Friday, September 23, 2011

Speed of Light Broken in Qur'an!

The idea that the speed of light could be exceeded in the universe is mentioned in the Qur'an...somewhere...if only we look hard enough....and use some imaginative translations of unusual words...and take a very vague verse...and want to believe...and shout loud enough at those who scoff.
Just wait. I give it a week.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Spinoza is "not for real" - just like Allah, then....

I'm taking a break from the Qur'an as literature to give you an insight into the Islamic miracle seekers' mindset.
Here is  part of an exchange with such a Muslim who posts on YouTube.
You need to check out the miracles in the Qur'an
I have checked all the miracles out and there is a rational explanation for every single one.
Can you please refer me to what you consider to be the most convincing scientific miracle of all - one for which there can be NO OTHER EXPLANATION OTHER THAN DIVINE, SUPERNATURAL KNOWLEDGE?
Why didn't Allah refer to the speed of light? The molten core of the Earth? Or anything else that it was IMPOSSIBLE for a man to know about?

You are not for real
Just like Allah then ;-)

Are you an Atheist? By the way Allah means God.

I know Allah means God. I know Muslims claim that the Qur'an is the FINAL revelation given to Mohammad who was the last in a long line of prophets which includes Noah, Jonah, Moses, Abraham, Jesus et al. I know that Muslims claim that the Jews used to kill hundreds of God's prophets. I know you believe that unless I believe in and worship your God he will condemn me to an eternity of the foulest torture imaginable.
And YES I am an atheist (for all of the above reasons and many more besides)

Atheism has no logic and if that's your reason for not believing in God then you are lost.  I'm not going to debate with you about the punishment for not believing in God because you obviously do not know the Qur'an very well.  I'm making a series of short video's to do with science in the Qur'an, almost 1 every week possibly 2. Because if you have seen no proof that there is a God/Creator/Designer/Supreme Intelligence/ Supreme power behind all this universe and what not then the Qur'an should open your eyes. God will only punish you if you have seen the proof and ignored or did not bother checking the proof while it was being offered to you. I hear Atheist's are very open minded (well most of them) and are ready to hear any proof of a Supreme being. Feel free to check out my video's. There are hundreds of scientific miracles in the Qur'an, so don't think if I post lets say 30 video's each with one scientific miracle that that's all there is. I don't even know all of them but feel free to watch. Peace.
(I'm at a loss to understand how you can accuse me of having as my reason for not believing in God the fact that I'm an atheist - "Atheism has no logic and if that's your reason for not believing in God then you are lost". The one is simply a name for the other...but that's by the by)
You say I don't know the Qur'an very well because I suggest the punishment for unbelievers is despicable torture. Those who reject Allah's signs (ie Unbelievers) go to Hell. Agreed? The punishments of Hell are described in graphic detail in the Qur'an and include burning the skin off and then replacing it and burning it ad infinitum, drinking boiling liquid, eating foul thorns etc. Agreed? In what sense then do I "not know the Qur'an very well"?
I have seen countless videos purporting to show proofs of miracles and read the Saudi sponsored polemic by Maurice Bucaille, The Bible, The Qur'an and Science which started the whole Islamic scientific miracle stuff off back in the '70s. None has convinced me. 
I just fail to see why a beneficent creator would feel the need to create us just so we should spend our short time on this wonderful Earth bowing and scraping in fear and awe. What sort of a god is so small minded as to have to bribe and threaten his creation to get them to believe. At least Judaism doesn't have Hell. Muslims inherited that awful dogma from the Christians. What a terrible day it was for humanity when that sadistic mind control was thought up. 

I'll let you keep you informed as to how the debate develops.

 God does not need us, we need him.
So why does he insist on our worshipping him to the point of torturing us for ever if we refuse? That sounds pretty needy to me...

