had any connection to Muhammad’s Banu Hashim clan. Today we would call this a blockade or extreme form of ‘sanctions’. Back then it included a ban on marrying into the Banu Hashim, as well as forbidding all trade and other forms of association. The pact was written down and hung on the door of the Kaaba. The boycott would continue till the Banu Hashim agreed to hand Muhammad over to the Quraysh.

Comprehensively shunned and excluded from society, members of the Banu Hashim, including Muhammad, had little choice but to leave the city. Under the leadership of Muhammad’s uncle Abu Talib, who still insisted on protecting his nephew, clan members moved to a nearby mountain cave. But not everyone did. Some in the Banu Hashim, such as another of Muhammad’s uncles, Abu Lahab, chose to side with the Quraysh leadership and remained in the city.

Life outside the city, without food and provisions, was harsh. Reports from the time say that the new Muslims were reduced to eating leaves. Abu Jahl, Abu Sufyan and other Meccan leaders watched like hawks to ensure that isolation was strictly enforced. The blockade continued for almost three years and became so intense that the screams of hungry children from behind the mountain pass could be heard in the streets and squares of the city. p44-45
Some Christians used to perform the pilgrimage before Islam

‘Even Christian Arabs made pilgrimage to Kaaba, honouring Allah there as God the Creator’ Marshall Hodgson, The Venture of Islam (Chicago University Press, Chicago, 1974) vol. I p.10
Sourced from page 24 Mecca The Sacred City, Ziauddin Sardar

Early Caliphs and rulers:

Abu Bakr 2 years
Umar 10yrs
Uthman 12yrs
Ali becomes Caliph in 656. Battle of the Camel.

Muawiya takes control in 660. He’s the son of Abu Sufyan. First Ummayad ruler. He sets his base in Damascus. His son is Yazid. Yazid takes control in 680.

In 683, there’s a rebellion in Mecca after Hussain was killed. Blackstone broken by projectile from Yazid’s army.

684 Marwan

685 Abdal Malik Ibn Marwan (rules 685-705). His commander was Al Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf. There was another siege on Mecca in 692.

Ummayad: 13 Caliphs from 661-750. From the family lineage of Abbas Ibn Abdal Mutallib.


Persian Mansur al Hallaj was a mystic with heterodox views. He died in 922. He believed in union with God. “On the whole the Meccans paid very little attention to the mystics in their midst” 96

It is unlikely that the city’s inhabitants, locals or visitors, were impressed by the heterodox views of Mansur. He believed in union with God and was in the habit of losing himself in mystical introspection. While in this state, he would declare: ‘I am the Truth’. This declaration eventually led to his long trial and imprisonment in Baghdad, culminating in his execution by the order of the orthodox jurists in March 922. 96

The Mihna persecution

The Mihna was an attempt by the Abbasid Caliph al-Mamun to impose his own theological views on his subjects. This is what comes closest to the Spanish Inquisition in Islamic history. Mihna means ‘testing or ‘trial’. He wanted people to believe the Quran was created. The Mihna continued after al-Mamun’s death under his successors al Mustasim (r. 833-42) and al-Wathiq (r. 842-7), and was finally ended in 861 (ref pages 97-99)

Some notable dates and events

By the 9th century 4 schools had been established.
Qarmatians attacked Mecca in 930. Abu Tahir al-Qarmati. They took the black stone. Returned broken in 951.

1202 in Mecca: Ibn Arabi. Philospophy of Unity of Being (Wahdat al Wujud)

The demon of the West: Reynaud de Chatillon 1180

Abdal Wahhab 1703-92. His teachings were strongly opposed. His own father and brother rejected his call.

Muhammad bin Saud made a pact with in 1747. Ottomans compared Wahhabis to Qarmatians of the 9th century. Ottamans were unable to deal with Wahhabis due to European expansionism. 1803 Wahhabis entered Mecca. It was retaken by Sharif Ghalib.

The end of the First World War revealed the existence of the secret Sykes-Picot Treaty of 16 May 1916 by which the British and French had agreed on the distribution of territories of the defeated Ottoman Empire. Mandated territories were a polite fiction for colonial rule and the wholesale remaking of lands and their peoples towards the interest of the European powers. Arab independence had been gained from the Ottomans, only to become mortgaged to Britain and France. 295

Upon King Abdul Aziz’s rule, the 4 stations of different schools of thought were removed and prayers were now led by a single Wahhabi imam.


Rutter discovered many ageing slaves in the city, freed or abandoned by their owners because they were no longer fit to work. ‘Several of these poor creatures, some of them women were living in the Haram during my stay in Mecca’ surviving on begging. Rutter had studied the Quran and was an expert in Islamic Law. He could not reconcile the teachings of Islam with the prevalence of slavery in the Holy City. If the injunctions of Islam were ‘rightly practised’, he observed, it would lead to ‘the complete cessation of slavery in the Islamic state....again and again, the Koran reiterates the teaching that one of the most acceptable acts in the sight of God is the liberation of the slave. 310

What is the Kaba

The function of the Kaaba, a cuboid structure made of brick and mortar and draped in black cloth, is to provide Muslims with a sense of direction. Wherever they may be on God’s benevolent earth, Muslims turn towards the Kaaba during their five daily prayers. They walk around it seven times when they are performing the Hajj, or Umra, the lesser pilgrimage. It is a symbol, a sign of direction for Muslims to turn towards and inculcate a sense of unity amongst themselves 342

"It is a familiar category mistake, blaming revelation, the Divine, for the failings of the human beings who so imperfectly adhere to its word" 345


Staunch the flow
Sharif - man of importance
Haven of consumerism

Muslim Defends John Sentamu vs Andrea Williams, Timothy Benstead, Christian Concern and James Gibson

Muslim Reads Mere Christianity

Non-Arab Muslims With Surnames Like Qureshi, Related to Quraish Tribe?

Friday, 11 August 2017

Muslim Reads Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity, Collins, 2012. Clive Staples Lewis d. 1963

This work was originally a broadcast aired during WW2.

Overall I was surprised to see it was not a typical Christian apologetics and polemics discourse. Having heard modern Christian apologists talk this work up, I was expecting an apologetics tome. It had more of a spiritual theme and actually reminded me a little of a Muslim book Purification of the Heart, Translation and Commentary of Imam al-Mawlud’s Matharat al Qulub by Hamza Yusuf.

Lewis has a great turn of phrase, a very elegant writer. I guess that is part of the appeal of his work. Style. Is it style over substance though?

I skipped much of the latter part on Christian life and ethics. For some sort of foundational book of apologetics I was surprised at the lack of apologetics (apologetics one would expect from Christians in 2017). Much of it was speaking to Christians and/or those from a Christian background with a spiritual emphasis. The already convinced or those half-heartedly into the religion (nominal Christians?) are the target audience in my view. This makes sense considering this book was a series of radio broadcasts in a Britain which was suffering aerial bombardment by the Germans - the majority of people would have been Christian.

