Having doubts (Islamic apologetics)

Hello everyone. It’s my first time posting here. While I am not a Catholic myself (was raised an Anglican), I have been having doubts about my faith lately (as my username suggests) after being confronted with Islamic apologetic arguments and I suppose I am in need of guidance, and perhaps some knowledgeable skeptics who know their scripture and history.

I was sent the following link not too long ago (clean, no download required). It’s the first 100 pages of a book written by an American convert to Islam. He has a blatant anti-Christian agenda and doesn’t bother trying to hide it, but he does raise a few interesting points. I’m aware of the deceptive tactics used by most Islamic apologists such as Harun Yahya and Zakir Naik, but I’m not sure what to make of this one.

leveltruth.com/books/TRANSLATIONS/GODED%20IN%20ENGLISH.pdf

Skip to page 59, or page 82 (start of chapters dealing with ‘historical miracles’ and ‘fulfilled prophecies’, respectively), and read those chapters. To save you some time, I’ll summarise his argument (from the ‘historical miracles’ chapter) below, and put an * next to the ones I find significant.

*Muhammad couldn’t have copied from the Bible and Torah since no Arabic translations of either existed at the time. He couldn’t have copied from the oral accounts of Arabian Jews and Christians either, since the teachings they believed in at the time were unorthodox and inconsistent with the actual teachings of their consistent faiths (they were Docetists, Monophysites and Nestorians) owing to them being somewhat isolated geographically (page 61). He argues that this is significant because the Quran addresses the orthodox tenets of Judaism and Christianity, and not the beliefs of these unorthodox tribes.

Jesus never referred to himself as the son of God in the Bible, and the Quran asserts this. [Wrong, as we all know]

The Quran described Jesus as being ‘between 30 and 50 years old’ (kahlan) when he began his ministry in surah 5:110. Brown tries to demonstrate that Jesus would have been in his late 40’s around the time he was crucified (or ‘raised’, according to the Quran), and not ‘around thirty’ as the book of Luke of the Bible claims. *

*At the time of the son of Jacob, Joseph (who allegedly lived in 16th century BCE), the ruler of Egypt was referred to as ‘king’, not ‘pharaoh’. The latter title wasn’t used until shortly after the death of Jacob and was in effect around the time of Moses, who came later (around 13th century BCE). Now, while the historicity of those two figures is of course questionable and probably beyond the scope of this discussion, the Quran got the titles of the rulers of Egypt according to their respective time periods right.
Wikipedia mentions this too (although only one historical source is cited, along with the relevant Quran verses): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_in_Islam#Use_of_.22king.22_vs._.22pharaoh.22
He claims that it was not known that these two separate titles existed until the discovery of the Rosetta stone which allowed for the translation of hieroglyphs, and that the Torah and the Bible got these both wrong as they refer to the Egyptian king as ‘pharaoh’ before this title even existed.

Rehash of the Egyptian ‘Haman’ miracle (a hoax circulated by Maurice Bucaille)

*The Quran calls Christians by their early name, ‘Nazarenes’ (‘Nasara’ in Arabic). The term ‘Christian’ (‘Masihiyyun’ in Arabic) was allegedly derogatory when it first came into being, but was soon adopted by the followers. Brown asserts that the Christians Muhammad came into contact with would have called themselves ‘Masihiyyun’, and not ‘Nasara’, the latter of which Brown claims would have been unknown to Muhammad at the time, and yet is the term which appears in the Quran.

Quran’s reference to the ‘unknown’ cities of Ad, Thamud, and Iram (which were in fact known in Arabia before Muhammad arrived on the scene)

*Quran allegedly makes no reference to Nazareth, and historical records show that the city never existed. Brown claims that the Christians would have undoubtedly told Muhammad about Nazareth, and asserts that he would have name-dropped it if he was merely trying to win them over. [This does again seem to kind of contradict his assertion that the Christians Muhammad interacted with wouldn’t have known their own scripture, and thus couldn’t have plagiarised from them).

From what I’ve read so far, he contradicts himself a bunch of times, reiterates some well-known hoaxes, makes a lot of peculiar assumptions, but he does make some interesting arguments.