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Qur'an as "literature" - Rhyme

This post forms the second part of my critical examination of the Qur'an as literature. We will look at the style of the Islamic holy book and in particular how the dictates of rhyme distort much of the content in a way incompatible with a work of literature created by a perfect being.
Firstly we must note that the Qur'an was written with lyrical recitation in mind. It followed very clearly the tradition established by Arab poets of the time. It is clearly a work of its time and not timeless. There are, however, some important and revealing differences between the poetry of the Qur'an and that which went before.
 Until the Qur'an, there seems to have been a clear distinction between rhymed or measured poetry, and and what we may term prose poetry.The Qur'an, uniquely, did not use any of the 15 or 16 established metres (or seas) of the rhymed poetry tradition but did, nonetheless, rely heavily upon rhyme. It is this of course that makes the Qur'an so easy to memorise.
 In abandoning the very strict rules of metre (using a certain number of taf'ila, or measuring unit, in each verse) the author of the Qur'an thus seemingly freed himself from one of the most difficult strictures of pre-Islamic poetry - how to ensure each verse had the correct number of syllables or beats. How this makes the Qur'an a more impressive work of literature than what preceded it is unclear. Perhaps my Muslim readers can explain.
Although there is no regular metre, the rhymes are very regular and the dictates this imposes upon the content, and choice of words in the Qur'an, are clear to see....
Spellings of the same word, for example, differ to allow the rhyme to work in many places. In 95:2, for example, the author calls Mount Sinai ,Mount Sinin, whereas in 23:20 it becomes Mount Sin'a - for no obvious reason other than to maintain the rhyme. Likewise, in 37:130 Elijah is called Ilyasin but in 6:85 and 37:123 he is referred to as Ilyas. 
It's not just spellings of words, however, which appear to be dictated by the rhyme, but also some peculiar positions of words can be explained only by the necessities of the rhyming scheme: 69:31 for example and 74:3.
In addition, neologisms and rare words are also brought into service for apparently the same reason: 19:8, 9, 11 and 16 contain the most striking examples.
And even the tense of certain passages seems to be dictated by the need to rhyme rather than logic.
Next time: order and sense

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Qur'an as "literature" - the elephant in the room

One of the arguments Muslims use to try to convince non-believers of the sacred origins of the Qur'an is its miraculous literary merits. Not all share the believers' enthusiasm though. Edward Gibbon complained of it as an“endless incoherent rhapsody of fable and precept”. Thomas Carlyle said that it was “as toilsome reading as I ever undertook; a wearisome, confused jumble, crude, incondite”. It does seem strange that a book can so divide opinion: how many educated readers complain, for example, of Tolstoy or Shakespeare being "crude", "incoherent" or "wearisome"? So who's right?
The Qur'an itself boasts tirelessly of its own inimitable qualities (the doctrine of i'jaz) and asks doubters to produce a sura like those contained therein: 2:23, 17:88, 10:38, 11:13, 52:34. Some of these verses are remarkably similar, giving rise to the suspicion that the author was re-cycling old material. (Hell, we've all done it, haven't we?)
Or do they say, "He forged it"? say: "Bring then a Sura like unto it, and call (to your aid) anyone you can besides Allah, if it be ye speak the truth!" 10:38
Or they may say, "He forged it," Say, "Bring ye then ten suras forged, like unto it, and call (to your aid) whomsoever ye can, other than Allah!- If ye speak the truth!11:13
Apart from anything else, the author's obsession with being accused of forgery does suggest that many of his listeners were ...underwhelmed, shall we say, with his work's literary qualities. Moreover, the fact that one sura is demanded in one verse but in another ten are required, smacks of indecision surely unworthy of a perfect creator...