CS Lewis believed it was OK to skip parts in books.

Moral law

CS Lewis believed, rightly, there was a moral law which is a law of human nature common to all men and nations. Perhaps something similar, in part or loosely at least, to the Muslim view of natural disposition: fitrah.

He believed all folks, even those who would have disagreed with his concept of right or wrong principles always invoke them when they feel wronged.

He does go through objections or naturalist explanations of the moral law: herd instinct and social convention.

I thought it was ironic he drew a distinction between Christian and Nazi morality. Ironic because the Nazis were Christians too. His example to help his argument for the existence of a moral standard or real morality to judge which morals are better was linked to what was happening at the time WW2, how does one judge which is superior, Nazi morality of Christianity, if there is no moral standard?

What lies behind the law?

Materialist view: people who believe matter just happens to exist and always has existed. By chance thinking beings came into existence.

Religious view: A conscious being is behind the universe. Universe is made for a purpose.

From this Moral Law he deduces God is intensely in right conduct, unselfishness, courage, good faith, honesty and truthfulness. “Absolute goodness”

SC Lewis teaches: Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness thus it’s talking to people who know there is a Moral Law and a Power behind it.

2 views on God

1. God is beyond good and evil. I.e. Pantheism. This idea was held by the Prussian philosopher Hegel

2. God is “good” righteous” i.e. Christianity, Judaism and Islam. God is good and is separate from the world – some things in the world are contrary to His will.

“Christianity and water”, this term coined by CS Lewis represents what I call “Westernised Christianity”. There’s a sugar coating and a complete emphasis on parts of Christianity which are about love and what fits in with Western norms. This is destroying Christianity consciously or unconsciously (whatever the case may be). It ignores “the difficult and terrible doctrines about sin and hell and the devil and redemption”

CS Lewis Misguided about Jesus

This idea that Jesus turns up and claims to be God is an idea that deep scholarship of the NT does not take on board I wonder whether Lewis would have said such if he had access to the type of historical Jesus scholarship and the widespread Unitarian arguments which so many are influenced by today to form different conclusions about Jesus and the church doctrine of the Trinity and Jesus deification:

51: Among the Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed.

51: I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God’. This is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.

What does “in Christ” mean?

This is an interesting definition which is problematic for Christian communities espousing Islamophobic (anti-Muslim), pro-homosexual and pro-divorce views amongst other Westernised views which are contrary to the Bible.

“...they mean Christ is actually operating through them; that the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts – that we are His fingers and muscles, the cells of His body”

3 parts of morality according to CS Lewis

“Morality in the minds of men is seen as something which interferes and stops someone from having fun.”

Moral rules are there to prevent a breakdown, or a strain, or a friction in the running of that machine.

3 things morality is concerned with:

1. Fair play plus harmony between individuals

2. Harmonising/tidying up things within individuals

3. With the general purpose of human life (what man was made for)

Cardinal virtues [Word cardinal comes from the latin meaning hinge of a door...pivotal]:

Prudence – avoiding risks, being careful.

Temperance – Control of behaviour


Fortitude – guts, underpins other virtues

Be as hamless as doves and as wise as serpents

Moral teachers: remind us of old simple principles [In a way this would apply to Moses, Muhammad, Buddha and Jesus]

Golden rule of the NT (do as you would be done by) is a summing up of what everyone, at bottom, had always known to be right. [me: Christianity does not have a detailed system in applying this principle. This highlights the need for Islam]

CS Lewis on what a Christian society would be like

All the same, the New Testament, without going into details, gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian society would be like.

To that extent a Christian society would be what we now call Leftist. On the other hand, it is always insisting on obedience – obedience (and outward marks of respect) from all of us to properly appointed magistrates, from children to parents, and (I am afraid this is going to be very unpopular) from wives to husbands.

If there was such a society in existence and you or I visited it, I think we should come away with a curious impression. We should feel that its economic life was very socialistic...

I think CS Lewis would have supported the Hijab in Muslim countries under the idea of social propriety

The social rule of propriety lays down how much of the human body should be displayed...thus while the rule of chastity is the same for all Christians the rule of propriety changes. 94

A girl in the Pacific islands wearing hardly any clothes and a Victorian lady completely covered in clothes might both be equally ‘modest’, proper, or decent, according to the standards of their own societies: and both, for all we could tell by their dress, might be equally chaste (or equally unchaste).

CS Lewis on marriage

The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside of marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union.

Church marriage: solemn vow to stick to his/her partner till death.

CS Lewis’ time: some churches did not allow divorce while others allowed it reluctantly in very special cases.

CS Lewis and Just War Theory

The idea of the knight - the Christian in arms for the defence of a good cause – is one of the great Christian ideas. War is a dreadful thing, and I can respect an honest pacifist, thought I think he is entirely mistaken. 119

Being the big noise at the party

Pride or self conceit

Opposite of which is the centre of Christian morality – humility.

Cardinal theological virtues:

Hope – mind on heaven

Theology matters

Theology means the science of God

153: I think any man who wants to think about God at all would like to have the clearest and most accurate ideas about Him which are available

This is something a Muslim can appeal to when talking to Christians about the Trinity doctrine - a doctrine that Jesus clearly never believed in.

179: The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a foetus inside a woman’s body. [This is a quote which can be used by Muslims to show the fact this god-man doctrine does not make sense, why would God become a baby and even a foetus? I know the Christian may say he came to die for sins but why not just become a man and then die for the sins rather than be a foetus, baby, infant, teen and then a man according to the Christian ideology?]

Various interesting quotes

“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive"

“Just as when Christianity tells me that I must not deny my religion even to save myself from death by torture, I wonder very much what I do when it came to the point” 115

"Everybody must work so they have something to give to the needy!"

“...God will make us good because he loves us”

You will find this again and again about anything that is really Christian: every one is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest.

“Free will although makes evil possible also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having”. It gives "good" extra meaning.

“There is nothing progressive about being pig-headed and refusing to admit a mistake”


Who the dickens am I

Filthy quislings (describing witches)

Asinine fatuity

Christianity and water

Jibbed: unwilling to accept or do something

Prig: self-righteous moralistic person acting as superior to others

The “natural life” wants to be admired petted [similar to nafs in Muslim thought – a need for regulating and controlling nafs]

Notes on Christians and the Fall of Rome, Penguin Books – Great Ideas

Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism V.I. Lenin 1916

Notes on Christians and the Fall of Rome, Penguin Books – Great Ideas

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Christian Attitudes to Wife Beating Have Changed...

This is a British newspaper cutting from the mid 1800s. Reverend Bird would have got feminist knickers in a twist. He believed the Bible allowed husbands to beat their wives. On that note, he was not contradicted by the big man, Luther centuries earlier: "Although he disapproved of wife-beating, he did not categorically condemn it if no other means of discipline sufficed" [p13 of Luther on Women]

DCCI Ministries' Lizzie Schofield: Theological Problem of Christian Domestic Violence

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Church of England Churches Asked To Investigate Beth Grove!

