Open Letter To Muslims In The West

Author’s  Note:  I am reposting this after Donald Trump’s victory.  We’ve heard what he has to say about Muslims. Trump markets in fear. But it is certainly true that horrific violence in the name of Islam is a daily staple of our news feed. So where is the real conversation we should be having?  

Dear Friends,

We don’t know each other. So if I started this post claiming to know your opinion on a particular topic, you might suspect an insult in the offing. But what if I say immediately the topic is: Are you satisfied with the dialogue between Christianity and Islam?

Exactly. No one is. It’s a disaster. The hostility between us is palpable. Misunderstanding is rampant. Does this really need to be so? Do we need to make wild allegations and insult people of genuine faith?

We are at odds with the secular culture and with each other. Let’s think about this for a minute. We believers share the experience of attempting to live a human life in accord with God’s plan for us. We share the experience of trying to be good and failing. We share the experience of awe, a universal human trait, with the unique Abrahamic expectation that its source is the Creator.

But friends, given the hostility between us, we really must ask the question. Is the Qur’an really the successor to the Bible as it claims?

And further, will we need a life time of scholarship to address the issue, or is there a simple test of reason to determine the truth?

It is with tragic consequences that Christians and Muslims continue to misunderstand each others’s Scripture. Especially in the West, where information—fact–is freely available to anyone with a smartphone. This freedom is key. We can make and examine truth statements based on evidence available to all.

I’ll make a claim, friends, and that is that I can convince you why no Christian in the West will ever leave our faith for Islam, a proposition I can make in five minutes, without insulting you in any way. I can explain why we don’t accept Islam without the usual tense arguments, but by using rudimentary logic. May I try?

I want to make clear at the start that I am addressing just the religion of Islam and not the people who embrace it. In particular, the people of the Middle East, in my personal experience, are often beautiful human beings of warmth and depth.  They have an appreciation for both the simple pleasures of life–food, family, community–and for the rigors of the intellect when it is engaged in pursuit of spiritual flight. They have a true heart for God.

I know this to be true because I know Christians from the Middle East. They are wonderful brothers and sisters, rooted in faith. The Desert Fathers are much revered in our tradition. (Maybe more importantly, on a subconscious level, Danny Thomas, with his classic Lebanese features and warm humanity, came into our living rooms every week and we gladly made room)

Let’s start with the arguments I’m not going to use, the ones we are all familiar with. I’m rejecting the pedophile charge against Mohammed because any competent advocate will counter with the sexual abuse scandal of the Catholic Church. I saw Spotlight a few weeks ago. Not going there.

I’m not going to address the violence linked to Jihad. That is a matter for Muslims alone to determine. And we live in a murderous world. The horrific is now commonplace. Across the globe, in every corner. In 2014, a Japanese school girl beheaded a classmate. How can we understand that? The sheer scale leaves the mind in fear and trembling.

Obviously, I can’t address the argument that the Qur’an is a book of transcendent Arabic. I struggled with high school Spanish many years ago, my old brain isn’t up to the task. I have read that the Arabic of the Qur’an is perfection, and I have read that it is in parts undecipherable. Out of my reach as an argument. Ditto the claimed scientific and mathematical miracles.

This is a critique of specific apologetics from Islam.

The following is what I found with a simple Google search. All the points are claimed or stipulated by the Qur’an or Hadith. It is entirely due to the internet that although Islam has withstood its enemies for 1,400 years it cannot withstand a morning’s worth of research.

It wasn’t warfare that inflicted Islam’s critical wound; it was that sedate science, archaeology.

Mohammed was 600 years and 1,000 miles removed from the scene of the Crucifixion when he dictated the Qur’an. Mohammed denied the Crucifixion, appropriated the figure of Jesus, claimed there were “lost gospels”, the so called, Injil, which proved Jesus was really a Muslim. The Jews too were using a corrupted Torah (Tawrah) the original of which pointed to Allah.

Well, 600 years and 1,000 miles take a toll on historical speculation. The lost gospels Mohammed spoke of have never been found. The original Christian gospels have been found and historically validated. By using the Habermas Minimal Facts Method, Christians can confidently fix the doctrine of Crucifixion and Resurrection to within one year of the Event. Though copies of the Torah are mostly lost to history, in no extant Torah is there mention of Allah.

The Qur’an is entirely the work of one man, Mohammed. If you believe he was carrying a revealed message from God you are sincerely welcome to that view. If he had said, Allah has not spoken until this revelation, and other religions were man-made, he would have an unassailable argument. It would be simply a matter of belief. But once Mohammed claimed to be in the line of the Hebrew prophets and denied the crucifixion of Christ, he blasphemed both traditions. This is not a value judgment, the definition of heretic includes a rejected source.

The reality of Muslim pride does not need comment on, but the fact that Islam never sees fit to approach Christians or Jews with humility in the face of its egregious presumption, at the very core of its scripture, speaks volumes.

Let me repeat the key facts. Removed by 600 years and 1,000 miles. Neither the Injils nor the Tawrah have ever been found. Not a letter, not a pen stroke. In all of the Judaeo/Christian material authenticated in the Holy Land through 2,100 years, not a whisper of Mohammed or Allah. That is a fact.

The Gospels have been validated as existing substantially unchanged from their original forms to the satisfaction of all legitimate scholars. Also unearthed and examined are the apocryphal gospels, the Gnostic texts of the period. Not a single document in the 600 years between the Crucifixion and the Qur’an makes mention of Allah or confirms Mohammed’s message. That is a fact.

Fact: There are thousands of archaeological museums and private collections of antiquities. In that accumulated treasure of the past we share, there is not a single exhibit of an Injil or Tawrah.

Until Islam produces the so called uncorrupted texts, isn’t your entire argument, the dog ate my homework?

The Qur’an stands or falls on the reliability of Mohammed’s revealed message. That message contradicts every historically affirmed text and tradition of both Jews and Christians. On Mohammad’s word alone.

Now, dear friends, let me ask you a question. I know you will be honest. Would you convert from Christianity to Islam based on that non-existent evidence? 600 years and 1,000 miles removed? Absent the purported mesmerizing purity of the Arabic and absent the self validating assumptions inherent in a closed culture?

Based on the facts alone, is there really any reason at all for a Christian to accept the Qur’an as truth?

When I first started to engage in Christian/Muslim apologetics, I assumed this argument would be the one in force. I was stunned to find it virtually absent on the internet. And while I thought Islam was deliberately obscuring the inquiry, I find to my amazement many Muslims themselves find the argument unfamiliar. It is my sincere hope that a renewed conversation will follow.

Will the irrefutable evidence against the Injils be enough to persuade 1.6 billion Muslims to leave their faith? Probably not. Belief is deeply rooted in the mind and the emotions we experience over a lifetime can easily drown a bare fact, if it’s troubling enough.  The true sense of brotherhood among Muslims, the hours of sincere devotion, the shared meals and warm friendships, those are also facts, facts of personal experience and they often weigh more in the balance than those of mere intellect alone.

Could the refutation of the Qur’an, based on it’s own claims, be enough to cause a crisis of faith? A reexamination? Or, at very least, an honest discussion?

God alone knows. Time alone will tell.

Yours, In the Hope of the Nazarene

Dan Bennett