 Anyway, back to our main point - the miraculous literary qualities of the Qur'an. Here's an example, taken from a discussion board, of the sort of argument one comes across all the time:
The Quran is the most-read book in the world. Revealed by Allah Almighty to Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), in the 7th century CE, and revered by Muslims as being Allah’s Final Scripture and Testament, its words have been lovingly recited, memorized and implemented by Muslims of every nationality ever since. The faithful are inspired, consoled and often moved to tears by its eloquence and poetic imagery, especially when recited aloud. And yet, the Quran is unique in being the only Scripture that is free of scientific inaccuracies, whose historical authenticity can be verified, and whose text has been so carefully preserved that just one authorized version (in Arabic) exists. 
3-The Quran is also the only holy book that can be memorized in its entirety by people of all ages and intellectual abilities – including non-Arabic speakers – which Muslims consider to be one of its miracles.
You will note that the writer makes some fairly hefty claims, which are debatable to say the least, but it is on its apparent sublime literary character that we must focus today. Our apologist says readers are "inspired, consoled and often moved to tears by [the Qur'an's] eloquence and poetic imagery". Given that only 3% of the world's population speak Arabic and of those 3% only a tiny fraction understand the Classical Arabic of the Qur'an, it strikes me as odd that so many can be moved in such a way. Such apparent power to move its audience has surely much more to do with being told since childhood that the words one is hearing are the actual words of one's creator and in addition being "encouraged" to learn those words off by heart, than any inherent beauty.
But let us ignore for one moment the difficulty of understanding a purely literary language with rules that few understand and look at some of the criticism levelled at the Qur'an as literature.
C.G. Pfander, the scholar on Islam, pointed out in 1835, "It is by no means the universal opinion of unprejudiced Arabic scholars that the literary style of the Qur'an is superior to that of other books in the Arabic language. Many doubt whether in eloquence and poetry it surpasses the Mu'allaqat by Imraul Quais, or the Maqamat of Hariri, though in Muslim lands few people are courageous enough to express such an opinion." (Pfander 1835:264) Pfander elaborates by comparing the Qur'an with the Bible. "When we read the Old Covenant in the original Hebrew, scholars hold that the eloquence of Isaiah and the Psalms, for instance, is far greater than that of any part of the Qur'an. Hardly anyone but a Muslim would deny this." (Pfander 1835:266)
Note the term "unprejudiced Arabic scholars" in the quote above. Herein lies an insurmountable problem when trying to establish the true literary merits of the holy book of Islam. For almost all those who hold positions of academic authority in the field of Qur'anic study are themselves Muslims, and therefore obliged to believe that the book they are studying and teaching is perfect in every respect. Even those who are not Muslims have learned that to openly criticise the Qur'an is to ask for trouble... Imagine for a moment a world where literary criticism consisted of nothing but enumerating the ways in which the book you were studying was perfect beyond reproach....

Nonetheless, there have been scholars who have dared to raise the possibility that the Qur'an is not so perfect. The German secular scholar Salomon Reinach was quite scathing in his appraisal :
"From the literary point of view, the Koran has little merit. Declamation, repetition, puerility, a lack of logic and coherence strike the unprepared reader at every turn. It is humiliating to the human intellect to think that this mediocre literature has been the subject of innumerable commentaries, and that millions of men are still wasting time in absorbing it." (Reinach 1932:176)
And herein lies a very real problem for Muslims. For if the Qura'n is, as they claim, the perfect word of God - unchanged to the last letter - then we must indeed expect perfection beyond any criticism. The creator of the universe should surely be capable of creating a literary masterpiece of such awe-inspiring beauty as to silence event the most ardent critic. And... I'm... afraid... it... just... doesn't... really... fit... the... bill.
There- I said it!
Sorry God, but wot you wrote is actually NOT THAT GOOD.
Here's why...
It is nauseatingly repetitive... with grammatical errors, missing words, and meaningless words. One out of every five verses is senseless. The speaker ducks in and out of first, second and third person and doesn't know if he is one or many. He doesn't even know his name. There are no intelligent transitions. And it's jumbled together haphazardly, lacking any pretence of sensible organization by subject, context, or chronology. (C Winn)
Now I know that's quite a list of objections to lay at the door of one book that has moved countless people to tears of wonder and joy and I'm well aware that one can't make such accusations without producing some sort of evidence. So tomorrow we'll do just that.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cat Stevens, Yusuf Islam and Maurice Bucaille

