All religions are by no means the same. Religions differ in many ways- ways of worship, beliefs, attitudes towards non-followers of their religion, belief in God, atheism, agnosticism, rituals, etc etc. Hindus believe that they can offer their prayers to God in any form they like. They look upon God with form or without form; He is infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. They believe that if they like, they can worship Him in the form of Mother Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Sun, Moon, Stars, Oceans, Rivers, Mountains, Intelligence, Memory, Learning, Valour, in fact, anything that inspires them to make their life noble, sweet and sublime. Hindus define this to be the substance of ”religion”. Anything contrary to this is not religion at all. Hindus believe that every other religion also should be teaching the same thing. They believe that all religions teaches good, noble and helpful conduct towards all irrespective of caste, creed or colour. That all religions teach respect of others’ ways of worship and prayers. But some religions do not have these beliefs.
Both Islam and Christianity have the following Common Beliefs:
i) God is jealous. Worship of God in the form of an Idol or any other Symbol like Sun, Moon, Stars, Earth, Ocean, Rivers, etc. is equivalent to worshiping somebody other than the One God. This arouses jealousy of the One God who inflicts severe punishment for this type of worship. Hindus who worship God in many forms including Nature, are the worst offenders according to Christianity and Mohammedanism. Hindus are called Heathens, Pagans, Condemned ones, infidels, idolaters, Kafirs, etc., deserving severe punishment, torture and extermination wherever possible.
ii) Christians and Muslims have both entered into Covenants with God, by which each religious community has received an Exclusive, Irrevocable Power of Attorney from God that its way of worship alone is right, that after death they alone will go to Heaven, others will go to Hell. Of course, the way of worship by Christians is different from that of Muslims. However, both communities claim Exclusive Rights. Believers of Islam become Non-Believers for Christianity and vice-versa.( But of course this Heaven for believers is actually a MIRAGE)
iii) This Heaven for Believers is eternal, and the Hell for Non-Believers is also eternal. Once in Heaven, their enjoyments are eternal; once in Hell, others’ sufferings are also eternal.
iv) There will come a Day of Judgement when all the dead ones will rise and stand before God to get the verdict of either Eternal Heaven or Eternal Hell.
In addition to their Common Beliefs, the Christians and Muslims have also their own special Beliefs. Some of those are outlined below:
Special Beliefs of Christianity
i) Birth by routine sex relationship between husband and wife is a sin. As such, we common people are all sinners. Jesus Christ was born to Virgin Mary, without routine sexual relationship; hence his birth is free from sin.
ii) Jesus Christ is SON of God. Jesus is the Only Son of God; God has no other Son, nor shall he have any other son or daughter. Hence, Christ is the only way of communication with God.
iii) Jesus rose to life a few days after his Death on the Cross. This Resurrection is a proof of His Divinity.
iv) Through crucification, Jesus has paid for the redemption of all sins of all his followers (Christians), at all places, for all time to come. Hence, Jesus is the right and sure way for human salvation.
v) Jesus has given all Authority to the Church. What Church commands is the LAW for the human race, both on Earth and in Heaven; no one should question it. Any deviation from the command of the Church is violation of God’s Law and hence punishable, as per by God’s Decree. Church is the only authority in respect of Spiritual and Secular matters of human beings. All other Rules of conduct are the violation of Divine God’s Command.
vi) Jesus is the Way, the only Way, to reach God.
vii) Those who Believe in Jesus as the only Way are assured of eternal paradise of pleasure after death; others are condemned persons on this Earth, who will go to eternal hell of fire after death. As such, the human race has been divided into two classes of “Holy Believers” and “Unholy Others”; Holy Christians, Unholy Non-Christians.
viii) It is the spiritual, religious duty of the Christian Church and of every individual Christian to convert others to Christianity. Through this conversion, they are doing good to every non-Christian in as much as they are taking him out of false religion and false ways of worship to the only true religion (Christianity); they are saving the condemned unholy person and bringing him into the holy group of Christians, under the protection of the Shepherd Christ and his Authorized Agency (Christian Church).
ix) Idol-worship or Symbol-worship including worship of Sun, Moon, Stars, etc. particularly of Non-Christian idols/Symbols, is un-acceptable to Jealous God; Such worship annoys Jealous God and he sends his severe punishment for such worship.
x) The Holy Bible is the Word of God, to be obeyed by all, without question.
Special Beliefs of Islam
i) There is no Power other than Allah. Prophet Mohammed is His Representative/Messenger on the Earth.
ii) Allah gave this Earth to Prophet Mohammed; the latter gave this Earth to Mohammedans. As such, the whole Earth legitimately belongs to Mohammedans. If others are to live on this Earth, they have to live as Mohammedans or as willing sub-ordinates (Dhimmis) to Mohammedans, paying Jizya Tax till they get converted to Mohammedanism.
iii) Allah revealed all His Laws of correct conduct through Prophet Mohammed; his is the correct conduct in all respects-sitting, standing, eating, drinking, dressing, sexing, fighting, taking, giving, etc. He has been the ideal representative of Allah, the best and last of Allah’s Prophets; there can be no Allah’s Prophet after him; anyone claiming to be a Prophet after Mohammed is a hoax; followers of such a hoax prophet deserve extreme punishment and even extermination from this Earth.
iv) The Laws of correct conduct spoken and practised by Prophet Mohammed form the Laws of SHARIAT. This Shariat is the Divine Law of life on this Earth. All other laws of conduct enunciated by any other person or group of persons on this Earth are invalid unless they are perfectly inline with Shariat. Any civil, moral, criminal or economic law, not in line with Shariat, is an unjust, immoral and tyrannical law which has to be removed from the surface of the Earth; to remove this type of injustice and tyranny from this Earth is the bounden religious duty of every Mohammedan. As such, no government other than Mohammedan government, functioning strictly under Shariat Law, is a legitimate government; other governments have to be abolished; there is no other option for a Mohammedan; he cannot live under the rule of any other law, wherever he may be living on this Earth.
v) To establish Mohammedanism and Shariat Law in every part of this Earth, Mohammedans have to follow, individually and collectively, the following three stages of struggle (Jihad):
a) Persuasion and quiet pressurization.
b) TERRORISM: This should create a sort of TERROR in the minds of non-Mohammedans, that sooner or later, they have got to become Mohammedans; the sooner they adopt this as their own religion, the better it is for them; otherwise, nothing is safe for them -their limbs, their life, wife, family, friends, property, land, etc. When such TERROR is created and established in the minds of non-Mohammedans, the latter shall have no psychological will to fight a pitched battle or military war against Mohammedans. Even if a pitched battle or military war is organised by non-Mohammedans, their defeat is assured because they have been terrorised to lose self-confidence; within their minds they feel frightening diffidence, to fight.
c) Pitched Battle/Military War: The psychologically weakened, emaciated and demoralized military force of non-Mohammedans cannot face the Mohammedan force which believes that it is fighting for the cause of Allah, for establishing His religion and His Law of Shariat on this Earth; Allah is Great (Allah-O-Akbar).
vi) This three-stage struggle (Jihad) to establish Mohammedan religion and Law of Shariat on this Earth is a religious obligation for every Mohammedan; to relax on this front is tantamount to dis-obedience of the Command of Allah; the obedient ones will have all the fruits of Jihad: global empire, wealth, and access to all enjoyments. Should a Mohammedan die in this God’s war against non-Mohammedans, he will be greeted by beautiful Hoories at the gates of Heaven; even beautiful handsome boys will be available to the Mohammedan for his enjoyment in the gardens of Heaven; he can sit there reclining against soft cushions, the Hoories will come to him with glasses of wine which does not create intoxication; the Hoories chasten chanting glances at the reclining Mohammedan and he enjoys infinite happiness in the company of handsome Hoories and beautiful boys; the Mohammedan does not grow weak or old at all in that Heaven; eternal enjoyment in that company is the fruit he has legitimately earned through living and dying in the cause of Allah, the cause of His religion of Mohammedanism on the Earth. (Of course this PARADISE is a MIRAGE in reality)
vii) On this Earth, Mohammedans form community and community laws of their own, as per the Law of Shariat; all other laws are unjust and tyrannical and hence invalid for them; they have the divine right to disobey all such laws. For them, political boundaries have no meaning; those boundaries are made by man, not by Allah. The all-powerful Allah has validated only one community – the Mohammedan community; one country-the Earth; one loyalty -loyalty to the Holy Prophet Mohammed; one valid Law-the Law of Shariat. A Mohammedan belongs to only one nationality-Mohammed’s nationality; his allegiance is to only one land-the Holy Mecca. Every piece of land under Mohammedan rule and under the Law of Shariat is a land of justice and peace for him; every other piece of land is a land of tyranny for him where he has to wage a war of Jihad and Sabotage for establishing Mohammedanism. If a Mohammedan is taking his food and hears a call from Mohammedans outside in a street-quarrel, he has to leave his food and rush outside to join his Mohammedan brothers.
viii) When all other rules and rulers are removed from the surface of the Earth and replaced by the Mohammedan ruler under the Law of Shariat, then there will be total peace and justice on this Earth. As such, the Mohammedans are working only for Peace; Mohammedanism is “Peace and Justice”. It is for this that they are fighting; the second name for Mohammedanism is PEACE. Mohammedans want to establish this PEACE on this earth. They cannot rest until this type of PEACE is established.
ix) About one hundred years back, in most literature and in spoken language, the religion propagated by Holy Prophet Mohammed was called Mohammedanism and his followers were called Mohammedans; the words Islam and Muslims were not common. To give greater legitimacy and acceptability to this system, the words “Islam” and” Muslims” were made to become more common in usage; it is not a religion given by Prophet Mohammed; this religion already existed with Allah and it prevailed in Allah’s Heaven; Prophet Mohammed only brought it down from Heaven to this Earth. Religion prevailing in the Heaven of Allah was and is ISLAM and its followers are MUSLIMS.
The weakness of these Christian and Mohammedan Beliefs is very obvious, but who is to question? These Beliefs, without openness to reasoning, have led to cruelty and wars. Hindus also mistreated lower castes for a few centuries in India, again due to lack of free thinking. But Hindus have accepted the flaws of their behavior and followed modern civil laws, given reservation to those who belong to castes which were mistreated. In the last two centuries, with the advancement of free thinking in Europe and USA, the illogical doctrine of the Church has also lost its appeal and a lot of the orthodoxy has gone down. Hindus and Christians have both reformed to a large extent. Of course, there are still hundreds of misguided Missionaries in India and in other countries in the world who try very hard to convert others to ‘the only true path of Christianity’. But Islam has totally refused to accept any reforms and as in the words of the writer who wrote this book (who is anonymous, whose name is not known to anyone), “Islam of today resembles the Christianity of the Middle Ages”.
The minute analysis of these beliefs of Islam and Christianity is 100 % true. Most faithful believers will still believe honestly that unbelievers will go to Hell. In college when this writer talked to a Christian girl (who was a Catholic) she candidly spoke out all these beliefs and condemned this writer openly for being an atheist and felt that I deserved eternal punishment in Hell for not believing in God. It is not just one Christian girl. Most of the followers genuinely believe most of these myths. But most Muslims believe, genuinely though erroneously, that Islam is a religion of peace and Muhammad was the BEST AND PERFECT MAN, on earth.
Christianity is a living example of a case where an innocent symbol was destroyed by a bad theology. But it does not mean there are no believing Christians now or in the past who did not overcome the faults of their theology. Many have loved their fellow believers without learning to hate their pagan neighbours. All this shows that man is greater than his creeds and ideologies and that humanity could survive its hate-ideologies. It has been able till now. But will it in future, especially when Muslims believe that this life is just a ‘test’ and the real life is afterlife? Many are quite willing to die (and destroy the earth) in the hope of Jannat (Paradise) which is actually a MIRAGE.
Sri Madhu Limaye
A noted secularist, Sri Madhu Limaye has foreseen the explosive growth of the Muslim population and the consequent decline of the Hindus in India5. He says in an article published in Muslim India, “Maybe the Hindus are a dying race as Shraddhanand warned 50 years ago. Perhaps India will have a non-Hindu majority by the year 2300 (if the world survives that long), after that there will be a precipitate Hindu decline and they will become extinct in this ancient land of ours. There is much that is bad in Hinduism (Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism). But there is something priceless too. Thanks to the stupidity, social exclusiveness, and cowardliness of Hindus in the past millennium that ‘priceless something’ which is the heritage of the entire human race will disappear and that makes me sad.” Of course Mr. Limaye gives three hundred years for this to happen although we shall see in the chapter on demography that such a situation will come about around 2050 itself.
Hence it would appear that several secular scholars have more or less correctly gauged the problem posed by Islam to the present Indian society. And their general understanding has been that the solution to this problem is the expectation that as education and modernity spreads in India and Islam, Muslims will no longer be under the sway of their clergy and will become more open and accommodative. It is now over two decades since their books were written (and now more than one decade since this book was written, so over three decades since their books were written) and yet no signs of this change are to be seen. They have also failed to show that this indeed has happened anywhere else in the world. Even in the modern European and American states where the Muslims are a small minority, they have not given up their ghetto mentality and fundamentalism. (This was the case before 9/11, this book was written before 9/11. Now after 9/11, one would have expected USA and Europe to become strict and cautious in dealing with Islam. Unfortunately, Islam has only strengthened in both places. There is a big problem with Islam in Europe now, with Muslims playing a crucial factor in many Parliamentary seats in UK and other parts of Europe, such as France. Even in Europe and USA, Muslims are trying hard at converting the local people to Islam and achieving a bit success as well. Europe is already no longer safe with Muslims having the capacity to murder critics like Theo van Gogh in a city like Amsterdam in Holland in 2004. There are many others who need security. Muslims are trying hard to implement Shariah laws in Europe and USA, even trying to build a mosque at Ground Zero- the site of 9/11. And the American and European media is as pro-Muslim as ever, even a blow like 9/11 has not made them change their ways, not to talk of other blows like Bali 2002 bombings, Madrid 2004 bombings, London 2005 bombings etc.)
The only exception perhaps is Turkey where Kemal Pasha forced the Muslim clergy not to interfere in his reforms. But even here, Islamic fundamentalism is again rearing its head. In fact we can safely conclude that the secularists in spite of many pious utterances, will not be able to solve the Muslim problem. The question that the Hindu patriots and organisations have to ask is, “Can we and how?”. The fate of our nation depends on the solution of the problem posed by Islam.
1. Pakistan or The Partition of India, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Vol. 8, Education Dept, Govt. of Maharashtra, Bombay, 1990.
2. Religion and Society in India, Prof. A. B. Shah, Somaiya Publications, Bombay, 1981
3. What Ails our Muslims, Prof. A. B. Shah, Indian Secular Society, Pune, Reprint 1992.
4. Muslim Politics in India, Hamid Dalwai, Nachiketa Publications, Bombay, 1968.
5. Is India going Islamic, Baljit Rai, B. S. Publishers, Chandigarh, 1994.
I was born into a moderately religious family. On my mother’s side I have a few relatives who are Ayatollahs. Although my grandfather (whom I never met) was somewhat a skeptic, we were believers. My parents were not fond of the mullahs. In fact, we did not have much to do with our more fundamentalist relatives. We liked to think of ourselves as believing in “true Islam,” not the one taught and practiced by the mullahs.
I recall discussing religion with the husband of one of my aunts when I was about 15 years old. He was a fanatical Muslim who was very concerned about the fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). It prescribes the way Muslims should pray, fast, run their public and private lives, do business, clean themselves, use the toilet, and even copulate. I argued this has nothing to do with true Islam, that it is a fabrication of the Mullahs, that excessive attention to fiqh diminishes the impact and importance of the pure message of Islam, to unite man with his creator. This view is mostly inspired by Sufism. Many Iranians, thanks to Rumi’s poems, are to a great degree Sufis in their outlook.