For any Church of England church leaders who want to be socially responsible stewards as to who they invite into their churches to speak, perhaps you'd like to start off by looking at the Jay Smith section a long with reading this piece and following any links herein. Thanks. Love from a Muslim.

Here I am to interact with a few comments by Beth Grove which seem to be a defence of her in your face approach to “evangelism”. She comes across as a cultural Christian advocate who is bound by old bygone parochial ideas of nationalism which are propelled by a wild-eyed paranoia that Muslims are going to take the keys to "our" (Christian) kingdom. Rhetoric not too dissimilar to that coming out of Britain First - that well known beacon of evangelism. This is unsurprising seen as her influences come from America – a place riddled with Christians who have conflated patriotism with Christianity. Let’s see what she’s got to say.

This erosion of Christian influence in public life continues, and at times encouraged even by ‘Christians’ engaged in public life. I refer to a symposium in 2015 whereby the speakers (Christian missionaries to Muslims) emphatically stated that we must “aid our Muslim friends to have as much influence in public life as we [Christians] do!”

I understand their motives. Essentially, their ideas are driven by ‘love’. Nonetheless, to encourage, or more accurately, to propel an Islamic ideology into public life, seems to be an action of misappropriated ‘love’ at the cost of ‘truth’? You see, if we love people, including Muslims, should we really transfer the keys to our kingdom to a people with no Christian memory?

OK, so smart people would have realised that the keys to her kingdom have already been taken away. That's why you have folks telling Christians to marry Bill and Bob (and Jill and Jane) to each other in churches or telling Christians to bake cakes which support lifestyles contrary to traditional Christian values.

The obvious question here is, why isn't she trying to get her keys back from the secularists? Erm, it's because they are seen as folks who share the same culture. Interesting considering Christians are meant to be "set apart" yet it's so difficult to distinguish them from Atheists in British society!

Secularist, are seen by the Christians to be their intellectual superiors, their professors, their family members, their friends and part of the fabric of the West (in fact the engine room and pioneers of the modern Western world). Not to mention liberators of Christian women, Christian women can now go out wearing whatever they want. Miniskirts, high heels and all that jazz! Not to mention the small matter of being able to divorce and remarry after the divorce.

Whilst Muslims are seen as pretty much the opposite thus when they see Muslims out-debating a Christian it turns their world upside down. The same happens when aboriginal Westerners convert to the faith of Islam. Westerners have been dropping the gown of Christianity for various secular ideals yet the eruption is barely palpable from the Church.

I’ll give you a couple of examples to illustrate this shared culture and inferiority complex when it comes to Secularists and Christians in Britain. Tom Holland, upon making the claim of Christianity being the root of Western civilisation, saw Christians were fawning over him. Little did they realise his main focus was on the “Christian” teaching of separation of Church and State (something that in the West has ironically precipitated the rise of faithlessness and secularism!). Folks like John Calvin would not have agreed but nevertheless the Christians were lapping it up – their superior (a secularist) dropped a bit of praise on their faith. If a Muslim had done the same I doubt the same servile attention would have been given to him/her.

Christians have even compromised their faith principles (relented on female pastors, gay clergy, gay marriage, divorce, marriage after divorce if the ex is still alive, turned a blind eye to sex outside of marriage, loosened the concept of modest dress, minimized the Bible, etc.) in an effort to accommodate and (try to) bring into the Christian fold the secularists. They prize the secularist because the secularist is their superior, their family member and their professor/fave celeb.

But contrast that with what they do to Muslims. The Muslim is the other. Not a superior like the secularist. Not an equal. But, effectively, a lesser specimen.

And that is why there's a hue and cry about Muslims and the "keys to our kingdom" but not  a peep about those who currently carry the keys and will do so for the foreseeable future - the secularists.

I wonder if Beth Grove enjoys the taste of those cakes celebrating gay marriage which her co-religionists are forced to bake.

Ignoring their texts which call on them to wound and kill those who disagree with Islam (Sura 5:33).

Yawn, this is typical Beth Grove. You know, intellectually dishonest stuff she learnt from her predecessor Jay Smith. That Quranic Verse was revealed in response to those who committed highway robbery (murder and theft), jurists may nowadays use this Verse to decide on the punishment of those who commit rape at knife/gun point.

It has NOTHING got to do with "disagreeing" with Islam. Of course Beth would have known that if she had shown an inkling to be fair and scholarly. Must be the Jay Smith influence!

Many a refugee, the large majority being Muslim, have fled lands heavily controlled by Islamic doctrine. Some openly admit they have come here for economic and religious freedom. Quite a few even change their religion. Some become Agnostic, or outright Atheists (due to what they previously witnessed in Islam), and others turn to Christianity. The latter is what any Christian, who loves as Christ loves, would invest their best efforts towards. Many refugees from Islamic lands, who respect Christians but are not Christian, tell of their fears of that same Islam becoming an influential dynamic in this land. The threats of freedoms diminished is all too real to them as they see the numbers of influential Muslims gain, or given, access to some of the highest institutions of Britain and similar Western European Countries.

And the elephant in the room. There's credible evidence many of them just pretend to convert to Christianity or leave Islam to help with their asylum process. See here.

As for this supposed paranoia that Muslims will take away their "freedoms" inn Britian and other parts of the West, erm, where's Beth getting this stuff from? Look, Muslims are light years away from having that type of influence. This is just the politics of fear-mongering. Muslims aren't going to be taking any Christian's miniskirt, porn stash or right to marry a person of the same agenda any time soon. Calm yourselves down. Most level-headed Brits will know where I'm coming from and will see such fear-mongering as ludicrous.

The Christian has a responsibility to speak against that which ‘sets itself up again the knowledge of the one true God’. The Bible is clear that we are in a battle, a battle for souls, and a battle for the soul of nations (2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 2:15).

Well, if you're in the midst of  a battle Beth, where are you in holding the tide of secularism back?

The secularisation of Britain has been thrown into sharp focus by new research showing that for every person brought up in a non-religious household who becomes a churchgoer, 26 people raised as Christians now identify as non-believers. [The Guardian]

Beth also talks about the one true God. Has she stopped to think who that is. Clearly it was not Jesus, Jesus did not believe in a Trinity idea. That idea came about after Jesus. Muslims believe in the God of Jesus. Can Beth say the same or is she bound to a church tradition from the 4th century called the Trinity.

Edgar G Foster: Trinity Came After the Council of Nicea

Paula Fredriksen: Paul was NOT a Trinitarian

Ephesians 6:10-20 tells us to put on the ‘belt of truth’ and the ‘sword of the spirit which is the word of God’, and to be ready to share the ‘gospel of peace’.

Beth please don't mention the word "sword". All that springs to mind is the verse of the sword from the Bible which your colleague Lizzie Schofield was using to threaten Muslims into believing in Christianity. Threatening them with JESUS coming back and killing them with a SWORD.

Here's your colleague in action.

