Dr. Jonathan Brown on Historical Criticism of Islamic Primary Texts

A post based on my lecture notes from a talk given by Dr. Jonathan Brown, where he discussed the historical critical method and how it’s been applied to Islamic texts and especially hadith.

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

This blog post is adapted from my notes taken from Dr. Jonathan A. C. Brown’s lecture on the topic of historical criticism and how it’s been applied to Islamic primary texts, especially the hadith collections. Watch the lecture here: part 1part 2part 3. Note that it’s about 3 hours long including the Q&A, so be warned. It’s definitely worth a watch though, from beginning to end.

The lecture was given around the time that the UK government-sponsored documentary Islam: The Untold Story by charlatan historian Tom Holland was in the news. Basically, the documentary tries to tell a speculative revisionist story of the origins of Islam. Dr. Brown’s lecture is not a direct response to the documentary, but it contextualizes some of the assumptions being made in this documentary and other revisionist pieces that are claiming to examine Islam from a “critical” lens. Anyway, I’ll end the introduction here and start the portion based on my notes. Note that the section “My Thoughts” at the end of this post is not based on the lecture; those opinions are strictly mine.

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Is Hell Just?

Whether eternal punishment in Hell (may Allah save us from it) is just.

بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

One of the more controversial ideas, in some circles, is that God will punish wrong-doers with eternal damnation in Hell. In this blog post, I will first explain why it is Allah’s right to reward and punish, and we are in no position to question His judgement. I will then talk about the Islamic theory of salvation and how to attain it. Finally, I’ll answer the question: why will good people who were non-believers in God go to Hell?

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My Response to Jerry Coyne

Jerry Coyne demonstrates his appalling ignorance of religion in general and Islam in particular.

Bismillah was-salaatu was-salaamu ‘ala Rasoolillah.

Jerry Coyne wrote an article, published on his blog as well as in the New Republic, in which he claimed that it’s wrong to claim that ISIS is not Islamic. The title of the piece was: “If ISIS Is Not Islamic, then the Inquisition Was Not Catholic.” He claims that both ISIS atrocities and the Inquisition are examples of crimes carried out in the name of religion, and so if we argue that ISIS is not truly Islamic we’d have to claim that the Inquisition was not truly Catholic. However, the piece is full of logical fallacies (and factual errors: such as his claim that the Qur’an calls for killing apostates) as articles by “New” Atheists usually are, so I’ll respond to his main claim here:

  1. There is a such thing as “true” religion. Perhaps Jerry Coyne and his fellow atheists see the world (specifically: moral values) in subjective and changing terms. But religion deals with absolute Truths. Coyne himself acknowledges this when he criticizes religion for promoting “dogma.”
  2. The Inquisition was sanctioned and carried out by the official Catholic Church. ISIS has been condemned by every major Muslim institution throughout the globe. Coyne’s comparison of the two is a false equivocation.
  3. Muslims have been fighting against ISIS for almost a year now. Thousands of Muslims have lost their lives trying to stop ISIS. Just because it wasn’t on the news, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. For more info, see: this, this, and this. Also, a June 2014 report (link – AR) by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated that 2,764 Syrian rebels alone had died, up to that point, fighting against ISIS. That doesn’t even include Kurds and Shi’ites, who are also Muslim, and it’s probably even higher by now. There have also been thousands of civilian casualties, vast majority Muslim.
  4. How many Catholics lost their lives trying to stop the Inquisition?

So I think we can safely conclude that while the Inquisition was indeed “Catholic,” ISIS is certainly not Islamic.

Salaam,

Yousuf


Update: Musa Furber has some excellent comments about Coyne’s article in this Facebook thread as well: https://www.facebook.com/musafurber/posts/833924539981748.

Why has ISIS risen?

An analysis of ISIS’s rise from both a military as well as an ideological perspective, plus an Islamic refutation of some of their beliefs and actions.

Bismillah was-salaatu was-salaamu ‘ala Rasoolillah.

In Sha Allah, this blog post will be divided into three (3) parts: the first, dealing with military reasons why ISIS has risen; the second, ideological reasons; the third, a brief refutation of their beliefs and actions from an orthodox Islamic perspective. (Note: I’m not claiming to represent orthodox Sunni Islam. I’m just basing my reasoning on its principles.)

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Response to Heina Dadabhoy and Sadaf Ali

I read a May 25th, 2014 article by Mark Oppenheimer in the New York Times about two women named Heina Dadabhoy and Sadaf Ali. Both are ex-Muslims, and they have been receiving a lot of press attention recently.

First of all, let me say this: the amount of press that these “ex-Muslims” get is just ridiculous. They had a whole show done about them recently on HuffPost Live, and have had similar attention in Europe (many have been exposed as liars, such as Ergun Caner). Continue reading “Response to Heina Dadabhoy and Sadaf Ali”

Islamic science vs. secular science

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

Nowadays, every opportunity is taken to denounce Allah’s deen (religion). One recent allegation is that Islam/Muslims are backwards or primitive, since they have lagged extremely far behind in the world’s scientific development for the past 300 years. Just visit Richard Dawkins’ Twitter feed to know what I’m talking about.

Many Muslims respond to this criticism by pointing out that there were thousands of Muslim intellectuals throughout history that contributed greatly to the world’s scientific knowledge. This is 100% correct. But I think we’re missing a key point here: the “science” practiced by Muslims during their Golden Age was NOT the (secular) science people like Stephen Hawking are a part of today. There were fundamental differences, which I hope to bring to light in this article In Sha Allah (God willing). The main differences are:

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