In my early youth I noticed discriminations and cruelties against the members of religious minorities in Iran. This was more noticeable in provincial towns where the level of education was low and the mullahs had a better grip over gullible people. Due to my father’s work we spent a few years in small towns out of the capital. I recall one of my teachers who planned to take the class swimming. We were excited and looked forward to it. In the class there were a couple of kids who were Baha’i and Jewish. The teacher did not let them accompany us. He said they are not allowed to swim in the same pool that Muslims swim in. I cannot forget the kids’ disappointment as they left school with tears in their eyes, subdued and heartbroken. At that age, maybe nine or ten, I could not make sense of and was saddened by this injustice. I thought it was the kid’s fault for not being Muslims.
I believe I was lucky for having open-minded parents who encouraged me to think critically. They tried to instill in me the love of God and his messenger, yet upheld humanistic values like equality of rights between man and woman, and love for all humankind. In a sense, this is how most modern Iranian families were. In fact, the majority of Muslims who have some education believe Islam is a humanistic religion that respects human rights, that elevates the status of women and protects their rights. Most Muslims believe that Islam means peace. Needless to say, few of them have read the Quran.
I spent my early youth in this sweet dream, advocating “true Islam” as I thought it should be, and criticizing the mullahs and their deviations from the real teachings of Islam. I idealized an Islam that conformed to my own humanistic values. Of course my imaginary Islam was a beautiful religion. It was a religion of equality and peace. It was a religion that encouraged its followers to go after knowledge and be inquisitive. It was a religion that was in harmony with science and reason. In fact, I thought that science got its inspiration from this religion. The Islam I believed was a religion that sparkled with modern science, which eventually bore its fruit in the West and made modern discoveries and inventions possible. Islam, I believed, was the real cause of modern civilization. The reason Muslims were living in such a miserable state of ignorance, I thought, was all the fault of the self-centered mullahs and religious leaders who for their own personal gain had misinterpreted the real teachings of Islam.
Muslims honestly believe that the great Western civilization has its roots in Islam. They recall great Middle Eastern scientific minds whose contributions to science have been crucial in the birth of modern science.
Omar Khayyam was a great mathematician who calculated the length of the year with a precision of .74% of a second. Zakaria Razi can very well be regarded as one of the first founders of empirical science who based his knowledge on research and experimentation. Avicenna’s (Bu Ali Sina) monumental encyclopedia of medicine was taught in European universities for centuries. There are so many more great luminaries who have “Islamic names” who were the pioneers of modern science when Europe was languishing in the medieval Dark Ages. Like all Muslims, I believed all these great men were Muslims, that they were inspired by the wealth of hidden knowledge in the Quran; and that if today’s Muslims could regain the original purity of Islam, the long lost glorious days of Islam would return and Muslims would lead the advancement of World civilization once again.
Iran was a Muslim country but it was also a corrupt country. The chance of getting into a university was slim. Only one in ten applicants could get into the university. Often they were forced to choose subjects that they did not want to study because they could not get enough points for the subjects of their choice. Students with the right connections often got the seats.
The standard of education in Iran was not ideal. Universities were under-funded, as the Shah preferred building a powerful military might to become the gendarme of the Middle East rather than build the infrastructure of the country and invest in people’s education. These were reasons why my father thought I would be better off to leave Iran to continue my education elsewhere.
We considered America and Europe, but my father, acting upon the counsel of a few of his religious friends, thought another Islamic country would be better for a 16 year old boy. We were told that the West’s morality is too lax, people are perverted, the beaches are full of nudes, and they drink and have licentious lifestyles, all of which are dangers to a young man. So I was sent to Pakistan instead, where people were religious and thus it was safe and moral. A friend of the family told us that Pakistan is just like England, except that it is cheaper.
This, of course, proved to be untrue. I found Pakistanis to be as immoral and corrupt as Iranians. Yes they were very religious. They did not eat pork and I saw no one consuming alcohol in public, but I noticed they had dirty minds, lied, were hypocrites, were cruel to women, and above all, were filled with hatred of the Indians. I did not find them better than Iranians in any way. They were religious but not moral or ethical.
In college, instead of taking Urdu I took Pakistani Culture to complete my A level FSc (Fellow of Science). I learned the reason for Pakistan’s partition from India and for the first time heard about Muhammad Ali Jinah, the man Pakistanis called Qaid-e A’zam, the great leader. He was presented as an intelligent man, the Father of the Nation, while Gandhi was spoken of in a derogatory way. Even then, I could not but side with Gandhi and condemn Jinah as an arrogant, ambitious man who was the culprit for breaking up a country and causing millions of deaths. You could say I always had a mind of my own and was a maverick in my thinking. No matter what I was taught, I always came to my own conclusion and did not believe what I was told.
I did not see differences of religion as valid reasons for breaking up a country. The very word Pakistan was an insult to the Indians. They called themselves pak (clean) to distinguish themselves from the Indians who were najis (unclean). Ironically I never saw a people dirtier than the Pakistanis both physically and mentally. It was disappointing to see another Islamic nation in such intellectual and moral bankruptcy. In discussions with my friends I failed to convince anyone of “true Islam.” I condemned their bigotry and fanaticism while they disapproved of me for my un-Islamic views.
I related all this to my father and decided to go to Italy for my university studies. In Italy people drink wine and eat pork, but they were more hospitable, friendlier, and less hypocritical than Muslims. I noticed people were willing to help without expecting something in return. I met a very hospitable elderly couple, who invited me to have lunch with them on Sundays, so I would not have to stay home alone. They did not want anything from me. They just wanted someone to love. I was almost a grandson to them. Only strangers in a new country, who do not know anyone and cannot speak the language, can truly appreciate the value of the help and hospitality of the locals.
Their house was sparkling clean, with shiny marble floors. This contradicted my idea of Westerners. Although my family was very open towards other people, Islam taught me that non-Muslims are najis (Q.9:28) and one should not befriend them. I still have a copy of the Farsi translation of the Quran I used to often read from. One of the underlined verses is:
“O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as awliya’ (friends, protectors, helpers, etc.), they are but awliya’ to one another…Q.5: 51
I had difficulty understanding the wisdom of such a verse. I wondered why I should not befriend this wonderful elderly couple who had no ulterior motives in showing me their hospitality than just making me feel at home. I thought they were “true Muslims” and I tried to raise the subject of religion hoping they would see the truth of Islam and embrace it. But they were not interested and politely changed the subject. I was not stupid enough at anytime in my life to believe that all non-believers would go to hell. I read this in the Quran before but never wanted to think about it. I simply brushed it off or ignored it. Of course, I knew that God would be pleased if someone recognized his messenger but never thought he would actually be cruel enough to burn someone in hell for eternity, even if that person only does good deeds, just because he was not a Muslim. I read the following warning:
If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good). Q 3:85,
Yet I paid little heed and tried to convince myself the meaning is something other than what it appears to be. At that moment this was not a subject that I was ready to handle. So I did not think about it.
I hung around with my Muslim friends and noticed that most of them lived a very immoral life of double standards. Most of them found girlfriends and slept with them. That was very un-Islamic, or so I thought at that time. What bothered me most was the fact that they did not value these girls as real human beings who deserved respect. These girls were not Muslim girls and therefore were used just for sex. This attitude was not general. Those who made less show of religiosity were more respectful and sincere towards their western girlfriends and some even loved them and wanted to marry them. Paradoxically. those who were more religious were less faithful towards their girlfriends. I always thought that true Islam is what is right. If something is immoral, unethical, dishonest or cruel, it cannot be Islam. I could not see how the behavior of these immoral and callous Muslims could be the result of what was taught in Islam.
Years later I realized that the truth is exactly the opposite. I found many verses that were disturbing and made me revise my whole opinion of Islam.
As I saw it, the tragedy was that the very same people who lived unethically and immorally were the ones who called themselves Muslims, said their prayers, fasted and were the first to defend Islam angrily if anyone raised a question about it. They where the ones who would lose their temper and start a fight if someone dared to say a word against Islam.
Once I befriended a young Iranian man at the university restaurant, later introducing him to two other Muslim friends of mine. We were all about the same age. He was an erudite, virtuous, wise, young man. My other two friends and I were captivated by his charm and high moral values We used to wait for him and sit next to him during lunch hour, as we always learned something from him. We used to eat a lot of spaghetti and risotto and craved a good Persian ghorme sabzi and chelow. Our friend said his mother sent him some dried vegetables and invited us to his house the next Sunday for lunch. We found his two-room apartment very clean, unlike the houses of other guys. He made us a delicious ghorme sabzi which we ate with great gusto and then sat back chatting and sipping our tea. It was then we noticed his Baha’i books. When we asked about them, he said he was a Baha’i.
That did not bother me at all, but on the way home my two friends said they did not wish to continue their friendship with him. I was surprised and asked why. They said that being a Baha’i makes him najis and had they known he was a Baha’i, they would not have befriended him. I was puzzled and enquired why they thought he was najis if we all were complementing him on his cleanliness. We all agreed he was a morally superior man than all of the Muslim young men we knew, so why this sudden change of attitude? Their response was very disturbing. They said the name itself had something in it that made them dislike this religion. They asked me if I knew why everyone disliked the Baha’is. I told them I didn’t know, and that I liked everyone. But since they disliked the Baha’is, perhaps they should explain their reasons. They did not know why! This man was the first Baha’i they knew this well, and he was an exemplary man. I wanted to know the reason for their dislike. There was no particular reason, they said. It’s just they know that Baha’is are bad.
I am happy I did not continue my friendship with these two bigots. From them I learned how prejudice is formed and operates.
Later I realized the prejudices and hatred that Muslims harbor against almost all non-Muslims is not the result of any misinterpretation of the teachings of the Quran, but is because this book teaches hate and encourages prejudice. Those Muslims who go to the mosques and listen to the sermons of the mullahs are affected. There are many verses in the Quran that call believers to hate non-believers, fight them, call them najis, subdue and humiliate them, chop off their heads and limbs, crucify them, and kill them wherever they find them.
I Learned the truth from the Quran
I left the religion on the backburner for several years. Not that my views about religion had changed or I didn’t consider myself religious any more. I just had so much to do that expending time on religion had become scarce. Meanwhile I learned more about democracy, human rights and other values, like equality of rights between men and women, and I liked what I learned. Did I pray? Whenever I could, but not fanatically. After all, I was living and working in a Western country and did not want to look too different.
One day, I decided that it was time to deepen my knowledge of Islam and read the Quran from cover to cover. I found an Arabic copy of the Quran with an English translation. Previously I read only bits and pieces of the Quran. This time I read all of it. I would read a verse in Arabic, then its English translation, then refer back to the Arabic, and did not read the next verse until I was completely satisfied I understood the Arabic.
It didn’t take long before I came upon verses I found hard to accept. One of these verses was:
“Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin Most heinous indeed.” 4:48
I found it hard to accept that Gandhi would burn in hell forever because he was a polytheist with no hope of redemption, while a Muslim murderer could hope to receive Allah’s forgiveness. This raised a disturbing question. Why is Allah so desperate to be known as the only God? If there is no other god but him, what is the fuss? Against whom is he competing? Why should he even care whether anyone knows him and praises him or not.
I learned about the size of this universe. Light, which travels at a speed of 300 thousand kilometers per second takes 20 billion years to reach us from the galaxies that are at the edges of the universe. How many galaxies are there? How many stars are there in these galaxies? How many planets are there in this universe? These thoughts were mind-boggling. If Allah is the creator of this vast universe, why he is so concerned about being known as the only god by a bunch of apes living on a small planet down the Milky Way?
Now that I had lived in the West, had many western friends who were kind to me, liked me, opened their hearts and homes to me, and accepted me as their friend, it was really hard to accept that Allah didn’t want me to befriend them.
Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah 3:28,
Isn’t Allah the creator of the unbelievers too? Isn’t he the god of everybody? Why he should be so unkind to the unbelievers? Wouldn’t it be better if Muslims befriended unbelievers and taught them Islam by a good example? By keeping ourselves aloof and distant from unbelievers, the gap of misunderstandings will never be bridged. How in the world will unbelievers learn about Islam if we do not associate with them? These were the questions I kept asking myself. The answer to these questions came in a very disconcerting verse. Allah’s order was to, “slay them wherever ye catch them.” (Q.2:191)
I thought of my own friends, remembering their kindnesses and love for me, and wondered how in the world a true god would ask anyone to kill another human being just because he does not believe. That seemed absurd, yet this concept was repeated so often in the Quran there was no doubt about it. In verse 8:65, Allah tells his prophet:
“O Prophet! rouse the Believers to the fight. If there are twenty amongst you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the Unbelievers.”
I wondered why would Allah send a messenger to make war? Shouldn’t God teach us to love each other and be tolerant towards each other’s beliefs? And if Allah is really so concerned about making people believe in him to the extent that he would kill them if they don’t believe, why would he not kill them himself? Why does he ask us to do his dirty work? Are we Allah’s hit men?
Although I knew of Jihad and never questioned it before, I found it hard to accept that God would resort to imposing such violent measures on people. What was more shocking was the cruelty of Allah in dealing with unbelievers.
I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their fingertips off them 8:12
It seemed Allah was not just satisfied with killing unbelievers, he enjoyed torturing them before killing them. Smiting people’s heads from above their necks and chopping their fingertips were very cruel acts. Would God really give such orders? And yet the worst is what he promised to do with unbelievers in the other world:
These two antagonists dispute with each other about their Lord: But those who deny (their Lord),- for them will be cut out a garment of Fire: over their heads will be poured out boiling water. With it will be scalded what is within their bodies, as well as (their) skins. In addition there will be maces of iron (to punish) them. Every time they wish to get away therefrom, from anguish, they will be forced back therein, and (it will be said), “Taste ye the Penalty of Burning!” 22:19-22
How could the creator of this universe be so cruel? I was shocked to learn that Quran tells Muslims to:
- kill unbelievers wherever they find them (Q.2:191),
- humiliate them and impose on them a penalty tax if they are Christians or Jews, (Q.9:29)
- expel them from the land in disgrace. And as if this were not enough, “they shall have a great punishment in world hereafter” (Q.5:34),
- kill their own family in the battles of Badr and Uhud and asks Muslims to “strive against the unbelievers with great endeavor” (Q.25:52),
- be stern with them because they belong to hell (Q.66:9).
How can any sensible person remain unmoved when he or she finds the Quran saying: “strike off the heads of the unbelievers” then after a “wide slaughter among them, carefully tie up the remaining captives” (Q.47:4).
I was also shocked to learn the Quran denies freedom of belief for all and clearly states Islam is the only acceptable religion (Q.3:85). Allah relegates those who do not believe in the Quran to hell (Q.5:11) and calls them najis (filthy, untouchable, impure) (Q.9:28). He says unbelievers will go to hell and will drink boiling water (Q.14:17). Further, “As for the unbelievers, for them garments of fire shall be cut and there shall be poured over their heads boiling water whereby whatever is in their bowls and skin shall be dissolved and they will be punished with hooked iron rods” (Q.22:9). How sadistic!
The book of Allah says women are inferior to men and their husbands have the right to beat them (Q.4:34), and that women will go to hell if they are disobedient to their husbands (Q.66:10). It says men have an advantage over women (Q.2:228). It not only denies women equal right to their inheritance (Q.4:11-12), it also regards them as imbeciles and decrees that their testimony alone is not admissible in court (Q.2:282). This means that a woman who is raped cannot accuse her rapist unless she can produce a male witness, which of course is a joke. Rapists don’t rape in the presence of witnesses. But the most shocking verse is where Allah allows Muslims to rape women captured in wars even if they are married before being captured (Q.4:24) (Q.4:3). The holy prophet raped the prettiest women he captured in his raids on the same day he killed their husbands and loved ones. This is why anytime a Muslim army subdues another nation, they call them kafir and rape their women. Pakistani soldiers raped up to 250,000 Bengali women in 1971 and massacred 3,000,000 unarmed civilians when their religious leader decreed that Bangladeshis are un-Islamic. This is why the prison guards in the Islamic regime of Iran rape the women and then kill them after calling them apostates and the enemies of Allah.