And this is the irony, Beth talks about withholding the keys to the kingdom from a bunch of (mainly brown) foreigners migrating here but she's very open to worshipping a brown man who is foreign to Britain. A man who she believes ordered the killing of women and children in 1 Samuel 15:3, allowed the severe beating of female (and male) slaves in Exodus 21:20-21 and who her colleague believes will come back with a SWORD to terrorise Muslims (and those who have the keys to the kingdom, the Secularists)

Of course, that's Trinitarian Jesus in her mind.

We are to confidently engage a broken world, clearly exemplified in the one million Muslims (and a few others) who entered our lands these past couple years from the outflow of the bloody borders of Islam.

Ad nauseam we are told, this warfare is due to ‘cultural’ or ‘political disenfranchisement’ or accomplished by ‘crazies’. This I heard from an influential Christian working in close connection with the European Parliament. ‘Terrorism has no religion’ say our movie stars. The real experts of course. Whether they believe their rhetoric or not, we cannot know, yet all the evidence defies them.

Bloody borders? Erm who made those borders bloody? A bunch of Christians and/or those the keys to the kingdom.

As for the causes of terrorism, Beth Grove would do well to take off her current hat of Islamophobia and fear-mongering. How about actually thinking a bit deeper rather than imbibing the non-thinker's rhetoric of "oh it's their religion they are meant to kill us":

After the Manchester massacre… yes, and after Nice and Paris, Mosul and Abu Ghraib and 7/7 and the Haditha massacre – remember those 28 civilians, including children, killed by US Marines, four more than Manchester but no minute’s silence for them? And of course 9/11…

Counterbalancing cruelty is no response, of course. Just a reminder. As long as we bomb the Middle East instead of seeking justice there, we too will be attacked. But what we must concentrate upon, according to the monstrous Trump, is terror, terror, terror, terror, terror. And fear. And security. Which we will not have while we are promoting death in the Muslim world and selling weapons to its dictators. Believe in “terror” and Isis wins. Believe in justice and Isis is defeated
. [Robert Fisk]

In that vein, it is not the Muslim we are against; we are for them. Christ is for them.

As mentioned, your colleague believes Jesus will terrorise those who you are "for" with a sword.

He died for them!

What you believe Jesus died for Muslims? Erm, not according to Christians like John Piper and James White who believe you're not preaching the gospel by making such a claim. Now this is an issue, how can you believe they have the Holy Spirit in them when they disagree with you theologically whilst you are imbued by the same Spirit according to Christian ideology?

It is the ideology behind their lives we critique.

Well considering the ideology behind the lives of Muslims makes them the least likely to have sex before marriage out of all faith groups whilst those in the "kingdom" which Muslims should never get the keys to are pumping out children out of wedlock at a rate faster than those who do not have Christian cultures. I think, you as a Christian who has a misguided sense of loyalty to a culture of yesteryear, should move over the divide. Go on, it beats churning out anti-Islam propaganda by isolating Quranic verses in order to make Muslims out to be killers in the waiting.

You may also want to think deeply about the ways in which your propaganda against Islam can amp up Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment. As you should know, your group Pfander Ministries has had followers who have levelled veiled death threats at Muslims as well as racist sentiment.

Is there any wonder that non-Muslims even consider you and your group to be Islamophobic.

What would Jesus do? Would he really wantBeth Grove to be a propagandist against his brothers and sisters (yes, Muslims are the brothers and sisters of Jesus)?

Think about it Beth.

Churches part of the Church of England should also think about it.

Pfander Films Questioned Over Conversion Figures. Speakers Corner

Is Pfander Centre for Apologetics Islamophobic?

Muslim Defends John Sentamu vs Andrea Williams, Timothy Benstead, Christian Concern and James Gibson

Christians having dreams and converting to Islam

Learn about Islam


Monday, 7 August 2017

Muslim Defends John Sentamu vs Andrea Williams, Timothy Benstead, Christian Concern and James Gibson

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has been attacked for comments in relation to an amendment proposed by Andrea Williams. This has been blown out of proportion, the metaphorical pitchfolks and torches are out in force circling Dr Sentamu.

As a Muslim, who visits a CoE church for observation purposes from time to time, I'd like to add some balance to proceedings and insight from outside the church to help folks look beyond the goldfish bowl that is the CoE.

Firstly, the Archbishop of York is spot on, common good is common to all people. This is not a novel idea amongst Christians either, CS Lewis expresses the same view in Mere Christianity. Let me set a few pulses racing, I do wonder if there would have been such a hullabaloo if the bishop making the same remarks was a white bloke with an English accent in the stead of a black bloke with an African accent (I'm not saying anybody is racist here, all I'm saying here is that a black CoE bishop may be a little more noticeable when it comes to these comments hence the level of public reaction). Who knows?! However, one thing is for sure, he did not reject the Bible. Folks please stop with the sensationalism of him rejecting the Bible.

I will interact with various comments online from those criticising Dr John Sentamu's comments.

The Church of England, as an institution, is thoroughly apostate...As Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby is a train wreck. Worse, however, is his colleague from York. John Sentamu is a prairie fire consuming every last vestige of orthodoxy in the Mother Church. His behavior at Synod, as witnessed below, was particularly odious [James Gibson]

Hmmm to say the CoE is an apostate institute is a hefty claim for a Christian to make. Assuming James is a Christian, who else is an apostate in James' eyes? Where does this conveyor belt stop? How about the "Christians" involved in 381 to usher in a Trinitarian understanding involving the Holy Spirit, are they "thoroughly apostate"? What about all the church men who decided what books to call inspired and include in the canon, are they "thoroughly apostate" too: is not quite accurate to say that there has never been any doubt in the Church of any of our New Testament books. A few of the shorter Epistles (e.g. 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, James, Jude) and the Revelation were much longer in being accepted in some parts than in others; while elsewhere books which we do not now include in the New Testament were received as canonical. Thus the Codex Sinaiticus included the 'Epistle of Barnabas' and the Shepherd of Hermas, a Roman work of about AD 110 or earlier, while the Codex Alexandrinus included the writings known as the First and Second Epistles of Clement; and the inclusion of these works alongside the biblical writings probably indicates that they were accorded some degree of canonical status. [FF Bruce]

And then what about those Christians after Von Tischendorf's 19th century discovery of Codex Sinaiticus who subsequently declared the ending of Mark and the Pericopae Adulterae (in John's Gospel) to be, effectively, unauthorised additions to the text, are they "thoroughly apostate" or those who came before faithfully believing those two chunks from the Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit? How about those who are lax on standing out against divorce and sex before marriage in the Church, surely that's pretty much all of the Church in the West, are they all "thoroughly apostate"?

James Gibson may want to rethink his use of the word "apostate".