I don’t have the time to summarise the alleged fulfilled ‘prophecies’ as it’s getting late where I am, but I’ll try go through them tomorrow. In the meantime, I’d like to hear your thoughts, and maybe help me see past my doubts :slight_smile:

God bless

(mods, please let me know if this isn’t the right sub-section)

I think you’ve posted this link enough times; you’re starting to look like a spammer.

To be perfectly honest with you, I am less concerned about the historical or scientific accuracies of The Bible when compared to the Quran, as I am with its overall spiritual message.

The age of Jesus, the names of pharaohs and other such minor details are just that - minor details. They are being used by people who don’t share our faith to impeach the message of Christ. It is a common thing I have observed amongst the purportedly well-reasoned or well-read. They believe that details make a religion valid, and that logical reasoning is what attracts people to faith.

More important to me, when I read the bible holistically, is the message of God’s love and lessons about what happens when we turn away from it. I’m not reading a textbook to gain archaeological insight into first century lifestyles of Nazoreans. I’m reading scripture to teach me about what it means to be Christian.

I hope this perspective helps.

It is possible that our LORD was almost 39 years old at death (born 6BC ; died AD33).

Still short of 40, but not by much.

We of course, prefer the image of a young LORD to that of One with a head beginning to gray. But it is a minor point in any case, not worth arguing.

ICXC NIKA

Some thoughts.

The Bible was not written in time. In that someone did not chronicle historical events as they happened. But rather is a collection of oral stories written down in over a 500 year period. Thus, if the stories about the Pharaohs, was written at a time when the leader of Egypt was called a Pharaoh, then they would have written pharaoh, so that people who know they were referring to the leader of Egypt.

About Muhammad copying from the bible or from orthodox Christians, I would say, of course he didn’t. The Quran contains so little of what is in the Bible, and the things that do refer to similar events or people are so badly garbled and twisted, I would say, he would of had to purposefully twist scriptures, if he was copying. A more reasonable explanation, is that he had incomplete knowledge of Christianity from unorthodox sources.

Also, why would the Quran refer to the Christians as Nazarenes? Muhammad was born in 570, long after the establishment of Christians and the name Christianity. Long after the conversion of Constantine, long after the first Nicene Council. Christians would have no longer referred to themselves as such.

Lastly, how could the Quran make no reference to Nazareth, when they were calling Christians Nazarenes? What do you think that means. It means, comes from Nazareth. Wikipedia suggests that there had been a settlement in the area of current day Nazareth since well before 2000BC.

So just as you pointed out, the author’s arguments are convoluted, contradictory, lack reason, and even ignore history. I wouldn’t put much credence in this mans screed. But seek the answers you need. Learn some history, look things up, from non-religious points of view.

Doubting,
I would read any and all book by the author Robert Spencer on Islam. he has studied it, is fluent in Arabic which is essential in reading and understanding Islam and is probably the best person to read because he covers already a number of the points you brought up. His books are sold on Catholic Answers and he has been interviewed a number of times. He uses their material, and the most recognized experts in their schools of thought. He is not shrill or condescending even though he is often accused of that. There are answers to the things that are being presented to you by Islamic apologists and you need to search them out and you owe it to yourself.

This is an extremely weak argument and, frankly, seems quite disingenuous. Anyone who knows anything at all about Muhammad should be aware of his many travels to the Levant while driving his first wife Khadija’s caravans. He would have had ample opportunity to meet many Christians and Jews of all kinds along the way. There is abundant evidence that many of the stories about Mary and Jesus that appear in the Quran were lifted from Gnostic and other heterodoxical sources. Some stories are similar to those in the Jewish Mishna, and still others appear to have been taken from the Bible but then Muhammad twisted them for his own purposes (the story of Abraham, for example).

This Dr. Brown, by the way, is no scholar of either Islam or Christianity, but rather an ophthalmologist practicing somewhere in the Middle East, according to what little bio I could find of him. I wouldn’t place a whole lot of confidence in his understanding of either faith.