The whole Quran is full of verses that teach killing of unbelievers and how Allah would torture them after they die. There are no lessons on morality, justice, honesty, or love. The only message of the Quran is to believe in Allah and his messenger. The Quran coaxes people with celestial rewards of unlimited sex with fair houris in paradise and threatens them with blazing fires of hell. When the Quran speaks of righteousness, it does not mean righteousness as we understand it, but it means belief in Allah and his messenger. A Muslim can be a killer and murder non-Muslims and yet be a righteous person. Good actions are secondary. Belief in Allah and his messenger are the ultimate purpose of a person’s life.
After reading the Quran I became greatly depressed. It was hard to accept it all. At first I denied and searched for esoteric meanings to these cruel verses of the Quran, all in vain. There was no misunderstanding! The Quran was overwhelmingly inhumane. Of course it contained a lot of scientific heresies and absurdities, but they were not what impacted me the most. It was the violence of this book that really jolted me and shook the foundation of my belief.
The treacherous passage to enlightenment:
After my bitter experience with the Quran I found myself traveling on a torturous road riddled with torments. I was kicked out of the blissful garden of ignorance, where all my questions were answered. There I did not have to think. All I had to do was believe. Now,the gates to that garden were closed to me forever. I had committed the unthinkable sin of thinking. I had eaten from the forbidden tree of knowledge, and my eyes had been opened. I could see the fallacy of it all and my own nakedness. I knew I would not be let into that paradise of oblivion again. Once you start thinking, you don’t belong there anymore. I had only one way to go and that was forward.
This road to enlightenment proved to be more arduous than I was prepared for. It was slippery. There were mountains of obstacles to climb and precipices of errors to avert. I traveled uncharted territories alone, not knowing what I would find next. It would become my odyssey in the realm of understanding and discovering truth, eventually leading me to the land of enlightenment and freedom.
I will chart these territories for all those who also commit the sin of thinking, find themselves kicked out of the paradise of ignorance and are en route to an unknown destination.
If you doubt, if the mantle of ignorance in which you wrapped yourself is shredded to pieces and you find yourself naked, know that you cannot stay in the paradise of ignorance any longer. You have been cast out forever. Just as a child, once out of the womb, cannot go back, you will not be readmitted into that blissful garden of oblivion again. Listen to one who has been there and done that, and don’t cling despondently to the gates. That door is locked.
Instead look forward. You have a trip ahead of you. You can fly to your destination or you can crawl. I crawled! But because I crawled, I know this path quite well. I will chart the road, so hopefully you don’t have to crawl.
The passage from faith to enlightenment consists of seven valleys.
After reading the Quran my perspective of reality was jolted. I found myself standing face to face with the truth and I was scared to look at it. It certainly was not what I was expecting to see. I had no one to blame, to curse and call a liar. I found all the absurdities of Islam and inhumanity of its author by reading the Quran. And I was shocked. Only this shock made me come to my senses and face the truth. Unfortunately this is a very difficult, painful process. The followers of Muhammad must see the naked truth and they must be shocked. We cannot keep sugarcoating the truth. The truth is bitter and it must be accepted. Facts are stubborn and refuse to go away. Only then does the process of enlightenment start.
But because each person’s sensitivity is different, what shocks one person may not shock the other. Even as a man I was shocked when I read that Muhammad instructed his followers to beat their wives and called women “deficient in intelligence.” Yet I have come to know many Muslim women who have no difficulty accepting these derogatory statements uttered by their prophet. It’s not that they agree they are deficient in intelligence or they believe the majority of the inhabitants of hell are women just because the Prophet said so, but they simply block out that information. They read it, but it doesn’t sink in. They are in denial. The denial acts as a shield that covers and protects them, that saves them from facing the pain of reality. Once that shield is up, nothing can bring it down. At this point their beliefs must be attacked from other directions. We have to bombard them with other shocking teachings of the Quran. They may have a weak spot for one of them. That is all they need: a good shock. Shocks are painful, but they can be lifesavers. Shocks are used by doctors to bring back to life a dead patient.
For the first time, the Internet has changed the balance of power. Now the brutal force of the guns, prisons and death squads are helpless and the pen is almighty. For the first time Muslims cannot stop the truth by killing its messenger. Now a great number of them are coming in contact with the truth and they feel helpless. They want to silence this voice, but they cannot. They want to kill the messenger, but they cannot. They try to ban the sites exposing their cherished beliefs, sometimes they succeed momentarily, but most of the time they don’t. I created a site to educate Muslims about true Islam. I hosted it at Tripod.com. The Islamists forced Tripod to shut it down and they cowardly complied to appease them Muslims. I got my domain and the site was back again in a couple of weeks. So the old way of killing the apostates, burning their books and silencing them by terror does not work. They cannot stop people from reading. Even though my site is banned in Saudi Arabia, Emirates and many other Islamic countries, a great number of Muslims who never knew the truth about Islam are being exposed to the truth for the first time, and are shocked.
I met a lady on the net who converted to Islam and started to wear the Islamic veil. She had a web site with her picture completely covered in a black veil along with her story of how she became a Muslim. She was very active and she used to advise others not to read my writings. But when she read the story of Safiyah, the Jewish woman that Muhammad captured and raped after killing her father, husband and many of her relatives, she was shocked. She questioned other Muslims about this in vain. Then the door was open and she was cast out of the paradise of ignorance. She kept writing to me and asking questions. Finally, she passed through the other stages from blind faith to enlightenment very quickly and wrote thanking me for guiding her though this arduous path. She withdrew from the Yahoo Islamic clubs altogether.
When people learn about the unholy life of Muhammad and the absurdities of the Quran they are shocked. I want to expose Islam, write the truth about Muhammad’s unholy life, his hateful words, his senseless assertions, and bombard Muslims with facts. They will be angry. They will curse me, insult me and tell me that after reading my articles their faith in Islam is “strengthened.” But that is when I know that I have sown the seed of doubt in their mind. They say all this because they are shocked and have entered the stage of denial. The seed of doubt is planted and it will germinate. In some people it takes years, but given the chance it will eventually germinate.
Doubt is the greatest gift we can give to each other. It is the gift of enlightenment. Doubt will set us free, will advance knowledge, and will unravel the mysteries of this universe. Faith will keep us ignorant.
One of hurdles we have to overcome is the hurdle of tradition and false values imposed on us by thousands of years of religious upbringing. The world still values faith and considers doubt as the sign of weakness. People talk of men of faith with respect and disdain men of little faith. We are screwed up in our values. The word faith means belief without evidence; gullibility also means belief without evidence. Therefore there is no glory in faithfulness. Faithfulness means gullibility, credulity, susceptibility and easy to fleece. How can one be proud of such qualities?
Doubt on the other hand means the reverse of the above. It means being capable of thinking independently, of questioning, and of being a skeptic. We owe our science and our modern civilization to men and women who doubted, not to those who believed. Those who doubted were the pioneers; they were the leaders of thought. They were philosophers, inventors, and discoverers. Those who believed lived and died as followers, made little or no contribution to the advancement of science and human understanding.
After being shocked, or maybe simultaneously, one denies. The majority of Muslims are trapped in denial. They are unable and unwilling to admit the Quran is a hoax. They desperately try to explain the unexplainable, find miracles in it and would willingly bend all the rules of logic to prove that the Quran is right. Each time they are exposed to a shocking statement in the Quran or a reprehensible act performed by Muhammad they retreat in denial. This is what I did in the first phase of my journey. Denial is a safe place. It is the unwillingness to admit that you have been kicked out of the paradise of ignorance. You try to go back, reluctant to take the next step forward. In denial you find your comfort zone. In denial you are not going to be hurt, everything is okay; everything is fine.
Truth is extremely painful, especially if one has been accustomed to lies all his life. It is not easy for a Muslim to see Muhammad for who he was. It is like telling a child that his father is a murderer, a rapist, and a thief. A child who adulates his father will not be able to accept it even if all the proofs in the world is shown to him. The shock is so great that all he can do is to deny it. He will call you a liar. hate you for hurting him, curse you, consider you his enemy, and may even explode in anger and physically attack you.
This is the stage of denial. It is a self defense mechanism. If pain is too great, denial will take that pain away. If a mother is informed that her child has died in an accident, her first reaction is often denial. At the moment of great catastrophes, one is usually overwhelmed by a weary sense that this is all a bad dream and that eventually you’ll wake up and everything will be okay. But unfortunately facts are stubborn and will not go away. One can live in denial for a while, but sooner or later the truth must be accepted.
Muslims are cocooned in lies. Because speaking against Islam is a crime punishable by death, no one dares to tell the truth. Those who do, do not live long. They are quickly silenced. So how would you know the truth if all you hear are lies? On one hand the Quran claims to be a miracle and challenges anyone to produce a Surah like it.
And if you are in doubt as to which We have revealed to Our servant, then produce a sura like it, and call on your helper, besides Allah, if you are truthful. (Q: 2:23)
Then it instructs its followers to kill anyone who dares to criticize it or challenge it. If you ever dare to take up the challenge and produce a Surah as poorly written as the Quran you will be accused of mocking Islam for which the punishment is death. In this atmosphere of insincerity and deceit, truth is the casualty.
The pain of coming face to face with the truth and realizing all that we believed were lies is extremely agonizing. The only mechanism and natural way to deal with it is denial. Denial takes away the pain. It is a soothing bliss,even though it is hiding one’s head in the sand.
One cannot stay in denial forever. Soon the night will fall and the cold shivering reality freezes one’s bones and you realize that you are out of the paradise of ignorance. That door is closed and the key has been thrown away. You know too much. You are an outcast. Fearfully you look at the dark and twining road barely visible in the twilight of your uncertainties and gingerly you take your first steps towards an unknown destiny. You grapple and fumble, reluctantly trying to stay focused. But fear overwhelms you and each time you try to run back to the garden you once again face the closed door.
The great majority of Muslims live in denial. They stay behind the closed door. They cannot go back nor do they dare to walk away from it. Those who are inside the garden are those who never left it. This door will only let you out. You cannot get in. That blissful garden is the garden of certitude. It is reserved for the faithful, for those who do not doubt, for those who do not think. They believe anything. They would believe that night is day and day is night. They would believe that Muhammad climbed the seventh heaven, met with God, split the moon and conversed with jinns.
As Voltaire said, those who believe in absurdities commit atrocities. They also believe that killing infidels is good, bombing is holy, stoning is divine, beating wives is prescribed by God, and hating unbelievers is the will of God. These inhabitants of the paradise of ignorance constitute the majority. Those who doubt are still the minority.
These believers will never see the truth if they are permanently kept cocooned in lies. All they have heard so far is the lie that Islam is good and if only Muslims practiced true Islam, the world would become a paradise, that the problems of Islam are all the fault of Muslims. This is a lie. Most Muslims are good people. They are no worse and no better than others. It’s Islam that makes them commit atrocities. Those Muslims who do bad things are those who follow Islam. Islam rears the criminal instinct in people. The more a person is Islamist, the more bloodthirsty, hate mongering, and zombie s/he becomes.
I wanted to deny what I was reading. I wanted to believe that the real meaning of the Quran is something else, but I could not. I could no longer fool myself saying these inhumane verses were taken out of the context. The Quran does not have a context. Verses are jammed together at random often lacking any coherence.
Those who read my articles and are hurt by what I say about the Quran and Islam are lucky. They have me to blame. They can hate me, curse me and direct all their anger at me. But when I read the Quran and learned about its content, I could not blame anyone. After going through the stages of shock and denial, I was confused and started to blame myself. I hated myself for thinking, for doubting and finding fault with what I regarded to be the words of God.
Like all other Muslims, I was exposed to and accepted all the many lies, absurdities and inhumanities. I was brought up as a religious person. I believed in whatever I was told. These lies were given to me in small doses, gradually, since my childhood. I was never given an alternative to compare. It is like vaccination. I was immune to the truth. But when I started to read the Quran seriously from cover to cover and understood what this book is actually saying. I felt nauseated. All those lies suddenly appeared in front of me.
I had heard them all and had accepted them. My rational thinking was numbed. I had become insensitive to the absurdities of the Quran. When I found something that did not make sense, I brushed it off and said to myself that one has to look at the “big picture.” That idyllic big picture, however, was nowhere to be found except in my own mind. I pictured a perfect Islam. So all those absurdities did not bother me because I paid no attention to them. When I read the whole Quran I discovered a distinctly different picture than the one in my mind. The new picture of Islam emerging from the pages of the Quran was violent, intolerant, irrational, arrogant, a far cry from Islam as a religion of peace, equality and tolerance.
In the face of this much absurdity, I had to deny it, to keep my sanity. But how long I could keep denying the truth when it was out like the sun right in front of me? I was reading the Quran in Arabic so I could not blame a bad translation. Later I read other translations. I realized many translations in English are not entirely reliable. The translators had tried very hard to hide the inhumanity and the violence in the Quran by twisting the words and adding their own words sometimes in parenthesis or brackets to soften its harsh tone. The Arabic Quran is more shocking than its English translations.
I was confused and I did not know where to turn. My faith had beeen shaken and my world had crumbled. I could no longer deny what I was reading. But I could not accept the possibility that this was all a huge lie. “How could it be, I kept asking myself. that so many people have not seen the truth and I could see it? How could great seers like Jalaleddin Rumi did not see that Muhammad was an impostor and that the Quran is a hoax, and I see it? It was then that I entered the stage of guilt.
The guilt lasted for many months. I hated myself for having these thoughts. I felt God was testing my faith. I felt ashamed. I spoke with learned people whom I trusted, people who were not only knowledgeable but whom I thought were wise. I heard very little that could quench the burning fire within me. One of these learned men told me not to read the Quran for a while. He told me to pray and read only books that would strengthen my faith. I did that, but it did not help. The thoughts about the absurd, sometimes ruthless, ridiculous verses of the Quran kept throbbing in my head. Each time I looked at my bookshelf and saw that book, I felt pain. I took it and hid it behind the other books. I thought if I do not think about it for a while my negative thoughts would go away and I would regain my faith once again. But they didn’t go away. I denied as much as I could, until I could no longer. I was shocked, confused, felt guilty and it was painful.
This period of guilt lasted too long. One day I decided enough is enough. I told myself that it is not my fault. I am not going to carry this guilt forever thinking about things that make no sense to me. If God gave me a brain, it is because he wants me to use it. If what I perceive as right and wrong is skewed, then it is not my fault. He tells me killing is bad and I know it is bad because I do not want to be killed. Then why did his messenger kill so many innocent people and order his followers to kill those who do not believe? If rape is bad, and I know it is bad because I do not want it to happen to people I love, why did Allah’s prophet rape the women he captured in war? If slavery is bad, and I know it is bad because I hate to lose my freedom and become a slave, why has the Prophet of God enslaved so many people and made himself rich by selling them? If imposition of religion is bad, and I know that it is bad because I do not like another person to force on me a religion that I don’t want, then why did the Prophet eulogize Jihad and exhort his followers to kill unbelievers, take their booty, and distribute their women and children as spoils of war? If God tells me something is good, and I know that it is good because it feels good to me, then why did his prophet do the opposite of that thing?
When this guilt was lifted off my shoulders, dismay, disillusionment, or cynicism followed. I felt sorry for having wasted so many years of my life,and for all the Muslims who are still trapped in these foolish beliefs, for all those who lost their lives in the name of these false doctrines, for all the women in virtually all the Islamic countries who suffer all sorts of abuses and oppression.s. They do not even know they are being abused.