On Friday 7 July, The Archbishop of York John Sentamu rejected the authority of the Bible in response to an amendment proposed by Andrea Williams, to insert the words "as revealed in the Bible and taught by the church" to a motion calling for politicians to "prioritise the common good of all people."...John Sentamu responded: "If you’re going to serve the whole community please don’t limit our language…The Word became flesh and sadly we are now making it Word, Word and Word again. Resist the amendments." [Christian Concern on FB]

Again, this is utterly hyperbolic to claim John Sentamu has rejected the authority of the Bible, thus it's misleading. He never did such a thing. Sure, his wording could have been less emotive and he could have expressed himself with a little more clarity to stymie the potential wildfire of hyperbolic criticism.

As John Sentamu responded, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was seen to be clapping and nodding in agreement. The amendment was rejected. [Christian Concern on FB]

Clearly the head honcho did not see it as a rejection of the Bible hence the gestures of approval.

The PCC considers the response by the Archbishop of York to Mrs Andrea Williams’ amendment of Item 48 at the July General Synod of the Church of England, 2017, in terms of what was said, to indicate theological ineptitude at best and error at worst; and how it was said, as intemperate and ungodly.  [Timothy Benstead St. John Newland PCC]

Actually Timothy has a point in the way it was said. I don't believe Dr John Sentamu is inept when it comes to Christian theology. A lack of deliberation over his wording would be an understandable critique on the part of those Christians upset with Dr Sentamu.

As such there was a failure to meet the standard required of a bishop according to Titus 1:7-9. Neither did the Archbishop display his canonical duty to ‘with all faithful diligence…. banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word; and both privately and openly to call upon and encourage others to the same’ in relation to Item 58...The PCC looks forward to receiving an indication of repentance from the Archbishop and will offer prayers to that end.  [Timothy Benstead St. John Newland PCC]

It seems like this is quite selective. A selective rod to beat the Archbishop of York. Would Timothy Benstead be willing to extend the same critique to his church and church members with regards to divorce, sex before marriage as well as his "Christian" predecessors outlined above with respect to James Gibson's comments. Timothy Benstead would be calling many Christians in the West to repentance if he was consistent with this standard, he wouldn't have time for anything else as he'd be constantly writing letters asking for indications of repentance for various "Church misdemeanours".

The PCC has also been grieved by the general direction of the Synod and the appalling manner in which those who hold to the teachings of Jesus have been ridiculed, mocked and scorned. We fear that the Synod has imbibed the ‘spirit of the age’ and we request satisfactory assurances from the leadership that this kind of behaviour is not acceptable and that it will work towards creating a more courteous and biblically responsive environment in the future. [Timothy Benstead St. John Newland PCC]

The spirit of the age has been imbibed by the Church and by all Christians in the UK. The lack of protest over various ills in our society which we are desensitized to says as much; women's dress, dating, the state of British TV, porn addictions amongst Christians, gay marriage, apathy towards protesting against wars in the Middle East and aganst austerity and financial inequality etc. etc.. In addition, I'd like to ask when was the last time a concerned Christian ever sent letters asking for Christians to repent after being imbibed by the current climate of Islamophobia - certainly Christian missionaries in the UK are imbibed by such spirits of the age.

I hope this post helps to add balance and encourages further reflection on a broader scale amongst the members of the CoE.


Christian Voice ‘Mosque Watch’

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

A Video Shining Light Toward Farhan Qureshi and the Hindu Community

A Hindu friend of mine, Farhan, goes into what appears to be Hindu nationalist ethno-centred PSYOPS against Indian Muslims. It comes across as really low brow stuff. This is a video responding to his comments about Muslims. Hopefully this can be a light to Hindu friends to help people see beyond nationalist and ethno-centred arguments that say Islam is an Arab religion and Indian Muslims should not follow Islam because it's not native to India.

This video is also uploaded here and here

Muslim responds to Hindu

Polygamy IS in the Bible - Christians Stop Being SCARED of Liberals

Muslim Indonesian Women Tricked By Christiam Missionary Men?

She Left Islam Because She Misunderstood Salvation in Islam

Christian Ex Muslim Al Fadi Challenged by a Muslim

Discussion: Ex Muslims, Slogan "Free If You Leave Islam", Atheism, Nihilism, Consumerism and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Christians having dreams and converting to Islam

Learn about Islam


Monday, 31 July 2017

Muslim Reaches Out to Hindu Who Was Using Ethno-PSYOPS and the Genetic Fallacy on Muslims

A Hindu friend of mine, Farhan, goes into what appear to be Hindu nationalist ethno-centred PSYOPS against Indian Muslims. It comes across as really low stuff.

He writes:

"Why do you worship Arabs and their religion? Embrace your ancestry, you are ethnically Hindu"

Muslims don't worship Arabs. Muslims don't worship people. Muslims worship God alone. Just because Islam was revealed in Arabia does not mean it is an Arab religion - Islam is a Revelation for the whole of mankind. It's humanity's religion.

The fallacy he's guilty of here is the genetic fallacy. He's arguing emotionally against Islam due to it not being a religion Revealed in India. Whether deliberate or not, he's seemingly encouraging Muslims to look away from Islam and towards Hinduism simply because of where such a religion comes from. Let's delve into Farhan's barb further with 3 important points.

Point 1

To say Islam is foreign to the Indian subcontinent or to any other region of the world is short-sighted. "Muslim" linguistically means one who submits to God and "Islam" linguistically means submission to God.  Muslims believe Allah (God) sent messengers to all nations and there's a tradition which says Allah sent 124,000 messengers in total (to the whole of humanity) thus "Muslim" messengers would have been sent in various parts of the Americas, Europe and the Indian Subcontinent long before the revelation of the religion of Islam as we know it today with the Quran and Prophet Muhammad.

Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi writes:

Allah has mentioned in the Qur’an that He sent Messengers and guides among all people. Allah Almighty says: “ And verily We have raised in every nation a messenger, (proclaiming): Serve Allah and shun false gods. Then some of them (there were) whom Allah guided, and some of them (there were) upon whom error had just hold. Do but travel in the land and see the nature of the consequence for the deniers!.” (An-Nahl: 36) He Almighty also says, There was not any community except a Warner who lived among them.” (Fatir :24).

In his Musnad, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal has stated that Allah sent 124, 000 Prophets, and from among them 315 were Messengers.

Those messengers that Allah sent to all nations would have included people indigenous to those nations thus there would have been ethnically Indian messengers. Think about that! This may well have been before the Vedas were written, before the Indus Valley civilization and before the Aryan invasion.

So we expect at least one, although given the size of that region I'd imagine there would have been more than one, ethnically Indian messenger (born and raised in the Indian subcontinent) preaching "Islam" (submission to Allah via pure exclusive monotheism) to people of his ethnicity and geographical location. In fact, if you think about it, many Indians will have an ancestry which will have links to such messenger/s.

To argue against Islam based on emotional genetic fallacies is unfair, myopic and, once we look at the broader picture of the Islamic tradition, it's an argument based on ignorance/myopia.