I'm sure you all know by now the story of rock god and all-round hairy good guy, Cat Steven's conversion to Islam in December 1977. The man who gave the world such classics as Tea for the Tillerman and Father and Son promptly sold all his guitars, changed his name to Yusuf Islam and devoted himself to good works and charity organisations within the Muslim community.
I've always been intrigued by such conversion stories. I suppose having a close friend who went through the same process which, of course led me on my journey of discovery in Islam... and to the conclusion that the Qur'an was nothing more than the writings of a 7th century desert dweller which have been hijacked by a well organised campaign originating in Saudi to convince westerners that there are "SCIENTIFIC MIRACLES" therein which PROVE the Qur'an was written by Allah.
Anyway, back to Yusuf/Cat. So what prompted or convinced Yusuf that Islam was the one and only religion and that he should abandon his previous existence which had given so much pleasure to so many millions of people for a life of prayer and "good works"?
Regular readers of this blog will probably have guessed the answer by now...our old friend Maurice Bucaille and the "miracle" of the preserved Pharaoh. Here's what you find when you visit Mountain of Light, the dawah page of Yusuf's website:
Those four words: Qur'an and Modern Science makes one's heart sink, since the inevitable miracle claims will be just around the corner.
Let's read on:
Dr. Maurice Bucaille is an eminent French surgeon, scientist, scholar and author of "THE BIBLE, THE QUR'AN AND SCIENCE" which contains the result of his research into the Judeo-Christian Revelation and the Qur'an. It is a unique contribution in the field of religion and science.
Being an outstanding scientist, he was selected to treat the mummy of Merneptah (Pharaoh), which he did. During his visit to Saudi Arabia he was shown the verses of the Holy Qur'an in which Allah says that the dead body of the Pharaoh will be preserved as a "Sign" for posterity. An impartial scientist like Dr. Bucaille, who (being also a Christian) was conversant with the Biblical version of Pharaoh's story as being drowned in pursuit of Prophet Moses. He was pleasantly surprised to learn that unknown to the world till only of late, the Holy Qur'an made definite prediction about the preservation of the body of that same Pharaoh of Moses' time. This led Dr. Bucaille to study the Holy Qur'an thoroughly after learning the Arabic language. The final conclusion of his comparative study of Qur'an and the Bible is that the statements about scientific phenomena in the Holy Qur'an are perfectly in conformity with the modern sciences whereas the Biblical narrations on the same subjects are scientifically entirely unacceptable...
 Oh Cat Stevens, how could you - of all people - have fallen for this rubbish? Well, I suppose in some ways it was inevitable - a young hippy millionaire looking for meaning to his existence -thoughtful, sensitive and ripe for exploitation by Saudi miracle machine.
"we're on the way to find out..."
It's just a pity you didn't, isn't it...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Holocaust denial on

Many's the time that I hear there is no anti-semitism within the Islamic community. Indeed, in a previous post I recounted how "Kevin" had educated me in the distinction Allah draws between the racial and religious Jews and how there is no anti-Jewish race sentiment in the Qur'an (before listing the ahadith and Qur'anic verses that leave one under no illusion about what Mohammad thought of the Jews who had rejected his message). Those disturbing ayahs and hadith that mischievous islamaphobes keep on quoting are just aimed at the Jewish religion then... so that's all tickety-boo.
It doesn't take long, however, if one visits even mainstream Islamic sites, to come across some pretty worrying stuff., one of the most popular and mainstream Muslim sites on the web with pages for the ummah from Azerbaijan to Switzerland, has a delightful section linked on it's site called Jew-Watch which collates articles and news feeds specialising in stories that supposedly highlight zionist crimes and atrocities (the title Jew-watch must be some awkward mis-spelling then, huh?).
A favourite leitmotif of this section is Holocaust denial - although the articles are dressed up as "research" and "history", of course.
Here's a title from one of the articles to give you a taste of the sickening content ....

Down Sizing From EIGHT million to 30,000 dead Jews
It reminds me of a conversation about freedom of speech I had with "Kevin" a while back. I was trying to explain how important the liberty to express oneself was and how it was something of which we should be proud in the free, non-Muslim western world. "Kevin", without hesitation, asked why we couldn't deny the Holocaust then. 
Until that moment I hadn't really considered that he, an intelligent and well educated westerner, might have been contaminated by Islamic anti-semitism...