I thought of all the wars waged in the name of religion, so many people died for nothing. Millions of believers left their homes and families to wage war in the name of God, never to return, thinking they are spreading faith in God. They massacred millions of innocent people. Civilizations were destroyed, libraries were burned, and so much knowledge was lost, for nothing. I recalled my father waking up in the early hours of the morning and in the icy water of the winter performing voodoo. I recalled him coming home hungry and thirsty during the month of fasting, and I thought of the billions of people who torture themselves in this way for nothing. The realization that all that I believed were lies and all that I did was a waste of my life, and the fact that a billion other people are still lost in this arid desert of ignorance chasing a mirage that to them appears to be water was disappointing.
Prior to that God was always in the back of my mind. I used to talk to him in my imagination and those conversations seemed me. I thought God was watching and taking account of every good act that I did. The feeling that someone was watching over me, guiding my steps and protecting me was very comforting. It was difficult to accept that there is no such thing as Allah and even if there is a God, it is not Allah. I did not give up the belief in God, but by then I knew for sure that if this universe has a maker, it cannot be the deity that Muhammad had envisioned. Allah was ignorant to the core. The Quran is full of errors. No creator of this universe could be as stupid as the god of the Quran appeared to be. Allah could not have existed anywhere else except in the mind of a sick Man. I understood that he was but a figment of Muhammad’s imagination and nothing more. How disappointed I was when I realized all these years I had been praying to a fantasy.
This feeling of loss and disappointment was accompanied by a sense of sadness, or some kind of depression. It was as if my whole world had fallen apart. I felt like the ground I was standing on was no longer there and I was falling into a bottomless pit. Without exaggerating, it felt like I was in hell.
I was bewildered, pleading for help and no one could help. I felt ashamed of my thoughts and hating myself for having such thoughts. The guilt was accompanied by a profound sense of loss and depression. As a rule, I am a positive thinker. I see the good side of everything. I always think tomorrow is going to be better than today. I am not the kind of person who is easily depressed. But this feeling of loss was overwhelming. I still recall that weight in my heart. I thought God has forsaken me and I did not know why. “Is that God’s punishment?” I kept asking myself. I do not remember hurting anyone ever. I went out of my way to help anyone whose life crossed mine and asked me for help. So, why did God want to punish me in this way? Why was He not answering my prayers? Why has He left me to myself and these thoughts I could find no answers to? Does he want to test me? Then where were the answers to my prayers? Would I pass this test if I became stupid and stopped using my brain? If so, why did he give me a brain? Would only dumb people pass the test of faith?
I felt betrayed and violated. I cannot say which feeling was predominant. At times I was disillusioned, sad, or dismayed. Even if faith is false, it is still sweet. It is very comforting to believe.
Juxtaposing my feelings of sadness and loss, I felt liberated. Curiously I no longer felt confused or guilty. I knew for sure the Quran was a hoax and Muhammad was an impostor.
To overcome this sadness I tried to keep myself busy with other activities. I even took dancing lessons and experienced what it means to be alive, to be free of guilt, to enjoy life and to just be normal. I realized how much I had missed out on and how foolishly I deprived myself of the simple pleasures of life. Of course denial is the way cults exert their control over thier believers. I denied myself the simplest pleasures of life, was living in constant fear of God, and I thought this was normal. I am talking of pleasures like sleeping in the morning, dancing, dating, or sipping a glass of fine wine.
At this time, I entered another stage of my spiritual journey to enlightenment. I became angry. Angry for having believed those lies for so many years, for wasting so many years of my life chasing a wild goose. Angry at my culture for betraying me, for the wrong values it gave me, with my parents for teaching me a lie, with myself for not thinking before, for believing in lies, trusting an impostor, with God for letting me down, for not intervening and stopping the lies that were being disseminated in His name.
When I saw pictures of millions of Muslims who, with so much devotion, went to Saudi Arabia, many of them spending their life’s savings to perform hajj, I became angry with the lies these people were brought up with. When I read someone had converted to Islam, something Muslims love to advertise and make a big issue of I became saddened and angry. I was sad for that poor soul and angry with the lies.
I was angry with the whole world that tries to protect this lie, defend it, and even abuse you if you raise your voice to try to tell them what you know. It is not just Muslims, but even westerners who do not believe in Islam. It’s okay to criticize anything but Islam. What amazed me and made me even angrier was the resistance I faced when I tried to tell others that Islam is not the truth.
Fortunately this anger did not last long. I knew that Muhammad was no messenger of God but a charlatan, a demagogue whose only intention was to beguile people and satisfy his own narcissistic ambitions. I knew all those childish stories of a hell with scorching fire and a heaven with rivers of wine, milk and honey. orgies, were the figments of a sick, wild, insecure and bullying mind of a man in desperate need to dominate and affirm his own authority.
I realized I could not be angry with my parents; for they did their best and taught me what they thought to be the best. I could not be angry with my society or culture because my people were just as misinformed as my parents and myself. Afer some thought, I realized everyone was a victim. There are one billion or more victims. Even those who have become victimizers are victims of Islam too. How could I blame Muslims if they do not know what Islam stands for and honestly, though erroneously, believe that it is a religion of peace?
Muhammad the narcissist
What about Muhammad? Should I be angry with him for lying, deceiving and misleading people? How could I be angry with a dead person? Muhammad was an emotionally sick man who was not in control of himself. He grew up as an orphan in the care of five different foster parents before he reached the age of eight. As soon as he became attached to someone, he was snatched away and given to someone else. This must have been hard on him and was detrimental to his emotional health. As a child, deprived of love and a sense of belonging, he grew with deep feelings of fear and lack of self-confidence. He became a narcissist. A narcissist is a person who has not received enough love in his childhood, who is incapable of loving, but instead craves attention, respect and recognition. He sees his own worth in the way others view him. Without that recognition he is nobody. He becomes manipulative and a pathetic liar.
Narcissists are grandiose dreamers. They want to conquer the world and dominate everyone. Only in their megalomaniac reveries is their narcissism satisfied.
Some famous narcissists are Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Pol Pot and Mao. Narcissists are intelligent, yet emotional wrecks. They are deeply disturbed people. They set themselves extremely high goals. Their goals always have to do with domination, power and respect. They are nobody if they are neglected. Narcissists often seek alibis to impose their control over their unwary victims. For Hitler it was the party and race, for Mussolini it was fascism or the unity of the nation against others and for Muhammad it was religion. These causes are just tools in their quest for power. Instead of promoting themselves, the narcissists promote a cause, an ideology, or a religion while presenting themselves as the only authority and the representative of these causes. Hitler did not call the Germans to love him as a person but to love and respect him because he was the Fuhrer. Muhammad could not ask anyone to obey him. But he could easily demand his followers to obey Allah and his messenger. Of course Allah was Muhammad’s own alter ego, so all the obedience was for him in the final account. In this way he could wield control over everyone’s life by telling them he is the representative of God and what he says is what God has ordained.
Dr. Sam Vaknin, the author of “Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited” explains: “Everyone is a narcissist, to varying degrees. Narcissism is a healthy phenomenon. It helps survival. The difference between healthy and pathological narcissism is, indeed, in measure. Pathological narcissism and its extreme form, NPD (Narcissistic Pathological Disorder), is characterized by extreme lack of empathy. The narcissist regards and treats other people as objects to be exploited. He uses them to obtain narcissistic supply. He believes that he is entitled to special treatment because he harbours these grandiose fantasies about himself. The narcissist is NOT self-aware. His cognition and emotions are distorted.”
The above perfectly describes Muhammad. Muhammad was a ruthless man with no feelings. When he decided the Jews were of no use to him, he stopped kowtowing to them and eliminated them all. He massacred all the men of Bani Qurayza and banished or murdered every other Jew and Christian from Arabia. Surely if God wanted to destroy these people he would not have needed the help of his messenger.
So I found there was no reason to be angry with an emotionally sick man who died a long time ago. Muhammad was a victim himself of the stupid culture of his people, of the ignorance of his mother who, instead of keeping him during the first years of his life when he needed her love most, entrusted him to a Bedouin woman to raise him so she could find a new husband.
Muhammad was a man with profound emotional scars. Dr. Vaknin writes that a narcissist ”lies to himself and to others, projecting ‘untouchability,’ emotional immunity, and invincibility. For a narcissist “everything is bigger than life. If he is polite, then he is aggressively so. His promises outlandish, his criticisms violent and ominous, his generosity inane.” Isn’t this the image the Prophet projected of himself?
I could not criticize or blame the ignorant Arabs of the 7th century for not being able to discern that Muhammad was sick and not a prophet, that his outlandish promises, his impressive dreams of conquering and subduing the great nations when he was just a pauper, were caused by his pathological emotional complications and were not due to a divine power. How could I blame those ignorant Arabs for falling prey to a man like Muhammad when only in the last century, millions of Germans fell prey to the charisma of another narcissist who just as Muhammad, made big promises, was as ruthless, as manipulative, and as ambitious as he was?
After serious thought, I realized there is not a single person I could be angry with. I realized we are all victims and victimizers at the same time. The culprit is ignorance. Because of our ignorance we believe in charlatans and their lies, allowing them to disseminate hate among us in the name of false deities, ideologies or religions. This hate separates us from each other, and prevents us from seeing our oneness and understanding that we are all members of the human race, related to each other and interdependent.
It was then that my anger gave way to a profound feeling of empathy, compassion and love. I made a promise to myself to fight this ignorance that divides the human race. We paid, and are paying, dearly for our disunity. This disunity is caused by ignorance and the ignorance is the result of false beliefs and pernicious ideologies that are concocted by emotionally unhealthy individuals for self-serving purposes.
Ideologies separate us. Religions cause disunity, hate,fighting, killing, and antagonism. As members of the human race, we need no ideology, cause, or religion to be united.
I realized that the purpose of life is not to believe but to doubt. I realized that no one can teach us the truth because truth cannot be taught. It can only be experienced. In reality, no religion, philosophy or doctrine can teach you the truth. Truth is in the love we have for our fellow human beings, in the laugher of a child, in friendship, in companionship, in the love of a parent and a child, and in our relationships with others. Truth is not in ideologies. The only thing that is real, is love.
The process of going from faith to enlightenment is an arduous and painful process. Let us borrow a term from Sufism and call that the seven “valleys” of enlightenment.
Faith is the state of being confirmed in ignorance. You will continue to stay in that state of blissful ignorance until you are shocked and forced out of it. This shock is the first valley.
The natural first reaction to shock is denial. Denial acts like a shield. It buffers the pain and protects you from the agony of going out of your comfort zone. The comfort zone is where we feel at ease, where we find everything familiar, where we don’t face new challenges or the unknown. This is the second valley.
Growth doesn’t take place in comfort zones. In order to go forward and evolve we need to get out of our comfort zones. We won’t do that unless we are shocked. It is also natural to buffer the pain of shock by denial. At this moment we need another shock, and we may decide to shield ourselves again with another denial. The more a person is exposed to facts and the more he is shocked, the more he tries to protect himself with more denials. But denials do not eliminate the facts. They just shield us momentarily. When we are exposed to facts, at a certain point we will be unable to continue denying. Suddenly we won’t be able to keep our defenses up and the wall of denials will come down. We can’t keep hiding our heads in the sand prepetually. Once doubt sets in, it will have a domino effect and we find ourselves hit from all directions by facts that up until now we avoided and denied. Suddenly all those absurdities that we accepted and even defended, are no longer logical and we reject them.
We are then driven into the painful stage of confusion and that is the third valley. The old beliefs seem unreasonable, foolish and unacceptable, yet we have nothing to cling to. This valley, I believe, is the most dreadful stage in the passage from faith to enlightenment. In this valley we lose our faith without having found the enlightenment. We are basically standing in nowhere. We experience a free fall. We ask for help but all we get is a rehashing of some nonsense clichés. It seems that those who try to help us are lost themselves, yet they are so convinced. They believe in what they don’t know. The arguments they present are not logical at all. They expect us to believe without questioning. They bring the example of the faith of others. But the intensity of the faith of other people does not prove the truth of what they believe in.
This confusion eventually gives way to the fourth valley, guilt. You feel guilty for thinking. You feel guilty for doubting, for questioning, for not understanding. You feel naked, and ashamed of your thoughts. You think it is your fault if the absurdities mentioned in your holy books make no sense to you. You think that God has abandoned you or that he is testing your faith. In this valley you are torn apart by your emotions and your intellect. Emotions are not rational, but they are extremely powerful. You want to go back to the paradise of ignorance, you desperately want to believe but you simply can’t. You have committed the sin of thinking. You have eaten the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. You have angered the god of your imaginations.
Finally you decide there is no need to feel guilty for the understanding. That guilt does not belong to you. You feel liberated but at the same time dismayed for all those lies that kept you in ignorance and the time wasted. This is the valley of disillusionment. At the same time you are overtaken by sadness. You feel liberated; yet like coming out of prison after spending a lifetime there, you are overtaken by deep sense of depression. You feel lonely and despite your freedom, you miss something. You ponder the time lost. You think of the many people who believe(d) in this nonsense and foolishly sacrifice(d) everything for it, including their lives. The pages of history are written with the blood of people who were killed in the name of Yahweh, Allah or other gods. All for nothing! All for a lie!
Thereupon you enter the sixth valley, of anger. You become angry at yourself, and at everything else. You realize how much of your precious life you lost believing in so many lies.
But then you realize you are the lucky one for having made it this far and that there are billions of others who are still trying to shield themselves with denials and not venture out of their comfort zone. They are still wading in the quagmire of the first valley. At this stage, when you are completely free from faith, guilt and anger, you are ready to understand the ultimate truth and unravel the mysteries of life. You are filled with empathy and compassion. You are ready to be enlightened. The enlightenment comes when you realize that the truth is in love and in our relationship with our fellow human beings and not in a religion or a cult. You realize that Truth is a pathless land. No prophet or guru can take you there. You are there already.
In this odyssey you are not alone. You have a nagging companion who will not leave you. He will try to hinder your advancement and stop you from going forwards. He is your fear: the fear of punishment, of hell, of after death. It is completely irrational, yet it controls you and acts on your subconscious mind every step of the way. The passage from faith to enlightenment is arduous and you will not be able to take the first step if you cannot get rid of your fears. You will only get rid of them completely when you arrive at your destiny and you are enlightened. Then you break the chain of fear and acquire wings of enlightenment. This is the true liberation.
25 June 2001
(The original article can be read here : http://www.faithfreedom.org/Articles/sina/frombelief.htm )
The penalty for apostasy, i.e. a Muslim leaving Islam is death, in Islam. Though various scholars have tried to deny this, such as eminent Pakistani scholar Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, this penalty is present in many Islamic countries even today, such as Afghanistan, a country supposedly rescued by liberals from the fanatical Taliban. Also in Saudi Arabia. In some countries like Malaysia, one has to get permission from courts to become an apostate. The Quran does say that apostates are to be given death (4:89). so much do the ex-Muslims fear, that even in a relatively free country like the USA, they are afraid of being murdered by Muslims and do not openly show themselves. Pakistani-born former Muslim, Ibn Warraq has to use a pseudonym. His book which was published in New York, “Why I am not a Muslim” has of course been banned in India. The so-called liberal Europe, which is no longer safe for non-Muslims themselves, like Theo van Gogh and others is not even worth talking about.
Now, would a true God force followers of his religion to kill those who leave it? Orders to kill apostates are given only by brutal dictators, who fear that defectors will encourage rebellion, and finally the organisation or group will collapse. A true God will always give freedom of choice to everyone, including followers of his own religion to leave Islam. Also, in Islam, questioning the prophethood of Muhammad and any other doubts on whether God wrote the Quran are given death penalty. Criticizing God may be allowed, but criticizing Muhammad is given death. No value judgment is allowed on any of Muhammad’s actions, or on anything in the Quran. If Muhammad did anything, then it must be the right thing no matter how wrong it may look, such as getting engaged to Aisha when she was 6 years old, and marrying her when she was not even 9 years old. Now, will a true God force people to accept Muhammad without question and give severe punishment like death to anyone who disagrees? A true God will have nothing to hide, a true religion will have nothing to hide. A true God will ask, “Children, raise as many doubts as possible. Ask all your questions and get them satisfied. Do not believe in anything without reason. My religion is true, so ask everything and get it resolved”. When someone forces others to believe in something without reasoning, and threatens and punishes him for not blindly believing, then it means that he has something to hide.