Point 2

2. Hinduism is not solely a product of India and can we really say all those living there do not have roots beyond India? What role did the Aryans play in the development of Hinduism? There is a standard story in most text books: the theory of the Aryan invasion (although there's a migration theory too). Sometime between 2500-1500 BCE the Aryans (meant something like noblemen or landlords) took over the Indus valley civilisation (around the Indus river) and eventually pushed all the way into India and Aryianised the culture. The Aryans seemed to have their own pantheon, their religious tradition was similar to that of ancient Persia.

How much influence did the Aryans and their descendants have on Hindu scriptures and Hindu philosophies?

For the Hindu nationalist this would be an issue if he's seriously going to use the genetic fallacy against Muslims and Islam.

Point 3

3. The Hindu is communicating in English, a language that is definitely not native to his ancestral region. Is he worshipping English people? Similar comments could be made about the internet, his PC, his phone, his clothes, his accent (obviously not Indian!) etc..

You see how silly the genetic fallacy can get? Surely, folks can see how unfair and inconsistent it is to use the said fallacy on Muslims and Islam.

Asked to think deeper about Islam and Muslims

Farhan's comments on Arabs

Farhan sticks continues with his psychological barbs. He writes:

"Even the Arabs call you Hindi and think you are subservient to their religion and culture"

Well this is negative stereotyping of Arabs, it's almost like he's making them out to be racists and Arab supremacists who look down on other people. Is that fair to tar all Arabs with such an unpleasant theme? No. To say Arabs are all a bunch of bigots would be like saying to Eastern Christians the Europeans consider you subservient to their religion ad culture or to the Indian that Westerners look down on you and think you're subservient to their culture.

It's stereotyping. I bet most Arabs look at Indian Muslims lovingly as their brothers and sisters. In fact, Islam teaches us how irrelevant race is:

In his famous Farewell Pilgrimage sermon, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) declared: "O people! You are all to Adam and Adam was made of dust. No Arab is to be preferred over a non-Arab except by virtue of his piety." In another hadith, he (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Allah does not look at your images or your colors but He looks at your hearts (intentions) and your deeds. Creatures are the dependants of Allah and the closest among them to Allah are indeed the most useful to His dependants."

The PSYOPS against the poor Indian Muslims does not let up, Farhan goes on to write:

"Their [I assume he means Arab] history is not your history"

I think we have kind of touched on this in the section covering the genetic fallacy There we saw Islam is EVERYBODY's history as it is a religion for the whole of humanity. Messengers of Allah were sent to every race and every geographical region preaching devotion and worship to God alone.

This is such a powerful unifying thought. Think about it, God sent prophets of your race to your ancestors. I'm saddened to see some of our Hindu friends unaware of this and thus they are making statements which are not only unfair but lacking depth and meaningful insight.

God has sent a last messenger, Prophet Muhammad, with a global message. If you're a Hindu, do you know about this message? Would you like to learn about it if you have not been told about it? If yes, please see here.

He finishes off by playing a clip of Shk. Hamza Yusuf talking about the mistreatment of Indian labourers (as well as maids).

Of course, this is not by coincidence. It's linked to the other snips of ethno-PSYOPS against Indian Muslims. We must remember, labourers and maids being mistreated is certainly an issue of concern that Muslims around the world should condemn regardless of race but at the same time folks must not use it in propaganda against Arabs and/or Muslims - obviously it is only a tiny fraction of Arabs who are involved and the majority would abhor maltreatment of Indian labourers.

This propaganda by the Hindu would be akin to somebody who is not in Britain stereotyping English people as racists because of a few far right groups getting into the news here. Most English people condemn those groups and are repulsed by their racist sentiment. Likewise, the vast majority of Arab Muslims will condemn such shameful treatment, alongside Shk Hamza Yusuf. It's sad our Hindu friend in his haste misused a good deed by the Muslim scholar; who was correcting the guilty Arab Muslim brethren and warning other Arab Muslim brethren whilst bringing this social ill to the attention of the wider Muslim community in order to alleviate the problem.

The mistreatment of labourers and maids which we see on the news is a departure from Islamic teachings. Islam does not allow such mistreatment, we are taught to be just in the Quran.

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do. [Translation of the Meaning of Quran 5:8]

Hindu lady converts to Islam

Muslim Community Respond to Grenfell Tower Block Fire in London

American Woman Goes to Saudi Arabia

Black and Arab Inter-Marriage at Time of Prophet Muhammad (p)

Black being linked with sin - not racist Hamza Yusuf

White supremacy, Abraham Lincoln and Islam

Christians having dreams and converting to Islam

Learn about Islam


Non-Arab Muslims With Surnames Like Qureshi, Related to Quraish Tribe?

So a convert to Hinduism was having a go at an panelist, on what I assume to be an Indian news show, who was claiming to be a descendent of Prophet Muhammad. He claimed to be the 35th descended of Prophet Muhammad p. He has an Indian accent so I assume ethnically he is Indian.

The Hindu in his video response writes on a slide: "He has been lied to, he is not the descendent of Muhammad"

To say he's lying or has been lied to is a hefty claim.

Rather than accusing folks of being liars or having been lied to (by their own ancestors) how about we start thinking about how this *could* be the case? Is it possible the Indian sounding man on the news show has some sort of ancestral link to the Quraish tribe? Yes.

There would be two avenues for this man to have such a link to the Quraish tribe:

1. Bloodline. Somebody in his family tree has got to be Quraishi.
2. Marriage. Somebody from his tribe has married a Quraishi Arab man and subsequently the whole tribe/village changed their name to Quraishi.

I know the gentleman claimed to be a descendent so perhaps he did not have 2 in mind. Or perhaps he's not being accurate with his language and the link is actually similar to the type outlined in 2. Or perhaps he does have some link to somebody from the Quraish tribe as per 1.

I'd say it is plausible to think some people from this region (and others) who carry names/titles such as Qureshi or Sayyid do so out of a marriage ancestral bond  (i.e 2 above)

Some folks may have even innocently taken on such names without making any claims of ancestry:

It's possible a tribe/village were preached to by an Arab Quraishi Muslim leading to the tribe/village converting to Islam and taking on such a name. Or somebody took on such a name after he converted to Islam because he wanted a Muslim name so he could be identified with his new religious identity (subsequently this name was passed on to his progeny).

Who knows? But to say he's been lied to seems unfair.

Hindu lady converts to Islam

Paula Fredriksen: Paul was NOT a Trinitarian

Quran’ic Exegesis of al-Ikhlas as a Corrective of Trinitarian Theo-Christology by Ali Ataie

Tovia Singer: Does the New Testament Teach Jesus is God?

Why Islam

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Influences of Islam and Christianity on Hinduism, Info on Gandhi and Hindu Schools of Thought

4b Hindu doctrines, schools, and history - samsara, moksha, and Vedanta

Variations/disagreements amongst various schools of thought within Hinduism include

Whether Samsara (realm of reincarnation - trap) is real or illusory. A product of ignorance?

Disagreement on Moksha (liberation), whether it comes in degrees or whether it is all or nothing. Whether it’s attainable in this life, if not is it something that comes after the reincarnation cycle.