A quite good article rebutting Dr. Brown’s claims regarding the Quran can be found here. answering-islam.org/Responses/Saifullah/borrow.htm

And speaking from personal experience, Jacob, I have been married for nearly 27 years to a Sunni Muslim. In the early years of our marriage I desperately tried to believe in Islam in the name of marital unity. I read and read, prayed and prayed, tried to convince myself to convert and start praying the Islamic way. But try as I might, I could never completely deny my Lord and Savior. After all, what it all comes down to is Jesus asking each of us, “Who do you say that I am?” I believe our eternal destiny depends on our answer to that all-important question.

Muslims can be very persuasive at times and very zealous for their religion. However, they can never have the true joy that comes from being united to Christ.

I would recommend listening to some debates with Muslim apologists. I don’t know if there are any Catholic apologists that have done that, but I know of a Protestant apologist who has had many debates with them. You can go here and page down to find a column headed “Debating Islam” to find some of his best debates.

Hope this helps!

Pax

I’m sorry this person has hurt your conscience if only a little bit. None of his points are valid but I’ll touch on his two most concerning ones:

The first one, (which is a blatant lie, why in the world would he believe this?) is that Muhammad was never surrounded by any type of Orthodoxy. In fact, Mecca was the Mecca of trading at the time and he would have met many Orthodox Christians in his travels. One of Muhammad’s sex slaves was Maria Qupthiya who was a Coptic Christian.

Secondly, Christians were called Christians. Luke, writing in 50-60 relates two times the word, “Christian” being used.

Acts 11:25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul,

26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

Acts 26:28 And Agrippa said to Paul, "In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian? "

Also, Peter:

1 Peter 4:16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

I would say look into the monk Bahira, he was a monk probably of the Arian persuasion who said Mohammed would go on to become a great prophet. So we know that mohammed from a very early age was influenced by heretical monks, who knows what other facts have been lost over time.

I’d also look into islamic abrogation which states that when the koran contradicts itself the verse that appears later on in the koran over rules the earlier one. This happens very often. In other words God decided that the Bible was too unreliable and so over the course of twenty years he dictated a new and “perfect” scripture…that contradicts itself on major theological issues constantly.

One thing that always bothered me about the koran is that muslims claim it is superior to the Bible because it was written by a single person over the course of 20 or so years while the Bible was written by many different writers over the course of hundreds of years. The problem with this argument is that if one thinks about it for more than 15 seconds, it’s clearly an argument that lends support to the Bible and a good deal of doubt to the koran, after all which would be easier to fake?

If someone dropped a book in my lap and had proof that it had been written by many people over many years that came together in a cohesive story of revelation, I wouldn’t be able to dismiss it as the ramblings of a single person not in touch with reality, however if you dropped a book in my lap that you wrote yourself over the last two decades :shrug:

Also as islam spread and became more violent, so did the revelation. A lot of the peace, love and beauty of the first part gets overruled in the later parts.

In addition to the influence of heretical monks, we also know that Mohammed didn’t obey many of the rules and commands of the Koran an example is the number and age of his wives.

I was told that the word the Quran text uses to indicate the name of Jesus, is the more accurately the indication of the name of Esau. That presents to me that any authentic Christological conclusion that can be distilled from the Quran is fundamentally in need of a further consideration. That is only my opinion.

(I accuse myself of thrusting souls into a fosse with the unfolding of scandals I present.)

Dear Jacob, please do not doubt :nope:

This link here is from a Muslim who is a Christian in his soul, as he puts it.
Have a look at what he says about Islam. This is the story of his inner conversion, is in 7 parts, do not bother about other comments just scroll down for the parts:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=233441

In the love of the Truth,
Gloria

.

The Quran says that Jesus was never crucified wich is historically innaccurate, because all new testament historians agree that Jesus was crucified.

And if it was Allah deceived the early christians making someone looks like Jesus to be crucified, Why would Allah do that? Why He would create a false religions with billions of members?

The Quran makes also a misconception of the holy trinity putting Mary as one of the members.