A simple and clear logical proof that Islam is not from God is this. God who is claimed to have dictated the Quran is supposed to be omniscient- all-knowing and omnipotent i.e. all powerful. For such a God, it should be very easy to do something which is beyond the reach of ordinary humans like Muhammad, in the Quran itself, like to be able to predict in 620 AD that man will go the moon in 1969 AD, or for that matter, to give the then-unknown chemical formula of water, or to write a then-unknown language including modern Arabic, or Bangla. But nothing of this sort is done in the Quran. Of course, as we have seen, Muslims forcibly try to find ‘miracles in the Quran, which are nothing but Islamic hoaxes and none of them is in clear language. The closest that the Quran comes to doing something like this is predicting victory of Romans, but that too is no miracle because both defeat of Romans at the hands of idolator Persians in AD 614-15 and the subsequent victory of Romans over them in AD 628 happened during Muhammad’s own life -time, and the Quran, as claimed by Muslims themselves, was finalized during Caliph Uthman’s period who ruled till AD 656. Also, scholars have shown that the Quran was edited and altered till AD 933, when it was finalized at last. And the Quran contains many contradictions, and many other mistakes as well.
Now, it is the view of many people, including both Muslims and non-Muslims that the Quran cannot be translated. This is what is written by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall in his translation of the Quran (Madhur Sandesh Sangam, New Delhi, India, 1995 AD). He says that the Quran in English or any other language can never take place of the Quran in Arabic, nor is it meant so. This shows that the Quran is meant for Arabs only, since Arabic was not, and has never been a world language. If God sent mankind a book, He would have given it in a way whereby it would be equally effective and charming in all the languages of the world. Or, as a minimum, he would have made the whole world know Arabic very well, so that it could understand the Quran very easily. A God who keeps his Revelation in a language which only a mortal human being knows cannot be termed as an All-Powerful or wise God.
Why didn’t God do anything which could not have been done by humans like Muhammad? As a minimum, he could have revealed the Quran in a language which was known at that time, but not known to Muhammad, such as Sanskrit, Tamil etc. Muhammad dictating a Quran and getting it recorded in a language which was not known to him could have been some proof of God’s help. If Muhammad came to guide humanity, and got the Quran revealed as a Divine book, why didn’t God reveal the Quran in all the then-known languages of the world? The very fact that the Quran is very difficult to understand, it cannot be fully understood without the help of Hadith and Sira, the Hadith’s are unreliable many of them are outright forgeries and they came into existence 120 years after Muhammad’s death shows that it is not from God. A true God would have made his book understandable to all, easily arranged in chronological order, with proper details of which verse was revealed when, instead of allowing humans to get it written on trees, bones of camels, stones and then putting it together arranging the chapters in any order, starting with the longest first and the shortest last, with no clear certainty of which chapter was revealed when and all this compilation of the Quran done a good 20 years after the death of the man who dictated it, and claimed to have received it from God. A true God would also have given details of the life of his Messenger in the Quran itself, or written another book on it with no forgeries. As a minimum, he would have done something which is beyond the reach of Muhammad.
In his must-read debate with Pakistani scholars Javed Ahmad Ghamidi and Khaled Zaheer, Ali Sina writes,
“Dear Mr. Ghamidi: In your book Al-Bayan you have made it clear that intercession, as believed by many Muslims, is a myth. You quoted the following verses of the Quran to back up your claim:
[A reward] from the Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that lies between them; the most Gracious – there is no one who has the authority to speak on His behalf. On the Day when Gabriel and the angels will stand arrayed [before Him]. [The Day] when only they will speak whom the most Gracious allows and who speak the truth. (78:37-38)
In the footnote you wrote the following explanation: “This and the next two verses strongly negate the philosophy of mediation and intercession. The angels whom the polytheists believe to be their intercessors will themselves respectfully stand before the Almighty on the Day of Judgement. No one will have the position to speak on behalf of the Almighty. Only they will speak whom the Almighty permits and they too will not be able to utter anything false.” 
You also quoted verse 2:48:
And guard yourselves against the day when no soul shall be of use to another in anyway and no intercession shall be accepted and no compensation be taken from it and nor will people be helped.
Then you commented: “There is a negation of three things in this verse: intercession, compensation and help. However, this is just the negation of the outcome: actually the negation is of the existence of someone who can intercede, compensate or help. In other words, what is implied is that on that day there will be no intercession, compensation and help because there will be no person who would do these.” 
This sounds reasonable to me. In fact, there are many verses in the Quran that confirm what you said. Here are a few:
O children of Israel, call to mind My favor which I bestowed on you and that I made you excel the nations. And be on your guard against a day when NO SOUL shall avail ANOTHER in the least neither shall any compensation be accepted from it, nor shall intercession profit it, nor shall they be helped. (2:122-123)
O you who believe! Spend out of what We have given you before the day comes in which there is no bargaining, neither any friendship nor intercession… (2:254)
[W]hoever works evil, will be requited accordingly. Nor will he find, besides Allah, any protector or helper. (4:123)
And warn with it those who fear that they shall be gathered to their Lord – there is no guardian for them, nor any intercessor besides Him – that they may guard (against evil). (6:51)
Leave alone those who take their religion to be mere play and amusement, and are deceived by the life of this world. But proclaim (to them) this (truth): that every soul delivers itself to ruin by its own acts: it will find for itself no protector or intercessor except Allah: if it offered every ransom, (or reparation), none will be accepted: such is (the end of) those who deliver themselves to ruin by their own acts… (6:70)
Allah it is Who created the heavens and the earth, and that which is between them, in six Days. Then He mounted the Throne. Ye have not, beside Him, a protecting friend or mediator. Will ye not then remember? (32:4) 
The fact that Muhammad has no power to save anyone from hellfire is clearly stated in the verse: (39:19)
Is he on whom the word of doom is fulfilled (to be helped), and canst thou (O Muhammad) rescue him who is in the Fire?
This point seems to be clear enough!
Or is it?
Amazingly, despite all these verses, many Muslims believe that Muhammad has the power to intercede for them in front of Allah and save them from the fire on the Day of Judgment. Ukasha Al-Tayyibi has written a book to prove this very point. In the description of his book we find the following notes by his publisher:
On the Day of Judgement Prophet Muhammed (SAW) will be the only prophet who will be granted permission to intercede to save mankind from the terrors of awaiting judgement on the Day of Rising.
We must not fail to understand that matters which are great and insignificant, large or small are preordained and confirmed in the knowledge of Allah. Surely Allah Almighty has decreed and determined the states of the intercessor, and for whom he intercedes.
The author has taken an analytical approach to prove that intercession can only be granted by Allah’s permission, and the Prophet Muhammed (SAW) will intercede for mankind at five various levels, i.e. from the crossing of the sirat to the height of peoples rank within the garden of paradise.
Discussed topics include intercession only being granted by Allah’s permission, those who took Isa and Uzayr and the angels as lords and sought their intercession, the last day and intercession, the unbelievers seeking intercession, the intercessions of the Prophet (pbuh), his five intercessions, and various hadiths concerning intercession.
As you see, Ukasha Al-Tayyibi claims that his book is based on the Quran and hadith. I have not read his book, but I have found many Quranic verses, as well as hadiths that ratify his claim. I will quote a few and I am sure you’ll find more proofs in his book.
Who is there can intercede in His [Allah’s] presence except as He permitteth? (2:255)
This verse seems to imply that there is at least one person who can intercede with Allah. Let us see if there are more verses confirming this point.
No intercessor (can plead with Him) except after His leave (hath been obtained). (10:3)
On the day when We shall gather the righteous unto the Beneficent, a goodly company. And drive the guilty unto hell, a weary herd, they will have no power of intercession, save him who hath made a covenant with his Lord. (19:85-87)
On that Day shall no intercession avail except for those for whom permission has been granted by (Allah) Most Gracious and whose word is acceptable to Him. (20:109)
And We [1st person plural] did not send before you any messenger but We revealed to him that there is no god but Me, [1st person singular] therefore serve Me. And they say: The Beneficent Allah has taken to Himself a son. Glory be to Him [3rd person singular]. Nay! They are honored servants They do not precede Him in speech and (only) according to His commandment do they act. He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they do not intercede except for him whom He approvesHim they tremble. And whoever of them should say: Surely I am a god besides Him, such a one do We recompense with hell; thus do, We recompense the unjust. (21:25-29)
and for fear of
[Say:] No intercession can avail in His Presence, except for those for whom He has granted permission. So far (is this the case) that, when terror is removed from their hearts (at the Day of Judgment, then) will they say, ‘what is it that your Lord commanded?’ they will say, ‘That which is true and just; and He is the Most High Most Great.’ (34:23) 
In the above verses, we get the confirmation that someone is capable to intercede with Allah. So the issue is not resolved.
You may wonder why I highlighted the pronouns. We see sometimes Allah refers to himself in third person singular (He), then shifts to first person plural (We) and sometimes to first person singular (I and Me). Will you please explain this unorthodox way of speech? It appears that these are Muhammad’s Freudian slips of tongue. It is as if the Prophet kept forgetting that the Quran is supposed to be the word of Allah and Allah should not allude to himself in third person. We can find this error all over the Quran. I hope you will give some explanation to this conundrum as well. Is the Quran really the word of God or that of the illiterate Muhammad?
Anyway, let us continue with our main discussion. The following verses are interesting because Muhammad actually starts interceding with Allah for his followers right away even before the Judgment Day.
Those who sustain the Throne (of Allah) and those around it sing Glory and Praise to their Lord; believe in Him; and implore forgiveness for those who believe: “Our Lord! Thy Reach is over all things, in Mercy and Knowledge. Forgive, then, [Now this is clearly Muhammad supplicating to Allah] those who turn in Repentance, and follow Thy Path; and preserve them from the Penalty of the Blazing Fire! And grant, our Lord! That they enter the Gardens of Eternity, which Thou hast promised to them, and to the righteous among their fathers, their wives, and their posterity! For Thou art (He), the Exalted in Might, Full of Wisdom. And preserve them from (all) ills; and any whom Thou dost preserve from ills that Day,- on them wilt Thou have bestowed Mercy indeed: and that will be truly (for them) the highest Achievement.” (40:7-9)
These verses surly can’t be the words of Allah. If they are the words of Allah, whom is Allah supplicating to? If they are the words of Muhammad:
(a) Why they are in the Quran?
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar:
The Prophet said, “A man keeps on asking others for something till he comes on the Day of Resurrection without any piece of flesh on his face.” The Prophet added, “On the Day of Resurrection, the Sun will come near (to, the people) to such an extent that the sweat will reach up to the middle of the ears, so, when all the people are in that state, they will ask Adam for help, and then Moses, and then Muhammad (p.b.u.h).” The sub-narrator added “Muhammad will intercede with Allah to judge amongst the people. He will proceed on till he will hold the ring of the door (of Paradise) and then Allah will exalt him to Maqam Mahmud (the privilege of intercession, etc.). And all the people of the gathering will send their praises to Allah.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 24, Number 553)
This hadith sounds absurd. The Sun coming down to scorch people and they sweat so much to get drowned in their own sweat is surly an artwork of imaginative power. But that is not my point. The point I want to make is that this hadith also states that someone very special has the power to intercede with Allah and make him revise his plans. I wonder who that person might be! Let us find out.
The Prophet added, “Then the prophets and Angels and the believers will intercede, and (last of all) the Almighty (Allah) will say, ‘Now remains My Intercession.’ He will then hold a handful of the Fire from which He will take out some people whose bodies have been burnt, and they will be thrown into a river at the entrance of Paradise, called the water of life…” Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 532s
This hadith makes one to think that Allah is interceding himself. Isn’t that an absurdity? Unless Allah has some sort of mental disorder such as schizophrenia, making him talk to himself and pleading with himself to do what he wants to do, the above hadith makes no sense at all. Now, let us see who else beside Allah is given the power of intercession.
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah’s Apostle said, “For every Prophet there is one invocation which is definitely fulfilled by Allah, and I wish, if Allah will, to keep my that (special) invocation as to be the intercession for my followers on the Day of Resurrection.” Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 566
Wait a minute! Here Muhammad is wishing to become the intercessor for his followers. But didn’t you say that no one can intercede with Allah and that his decisions are irreversible? Oh well, I wish to become a billionaire. There is nothing wrong in wishful thinking. After all you think Islam can be a moderate religion. Isn’t that a wishful thinking? It does not mean all the wishes are going to be fulfilled. But it looks like Muhammad thought that his wish is already fulfilled. See the following hadith:
Narrated Ma’bad bin Hilal Al’Anzi:
We, i.e., some people from Basra gathered and went to Anas bin Malik, and we went in company with Thabit Al-Bunnani so that he might ask him about the Hadith of Intercession on our behalf. Behold, Anas was in his palace, and our arrival coincided with his Duha prayer. We asked permission to enter and he admitted us while he was sitting on his bed. We said to Thabit, “Do not ask him about anything else first but the Hadith of Intercession.” He said, “O Abu Hamza! There are your brethren from Basra coming to ask you about the Hadith of Intercession.” Anas then said, “Muhammad talked to us saying, ‘On the Day of Resurrection the people will surge with each other like waves, and then they will come to Adam and say, ‘Please intercede for us with your Lord.’ He will say, ‘I am not fit for that but you’d better go to Abraham as he is the Khalil of the Beneficent.’ They will go to Abraham and he will say, ‘I am not fit for that, but you’d better go to Moses as he is the one to whom Allah spoke directly.’ So they will go to Moses and he will say, ‘I am not fit for that, but you’d better go to Jesus as he is a soul created by Allah and His Word.’ (Be: And it was) they will go to Jesus and he will say, ‘I am not fit for that, but you’d better go to Muhammad.’
They would come to me and I would say, ‘I am for that.’ Then I will ask for my Lord’s permission, and it will be given, and then He will inspire me to praise Him with such praises as I do not know now. So I will praise Him with those praises and will fall down, prostrate before Him. Then it will be said, ‘O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to; and ask, for your will be granted (your request); and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will say, ‘O Lord, my followers! My followers!’ And then it will be said, ‘Go and take out of Hell (Fire) all those who have faith in their hearts, equal to the weight of a barley grain.’ I will go and do so and return to praise Him with the same praises, and fall down (prostrate) before Him. Then it will be said, ‘O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to, and ask, for you will be granted (your request); and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will say, ‘O Lord, my followers! My followers!’ It will be said, ‘Go and take out of it all those who have faith in their hearts equal to the weight of a small ant or a mustard seed.’ I will go and do so and return to praise Him with the same praises, and fall down in prostration before Him. It will be said, ‘O, Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to, and ask, for you will be granted (your request); and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will say, ‘O Lord, my followers!’ Then He will say, ‘Go and take out (all those) in whose hearts there is faith even to the lightest, lightest mustard seed. (Take them) out of the Fire.’ I will go and do so.”
When we left Anas, I said to some of my companions, “Let’s pass by Al-Hasan who is hiding himself in the house of Abi Khalifa and request him to tell us what Anas bin Malik has told us.” So we went to him and we greeted him and he admitted us. We said to him, “O Abu Said! We came to you from your brother Anas Bin Malik and he related to us a Hadith about the intercession the like of which I have never heard.” He said, “What is that?” Then we told him of the Hadith and said, “He stopped at this point (of the Hadith).” He said, “What then?” We said, “He did not add anything to that.” He said, Anas related the Hadith to me twenty years ago when he was a young fellow. I don’t know whether he forgot or if he did not like to let you depend on what he might have said.” We said, “O Abu Said! Let us know that.” He smiled and said, “Man was created hasty. I did not mention that, but that I wanted to inform you of it.