Moksha’s ultimate stage involves a “union” with Brahman. Two views on this:

- Absolutists believe the union is ontological (you become or realise you are Brahman)

- Theistic Hindus thin of it as a psychological or relational union with God/Brahman (essentially going to heaven, the realm where God is).

3 of the 6 orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy:

Sankhya/Samkhya school – dualists (distinguishes between matter and self). Self (purusha) is pure consciousness. There are many sleves. They deny Atman is Brahman. They don’t believe in an ultimate reality, thus this school contradicts the Upanishads. There are later versions of this school which do include God however. Liberation is knowledge of one’s true self.

Yoga school. Yoga school has been closely associated with Samkhya. It can be theistic or absolutist, thus can be centred around gaining a relationship to a personal God or centred around impersonal Brahman. Focusses on controlling one’s senses, body and mind. They recite mantras. Their goal is to attain a state of pure consciousness called Samadhi: the mind is absorbed into the ultimate or being one with it. They also believe masters of this discipline can fly, levitate, do miracles, stop their heart from beating etc..

Vedanta school – traditionally was a scriptural school (interpreting the Upanishads). It tries to systematise the teaching that there’s only one being – Brahman. It tries to clarify what it means to say Atman is Brahman. Primarily Vishnaivite. 3 main subgroups in this school, 2 biggest:

Advaita Vedanta – Non dualism (no distinction between Atman and Brahman). Samsara is illusory. To get the cure (Moksha) is to have a non-conceptual awareness that Atman is Brahman.

Visistadvaita Vedanta – qualified non-dualism (in one sense a distinction can be made). Samsara is real. To get the cure (Moksha) is to go to Vishnu’s heavenly realm to enjoy him forever.

4c Hindu doctrines, schools, and history - Islam, and Christianity, and Modern Hinduism

Impact of Islam on Hinduism. This began in earnest in 1021 when Muslims (al Ghavni) conquered northwest India

Most notable Muslim rule in India: The Mughal/Mongol empire c. 1526-1857

Possibly a quarter of the population converted to Islam. As a reaction and interaction with Islam the monotheistic views of Hindusim was strengthened in some cases. There was also syncretism, Guru Nanak is thought by some scholars to have combined Hinduism and Islam.

Christianity also had an effect on Hinduism. Big impact came with colonialism and British imperialism (1777-1947). Today 2.3% of Indians are Christian. British scholars actively preserved some Hindu texts. They brought the printing press to India. Contact with British and Indians stimulated a number of reform movements.

Rammohum Roy (1774-1833) was influenced by Unitarian Christians (non-Trinitarian Christians who happened to be modernists). He argued there was an original Vedic tradition which was later corrupted. Roy thought it was originally monotheistic, mythology free and was aniconic. Roy founded a group, inn 1828, called Brahmo Samaj – a group which tried to purge Hinduism of idol worship and polytheism. This group still exists today.

Ramakrishna movement (1836-1886). A devotee of Kali. He was a convinced religious pluralist. Ramakrishna is widely worshipped in India today. Controversial character in Western writings.

5b Hindu Practices - Gandhi's pluralism and death

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 by a Hindu nationalist (people who believe india should be a Hindu country – extreme proponent of hindutva, hinduness) held to religious pluralism. He opposed:

Caste discrimination (untouchability).
Communalism (basing politics on religious groupings – people voting in blocks) [There was also the problem of communal violence in the subcontinent – Gandhi tried to stop this]
Religious conversion
Child marriage

He promoted/became:

Became celibate
Experimented with brahmachariya (an attempt in eliminating all desire in the face of temptation). Part of this spiritual experiment was to sleep in bed with naked teen girls. He did not have sex with them. At some point before his death he stopped doing this. There are pictures of him with teenage girl helpers.

Screencast lectures by Dr. Dale Tuggy, for his INDS 120 World Religions - a college course surveying the traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and introducing students to the terms and classic theories of Religious Studies.

Lizzie Schofield and Hatun Tash Presenting Anti Muslim Spin to Abbas at Speakers Corner

Lizzie Schofield and Hatun Tash of DCCI Ministries claimed Muslims curse Jews and Christians in prayer 17 times a day. This is simply anti-Muslim propaganda. Surah Fatiha does not contain a curse, this seems to be intellectually dishonest evangelical propaganda picked up from Jay Smith. Here's a short response via video to Lizzie and Hatun, hopefully they will learn from this. Jay really has a lot of explaining to do. He should know he does not honour his prophet Paul of Tarsus with such tactics.

Video also uploaded here and here

Right, let’s swiftly put this this polemic to bed and highlight gross inconsistency and what appears to beintellectual dishonesty. Polemicists like Jay Smith and Pastor Tony Costa claim Surah Al Fatiha (the chapter in the Quran) is a prayer cursing Jews and Christians. They claim the last Verse of the Quran is a curse on the Jews and the Christian.

This is not true at all - read it for yourself.

Anybody with scintilla of comprehension and fairness can see that it is not a curse. A curse is when one prays for bad to fall upon a person: Muslims are not asking for God to be angry with Jews and Christians here!

Pastor Tony Costa states he finds this “disconcerting” as he shockingly styles the prayer in Surah Al Fateha as “systemic cursing of Jews and Christians” that “vilify Jews and Christians” [Timeframe 5.50] whilst Jay Smith’s team spin it as “the cursing prayer”! 

My response to Tony is that you need to actually read the text for yourself and comprehend it rather than going off what some Christian polemicist is saying on the internet. No need to feel disconcerted about Muslim prayers, Tony.

However, Tony Costa in his written work, has said Paul of Tarsus (in Galatians 1) curses anybody who does not teach the same Gospel as him:

There are such things as divine curses in the Bible where God for instance pronounces judgment on those who pervert and preach a different Gospel (see Galatians 1:6-9), or brings a curse on those who do not love the Lord Jesus (see 1 Corinthians16:22). [Pastor Tony Costa]

Here's Paul of Tarsus in his own words:

8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

Tony Costa and his Trinitarian missionary colleagues will believe Paul’s words are a curse against Muslims, Jews, Unitarian Christians, Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons as the aforementioned do not accept the Trinitarian view of Jesus.

Tony Costa, if consistent, would find Paul’s words in Galatians to be “disconcerting” and a “systemic cursing of Jews” which “vilify” Muslims, Jews, Athests, Hindus, Sikhs, etc.

Perhaps Tony forgets what he writes in his academic work when he is in the company of polemicists against Islam? From this example, it seems, he totally forgets academic standards, intellectual integrity, fairness and comprehension skills when he puts his anti-Islam hat on.

Muslim Reacts to Jay Smith's Retirement From Pfander Films

Answering Daniel and (Lizzie Schofield?) On Shaking Hands FAO Pfander Centre for Apologetics

Lizzie Schofield of Pfander Films Indirectly Rejects the Bible and Attacks the Trinitarian Version of Jesus

Jay Smith Pfander Ministries' Theological Problem With Christian Countries and Domestic Violence

Tovia Singer: Does the New Testament Teach Jesus is God?