Muhammad couldn’t have copied from the Bible and Torah since no Arabic translations of either existed at the time.
A trader from a trading family/clan, from a major trading city had no possible way of getting his hands, or ears, on the Bible or the Torah or find someone who could read Greek? Not even when he moves to a city with a large Jewish populace?

He couldn’t have copied from the oral accounts of Arabian Jews and Christians either, since the teachings they believed in at the time were unorthodox and inconsistent with the actual teachings of their consistent faiths (they were Docetists, Monophysites and Nestorians) owing to them being somewhat isolated geographically (page 61).
Unsupported claims. The author needs to prove that Jewish and Christian populaces in the region were all, or almost all, unorthodox. He also needs to show how this somehow eliminates Muhammad’s ability to get knowledge of the orthodox views of the religion. Especially since his tribe’s main source of income and location were the internet of their day (traders and trade cities were the information brokers/hubs)

He argues that this is significant because the Quran addresses the orthodox tenets of Judaism and Christianity, and not the beliefs of these unorthodox tribes
He needs to show this (addresses only orthodox tenets); as well as explain any tenets in Islam that are not covered by the other faiths.

Einstein said, “If A leads to B, and B leads to C, and C is not the desired result then don’t do A.”

If doubt is not the desired result then don’t read apologetics or spiritual writings by authors from other religions. Problem solved.

Sometimes we make life complicated for ourselves. Sometimes we just shoot ourselves in the foot.

-Tim-

This was answered in answering-islam.org/Responses/Naik/quranclaims3.htm. which I have reproduced partially. Enjoy.

Response to Zakir Naik’s Claims for the Quran 3

Sam Shamoun

On Muhammad the Borrower

Naik claims that there are two reasons why Muhammad could not have copied from the Holy Bible or from other preexisting sources. First, Muhammad was illiterate and therefore could not have read books such as the Holy Bible. Second, Naik claims that there were no Arabic translations of the Holy Bible during the time of Muhammad. R. Saadias Gaon first translated the OT into Arabic in 900 AD. Furthermore, a man named Erpenius first translated the NT into Arabic in 1616.

In response we would first point out that Naik attacks a straw man and throws out a red herring here. It wasn’t necessary for Muhammad to be literate in order to borrow stories from previous scriptures. Muhammad only needed to hear these stories orally for borrowing to take place. After hearing these stories Muhammad revised them to suit his theological presuppositions and then tried to pass them off as revelation from God.

Second, seeing that Zakir presumes the authenticity and reliability of the Islamic traditions (at least those that have been authenticated by the so-called chain of transmission [isnad] and its text [matn]), we find it rather amazing that he would uncritically subscribe to the belief that there was no Arabic translation of the Holy Bible during the advent of Islam. This is interesting since the Islamic sources affirm that certain portions of the Bible had been translated into Arabic during the time of Muhammad:

Narrated 'Aisha:

The Prophet returned to Khadija while his heart was beating rapidly. She took him to Waraqa bin Naufal who was a Christian convert and used to read the Gospels in Arabic. Waraqa asked (the Prophet), "What do you see?" When he told him, Waraqa said, "That is the same angel whom Allah sent to the Prophet) Moses. Should I live till you receive the Divine Message, I will support you strongly." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 605)

"…Waraqa had been converted to Christianity in the Pre-lslamic Period and used to write Arabic and write of the Gospel in Arabic as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight..." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 478)

"…Ka'b read the Torah and said: The Apostle of Allah has spoken the truth. Abu Hurayrah said: I met Abdullah ibn Salam and told him of my meeting with Ka'b." (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 3, Number 1041: Narrated Abu Hurayrah)

"…(Muhammad's father) passed by a woman of the Kath'am (tribe) whose name was Fatimah Bint Murr and who was the prettiest of all women, in the full bloom of her youth and the most pious and had studied the scriptures; ..." (Ibn Sa'd's Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, p.104) 

According to the Mishkat al-Masabih, Book XXVI, ch. XXXIX, pp. 1371, 1372:

Khaithama b. Abu Sabra said: I came to Medina and asked God to grant me a good companion to sit with and He granted me Abu Huraira. I sat with him and told him I had asked God to grant me a good companion to sit with and that he suited me. He asked where I came from and I replied that I belonged to al-Kufa and had come desiring and seeking good. He then said, "Do you not have among you Sa'd b. Malik whose prayers are answered, Ibn Mas'ud who looked after God's messenger's water for ablution and his sandals, Hudhaifa who was God's messenger's confident, 'Ammar to whom God gave protection from the devil at the tongue of His Prophet, and Salman who was a believer in the two Books? meaning THE INJIL and the Qur'an." Tirmidhi translated it. 