Anas told me the same as he told you and said that the Prophet added, ‘I then return for a fourth time and praise Him similarly and prostrate before Him. [I will be told] ‘O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to; and ask, for you will be granted (your request): and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will say, ‘O Lord, allow me to intercede for whoever said, ‘None has the right to be worshiped except Allah.’ Then Allah will say, ‘By my Power, and my Majesty, and by My Supremacy, and by My Greatness, I will take out of Hell (Fire) whoever said: ‘None has the right to be worshipped except Allah.’” 
This hadith not only contradicts your claim that there are no intercessors with Allah, but it is also actually a very ridiculous story. Muhammad here is portraying the entire Divine system as a big joke. This story sounds naïve. Should we really, in this age of enlightenment, read such tales and believe in them? In this hadith, Muhammad is predicting what people would do in the Day of Judgment, how they will run to various prophets and how these poor fellows (the prophets) would feel helpless to intercede on their behalf until our hero, Muhammad, would valiantly go to the fearsome Wizard of this Universe to ask forgiveness for his followers and Allah grants all his wishes. All Muslims will be eventually forgiven: Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Khomeini, mass murderers and terrorists will all be saved from hellfire by Muhammad, as long as they had a small amount of faith in him. The unbelievers will of course be left to burn in Hell for eternity because they had the trepidation to use their brain and not accept things that made no sense to them.
I like how Muhammad bargains with Allah going back and forth and each time getting a little more concession. How can one not be grateful to this hard working and kinder‑than‑God prophet?
Now, this story has not yet happened. It will happen on the Day of Judgment. But Muhammad already knew exactly how it is going to happen and what Allah is going to do and say on that Day. It sounds goofy but it makes a fine children’s story.
The absurdity of this tale is beyond description. What Muhammad is trying to say is that, ‘it really does not matter how much crime you commit, heaven is a hanky‑panky place and if you just believe in me and become my follower, I will pull some strings with Allah and rescue you from the hellfire. Your actions are secondary. You could be a murderer, a rapist, a thief, a pedophile, etc. You will be still forgiven if you just accept me as the prophet of God. Just have an itsy bitsy blind faith in me and I will save you from the fire.’
And I thought the purpose of God in sending prophets was to teach people how to live righteously and not to sin. How silly of me! Now I know that all that we must do to go to paradise is to have a little faith in Muhammad. Our conduct is not that important.
Actually, many Muslims happily live by this dictum. They commit all sorts of perversities and sins, and yet they have strong faith in Islam and Muhammad to the extent that they would happily slit the throat of anyone who slights Islam. That is the extent of their religiosity.
Abul Husain Muslim also reports a few hadiths that support the claim that Muhammad will be the sole intercessor with Allah on the Day of Judgment, who would be sitting on the right hand of Allah advising him how to run his business, whom to punish and whom to reward.
It is reported on the authority of Abu Zubair that he heard from Jabir b. ‘Abdullah, who was asked about the arrival (of people on the Day of Resurrection). He said. We would come on the Day of Resurrection like this, like this, and see, carefully, that which concerns “elevated people”. He (the narrator) said: Then the people would be summoned along with their idols whom they worshipped, one after another. Then our Lord would come to us and say: Whom are you waiting for? They would say: We are waiting for our Lord. He would say: I am your Lord. They would say: (We are not sure) till we gaze at Thee, and He would manifest Himself to them smilingly, and would go along with them and they would follow Him; and every person, whether a hypocrite or a believer, would be endowed with a light, and there would be spikes and hooks on the bridge of the Hell, which would catch hold of those whom Allah willed. Then the light of the hypocrites would be extinguished, and the believers would secure salvation. And the first group to achieve it would comprise seventy thousand men who would have the brightness of full moon on their faces, and they would not be called to account. Then the people immediately following them would have their faces as the brightest stars in the heaven. This is how (the groups would follow one after another). Then the stage of intercession would come, and they (who are permitted to intercede) would intercede, till he who had declared: “There is no god but Allah” and had in his heart virtue of the weight of a barley grain would come out of the Fire. They would be then brought in the courtyard of Paradise and the inhabitants of Paradise would begin to sprinkle water over them till they would sprout like the sprouting of a thing in flood water, and their burns would disappear. They would ask their Lord till they would be granted (the bounties) of the world and with it ten more besides it. 
Not only Muhammad thought that he will have the power to intercede with Allah and influence the Almighty’s decisions, he said that even his followers will have that power.
‘Abdullah b. ‘Abbas reported that his son died in Qudaid or ‘Usfan. He said to Kuraib to see as to how many people had gathered there for his (funeral). He (Kuraib) said: So I went out and I informed him about the people who had gathered there. He (Ibn ‘Abbas) said: “Do you think they are forty?” He (Kuraib) said: “Yes.” Ibn ‘Abbas then said to them: “Bring him (the dead body) out for I have heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: ‘If any Muslim dies and forty men who associate nothing with Allah stand over his prayer (they offer prayer over him), Allah will accept them as intercessors for him.’” 
Isn’t that nice? You can commit all the sins in the world and if you have forty people coming to your funeral praying for you, Allah will accept their intercession. What if you don’t have forty friends? My experience tells me that wealthier people have larger funerals. They serve banquets and draw huge crowds. Poorer people often die alone or with few friends and relatives around them. This hadith not only shows Allah’s injustice, but it is also absurd that he should listen to intercession of people and forgive a sinner. This is not my idea of justice.
Whether it is forty or four billion, it seems absurd to me that humans should have the power to influence God and make him change his mind.
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “I shall be pre-eminent amongst the descendants of Adam on the Day of Resurrection and I will be the first intercessor and the first whose intercession will be accepted (by Allah).” 
These hadiths, and the above-mentioned verses, show not only the inherent contradiction in the Quran, but also that Muhammad wanted his followers to be at awe with his powers and know that it is he who has the authority over their destiny, so they better submit to him and serve him in this world.
You say that intercession is a myth. Please take a look at the verse 3:159 where allegedly Allah is telling Muhammad “and ask pardon for them”. He is telling his prophet to intercede to him on behalf of his followers. This makes no sense. If Allah wants to forgive someone, why is he asking Muhammad to intercede? Does he need someone lobby him to do what he wants to do? Another verse repeats the same absurdity:
So know (O Muhammad) that there is no god save Allah, and ask forgiveness for thy sin and for believing men and believing women. Allah knoweth [3rd person] (both) your place of turmoil and your place of rest. (47:19)
According to this verse Muhammad was a sinner. If a sinner, he cannot be a perfect example to follow and the verse (33:21) that makes such claim is false. Also:
If Allah does not accept intercessions, what are the above injunctions for? Why is He telling Muhammad to ask forgiveness for the believing men and believing women?
The difficulty does not end there. Despite the above verses where allegedly Allah tells his prophet to pray for the forgiveness of his own sins and that of his followers, there are verses that actually contradict them and say that such prayers will not be accepted.
And do not plead on behalf of those who act unfaithfully to their souls; [speaking in 1st person] surely Allah does not love [shifting to 3rd person] him who is treacherous, sinful. (4:107)
Ask forgiveness for them (O Muhammad), [speaking in 1st person] or ask not forgiveness for them; though thou ask forgiveness for them seventy times Allah will not forgive them. [switching to 3rd person] That is because they disbelieved in Allah and His messenger, and Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk. (9:80)
And never (O Muhammad) [1st person] pray for one of them who dieth, nor stand by his grave. Lo! they disbelieved in Allah and His messenger, [switching to third person] and they died while they were evil-doers. (9:84)
And Noah called upon his Lord, [3rd person] and said: “O my Lord! surely my son is of my family! and Thy promise is true, and Thou art the justest of Judges!” He said: “O Noah! He is not of thy family: For his conduct is unrighteous. So ask not of Me that of which thou hast no knowledge! I give thee counsel, lest thou act like the ignorant!” [Why when talking to Abraham Allah uses the correct pronoun, and when speaking to Muhammad he mostly uses a wrong pronoun, suddenly speaking of himself in 3rd person?] Noah said: “O my Lord! I do seek refuge with Thee, lest I ask Thee for that of which I have no knowledge. And unless thou forgive me and have Mercy on me, I should indeed be lost!” (11:45-47)
The Quran tells us that Abraham prayed to Allah for the forgiveness of his parents.
O our Lord! cover (us) with Thy Forgiveness – me, my parents, and (all) Believers, on the Day that the Reckoning will be established! (14:41)
Forgive my father, for that he is among those astray. (26:86)
Yet, Abu Huraira narrates a hadith from Muhammad saying that Abraham’s prayers will not be accepted.
The Prophet said, “On the Day of Resurrection Abraham will meet his father Azar whose face will be dark and covered with dust. (The Prophet Abraham will say to him): ‘Didn’t I tell you not to disobey me?’ His father will reply: ‘Today I will not disobey you.’ Abraham will say: ‘O Lord! You promised me not to disgrace me on the Day of Resurrection; and what will be more disgraceful to me than cursing and dishonoring my father?’ Then Allah will say (to him): ‘I have forbidden Paradise for the disbelievers.’ Then he will be addressed, ‘O Abraham! Look! What is underneath your feet?’ He will look and there he will see a Dhabh (an animal,) blood-stained, which will be caught by the legs and thrown in the (Hell) Fire.” 
Isn’t it funny that Muhammad knew the discussion that would take place between Abraham and his father in future when he actually could not predict what would happen to him the next day or at least know where Qinana, the youthful leader of Khaibar, had hidden his treasures so he did not have to torture that wretched soul to death to make him talk? Anyway, that is another subject. This hadith confirms your belief that Allah will not accept anyone’s intercession. However, it contradicts all the other verses and hadiths that I quoted above.
So praying for the deceased is not permitted, especially if the deceased was an unbeliever. At least this is what some of the verses say. However, cursing people is okay. Sura 111 is nothing but curse. Allah reveals a sura to curse Muhammad’s uncle and his wife.
Perish the hands of the Father of Flame! Perish he! No profit to him from all his wealth, and all his gains! Burnt soon will he be in a Fire of Blazing Flame! His wife shall carry the (crackling) wood – As fuel!- A twisted rope of palm-leaf fibre round her (own) neck!
Is really this sura from Allah? Why would Allah need to curse anyone when he can crush them and destroy them so easily? Isn’t it more logical to believe that at least this sura was made up by Muhammad out of frustration and rage? Which is more logical? Is Allah insane or this sura is made up by Muhammad?
Muhammad confesses that at least in one occasion, he received Satanic Verses, thinking to be from God. Could Sura 111 also be of the same category?
Sometimes one verse in the Quran is contradicted by the subsequent verse. For example the verse 2:254 says:
O you who believe! Spend out of what We have given you before the day comes in which there is no bargaining, neither any friendship nor intercession, and the unbelievers.
And the following verse 2:255 contradicts it and says:
Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth?.
Far from being a clear book, the Quran is replete with contradictions. That is why Muslims can find anything they want in the Quran and interpret it in any way they wish. Osama Bin Laden can find verses that justify his crimes against humanity and you can find verses to portray Islam as a moderate religion. I will discuss these contradictions in my future discussion with you, one at a time. My goal is to prove that far from being a book of guidance, the Quran misguides people. Muslims will do much better if they stop following this book of confusion and rely on their own intelligence to find their way, just like other people do.
I hope to convince a good number of Muslims that Islam is a lost paradigm. We should not waste our time trying to reform it. Islam can’t be reformed. It must be discarded. The Quran is not the word of God. One error in this book disqualifies it as the word of God. If you bear with me I will show you hundreds. We have just started. This was only a token of the humongous errors and contradictions that exist in the Quran – only a drop from an ocean of asininity.
Will God allow millions of killings in his name by misguided followers who genuinely believe that they are spreading faith in God and doing his work?
At least one among Islam and Christianity has to be wrong. Islam says that Jesus was just a human Prophet (and a slave of Allah) and NOT Son of God and he escaped crucification, and that Muhammad was the best and last of God’s prophets. Christianity says that Jesus was not just a human Prophet but SON OF GOD, and that Muhammad was a nobody, i.e. a hoax and that Jesus was crucified.. Now at least one of these two beliefs has to be wrong, and both of them can also be wrong. As well-known scholar Koenraad Elst, a born Christian (who was so intensely religious as a child that he even considered becoming a missionary!) says, actually, they are.
Now, so many people have been killed by followers of Islam and Christianity genuinely believing that are doing the work of God. The Quran is full of verses giving terrible warnings of Hell to unbelievers, and urging believers to fight the unbelievers and convert or kill them (like 9:5, 2:193, 8:39, 8:12, 8:65, 9:17, 9:28, 9:29, 9:39, 9:110, 9:123, 5:33, etc etc ). Now misguided followers have killed millions in the name of spreading faith in God. Christians and Muslims too have clashed among themselves and killed millions of people. A true God would have stopped at least one of them from killing innocents in his name. For example, if Christianity is true and Islam false, then Islam killing millions of people in the world, including at least 280 million in India, in the name of God would not have been allowed by God. God would have made his misguided followers realize that he does not want killings in his name. In the same way, if Islam was right and Christianity was wrong (in asserting that Jesus was SON OF GOD) a true God would not have allowed misguided Christians to kill millions of people in his name (like the Christians did in South America, killing some 100 million people). He would have made them know that Jesus was NOT his son but just a human Prophet and that they needn’t kill 100 million innocent people in his name. But since God did not do anything like this, it is clear that God, if he exists, does not interfere in human affairs.
As said earlier, the Creator focusing his attention on tiny humans on earth is like we humans focusing our attention on tiny invisible viruses living on a drop of water somewhere down the Pacific Ocean. It is these tiny viruses who kill each other in the name of God to satisfy their own wants, God doesn’t force people to believe in one of those tiny viruses and his claims of being God’s messenger.
Would a true God have allowed different versions of the Quran to crop up within 20 years of Muhammad’s death in AD 632 so that the Caliph (Successor of Muhammad) Othman who began his reign in AD 644 had to order all other versions to be destroyed and keep only one version?
It is well known that he Quran as dictated by Muhammad was written on palm leaves, stones, bones of camels and other such places. One basic question that will be asked is this- “Why did Allah choose Muhammad as a vehicle or medium to record the Quran when Allah knew that Muhammad was illiterate? Or at least, why did Allah not turn Muhammad into a great scholar overnight and provide him with good stationery to record the Quran?”
In the translation of the Quran by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, (Pickthall’s translation is considered as very authentic) the following things are mentioned in the “Introduction” before the Quran’s first chapter:
“All the surahs of the Koran had been recorded in writing before the Prophet’s death, and many Muslims had committed the whole Koran to memory. But the written surahs were dispersed among the people; and when, in a battle which took place during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr- that is to say, within two years of the Prophet’s death-a large number of those who knew the whole Koran by heart were killed, a collection of the whole Koran was made and put in writing. In the Caliphate of Othman, all existing copies of surahs were called in, and an authoritative version, based on Abu Bakr’s collection and the testimony of those who had the whole Koran by heart, was compiled exactly in the present form and order, which is regarded as traditional and as the arrangement of the Prophet himself, the Caliph Othman and his helpers being Comrades of the Prophet and the most devout students of the Revelation. The Koran has thus been very carefully preserved.” (Page xxviii of Pickthall’s translation of Quran, Madhur Sandesh Sangam, New Delhi, India, 1995)
Sadly for them, the information given in this translation by British Muslim Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall clearly proves exactly the opposite. Carefully read the sentences written in bold by us. “But written Surahs were dispersed among the people”. What is the guarantee that all Surahs were compiled and none were lost? Or that no extra Surahs were added which were not there? Arabic is a language where the whole meaning of the sentence can change with the slightest change in shape of the alphabet. In this translation of the Quran, Pickthall also admits “Within 2 years of the Prophet’s death a large number of people who knew the whole Koran by heart were killed”. Here he is talking of the Battle of Riddah (Apostasy) in Arabia in late 632- early 633 AD when Arabia rose in revolt against Islam and gallantly fought Muslims .