Why Islam

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Hindu Scriptures, Pantheon and Doctrines

First part: World Religions: Notes on Hinduism

3b Hindu Scriptures and Pantheon - meet the deities

There are many gods and goddesses in Hindu belief.

Amongst these there’s a grouping of three Hindu deities (sometimes called the Hindu Trinity, trimurti): Brahma (the creator) Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer). Brahma is the oldest of these deities but the least worshipped of the three. Vishnu is said to have had many avatars/descents. They believe he becomes incarnate whenever the world is in trouble in order to save the world. Shiva is thought to currently be the most popular deity amongst Hindus. Ganesh (with an elephant head) is considered the remover of obstacles.

Most of the Gita is about Krishna talking to Arjuna.

More reflective and philosophically minded Hindus have a strong tendency to say all their gods are different manifestations or forms of the one god.

3c Hindu Scriptures and Pantheon - Is Hinduism monotheistic or polytheistic?

More reflective and philosophically minded Hindus have a strong tendency to say all their gods are different manifestations or forms of the one god. In modern Hinduism this monotheistic tendency is very strong. It’s possible this view is influenced by Christianity and Islam.

In some Hindu literature Shiva is the high god and Vishnu is created by Shiva. Whilst in other literature Vishnu is the high god and Shiva is created by Vishnu. Some say the high god is Krishna. Contradictory stories?

Is it monotheism or polytheism? Can be both for Hindus depending on how they view their traditions.

4a Hindu doctrines, schools, and history - Brahman, atman, and reincarnation

Occasionally in the Vedas and prominently in the Upanishads there’s the idea of an underlying unity behind all phenomena – what is called nowadays as the ultimate reality by philosophers. “This One”. In the Upanishads it’s called Brahman (the inner self of everything including inanimate objects). In some sense everything is Brahman deep down including the gods according to Hinduism. It’s described as pure consciousness , unborn, mysterious, ineffable (no human thought captures it), enduring and is expressed by the sacred mantra word Om (aum).

A disputed teaching in the Upanishads is that Atman is Brahman. Atman is one’s deep self – what is most fundamental to you.

Hindus believe humans are trapped in a cycle of reincarnation (Samsara). The goal is moksha (liberation, release) from the cycle. There are three paths to this liberation:

1. Karma yoga (action, fulfilling your duties, doing your darma)

2. Jnana yoga (mystical, nonsensory perception of atman being Brahman)

3, Bhakti yoga (devotion, surrendering to in love to a god or goddess)

[Timeframe 8.50] Scholars think this is different to the earlier Vedic religion which is seen as very ritualistic. A development? Scholars think in Vedic religion one’s soul ends continues after death, is judged and then ends up in something like heaven or hell.

In the later Upanishads the ideas of reincarnation/rebirth is taught. The assumption is that this process never began, this has always been ongoing. The law of karma determines a better or worse birth. An explanation for undeserved suffering. This belief could get in the way of motivating somebody to remove injustice and suffering in this world

Screencast lectures by Dr. Dale Tuggy, for his INDS 120 World Religions - a college course surveying the traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and introducing students to the terms and classic theories of Religious Studies.

Friday, 28 July 2017

World Religions: Notes on Hinduism

2a Hinduism - origins and social structure - India and defining "Hinduism

India is the homeland of Hinduism. The terms Hindi and Hindu have historically, at some point, referred to people from India regardless of their faith. Nowadays, Hindu tells you what religion somebody is and Hindi is referred to a language.

The term Hinduism is thought to have been coined by a British scholar in the early 19th century. It’s a term used, by the British, for non-Muslim Indians. Before the British, there was no word for this religious tradition/s. People of India enthusiastically adopted this term to describe themselves. The British at the time generally regarded traditional religions as paganism and backward.

There are some scholars that object to the term Hinduism as it makes it sound like it is like one religious tradition when it is a term referring to a family of religious traditions.

Working definition of Hinduism: The religious traditions indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, not including Sikhism, Buddhism or Jainism.

In 1955, the Indian supreme court relating to marriage laws considered Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains as Hindus. Although most people from those traditions would disagree.

Modern Hindus are mostly committed to some version of religious pluralism. The evaluative claim that all/most religions are equal/true to certain degrees. Most modern Hindus would say other religions are fine (all paths lead to the same mountain) but at the same time they do think Hinduism is superior.

2b Hinduism - origins and social structure - ancient history and Hindu origins

Ancient history of the Indian subcontinent is still unclear. There is a standard story in most text books: the theory of the Aryan invasion. Sometime between 2500-1500 BCE the Aryans (meant something like noblemen or landlords) took over the Indus valley civilisation (around the Indus river) and eventually pushed all the way into India and Aryianised the culture. The Aryans seemed to have their own pantheon, their religious tradition was similar to that of ancient Persia. Some scholars are sceptical of this standard story. Perhaps the Indus valley civilisation collapsed due to an ecological disaster. No temples have been found in their excavations around the region though. The written language of the Indus valley civilisation has not been decoded so much is to be learned. There’s a theory that the Aryans may have migrated into the area rather than entered via an invasion.

Hinduism does not have an official creed thus it contains people who would be described as monotheists, polytheists, atheists, pantheists, agnostics and so one. There’s some commonalities between the strands of Hinduism such as the belief in Brahman.

2c Hinduism - origins and social structure - the four varnas, women, and sati

Hinduism teaches people can be classified into four colours (Varnas). This is not a racial classification but of ritual purity.

1. Brahmans (priestly class) - white
2. Kshatriya (rulers, nobles, warriors) – red
3. Vaisya (farmers, merchants, traders) – yellow
4. Sudra (labourers, servants) – black

Not everybody has a Varna. There are outcasts, people without a class. The Chandalas (also called untouchables, dalits which literally means “broken”). This group is as the bottom of the social totem pole.

This is a simplification. It’s actually more complicated than this and there are regional variations

Traditional Hindus (particularly those in the higher castes) argue these distinctions were given by God and nature.The traditional justification for this caste system ties in with reincarnation and karma. Belief in karma and reincarnation is the idea that the universe is set up so that if you behave well you come back in a better next life, if you’re bad you will go down in scale (maybe even become a lower caste or animal). The justification is that people are getting what they deserved – based on previous life actions. Another justification for their four-part Varna system is in their scripture (Baghavad Gita 4.13) – Vishnu is thought to have set it up.

Place of Women in Hinduism

Code of Manu (200 BCE-200CE)

In chapter 5 in particular, women are made dependent on men in their society. They are commanded to worship their husband as they worship a god, they have to have a reverence for their husbands. They are expected not to remarry upon the death of the husband.

Hindus cremate their dead. They don’t bury them. The practice of Sati is unclear as to how widely it was practiced and some would say the practice of Sati would have been voluntary although in some cases it appears to have been forced on the women.

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