All these traditions presume the existence of Arabic translations of certain portions of the Holy Bible, if not all of it.

Interestingly, the hadith reports that Waraqa even knew how to read Hebrew:

"Khadija then accompanied him to her cousin Waraqa bin Nawfal bin Asad bin 'Abdul 'Uzza, who, during the Pre-Islamic Period became a Christian and used to write the writing with Hebrew letters. He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as Allah wished him to write ..." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Number 3) 

There are more good stuff in the link as well as the website which you can peruse at your leisure. It seems convenient to be forgetful at times at what their own books actually recorded. Hence, when dealing with such critics of Christianity, you need to be rather knowledgeable about the contents of their holy books. Otherwise, they will pull a fast one on you.

The other website I find informative is the fiery Fr Zakaria. www.fatherzakaria.net. He is on youtube as well.

Thanks ericc for an excellent explanation.

Could I add that Mohammad encountered Christianity when it was riven by disputes between Monophysites and Orthodox/Catholics. In those days, the disputes, which were also political in nature, were rather vicious.

Also, the remnants of non-orthodox Christianity (eg., Gnostics, etc) have been driven out to the dessert and it is quite likely that Mohammad encountered them as the Muslim story of Jesus’ crucifixion is similar to that of some Gnostics.

I often thought how different the history of the world would have been if the Chistianity Mohammad encountered have remained united. Would he have been baptised and became St Mohammad of the Arabs? There are definitely lessons here on church disunity for us.

I was married to a Muslim who became radical after 9/11. I don’t want to go into details but I tell you one thing - Islam is NOT a religion of peace (even though majority of Muslim are nice and peaceable people). Just read the Quran. My ex used to be an intelligent and kind man but after he started to go to the mosque and practice his religion he became very ‘brainwashed’. Our marriage ended when he told me that in the Hadith it says that women are “worst than animals and half devils” (his exact words) and that he believes it (no, he wasn’t angry at me, we were just discussing religion as we often did).
On the other hand true Christianity is a religion of self-sacrificing love (even though many who profess to be Christians do not practice it) because its God is Love and Jesus preached love (read the Gospels), lived love and died for love.
If you seriously examine the teachings of those two religions you’ll see how very different they are…

I am sorry to hear of your loss. Political Islam has claimed many souls in so many different ways. Still, I am glad to hear you acknowledging that the majority of Muslims want peace like we do.

One difference I always find is that while the Muslims tend to look back to the days of the Caliphate as its Golden Era (when it had a empire stretching from Spain to India won by conquest), many Christians see the time of persecution during the Roman Empire as our Golden Era (when the faith was pure and watered by martyrs’ blood run thick). I think that says a lot about how we approach our faith differently.

Thank you for that link Gloria. Sam’s testimony captivates both the mind and the heart. There is so much in them.

To the OP, I would say read all 7 parts at this site provided by Gloria:
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=233441

The 7 parts of his testimony are contained in the following 7 posts of that thread:
#1 (page 1)
**#16 & 17 ** (page 2)
**#31 & 32 ** (page 3)
**#58 & 59 ** (page 4)

In his Post #58, he poses questions for his fellow Muslims to ask themselves. His last question really articulated (to me anyway) the difference between the Christian and Moslem views of God’s character:

  • Do we really love Allah or we are afraid of him and we just want to do the tasks assigned to us on daily basis without emotions just to escape his anger!

Post #17 first gives a list of Bible quotes/teachings, and after them a list of Quran quotes/teachings that contradict those Bible quotes.

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