Though the non-Muslims lost, a large number of Muslims were killed in this battle, many of whom had learnt the Quran by heart, which has been admitted by Pickthall. “In the Caliphate of Othman, all existing copies of surahs were called in, and an authoritative version, based on Abu Bakr’s collection and the testimony of those who had the whole Koran by heart, was compiled…” This shows that there were many different versions of the Quran in use by that time, during Othman’s rule (644-656 AD). Othman ordered all other versions to be destroyed. Now the very fact that within so few as 20 years of Muhammad’s death there were different versions of the Quran and there was no one to check or guarantee that Othman’s version was exactly as Muhammad said! That is, Othman had to do the job of compiling the Quran which should have ideally been done properly by Muhammad. If God sent Muhammad down to the people with His Message and his book if guidance viz the Quran would he have made it so difficult for the humans? He would have first made Muhammad a scholar capable of reading and writing overnight, being the Almighty and then provided Muhammad and all Muslims good stationery to record the Quran instead of relying on Muhammad’s companions to write on palm leaves, on shoulder-blade bones of camels and on stones and memorize it, and then have a large number of those who had memorized it killed in the Battle of Riddah.
Firstly, Muhammad dictated the Quran to his followers, who noted it down in many places. According to Islamic tradition, the Qur’an was originally written on palm leaves, on shoulder-blade bones of camels and on stones. There was no single copy of the Quran existing during Muhammad’s own lifetime in a written form! Muhammad was asked many times by Meccans to perform any miracles to prove that He was a Messenger of God, such as making his God flow rivers of milk, and Muhammad used to say “I cannot perform any miracles, I am only a mortal messenger. My only miracle is the Quran.” (Muhammad need not have had to perform any miracles, couldn’t GOD have flown rivers of milk to prove Muhammad’s Prophethood to the people?) But this ‘only miracle’ of Muhammad also was not present in his own life-time in a proper book form! Would a true God have left a very important task of recording the Quran and making only one (and correct) version to humans, that too some 20 years after Muhammad’s death? He would have made sure that only one version of the Quran remains, and that it is carefully recorded and available easily to everyone.
As a matter of fact, even this tradition, that Othman ended everything and finalized the Quran before AD 656 and that nothing has changed in the Quran ever since, is also wrong. Wansbrough (“Quranic Studies” Wansbrough, J. Oxford, 1977) showed that far from being fixed in the seventh century, the definitive text of Koran had still not been achieved even as late as the later part of the ninth century.Thus, a statement of Muslim creed, Fiqh Akbar I, dated to the middle of eighth century, does not refer to the Koran at all, which is quite surprising. The ninth century also saw the first collections of the ancient Arab poetry seeing the light of day, in which too there are instances of manipulation, as alleged by some scholars. In fact, there is a strong opinion among many scholars that the Quran was actually finalized in AD 933. This is also shown by the missing and added verses in the Quran.
Missing and Added Verses
It also appears that there are some missing verses and some added verses. For example, there is a tradition from the Prophet’s wife, Aisha, that there once existed a ‘verse of stoning’ where stoning to death was prescribed as punishment for fornication. This is no longer to be found in the accepted texts of the Koran and instead the Koranic punishment for this crime only prescribes one hundred lashes. But the early prophets carried out stoning for adultery, and Islamic law still prescribes it. According to the above tradition, more than one hundred verses from the original, are missing. Shiites of course claim that Uthman left out a great many verses favourable to Ali, for political reasons. Muhammad himself, as we know, is said to have suppressed the now famous Satanic Verses. The authenticity of many verges has been called into question not only by modern Western scholars, but even by Muslims themselves. On the other hand, most scholars believe that there are many interpolations making the Koranic style uneven. Some of them are of a political and dogmatic character, such as 42.36-38, which seems to have been added to justify the elevation of Uthman as Caliph to the detriment of Ali. Of course, any interpolation, however trivial, is fatal to the Muslim dogma that the Koran is literally the eternal, uncreated word of God revealed to Muhammad and thereafter unalterable and unchanged.
The traditional Muslim accounts of the life of Muhammad and the story of the origin and rise of Islam are based exclusively on Muslim sources, namely, (1) the Koran (2) the Muslim biographies of Muhammad and (3) the Hadith. We shall briefly examine their content and authenticity.
The first biography known to us of the Prophet was written one hundred and twenty years after his death, by lbn Ishaq (d. 768 AD). The original is lost and is only available in parts in a later biography by Ibn Hisharm (and an even later biography by AI-Tabari) who died in 834 AD, two hundred years after the death of the Prophet. The other popular biographies have been written only after the first two hundred years. This long interval along with the other factors discussed below throws doubts on the authenticity of the material available from these biographies. A recent book, ‘The Quest for the Historical Muhammad’ edited by lbn Waraq (Prometheus Books, March 2000) has dealt with precisely this issue of historicity.
The Hadith or Hadis is greatly revered in the Islamic world and consists of a collection of saying.and doings attributed to the Prophet and traced back to him through a chain of supposedly trustworthy witnesses called ‘isnad’. Six authentic collections written in the ninth century are available, and an encyclopedia of 29000 traditions called Musnad has been compiled by Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 855 AD). Since the Koran does not cover all aspects of the religion and law, and since the Muslims consider the life of the Prophet as the Divine force in action, the sayings and doings of the Prophet compiled in the Hadith along with the Koran guide the jurisprudence of Islam.
CLAIMS OF HISTORICITY
It has been generally held that amongst the world’s major religions, only the historicity of Muhammad and Koran are undisputed and that the details of his life are more historically verifiable than the founders of other major religions. Recent findings suggest that this claim is not true and in fact, there is now a strong view that there has been a large scale fabrication of the prophet’s life and scriptures and that there has been a considerable influence of neighbouring religions and rituals as well as traditional pagan Arabian faiths and rituals. The present position has been neatly summed up by lbn Warraq in his book, ‘Why I am not a Muslim?’2. Unfortunately this book has been banned in India and therefore we can only list the original sources to which the reader is requested to refer for detailed information. The reviews of this book have been collected and summarised in ‘Time for Stock Taking.3
Towards the end of nineteenth century, Western scholars began the process of sifting all available information and data on Islam since there was some suspicion that some of the traditions were deliberately forged in order to further the interests of certain groups and families. Wellhausen divided the historical traditions into two categories – the apparently authentic primitive traditions, which have been recorded in the late eighth century, and second, a parallel tradition that was deliberately forged to rebut the first. The second version was found to be full of tendentious fiction. Goldziher, another reputed scholar of the era, studied the Hadith extensively and demonstrated that a vast number of hadiths accepted even in the most rigorously critical Muslim collections were outright forgeries compiled from around the late 8th and 9th centuries.5 The reason for this parallel tradition can be traced to the politics of competition among the early successors of the Prophet, who had often assumed his mantle after eliminating their predecessors with great blood shed; and had hence to humiliate their memory and that of their forefathers through their version of the tradition, apart from proving their own legitimacy (see chronology of early Islam in Appendix B). Under the Abbasids (progeny of the Prophet’s uncle), the fabrication of hadiths greatly multiplied, with the explicit purpose of proving the legitimacy of their own clan as against that of the Alids (progeny of Ali, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet). The storytellers also excelled in inventing entertaining hadiths in order to make a fortune by drawing large crowds. Of course Muslims scholars were aware that forgeries abounded and attempted to eliminate many of them in the six authentic collections. But even these were not free from later interpolations an therefore there are several texts of the Hadith in use.
A true God would have simply given only one and correct version of the Hadith so that people would have no doubt about Muhammad and his life. Would he allowed so many different Hadiths to crop up, many unauthentic, and leave so much confusion on which is correct and not? Without the Hadith, Islam doesn’t at all since we dont know anything at all about Muhammad and who he was, or anything about the Quran. A true God would have made sure that a full, proper description of Muhammad is available to humanity without any confusion, and a true and only version of the Quran is available.
Since the biographies on the Prophet appeared much after his death and were based on these traditions, the early twentieth century scholars working at that time considered them suspect.6 Their conclusions were subsequently investigated by a group of Soviet Islamologists7 who concluded that the life of Muhammad and that of his immediate successors are as ‘mythical’ as the accounts of Christ and the Apostles (discussed later) and that Islam was merely an offshoot of Arianism (a Greek Christian doctrine) and that the Arian Islamites were indistinguishable from the Jews until the impact of the Crusades made them assume a separate identity. In fact some of them wondered if Muhammad was not a necessary fiction since every ‘historical’ religion must needs have a founder.
From the 1950s, Islamic studies received a further impetus under Schacht8 His conclusions were even more radical and disturbing. He proved that many Islamic traditions did not exist at a particular time by showing, for example, that they were not used as a legal argument in a discussion that would have made reference to them imperative, had these traditions existed. He in fact concluded that every tradition allegedly traced back in time to the Prophet must be considered inauthentic and the Fictitious expression of a legal doctrine formulated at a later date! Traditions introduced from around the time of the Successors (to the Prophet) were offered as traditions from the time of the Companions (contemporaries of the Prophet), and traditions from the time of the Companions to the Prophet were offered as traditions practiced by the Prophet himself. Details from the life of the Prophet were invented to support legal doctrines. He also showed that the beginnings of the Islamic law cannot be traced further back in the Islamic tradition, than to about a century after the Prophet’s death. Thus it did not directly derive from the Koran, but developed out of popular and administrative practices under the Urnmayads which diverged often from the intentions and even the explicit wording of the Koran. The integration of the two was done at a later stage.
Many scholars were convinced of the essential soundness of Schacht’s analysis and developed his thesis further. Wansbrough9 argued that the Koran and the hadith grew out of sectarian controversies over the course of a long period and then were projected back in time onto an invented Arabian point of origin. He felt that Islam emerged only when it came into contact with rabbinical Judaism.
Doubts over the authenticity of the Hadith prompted scholars to take a critical look at the Koran too. As we have seen earlier, Muslims claim the Koran to be a historically verifiable scripture, which is the collection of the revelations of Allah through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet. These revelations were communicated by the prophet to various persons in his lifetime and many others were taken down by Muhammad’s scribes. According to one tradition, after Muhammad’s death, the first Caliph, Abu Bakr, appointed the former secretary and scribe of the Prophet, Zayd ibn Thabit, to undertake the task of collecting all available material and compile it together. He collected them ‘from pieces of papyrus, flat stones, palm leaves, shoulder blades and ribs of animals, pieces of leather and wooden boards, as well as from the hearts of men’. He compiled all the material in the amazingly short span of two years and handed it over to the Caliph. The Suras or chapters in the Koran have been so arranged that the longest suras find place in the beginning and the shortest in the end. Thus there is no way of knowing when, exactly the Prophet received a particular revelation. This becomes important since the message of a particular revelation, as we shall see later, is often contradicted by the message of a later’ revelation. Scholars, both Muslim and Western have generally been able to separate the revelations received in Mecca and those in Medina since the message of Allah is conciliatory in the former and aggressive in the latter.
According to traditions many versions of the book began to be circulated and serious disputes arose. According to the traditions, the third Caliph, Uthman (650-656 AD) approached Zayd again to edit and prepare the official text. This was prepared and circulated widely and the other versions were destroyed. According to orthodoxy, this text has not undergone any change since then and is the standard version followed all over the world.
Historical research, however, indicates otherwise. Wansbrough showed that far from being fixed in the seventh century, the definitive text of Koran had still not been achieved even as late as the later part of the ninth century. Thus, a statement of Muslim creed, Fiqh Akbar I, dated to the middle of eighth century, does not refer to the Koran at all, which is quite surprising. The ninth century also saw the first collections of the ancient Arab poetry seeing the light of day, in which too there are instances of manipulation, as alleged by some scholars. Both have perhaps gone hand in hand with an attempt to prove the antiquity and sacredness of the Arabic language and culture so that God could hand over the Koran in pure Arabic. Very much influenced by rabbinic Judaism outside Arabia, the early Muslim community took Moses as a model and Muhammad’s credentials as a prophet were gradually established in Moses’ likeness. The aim was to have a swadeshi prophet and a scripture in competition with the Jews and Christians!
Missing and Added Verses
It also appears that there are some missing verses and some added verses. For example, there is a tradition from the Prophet’s wife, Aisha, that there once existed a ‘verse of stoning’ where stoning to death was prescribed as punishment for fornication. This is no longer to be found in the accepted texts of the Koran and instead the Koranic punishment for this crime only prescribes one hundred lashes. But the early prophets carried out stoning for adultery, and Islamic law still prescribes it. According to the above tradition, more than one hundred verses from the original, are missing. Shiites of course claim that Uthman left out a great many verses favourable to Ali, for political reasons. Muhammad himself, as we know, is said to have suppressed the now famous Satanic Verses. The authenticity of many verges has been called into question not only by modern Western scholars, but even by Muslims themselves. On the other hand, most scholars believe that there are many interpolations making the Koranic style uneven. Some of them are of a political and dogmatic character, such as 42.36-38, which seems to have been added to justify the elevation of Uthman as Caliph to the detriment of Ali. Of course, any interpolation, however trivial, is fatal to the Muslim dogma that the Koran is literally the eternal, uncreated word of God revealed to Muhammad and thereafter unalterable and unchanged.
Contradictions And Abrogations
Far worse is the matter of abrogation or cancellation of passages in the Koran. The Koran abounds in contradictions and hence Muslim theologians have a rather convenient strategy by which they abrogate or replace certain passages and verses with other verses and passages with a contrary meaning, and which, they claim, was subsequently revealed by Allah to Muhammad. This problem of contradiction would never have arisen had there been a specific chronology of the revelations, which would have enabled us to determine which verse was given earlier and which later. In the absence of it, there is obviously a lot of arbitrariness in determining the time of the replaced verse. There has been some unanimity in determining the Meccan i.e. early suras and Medinan i.e. later suras. While the former has many passages preaching tolerance when Muhammad’s faith and supporters were still in a minority, the later Medinan suras, when Muhammad was already a winner, abound in intolerance like the famous verse of sura 9.5, ‘Slay the idolaters wherever you find them ‘. This verse, along with others given in Appendix A, obviously nullifies the earlier 124 verses that exhorted tolerance and patience, and which are quoted extensively by the Indian Muslim scholars to deny accusations that the Koran and Islam are inherently violent and intolerant.
As an example let us take the oft quoted short sura 109, ‘The Unbelievers’, thought to be a Meccan sura, which says, “Say: Unbelievers I do not worship what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship. I shall never worship what you worship, nor will you ever worship what I worship. You have your own religion, and I have mine. ‘ How can this be reconciled with the numerous examples given in Appendix A (sections on Idolaters and Instructions to Believers) which are mostly Medinan verses and preach hatred and intolerance? A reading of these directives from Allah leaves no doubt that so far as non- Muslims are concerned, the Koran is not a religious book at all but a war manual and a penal code!
We also have strange incidences of an earlier verse cancelling a later one in the same sura. Thus verse 2.234 replaces verse 2.240 (dealing with maintenance of widows). In all, over 200 verses (some scholars estimate the figure to be 500, i.e. about 8% of Koran), have been cancelled or abrogated by later ones.
The doctrine of abrogation makes a mockery of the Muslim dogma that the Koran is a faithful and unalterable reproduction of the original scriptures that are preserved in heaven. If God’s words are eternal, uncreated and absolute, then how can we talk of God’s words being superseded or becoming obsolete? Are some words of God to be preferred to others? And who is to judge this? The doctrine of abrogation has indeed been very convenient to bale out Muslim scholars and politicians out of the difficulties that such questions create!
The above things are sufficient to conclude that the text of the Quran had not been finalized in AD 656 when Othman ordered all other versions to be destroyed. This shows that the scholars’ view that the Quran was altered and amended till AD 933 may well be correct.
Both Islam and Christianity, in comparing themselves with pagan faiths to establish their superiority, claim historicity for their founders. But Western scholars have also questioned the historicity of Jesus Christ. They have shown that the gospels were written towards the end of the first century, some forty to eighty years after the supposed crucifixion of Christ, and that there was considerable interpolation afterwards. Thus the letters of Paul do not mention many extraordinary details of Jesus’ life. Even the post-Pauline letters written before 90 AD do not contain any convincing historical details. It now seems highly unlikely that any of the sayings attributed to Jesus in the Gospels was ever spoken by a historical figure. Hoffman10 concludes, ‘scholars now count it a certainty that the Gospels are compilations of “traditions” cherished by the early Christians rather than historical annals’.
The Koran extensively quotes from Pentateuch (called Taurat after Torah in Hebrew) i.e. the first five books of the Old Testament. Now the present opinion of the western scholars is that instead of being written by or revealed to Moses by God, it is a work of four different writers and edited by a fifth person around 400 BC. Hence the early prophets are probably not historic figures, but only legends.11
We have already seen that the same applies to Jesus. It is even doubted that they existed at all. Now the question arises that if the Biblical Prophets and their history is itself doubtful, what veracity does the Koran have as an eternal truth revealed by God himself, considering the fact that the Koran too acknowledges the old Testament to be an intrinsic part of the history of Islam.
The Last Prophet
A group of scholars, Cook, Crone and Hinds12 continuing the work of Wansbrough took an even more radical stand. They regarded the entire traditional Islamic history down at least to the time of Abd al Malik (685-705 AD) as a later fabrication. As a counter check, they studied the contemporary, neighbouring non-Muslim sources like the Greek, Syrian and Armenian. A totally unexpected picture emerged, as a result. The only facts they could confirm were that a merchant called Muhammad existed, that something significant happened to him in 622 (the year of Hijra), and that Abraham was central to his teachings. But there is no mention of Mecca, no indication that Muhammad’s career unfolded in inner Arabia and no reference to the Koran until the last years of the seventh century. Also, the Muslims prayed in a direction much further north than Mecca; hence their sanctuary could not have been in Mecca. Also when the first Koranic quotations appeared on coins and inscriptions towards the end of the seventh century, they showed divergence from the canonical texts. The earliest Greek source speaks of Muhammad being alive in 634 AD, two years after his death as per the accepted version of Islamic traditions. An Armenian chronicler of the 660s describes Muhammad as establishing a community which comprised both Arabs and Jews with the aim of conquering Palestine. The break with the Jews is placed immediately after the Arab conquest of Jerusalem. The oldest Greek source makes the sensational statement that the prophet who had appeared among the Arabs (Saracens) was proclaiming the coming of the (Jewish) messiah, and speaks of the Jews who mix with the Arabs, and the danger to life and limb by falling into the hands of these Jews and Arabs.
On the basis of available non Muslim evidence, Cook and Crone13 give a new account of the rise of Islam. Muhammad told his Arab followers that as descendants of Abraham through his first son, Ishmael they too had a claim to the land God had promised to Abraham and his seed. His message appeared as Judaic messianism which lead to intimacy with Jews and marked hostility towards Christians. The Arabs soon quarreled with the Jews and their attitude softened towards Christians. But they yet had to develop a religious identity and religious structures. Here they were influenced by Samaritan philosophy. The latter were an offshoot of the Jews but they had a separate identity. They only accepted Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament and had a high regard for Moses. Under their influence, the Arabs proceeded to pattern their faith after Moses as follows
Moses Exodus Pentateuch Mt. Sinai Shechem
Muhammad Hijra Koran Mt. Hira Mecca
Evidence Of Fabrication
1. There is no reference to Mecca in early non- Muslim references. Mecca was supposed to be a very flourishing trading centre as it was on the trade route from South to North Arabia (i.e. from India to Europe) when Muhammad was born, but Crone has shown that geographically it does not fall on this natural trade route. In fact, the alignment of early mosques and literary evidence of Christian sources, suggests that the direction in which the early Muslims prayed was northwest Arabia. Mecca was chosen as a Muslim sanctuary much later in order to relocate their history within Arabia, to complete their break with Judaism and finally to establish their separate religious identity.
2. According to the traditions, Koran had many versions and Uthman destroyed all but one. Similarly Hajja (661-714 AD), the governor of Iraq, had collected and destroyed all the writings of the early Muslims.
3. The Koran is strikingly lacking in overall structure. It appears to be a product of hasty and imperfect editing of materials from a plurality of traditions.
4. Many traditions in the Hadith appear to have been invented to explain the presence of some passages in Koran. Seemingly precise data seems to have been cooked up to provide authenticity. Thus the early historian, lbn Ishaq (d. 768) was vague about many events, whereas Waqidi (d. 823) gave precise dates and other details for the same events! If so much spurious information had accumulated in two generations, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that even more must have accumulated in the three generations between the Prophet and lbn Ishaq.
1. Twenty-three Years. A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammed. All Dashti, London, 1985
2. Why I am not a Muslim, lbn Warraq. Prometheus Books, New York, 1995 .
3. Time for Stock Taking. Whither Sangh Pariwar, Ed. Sits Ram Goel, Voice Of India, New Delhi, 1997
4. Some Blunders of Indian Historica! Research, Oak, P. N. Bharati Sahitya Sadan. New Delhi.
5. Muslim Studies, 2 vols. Translated by C.R. Barber and S.M. Stern, Goidziher Ignaz, London, 1967-71
6. Islamic History. A Framework for inquiry, Humphreys, R. S., Princeton, 1991
Mohammedanism. Hurgronje Snouck, C, New York, 1916
7. Russia and Islam, Smimov, N.A., London, 1934
8. An Introduction to Islamic Law, Schacht Joseph, Oxford, 1964
9. Quranic Studies Wansbrough, J. Oxford, 1977
10. The Origins of Chistianity. Hoffman R. Joseph Amherst, N Y., 1985. p. 177
11. The Unauthorised Version, Fox R L., London, 1991, p. 176
12. Muhammad. Cook. M ., Oxford, 1983
God’s Caliph. Crone P., and Hinds M., Cambridge, 1986
13. Hagarism. The Making of the Muslim World, Crone P., and Cook, M., Cambridge, 1977
14. Quran : The Text and its History, Adams C.E., in Encyclopedia of Religion, pp 157-76.
15. Mohammed and the rise of Islam, Margoliouth D.S.. London, 1914, p 149.
16. Meccan Trade and Rise of Islam. Crone P., Oxford, 1987, pp 234-45
17. Understanding Islam through Hadis, RamSwarup, Voice of India. New Delhii, 1987
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There is a hadith that reports Muhammad one night, rode on a winged horse that took him from Masjidu’l Haram (the temple of Ka’ba) to Msjidu’l Aqsa (in Jerusalem) and from there to the seventh heaven where he was shown the hell and the paradise and then taken to the presence of Allah. This story that is commonly accepted by All the Muslims and is known as Mi’raj is also confirmed in the Quran
Glory to (Allah)
Who did take His Servant for a journey by night,
From the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque.
– Quran 17:1
Here we are not going to talk about the absurdity of such trip. Considering that it would take the light (fastest thing in the universe) 8 years to make a round trip to the closest solar system, and 46 billion years to the outskirts of the known universe, and considering that wings don’t serve beyond the atmosphere of the Earth, such trip performed on the back of a horse with wings in one night is just stuff of the fables. If Muhammad could travel from Medina to the presence of Allah, riding on a winged pony, and come back in one night, then Allah’s palace must be not much far from Medina. I wonder how come no one has found it yet? We are not also going to ask whether the gate of the heaven is in Jerusalem? Why Muhammad had to go to Masjidul’ Aqsa in order to go to heaven? If God is omnipresent why one would have to go anywhere to meet him. If Muhammad could travel from Mecca to the palace of Allah, riding on a winged horsy, and come back in one night, then Allah’s throne must not be too far from Mecca. How come no one has found it yet?
Is God inside the universe or outside of it? If inside it, then he is contained by it and therefore cannot be infinite. If outside it, then he must be billions of light years away from us and no winged horsy can reach his throne in one night and come back. This story is simply fairytale.
We are not also going to ask why Muhammad had to stop at Jerusalem before going to Heaven. Is there a gateway to Heaven in Jerusalem?
The problem we want to discuss is that Masjid’ul Aqsa “the Farthest Mosque” did not exist at the time of Muhammad.
First Temple on that site was built in 960 BC, allegedly by Solomon to house the Ark of the Covenant which his father, David, had brought to Jerusalem. The temple was burned to the ground by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
The Second Temple was consecrated in 515 BC, rebuilt by Herod in 20 BC and destroyed by Titus in 70 AD.
When Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab conquered Jerusalem in 638 AD, he performed a prayer in the site where Temple of Solomon used to stand. It was Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan who built a mosque on that site around 691 A.D.
Muhammad’s alleged Mi’raj took place around the year 621. There is 70 years gap between Mi’raj and the construction of Masjid ul Aqsa. [This is reported in The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, Harper & Row, 1989, p. 46 and 102.]
How could Muhammad mention Masjid ul Aqsa when such a mosque did not exist? Either Muhammad did not know that that temple was destroyed in 70 AD or the Quran is manipulated and “enriched” years after the death of its author, permitting the fables that were constructed around Muhammad after his death to creep into his book.
In Ali Sina’s opinion the former is the case. Muhammad was an unlettered man. His knowledge was limited to what he heard from others – story tellers and priests. His references to historic and Biblical stories are sketchy. He throws a name hear and mentions an event there and often makes mistakes. This is to be expected of a man who is not acquainted with books and whose only source of knowledge is hearsay.
Muslims may argue that “Masjid’ means any place of worship (sojda), that is why the prophet refers to the temple of Solomon as Masjid. In that case, all churches, synagogues and the Zoroastrian Ateshkadehs are Masjids. During the time of Muhammad there were many such “Masjids” built in cities much farther than Jerusalem. (i.e farthest from Mecca or Medina) and the Masjid’ul Aqsa actually was not the farthest mosque.
This, is an obvious blunder of Muhammad so much so that many Islamic scholars, including Yusuf Ali are of the opinion that by Masjid’u’ Aqsa, it is intended the SITE of the building and not the actual building.
This apologetic line could have been a way out of the dilemma if it were not for the following hadith, which unequivocally asserts that Masjid’ul Aqsa was an actual building which existed in the time of Muhammad.
Narrated Abu Dhaar:
I said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Which mosque was built first?” He replied, “Al-Masjid-ul-Haram.” I asked, “Which (was built) next?” He replied, “Al-Masjid-ul-Aqs-a (i.e. Jerusalem).” I asked, “What was the period in between them?” He replied, “Forty (years).” He then added, “Wherever the time for the prayer comes upon you, perform the prayer, for all the earth is a place of worshipping for you.”
This hadith presents yet another problem. According to Muslims, Masjid’ul Haram (Ka’ba) was built by Abraham who lived in 2000 BC and the Temple of Solomon (the site of the Msjid ul’Aqsa) was built about 958-951 BC. There is a gap of over 1040 years between the dates of the construction of the two buildings, whereas Muhammad says 40 years! So he is wrong by 1,000 years.
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The Quran contains many errors. The following reveals one of them.
In the Bible (Exodus 32) there is a story about Israelites worshiping a calf when Moses went to Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from God. Oh his return Moses was angered and ordered “everyone to put on his sword and kill his brothers, his friends, and his neighbors” (Ex.32:27). In this story the culprits are the Israelites and Aaron the brother of Moses who let himself to be influenced by them. This incident is reported in the Quran.
He [Allah] said, “We have tempted thy people since thou didst leave them. The Samaritan (in Arabic Samiri) has led them into error.” Then Moses returned … … and we cast them [(gold) ornaments], as the Samaritan also threw them, into the fire.” (Then he brought out for them a Calf, a mere body that lowed; and they said, “This is your god, and the god of Moses, whom he has forgotten.”) … Moses said, “And thou, Samaritan, what was thy business?” …– Quran 20:85-88, 95
In the Quranic version the culprits are the Samaritans who mislead the Jews into worshiping the bull. But in the original story of the Bible there is no mention of any Samaritan. When questioned, Muslims claim that the Bible is corrupted. However, at the time of Moses, Samaria did not exist and there was no one known as Samaritanl.
According to 1 King 16:24 Samaria was a hill belonging to Shemer that was purchased by King Omri where he founded the city of Samaria about 870 B.C. The Samaritans as a distinct people only emerged after the exile of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the resettlement of the area under king Sargon II after 722 B.C.
Moses lived 1400 years B.C. That is five to seven centuries before anyone could be called Samaritan (Sameri). Therefore, the explanation of the Quran that Samaritans led the Jews to worship a calf cannot be correct. At the time of Moses Samaria did not exist and no one could be the citizen of an inexistent city.
We know that Muhammad was not a learned man. He had heard the stories of the Bible as narrated by the storytellers but from his mistakes it is fair to say that he had not read the book himself. So where did he get the idea of Samaritans leading Israelites to idolatry?
The answer to this confusion can be found in another similar story of calf-worshiping narrated in the (1 King 12:26-33). This episode happened during the time of Jeroboam. This was a time when the Jews were split into two kingdoms, the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern kingdom of the Judah; Jerusalem being the major center of the worship for all the Jews was in Judah. Holy towns attract pilgrims, promote commerce and generate income. Jeroboam, who was the king of Israel, thought that not having a holy place of worship in his kingdom is weakening his position. He decided to build a temple in Samaria, the seat of the Northern Kingdom, and adorn it with the statutes of two golden calves to rival Jerusalem as the center of worship.
Biblical Scholars, like Richard Elliot Friedman, believe that the first story of the Jews worshiping the golden calf during the time of Moses, to which the Quran is alluding, actually never happened. Friedman believes that this story was fabricated by the actual writers of the Bible, the high priests and the custodians of the temple of God in Jerusalem, around 700 BC to discredit Jerobeam and his temple in the Northern Kingdom. They invented the story of Moses and the golden calf, claiming that it provoked the wrath and punishment of God during the time of Moses. This did certainly send a strong message to the Jews that the temple erected by Jerobeam is unacceptable by God. Most probably, the calves adorning the temple of Israel were symbolic and were not intended to be worshiped. Yet the fabricated story of the calf-worshiping-Jews at the time of Moses, provoking the wrath of God had its intended effect. Emergence of a new temple in the North would not have only undermined the importance of Jerusalem as the sole religious center for all the Jews, but it would have also separated also religiously, a nation already split politically.
Hosea echoed his disapproval of the northern temple in the following terms.
Throw out your calf-idol, O Samaria! My anger burns against them. How long will they be incapable of purity? They are from Israel! This calf – a craftsman has made it; it is not God. It will be broken in pieces, that calf of Samaria. — Hosea 8:5-6
This is a warning to the Jews of 700 B.C. living in Samaria. It has nothing to do with the story of Moses and the Golden calf. Muhammad must have heard these two stories. But he confused the two and placed the Samaritans in a wrong context. The Quran continues:
“Moses said: “Get thee gone! but thy (punishment) in this life will be that thou wilt say, ‘touch me not’; and moreover (for a future penalty) thou hast a promise that will not fail: Now look at thy god, of whom thou hast become a devoted worshipper: We will certainly (melt) it in a blazing fire and scatter it broadcast” (Qur’an 20:97)
It is interesting to note that in this verse the Quran alludes to the fact that the Samaritans were regarded as untouchables (thou wilt say, ‘touch me not’). In fact the Israelites looked down at Samarians and considered them “untouchable” (Najis) because of their idolatry. However, this stigma was not placed on them by Moses. There were no Samaritans in the time of Moses. They earned this designation by the Jews centuries later.
This is another proof that Muhammad’s knowledge of the Bible was second hand and based on hearsay. Had he read the Bible once, he would not have made such a gross mistake.